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Sleep vs No Sleep... I am curious how others feel about this. (Read 20093 times)
08/06/12 at 13:45:17

traci-lynn   Offline
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I am curious how other paddlers feel about sleep vs no or little sleep.

This was the first year that I went the entire race with only 1 hour of sleep in 3 days (one hour in Glasgow). This was also the only year that I had the worse hallucinations and it was very unpleasant. They also began earlier this year than in past years. (They started early on the second night past Jeff City)  Not only were they unpleasant, but by the time I hit St Charles I was also on the verge of being very paranoid.

Last year I had the most sleep during any 340, 10 hours total in 3 days, and it was the only year that I didn't have any hallucinations at all. None. Zero.

In past years I have totalled an average of 5 to 8 hours of sleep, during the entire race, and the hallucinations have been very mild and amusing.
They have never upset me at all before. Mostly things like Tree People watching you paddle down the river at night.

This year was different and I didnt like it at all. This year I had them not only at night, but also during the daytime as well.

I am curious whether others with little or no sleep experienced more severe hallucinations this year as compared to past years.... or do you think it was related to the extreme heat. Last year we paddled in the cold and I did not have any at all.

I am curious what others of you out there think.

Thanks,

Traci
 

"dont tell me what I Can't do, .... let me show you what I Can do"
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Reply #1 - 08/06/12 at 15:23:18

Scott Reeves   Offline
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I had about 1:20 and finished in 67:38. My partner who had more sleep and I saw some weird things the first two nights, but that section between Klondike and St. Chuck seemed downright menacing. I know I can attribute it to lack of sleep, being the end of the race, and lack of long range depth perception, but the last long wind in the face from the east seemed to add to the trees and surroundings ready to "come after us."

I was quite thrilled to see the Page Extension and was much better at that point.

Thanks for the post to let us know that what we felt was semi normal.

Reeves
 

Philippians 4:13

To run an ultramarathon, you have to be arrogant enough to believe you can do it... and stupid enough to try.
-Unknown
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Reply #2 - 08/06/12 at 17:18:38

Ryan J. McCoy   Offline
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I felt great most of the day on Thursday and finished at 67:09 in 21st Men's solo/57th overall.  I believe this has to due with physical pacing on the water Tuesday (Miami) and Wednesday (Jeff City) and SLEEP.  I was almost worthless on the water when I was sleepy.

My schedule:

11 PM - 3 AM at Miami although I probably only got 2 hours of good sleep.  I was too close to the boat ramp to get much sleep.
4 PM - 5 PM at Boonville a quick 1/2 hour nap during the heat and wind.
1:30 AM - 5:30 AM  A shower before and some breakfast after.  Basically a reset.

Total sleep = 6.5 hrs. 
Total off the water (stated above with a couple extras) = 10 or 11 hours.

Result for my first 340, only some cartoon characters in the trees and clouds like making up stuff when I was a kid lying in the grass.  Some paranoia after Klondike in the middle of the night when the river widened and I realized I needed to conserve some energy in order to do a water reentry if needed. 

Best stop was definitely Jeff City and Boonville.  I think having a plan is great and staying on the water as much as possible should be part of it, but those hours in Jeff and Boonville made day three of paddling, 19.5 or 20 hrs. in the boat with only 5 minutes out, an awesome day.
 
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Reply #3 - 08/07/12 at 07:25:48

Dances in Mud   Offline
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We slept wed morning for around 20 min in the front of the boat and then again Wed afternoon for and hour at Katfish Katie's.  Traci, there were people in the trees after Jeff City, I saw them also and some really cool looking designs when the trains went through with their lights.  I laugh now because I really thought they were there for a while even when part of my brain was telling me it was not real but the other part was picking up cartoon characters.  No sleep can really effect the brains ability to process information and this race can challenge that.
 

