“At first I thought, well it is just 6 days it is a bit more than half of a 10 day race. But then (a loud pause)…., It is going to be fine.” Jayasalini Abramovskhikh has been a fixture of the 10 day race here in Flushing Meadow for the past few years and simply because of vacation time conflicts she had to pass up the 10 day this year and instead select the 6. But sometimes silence and a look can communicate much more than just words can do.
“Then I said it is 2 days, plus 2 days, plus 2 makes 6. I had some confidence that it would be good. I will enjoy it. I try and enjoy every second of being here. But the second day of the race this year, I never had in any races,……it was really tough for me.” She describes that just into her 2nd day it felt more like she had already been running for 6.
“I think this is an experience that you can never predict and you can never plan. The Supreme always has his own plan for you. And all you need is to just accept whatever experiences you get. And accept it as cheerfully as you can. So I try. This morning was really not easy. I was crying and crying and then God’s grace descended and now after a break I feel better, physically and emotionally, so I am happy.”
For most working folks locked into a 9 to 5 lifestyle the world of ultra endurance sports may be several time zones beyond comprehensible. Making a living and paying the bills is a struggle that most of us feel is one of the unfortunate givens in order to stand in line with the rest of humanity. Yet right now there are more than 70 runners circling a loop in Flushing Meadow who have turned away from all the conventions of the so called normal world and are subjecting themselves to a physical and mental struggle that is incomprehensible to most and intolerable to nearly all.
“In general it was a feeling that nearly everything hurt. When you start feeling sorry for yourself, that you go through all this pain. Then once you try to get rid of this feeling, and just enjoy. Even if it is pain, it will go away.”
“When I try and concentrate on something else, for example breathing. When I try to get energy and power from everything around. Then at midday there was a beautiful beautiful rainbow. I have never ever seen such a rainbow. I think this morining was difficult for everybody, and when we saw this rainbow. Everybody was staring and looking at the sky, and got so much joy. It was such special blessings.”
Jayasalini says that she has no mileage goals for this race, but describes that she had a powerful inspiration yesterday, “to stay in a good consciousness. I try not to be attached to this mileage, to the results. For me the point is to stay in the moment, and not to think of the past or the future. Just do this, one step after another.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/jayasalini.mp3|titles=jayasalini]
Gudrun is in her 2nd 10 day race. Dipali who is simply burning up the course checks in for a micro pit stop and then just keeps going.
“They are swollen and painful on the bottom. Now they are enjoying a very nice massage.” Shramaniya a 31 year old runner from Zlin Czech Republic, has ventured into brand new territory in her running life now by entering the 6 day race for the first time.
Her numbers on the board right do not even begin to tell the story of what is really happening for her here. “I really enjoy this race. I am very happy to be on the track. I have been thinking if I would ever to be able to do something like this. Now I can say that I am half way.”
“I can still say that I am enjoying, but there are moments….(Long Pause)
“The good part is that you discover that you have a bigger capacity than you thought that you had. The inner capacity. You discover the inner silence, or the inner strength to go beyond. Beyond the pain or beyond the thoughts.”
“I discovered that some thoughts are so heavy that you just throw them out, and I feel much lighter then. It is very interesting work here on the track with myself. My inner self.”
“I am definitely surprised I have never experienced such an inner thing before.”
Leelavatee who has been quietly working on her feet tells me,
“I like that after all those miles the runners are still smiling and still going on. Those achievements are amazing.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Shramaniya.mp3|titles=Shramaniya]
Speed is of course relative in a multi day race, but to my eye at least Daria is a superbly gifted athlete who makes an incredibly difficult sport somehow look easy.
Last year she came to the 10 race for the first time. “It was a very new experience for me. But I think it is a new experience even if you have been here many times. Each new time it will be a new experience. Every time it is very different.”
After she finishes the race here she is planning to go to Alaska and be part of a team that will climb Mount McKinley. I ask if she looks upon this race as training for her climbing. “Not it is not training it is just running. Because most of this year I have traveled a lot, and working a lot, and it was all over the world. It was a lot of moving for me and now I am staying in one place. This 6 days I stay in one place and I am relaxing. It is like vacation. We have a lot of good food. Sleep any time you want.”
“Of course it is hard. but it is also vacation. For many others who work this is also a vacation, they take a break and come here. It is not really easy, because I feel too much pain and too much tired, but it is like a game.”
“I think it is one of the places in the world, there are not so many places like this, where people are smiling. Most people are smiling here. Some people smile inside, and some people smile with their mouths. It doesn’t matter.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/daria.mp3|titles=daria]
“It all started a year ago. I was on a working trip in the mountains shooting a documentary, and one of the girl climbers there told me about the race. I was amazed”
“So then I thought that I could not just make one movie but a whole series of them on how extreme sports can affect our body and our mind.” She needed a runner in Moscow so that she could scientifically test her, which is how Jayasalini became the subject of a documentary now being filmed in Flushing Meadow park by Sveta Rodina and her cameraman Alexandr. Sveta’s sister Elena, from Chicago, has come to hang out and to help with her sister’s project over the length of the race. She also provides some bonus backup Russian translation.
I am curious about what they discovered about Jayasalini when they took her into the lab. “Right now we only know that she is in very good shape. After the race we will go back to Moscow and take all the measurements again, and we will see what has changed in her body.
I wonder what her impressions are of being here in the midst of all the excitement and energy of the race. “I am extremely excited. People are smiling and there is a lot of positive energy around. So much that I had to run around the course myself 3 times. I like to be a part of it.”
Curious, I ask if the name of the race, Self Transcendence means anything to her. “I think I do understand. because before this race I was in the mountains. We were shooting a film in the mountains, and it was very difficult. It was physically very challenging but then afterwards I was elated. I was excited that I had overcoming the difficulties. For me it was self transcendence.”
“In the movie we are going to start with the physical measurements but throughout the movie we will have interviews with Jayasalini and we will be able to show her spirit. By the end of the movie you will see less physical information and more spiritual.”
We joke about just how many other Russians are in the race. “I don’t know why. Maybe for Russian people it is very important to find something in this world that is spiritual.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/russian-crew.mp3|titles=russian crew]
Francesco has 127 miles after 2 days on the course and lots of friends.
“I don’t feel ill, I am just hoarse.” It is my first conversation with William since the start of the race. His words take away all my concerns as well the fact that he has covered 178 miles after 48 hours. “The wind has gone into the larynx. I am going well and feeling fine.”
As for the difficult first day. “There is now way it couldn’t set you back really. It was so extreme the weather it is no way it couldn’t have an influence. You just have to get on with it don’t you. That is my attitude. It is one of those things that you have to get your head down and grind it out. Get what you can, and move on.”
Of the race as a whole, “I am enjoying parts of it. It is extremely challenging weather obviously, with the rain on day one, and the wind today. So there is no room for boredom anyway. ”
“I have got quite a good rhythm and quite a good flow. It will be easier to maintain if the weather calms down a bit.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/William.mp3|titles=William]
I do not know where to go,
I do not know why to go,
But I do know that my Lord Supreme
Has a very special Plan chalked out