Sunday, January 30, 2011

12 km

Three laps of the perimeter trail at Mundy Park today (4 km X 3 = 12 km) in 1:24:08 for my long Sunday run and I felt great. That's the farthest I've ever run, and I thought I'd be really sore or tired, but it wasn't bad. Probably due to the soft bark mulch trails, and hills, which helped stop the monotonous straight running on streets that's so hard on the hip flexors.

The only problem with running for more than an hour is that it gets boring. My brother Pavel joined me for the last half of the final lap, though, so that was fun. I like running on my own, but it's nice to have someone to talk to when it's a really long run.

No aches or pains tonight, so I've grateful for a healthy body. Will start doing strength training to build up my quads 'cause I think that will be a good way to prevent repetitive strain injuries.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A book of biblical proportions

Finished reading Genesis, or the first book of Moses, today. The first of 39 books in the Torah (Jewish book) or Old Testament (first section of the Christian Bible). Genesis is 50 chapters, packed full of stories about the decendents of Abraham, who was saved after the Great Flood. There's Abraham's son Jacob, then his grandson, Joseph, and 70 other decendents who all have their own stories. I can see how it's going to take me a while to get through the whole Bible. Just the first book is crammed with significant stories.

Though I'm familiar with most of Genesis, there were a few chapters that threw me. One that stands out is Lot and his two daughters who seduce him and get pregnant by him. Incest? Really? And why does he offer them to the soddomites in place of his two dinner guests? I realize they're angels, but I guess women really were only as valuable as cattle?

Another curiosity is the idea of a "Chosen People." Why does God choose some people and not others? What's the purpose of this? I can only see problems arising when the "chosen" start getting all arrogant and the "non-chosen" start getting resentful.

And if only 10 generations into humanity, God decided to wipe the slate clean and start again with the only righteous guy left, why has He not done this again, say in the 20th Century?

And, okay, what's with circumcision? I can't find in Genesis a single line that explains WHY God wants the Jews to snip their sons eight days after they're born. Why not shave their heads, or tattoo their arms? It seems arbitrary.

I honestly don't understand, so I'm going to start by reading, asking the questions, and then do some research and studying. So far, Wikipedia has been useful.

I do like the beginning of the book, in which the creation story unfolds. I like reading a chapter a night before bed. I like the idea of a Sabbath, a day of rest. And the idea that we're created from dust, only alive after having the breath of God blown into us... and unto dust we shall return. Though it's confusing and often misogynistic, I have enjoyed the imagery and the stories in Genesis. Reading the Bible is quite relaxing. The style and pace of the writing makes it almost impossible to rush through it. It's going to take me a while, but I'll get there.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 2 at The Den (Hill Training)

Hill training tonight after work with the running clinic. About 60 of us (half and full-marathoners) flocked to a nearby undulating residential area for a strength/cardio workout. It was half an hour that felt much, much longer. Plus, we ran all the way back to the store afterwards. Which included yet another hill.

The circuit was four separate steep streets that we ran up and walked back down four times each. It was hard. Lactic acid is not something I usually deal with when I'm running. By the time I would get to the top of each hill, though, my legs were definitely done. And I was breathing hard. I did walk down each time instead of running, to save my knees. If anything is going to go during my training (knock on wood they won't) it'll be my finiky knees.

A good workout, and an especially delicious salmon dinner waiting for me when I got home; I'd say it went well. I saw Richard Mosley there, who was leading one of the two groups. I went to university with him, and he's a professional runner now (who would've thought you could GET paid to do this? I forked out $134 for the clinic!) who recently came in ninth place in a California marathon. His time was a ridiculous 2:19. I'd be happy to double that time. Very happy.

So I'm almost a week into training, and I can see already how it's going to become my life outside of work. I can't imagine what my life will be like when I train for a full marathon. I'll be dreaming of running. Literally.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 1 at The Den

Started the half-marathon clinic this morning, bright and early (8 a.m. on a Sunday!) at the Runner's Den. It really was bright (and early) since it was a beautiful blue-sky sunny day. Cold, though. There was ice on the sidewalks and we could see our breath puffing out ahead of us as we jogged. I say "jogged" because although I was worried I'd fallen behind having taken a week off because of a cold, I was more than able to keep up to finish the 10 km. We finished in 1:08. The pace was great. I was never out of breath, and I don't feel at all sore or tired this afternoon.

