August 4… The Whole World Is In My Heart

It was the closes finish ever at the 3100 mile  race.  Last night at midnight both Yuri and Ashprihanal had put in an astonishing day of running.  Demonstrating unquestionably what it really means to dig deep, try harder, and for all of us mortals on the sideline, what appeared to be transcending themselves in a way that has not been witnessed on this little block in Queens ever.

*cover photo Jowan……translation Lyalya….*

It can get confusing when you try and track down the whys and wherefores of this sprint to the finish.  Keep in mind the distance between the 2 had been less than a sliver for days.  But yesterday with nothing to loose each took their performances to a level that had to be their absolute ultimate.  Yuri ran 79 miles and Ashprihanal 86 miles.

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They went home at midnight with just 8 miles separating them.  A gap, that with an extra day added would have been evaporated by Ashprihanal.  But no, the race was not to be won by its record holder from last year.  Yuri just had to run 5 more miles.  He was to be the champion this year.

“Do you think this is my victory? No this is the victory of the Supreme.”

“This is the victory of our teacher.  This is the victory of heaven.  This is the victory of earth.  The victory of humanity.  This is the victory of each and every one of you.”

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“It wasn’t a simple race.  You can’t understand it with the mind.  You can only feel it with the heart.”

“With me my teacher was always present.  One that loves me, and one that I love so much.”

“A samurai warrior has come to me and shared with me his strength.  All of you here are my friends.  Without your support it would not have been possible.”

“We are not just running on a concrete sidewalk.  We are not on a path that leads to wealth and fame.  This path leads us to the depths of our hearts.  The place where God lives within us.  Where it is his home.  I was there.  There is everything there in order to be happy.”

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“Happiness, joy, oneness.  All of this I want to share with you.”

“I am happy, so happy.  Guru is in my heart.  The whole world is in my heart.  You are all in my heart.  It will be like this always.”

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Click to Play the sound of Yuri’s finish:…46 Days, 01 hour, 10 minutes, 25 seconds

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A heart of gratitude
Finds divine Blessings
And divine Love
All along its way.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 187, Agni Press, 1993

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August 3… God’s Embrace

I greet Yuri this morning with, “we won’t be doing this again.”

It is his last full day of running and by early tomorrow his 3100 mile race will be over for this year.  He starts the day with just 84 more miles left to run.

*Translation by Lyalya*

In each of our previous talks he has mentioned that he feels as though he is approaching God’s home.  I joke that with the tiny distance left remaining he must now be brushing his shoes off on the carpet in front of God’s door.

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“That is correct but there are no shoes.  I just feel the happiness of God.  I just feel the presence of God.  I feel his embrace  He is stretching out his arms to me and I am stretching out my arms towards  him.”

“God’s embrace I will feel tomorrow.”

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I then ask Yuri a practical question about why his speed over the past 4 days has increased so dramatically.  I am curious.  Is it because of the looming presence of Ashprihanal drawing closer or something else?

He says no.

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“The world has let me go.  Everything that was binding me has left.  Right now I am just a soul bird.  For a bird there are no limitations, no boundaries.  But I have a body and I do all I can and this turns out to be 70 miles a day.”

“I am not doing this for the records.  I am doing this to bring happiness to my soul.  To bring happiness to God and to be able to approach him faster.  This is why my speed has increased.”

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The body is the patient.

The heart is the sufferer.

The soul is the sympathizer.

God is the ultimate Curer.

Guru Sri Chinmoy

August 2, 2007

Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2007, Agni Press, 2007

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August 2… Lots of Prayers to Say and Miles to Run

“I think I felt it last week.  There was a point when I was able to do 100 laps.”

That point of course was when at last Kaneenika was able to see that she would be able to complete all 3100 miles of the race.  She is rightfully cautious as she expresses this optimism.  There is still the very real job of taking on the last 421 miles over the course of the final 8 days.

But last night she did 55 miles when she only needed to do 52.  Many, many, of Kaneenika’s friends and supporters are taking deep calm breaths now, though likely their fingers are still crossed and held behind their backs.

“When I could do over 100 laps my confidence came back.  I feel better now.”

“It is still not over.  There are still a lot of prayers to say and miles to run.”

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“The first part of the race seemed easy.  It was easy sailing.  So then after that it changed a lot.  I had to go more deep within.  I had to get more strength from inside.  It wasn’t as though I wasn’t getting it earlier.”

I then ask Kaneenika what it was like when she realized last year that she would not be able to complete the distance.

“It took me a while to accept it.”

