Has shattered the summitless pride
Of your ruthless life-devouring dragon.
Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 23
Wish me luck, because I’m running a marathon tomorrow. I may need it.
It’s been three years since I last ran a marathon, and the pain of that race has dulled just a little. After years of running marathons easily and without preparation, I had the humiliation of finishing almost an hour slower than expected, hitting the wall as they say despite the most training ever done.
The account of my 2004 Self-Transcendence Marathon deserves a story in it’s own right—I have been meaning to write about it ever since I crossed the finish line—but in short it was a hot day, and from the start I was never able to feel comfortable, struggling to breathe, growing dizzy after 16 miles. A stop in medical was no respite—or desperately sought rescue—aside from “mental problems” they informed me, there was nothing wrong at all. Humiliated, but unable to justify quitting, I walked three miles on doctor’s orders and then jogged slowly, the slowest I had ever run—every step a battle with pain physical and mental—jogged all the way to the finish, feeling more of a loser than my actual time, 4:22, reveals.
Believe it or not I will be happy with that time tomorrow. In my case, the pride of youth has since been replaced by the realities of ageing. And maybe just a little maturity…
In retrospect, blisters healed and much fluid replaced, I learned a lot during those four and half hot hours in the New York sun. I learnt about pride and expectation, and conversely about humility and surrender. I learnt about determination and perserverence; harder to practise, yet infinitely more valuable when facing a task more difficult than expected, our capacities extended.
Hopefully tomorrow however I will learn a little about joy.
To be honest, I am not running this marathon because I enjoy running—not over body shattering, mind-cowering distances at least (I am a sprinter by preference and build); and I am not running it to do a good time—I did that last time, my ambition sorely defeated.
Rather I am running to compete with myself. To do something I once thought easily within my capacity, now a true test.
42 kilometres of road to run, 42 hours of recovery, and hopefully, 42 days of feeling pretty good about myself afterwards.
Wish me luck.
Every day run
Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 209