Last night I put out my tights, runners, sports bra, long-sleeved technical shirt and toque and gloves. This morning on my way to meet the group I felt like a kid who's missed the first week of classes: I was worried everyone would have already buddied up and found their spots and wouldn't want to be my friend. When I got there I found that it was only partly true. The store was packed with about 60 runners all looking like they were ready to run a marathon today -- bright eyed, long and lanky, decked out in the best running gear, and chatting up a storm in little clusters about things like electrolytes and split times. I did feel out of my league, but then we headed out in smaller groups and I felt better right away because it seemed to me we were a fast-moving herd of snails sliding our way along the sidewalk and I did chat with a few people who seemed friendly enough. I was surprised to see the average age was probably closer to 40 than to 25, as I'd expected. I'm definitely on the younger end of the spectrum. After the run I met my mom and her running buddies at a coffee shop where we sat around relaxing with green tea lattes and zuchini muffins. What a great Sunday morning.

I'm feeling very optimistic today, and the sunshine is definitely part of it. I can do 10 km in under an hour, so to finish the run at almost an hour ten made it wonderfully relaxed. (Except for the hill, that was more of a challenge.) Tuesday I'll run again 40 minutes to an hour either on my own or with a group in Port Moody. I'm so glad to be over that head cold (it only took a week!) and I can picture coming in to that half-marathon finish line on May 1 already.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Word of God Online

There were so many questions piling up, and confusion mounting (check out Genesis 9:3-5) that I decided to search for some answers online. Well, maybe just suggested explanations, 'cause I don't want to take anything random on the Internet at face value when it comes to the Bible. It's the most well-read and probably the most messed-with with book ever. My idea was to read it with an open mind and not be influenced (yet) by any third party.  But I needed some idea of what the heck is going on right from the beginning.

Anyway, I did find this website that has a breakdown of each chapter, and I will reference it and other sites if I'm just totally confused. Seriously, Genesis 9:4. Is God saying we should eat meat, not eat meat, what's the deal?

Check it out:

Seems it's not about meat at all, really... well, it is, sort of. As of that moment, God condoned eating animal flesh (before that it was all grains and fruit) but warned about the sacredness of human life. He warns that He will avenge the death of anyone who is unjustly killed. And He also warns that people shouldn't do anything to take their own lives, since it's only up to God when we die.

Mnkay, that makes a lot more sense. I'm going to have to look into the whole Babel thing, though. It seems like every time things start settling down for the folks in Genesis, God comes along to smite everyone just to spice things up. It's like a Far Side cartoon in which the fat kid just has to shake up the ant maze when they stop fighting and being interesting.

According to Heartlight's website, above, God was upset (He gets riled a lot in the Old Testament, doesn't He?) about the sons of Adam building a city/tower despite His ordering them to disperse and spread out over the earth and get on with populating the planet. So he disables their understanding of each other by what I understand to be giving them different languages so they'll be more inclined to move away and make separate tribes. Despite the explanation, I'm still frustrated by this one. It just seems like a cheap way of explaining why humans around the globe speak different languages. And I think, by now, linguists, archeologists and historians can pretty adequately explain it as, we scattered, THEN developed different languages and dialects. Not the other way around. Anyway, there's bound to be a bunch of fundamentalists just waiting to jump down my throat for being inappropriate about the Torah, but I'm just honestly trying to get at what the Bible is all about, and I've got to ask the questions, dumb as they may seem to those who've studied it before. Forgive me my ignorance. I make no apologies for the questions (or observations), however.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Started a half-marathon clinic on Sunday, or at least, I was supposed to start a half-marathon clinic on Sunday. Saturday morning, January 1, I woke up with a sore throat. The kind that feels like your tonsils are made of cotton wool. I took Cold-FX and drank tea and tried to get enough sleep, but nothin' doin'. By the next morning it had turned into a full-fledged head cold, complete with runny nose, headache, and basic lethargy. Bummer. I missed the first training clinic. This is not a good way to start a major exercise regimen.

I did go for a 45 minute run on Sunday and a 20 min run on Monday, but by Tuesday I felt pretty gross and developed a chesty cough and so have decided to hold off on all the aerobics till Sunday. That's when the next scheduled meet is for the clinic. I'm supposed to have run something like 25 km all told, by then, but it's just not worth getting pneumonia for, I figure. Hopefully I won't be too far behind everyone else in training.

I did learn something interesting about exercising, however. The rule of thumb about whether or not to run when you have a cold is this: if symptoms are below the neck (cough, wheezing, laboured breathing, body aches) don't go, but if it's above the neck (stuffy/runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, headache) it's okay. You get the green light if it's a cold "above the neck." Unless, of course, you have a sinus infection, which you'll know about because it's incredibly painful and running around outside will be the last thing on your mind anyway.

