May 11, 2011

On the Trail, With Coffee, and Nothing Else

People will tell you that this was a bad idea, that running a significant distance on little to no food does no more than promise a bonk, that dreaded precipitous decline in blood glucose that leaves legs heavy, and the mind swimming.

"Eat breakfast", they would urge. "You're going to go run a half-marathon." 

But I didn't listen, mostly because, as a rule, I don't. I had coffee at home, then stopped at a Starbucks for a 20oz iced coffee (as strong as the barista would willingly make) on the way to the race. I was wired, full of nervous energy and impossible expectations. I was invincible; the distance was mine to conquer.

They call alcohol liquid courage, but I don't think that's quite accurate. I never feel brave when tipsy, so much as I feel unhinged. Coffee, for me, does the job much better. Caffeine dulls whatever aches and pains might exist, then fills the body with adrenaline. You feel an urge to "go", and an endless ability to do just that.

And so, fueled by that perfect elixir, I ignited the trail, tearing my way to a course record and a win. 

I wish.

Truthfully, I landed wrong fairly early on, and apparently sprained my right LCL slightly. It hurt, and robbed me of the necessary flexibility to kick, and thus to run fast. That combined with a bevy of other aches and pains -- likely from having run another half 6 days prior.

The caffeine couldn't silence those pains, nor could it convince my brain that some glucose wasn't desperately needed.

And so, in reality, I hobbled to the finish in 12th place. 

I didn't walk well for the next few days, and a couple of weeks later, I still can't run for more than several minutes at a time. 

Man cannot run on coffee alone; though that will not stop me from trying.

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