July 14: Become A Better Instrument

“It is going to be very interesting.  I hope we survive it.”  Pranjal is talking about the weather forecast for today which is predicted to be repeated over and over again every day for the rest of the week.  He describes a relentless march of metric temperatures all in the 30’s, but to most of us he means over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

In NY speak what lies ahead, not just for 12 weary runners but also the entire city and a great sizzling slice of the American east coast is simply a long heat wave.

pranjal

In many ways it would almost appear as though nature is playing a kind of cruel trick on the runners.  They have been battling off and on for the past 4 weeks just such conditions, but now it will become for them one long endless sauna. It is a weather pattern that happens predictably though every summer here.   It is one that any runner who has ever done this race before has had to deal with and find a way to overcome it.

weather

The real adversary in this weather mix  is the humidity.  Which for many who have routinely experienced high temperatures in their own countries have simply never had to deal with before.  It is because of humidity that perspiration does not evaporate and the body’s natural cooling system simply doesn’t have a solution.  Normal folk head into the shade, sit down, and have a cold drink.  But when you still have 1347 more miles to go like Pranjal those are not one of your options.

baladev3

Question: Sometimes for days on end I don’t feel like running, even though I know it is good for me. How can I overcome this reluctance?

Sri Chinmoy: We have to practise self-discipline. It is by doing something, by becoming something – not necessarily something great or famous – that we can overcome our reluctance. It is through moving – which is progress – and achieving – which is another type of progress – that we can overcome reluctance. In order to overcome reluctance, we have to have a goal and we have to try to reach that goal. By always moving and progressing toward a goal, you not only become a better runner but you also become a better instrument of God.

Sri Chinmoy, The Outer Running And The Inner Running, Agni Press, 1974

Guru-1981

Photo by Bhashwar 1981

When Rupantar’s limousine arrives this morning it is just starting to get hot.

pre-car

Bahula has offered Sarah a well deserved foot massage and they are trying to sort out a good time.

sarah-and-bahula

Pedro will make sure that there is no end of water and ice for the rest of the day.

pedro

Start: A good friend of the race has donated hats that he feels will help the runners better deal with the heat.

start

Ashprihanal continues with his own mileage wave.  3 days in a row of 70 miles

ashprihanal4

Once it gets hot he tries out his new hat.

ashprihanal

It seems to be something that also provides some amusement to Sopan.

ashprihanla-and-sopan

Ananda-Lahari also is using the hat and also drinking lots of fluids.

ananda-lahari2

Atmavir is one who has most often been deeply affected by the heat but he still ran 120 laps yesterday.

flower3

Everybody keeps moving one way or another

piegeon

Sarah has been dealing with foot problems from the start.  This morning she is doing some old fashioned shoe sole repairs by adding paper towels.

sarah

She got the tip from Ashprihanal.  “He said it was high technology.  He rolls up bits of paper and puts it under his arch of his shoe.  It is actually very good, and it is very soft.”

“I had some orthotics made for this heel injury before I came but they seem to change something else in my posture.  So then something else goes out.  I don’t like anything that will change your running style.  I think it is too intense all of a sudden.  Any way the paper towel seems to be doing well.”

For more than a week Sarah has recognized that completing all the miles of the 3100 are not just possible in the time left to her.  She has instead set her sites on simply staying in the race and finding self transcendence in a way that is unique and personal for her alone.  A goal that for most other endurance races would practically be non existent.  Yet this event is like no other.

sarah3

“I still get moments when I am disappointed.  But then I think it is my first race, and so whatever happens.  There are moments like last night and this morning when the injury felt real good.  So I have moments when I can run.  I keep reminding myself how special this race is.  Whatever happens is a blessing to be here.”

sarah prayer

On nearly every part of the course drinks are left out.

herbal-tonic

The runners also regularly eat nearly every lap as well.

yuri-and-peach

Yuri had a good day yesterday with 110 laps.  He is just 24 laps behind Pranjal.

yuri-and-pranjal-behind

9 time runner Pranjal is immensely experienced here.

wide-pranjal

He did 117 laps yesterday

pranjal3

Nidhruvi looks almost as though she has been here many times even though it is her first race.

nidhruvi

She remains constantly positive and her support crew help her so much.

nidhruvi-helper

She and Surasa are so similar, these 2 Vienna girls.

flower2

Surasa also did 111 laps yesterday and seems very good at dealing with the  heat.

surasa2

Even the frozen desert is too cold for her.  She waits a lap before eating it.

surasa-and-irena It is a beautiful frozen strawberry concoction that has no sugar or dairy.

nirjharini-frozen-desert

I happen to be here when Nirjharini has arrive with lunch.

nirjarini2

One of her crew Tanuja is also with her.

tanuja

The fountain is on in the little park at the end but is not something that provides much comfort to the runners.

wide-ashprihanal

A small lake has formed on the tarp that covers the vans.

water

Tajini and Vera working out some language issues.

Vera

It can seem like an exotic place this little block in Queens.

silouhete-sopan

But down next to the ground everyone looks much the same.

foot-shadows

Baladev demonstrates how much he is enjoying the heat. He did 107 laps yesterday.

Baladev

Nature offers all kinds of experiences

flower

Everyone will be hot today.

counters

Shadows will move silently across the ground today while hot feel will shuffle and suffer.

shadow

So much of the physical Sarvagata seems to melt away here each day.

sarvagata5

But something else continues to get strong.

sarvagata-behind

Vasu is having such a better experience on this his second year here.  Yesterday he did 119 laps.

vasu2

We all make shadows.

squirrel

We are all part of this world .

flower4

Sopan has an unusual dilemma.  When he wears his orthotics his body alignment is corrected but it hurts his blister.  When he doesn’t wear the orthotic his blister doesn’t bother him but he looks sometimes almost as though he is crippled.  “I can wear them but it has to heal first.  My running suffer so much. I fight so hard and by the end of the day I am still behind.”  He still managed 108 laps yesterday.

sopan

When he is wearing them he is amazed at the transformation they bring to his running style.  He believes that if one uses custom orthotics your running will improve so much.  “Because then you will no longer have the problems.  If you don’t take care of it you will slowly go down.”

He is really excited after he put the orthotics back into his shoes and then being able to run easily.  “It is quite an experience.”  His back has been a problem for him for the past 2 years and he feels that the inserts correct it.  His hips become level with their use.  “It is huge. I can’t believe it.”

Earlier he and Ashprihanal did a very short skit for the Enthusiasm Awakeners. “He helps me a lot.  We are really good friends.”

duck2

“The duck wanted to buy Quackers and I told him I have Quackers in my shop.”  When Sopan then asks the duck how he will pay for them he is told to put it on his bill. They both really enjoyed doing it.  “It takes your mind in a different direction.”

duck play

sopan3

The straw hat he is wearing now he really likes because he can put ice under it.  Luckily he says, “I don’t mind the heat.  I can take the heat.”  But the humidity and the rain and low pressure are another matter.  “It makes you dizzy.  You become so sensitive after being out here for so many days.  You can feel it.”

sopan

Today’s prayer

prayer

Recited by Sarah

Prayer

Enthusiasm Awakeners

parvati2

parvati

We can overcome unwillingness
If we know we are supposed to do
Something good for God and the world.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 16, Agni Press, 1999

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3 Comments to “July 14: Become A Better Instrument”

  1. Francesco says:

    Thank you Utpal!

  2. Chanakhya says:

    We all need Quacker:)

  3. Padyatra says:

    Well, now pictures are also getting really professional 🙂 Good job!

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