We passed mile marker 15, which is traditionally the hardest point for me mentally in a marathon (15 miles is really far, and you've still got over ten miles left to go), and I was feeling really over the whole thing & just wanted to be done. "Remember, this is the part with the hills," my friend told me, and I remember thinking, "Ah, yes, everyone thinks CIM is just easy downhill, but they forget that there are actually some pretty big hills in there." (This is not true in real life. There are no big hills whatsoever.) Nevertheless in my dream the course went steeply up, up, up, broken only by a few short plateaus. My friend started to really struggle after the first couple of steep parts, so I threw her arm over my shoulder and basically dragged her all the way to the top. (You had to climb through a fence, too, which I also dragged her through, thinking to myself as I did so that perhaps that was not the most efficient strategy.)
The payoff for the set of big hills, though, was a twisty slide on the downhill side that let you built up so much speed that it shot you out like a cannon at the bottom, and runners were meant to fly through the air a short ways, then literally hit the ground running. Soon after this I realized I'd lost my friend. I stopped & tried to see if I could spot her somewhere behind me, but it was like she was just gone. We'd agreed at the beginning that we didn't have to stay together if one of us started to struggle with the pace, so after a minute of looking I gave up & kept running.
(Also, it was dark. I have a had a lot of running dreams where the race takes place in the dark. Not exactly sure why.)
Around this time, a guy started running with me who reminded me a lot of a former co-worker. We had some conversation about how he was either trying to run the same pace as me or had the same goal time or something and so we decided to run together for a while, but he kept getting really upset that the pace was too hard and maybe he wasn't going to hit his goal time. And I kept looking at his watch (not mine, for some reason) & being like, "Uh, dude, the reason it's hard is because we're running 7:10 pace right now." But instead of being concerned about this, I decided it was a good thing because it felt easy for me right now and maybe I could bank some time. (#dreamlogic)
Soon after, we entered the shopping center portion of the course, which I remembered from my friend's hastily sketched course map. (I'm not sure why, but many of my racing dreams also seem to feature running through shopping malls.) My not-co-worker and I tried our best to follow the course, which was marked by yellow police tape, but mall workers kept redirecting us to go back because we'd gone the wrong way. "You have to go to the left of the Estée Lauder counter and then to the right of the Dior counter," a woman told us disapprovingly in the make-up & perfume section. I wanted to scream because I felt really good for this late in a marathon and I knew we were just barely right on pace and all this going back business might cause us to miss our goal time. Finally we reached a point where there were no other runners around and the police tape marking the course was wrapped comically around the mall railings and kiosks and even knotted in places, making it impossible to tell which way to go.
"Which way?" I asked a mall attendant frantically, who just kind of glanced uncomfortably around at the tape and shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe that way?" Why are you people all so incompetent?? I demanded in my head and pulled out the map my friend had sketched me, knowing as soon as I did that a) it was not detailed enough to tell me how to get out of the mall and b) there wasn't much race left to go and I still needed to make up a LOT of time. I'd lost my not-coworker at this point so just head in the direction that made the most sense to me. (I had the vague sense of other runners around, but somehow none of them were in front of me or running in the same direction.)
And that's all I remember.
I read on the internet that something adults should stop doing after the age of 25 is telling their dreams to anyone other than a significant other or therapist, so, if that's true, sorry.
HOWEVER, I'm not the only one doing it, because I've had enough conversations with fellow runners to know that I know I am not alone in having running anxiety dreams. And just as with showing up to work or a party naked or having your teeth fall out, there do seem to be some fairly common themes:
- Being unable to find the start. I once had a dream that my mother was driving me all over San Jose trying to find RNR San Jose and after like an hour of driving around we still couldn't find it. I was freaking out and she was soooooo angry at me, which made me even more upset & eventually made me cry.
- Uncertainties about the course (see above). This is definitely not the first dream I've had where it was unclear which way to go and the race volunteers didn't know either. (Though, this has happened to me in real life, so...)
- Thinking you've set a huge PR only to find out that you either turned around in the wrong spot or cut the course super short in some other way. I dreamed once that I ran a three hour marathon & everyone was congratulating me, and I kept telling them, "No, really, you don't understand. Something is very very wrong here." And it turned out I'd cut some kind of dog leg or something, and then everyone was angry and accusing me of cheating.
- Arriving at the race only to realize that I have forgotten to wear or bring running clothes, and trying to race in jeans & sandals or some such.
- There is no finish line. Or you can't find it for some reason. SF Track Club workouts at Kezar Stadium sometimes overlap with a Nike training group, and since "There is no finish line" is their mantra, I had a pretty amusing conversation with a Nike dude once about how those words made me shudder because they were my actual, literal nightmare.
Do any of these dreams resonate with the masses? Have you had other, more different upsetting running/endurance racing dreams? Should I stop telling my dreams to people now that I am an actual, grown-ass adult?