Burning Runner: The Juice Fast Nightmare

The evil concoction that haunted Burning Runner's night.

Week 10: Having lost more than 12 pounds in two months, T.J reports on his recent scary experience.

Written by: T.J. Murphy

The first 24 hours of my juice fast were smooth. I officially started the fast early last Sunday evening and on Monday morning I plugged in my Breville Juicer and smashed carrots, oranges, strawberries and a beet through the centrifugal machine. I loaded up the juice with green superfood and plant-based protein powder. 

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Drinking down a freshly squeezed juice is a terrific rush. The enzymes and nutrients seem to sizzle right into your blood stream. It’s a good feeling, a vibrant flow of energy and revitalization.

On Monday evening, I immediately set about whipping up dinner. Tomato, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, yellow pepper and red pepper were the ingredients, which I juiced into a small pitcher and then warmed up on the stove so I could enjoy it like a bowl of soup. It was very good. At 8:00, I went to bed, knowing that during a juice fast the more sleep the better.

I found myself struggling to get to sleep, however. How odd, I thought. I remember in previous juice fasts I hit the pillow and plummeted into a coma.

The evil concoction of tomato, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, yellow pepper and red pepper that haunted Burning Runner's night.

Not this time. After I fell asleep a relentless nightmare ensued. I dreamed that I was in the very U.S. Army barracks in Fort Jackson, SC, where I went through Basic Training some 20 years ago. Razor wire was tangled around all of the bunk beds like Christmas lights. A gang of knife-fighters was attacking me, and for what seemed like hours I was being slashed at from all directions. I kept getting tangled in the bloody razor wire. Once I unknotted myself from several ropes of it I got shoved into another thicket.

Mercifully I woke up at 3 AM and exhaled with relief that it was all just a dream. “What the hell was that?” I said, rattled. I drank some water and went back to bed, only to lose my grip again into another nightmare. In this one, I saw an ex of mine who was standing at the counter of a used record store. From the distance I could see she looked pale. I called to her and she smiled and replied, looking through a stack of CDs. I went over to talk to her and as I got closer, I could see that she had several holes drilled into her face.

“We have to get you to a hospital!” I cried.

“What are you talking about? I feel fine.”

“You have holes drilled into your face!”

At that she looked at me sweetly and returned her focus to the CDs.

When I woke up from that one I woke up for good. I went and drank some herbal tea and tried to shake it all off. I tried to interpret what was going on. Was this a sign that my body was detoxing? Were the images pouring from the depths of my mind symbolic of the evil toxins being expunged from my body?

Or, was this an internal rebellion against the juice fast itself? Was this my body wisdom saying, “Hey pal, we’ve only just adjusted to the vegan thing. Now this? Here, enjoy a horror show.”

At any rate, I made it through the day and at 47 hours after I started the fast I broke it. Whatever the reason was for the nightmares I wasn’t going to take any chances. I didn’t even bother to break the fast the right way. Typically you should start off with a bowl of vegetable soup. I had a pint of beer. Whatever. I lost another pound through the process, and the beer went down seemlessly. Tuesday night I slept like I’d been clubbed over the head.

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T.J. Murphy is a contributing editor to Competitor and the Editorial Director of Triathlete and Inside Triathlon magazines. Previous installments of his Burning Runner column can be read here. He can be reached by e-mail at burningrunner@gmail.com.

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