NOW here’s a weird, even disturbing, thing; my trusty Garmin records a hilly four-mile run around the city where I live. Yet I have scant memory of it ever happening.
How can this be? The watch tells of a continuous jog with every second accounted for. By contrast, my memory presents me with a fractured picture of this same outing.
All I can recall is a bundle of random sectors; a jumbled image of an amiable amble in the company of a running mate.
The highs and lows of those detested hills are all recorded on my watch. But no sense remains of the several ups and downs. No memory of the expected struggle, the puffs and groans as I fight against an inevitable decline in pace.
The regular challenge to maintain pace up the steep final half-mile back to the clubhouse has become a blank. How did we get from bottom to top? Totally no idea. It’s one of several missing links, as if overnight it had been steamrollered to sea level flatness. Did we run past the historic theatre being carefully restored? No idea.
The entire evening comes back to me in a haze; we floated along, free-flowing, raising hardly a bead of sweat and chatting for most of the way.
Which presents another puzzle as that is not something I am known to do. [Little wonder there having long ago been dubbed Silent Moccasin by my scout troop; but that’s another story]. Like a true introvert, conversation does not come easy. Yet on this rain-sodden evening, both before and after our run, I actually initiated talk with several fellow club members – some complete strangers.
Through the mist of memory I see this figure (me!) moving among the group, approaching others and talking to them. A rare occurrence for one troubled by hearing problems. Thus all I retain is a kaleidoscope of faces, a mental photo wall that confuses as much as it enlightens.
Who was/is this person? The entire evening continues to baffle. It’s like being in the theatre watching the opening scene of a play taking place behind a gauze scrim. A slow dance by drifting, floating, not fully recognisable figures.
And the run itself remains an even bigger, irritating, dilemma. Did any of this ever happen?
Having driven home through the double mist of a steady drizzle and a somewhat dizzying brain fade, I ate and mused while gazing vacantly at the television (football, I think). Little made sense; the previous hour or so had shattered into a jigsaw that refused to be made whole.
“Woozy” and “out of it” were the best descriptions of how I felt. Words that revived memories of the only two occasions when drugs (a recreational spliff) have been taken – both in India, in front of the Taj Mahal and lazing in a hammock at the dreamy Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur. Settings that melded perfectly with the other-worldly experience of those interludes. A cause and effect thousands of miles from what now besets me.
Post run, the route to bed was an unsteady shuffle, lightened by optimism that all would be right in the morning.
But it wasn’t. Hence this blog post. A conversation with self. Seeking answers.
The niggling puzzle of yesterday remained; along with the wooziness, the fractured recall, the sense of having been there but not there. Writing my own fantasy tale, The Runner Through the Looking Glass.
Why, why, why?
An hour’s further dozing and a strong espresso provided the energy to roll from my pit. Feeling steadier, the head fog slowly lifting yet unable to shake off the sense of having been there but not there; of having conversations without knowing what was said.
A somewhat scary, quite ominous state to be in, as one running friend commented. And it won’t go away. I still cannot recall details of the route we ran. How did we get from here to there, did we take the path around the park? The section alongside the river remains a total blank. So does much else.
Two days on and there is still no clarity, a couple of lost hours yet remaining conscious throughout.
There are no physical manifestations to cling to, no aches or pains or sickness. I am eating and sleeping as normal. There are none of the Covid-19 symptoms we are told to look for.
Okay, so I am feeling somewhat low on energy. But that’s hardly surprising after completing three running challenges (some of them several times) and always at elite level over ten days. A bit draining perhaps but surely not enough to dump me into this dreamy world of forgetfulness and hallucinations.
Which is what bothers me; I don’t like being “out of it”. Leave that to the clubbers and ravers and the damage they can suffer and cause.
Maybe it was a protracted spell of “runner’s high”, the exhilarating out-of-body sensation more usually experienced during long-distance training and racing; fine for a few moments; but for two days or more, no thanks.
Yet having thought it through (and set out this inner debate) it remains the only answer until a better one comes along.
Plus, follow the usual advice to rest, take it easy and put the brain into neutral.
Off to hibernate – just the weather for it.
UPDATE: Two weeks on and I am none the wiser but increasingly worried, mentally and physically. No recall, no memory of that evening. All I have is the needlessly public (Facebook) and unsympathetic and unhelpful comment that I moaned throughout the run. Which adds to continuing doubt about my ability and suitability to lead future runs.
The intention is to lead, encourage and inspire fellow runners. Who needs a Moaning Minnie doing this? Should I even be running if I can’t recall where I am going or what I’m saying? Ageing is so depressing and isolating. Sympathy is not required … but a tot of understanding would probably ease the gloom.