She then relates a very powerful experience she had at that time last year when she saw right in front of her what looked like a movie of her life.  Scenes that all came, starting from the very moment she had become a student of Sri Chinmoy right up to that point in the race.

It was not in her imagination she says, but was projected right out in front of her.

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She says that the experience reaffirmed her belief in what she was doing.  “The movie showed me the real meaning of this race.”

“I am trying to be more tolerant… more compassionate….. more humble.  How to have more gratitude and also how to have more peace in my life.  I can’t say that I know how to do all these things by now.  I feel as though I am making progress.”

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I then ask for her thoughts on Surasa.  “I think that it is just the experience that we all are having.  I think this years race is harder for everybody, in some ways.   Surasa has always been an inspiration for me.”

“I used to watch her before I started doing these races.  I also did a few races with her and I experienced her doing her world record in the 1300 mile race.  I always admired her determination and her childlike consciousness and surrender.”

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Then Kaneenika describes an experience she had before she got to the half way mark.  She was running along the course across from Jamaica High school.

“All of a sudden I felt this peace descending.  It was so strong for me.  I don’t think I have experienced anything like that before.”

“So this peace is descending on me and I then I felt so much peace inside but also at the same time so much power and confidence.  That was very striking for me.”

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You can make the fastest progress
If you can say,
“I came into the world
To love God, only God.
I came into the world
To serve God, only God.
I came into the world
To manifest God,
Only God.”

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 194, Agni Press, 1993

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August 1… I Hope I Can Make It

I don’t usually ask runners questions about their day to day life while they are running.  My logic, if there is any, is that if they talk about their other lives it will be a distraction from the very real pursuit which they have to face here every day for 52 days.

It is not as though their thoughts don’t drift back into the mundane world from which they exist from time to time. But for the most part they all are immersed in a very real and unrelenting battle.  One which causes them to draw upon all their strengths and resources.  Particularly their inner lives.

The other day though I asked Vasu about his job.  Just what did he do when he is not pounding along the holy trail that circles Thomas Edison High school.  Which for him and most of the others for that matter so often appears to be their real heart’s home.

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Vasu told me that he works 12 hour shifts at a pulp mill 800km North of St Petersburg.  For 10 days he works the day shift and then for 10 days he works the night shift.  After that he has 10 days off and so goes back to his home.

So I asked him the obvious question,did he like his job.  He answered with the sweetest smile, “If I don’t like my job I lose my time.”

This means of course that I have never heard Vasu complain about anything.  Never grumble, never moan, never be upset.  If he ever does he must do it on the far side of the course when no one is looking.

This being his 5th time at the race he could easily find something to be bothered by.  Just a year ago he was poised to finish the race in 3rd place.  On this same day he had 3001 miles.  Proverbial inches from the finish line.

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Now this year he has 2740 miles.  261 miles less and about 4 days behind.  But his blister has kept most of his mornings down to a slow aching walk.  But eventually it relents, or the blessings from above come, and he starts to run.  He did 64 miles yesterday.

I ask first today, do you see the finish line.  “I hope yes.”

“This year there were times when I did not see the finish line.  But now I hope I can reach it.”

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Recently he has been receiving treatment from Kausal.  “He did very good and he has also helped many runners to run better.”  Vasu feels that Kausal is acting in a very real capacity to help the manifestation of the 3100 function.

“I don’t think anybody can do this race on their own.  This race needs team work.  Everybody is important who is part of it.  Someone runs, someone serves, somebody is a journalist and others come and see us and inspire us to run.  Everybody helps, this is team work.”

“Every year I try and do my best.  This year I also tried to do my best.  I think that the results of the race do not depend on us.  We can only try and do our best.”

I ask him about what is happening between Yuri and Ashprihanal.  “I think competitions is good if it can help them to increase their speed, and that they inspire one another.”

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I ask Vasu then about any memorable moments from the past 43 days.  He turns to me and he says, “You inspired me when I asked you one day if you were going off to the beach to run.”

“You told me.  No, my job is here.  My beach is here.  My everything is here.  Because the consciousness of the Supreme is here.  It inspired me so, so, much.”

*editors note.  A few words of mine can in no way compare to the humble and ceaseless dedication that Vasu and all the runners put in every day. How much inspiration they offer to the world is immeasurable*

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Little by little I must
change my life only
in God’s own Way.

Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2007, Agni Press, 2007

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July 31… I Am Very Close

“Everybody says that each race is different.  This race is absolutely different for me.  What can I say.  I had a wonderful easy first half and then this came.”

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“The thing is that I accepted it and it is like it is.”

