Sri Chinmoy 12 Hour Walk April 12 2014
I was really torn between the choices of doing the walk - for the first time in ages - and missing out in order to protect myself from any further injury. With my knee and foot improving, I was even able to get out and run about 5 miles with no ill effects a couple of days before. With 2014 being such a special anniversary - 50 years of the Sri Chinmoy Centre - I eventually decided to just go for it. So, I found myself on the sidewalk outside Thomas Edison School with 150 or so others at 7pm hearing Pratyaya's pre-race briefing. Not like any other briefing this - it was mostly spiritual advice from Sri Chinmoy himself that Pratyaya was reading out, reminding us to offer gratitude every time we completed a mile and to treat the race as if it were a journey along Eternity's Road. Which of course it is....
This year the race was not held on the usual loop around Jamaica High, but the half mile circuit usually used for the immortal 3100 mile race that now takes place every summer. A truly sacred course. So, with the morning mild and still, clear and sunlit, we sang our Invocation and took the first steps of the walk.
The course was pretty much flat, but a few sections seem to be downhill while no uphill slopes are really noticeable - a strange but welcome illusion! With nothing but a 5 mile run behind me I wasn't sure what I could do, but I set myself the target of 45 miles - my age in miles - and decided to shoot for that. At first all went well - I was singing to myself and enjoying the sunshine as the laps ticked by. My counter was Grahak, a former champion of the 3100, quite an honour. And so it went - I shed a few layers, drank coconut water or water constantly and ate snacks almost every lap, I was in and out of the loo quite a bit but it was paying off as I felt well fuelled even after several hours. I held off using headphones for the first 4 hours, instead passing the time singing to myself quietly - a different song repeated on each loop.
By the time 6 hours came round I was ahead of schedule, my system had come into balance and the drink was not going through me so much, while I still felt strong and well hydrated. The seventh hour marked a change - the lap times slowed as everything stiffened up and my feet began to hurt. The last 5 hours were long, and the speed was slow, but as the end approached I was slowly limping my way towards 45 miles plus an extra lap. There were the usual struggles with pain and stiffness that most of the walkers get, there didnt's seem to be a second wind coming, and I got to my target of 45.5 before the time expired. My second half counter, Himadri, called out that I could get another lap in as I was doing 10 minute splits and there was 10 minutes to go - so I went for it, only realising as I passed the clock that in fact there was only 8 minutes left! I really stepped on it and the pain seemed to ebb away nicely, allowing me a final lap with over a minute to spare and a finish distance of 46.099 miles.
A great experience. Of course, I then had to walk home.....
The good news afterwards was that my foot and knee were unharmed, but the bad news is that even 4 days later my right achilles is extremely sore and a bit swollen. Well, it just seemed like the right thing to do this race. Let's hope I can heal up quicker than usual!
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