Burning Man, Lucid Dreams and Marathons…

“Oh the places you’ll go…”  Oh, the places I’ve been…

One of the best places to have a lucid dream is at Burning Man.  I had so many fascinating conversations the next day.  One guy talked to me about his favorite recreational drugs to enhance the experience of reality while we waited in the ice line.  I then shared how I was about to enhance reality in my dreams.  Another couple of guys invited me into their RV when they saw me running in 110 degree heat (they were sure I must be delirious and need help!).  After drinking several cups of water, I shared the dream the night before.  They were absolutely fascinated.  One of the things I love about BM, is that you go deep whenever, wherever you want with whomever you want.  People are there to talk, to learn about new things, to try new things.

How did I have a lucid dream at Burning Man?  It is not easy.  Lucid dreaming requires high quality sleep and that is hard to come by in the desert where it is north of 90 degrees by 8:30 AM.  However, one night I stayed up until about 2 AM and then crashed in my tent.  About 6 AM, I woke up and moved into the Cargo van we rented from U Haul.  Then, during that next 4 hour stretch of sleep I had my lucid dream.  One thing interesting about this dream is that I met someone who seemingly knew me from previous dreams.  She jogged my memory and then I remembered as well.  Do we have a dream memory that is separate from our waking memory?  Perhaps.  In the dream, it felt like I did remember meeting her before.  But as I reflect on it now, I can only remember that feeling of remembrance,  not the actual memory itself.

I ran a marathon on Saturday.  I’ve wondered if in a lucid dream you could strike a deal with your subconscious that would prevent you from hitting the wall.  Could lucid dreaming affect athletic performance?  I wasn’t able to test this theory out this time, but I do know a profound Burning Man experience can.  I could have named this post, “How Burning Man helped me have a better marathon experience with a slower time.”  Or “How Burning Man Tanked My Marathon Goals, but I’m Better For It.”

My original goal was to run a 3:15.  I felt uneasy about this goal despite encouragement from friends and family members it was within reach.  My unease came from the fact that I hadn’t trained properly to run this fast of a time.  While I believe I have the ability to run a 3:15 marathon, I wasn’t sure if I had enough speed work to get the job done.  As it turned out, I did not.  Or perhaps I wasn’t willing to gut it out and push myself beyond what it felt like was possible.

Yet, after giving up the relentless pursuit of 3:15 for 16 miles, I was able to relax and be in the moment.  When I was keeping pace, I was doing everything I could to not be in the moment.  When I said good-bye to the pace group, I was able to relax and enjoy the surroundings.  I became humbled by all the runners who had trained well and passed me.  I appreciated the fact that I had legs that allowed me to run, at any pace.  I was thankful that it was not raining and that it was not sunny.  I enjoyed putting no pressure on myself for a PR.

In the end, I ran my second fastest marathon time and my fastest half-marathon time.  But I am enjoyed this one the best.