Wednesday, April 1, 2015

There is no greater drug than a run...beer comes close...

At the height of my Training June 14th, 2009
I like beer. Actually let me rephrase that, I love beer. It's my favorite food and drinking it is my favorite past time. When you drink beer everything seems better and more fun and boring people are either more interesting or tolerable.

Beer has got me through many a people function I really didn't want to attend and the only thing motivating me to go was knowing there would be beer.

Beer is good after a hard day of work. Beer is good to relieve stress. Beer is a vacation in a bottle. There has been many a time I was pushed to my limited, really needed to decompress and take myself out of the eye of the storm for a while, but had not time to go on a vacation and one night of good beer drinking is like hitting the reset button.

Beer got me to Kona. Yes you heard right. Many a triathlete talk about proper nutrition, getting enough sleep and all other sorts of healthy lifestyle choices. In my case I did very few of those and my go to drink was beer and lots of it. I think on one of my heavy training months I had just over 200 beers. (Yes I kept track of mileage and beer consumption).

Now you might ask how can beer get you to Kona? It's alcohol, it's not great for your organs, it's dehydrating, etc. People counter with "if  drinking beer could get you to Kona don't you think everyone will be drinking it?"

Well the answer is yes if you want to get to Kona you should drink lots of beer like I did.

When you look back at the history of beer you will learn that beer is what fuels the world. If it wasn't for beer wars couldn't have been fought in the early and middle ages. Beer is nutrient rich. It allows you to get fat and most importantly it numbs the mental pain of fighting in wars and having to do stuff you don't want to do and you do it anyway.

That last line is what worked for me. "It numbs the mental pain of having to do stuff you don't want to do and you do it anyway".

Training for Ironman is tough. It's a huge time commitment. I was consistently putting in 60 hour weeks and some near 80 hours. Putting in those types of hours and the physical and mental toll it takes is extremely hard. There was many a time I just was near my breaking point.

That's where beer came to the rescue. When I was at my breaking point I'd head downstairs to the Pig & Whistle (my man cave) and drink as many beers as my body would allow. It usually resulted in me getting to bed at around 4 am.

This is where the magic comes in. I'd wake up and I didn't feel burnt out. I felt like a new man. It felt like my burned out feelings were a lifetime ago and I no longer had them. I did have a sore head and was usually a little hungover, but I didn't feel burnt out and it was like I just got back from a vacation. Beer to me was a vacation in a bottle.

Then the next awesome part of training after drinking, it's mentally tough. It builds your mental strength. Why? Well have you ever done a 7 hour bike ride on a Saturday morning hungover. Or actually let me rephrase that. Have you ever went for a 7 hour bike ride after only about 4 hours of sleep and still feeling it when you start out and then by hour 5 the hangover kicks in and you are in extreme pain?

Yes, the hangover kicks in on hour 5. There is no forgiveness. Riding with a hangover and dehydrated and excessively sweating out all the pollutants is an excellent way to build up physically and mentally for an ironman. It's training sessions like those that you draw on for strength. If you can ride or run under those circumstances finishing and Ironman is easy.

There is one other benefit I found from drinking beer. It's rocket fuel. I don't know what it is but usually a day or two after drinking beer I would have my best training sessions or races. It eventually became my pre-race ritual to have a couple of beers the night or two nights before a race. I swear it automatically converts to energy and is stored in the muscles in your body.

With all that said and the praising of the benefits of beer I still find there is nothing greater than a run to clear ones head and return positive feelings and optimism.

The one side effect of beer is it requires a recovery period to get back to normal. With running there is no side effect. For a relatively small amount of effort the mental benefits are near immediate and the side effect is those feeling remain with you for hours after.

If I was given the choice of only being allowed to run or drink beer, I would pick running. Yes you heard correct. Mr I love beer would pick running. Like I said before beer is like a vacation in a bottle and like any vacation when you get back you need to get back into work mode. Running instead gives you all the mental benefits of beer but keeps you sharp and in the game when the effects are going on and have fallen off.

Not to mention running is also easier on your liver and other internal organs. Mind you if you're trying to get to Kona and already putting in an insane amount of hours then running will not work for you. The only thing that will work for you in those circumstances is beer.

Today was another strong day of being on the straight and narrow. I ate healthy and I trained. I did a nice little run. There is no doubt I have much more energy than I have had in a long long time. I no longer am needed to take a nap in the evening. That was almost a near nightly thing for a recent long time.

The run was good. Heart rate was higher than normal and I had to walk but I find it interesting that my legs do not feel any exhaustion from running at all. None. I'm wondering if for these past few years when I was feeling leg exhaustion, even after weeks / months of good training, that it was caused by thyroid issues?

This morning I went in for my ultra scan on my thyroid. I guess I'll find out soon if I have an over active thyroid or not. Again, I don't think I do because one of the side effects is losing weight. That has been an issue for me.

Even on the weight loss side it's tough. I definitely don't drop weight like I used to when I was a young person. I'm following the Weight Watchers diet exclusively and eat even slightly less than the points they allow me to eat, and I'm training, and I'm still only squeaking out a pound or just over a pound a week.

Juicing is like crack cocaine. When I juiced and lost 5.5 lbs in one week it felt great. It's very addicting to want to just juice again for a week and drop another 5 lbs. The only tough part about juicing is the discipline and sacrifice it takes to do it. I think it's hard.

Mind you had I juiced this past week I'd be around 192 lbs right now. Hummm....I may have to do that. We'll see tomorrow if I can lose .4 lbs a day I'll stay on weight watchers by night and juicing by day.

Like I said about running, I'd take it over beer. Today we had a 3 hour strategy meeting which requires a clear head and a lot of brain power and effort. By the time 3 hours was done I was brain dead. In fact if we had to go longer I would have tapped out and rescheduled.

I knew I needed to do something because I needed to get back to finance stuff and it too requires brain power. So I went for a run and it was just what the doctor ordered. When I got back I felt like a new person and my mind was clear once again.

Actually I realized that running and training is the equivalent to beer with regards to work as beer is to training. If I had tried to clear my brain with beer today I wouldn't have been able to function or do work tonight and I would not have a clear mind for tomorrow either. Running was my vacation in a bottle.

Where I'm going now is my work Kona. I have some goals I want to do with my career that have been haunting and elusive to me since I starting working. Now I'm in a spot where I can do it. It's my new Kona and the key to coping is to train.....and unleash every once an a while....but not email or tweet.

I've done that before and emailing and tweeting and beer does not mix. The side effects is remorse and rumination. But that's a lesson for another blog post.

Oh and lastly I want to give a big shout out to Peter Takeda who lost his bet with me that I couldn't get down to 198 lbs or less by end of March and he lost and today, April 1st, the next day I had a wire transfer of money from him. That's an honourable guy. That's why he's an Ironman and all Ironman I know are honorable guys.

I kind of felt guilty taking Peters money because in a way he did me a favor as it was huge motivation because I couldn't afford to lose $200 from him and $400 from Rodney. Alice had already been giving  me the eyeball and we had a brief discussion where I told her not to worry I'm win the bet, or just do a double or nothing until I do win a bet.

I gave Peter the out and said I don't want it but he insisted. So I took it. But told him that I'll only take it if he allows me to buy him a lunch downtown Toronto one day and he comes to the Pig & Whistle for a night of debauchery. 

Run - 1:02:30 / 10.25 km
196.4 lbs





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