As Nirbhasa runs into the thick middle of his 20th day at the 3100 mile race. He has now been running twice as long as he has ever run before. When I point this rather obvious observation out to him he responds with his characteristic wit and accompanying giggle , “it certainly feels like it.”
“I never thought the human body could get this tired. At the same time I am still quite cheerful, still quite happy. The race is really all about running with your heart, and with your soul. You have to run the race from within. Because if you think of how tired you are, and all the other things going on. There is really no end to it. So you just keep going and the miles accumulate.”
Nirbhasa ran 58 miles yesterday, which was better than the 49 miles from the previous day. He started the day with 1174 miles.
It was exactly 10 years ago that Nirbhasa was finishing up his Doctoral program in Nuclear physics. Clearly he is one of those very smart people who once upon a time, in joking we could safely have used the term rocket scientist. But long before he started the race Nirbhasa refocused his intellect in a direction that did not coincide with academia or Cape Canaveral. I am curious what he thinks about hour after hour on the course.
“It really depends on the day. Sometimes you get a nice meditation instruction. For example yesterday, and I am doing it today, I am breaking up each lap into little sprinting sections. I am focusing on an imaginary finish line at the end of each section. So all I have to do is go to the finish line. That gave me a lot of joy yesterday. Not thinking too much about what laps are ahead. Just thinking about that particular little sprint. I call them sprints.”
His sprinting of course does not resemble anything you would likely similarly witness in any Olympic competition. I can easily keep pace with Nirbhasa as he does this in a very comfortable jog. But I also understand that he has already circled the block 2141 times. But all the while we….sprint together… Nirbhasa, is incredibly content and happy.
His strategy is the simplest and probably the most useful to all the runners on the course. “To take it one lap at a time or even one section at a time.”
“From what people tell me, that up until the half way point, it is just hard, physically hard. That is not too far away now. That is only a week away. So I think up until than you are basically trying to be as cheerful and happy as possible. Sometimes you have these really nice meditation experiences. Where you sometimes manage to get the mind to go along. Other times you listen to music, audio books, you just keep going. Whatever keeps you going forward. The main thing is to stay happy.”
“I had a nice experience on my 2nd day. I was coming into the evening. All of a sudden some inner voice came.” Nirbhasa says usually at that time he would be wondering how many more laps he had to do. There were only a few hours left and it was getting dark. He describes the typical mental traps popping up. The kind of distractions that usually ensnare all of us during our waking hours.
“Then the inner voice came and said, you would get so much joy if you just let this sink in here.” At which point Nirbhasa lifts his hand to touch his head and than let it drops to his heart. It also said he should not worry about the hours or laps to go, or the hot shower that would come soon enough.
“That was very very nice experience. You definitely get experiences. You still have to go through tough sections and than at the end there is sometimes a nice realization. A nice little moment when you say…wow! Okay good. Now I able to run the race a little bit better.”
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