Before the raceIt’s been just over 48 hours since I walked, ran but mostly limped a marathon, and I think I’ve recovered now enough to string a few thoughts together—I’ve almost stopped limping.

It was my worst ever effort.

I haven’t kept count over the years of how many marathons I have run—somewhere in the low double figures would be a good guess—but my best ever time is 3:40, and my worst—now—5:10. A full 50 minutes worse than my previous personal worse, a forgettable experience already related in some length previously.

At least I think my time was 5:10. I wasn’t wearing a watch, and in all honesty I forgot to look at the clock as I crossed the line—I was too busy concentrating on not collapsing.

By all accounts I should be upset—I certainly was after my last personal worst—it took me a full three years to follow it up! And to think that only five years ago I ran 38 miles in 6 hours, not that much longer than it just took me to run 26.

But I am not upset at all—in fact quite the opposite. I am exceedingly happy, even over the moon. Is this wisdom? Old age? A little bit of spiritual progress? Probably all of the above.

There were many mitigating factors, excuses I am more than comfortable wearing. It was hot. And very humid. So much so that many runners pulled out on the day, and this runner, fresh from a New Zealand winter in the height of the North American summer, was, in the end, happy just to reach the end. Whatever the time.

I went through the half way point in 2:10—by no means fast but still respectable, and at least still running—but very soon afterwards hit a wall—I was simply getting too hot to run, unable to take in air even though limbs were still strong—and had to start walking. I then ran/walked the entire rest of the race—walking only the entire last 6 miles, and surprisingly, very much enjoying myself.

Walking as fast I could—here my 10km a day for eight years as a postman came in handy—I enjoyed myself by simply getting rid of expectation—a valuable lesson in the spiritual life, one I may mastered a little later than others. Being in the moment, just being happy, just being your Self—despite the 13 miles left to walk or run.

Rather than feeling sorry for myself, or begrudging every runner passing me whom I had already myself passed, I cheered them on—and still enjoyed reeling them back in again temporarily when I wasn’t too hot to run.

I even took the starting to wear a little thin now cheers of “Johnno Bloggo!” from friends in my stride.

So despite running a time I once considered respectable only for the infirm, I am more than happy the result.

I may even run a marathon again.

Your self-transcendence-marathon
Has shattered the summitless pride
Of your ruthless life-devouring dragon.
Sri Chinmoy

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.

Marathon TrainingThe 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.

The heart-runners
Every day run
The self-transcendence-joy-marathon.
Sri Chinmoy

Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 209

A related story
My Marathon Odyssey by Sumangali Morhall. An inspiring account of running a marathon, and in a time that puts my own personal melodrama to shame.

“I’m a winner!”

WinnersForgive me my fist pumping, flag waving and shouting into the air. I won a competition the other day. I haven’t won anything in a while.

There was a drawing competition when I was eleven; a pencil crafted picture submitted to a national children’s television show the winner of a logo emblazoned t-shirt. I didn’t wear the shirt much. My classmates decided it, and its wearer, were not cool.

I won a Calendar Prize in my second year of high school, an all-round achievement award named after precisely I don’t know what, and awarded for high marks in exams, being selected for an inter-school sporting team as well. A cheque for $60, I spent it on several books, not exactly disproving the jeers of my ‘friends’—“nerd!”

Jeers, and sneers aside—and probably better forgotten—A Sensitivity to Things is a winner, the joint winner in fact of the 2k Bloggers membership competition, admitted with fellow “Down Under” blogger Flabuless and Going Like Sixty to the august ranks of two thousand top bloggers.

Perhaps not an exclusive number were we to gather in a single venue, but elitist enough out of an estimated 60 million.

Sixty million monkeys typing? To paraphrase Technorati, there’s got to be one or two primates worth reading…

Will success go to my head? Friends are doing their best to help me avoid an inflation of the ego—regular taunts of “Johnno Bloggo” suitably deflating to burgeoning writer’s pride.

And it is worth mentioning, in a spirit of humility, that friend and far more prolific blogger Tejvan is a member of 2k Bloggers as well, and has been for a considerable time.

Once more I arrive on the band wagon late…