Stories & Reflections
By Paulo Coelho
I received this email from a myspace friend, Karoline about her NYC Marathon Experience and I wanted to share it here with you:
So I set out on a challenge about one year ago. It was a goal mounted by one of my best friends. She wanted to do something special together with her close friends to mark her 40th and to her surprise a majority took on the challenge and most of their husbands wanted in too. I was not a runner in fact I had never jogged in my life before this, but she managed to present the case in such a seductive way that I decided to join the group. We were about 20 fairly good friends who began running together. Our backgrounds were vastly different. Some were regular joggers, one girl had already done 2 marathons and one girl a competitive skier had done several races before but had never run this far before. I for one had difficulties figuring out the breathing aspect the first time I ran. And then there was the professional side of it – for all of us. How to fit that much running into a life with children and demanding professional careers? And I discovered that as with many things in life it is a question of technique, organisation and will power.
We had so much fun. We bled and we mourned our injuries together. And we competed with and against each other. Our friend who began this crazy challenge hired the best runner in my country for training mental and physical technique and she brought in a nutrition specialist to teach us how to eat well and balanced. And so we ate amazing food and drank the best wines together and we partied and ran. And we passed everything we learned on to each other and together we began to improve our results, our bodies and minds and we became so strong.
Then of course I met you just before I set of to New York so when I ran I carried love in my heart. But I was so nervous, I had never been running more than 20 km in one go and just 1 ½ month ago I injured my knee which set me back one month of vital training time. I was just not sure how strong my body was. Could it endure almost 43 km of running on concrete and asphalt?
It was a high and the crowd, the vibrant city of New York and the presence of NOW carried me through. After 20 km I was so strong and so I ran 10 more km in the bliss of the challenge. At 30 km my knee began to hurt and I calculated that 10 km was the lap of my usual run around a garden in my city and I could endure that with a bit of pain. At 35 km just before I hit 5th avenue the pain became so excruciating that I realised that I could never stop at the liquid stations because it was becoming more and more difficult to get back in the running pace again. So I grabbed the mugs that were handed out while running and took in as much liquid as I could manage in movement. The last 5 km I focused all my mental power on my right knee. My mantra was that I could endure and I let the pain become a reminder of the NOW of my virgin marathon. So I was embraced by the NOW and I bled the last mile. It was the hardest and most difficult path ever – we were all in agony.
So I crossed the finishing line and I got my medal and a silver blanket not to get cold. And the minute I sat down my knee collapsed. I just couldn’t get up. It was impossible to put any pressure on that injured leg. A kind police officer and a taxi driver got me into a car and took me back to my hotel. I showered and was carried out to the celebration dinner and to my joy I discover that we had all finished what we had set out to do and at excellent times too.
It is a server inflammation with small cracks and liquid in the right knee. My doctor just shook his head when he heard that I had been running 13 km on it while hurting. Amazing how far will power can get us if we put our mind to it, endure and embrace now.
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