click photos to heighten the Chi Hit…

Ilg at the Finish Line of yesterday’s high altitude 10k at the Flagstaff Nordic Center. Coach re-tore his hamstring within moments of the Start. This incredible account of pure spirit will once again stuff your Dharma quiver as you read what Inner Tools he used and provides exclustive answers to the spiritual/karmic confrontation which arises at such intensely painfilled endeavor and WHY it became so vital for him NOT TO QUIT; “let ilg be once again your willing spiritual laboratory rat for this is precisely the spiritual terrain where so many athletes flounder; though we are driven again and again to pain of sport like moths toward Light, conventionally trained athletes keep coming up empty with the “Why” of what they are driven to do…” photo by Ananda


YESTERDAY – pre dawn:
Ah, Race Morning…and the mental diatribe begins within seconds of awakening…it’s quite possible i hold a world podium for the number of various sports Race Starts. i mean, i used to compete like every Saturday and often Sunday from a teenager through age 30. you’d think, wouldn’t you, that my Race Day Morning Mind would be like a robot; just all automatic…shutting out random thoughts and egoic fears like a steel trap, right?

nope. same ol’ diatribe. it’s just shorter now, thanks to my buffet style of Pre Race Early Morning Rituals i get to choose from depending upon the degree of mental fickleness with which i awaken on a Race Day.

Granted, being a new daddy has deflated any sense of competitive pressure faster than blowin’ a front flat coming down Wolf Creek Pass (which, by the way, i’ve done!). regardless, all of us who sense the spiritual necessity for toeing a Start Line, really want to perform our best against our selves, our peers, and the course. the nerves never stop fluttering. even if you’ve competed for as long and in as many different sports as ilg. Yah Teh Hay!!!

here is tiny sampler of the mental diatribe from yesterday morning:

Ahamkara (ego): it’s cold out. my back hurts. i just want to sleep. fuck riding my bike to the start, i’ll just drive. why did i even want to do this race? it’s gonna tear my hamstring, i just know it, and i’ll screw myself for Solstice in a couple of weeks which is a far more important race! oh, i still have some time, i should just sleep a little while longer since Dewa was up last night…

Atman (Higher Self): you’ve been Sleeping for lifetimes. Wake up and race. Racing erases spiritual slumber.

OUT THE DOOR – Race Morning:

Father Sky has bloomed with impeccable brilliance. pedaling Nalanda (my cross bike) down the one mile stretch of country road to Highway 180 which leads to the Nordic Center, the venue for today’s Pain Pilgrimage, my spirit soars with wings of gratitude. all earlier apprehensions erased by the familiar,cherished sound and feel of my breath upon my beautiful bike. i feel Blessed and want only to make my family and Sangha proud of my noble effort today. i wish only to be a passable definition of a yogi.

1,000′ vertical feet and 7 miles later, i pedal into the car-packed dirt lot at the Flag Nordic Center which i affectionately refer to as, ‘the office,’ a term dragged forth from when i used to be a sponsored athlete. during the cold ride up to The Office, i got a big kick when the fancy “CrossFit Personal Training” SUV plus another ‘professional personal training’ SUV came blowing past feeble ilg on his bike enroute to the Running Race Venue. i felt like an unacknowledged Grandpappy and again my spirit soared knowing that even after all these years, this feeble pioneer of mind/body/spirit cross training in America, is still out there, doing the multi-disciplined sweat; a sweat that is aimed for one purpose only; development of the spirit.

yogi-squatting on the Line…waiting for the count down…behind me are 299 other warriors, prancing in their flesh which has risen into dimpled delight in the 40 degree, 8,200′ morning.


i accelerate through dewy grass to ensure a clear hole shot for the first left hand turn which leads immediately uphill along my oh-so-loved nordic ski trails.

it was not but 20 meters into my 10k effort that a bullet seemed to pierce my left hamstring – the same hamstring which i initially tore at the Oraibi 8k (see DL, 8/11/08) and reaggravated on my pre-race jog up here three days prior.

my second step onto my left leg produced the same bullet shot into my left ham and i nearly fell down.

the third step and i nearly quit.

now, at such a m(om)ent; the yogi must recognize the unique spiritual opportunity presented by the Deities before them. Listen closely, Brothers and Sisters because i chose to run through this absolutely horrid pain not just for my own spiritual progress…yet, for yours as well. let ilg be once again your willing spiritual laboratory rat for this is precisely the spiritual terrain where so many athletes flounder; though we are driven again and again to pain of sport like moths toward Light, conventionally trained athletes keep coming up empty with the “Why” of what they are driven to do; listen closely:

First, the spiritual/karmic reason we are confronted by such moments as i found myself within a few seconds of my race has to do with how we choose (the primary spiritual agency of a human incarnation). normally, we frequently choose that action or attitude that hints of pleasure over pain. yet, that is not the most important spiritual intersection; it is the clear cut presentation of duality; opposites…in which we tend to fail to distinguish between our lower and higher selves and the Divine Spirit in each of us.

Confronted by the sharp, repetitive stabbing into my left hamstring upon each foot-strike, it would have been VERY EASY for me to do what we all most usually do; identify with our Form Aspect, instead of our Spirit.

