Friday, April 26, 2013

Of Hallucinations

“Have you ever had any hallucinations?”

When a coworker or acquaintance hears that I have run a few 100 milers, one of their first questions is often “Have you had any hallucinations?” Although that question is usually proceeded by:

1) “Why do you do that? I don’t even like to drive that far.” (I have to justify all those cinnamon rolls somehow.)

2) “How can you be an ultrarunner without a long, flowing, Jesus-like beard?” (Why do you think I always finish toward the back of the pack!”)

But I digress. Hallucinations. Have I ever had any? Until recently, not really. I wish I had some cool story about Papa Smurf popping out of the woods to run a few miles with me. Or that a unicorn flew in riding a rainbow and offered me a bowl of Lucky Charms. (Unicorns smell like Lucky Charms and love.) Or that some Care Bears showed up with a big screen television and we watched Judge Judy together. Sadly, none of those things have happened.

Although at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 last month I did have a moment where I felt like someone slipped some acid into my Mountain Dew. It was around mile 90 and my amazing pacer Jared Thorley had me running harder than I ever have that late in a race. I was feeling exhausted but pretty good. (“Pretty good” = I felt like I accidentally slipped off the Empire State Building. As opposed to “Pretty bad” which = feeling like I accidentally slipped off the Empire State Building, got ran over by a Greyhound Bus, and then vultures pecked at me like road kill.)

As I was running along the trail it felt like I floated outside my body. I just floated a foot above myself, watching this nerdy white boy run down the trail. I knew that feet were running below me but I couldn’t feel them. I heard myself saying things to Jared, but it sounded like someone far away yelling through a tunnel. It was beyond strange. I didn’t like it. It was way less enjoyable than running with Smurfs.

I heard myself say “I feel really weird. I think I’m going to pass out.” Jared’s response was exactly what I needed to hear. “You’re not going to pass out.” he said which a chuckle. “Just keep running.”
I didn’t, indeed, pass out. And I did, indeed, keep running. All the while thinking “I just want to sit down and watch Judge Judy with some Care Bears.” Just keep running my friends.


  1. Nerdy white boy...snicker.

    I like Jared's response, too. "You're not gonna pass out..." He must be a teacher or something. :)

  2. Never had any hallucinations before but it would be fun to know what I would actually see if I did. Yours are quite creative I must admit. I did pass out once at the temple. THAT was a little bit embarrassing!! I only saw sparkly and fuzzy images and then things went black. I'm sure hallucinations would be more fun.

  3. Pretty Good v. Pretty Bad Classic! and unfortunately true mostly! Hahaha

  4. My sister once did an adventure race at Lake Tahoe. It was something crazy like kayaking, running, mountain biking and other stuff for about eight days (don't quote me on that - it was a while ago and I can't remember details, let alone what happened yesterday.) Between the lack of sleep and the high altitude she hallucinated about the postman coming to bring her mail. That was a lot tamer than her team mate who was convinced that he was being chased by a mountain lion.

  5. I once hallucinated elk jumping over a river during a mountainous, over-night relay. Could have been possible, except I was pointing to the side of the road without a river.

  6. Hahaha. I love your comparison of pretty good vs pretty bad.

  7. I'd like to think my hallucinations would be something like replaying all of 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure' right in front of my eyes. That and it'd probably involve Twinkie the Kid in someway or another.

  8. I'm thinking that hallucinations are somewhere in the realms of dreams. We hallucinate ideas/images of what we fill our brains during the day. At Zion I kind of hallucinated. I didn't want to commit 100% to the hallucinations because I wanted to boast about doing the race without any mind slips. I will tell you though that several times I asked my pacer about the brilliant architecture in the distance. Sadly, he didn't see the same. I'm fascinated with brilliant architecture. In my defence, several days later we debated for awhile whether a fascinating architectural structure existed far up on a Mesa off Kolob Ter. Rd. I said no. He said yes. And this was in the absence of any running.