The human body is capable of amazing physical deeds.  If we could free ourselves from our perceived limitations and tap into our internal fire, the possibilities are endless.  Dean Karnazes
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Reply #4 - 08/07/12 at 09:42:48

thumpergirl   Offline
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Sleep is less of a choice for me, I will start falling out of the boat while paddling if I don't get some shut-eye.  My hallucinations are directly related to the amount of fatigue I feel, which is probably directly related to the amount of rest my body gets versus strenuous and prolonged physical activity.   I would assume that heat plays a factor in this simply because you fatigue faster when your body is hot, therefore you would need more recovery time.

I don't know how you can do this non-stop with just 1 hour of sleep.  That's pretty amazing.  (I may be just a little bit jealous.)

The only hallucinations I saw were between Klondike and St. Charles after a very long and hard day of paddling (agreed that this section was indeed ominous at night for some reason).  We stopped and slept several times during the race, so this would explain why I didn't have hallucinations prior to the last stretch.
 
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Reply #5 - 08/07/12 at 12:55:34

traci-lynn   Offline
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At the start of the race I had a plan and a pace which I was planning on maintaining in order to finish the race in 59 hours.  With the water low and slow, I felt like 59 hours would be a good goal.

However, my plans went up in smoke quickly when I started racing people to Lexington. I went way over my planned pace.

By the time I hit Waverly I was feeling sick (I think from the heat and exhaustion) and I had to stop for awhile.

By the time I hit Miami I was really sick and nauseated with a pounding headache. I ended up sitting in Miami for two hours trying to pull myself together.

By the time I reached Glasgow, I was still nauseated and felt exhausted and ill. My head hurt too bad to sleep and when I was finally able to sleep my daughter told me that I had only slept for about an hour when I woke up. ... However, when I woke up my headache was gone and I felt much better and hungry. I ended up eating a huge meal before I left. By the time I left Glasgow (I think I was there for 4 or 5 hours) I was feeling 100% better and I told myself that the only way I was going to finish in 59 hours was to paddle non-stop without sleeping anymore. So, that was sort of my mind set when I left Glasgow.... That had definitely not been my original plan.

The hallucinations started several miles after I pulled out of Jeff City. I started seeing these large (8 or 10 feet in diameter) black glass cubes (or boxes) pop up out of the water. At first I thought it was amusing, like something out of a science fiction movie... but then, several miles down the river, past Chamois,  the water started moving in different directions all around me and watching it was making me dizzy. I had to stop paddling and focus my eyes only on the deck of my black boat multiple times to keep from losing my balance and falling over into the water..... 

The tree people, whom usually seem friendly and non-threatening, seemed to take on a more menacing appearance.  I started seeing buoys pop up several feet in front of my boat, and I would try hard to miss them, but as I was going past them they would vanish into thin air.
I also started hearing whispering voices in the wind.

After awhile I was feel intoxicated, like I had been drinking, and I started playing a game with the buoys, paddling as close to them as I could and trying to hit them with my paddle to see if they were real or imaginary. ..... Lets just say that I did hit a few with my paddle.   Undecided

This is the 5th year that I have done the 340 but this was the first time that anything like that has ever happened to me and I didn't like it at all.

By the time I left Hermann I was hearing voices in the wind telling me that I had better paddle faster because some unknown menace was behind me and it was gaining on me.  It was making me feel very paranoid.

What helped greatly was when I caught up to some other paddlers and I paddled with them for awhile and was talking with them.

However, by the time I reached Klondike I was paddling by myself again and the hallucinations started back up full force again.

Coming into St Charles, when I made that right turn, and you see the first bridge, triggered something in my head and I started seeing huge circus tents and huge circus flags shooting up out of the water around me....  Some people had a bon fire going, right past the bridge on the left, and I thought that was the finish line and I paddled up to them and was so happy and relieved that it was finally over, until my world came crashing down when they told me that they didn't know what I was talking about but that I must be confused...

  Cheesy   They had no idea how right they were... I can laugh about it now but at the time it was not funny at all.    Tongue

I was able to come into St Charles with a decent time of 62 hours (only 3 hours slower than what I had originally wanted),  but I never want to go through those hallucinations like that again.  .......