We cannot know entirely the dimensions and depth of Surasa’s ordeal, which is now well into its interminable 17th day.  Up until that day, July 14th, when her body, or perhaps it is just her legs went into a tailspin.

She was speeding along at another world record pace.  Then her world suddenly shifted and the trail in front of her suddenly has grown steeper and steeper.

On this her 43rd day on the course there is not one caring person whose heart does not go out to her now as she struggles to make it to the finish line.  If you have been saying prayers for her recently I know you are not alone.  For I certainly have.

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Yesterday was a pretty good day for her.  She did 53 miles and this morning she is optimistic that she is moving faster.  She needs however to move a lot faster and it has to happen now.

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With 608 miles to go and 10 days in which to do it the calculation is clear now even for the most math challenged person.  It is 60 plus miles per day now or it will mean the finish line will be just precariously out of reach when midnight comes in 10 days time.

As we jog rhythmically along past the school, she questions if she could have not accomplished more in the last few weeks.  Answering her own question, she says, “I tried my best.”

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Recently it was suggested that she stay longer and this she has now done.  “I have stayed until 12 o’clock for the past 3 days.”

“But I am very close to the finish line.  I have to do a little bit less than 61 miles.  Today at least I am running.”

“But I am getting tired quite fast.  The heat absolutely.  The heat is really difficult.  When the sun comes up my energy goes down.  But in the evening I can run.  But the sun stays up until half past 7 and then it is too short.”

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“So it is like it is.  I am not sad………..Maybe I can do this?………….and maybe not.”

“I don’t think what happens is up to me.  I have tried my best.”

“If you can stay until the end of the race, no matter the result, it is still really something.  You have to be grateful about this.”

“I want to thank all the people for their support.  What they are giving to me helps me and inspires me.  It encourages me.  I think it is real progress that I can run today.”

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In my life of surrender,
Each step of my inner running
And each step of my outer running
I am offering, offering, offering
To my Lord Supreme.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 57, Agni Press, 1984

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July 30… It Takes All of Me

Have you arrived at God’s castle?

“I am very close.”

*Translation by Lyalya*

Yuri has to be one of the most mystical and cheerful athletes I have ever met.  The last time we talked he declared that his destination was not a physical one, but something inner instead.  He called it God’s castle.

It was almost as though the race course and the mileage he accumulated each day was simply the avenue he was traveling upon in order to arrive there.

“It takes all of me.  My soul is striding towards it.  My heart is preparing its shrine for this meeting.  My mind is silence itself.  My vital is surrender itself.  My body is just experiencing huge happiness in anticipation of reaching the finish line.”

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“I am striving towards this meeting with all my strength.  I am doing all that I can.  Every minute and every second and it will happen.”

“It is like a current and you are caught in its flow and you feel as though you are being pulled along.”

I ask Yuri if this experience requires any of his own personal effort.

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“It is both.  God is calling me and stretching his arms out towards me.  In turn I am stretching my hands out towards him and striving to reach him.  So it is both ways.”

With just 370 more miles to go and if he continues to run 68 mile days Yuri can be finished the race in 5 and a half days.  I am curious if he will be happy or sad when it is all over.

“The happiness just doesn’t vanish by itself.  It always stays in your heart.  It is like a bank in which you can invest.  Make withdrawals when you most need to.”

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Yuri says that when the daily prayers are translated into Russian for him every day they are like intimate and loving companions that he runs with for the rest of the entire day.

“These poems are like flowers in the garden.  You plant a flower and the garden becomes more and more beautiful.  There is one prayer that still comes to me most frequently.”

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God loves
my streaming
tears.
I love
God’s beaming
Smiles.

Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2007, Agni Press, 2007

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July 29… I Love The Race

“A very good morning,” Stutisheel says as he greets me.

The rain is falling heavy enough to bounce off his umbrella.  The streets throng with the noisy jostling of thick morning traffic.  Stutisheel is now a 1,000 miles away from the goal and he has only 12 days left in which to do it.

He is walking on a cool wet morning and yet he still smiles.

It is a smile born from a deep and personal understanding of what the 3100 has done to him over the years and also what he has learned an become because of it.  Something he has earned from enduring much and giving his all to this race now over 12 long summers.

“This is a break now in the weather, and the next 5 days will be easier for what we need to do.”

“The major thing is your energy.  If you have energy than you can easily cope with all kinds of weather conditions.  It seems I am totally okay.  I am still not able to run.  I am still recovering from a major break down a few days ago.”

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“But somehow I feel pretty solid inside.  So I am happy.”

“I still tremendously love the race no matter what happens to me.”

