Tuesday, April 27, 2010

insomnia and the tutu

I am two people, two runners. 

The first has developed increasingly severe insomnia preceding races. This woman has never had trouble sleeping in her lifetime. The insomnia worsens with every race. She is not worried about covering the distance (she is always well-trained), nor is she concerned that she might not wake up (or maybe she is; she sets all three alarms on her watch in 10-minute intervals). She is confident, but her body is race-ready and full of adrenaline a good 12 hours before the race starts. Her heart races, flutters in her chest. Chamomile tea and warm milk don’t help; yoga chants repeated silently in her mind don’t help (she’s not a big mantra-type person; but this used to help); an audiobook doesn’t help; once, clonazepam took the edge off, but she merely dozed on and off (she was indeed calmer during the somewhat wakeful night and felt somewhat better during the 10-miler). If she does fall asleep, she wakes with a start 20 or 30 minutes later, amazed she fell asleep and then can’t fall asleep again. So she just waits for morning. This has made races much harder; she suffers toward the end in ways she never did when she could sleep.

The other person has decided to do battle with the first and wear a tutu to all races. This way, she hopes to take them less seriously. She knows she can run at a good clip – but is not worried if sometimes she runs a little faster or a little slower. Feeling good and enjoying the race are the goals. If she feels anxious and driven to run sub-eights, she can laugh and say, “Relax, you’re wearing a tutu!” She remembers wanting to get faster every race; she remembers a spectating friend cheering “Sub-eights, yeah!” as she finished a 10K in Central Park, her first time breaking an eight-minute mile for a race; she remembers running a half-marathon, her first,  in 7:30s; she remembers her first age-group award, for the City of Long Beach 10-Miler. She’s not much slower nowadays, and she trains well, but she wants to relax and not care about being faster and faster and faster.

Neither person is winning the war in my psyche. 

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