For several days now there have been bits of grey tape stuck to the sidewalk on all 4 corners of the course. Little arrows have been carefully drawn on them and they are placed a generous distance from the inside corner. They were placed there just to remind Suprabha not to make tight turns. She says, “If you do wide corners it is much better for your hips. Because if you do a sharp corner it is harder for your joints.” It has been just 6 days since Suprabha was teetering on the edge of not being able to complete the race. In that time she has adapted to a whole new strategy in how to do the race and it appears to be paying off. She starts the day with 475 miles to go. Which seems like a lot if you consider it will probably take her another 11 days to complete it. Each day she now only walks and leaves the course early in the evening to help rest her painful hip. But one has to consider as well, that after she crosses the line here this summer she will have run 43,000 miles on this block over 14 years.
She describes her original hip pain as one that slowly became more and more intolerable. She says, “it was going on for a week before it got to the worst point. It was very hard for me to walk around the course. To me that is pretty bad. If you are in a race you just assume you can get around the course.”
Mitch the chiropractor, who came to see her at that time said that when he saw her at the course she could not even stand on one foot. The pain was just too excruciating. The next day x rays were taken and the evaluation given quickly. There was no damage to the bones and what was impressively clear, there was also no evidence of arthritis. Which was a surprise to the radiologist when told that the patient had been running for many years over thousands of miles. The exact cause of her pain was only guessed to be a soft tissue problem. One that could not be irrefutably seen without an MRI. In the meantime another Doctor suggested specific stretching, and more rest. She speculated that most likely Suprabha had some cartilage loss or damage. Suprabha says, “we are really happy that nothing was cracked or broken.”
When asked if she had ever given up hope she looks puzzled at that question. It is almost as though doubt or failure do not exist in her vocabulary or in her make up. Her answer, “I was just trying to figure out the best way to proceed.” She turns to her friend Savita and asks her the same question, “Did I loose hope?” Savita responds with something unexpected. She says, “I think it added spice to the race.” They both laugh and Suprabha answers, “this is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.”
Suprabha continues, “Over the years other people have gotten to go off to Doctors. They took time off because they were sick.” They are both laughing at this odd circumstance of having Suprabha for the first time ever leave a race due to injury. Suprabha is content because the worst is clearly over and the goal is now less than 500 miles away. As for sorting out the most challenging experience of her running career and now seeing herself on track to make it to the goal, she says humbly, “It is very nice.”
“Not from darkness shall we proceed towards light,
but from light shall we proceed to more light,
to abundant light,
to infinite light.”
Excerpt from Fortune Philosophy by Sri Chinmoy
Diganta will be the next finisher but with 113 miles in front of him it will most likely not happen until late Tuesday. There is both joy and a little sorrow in the numbers on the scoring boards. It is nice to see that 7 runners have finished the race but it has to be a little more lonely out there now with just 4 runners left.
There was a brief moment just 6 days ago when it looked like it was all over for Suprabha. She says Stutisheel came to her and asked at that time, “what number are you going to stop at?” Her reply, “I am trying to figure it out. No number is very satisfying. He turned to me and said, 3100.”
It was of course the perfect answer but it was also one that would not be obvious for a couple of more days. Suprabha then talked amongst her friends and decided to do just 7 laps more. She says, “so I got to that point and I wasn’t really paying attention to how many laps I had done. So I just went walking by.” At that point her helper Shadri followed her and Suprabha turned to her and asked, “what shall I do?” Shadri replied to her, “It is too far for you.” She laughs now at this but everyone was so concerned about the pain she had at the time.
Savita suggests that Suprabha going to a Doctor was the best strategy, “it made it all the more convincing that she could do it. Being away from the race made you all the more aware that you should be here. And there was no question that you would not be able to do it.” She also received at the time the absolute assurance that no matter how long she needed to complete the race the Marathon team would be there to support her. For her this meant in very practical terms she could still do less mileage and continue. As of last night she left around 9:40 pm and did a little over 43 miles. “I am keeping things under control. It (pain) has never gotten back to the point where it was.”
Savita says, “sometimes you have to find different ways of doing things. And thats also about transcendence. This time Suprabha has had to vary what she has done before. And that shows a self transcendence. She couldn’t stick to the same way that she was doing it before.” She says that Sri Chinmoy often would use a similar strategy. “When he couldn’t do things, he would find another way of doing it, and achieving his goal. It is using that inspiration and creativity to come up with different solutions to achieve your goal. I think that is what Suprabha has done here.”
On the weekend there are a lot of baseball games going on in the field inside the course. On Sunday a group was there at first waiting for the rain to stop before they could play. One team had come many times over the summer and was aware of the race and the runners. Savita says one of the guys asked her, “when is she going to finish?” He misunderstood when someone told him the date and he thought he heard them say two days. She describes the ball player as being very happy for Suprabha, but was then quickly corrected and told that they would still see her on the course next weekend as well. Savita says, “they were really full of admiration and it was very nice.”
Suprabha talks more about her change of strategy. She says, “You just start thinking that the way you have been doing something is the only way. It wasn’t working. I just couldn’t do it. It was so encouraging how the marathon team came forward, and said don’t worry.”
I like man the God
To succeed daily.
I love God the man
To proceed constantly.