"We seemed to find a rhythm and somehow we became a unit-the miles fairly flew by"

First Marathon.

Morning came around early with a 3.30 meditation. Feeling calm, energised and inspired, my first marathon beckoned and I have to say I was thrilled at the prospect. These feelings quickly transformed into a mild panic as I discovered a complete absence of running shoes!

A mid-Celebration move to a permanent NY address had been completed (less one pair of trainers) a couple of days earlier and the morning of the race started with a dash to my previous address to get fully equipped.
Training had gone well and on the strength of that and the encouragement of my seasoned runner and smiler brothers in the British and Irish Centres, I was ready.

In my 2 years as a student of Sri Chinmoy, I've seen grace working in many wonderful and surprising ways. The transformation from lethargic couch potato to inspired marathon runner is perhaps one of the more striking in the outer world.

As we stood at the start line, Sri Chinmoy meditated and prepared us inwardly for the challenge ahead. Throughout my training I had visualised Sri Chinmoy and found this to be a source of boundless joy, energy, power and enthusiasm. To run the Self-Transcendence Marathon now, and to see my teacher outwardly as well, was truly amazing.

All my brothers had urged me not to go out too fast, so I started out at a steady 7.45 pace. I had felt quietly confident before the race, but a few nerves crept in as we got underway as this was all unchartered territory. Lacking experience, I was struggling to find the balance between enthusiasm and caution. Then I found myself in step with Ambarish from Ireland, who I'd gone for a few long runs with prior to the race and who'd given me many invaluable tips. As the pace picked up, we joined two more brothers and the joy of running the next 4 or 5 laps was the heart of the race for me. We seemed to find a rhythm and somehow we became a unit-the miles fairly flew by.

Around 18 or 19 miles, the group broke and the race became a little tougher. A little later again and I came to know the experience called the 'wall'. Obviously, I'd heard of it, and even thought I'd felt it a bit in training- my longest run had been 21 miles. I felt that it had probably been hyped and that it wouldn't be too bad. A little further along and I was proved spectacularly wrong! The power in my legs seemed to 'mysteriously' disappear, to be replaced by pain and occasional cramps. My mind began to produce doubt-waves and my performance deteriorated further.

This was countered by something from Sri Chinmoy I'd seen on a T-shirt, along the lines that impossibility must bow to determination. Now it was a battle to maintain even a wobbly trot, it was   my teacher's face in my inner vision which soothed the pain and kept me going.

It really was a race of two parts as Roger from Cardiff had mentioned earlier. The first 20 miles and the last 6. My mind was producing rubbish with such ferocity that when on the last lap at the funnel to the finishing line, I had grave doubts that I'd actually completed the full distance. It was only a full ½ hour of feeling like a fraud after crossing the line, that certain runners came in and I was certain I'd run the full 26 miles 385 yards. Bizarre! Finishing time 3 hr 32 mins.

My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all the runners and helpers who made this a truly memorable and joyous experience, and to my beloved teacher who made it all possible.

Love and Gratitude,
Steve (Cambridge)