Pagosa Winter Quadrathlon…. “I didn’t drown”
Maybe it’s just this Full Worm Moon? I don’t know how many of you have been feeling some rather straaaaaaange feelings within life from a Wholistic Fitness® perspective these days. I dunno, maybe it’s just me after two weeks of solo Daddy’ing…however, I’m feeling a little pensive, like the ongoing, intensely heart-wrenching circum-Stances going on in the Outer World are just gonna continue to escalate. As a Daddy of a 6 year-young Rinpoche who still sees and feels the Inner and Outer Worlds as full throttle cocktail of un-adult-erated Awe, i’ve got an uphill, often Sisyphian, fight on my hands for the next, uh, hmmm, 12 years, to maintain s(om)e sort of grounded sense to this precious matrix of Realms within which we all in-Habit.
My Tibetan Teachers would say,” The world ends everyday in all sorts of Ways for many Beings in many Realms.”
“There is some Big Medicine in this Truth, i suppose,” i found myself thinking as i drove to the Start Line of my 3rd consecutive Pagosa Winter Quadrathlon a couple of weekends ago. When you look at the news nearly everyday, which i now regularly do except for my mandatory WF Media Fast Days, i still feel like a bit of an outcast – looking at the world from my own little (w)holy mountain river town beneath the Sacred Peak of Dibé Nitsaa surrounded by my precious little Wholistic Fitness® family and sangha as if we are in s(om)e suspended Heavenly Realm.
Forcing myself through our little h(om)e paper, pretty much on a quest to feret out family things to do for Dewa, after a few pages, i just want to turn the whole mental thing down and just disappear into the sacred snows still lingering upon our San Juan slopes, remembering high rock faces in the sunset, watching the sunrise with only the thought of survival, feeding myself upon granite knobs, watching the world unfold from beneath Cliff Swallow wingbeats, turning from one season to the next, my only worry being that maybe a late spring ski tour would prevent me from soaring up phonolytic dihedrals in soft, spring winds near the Belle Fourche.
Leg One: 10k Freestyle Ski –
Dreaming of songs written in the snow (aka; footprints from Lynx, Otter, Snowshoe Hare, Wapiti, Mountain Sheep, et. al) which i’ve caressed with my snowshoes and skis since October in the snowy heights which hover over my home, i click into my nordic race skis for this final ski race of my Blessed Season which has mystically produced 12 Overall Podiums in 12 starts in 4 different sports traversing a physiologic spectrum from 2k to 30k, all done on a severely injured MCL injury (dancing with my daughter!).
As the Start Gun goes off in this first of four different sports which will inner-tain my Highest Self for the next couple of hours, i hear languages of the snows, falling…dancing for the rain and the corn, as i bullet start with 17 year-old Abe Ott, another Durangatang i brought to this race who just finished in the top 10 of the Junior Nationals in nordic ski racing. The kid can blast to an amazing start, and within the first kilometer it was just Abe and Ilg red-lining it…simply hanging onto the tails of this kids’ flying ski tails? My heart rate skyrocketed to over 180. Helluva way to begin a 50-kilometer race. What’s the saying? Go hard or go home? Ott and Ilg went hard. Though we were generations apart; breathfully we were twin brothers skimming across the icy snows beneath a low-slung spring sun.
Leg 2; 5k Run
After only 20-minutes, the Young Ott and Ancient Ilg show came to a heart-thumping, lactic acid-filled stall as we both skied into the Run Transition together. Well, almost together…the young kid had about 15 seconds on me at T1. The beautiful, wandering ski trail now morphed into an ice/frozen mud headwall before spilling onto the famed asphalt of Colorado State Highway 160 on the western edge of Wolf Creek Pass. Watching Ott’s bobbling head just in front of me, I could not help but spit my Blessed Mantra into the pranic air along this highway as it lead us past beaver ponds, majestic horses, frozen waterfalls, and snowcapped peaks. A fine place within which to suffer.
Climbing higher into the heights, I saw a vast wave of pine-lined solitude that was once sacred, and now scarred. Pine Beetles, taking advantage of global warming have decimated the green pines of my memories of this cherished terrain. My own daughter will never know the pine paradise here in which i cavorted for decades… I run as hard as i can upon my season-long injured knee toward the leader, Ott. i feel tranced, as if in some weird white-man contortion of a corn dance, eating up asphalt beneath my flying feet and spitting out pranic corn bread. I dance this 5k softly with conscious breath. With Higher Protection from the care from the WF Deities, my body receives gracefully the impact of a hard 5k on asphalt and i only lose two places to two national class (and much younger) athletes as i enter the Bike Transition in 4th Place overall.