Traci








 

"dont tell me what I Can't do, .... let me show you what I Can do"
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Reply #6 - 08/07/12 at 14:22:35

Happy Hill   Offline
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Killer story traci, glad it all worked out.  I almost started a thread for people to post their favorite river tales from 2012.  Yours might be a winner. 

I've heard people pay good money to see that kind of stuff.  A circus tent and flags rising from the water!!!  Yikes.

Makes my snuffleupagus sighting late wed night seem very tame....lol.  Funny I didnt think a giant furry elephant on the side of the Missouri seemed that odd.
 
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Reply #7 - 08/07/12 at 15:13:04

settlenow   Offline
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Traci, sounds like you may have been dehydrated before your long stop. 

I think most folks would say that if you can finish an event in 48 hours or less you can probably do it on no sleep, and if you are really nodding off then just a combat nap.  Beyond that and most folks start to need some sleep. 

It also depends on one's goals.  If I wanted to enjoy the journey and was not concerned with where I placed I would sleep a few hours.

And especially for solo paddlers there is a real safety issue.  Most of us would have the good sense not to paddle while drunk, especially not alone, but as we have all experienced, sleep deprivation can impair your judgment and coordination just as much as alcohol. 

I handled the sleep dep better this year than I did in 2010 even though I finished much faster in 2010.  I think the biggest factor was getting a few hours sleep the night before this time, which is more than I got in 2010.  I did have some hallucinations, some quite persistent and based on . . . nothing.  But I don't recall any that were menacing.  I was in a boat full of friends, and I am sure that helped a lot.

Will
 
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Reply #8 - 08/07/12 at 18:02:43

Tango Whiskey   Offline
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As I passed Washington, I started to nod off uncontrollably and I remember I kept glancing at the bank (river right) and would have sworn I saw a giant deer laying on its side, the brush taking the form of large antlers.
 

"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." -- Robert Gates
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Reply #9 - 08/07/12 at 18:21:13

chuck and di   Offline
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Depending on your frame of reference- The Doors or Alduous Huxley- it is entirely possible to "break on Through to the Other Side" in this race. I have done this twice- once during a vision quest with 4 full days of fasting, an evening of dancing, and then a sweat lodge- and once during the 340 while trying to survive the night with a broken rib. In a sweat lodge, being in another world is one thing- but on the river is an entirely different, and more dangerous, situation.
It is very common to hallucinate people along the bank. It makes you wonder about the stories of Naiads, Nymphs, mermaids etc. I actually enjoy these hallucinations as it is fun to watch that guy sitting on the bank, feet in the water, melt into a combo of stone, driftwood, etc as you approach. I like to "think" these are real river spirits who are bemusedly watching our progress. I sometimes compliment them on their appearance. (I once told one that it was a particularly realistic looking hallucination, only to have the guy say "what?"- being a real person.)
At night, trees can take on whole different aspects, and certainly a morning fog can have ominous shapes just downriver.
For me 40 hours seems to be the point when things start happening. In 2009 Di and I finished just after 40 hours and I had no hallucinations.
This year- having a slow finish I had plenty of time to enjoy hallucinations.
The trick is in knowing that they are hallucinations, and then going with the flow....
Chuck
 

If you find yourself suddenly smack dab in the middle of hell, stopping is not an option.
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Reply #10 - 08/07/12 at 21:24:45

Scott Mansker   Offline
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Pull of the river and take a nap.  Fixes everything.  Your brain is telling you it needs 30 minutes to reboot.  You can fight it to your detriment.
 
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Reply #11 - 08/09/12 at 11:05:40

awaller   Offline
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Ok Traci, I feel really bad for paddling ahead just before Klondike.  Up until then you would drop back for a second thee get right back up with us.  I just figured you were eating or something.  If I had known you were that bad off I would have stayed with you.   Angry 

One thing this year really taught me is that staying with someone is almost always a better than paddling alone.  At least three times during the race, I hit my lowest of lows immediately after either paddling ahead of or falling behind a fellow paddler.  I honestly think that in a couple of spots, if I had taken a break and waited for someone I would have actually made better time overall. 

Isolation can be very demoralizing...
 
