"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

Heart Garden 2 Mile Virtual Race 

When we had a rare chance to get out to a meditation gathering I was hoping there would be a race where we could all get together outside, but sadly it didn't happen. So that left me and Kokila the prospect of running on a path by the river on a cool but dry Autumn morning and that wasn't a bad altermative. Heading over the bridge and out of town we found the path was not the fastest - hard-packed gravel and lots of puddles meant you couldn't get into that top-speed stride that you get on smooth tarmac - but it was at least perfectly flat and there was hardly anyone around.

We warmed up and then Kokila starter her 2 miler while I warmed up a bit more with some strides, then I paused to meditate and get ready to run. The mist was hanging low over the wooded hills and conditions were cool and still, hardly a breath of wind. We had the slightly surreal sight of a lake filled with pink flamingos through the trees as the zoo was alongside our route. I set off at my usual pace of around 6 mins per mile in the hope I could improve on my recent times but soon I felt as if I was running a 1-mile race. That's a familiar feeling and I often wonder if I should start slower and see how things go for an accelaration after the turnaround? Old habits die hard though.

Heading out of town through the trees I soon caught up with Kokila and tried to keep my speed up while still dodging the mud and puddles - running at my race pace I'm not keen to risk slipping. This meant I couldn't keep much of a rythm and I reached my turnaround point at around 6.08. Not a disaster, but I knew I would have a hard time maintaining that pace. Inwardly all was very peaceful - running on the limit and trying to stay focussed on maintaining the effort, even as fatigue and discomfort made my body want to slow down. That phrase "on the limit" was one that the late Dayalu used to use when we talked about our race experiences - he and I were of similar pace and used to be in the same group on the course in Christmas Trip and Celebrations races. This course was close to where I used to bump into him at the riverside temple and he was in my thoughts a lot.

Once I'd dropped to a standstill momentarily as part of the turn it was a struggle pushing myself back up to race pace as I had gone off much too fast and that had left me with too little in the tank to run a good second mile. I managed to hang on and not "crash" though and as I came back towards the zoo and recognised my start line up ahead I was just hanging on to a reasonable pace. 12.21 was the final time.

It was an exhilarating run on a new route which I may well use again, but next week I'll be back on home turf - well, home tarmac - and should knock a few seconds off. Kokila had a good run - another improvement - so we jogged back into town satisfied. She was also happy to have bumped into a friend on the course and have the briefest of breathless chats before resuming her race. So she should improve at her next race too seeing as that probably added a few seconds.


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