Friday, November 8, 2013

How Running the New York City Marathon Was Like Doing LSD

24 hours after each of the two marathons I ran this year, I came to the very same conclusion.

The day after running a marathon feels very similar to the day after eating some mushrooms, taking some LSD, or dropping some acid.

The analogy smacked me on one cheek after the Bayshore Marathon, and then the other cheek after New York.

Peak experiences like running 26.2 miles in front of 3 million spectators through the biggest city on the planet, or astral travel, or taking some acid, burns a permanent memory into your brain, but it's hard to come down from them.

After your consciousness is expanded and your spirit is smeared across the street like road kill, the rest of the world can be pretty mundane. People driving to work seem packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes, contestants in a suicidal race. (Footnote: The Police, "Synchronicity") The world seems in a coma. Nobody sweats, nobody high fives. There are no snot rockets. There aren't people rooting you on with Vaseline to put on your chaffed nipples.  Social media returns to its proper tiny silly corner of the world and you swear you'll never use it again.

But of course, before you know it, the mild sedative opiate of breathing everyday oxygen puts you back into the masses, and there you are, falling in line... Birth, Work, School, Death. (Footnote: The Godfathers)  Pretty soon you are back in your own shiny metal box, and back blogging and tweeting and other trivial matters.

The intensity and highs of using psychedelic drugs and the high of running a marathon are similar. There is an explosion of chemicals in your body that expand you into places you didn’t think possible. Every nerve cell is on fire. In fact, if madness is but over-acuteness of the senses (Footnote: Edgar Allan Poe)  you are briefly ‘mad’ while you are running a marathon. (when I say you, I really mean me. You may experience none of this). After you come down from such peak experiences and try to retract, there’s a sense of anhedonia: (Footnote: Anhedonia is the inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences.).   Of course, you are still incredibly geeked about the thrill, but this excitement comes from the memory burn, not from present day stimuli. Your brain starts to look to the race calendar for the next trip.

While I do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. (Footnote: Big Book of AA) the analogies end there. Using substances to expand the consciousness is the cowards way. It ultimately dulls the senses, kills the spirits, destroys the brain cells, and leaves you much less alive than before you started. Running, on the other hand, leaves you more alive, and I am so grateful I found the running drug to give me this same high.

So, if you're ran a marathon, you've probably experienced the same out of body experiences as one who has done acid. Congratulations, you've dropped out and tuned in. (Footnote: Timothy Leary).

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