I get just a little delusional when really fatigued. I wouldn’t call these hallucinations, but I have these weird moments that happen predictably, and in a preset order. You see… I see dead turtles. And they don’t know they’re dead.
More on that later. Surf the Murph is less than a week away. I am pretty pumped. The weather is supposed to be cold: 20’d to 40’s, but sunny. I’m ready to make friends with pain in the Fun Zone and Smurf Village again. It’s gonna be great! I am looking for a 9:30 finish; I’ll have a race report next week detailing my folly with unrealistic race goals. Probably. Maybe not though.
OK, back to the turtles. I have a unique (I think) tendency late in 50-mile races to see things that are not there. Nothing exciting like lost ghost miners or phantom pacers; just little things that I have come to expect to see when really fatigued. They seem harmless at first, but I am convinced they are phantasms out to ensure my death.
The turtles are the first to attack. Roundish rocks in the trails become little reptile monsters. I don’t see four legs, a head and a tail per se; my mind just tells me that there is a turtle on the trail, and I should act accordingly, getting out of the way in case it’s a snapper. At first it is kind of funny, but after a while I get sick of the !@#$ turtles.
I have a confession. I know why the rocks become turtles, and not beach balls or banjos. It is my dead pet from the 70’s coming back for me. Swimmer was a painted turtle that I caught while swimming in a Wisconsin lake when I was about 10, and kept for about 5 years. He (/she, who knows?) died when I forgot to feed him (/her, whatever). The Ghost of Swimmer back from the grave. And (she) wants blood!
After turtles come snakes. Sticks in the trails become causes for alarm, turning into snakes when I’m about to stride over them. This causes me to over-extend, or stumble. Again, no snakey tongue or markings; just my mind re-categorizing the threat from stick to reptile. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in snakeacide, and they really don’t freak me out. Maybe I’m just a dork. Probably.
The coup de gras (or is it ‘fleur de lis’?) though is when complete strangers become familiar; their identity being just on the tip of my tongue. I hate this! I once stared down a guy at the finish of last year’s Surf the Murph, waiting for him to recognize me and say hey. I’m pretty sure I freaked him out. Strangers on the trail become Ted from accounting. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut now, but it can get pretty embarrassing. If I ever have the fortune to meet you on the trail some day and I greet you as a good friend, please just smile and play along. I’ll tell you all about the snakes and turtles.
All this from a mere 50 miles. Next year I run my first 100 miler at the Kettle Moraine, and I am just a bit concerned as to what the next step in the delusion progression is. My fear is that I’ll be found on the trail; dead from a series of triangular bite marks before I find out. I think I need a plan. The snakes would make my death a little quicker and less painful; if I can make it past the turtles that is. Or maybe the snakes will be preoccupied with the turtles and I will be able to skip right though to the next delusion.
Man, I hope it is not clowns.