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Reply #12 - 08/10/12 at 09:50:11

Joewildlife   Offline
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Traci,
I know my limits regarding sleep, and I need some every night.  Realizing that I'll never top-5 doing it, but that is what I'm up against.  My goal last October was 3 hours each night, 3 in Glasgow and 3 in Chamois, but the storm messed that plan up, and I never did sleep at the shelter, so I hit a real low at 4 am after leaving the shelter around midnight.  Rather than go through what you did, I laid in the mud at Mokane for a bit to reset, then paddled 13 hours to the finish.  You went through some really wierd stuff, not good!  I'm sure the heat and dehydration added to the hallucinations.  If I was your ground crew and knew what was going on with you, I would have pulled you off the river.  Easy for me to say.
Joe
 

And I ain't too old to hurry
Cause I ain't too old to die
But I sure am hard to beat
Ride on
AC/DC, Ride On
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Reply #13 - 08/10/12 at 13:52:30

Scott Mansker   Offline
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Joe is smart in that he "knows his limits" regarding sleep.  And a 3 hour rest for him makes him a better net paddler.  Some will need more and others less.  But the key is knowing when you should really lay the paddle down and let your brain put the card deck back in order. 

By that point in the race, REM sleep is only a blink away.  Everyone's different, but I've found that as little as 30 minutes can buy me several more hours of clear thinking.  That's because I'm dreaming the second I close my eyes until the moment I awake.  Very intense, realistic dreaming.  I'm sure it's more productive than the typical first 30 minutes I get at home on a normal schedule.  3 hours is exponentially better and I feel great if I get that.  But 30 minutes between phone calls is more realistic and seems to be a fair substitute that can get you by until the next opportunity.

Again, no two people have the same experience and it's something you just learn from doing.  We were lucky this year to have so many great sandbars and islands to crash on.  I'm hoping we have similar water levels in 2013.
 
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Reply #14 - 08/13/12 at 15:04:03

traci-lynn   Offline
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Hey All,

(Sorry for the long delay, but I have picked up a lot of overtime at work and this is the first time I have gotten back on my computer in almost a week now.)

Just wanted to say "Thanks for the Wonderful replies."

Arron, its all cool, it was Great paddling and talking with you there towards the end, but it was a race and I didn't expect you to stay with me.

Scott, I know that you are absolutely right, but I am saying that with a clear head and being well rested. ....   

Cheesy   .... I think that a large part of the problem was that I had a "don't ask .... don't tell" policy going on with my support person...  He never asked and it never occurred to me to tell him.   Wink

I agree 100% with Chuck, in regards to "The trick is in knowing that they are hallucinations, and then going with the flow...."

That is what I have always done in the past and it has never bothered me before. In fact, I usually find them amusing and was disappointed when I didn't have any at all in 2011. ... It sort of took some of the fun out of the race. ... However, this year it wasn't fun and so I was curious if others, who have had hallucinations before, also thought that they were worse this year (from the heat), or if it was just me from being sick that first day (I was very nauseated and had stopped eating and drinking) and then finishing the race with no sleep.

BTW .... (Smiling) ... my 20 year old daughter bailed on me by Wednesday.  She said that it "wasn't any fun anymore".
In the past, 2008 and 2009, she was my main support person (along with my older son) and in between the checkpoints she had money to go shopping, rent a bike and ride on the Katy trail, take in a movie, and stay in a nice hotel each night... She informed me on Wednesday, this year, that "I was paddling too fast now and all she had time to do was go from check-point to check-point and it wasnt any fun this year....     Shocked  (She missed 2010 and 2011 due to the 340 being moved to a time when she was in school.)  I find it amusing that she was upset that I have gotten faster....  Cool .......  children.... why do we have them again????   Cheesy
 

"dont tell me what I Can't do, .... let me show you what I Can do"
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Reply #15 - 08/17/12 at 00:15:26

FlyinLow   Offline
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Interesting article on sleep deprivation on rats. 

