Day Ten: All The Way To The Finish LIne

We all have almost an infinite variety of choices glaring at us, and each of them  usually incessantly demands our undivided attention.  These may all be real options set out in front of the landscape of our lives or more often, little pestering thoughts that erupt out of some turbulent portion of or brains.  For multi day runners those enumerable decisions are simplified at most times and reduced to clear cut choices.  Eat or not, break or not, run or sit and yet when things are going well, as we hope it might in the rest of our lives, there are sometimes moments when there are no choices to be made at all.

In the tranquility of a silenced mind, the runner’s body becomes one with a flow of movement and energy that requires no examination, and certainly  no deciding needs to be done.  One can feel intuition expressing itself clearly and all we need do is just to enjoy our own greater inner capacity that has somehow managed to find its way into our personal driver’s seat. This kind of experience is always possible as well in our own day to day living, but out here in Flushing Meadow where the runners have pummeled their physical beings into extreme fatigue the mind sometimes has no choice but to surrender to the clarity of the heart.

photo by Prabhakar

A couple of days ago Vasu  Duziy had taken a break and when he attempted to get up he simply couldn’t move.  He said that at that moment he remembered a prayer that spoke about cheerful surrender and having no expectation.  At that very moment Dipali came by and saw his discomfort and suggested that he simply keep moving.  “So I tried to walk and afterwards tried to run and soon my shinsplint became better and by God’s grace I started to run and was very very happy.”

At different times during the week he has been in and out of 1st place in the 10 day race.  Even now, in this his very first 10 day run, he has gone further and pushed his body harder than he has ever asked of it before.  He says that right now with 18 very long hours to go he is not interested in what place he receives.  He just wants to do his very best.  He has made his choice and now will simply follow his heart all the way to the finish line.

She is smiling and she tells me she is okay but Kaneenika’s is clearly a very tired runner.  “I am okay.  Each race is different.”  As for plans on what to do between now and noon tomorrow there is only one, “run, and be happy.”

As for the things that affected her most this year.  “Definitely weather is a factor.  It is slowing me down.  I don’t have as much energy as usually during the race.”

She has been on the track now for almost 4 hours and says a break will soon come.  Between now and noon tomorrow, “I will definitely push.  That is what these races are about.  I just want to do my best.  What ever the result is this is for me what self transcendence really is.  It doesn’t matter what the result is or who the winer is.  I will just keep going.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Helpers get tired too

It would be really nice if everyone could set a personal best during events that are this long and hard, but of course it doesn’t always happen.  In one of life’s little surprises there is very likely going to be a runner here who will almost definitely set a personal best.  Breaking their old record of 332 miles in 6 days.  If things happen as they should, 70 year old Pete Stringer will be that person and he will have his wife to thank for it.

5 days ago Pete was teetering on the brink of slipping off the course and into the sunset, or perhaps more accurately expressed, jumping out of the torrential rain and slipping back into his dry car with his wife Jane, as she headed back to Cape Cod.

Her reaction to his escape plan, “No, in no uncertain terms.  Of course she was right.  She understands what I get out of this.”

I ask him what the number by his name will mean to him at noon time tomorrow.  “I will represent all that I can muster up, in these particular 6 days.”

 

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“I don’t have a voice.  I think the cold and the wind got me.  Last night I was coughing and I guess I developed a little bit of a chest cold.  I felt a little dizzy.  I didn’t know what was wrong, and I had to go in early for my rest.  When I came out I still had the same determination, as hard as it is.  I am still moving still trying to be happy.”

Right now she is about to put on her down jacket.  “I am frozen.  I can’t get warm.  So I guess it is the cold.”

“I am still trying to get some goals.  As long as I don’t go to the edge.  I just have to feel comfortable, and keep  good pace.  I don’t want to give up.  I came out here to do my best.  So whatever the numbers are on the board.  No matter how I feel, that is my best.”

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A couple of nights ago during the deepest dark stretch a friend showed up at the race and asked why Galya was not on the course.  He was told that he was taking a break and the friend asked for how long.  Looking over the sheet they realized that he had been on break for more than 2 hours.

The friend than imme- diately went to his tent and got him up.  Galya tells me today how glad he was that this happened.  There will be time for sleep later.  Going into the final day Galya has the slimmest of leads over William.

