Seize the opportunity

by Nishima Knowsley, Auckland

When it feels right to give something a go – seize the opportunity!

Helping two of my very special friends in multi-day races have provided some of the highlights of my life. My friends would be running distances ranging from a six day race to the 3100 mile race run - up to 52 days. Being there for a runner 24 hours a day, assisting them with whatever they need to keep them moving around the course is a fantastic experience.

Although I loved helping the runners it never crossed my mind for more than a fleeting second to enter a multi-day race myself - until one day. The 7 Day Race organized by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team had just been changed to a 6 Day Race to be held in May the following year on Ward Island in New York. When I heard about the race this time something deep, deep inside me said - "You should run it." My mind barked "What!"

I had had enough experience with my mind not to let it have a say, it had never thought a training run for more than 2 miles was necessary. I started training in September with daily runs of an hour and longer runs in the weekend. In February I started apple picking so the training schedule changed from running to apple picking for the next two months. This unorthodox training suited me well. I was on my feet all day not only strengthening my legs but getting an upper body workout as well. The added strength helped later in the race when I combined race walking with running. One of the best training aspects apple picking offered me was that I needed to concentrate 8-10 hours a day on a repetitive activity, perfect preparation for running a 1 mile loop course for 18+ hours a day.

I arrived in New York with not much of a game plan. Other runners were discussing what mileage they would do and different strategies. My strategies were to pray a lot, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, stay in a cheerful frame of mind and a good mileage to aim for seemed to be over 300 miles. Music played a very big part in keeping my mind occupied. (Sri Chinmoy's music and River Dance worked well.)

With a lot of Grace I had a fantastic race. Despite 5 ½ days of rain I had no blisters, no lingering injuries and stayed happy for all but 1 mile of the race. Someone was looking after me!

When my mind comes up with every excuse under the sun not go to out for a run and I reflect back on the 6 Day Race, I am still amazed that I covered 2 marathons a day for six days. I am very grateful I seized the opportunity offered and went way beyond where my mind thought I could go.