In today's excerpt - the effects of sleep deprivation:

"In the 1980s, researchers at the University of Chicago decided to find out what happens when an animal is deprived of sleep for a long period of time. In but one of the many odd tests you will find in the history of sleep research, these scientists forced rats to stay awake by placing them on a tiny platform suspended over cold water. The plat­form was balanced so that it would remain level only if a rat kept moving. If a rat fell asleep, it would tumble into the water and be forced to swim back to safety (or drown, an option that the researchers seemed strangely blase about). 
   
"Fast-forward to two weeks later. All of the rats were dead. This confused the researchers, though they had a few hints that something bad was going to happen. As the rats went longer and longer without sleep, their bodies began to self-destruct. They developed strange spots and festering sores that didn't heal, their fur started to fall out in large clumps, and they lost weight no matter how much food they ate. So the researchers decided to perform autopsies, and lo and behold they found nothing wrong with the animals' organs that would lead them to fail­ing so suddenly. This mystery gnawed at scientists so much that twenty years later, another team decided to do the exact same experiment, but with better instruments. This time, they thought, they will find out what happens inside of a rat's body during sleep deprivation that ultimately leads to its death. Again the rats stayed awake for more than two weeks, and again they died after developing gnarly sores. But just like their peers in Chicago years earlier, the research team could find no clear reason why the rats were keeling over. The lack of sleep itself looked to be the killer. The best guess was that staying awake for so long drained the animal's system and made it lose the ability to regulate its body temperature.   
   
"Humans who are kept awake for too long start to show some of the same signs as those hapless rats. ... Within the first twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation, the blood pressure starts to increase. Not long afterward, the metabolism levels go haywire, giving a person an uncontrollable craving for carbo­hydrates. The body temperature drops and the immune system gets weaker. If this goes on for too long, there is a good chance that the mind will turn against itself, making a person experi­ence visions and hear phantom sounds akin to a bad acid trip. At the same time, the ability to make simple decisions or recall obvious facts drops off severely. It is a bizarre downward spi­ral that is all the more peculiar because it can be stopped com­pletely, and all of its effects will vanish, simply by sleeping for a couple of hours."

Author: David K. Randall
Title: Dreamland Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Date: Copyright 2012 by David K. Randall
Pages: 20-22

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
by David K. Randall by W. W. Norton & Company
Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2012-08-13[/pre]
 

"Don't think you're on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path."  ~Author Unknown
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Reply #16 - 09/01/12 at 21:13:28

chuck and di   Offline
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I work in a sleep center, or sleep lab as some call it.  As the artilce above points out, sleep is essential.  It keep our immune system functioning, regulates our blood pressure, appetite & is essential to clear thought processes.  Without it we fail, we develope hypertension, diabetes, depression, cancer & actually gain weight in the long term (not acute) of sleep deprevation.  Adequate sleep regulates lectin & gerlin amoung other hormones.  I paddled fairly good until the end of the second day, may have suffered some heat exhaustion.  I had some pain & balance issues during the night & then swam at 4am below Hermann.  A huge thank you to the canoe team (father, daughter & good friend from SanAntonio, TX) that fished me out & put me on a wing dike.  My race went down-hill from there & I couldn't regain my balance after a 3-hour nap at Klondike.  I took out at Weldon Springs & had to finish Friday morning after a full night's rest, which by the way did me a world of good.  I didn't have any hallucination this year at all.  But in the past I have seen construction paper shapes in the trees, people who become logs or debris on the wing-dikes.  I had a hallucination of a barge at night on the Washington riverfront last year when paddling with Katie.  She must have thought I was NUTS!!  Mickey Mouse showed up below Weldon at night last year too.  Might try the combat power-nap strategy next year & probably will benefit from it!! Smiley
di
 

If you find yourself suddenly smack dab in the middle of hell, stopping is not an option.
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Reply #17 - 02/13/14 at 11:57:54

gersus   Offline
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I know this thread is old but it's awesome, thanks traci!

