Monday, February 22, 2010

New Shoes

I will certainly return to Runner's Point whenever I need to buy new running shoes again. I bought my first pair from them over 18 months ago and was impressed by the personal service and apparently expert advice. On top of that there was no attempt to sell me the most expensive shoes. I have to admit to being rather sceptical when I was told I could return the shoes if not fully satisfied after two or three weeks. As I was fully satisfied there wasn't any need.

So I naturally went back to the same branch well over a year later to buy replacements in October last year. I received a similar offer to bring them back in a couple of weeks if not fully satisfied. Unfortunately due to illness and a busy timetable I didn't get around to training much over the following five or six weeks. When I did manage to get out for more than a few kilometers I discovered that after about nine kilometers my right foot became very painful indeed. I still didn't manage to get back to the shop before last weekend, and had actually settled on having to buy another new pair. The shop assistant however, had no hesitation in offering to exchange the shoes - after four months - as well as dropping the price by 15,- Euros and throwing in a shirt for free! So now I have a pair of Asics GT-2150 which I put through their paces on Sunday during a 19km run along the snow covered banks of the River Spree in Treptower Park. No problems this time, and I am optimistic they will do the trick for the half marathon next month, and I have no doubts about recommending Runners' Point to others in the future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What a great life

I really enjoy my life these days. I managed to get out training again this morning after an unfortunate break of a whole week, on account of my busy schedule. I ran my usual 9.5 KM stretch along the Landwehr canal, at a reasonable pace and completing it in 52 minutes. Given the snow I think that's not a bad effort. I had to move fast to get to the Buddhist centre afterwards in order to lead the lunchtime meditation class again. There were ten people there, a satisfyingly large number. In the evening I led the first meeting of an Introduction to Buddhism course, again ten people attended. I've led this course many times over the last few years and I always enjoy the enthusiasm, curiosity and energetic engagement of the participants. I always feel I benefit from leading the course too, and feel priviledged that I can be involved in this way. I often ask myself, what have I done to deserve such a fulfilling life?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Living Practice

This evening 13 people joined Satyasthira and me in our flat for the first evening of a seven-week 'Living Practice' course. I have led the course twice before and have personally benefitted a lot by doing so. It is an intensive mindfulness course, during which one undertakes a daily meditation and various mindfulness exercises, keeping a record of the practices in a journal. Each week one reviews with others the results of the weeks exercises. The course was initially put together by Maitreyabandhu from the London Buddhist Centre. He has recently published a book, entitled Life with Full Attention, based on his experiences of running the course.

Unfortunately I had another full day of meetings and appointments and missed another day's training, so have to be content with having trained my mind rather than my body today. All being well, I'll run tomorrow and again at the weekend, though it is still below freezing and the pavements are hazardous underfoot.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All Clear from the Doctor

A couple of weeks ago I finally went to the doctor to ask his opinion about me running a marathon, and at the same time to ask about what kind of medical check-ups would be sensible, given that I passed the 50 mark nearly three years ago. So I had a blood test, an EKG, provided samples of this and that, and have been sent to various specialists to have further tests. He certainly didn't seem concerned about me running a marathon. Apparently my blood pressure is "perfect". So I now feel confident now about going public with my marathon attempt.

What is perhaps interesting is the fact that it took me nearly three years of talking about having a health check-up before I finally did it. On account of the fact that there is always plenty to do, I can always persuade myself that 'I don't have time'. Well, maybe part of me was really a bit scared about confronting the demons of old age, potential illness and death.

How am I kept busy? This is what I did today:
  • 06.45 - got up
  • 07.00 - meditation
  • 08.15 - breakfast
  • 09.00 - check e-mails, clean my room and prepare for my English student
  • 10.00 - teach English
  • 11.30 - visit from a friend from Hamburg
  • 12.15 - travel to Buddhistisches Tor
  • 13.00 - lead the lunchtime meditation class
  • 14.45 - Chapter Meeting (with members of the Triratna/Western Buddhist Order)
  • 17.20 - travel to Prenzlauerberg
  • 18.00 - meeting with Cornelia and Roberta about Fundraising strategy for the new Buddhist centre
  • 20.30 - travel home
  • 21.15 - cook and eat supper, relax and chat with fellow community members
  • 22.00 - check e-mails, write blog......
Tomorrow I hope there will be time to run again.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Winter Training

When I came to Berlin nearly ten years ago, I often heard people bemoaning the long, grey winters. With the arrival of spring and the first warm days there seemed to be an exaggerated sense of relief and pleasure that the days of darkness were over. Well, in the meantime I have come to appreciate that winters here do tend to be long, drawn-out affairs. It can be very cold for weeks on end. Three years ago it snowed on Boxing Day and it finally thawed at the end of March. This year we seem to be on course for something similar.

On the whole training hasn't been too difficult, despite the weather; there has always been sufficiently fresh snow to prevent it becoming too icy underfoot. Unfortunately the snow has now been compressed into ice and the pavements are quite treacherous.