the drop: now that the race is over, why do I feel so sad?

By SOLO

In September 2012, I wrote the following: “It has been just over a week since the Ultra Beast, and I have thought about this race every single day. For most of the week, I have been dragging my feet, skipping my workouts and eating cookies.”

I bet you know the feeling. Heck, I even called that post “Ultra Beast post-partum”.

It has been over a week since the Death Race 2014 wrapped up, and my Facebook stream has been overwhelmed by status updates.

“I miss you, guys!”
“I can’t wait for next year!”
“I have already registered”.
“Things are not the same”.
“I keep dreaming of that mountain”.

However, despite what the Death Racers may believe, this feeling is not unique to the Death Race. In fact, any intense and challenging race often brings similar experiences.

  • The post-race blues is ubiquitous. You train hard all year, you build up mileage, you give up your Sunday mornings for dreaded long runs, Finally, you show up to the start line and run your best. Yet instead of feeling on top of the world, you now feel empty.
  • Burners experience the same sadness and withdrawal for weeks after the Burning Man ends. People report feeling adrift and removed from reality.
  • Returning from a period of extended travel often feels similar. After being in India for six months, I’ve been in a funk for months. Sitting in dusty traffic on a highway, I thought to myself: “At this time few weeks ago, I rode a motorcycle into the sunset. In India.”

In BDSM community, there is a concept of a “sub-drop”, the emotional and physical effects of the release and the subsequent drop of endorphins in the body that the submissive may experience after a play session. Symptoms can include fatigue, sadness, aches and pains, as well as feeling lost and detached from reality.

After you spend a bit of time in a heightened state of euphoria, once that ends, the normal feels depressing.
Life is just so… dull.

Enter Death Race. It’s not just a race. It’s an experience (jeez, this sounds like a freaking slogan. T-shirts, anyone?). Lasting close to four days, participants and crew members create a whole new, albeit temporary, dimension of life. And yes, pain and even humiliation are often inflicted on them. Talk about edge play. How far can you go? How much can you take?

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Klaus Kinski writes: “I’ve solved the mystery: You have to submit silently. Open up, let go. Let anything penetrate you, even the most painful things. Endure. Bear up. That’s the magic key! The text comes by itself, and its meaning shakes the soul … You mustn’t let scar tissue form on your wounds; you have to keep ripping them open in order to turn your insides into a marvelous instrument that is capable of anything. All this has its price.”  

And, so, we pay the price.

Here’s a kicker. It seems that the experience of a drop is that much more likely, and that much more intense, when intimacy is involved. In other words, when it’s not just a race, but when relationships are created, when friendships are made, and hugs are exchanged.

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Sounds familiar, Death Race family? Chances are the more intense your race experience has been, the more “life-changing”, the harder you drop.

In the light of this caveat, the drop I’ve experienced after the Precision Nutrition work gathering in June seemed logical. This was not just a work gathering, you guys. I don’t just work for a company. To quote our CEO, “Fuck my life, if we ever have an AGM (annual general meeting)”. I am part of a family of individuals with similar values and beliefs. For almost a full week, we clicked. We connected.

And after it was all over, and it was time to check out from our hotel, and go home, things were… grey. Talking to fellow coaches, I realized that it wasn’t just me. Some were actually shocked by the intensity of the post-event emotions they experienced. I, on the other hand, started to realize that the drop is coming on, when we were still two days away from wrapping up. I knew the drop is coming, because I felt the intensity of my connection with others.

There is little you can do to actually prevent the drop from occurring. After all, it is the nature of the (Ultra?) beast. What goes up must come down.

Yet past experience helps.

“I know I felt this way before”, I caught myself saying to myself in the week after the gathering. “And I will feel my way out of this. But, boy, does this ever suck during!”.

So, you are experiencing the drop. Now what?

THREE THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING THE DROP:

1. Nourish the body
Eat good food. Chocolate may have some opiate and cannabinoid effects. 🙂 Take care of the boo-boos.

2. Sleep it off.
Some people recover from the drop in matter of hours, but for others, symptoms can linger for weeks. In either case, you’ll need all the rest you can get, so you can heal. In more ways than one.

3. Reach out for support
This is where Facebook often comes in for racers. Chatting with those who have “been there”, commiserating, exchanging photos is all part of the process.

You WILL feel better eventually. And once you do, you know it’s time to plan for the next big event.

We will play again,
Solo

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Posted July 10, 2014

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