Now, one of the benefits and Blessings of living my entire adult life in chronic pain from smashing my lower spine/pelvis is that i’ve become quite familiar with the intensity of neural pain…which is as close to nadic/kundalini type intensity that most of us will ever have the opportunity to study before our Bardo Entry. So, in such m(om)ents, ilg has learned to regard the Non-Self as part and parcel of the tremendous pain like this re-tearing of my hamstring within moments of a distance race. Ilg has come to know, through a life devoted to attempting to remain elegant and conscious through pain and difficulty, that myself in Truth is not the form of ilg but the dweller within the form; not the physical self but the non-differentiated self.

Essence-iately what ilg is coaching into you right now, Oh Noble Yogin, is that intellectually understanding the paragraph i attempted to write above is not It.
The pain of conflict, the pain of opposites and the yogi’s willingness to demolish duality in the intensity of the turbulent m(om)ent and then PERSEVERE with such fortitude and devotion toward the Onefulness Beyond The Form is the crux of such presented m(om)ents. It such a m(om)ent as this One that makes racing a yogic necessity.

And so,
with gunshots repeatedly being fired into my left hamstring,
i ran…

Ahamkara: oh God Lord, this hurts so bad. the pain…the pain…make the pain go away…just ease back a LITTLE, please!!!

Atman: the Pain is not going to go away. Not in this form, or any other, until you command your Lower Self to run right smack into and through it to come out on the other, Higher Side. RUN! Pain is purification, so RUN your ass off, Yogi!!!!


by mile one, i lost contact with the Lead Group…however, my Blessed Mantra was transforming the Gunshots into Native American Drumbeats and ilg was drawing spiritual firepower with each limping gait onward, upward, and ever more inward…

by mile four, on the upper part of the Reese headwall, Rob, one of my nordic competitors passed me. he patted me, encouragingly, on my back as i limped/leaped along. i returned his pat...”Hills make all men Brothers,”…Rob was racing the Half Marathon…ilg only the 10k.

yet, for ilg, this 10k became my Half Marathon – inDeed, it became my Marathon.

by mile 4.5, most of the uphill was done and it was flying descent toward the Finish Line at 6.2 miles…now for any of you warriors that have sprung a hamstring, you can imagine the degree of Yoga i was forced into by the pain. On mountain trail downhills, the pain factor of running with a torn hamstring is multiplied by like 10,000x.

i kept running. channeling the spirit body of my childhood Wolf, Apache, who first taught me to run through mountains, i attempted to bring lightness to my descent. Uddiyana Bandha and Mula Bandha were also my faithful allies in my Noble Effort.

by mile 5, i was attempting to hold off a chase pack of three…i did not know if they were racing the 10k or the Half or the Marathon for i had to keep my eyes on the babyhead and fallen Aspen branches upon the trail. it would be utterly too easy to turn an ankle on this terrain, especially at this speed. i assumed they were all in the 10k and i knew my limping form must be making them drool to catch me…grit, grit, grit is needed now i told myself. i also fell back upon my Imogene Pass medicine; where i hammered the 7-mile downhill pretty fast for a much longer time than this…such recollection too, gave me strength to fight through the searing, nearly blinding pain. Finally, i used Dwelling In The Positive as another way through the hamstring pain; i focused on just how GO(o)D my spine/hip injury was handling this race! Intuitively, i Know that the reason for this hamstring being pulled in the first place was due to my Solo Asana Efforts over these decades to re-align my smashed and broken body into a more structurally strong self! i have been literally pulling my pelvis back into horizontal, breath by Ujjayi breath, asana by asana, since 1981. it’s just that my left hamstring has yet to learn the ‘new ropes’ of articulating upon an ever healing pelvis. such a Journey of Self Healing – instead of running to surgery – is known as; Yoga! Such were the mental tools i used to keep running, to keep RACING, all these miles from when the initial stabbing pain in my left hamstring began.

nearing the Finish Line, i could hear like a Wolf the sound of my Clan’s nordic bell…a cowbell which i painted with the Norwegian Flag emblem back in 1975! i swear to God, i am gonna hear that precious cowbell clang as i enter the Bardo!
knowing full well that my precious Dewa and Ananda were the ones clanking that cowbell for me,
my 46 year-old Spirit soared like a Third Grader hearing the Out Of School Bell ring…sprinting across the Finish Line in front of Dewa and Ananda, surrounded by my Biologic Family of Nordic Center Aspens and Pines, and roused by the cheers of my friends and faces i’ve come to know in the four years of living here…
i did not limp…
leaped across that Finish Line yesterday…
and in doing so,
in not quitting,
came to tame just that much more of the Kundalini Intensity…

on my bike,
pedaling home,
tucked in aerodynamic position beneath a shouting wind..
Father Sky, well swirled with storm clouds, opened and i did not feel the
cold bite of driven rain;
i felt as though i was being Baptized.
i was.

Coach and Dewa after Coach with a re-torn hamstring from the Start,
finished the race in an unofficial 49:57;
6th Place Overall,
3rd Place in 40+ Age Group
Coach helped sponsor this race with a Gift Package from High Performance Yoga…this race helped support North Country HealthCare which provides comprehensive health care to patient’s regardless of patient’s ability to pay.photo by Ananda

2nd photo in story by ilg:
– Ananda and Dewa; i took this picture yesterday after my race…my heart full of gratitude for their beautiful support.

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