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Interview with Kiiran Grassel from Albuquerque on 26th of March 2001 10:00 Eastern time ?
Good morning Kiiran. I know you practice sports; can you tell us your age and what kind of physical exercise you practice ?
Kiiran: I am 51 and I'll be 52 in July. I run a marathon every two or three years. Kind of what we call a deterioration monitor;but I haven't deteriorated too much.
S: You actually run a marathon at your age ? That's like 26 miles;
K: twenty six point two. Don't forget the point two ! Ha, Ha, the hardest part;
The last one I ran was at Big Sur California in 1988. I am scheduled, due for another one I guess;
S: What would you determine the secret of your athletic ability ?
K: Oh there aren't any secrets really. Starting out;getting past that uncoordinated first part which is about the first mile. Many people tend to give up. The first mile for me is always terrible. I figure, I can never do this. Then you get kind of in a rhythm, into a zone ; like a mantra; sometimes I use mantra repetition and ideation and I try to be in the present. Not to worry about the future or think about the past. Then you notice the wildlife and plants around you. You could then pretty much go forever.
S: You kind of draw energy from the environment ?
K: Oh yes definitely. I would never run on a treadmill for example. When you are out in the environment it does feed me.
S: You don't run in city streets. You drive out somewhere into the mountains and run on paths:
K: They are trails, yes. They don't encourage you to go off, as the geology is very erosive here.
S: How often do you run?
K:Every day about 5 miles and Sunday 10. Saturdays I do about one or none, since I make up for it on Sunday.
S: Michael Murphy has written a book about special experiences of athletes, and noted that there are numerous "special" abilities beyond physical strength, and even ecstatic or transcendental experiences that no one talks much about and some even feel embarassed to do so. Is there anything you can recall ?
K: Oh yeah, I can remember because it happens all the time. I actually choose my sport so as to actually get that experience. You can say that none of my sports are what you call fun sports like tracking or baseball or basketball or football. Mine is the long-distance endurance sport like running, bicycling, snow-shoeing. They take quite a lot of energy and time. You think that the combination of expending energy and taking time will enhance that transcendental state that you are talking about. Its probably a biochemical, biophysical, biophysiological action that I am sure scientists could trace that physical exertion to some kind of serotonin level elevation or activation of the pleasure centers in the brain that is the subject of a lot of research right now. I do my running alone and so I go out in the foothills, and I do it all four seasons. Occasionally there is snow and also heat. It doesn't really matter. There is that celebration of life that I see once in a while. After a snow storm for instance there is that occasional flower popping out. I think that same day I was met by a small pack of coyotes. They were howling and playing in the snow and they joined me for some moments. Exactly that same day there was some deer on the trail and they were playing and hopping&ldots;whatever was in the air that day. I guess I learned there is a kind of feeling that the native americans talk about. They would run through the fields, they would run the deer down actually by relaying. The deer is a very fast animal, but it hasn't much of endurance so the indians would have a team of six or seven and run until it was exhausted and that's how they would capture these very fast animals.
S: Yes that is quite a feat:
K: Also the Jemez indians have like superstars. There is one named Al hiqu who has won the pikes peak marathon several times. That running it up and down again.
S: That's how many miles?
K: Oh certainly over twenty. I think its thirty. Then they had that race where they run to the top of the empire state building in Manhattan. Up the stairs ; and he would win that one too. He is just a humble indian from Jemas/Pueblo. There is really not much out there.
S: I guess that its that native american oneness with nature and their awesome abilities that is the secret attraction behind running.
K: Yes, they are best at using the environment. I would say, because they sing to the trail to help them. So the trail runs out behind them. So as to propel them forward. Or the earth rises up to meet their feet. So that they can run easier. So they use those environmental elements as part of their own process. If you ideate on that its possible for a "white" person like me to do the same. We should ask the indians more I think, what their secrets are I think. Because they very much belong to nature. One of the yoga monks of Ananda Marga had that experience in Africa I think. There is that feeling especially among indigenous people that they belong to nature where as in our western concepts, nature belongs to us. Almost all the difference between the two cultures can be boiled down to that thing. And to solve this contradiction we should say that we belong to GOD (Generator, Operator, Destroyer)
S: So is there anything you would like to say to anybody who would like to take up running and do it for the first time?
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K: Almost everyone thinks that they can't, or that their knees hurt etc. But everything starts with that one step. I started insecure and overweight, with nothing. So I did run at the golf course one or two miles or I did a walk run. That means walk for a hundred yards and then run for twenty yards and then run again till gradually I ran the whole two miles.
S: When did you start running. At early age?
K; No, I started when I was thirty.
S: Did you do any sports at all before that?
K: No, I did some high-school sports basketball and a little bit of track. I grew up on a farm, so I was pretty strong. So I had strength, but it was just a matter of tuning into that kind of energy that would match the universe.
S: So you say two miles and you go from there and build up.
K: Yeah, not even two miles, because when you start you might walk most of it in the beginning. Then if you can get to three miles, that's five kilometers, you can inspire yourself to go to small competitions. There are a lot of competitions starting with 5 kilometers. So once you can run those 3 miles, sign up for a little race. You get a number and the gun goes off. Its all very exciting and anybody who'd think they couldn't do anything but watch television, or watch other people run will get more confidence. One can get into a real high.
S: When is your next event that you might do?
K: I'll probably start bicycle training for the Santa Fe century. I do about 200 mile tours every year.
S: That's road biking.
K: Yes , road biking. Off-road would be too much fun&ldots; I'll leave that to the young ones&ldots;
S: Besides all this athletic activity, what do you do?
K: I work for the department of the interior, the U.S. geological survey.
S: That's nature already there.
K: Yes, I do water quality sampling for wells and streams. That kind of stuff. And I do newsletters for the UNM law-school and I teach Tai-Chi at the juvenile detention home.
S: I really enjoyed this interview with you
K: Me too.
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