Lately I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with sleep in general and dreams in particular. If blame must be assigned for my latest obsession, we must assign it to my training partner George, who often attempts to take our minds off the pain of intervals by giving us his nightly sleep/dream reports…though truth be told we really can’t dole out too much blame to him, since duh, I am a triathlete, which is to say if you’ve got a health-related topic, I’ve got obsessionality to spare.
George’s dream reports got me wanting to know more about this strange state of sometimes suspended animation. (I say “sometimes” since for me sleep can be quite animated, like the night circa 1988 when I allegedly sat up in my college dorm bed and allegedly announced to my roommate “YOU LOOK AWFUL SILLY WITH THAT TERRIER ON YOUR HEAD!” Fortunately YouTube did not yet exist, so I get to say “allegedly” here. I fear for the next generation.)
My curiousty led me to do did what any tech savvy obsessive person would do…
Turns out the edification I was in for wasn’t exactly of the pure-science variety; apparently we know very little about this state of being that consumes a third of our lives and is capable of sending our college roommates fleeing to the housing office in search of a room re-assignment. Some 300 pages later, I have lots of fodder in the unlikely event that the next happy-hour discussion turns to the topic of shuteye; did you know, for instance, that lions and gerbils alike sleep away 13 hours of each day, while giraffes somehow survive on 90 minutes a night? Or that 19th-century types thought sleep came when the brain ceased to be filled with stimulating thoughts or ambitions? Or that the Ancient Greeks believed that you fall sleep when your brain becomes flooded with blood, and won’t awake until it drains? Or that those same Ancient Greeks apparently considered sleep extremely close to death, and by that I mean the Greek god of sleep (Hypnos) was the twin brother of the god of death (Thanatos) and their mum was the goddess of night? Well, now you know. And now I have completely ruined the suspense of our would-be happy-hour discussion. I hate it when I do that.
An aside: the book failed to supply the twins’ Mum’s name so I looked it up myself (hey, this is a chick-powered blog; we are all about equal air time here). She is Nyx and here is her pyx:
While I may not know much scientifically-speaking about sleep and dreams, I do know one thing for certain: if a race is approaching, I will have The Pre-Race Panic Dream. Friday night I was treated to a double dose of tri-related nighttime terror, and by that I mean I not only had one dream of the pre-race variety (this one courtesy of today’s Bare Hill Sprint–yeah! Race day!) but I also had my very first World Championships-related reverie (Worlds isn’t until August 29th, so I have many moons to obsess about that one…61 moons, if you want to be precise. But, you know, like who’s counting???)
As for my “usual”: we triathletes all seem to have a version of this; many tell me that in their dreams they show up late to the venue and the race has already begun. My brain can’t even wrap itself around that idea in sleep; it is just totally unbelievable and were I to dream it I would wake up laughing; while I am notoriously late to Cisco meetings and daughter pick-ups (sorry, colleagues and girls) I am never late to a race venue and am happiest when I am first to rack. So my dream always starts with me arriving in ample time but it is then that things start to go horribly pear-shaped.
In Friday night’s version, I for some strange reason decided to change my tire pre-race. Even though the tire was perfectly fine. And I have sew-ups so that’s, like, not something you should be futzing with pre-race. At least not me, since I am pretty terrible in the tire-changing department and have never changed a sew-up. So when Bill Fiske blew the whistle for us to get to the water’s edge (again, we are in the dream here), Viper was down one wheel and I was freaking out. I decided finding a pump was the only option, and I couldn’t even do that right. I woke up in a puddle of sweat.
As for the Worlds dream, it focused on my missing kit, which is truly missing in real life not just in my dreams. You see, the top age-group triathletes from over 50 (FIFTY!!!) countries will descend on Edmonton Canada’s Hawrelak Park in late August, and for some reason “they” (the organizers) want us all patriotically identifiable. So each of us gets a national uniform; Team USA’s look like this:
When we ordered, you could do one of two things: A). pick a size and tell them your last name so they can emblazon it, and be done with it or B). obsess about whether you should get a medium or a large in this ITU-super-snug-fitting kit, order both, try each on obsessively at different times of day, finally select one, and send both back–one to return, one to personalize.
Guess which option I picked (in real-life)? Yup. And so net-net I have yet to get my kit back while others I know not only have their in their possession but are racing in it to break it in. (You know–find the seams where extra Body Glide is required.) In the dream, my kit never comes. TriSports (who is in charge of the orders, not just in my dream but in real life too) says they will ship it directly to my hotel in Edmonton but they never do. Come race days the Worlds officials invoke this rule that is actually on the books (again, in real life, not just my dream) that says you can’t race if you don’t have your country’s kit. So I have to go all bandit, Boston Marathon-style (hey, why travel all the way to freaking Edmonton Canada if you aren’t going to race?!?!) Since this is a dream, the run leg of the race actually is the Boston Marathon, and by that I mean they not only tried to yank me off the course Jock Semple style but I also hooked a right on Hereford, left on Boylston. Naturally, I would have won had I not been DQ’d by my missing kit.
That’s all for now. As usual thanks for stopping by. Follow your dreams, just not the ones that torture you. If you’re racing Bare Hill, I hope you got a great night’s sleep and I will see you soon…and if you happen to work for TriSports, please please please send me my kit soon! My dream life depends upon it! 🙂