It makes me recall my experience last year. I had a total of about 4 hours sleep and finished in 58:21. From night two on I had odd things happen but it didn't seem odd at the time lol. I didn't really see tree people but I did see odd lights that still seem real to me. Once I thought I made a wrong turn and was on the wrong river because the river seemed really narrow.... And the last stretch from Klondike on seemed menacing like mentioned above. When I paddled the race for the rivers I couldn't believe how "normal" that stretch was. Lol!
I also dreamed EVERY night for three weeks after the race that I was somewhere in the middle of the pitch black river, alone, and didn't know where to go or if there was anything ahead of me. Not cool.
Some hallucinations are ok but there are some that I definitely don't look forward to.
 

Gerry
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Reply #18 - 02/13/14 at 20:33:23

Joewildlife   Offline
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Gersus, you brought up an interesting thread at a time when I have been giving a lot of thought to the sleep deprivation issue.

I had stated earlier in this thread that I know my limits and considered 3 hours of sleep a night mandatory.

Well, I do need to say that you may never know your limits until you push them.

I had a buddy tell me that he paddled straight through the Wilderness Waterway in the Everglades, during the Everglades Challenge.  This would take at least 30 hours.  (the Park Service says most paddlers take 7 days for the trip).   I thought that paddling straight through was crazy and out of the realm of possibilities for me.  The race is 300 miles.  I did the race in 2013.  The first three nights I got about 6 hours each night, and I never entered the sleep deprivation mode.  Heat and dehydration were not an issue.

On the fourth day of the race, I got up around dawn and proceeded on, entering the WW early afternoon.  I had arranged a camping permit at a spot that was probably about 50 miles away, thinking I would get there in the wee hours of the morning.  I paddled all night and strong...the first night of sleep deprivation didn't hurt me too bad--at about 4 am I entered an aptly named part of the WW called The Nightmare.  It was interesting and challenging enough that I completely avoided the 3-5 am BONK that I would normally experience.  Once the sun came up I paddled in good spirits, and paddled on until 10 pm when I got to the end of the WW at Flamingo, FL.  I was tired, and having interesting and repeated hallucinations of darkened cabins, boathouses, and seawalls along the straight stretch of canal leading to Flamingo.  I repeatedly turned on my headlamp to better see what I was looking at, and the man-made features I was seeing would turn out to be just mangroves.  It happened over and over again.  I paddled through it because I knew the checkpoint was close.  I had finished a 39 hours paddle, with maybe two hours on a "chickee"--a dock built to camp on--during daylight hours to stretch, dry out everything, have a meal and some coffee.  Never before in my life had I stayed awake for 39 hours.

My conclusion is this:  I can skip one night of sleep, but a rest WILL be necessary for me at that point or things would get out of hand in the context of paddling the Missouri River.   So my 2014 MR340 strategy COULD be one where I paddle 40 hours, wherever that may lead me, then rest for 2-3 hours, then paddle to the finish.  It COULD work out that way, but I've learned the truth of what they say, that "battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy".

FWIW,
Joe
 

And I ain't too old to hurry
Cause I ain't too old to die
But I sure am hard to beat
Ride on
AC/DC, Ride On
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Reply #19 - 02/13/14 at 22:28:58

bjalgera   Offline
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And such a relaxing paddle across the bottom of Whitewater Bay at the end of that 39 hour stretch too, wasn't it?  Shocked

In your case, your long stretch was at the end of the race, so less impact on the overall outcome.

In the 2011 EC, Emily and I sailed and paddled for ~26 hours straight on the first (into second...) day, stopped for a couple hours at CP1, then sailed ~12 more hours to wrap up a 40 hour marathon.  We slept about 6 hours then continued on, however we never really recovered.  We made some mistakes and bad decisions which I'm sure were due to the long stretch of sleep deprivation.  We ended up with a DNF.

Since then, I have done two separate 24+ hour solo paddles, so I know I'm capable of paddling through the night.  I like your 40 hour --> rest --> finish plan; I was planning a similar strategy for the 340 this year.

BTW, If anyone wants some more overnight paddling fun on one Michigan's most beautiful rivers, come join me:
https://www.facebook.com/events/219596201565850/
 
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