Today is one, in which the 3100 mile race, can pause for a while, and take a deep breath. All can reflect back, if they like, at the past 3 days in which there were 3 spectacular finishes in a row. Or rather, one can gather themselves for the next couple of days in which there will be 3 more, just none today.
Some are waiting for the finish line, and others maybe waiting, just for the finish. Though enthusiasm, is a healthy tonic, in which there is never too much, especially when it has to be spread out over so many days and miles.
Petr will be next to cross the line. If the numbers all add up, it should be some time late on Saturday.
Ananda Lahari is pushing hard to make the cut off. He ran more than 56 miles yesterday, and seems to be moving freely now.
Abichal asks why Grahak's box is out on the table. His finish yesterday affords him all the luxuries he has been waiting to do all summer.
For Diganta it is a case of two steps forward one step back. He is not in danger of finishing, only of missing his plane. If he doesn't find more than 60 miles a day in his legs he may need to locate a travel agent.
I am not sure what Stutisheel is looking for. He already found the best miles yesterday, with more than 65.
Another day down hill at the races.
For Abichal this is his 6th race in a row. He is achingly close to setting a new record for himself and for his country Wales. He has recently learned that he is 20 miles ahead of his previous best. The thing is, with 437 miles to go he is on a razor's edge and has no margin for error whatsoever. He has put together a string of good days recently, but as he proceeds on to his goal, there will be fewer and fewer runners left on the course to inspire him. At his present speed he should finish in exactly one week.
As we turn the corner onto the Grand Central service road, he spots Alfredo waiting for his ride. He is there every morning and every morning he smiles sweetly. We begin to talk now about his experience. He says, "Up until now it has been not so bad. I feel the end coming." I laugh as he says it in this way, because it sounds less like a celebration and more like the end of the world.
He pauses to gather his thoughts and explain what he means by this term. He describes the world of the 3100 mile race as a unique and almost separate universe. He sweeps his hand at the traffic zipping by, he refers to everything outside the course as the rest of the world. For him he pictures his finish here as then being forced to return to the real world. One in which the ideals, vision of perfection, grace, and protection are so often in short supply. He says that when he finishes, "it is like the end of a holiday."
It is not as though he wants to prolong his time here in anyway. He is reaching within and giving of himself what he thinks is his best effort. He just feels his capacity and his experience here is quite different than those who can cruise through in under 47 days. Of those he says, "they are killing themselves to get to the finish line, they have the capacity to operate at that level."
He feels that he is not one who can and should push himself to the point where, "I don't care about the body." As one who has been here so many times before he is quite comfortable in his own skin. He knows the race is about much deeper things. "Self Transcendence is what you are capable of, and what else is there."
He feels of himself that there is room for improvement. He has done more training this year than ever before. He had spent some time in Columbia over the late winter working on his training. He did 4 weeks with more than 100 miles and one week at 120 miles. For him having additional races through the year make him sharper and quicker for this race. This did not happen this year.
We talk for awhile about the disparate characters who have made up this years group of runners. Of them he says, "we are all individuals as well as family." When he talks about the 3 who have already finished, I ask him what they have that he doesn't. For him the 3 main qualities one needs are discipline, focus, and organization. He believes that they all had discipline because of time spent in compulsory service in their countries. He has not had that but feels he has it in a different way. He also believes he has focus. However, when we get to organization, he shakes his head, "I am a disaster waiting to happen."
We have come around the course after one loop and he heads to the snack table looking for coffee. He is disappointed. He is told that it will arrive shortly. However he has not taken too many steps when Niriha calls out that she has already poured him a cup of her special brew, and that it is sitting on his table. He is overjoyed and drinks it with relish.
I ask him about any experiences he may have had in regards to Sri Chinmoy. We are passing the place where Parvati's group usually sing and he points to a spot by the wall. He said that on one occasion he felt he clearly saw Sri Chinmoy sitting there wearing a blue t shirt and sitting on a small chair. He was holding his chin he says and was absorbed in watching the runners go by. He tells me, "it wasn't a memory."
He describes in a unique way how he feels his Guru is present here. He describes, that he is like a background layer of energy. He waves his hand at the road and cars, "he is behind this, just not visible." He says his Guru's consciousness is still here. He says, "I don't know how it works but he is still helping us." He illustrates by describing, "if you see yourself as energy. As a pure form of consciousness. He is at that level."
I discover this object on the sidewalk. I can't figure out if it still is or is not a running shoe. Maybe it is being dismantled for parts.
Then they were 10
Of course you never know who you will meet out on the course. Abichal insist on a picture with Trishkash.
Petr comes along and thinks its a good idea as well.
I have seen this lady practically every day since day one circling the course herself, often with real speed, and always with real determination. Her name is Verinder, and she is a school teacher who lives in the local area. She suffers from some arthritis and feels that vigorous exercise an hour a day is necessary. When she has done this she also meditates afterwards. What draws her to the 3100 mile course she says, "It is very spiritual. I feel it. It is the in the whole environment. God is everywhere. You have to have purity of mind to see and feel him."
Grahak and Asprihanal have shown up for the Enthusiasm Awakeners Prasad. The girls are thrilled and he is treated to some very heart felt cheers. They eat it close by and enjoy the singing in a way they have not been able to do previously.
In a short while they will go off to the beach. Pranjal offers them some colorful language in a playful way as they drive off. He will be going himself soon enough.
A heart of faith
is a life of
Guru Sri Chinmoy