Saturday, 14 April 2012

Twenty Nine Days 'Clean'

I'm a pretty lucky musher in that, most likely thanks to my Dad, I don't need alot of sleep to get by! For many years I worried more about keeping myself occupied during breaks then staying awake. In fact, for a few Iditarods I took a book on the trail. No kidding. For the first part of the race I couldn't sleep and I'd be prone to cutting the dogs breaks short as I was bored. By taking a book along, or listening to a book on my iPod in later years, I was able to stop myself from doing this!

However, the older I get the more sleep I appear to require, so my last few Iditarods I have had more issues with staying awake. Mushers use a variety of products to help stay awake, but I had never given any of them a try.

On the way home from the Ceremonial Start we stopped to fill the dog truck up with fuel. When I went into pay they had 5 Hour Energy Drinks on sale. I picked up 4 thinking they might come in handy.

The first day of the race is easy to stay awake....all the 'hype' and such takes care of that and as a good part of my run to Finger Lake was in the problems there either.
The trail to Rainy Pass is a physically and mentally demanding one so that you are usually pretty alert. Sheer terror and fear of death has that effect.

Then I left Rainy Pass in the wee hours of the morning. Although the second half of that trail is much like the Finger Lake to Rainy Pass leg in terms of  'sheer terror'/'ability to inspire alertness', the first 20 miles isn't as challenging and I found myself having a bit of trouble being perky. I pulled one of the Energy shots from my pocket and in no time was bright and enjoying a beautiful moonlit night. I was pretty impressed by the effects of the shot.

During the night on the way to Nikolai the straight, very boring trail around Buffalo Camp had me reaching into my pocket again. In fact, it took 2 shots (just over 5 hours apart) to get me into the checkpoint.

While on my 24 hour break in McGrath I walked done to the local store and bought a case (12) of extra strength 5 hour energy shots and thus the downward spiral began!!!!!

So much for 4 getting me through the race. 

In Unalakleet I gave young checkpoint volunteer Kermit money to run down to the store for me and buy me another case. Pat Moon also gave me some of his shots.

photo courtesy of

Gotta say, for me, those little things worked. That didn't totally make me awake, but they did take off that 'fall asleep on my feet' edge - and, as advertised, didn't give me a big 'crash' after either.

By the time I reached Safety I was counting hours till my next shot and pushing the '5 hour' thing pretty good. After all, this was an 'extreme' use of the product and required a bit of modification of 'suggested usage' - right?? RIGHT????

When I emptied my pockets in Nome I think I had 3 thawed and another 3 or 4 in my sled. Richard was thinking I might have a problem. I assured him I would have no problem doing without them - but in reality, don't all 'addicts' say that??? I was a touch concerned myself!!

Thankfully, I had no problem quitting my habit cold turkey, but maybe the fact that I was free to get good sleep in the weeks after the race had alot to do with that.

I am clean 29 days and counting............



Susan Scofield said...

good story... I can't take those things. They give me the niacin rush... I would need iv expresso:))

Anonymous said...

Hilarious!! I almost fell off my chair! Stay strong and stay away from the 5 Hour Energy!!

Helen J said...

Those things work great if used occasionally or for a short period of time. If you need one every afternoon to stay awake until after supper then they quickly lose their effectiveness. I have never found them to be addictive though. They did their job while you needed them and afterwards more sleep will take their place. Really handy to have one on a long or late drive.

mushmore said...

Great Story-I found them about 4 years ago and asked a fellow coworker who works in the medical field about the 5 hour engry. After he gave it his stamp of approvial I tried one and it was great no crash. Needless to say on the Chatinika 200 I talked Mike Santos, Clintin Warnik, and Scott Smith into trying it half way through the race. It was like tray to sell a used car to someone. Anyway they all drank there and off to the next checkpoint. Needless to say they came to me and was impressed that they did not crash and could sleep. So I call mike santos the "five hour engry man".