Zen 101

Sunday, March 01, 2015


With palms together,
Good Morning All,

In preparation for doing the 2015 Honorary Bataan Memorial Death March (14.2 miles), yesterday two members of Team Zen (myself and Joel Shoaku) hiked ten miles through a variety of terrains and surfaces.  From wilderness trails, to crushed rock roads, to pavement we put one foot in front of another and concluded our ten mile training hike for the Honorary Bataan Memorial Death March to be held March 22.  Let me tell you, the last three miles were a brutal ascent up a mountain side to end at trail's head only to discover we needed an additional 3/4 mile to make our ten mile goal. 

As we hiked this rather rugged and often challenging ten miles my thoughts turned to previous races I have had the honor and pleasure to run.  From the Las Vegas Marathon in 2003 to the Honorary Bataan in 2011 my mantra was "One foot in front of the other."  In the end your race time does not matter much, especially for Penguin runners like myself.  What matters is finishing.  

Some time ago I wrote a small piece I called "The Zen of Running."  (Not to be confused with an online book with the same title.)  Long distance racing is a challenge to mind and body. It takes a lot from the runner: time, energy, and peace of mind.  I say peace of mind because in training all that seems to enter the runner's head is the race.  

Anyway,  there is clearly a "Zen" to running, hiking or walking distances (I define "distances" as anything over a 10 k race (6.2 miles).  The Zen is in the presence on each footfall: the presence on each breath, on each ache and pain that arises between start and finish and all of the thoughts that come and go in that vast expanse. For me it's,  breathe in - two steps - breathe out - two steps. All the while attention on the road/body fit.  The Zen is in dealing with all the little, sometimes big, messages our brains send us while enduring the race itself.  
Distance racing is one dharma gate among many, but is most certainly one that will test you.  

I don't know how I will do in this up-coming race, but I will do my best to finish.  In the great scheme of things follow through is all that really matters.  

Be well y'all,