 

For Jesper in the great scheme of things he still has to finish his around the world run in St.Johns NFLD.  For now there is just the running until 12 tomorrow.

“His feet were hurting a lot.  So I had an old part of Assics and I offered them to him because his feet were hurting so much.” Dr. Mitch Proffman has been coming and offering chiropractic help at the race every day before he starts work and then again on some afternoons and evenings as well.  There are many who contribute to the races but Mitch is one of those exceptions in that there seems to be no limit to his giving and in this case he has provided not only medical assistance but in addition a pair of shoes for a runner who has discovered to his dismay that minimalist shoes just may not work the entire distance of a multi day race.”

“This barefoot running is an interesting thing but for a 6 and 10 day race it is pretty intense.”  Pedro who happens to be that runner says for him it makes him, “feel alive.”

Mitch says in his experience the shoes are best for younger athletes and ones whose alignment is sound.  Any problems a runner has, he suggests become accentuated when wearing them.

He then speaks about the race.  “This event is more about the spirit than it is for the mind.”  Every morning he also likes to run himself around the course.  “I am inspired to run with these people.  I am always motivated.  My favorite oxymoron is that running is a positive addiction.  I am totally addicted to this run and working on all these runners, because they are the most motivating and enlightened people to run with.  They very rarely complain about anything.”

“I just ran for about an hour and I feel great.  It is just really inspiring.  I would like to come back for ever.”

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“They build them very strong in the Ukraine.”  Gaurish is also a chiropractor working in the next cubicle and like Mitch has his hands full of runners who seem to appear in an endless stream.  On the table now in front of him is Yuri the current leader of the 10 day men.

He says his job is helped if the runner comes to him in a good consciousness.  “They don’t resist nearly as much.  They don’t lock into patterns as easy.  Whenever issues come up they can bounce off of them a lot faster.  Therefore if an injury did happen it would not be as big a deal.  It would pass through as opposed to being blocked, or intensifying or magnifying.”

He says injuries are of course possible for anyone during an event like this.  “Who they are in the face of these injuries helps them surpass them a lot faster.”

He says that though there are about 20 languages spoken here it is never a problem with him when he does his service.  “The body has a language of its own so I just talk to the body through my hands.”

He says that not all runners come to him with major problems.  “We are providing better body mechanics, so that he will have a sense of feeling lighter.  Which gives him more endurance.”  He feels that the runners should come often if a chiropractor is available.  “It could be one little thing that could make such a big difference for them.  It could make things go more smoothly for them throughout the day.”

“It is always very rewarding serving these guys.  I get a lot out of it.  It is meaningful for me.  My whole purpose here is to serve.  Not just here in this race but in life.  I am always looking forward to the next project that is for sure.  When you come here you always meet a lot of people with great inspiration and aspiration.  It is always very fulfilling”

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Tim Lawson, 26, from Broomfield Colorado first came to the race 6 years ago when he was 20 years old.  Describing his plan than, “I was completely unrealistic.  I thought 120 miles a day was in the realm of possibilities.” Laughs “Didn’t happene.  I learned a lot about what actually goes in this race and ended up over 6 days going 285 miles.  I was out of shape.”

“The following year 2007, I knew a little bit better.  Still a little bit unrealistic. Laughs But I was able to go 315 miles that year.”

Of his return after 5 years, “I was much more realistic.  What is possible.  I was shooting for a number closer to 400.  I am in much better shape.  I am much better trained.  But this year I just fell apart at the race.” What happened, just into his 2nd day in the race, was that Tim got sick and started throwing up.  This went on for some time and Tim was advised to simply pack it in.  At that time he said, “all my personal goals were well out of reach.  I didn’t have any pressure, and I had 3 days to really do whatever I wanted.  I was here so I started running and I felt great.”  So good in fact that he has put in 50 miles each of the past 2 days.

“It has been fun running.  I have still had a lot of ups and downs.  Now that I am so far behind the competition it is, kind of funny.”  Without question Tim is enjoying himself.  He likes the camaraderie.  “I am being inspired by these other incredible runners.  I just love running on a beautiful day like this, even if it is really cold and windy.”

“Giving up can be an easy option but, there is generally something that will give you a lot more joy in life than giving up.”

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There is no finish line
In the perfection-race.
Perfection is an eternal run.

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