“When you are able to run you have a very good flow of energy.  It is a different kind of experience.  But you need to stay solid and happy with whatever is happening.”

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“A few days ago when I was really down.  I had my worst break down since I have been in the race.  I was sent a very cute joke, that supported me like anything.”

Joke: “Sometimes I feel really tired and I want to stop my life.  It is then, that my guardian Angel touches my shoulder and says, this is not your stop.  Just live on.”

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I ask Stutisheel what he likes about the Enthusiasm Awkeners.  “They do what is written in their name.  They awaken enthusiasm and they have a good flow of energy.  They have a good attitude towards life.  It is raining and I am walking, but I can still say with all sincerity.  Life is beautiful.”

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“My child, My child, do not plan; do not plan!

I have already planned everything for you.

Just play with me and play for Me. I shall not fail you.

I shall not only take you to your destined goal

but also give you

My Heart of infinite Love and My Eye of infinite Compassion.”

Sri Chinmoy, Fifty-four morning prayer-cries and morning meditation-smiles, Agni Press, 1988

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July 28… You Do Your Best

Quite often I will do a lap in the morning with Ananda-Lahari for no other reason than he is just an incredibly pleasant person to be with.  His  effervescent sunny optimism and dedication to this mind boggling race are a constant reminder to me and probably you as well.

That we should not complain so often or be as critical of our own predicaments, no matter how bad they might appear to be.  Particularly when we compare our ordeals and burdens with that of the runners and what they each have to endure here every day.

Ananda-Lahari being the lowest person on the board, we as armchair observers can sometimes be tempted to fall absentmindedly into a dismissive habit of considering his presence in the race as unspectacular or not as important as that of the others .

That his 1995 miles, when compared to Yuri’s 2596, is a difference of more than 600 miles.  That this means somehow that he isn’t achieving as much.  But we sell him short when we do this.  When we use  some artificial and meaningless yardstick that we dare to hold up and measure him with.

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1995 miles he has run would take him from his home in Kosice Slovakia to the middle of Uzbekistan *Apologies to the Caspian Sea*

This attitude on our parts is of course completely wrong.  And if you spend any time with him at all.  Do a lap or listen on the blog you will immediately see the depth and brightness of who he is and what he is really achieving each and every day.

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Today is incredibly humid and when I ask if this affects him he says, “No, you are here and have to do your miles in any kind of weather.  You have to do your best.”

“It can influence you that you are slower or faster but it doesn’t really change anything.”

The last time we talked he had mentioned how he was trying to not be distracted by things going on around him.  I ask him a little more about this and he confesses that certain things do draw his attention.  He points at the little flower garden at the edge of the camp.  “I always look at them.  When they made the garden it changed something here.  It is really nice.”

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“I also look at the places that I remember that Sri Chinmoy was here when he visited the course.  Giving his concerts or doing his exercise.”  Ananda-Lahari says that his encounters with his spiritual teacher over the many years of running here include practically ever spot on the course.  He sweeps his hand in front of him in a large circle.  He says either he was driving his own car or being driven.

By now we come up to the little brick alcove where the Enthusiasm Awakeners sing each morning.  “This is the spot where he used to give concerts.  It was amazing.”

Original photo by Abakash

Original photo by Abakash

“I visualize it and it gives me joy. It uplifts me.  Sri Chinmoy was a very very special person, and very very inspiring to me.”

When I ask him about the daily appearances of the Enthusiasm Awakeners.  “I love it.  For me it is very uplifting.  I like Sri Chinmoy’s music and they sing the songs of Sri Chinmoy.  They are the Enthusiasm Awakeners and they do it with real enthusiasm.”

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“I believe it is mutual.  It uplifts the runners and I guess it uplifts them as well.  It adds to the race something special.”

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Who is my hero?
No, not a good God-talker.
Who is my hero?
No, not a good God-dreamer.
Who is my hero?
No, not a good God-lover.
Who is my hero?
No, not a good God-server.
Who is my hero?
My hero, indeed, a God-bleeding-heart
And a God-blossoming-life.

Sri Chinmoy, Enthusiasm, part 9

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July 27… We Can Do More (Enthusiasm Awakeners Anniversary)

It all takes place in less than an hour.  The singing, clapping, and offering of treats to the runners.

Who most likely have slept little, are aching and weary beyond belief, and are staring into the mouth of a mileage chasm that seems at times impossible to fill or even satisfy.

