Self-Transcendence 2 Mile Race, New York, August 30th 2008
Race number 12 was a surprise - the collapse of Zoom Airways one day before I was due to fly home to the UK left me stranded in New York. Dickie Branson stepped in with a cheap deal to get all the Zoom-refugees back home again, but to get that affordable flight we had to wait until August 31st. Being impatient by nature, and having been keen to get home and run the Campus2Campus 7 Miler in Newport, I was a bit frustrated.. That soon passed, in the peaceful atmosphere of our home-from-home in Jamaica, Queens, and I actually spent a blissful couple of days meditating at the Aspiration Ground, caught some more concerts of spiritual music in the evenings and also got to take part in the weekly two mile race. Perhaps the Zoom fiasco was a blessing in disguise?
I was a lot more tired than the previous Saturday, and certainly didn't expect to match the 11.25 that I had run so hard for on that occasion. In fact, I almost didn't run at all after waking with a very sore throat, but having decided that this was more the symptom of tiredness than illness I jogged up to the start (first there, I got the number 1) and did my usual twenty minutes warm up. Gathering at the start we were a happy crew despite the damp weather, numbering over a hundred but not so many that we would need separate mens and womens races. Sundar finally got us lined up at the start after much laughing and chatting and we fell silent to hear the race prayer of the day as we prepared for the start.
"I dearly love my God-Manifestation tears and smiles, I really do".
This would have been a prayer/mantra given by Sri Chinmoy in person at a similar race some months or years ago. After a few moments of silence we were off around the bend and I went for it, joining the pack of faster runners up the front. Many had run the 47 miler, including Virendra (the course record holder) who was steaming up the hill in front of me. We soon strung out, the three fastest guys led by Arthur from Berlin opening up a gap behind which were four or five others including myself. I don't usually figure in the top ten, and I knew it was just because of the recent ultramarathon where my contribution had been as a scoreboard guy rather than a runner, but still it was exciting to be "up there".
We dodged a few other runners who were out training, weaved between parked cars to take the shortest route, and found ourselves turning the sharp bend on 164th Street onto the hill - here I pulled ahead of Virendra, who had gone off like a rocket only to fade when the fatigue in his legs kicked in, and found myself in fifth place with the guy in fourth pulling away, hoping to catch the leaders. I pushed hard, but came to the mile mark in dead on six minutes, so the pace was slow and there was little chance of eclipsing my previous time. Without other runners around me to spar with, I did the best I couuld to push myself hard, lapping Fran on the home straight and coming in with a fifth place time of 11.32.
12 races down, 28 to go!
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