Leg 3; 28k Bike Leg
Hallelujah! The Bike Transition appeared to me like a song heard only in the kivas, ensuring Big Medicine transmision. And sure enough, it was during this section of the race, that i passed Pete Mech – a national level triathlete – on an uphill with about 17k to go.
I hammered on the bike like, as Paul Sherwyn might put it, “…like a madman possessed.” Hadn’t been on a bike since October, yet it did not matter…i had the Chi flowing now, Kundalini ignited from such a strong ski and solid run on my injured knee. Deep in my flat-backed Time Trial position, feeling the cosmic energy of my effort amplified by the pranic power of this pine-studded palace…. This is what the man with the tie on the news didn’t see and will never feel. As Mirabal says, “Don’t trust a man not burnt by the sun or his cheeks wind burnt to tell you when it will rain in your world.”
Final Leg; .5k Swim
According to the Enlightened Ones, lifetimes pass quickly like water dripping, as Mirabal puts it, “… from hair to skin to face to shoulder to wonder.” When it c(om)es to my lifelong dragon of staying alive in deep water (what others know pleasurably as simply; ‘swimming’), i often wonder how many more lives it will take this Ilg-Atman to swim again. I say ‘again’ because i know that i’ve already done the samskaric effort of rising again and again from single-celled Amoeba Being to bec(om)e a Human Being. However, having already nearly drowned three times in this particular lifetime, will this animosity and amnesty of the Water Element will ever pay off in wisdom? Will the decades of trying to swim eventually find the appropriate watersong which finally exhausts my negative karma in the water?
In yet another dazzling display of Shiva Humor, the swimming pool in which we were to do the Swim Leg had mysteriously drained overnight! At first, this seemed a Great Gift to Ilg from the Deities, “Why, with no water, we’ll just have to like wade or splash a half K and we’re good!” i foolishly thought to myself as i happily gazed upon the pool which was filling with new hot spring water but not close to the rate needed to fill the entire pool when we would jump into it in a couple of hours. At the pre-race meeting, Race Director James, informed me that they had a backup plan for such an event; we would use the pool across the street. Another hot springs pool. Oh well, that’s cool, i thought to myself, it’s probably shallow enough so my feet can touch the bottom as they do in this one. I had been practicing my ‘swimming’ at the Durango Rec Pool Adult Lap Swim area, a 25-yeard watery arena where i can touch my feet. My plan was to ‘freestyle’ until i ran out of breath (because i’ve yet to learn how to breathe while freestyle swimming), then pause with my feet on the bottom, and breast-stroke the next half length. So and on and so on was my Game Plan; swim half a length freestyle, then breaststroke.
Imagine my surprise when, upon sliding into the new swimming pool in 3rd place overall for my triumphant Swim Leg and realized that my feet could not touch the bottom! I would have to breaststroke the entire distance! For the first time in a loooooong time, i wondered to myself if i could actually finish this race. At the end of my first length, i looked and felt like a drowned water rat. My swim suddenly became a feeble-winged cry of a broken chant that was only one stroke away from having the Lifeguard perform mouth-to-mouth on me, except…there was no Lifeguard. I was only surrounded by my racing peers, friends and spectators. I love my Deities..really, i do. All-ways c(om)ing up with such fantastically creative Ways to push feeble Ilg Higher. Hmmmmph.
I am wet Corn Boy, plying the Healing Waters, waiting for my chakra-opening m(om)ent; the one who wants to know the secret code of the Water element.
Doesn’t matter how many beautiful athletic songs i have sung, nor how many beautiful Eagle feathers i’ve gathered; all the Higher Ilg needed in this m(om)ent was to swim the watery path that leads me to you. To keep inspiring you, to keep inspiring my own Sadhana, to let you know that with every breath i couldn’t draw? I help you mend the broken parts of your wholeness.
Oh, i finished the Swim Leg without drowning, obviously. I fell from 3rd to 4th in the Swim and barely held off falling to 5th. Yet, beside the Pool my Daughter was cheering, “Go Daddy, Go! Go Daddy, Go! You are NOT in Last Place! Keep going!” and your feeble teacher of nothing followed the old ditch to the good rain as i know you will too.
Remember, Noble Warrior of Wholeness, if you think it can’t happen to you? It will.
For the sake of Wholeness.
This may be our last good-bye.
We just never Know, do we?
pic #1; by Ilg near Spud Mountain during a snowshoe workout
pic #2 -4; by James Hobby
pic #5,6; by Sandra Lee
What a great read. I love your writing. I really relate to the swimming haha. I’m the same way. Very inspiring!
Thanks Coach!! We’re proud to have you as our first blog entry!! I’m just bummed I didn’t get the first comment!!
Great article Ilg!