The Sri Chinmoy 10 Day Ultra

Am I crazy? I’m standing on the start line of the Self Transcendence 10 Day Road Race in New York, with no idea whether I can even run two miles, let alone five hundred miles.  I haven’t run for three weeks due to a recent injury.

It has been a funny 6 months of training and nobody really knew whether I would be strong enough to enter this race.  I have competed in the 10 day race before but last year my left leg was immobilized in plaster and then I spent further weeks wearing a moon boot after a partial achilles rupture.   A ten day race was outside the experience of those assisting me with rehabilitation so I just had to follow my heart, start my dream and see where the journey took me.

The first few hours feel good but at 20 miles the injuries from the last 3 weeks make their presence known and my mind comes rushing to the fore.  “I should  never have started.  What was I thinking!   I can’t stop now but the end is going to be a long, slow, painful way off.”

In times of desperate need help is always sent.  Words of an experienced multiday runner remind me that walking will heal injuries.  I have done it in previous multi days successfully and can do it again.  I take a few laps to ‘mentally’ settle into the walk. A young friend, Shakti, has drawn some inspirational artwork and the message “Don’t give up” and holds it up for me each mile as I pass through the tent village and gauntlet of lap counters, cementing new determination and faith that I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I walk the rest of the evening and start the next morning running to finish the first day, only 1 mile behind my first day total in the race I ran 2 years ago.   The surprise and excitement on Shakti’s face when she sees me running the next morning is priceless.

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Nishima on Day 4 of the 10 day race

In the following nine days there are many, many challenges – rain, wind, aching limbs and the endless protests of the mind – but many steps of faith as well that bring me into my heart.  Hours of meditation too, feeling the indomitable spirit. I finish 60 miles ahead of my previous best distance and although I vow at the time and many times during the race never to do it again….well….maybe I’ll be out here again next year.

By Nishima