So tonight, instead of a run, I will read more of the generations of Adam in the book of Genesis and drink some herbal tea by the fire.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Started reading the Bible January 1. It's the King James version because I like the traditional language with all the "thees" and "doests" and whatnot. Decided to start at the beginning and work through it chronologically instead of beginning with the Gospels. I figure it will be the easiest way since that's how most people read books. Beginning to end. Front to back. I'm going to read a minimum of one chapter a day until I'm done.

I've heard parts of the New Testament (most letters from people to other people) read many times in church when I was younger, of course, being raised Catholic, but I've never made any attempt to read it myself. And I think it's something that would have been useful to know thoroughly when I was doing my bachelor degree in English Literature. Anyway, I'm reading it this year and will hopefully learn some things. More likely, I'll have a million questions. But then, that's okay. That's what it's all about. I like the Christian idea of working through one's faith with the Good Book. Maybe it will be more useful to me than simply a good foundation for literature.

Genesis -- Chapters 1-3
God created the world in six days, rested on the seventh. He made a man and a woman and told them not to eat of the tree of wisdom. As everyone knows, the serpent suggests to Eve (why her and not the guy, I wonder?) she should try the forbidden fruit, she does, and offers it to her man. They're both suddenly enlightened, cover their privates and hide from the Lord. God is angry when he finds out they've done the one thing he told them not to, and when he asks Adam he blames his wife. So God asks Eve why she did it and she blames the serpent. God then curses the serpent for what he's done, telling him he's doomed to slither on his belly for the rest of eternity. He also curses Adam and Eve, telling them man will have to sweat and toil to grow his food and women will always be in major pain when giving birth. They will also die, and to the dust return. Thanks a lot, snake.

So my questions are:

1. Why does God, knowing all that has and will ever happen, put temptation in the way of his children, whom he created from nothing? Why allow for that temptation? More importantly, why create them at all? The first thing that jumps to mind, of course, is Free Will. But why create a being free only to know it will suffer much longer than it ever lived in relative contentment? I just don't really get the idea of hell. I don't imagine it's fire and brimstone (I'm not a child), but if it's a state of turning away from God, and therefore of not experiencing heaven, why would God create a being like that to begin with?

2. Why does God put something as tempting as the tree of life and wisdom right there in front of them and then say, "Do whatever you want except eat the fruit from the best, most delicious tree in this garden."? Again, I realize it's symbolic, but it's like putting a kid in a room with a bunch of toys and then telling him you're going out for a while and he can do whatever he wants except play with the coolest, shiniest, most awesome toy in the room. This is ludicrous. Why not just leave that toy out? Maybe I'm a simpleton, but I honestly just don't get the idea of free will, as illustrated by the Garden of Eden metaphor. I'll have to do some research... talk to some theologians.

Chapter 4 -- Cain and Abel

Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel, a farmer and a shepherd, respectively. Cain decides to bring God an offering of his crops, and Abel brings Him a lamb. God decides Abel's offering is great, "But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." So Cain is upset about this, and God tells him he shouldn't be upset. Cain is really mad now and kills brother. Then comes the famous line, "Am I my brother's keeper?" when God asks where Abel has got to. God is angry again and tells Cain he is now cursed and will suffer in his work from now on. But he tells God he can't bear the agony of the curse, so God says he'll put a mark on Cain so that he won't be murdered himself. He goes away from God to live in the land of Nod, which is east of Eden. Cain and his wife (where did she come from?) have kids, who they themselves have kids, and so on. Adam and Eve then have a third son, Seth, to make up for the lost Abel. Seth has a son, Enos, and then "men began to call on the name of the Lord."

My questions:

1. Why does God not like Cain's offering as he likes Abel's? It seems arbitrary. WHY is God not satisfied with the "fruit of the earth"? Why is a lamb a better offering? Okay, assuming I have to read between the lines, and understand the point is simply that Cain hasn't done well -- maybe he didn't make the offering with an honest heart. Fair enough. Still need to learn more about this one, though.

2. Where does Cain's wife come from??

3. Why do people start calling to God again after a while? Was there a big span of time after Cain got to Nod when no one was talking with Him? And what made them call out to Him again?

4. Okay, I know it's incredibly cliche, but why is God a He and not a Her? Of course we would be asking the opposite question if that were the case, but then this is how it is, so I'm curious. Maybe it's just what made more sense in the time of Moses when men ruled and women were subordinate. Maybe it's just a stumbling block of linguistics and the point is that God is outside gender but we, being stuck in the confines of language, have to accept one or another pronoun. It just doesn't seem to work. Then again, if you're going to take the time to write about The Creator, why can't you make up a word that describes this being without indicating gender? Or does it really matter at all? Maybe it's just the age we live in, where gender is a Big Deal, but a few thousand years ago would have been unimportant. Hmn, so many things to think about.

**NEXT: Exodus