I’ll get into the run and how I’m feeling in a moment. First, I have to answer the question that so many of you have been asking- Why would you do such a thing? Right off I want to say it has nothing to do with losing weight. The five extra pounds or so that I had would have come off as I ramped up my mileage for the Boston Marathon later in the winter. So why then?
All of you want to be part of some grand adventure… some marvelous, impossible undertaking. Admit it. Even those you who have had the joy of experiencing one (or two, or ten) of these, dream of the next one. There are many of these and they all involve testing your limits in some way; climbing a mountain, running a marathon, shooting Class 5 rapids, adventure skiing, finding a cure for cancer or writing the Great American Novel. Some we never do, but trying makes us better than we are. First pushing ourselves harder and then really testing our limits is an important part of a rewarding life. Ann’s Running Commentary has a nice post from someone discovering that.
The Leadville 100 Race Across the Sky was my grand exploration into the limits of body and will. I’ve climbed mountains and done a lot of marathons, but it was only at Leadville that I truly tested my limits. If my training had been consistent and injury free, I might never have had that chance. My crew: wife Kathleen, daughter Carrie Murthy and friends Josh Fuller, Nate Willson and Cassie Garcia made certain that I did test my limits, beat the odds and get to the finish line. I believe that race changed my life and that I probably wouldn’t be on the verge of becoming a published author if I had not finished it. A part of the reason why I’m doing this ten day fast is that I’m ready to test my limits again.
My main reason is that I just felt like it was time to clean myself out and start over. The detoxifying effects of fasting are controversial and, some claim, unproven. Here are two “pro” links- Fasting and Fasting, and a “con” at Livestrong. My experience is that they do have a dramatic and positive effect on many of the bodies systems. I have problems with joint stiffness, especially in my hands and fasting has made a significant positive difference. The digestive system is one where there is little controversy about the positive effects and I need all the help that I can get in that area . The improved eyesight (which goes away almost immediately after stopping the fast) isn’t a reason for doing it, but enjoyable nonetheless. The cleaned out feeling may be psychological in some respects, but it is so pervasive in the later part of the fast that it is almost spiritual.
I know- “What? Spiritual? You’re losing me there, Mike.” I am not about to put any religious spin on this fast at all. My beliefs are my own and I don’t generally share them except with the closest of friends. But there is an aspect to being on the edge that puts me in a very spiritual frame of mind. Just ask Josh Fuller about the hour-long conversation we had in the middle of the night, eighty miles into Leadville. No matter what your belief system is, I think fasting could improve your understanding of it, or make you look closer at what holds it together.
The last time I fasted, I wasn’t paying close attention to all that was happening to me. The fast was for a cause and that was where I was primarily focused. This time, I am paying more attention.
Finally, an after-the-fact reason: I realized, once I started, that the whole process was interesting to some people; blogging about it has greatly increased the traffic at my brand-new website. As a self-publishing author, almost any publicity is good publicity.
And now for the run. It was freaking 18 degrees! 20 mph wind! Give me a break… please? If it wasn’t for the conditions (and another reason I’ll mention momentarily), I think this run may have felt better than yesterday. I weigh about six pounds less than before I started and I think my legs appreciate the lighter burden. The temps and wind were enough to make me struggle, even though it was a very slow pace. I wore my heart rate monitor for the first time and my HR stayed in the upper 150’s. I’m not worried; considering how little sleep I’ve had, I wasn’t surprised.
The other reason- once you’ve gone past a certain point with a fast, eating again is a dicey thing. You have to be very careful and let your stomach and digestive system get used to working again. I thought the banana an hour before my run would reduce this effect. Not. My tummy bothered me before, during and after the run. It is like it is saying “All or nothing, buddy.”
I know I went a bit long this time, but I hope you don’t mind. In the days ahead I’ll be writing more about the negative aspects of fasting, how it feels to be running with such limited energy stores, and I’ll relate some of the most fascinating events in the history of fasting.
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