Let me start out by saying: I love coffee. I love the way it smells. I love the way it tastes. I love the way it pairs nicely with the eggs and toast I eat every single morning.
But unfortunately, I don’t think it loves me back.
(If you haven’t seen Troll 2–the movie this clip is from–you really should. It’s on Netflix Instant, and so is Best Worst Movie, the documentary about it.)
In college, I had a panic attack in class, likely brought about by some combination of stress and caffeine. (Heart started racing for no reason –> I became convinced death was imminent. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.)
Thankfully, that never happened again–knock wood!–but I’ve had weird, fluttery feelings (scientific term: palpitations) in my heart very sporadically since then. Usually, they happen in the morning, shortly after my morning cuppa. Unfortunately, in the morning shortly after my morning cuppa is when I often run.
I remember getting that heart-fluttery feeling around mile 11 of the 2010 Lehigh Valley Half-Marathon. “Maybe I shouldn’t drink 5-Hour Energy before my races,” I thought. (Yes. That is something I actually tried a couple times. I’m shaking my head at my younger self, too.)
I quit the mysterious chemical concoction and switched to prerace coffee, which I drink daily (in moderation! just one cup per day!) all the time anyway. I had no further midrun problems…until my last long run (10 miles) before the Smuttynose race.
I was (extremely) dehydrated, which didn’t help. (Pro tip: Do not eat pork and beans plus several bowls of Raisin Nut Bran the night before a long run.) (Yes, my diet is very strange.) All I’d had to drink before I left was a cup of coffee, and I didn’t bring water with me. And near the top of the last big hill before home, I got that weird feeling.
It usually lasts just a second or two, but this was longer. How much longer, I don’t know. Long enough for me to feel fairly panicky and overly glad to see some high-school kids milling about near the stadium across the street, because they could call 911 when I collapsed. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.)
Between this, a heart-rate-related DNF at the Runner’s World Half by one of my Twitter friends, and rumors of an upcoming scary story re: caffeine use in races by another Twitter friend, I am thinking it might be best for me to run Philly completely decaffeinated.
Luckily, my coffee habit is pretty tame. I replaced my morning cup this morning with green tea, and I feel fine. Next week, I hope to switch to caffeine-free peppermint tea. I just hope it is the coffee that’s causing my woes, and not, you know, my general high-strung nature.