The girls all in matching colored t shirts arrive with a spirit and energy that is precisely the balm and remedy for waking up to 18 hours of running. Not on a soft forest trail mind you, but on the hardest unforgiving surface that a city can slap down, solely for pedestrians to make their way across the neighborhood

The weather at this time of year in New York is also generally hot, humid, and miserable.  The course of the 3100 simply put is a place where you are exposed to some of the worst aspects of nature.  An unyielding loop where the physical world is all one long hard battle.

But then quite to the contrary.  In an imponderable irony.  It is also where as well the divine brightness of the inner life beams more profoundly clear than any other place perhaps on earth.

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The great tick tock of time now says that this is day 39.  The runners have been struggling and soaring and everything in between for well over a month.

For Yuri who is in the lead and still has 570 more miles more to go in order to reach 3100.  He could be here for 10 days more.  For those not as swift or as fortunate there could be a maximum of 14 more days out on the course.

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So the vibrant joyous presence of the girls singing group  every morning at the course has an effect that brightens the sober reality they face.

A cheerful reminder of just why they have struggled so long and hard.  But of course as well to inspire and enable them all to see the source of their own inspiration.

That what they do here and what they accomplish is not about time and distance.  Instead it is about extending themselves towards a goal that is unsaleable, unknowable, and yet but must be reached by all of us someday.

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Parvati tells me that the little brick alcove where her group sings each morning that Sri Chinmoy over 2 years of the race must have come there at least 100 times.

“He would first drive around the course encouraging the runners then he would stop at this very spot, and teach us a brand new song.”

Photo by Jowan

Photo by Jowan

“We had the privilege of waiting here and watching in anticipation for Sri Chinmoy’s little red car to come along.  Then he would teach us a new song.  Then the next day it would happen again.”

“In 2007 it happened 65 times.  It was pretty amazing.”

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I suggest to Parvati that the spot still seems to have a special energy to it.  She says, “I think it is the runners that keep the message that Sri Chinmoy wanted us as his disciples to carry.  They, more than anybody else I have ever seen carry that.”

“So it is a real privilege just to be here and see them and witness what true aspiration is.  They also give us a reminder, that Sri Chinmoy tried to bring to us every single day.  That we can do more.  That we shouldn’t say no so often.”

“So being here at this time of year reminds me of that.  I shouldn’t say that I can’t.”

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Indomitable strength blossoms
In the heart
Of enthusiasm.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 41, Agni Press, 2004

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July 26… Stay Positive

Kaneenika has been running for 89 days now on the course.  She has collected 5304 miles but has yet to reach her goal.

This of course makes little sense unless  you are familiar with her history here at the race from last year.  She gave of course a valiant effort over 52 days but came up in the final hour still 86 miles short of the distance.  An injury she received in a fall late in the race kept her back from being able to maintain her pace.

Last night she completed her 37th day this year and ended the day with 2290 miles.

For those of us who have watched her blistering pace over the first month were relieved when she made it to 2000 miles.  She looked unstoppable.  As though nothing could go wrong, and then quite unexpectedly for all of us and in particular for Kaneenika, it did.

For the last week she has been battling sciatic pain and though she has not stopped, she has slowed.  For all of her supporters there has been an inaudible yet collective gasp.  All mouthing silently the words, O please not again.

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Since we are now in the late stages of the race the numbers for those of us watching from the bleachers are easily calculable.  The one number that is easily added up to is the number 54.  If she can run that number of miles every day she will complete the race.  Last night she ran 51 miles.

“I guess there were some indications but I guess I didn’t catch them.  Then it came all of a sudden after my break on Tuesday.”(last week)

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When the problem first arose she says, “I started treating it right away.  Which was helping because it could have been much worse.”

“I didn’t know that it was sciatica from the beginning.  It started as lower back pain.  Which my helper was trying to massage.” The very next night Kaneenika says that she received 2 different treatments.

“There were worries of course but I was trying to stay positive.  I was concentrating on trying to treat it.”

She says that there have been other problems that she has dealt with since she began the race.  This sciatic problem has just been perhaps the toughest.  If there is something to learn from this, who can say.  She says that all these tests ultimately make you stronger.

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“To have more faith.”

“When something like this happens it becomes a kind of focal point.  You forget all the other problems that you have.  It changes everything. Also it changes your perspective and how you look at things.”

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Kaneenika says that before it happened she had been realizing that there were still more than 2 weeks to go.

For a time she says she began to feel the nagging tugs of doubt.  This event with sciatic pain only intensified her worries.  “Maybe I won’t have enough time to finish the race.”

“Now I am just trying to stay positive.  To stay in a good consciousness, and just to surrender.”

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God loves my mind’s
Positive thoughts,
Positive ideas,
Positive ideals
More than I can ever express.

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