One measure of how you did on long run day is the mental state you achieved during the hardest parts of the run. What were you thinking? Were you clear in your thoughts? Did you maintain a sense of humor?

Meghna said she wasn’t feeling her best. This was mile 12 or 13. It was hard for me to evaluate this statement, because she seemed to be running well, or at least not complaining, which is what I would have been doing. We stopped for a minute on a stretch of trail-connecting pavement to down some calories.

I said to her, “You’ll feel better in about three minutes when those calories get in your system. Then I want you to tell me a joke.”

Some stretches of long run day get quiet. Either we run out of things to say, or we’re both so focused on keeping the project and our bodies moving forward that we don’t feel like talking. When your partner begins to struggle, if you can, distracting them with any sort of conversation can help (although, if they’re in real calorie-debt, they’re likely to be annoyed by your very existence, which only becomes more palpable if you’re talking non-stop about a million random things). Nonetheless.

It didn’t take three minutes for us to revisit a conversation we’d been having earlier. She has been reading the Mahabharata to her son. While not religious herself, Meghna wants her kids to have a sense of their Indian-ness, and Hindu mythology is a part of that. The challenge is, she explained to me back at mile 3 or 4, religious mythology (all religions it seems) is full of rape, murder, fratricide, the cruelty of “gods,” etc., and so Meghna wasn’t sure just how much to read aloud.

Once the gel she’d quaffed on that stretch of road hit bottom, she opined that religions come from this lawless and cruel mythology, but then enter a strangely conservative and pious phase, in which none of the behavior in the foundational texts would ever be tolerated. Again, we’re talking about Hinduism, but this is true of all religions with which I’m familiar.

There is rape and murder, but also there are orgies. Apparently.

It was at that point that I asked what the Sanskrit for ‘reach-around’ was, and we had a good laugh as we navigated our way to the last turn and the final (long) stretch of trail.

I knew then we’d make it, if I ever really doubted that at all. If, in the toughest stretch of a 17.5 mile effort, you can parse the hypocrisies of the world’s religions and come up with the Sanskrit for reach-around…well, then you’re accomplishing something more than just running a long way.