The Pinpoint and the Panorama

The night before Saturday’s race, I walked my athletes through the complicated logistics of the day, from what to put in which bags to where to turn to what to expect out on the run course. The last turn of the course, 50 yards from the finish, was onto grass, and just after the turn there were a number of thick roots sticking from the dirt like the backs of thick sea creatures emerging from the water. I told folks that toward the end of the race, they’d get tunnel vision, with the area of their focus shrinking further and further until it was very narrow. The end of the tunnel is the finish line, and when you can literally see the finish, you aren’t looking at the rooty ground under your feet. I passed through the tunnel in April: it was wide in Hopkinton and narrowed over 26 miles so that it obscured all of Boylston Street.

Robyn had the pinpoint vision; I knew it when she almost missed the next-to-last turn on the course. I had the opposite experience. From the top of the final bridge on the course, I saw everything laid out before me: the Cape Fear leading to the ocean on my left; the ugly industrial part of town behind me; an ebullient Katy to my immediate right, framed by the historic downtown and the imposing battleship; the downward slope to the finish before us. It was panoramic.
In yoga, we’d call Robyn’s experience a form of pratyahara, sensory withdrawal, which led to dharana, intense concentration. Mine was a taste of samadhi, blissful connection and awareness of everything simultaneously. And it only took six hours of exercise to get there!
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