Thursday, June 08, 2017


Toward the end of Cross season last year, I decided to try a little experiment.  I had my new bike and everything, so I felt silly not doing whatever else I could to go faster.

I always knew intellectually that I drink too much beer to not have it hurt my performance.  

I had never actually done anything about it other than wake up slightly hungover on the morning of a race and punch myself in the face for being so fucking stupid.

It would go like this ...

Friday night before the race I would get everything ready to go. Once that was done, I could relax with a nice cold beer.  I get pretty nervous before races, so the calming influence of the alcohol was wonderful, and what could one more hurt?

Well, now that I've had 2, what difference does it make if I have a third? That's still less than my normal 5, so I should be great for tomorrow after I drink this 4th beer.

And so on.

Well after I got my new bike, I did a couple of races the normal (carbo-beer loading) way.

Then one day I decided to not drink any alcohol for the entire week before the race.

The result was unexpected.

I didn't really do tons better in the race.  But there was a huge difference. I was not nearly as tired after the race.

So I tried it again. This time was the Iowa State Championship cross races.  I did the Cat 4 and the Masters 50+ races back to back.

I don't remember which was first, but I got 5th place in one and 2nd in the other.  I felt just as good for the second race. 

That was the difference from a week of no beer.

So as Winter was settling in this year, I decided that if my races were being hurt by drinking, my training probably was too. I mostly quit drinking the day after the Super Bowl.

Not that the Super Bowl had anything to do with it.  That's just how I remember when it was. And Oh yeah - Fuck Tom Brady.  

Anyway - I struggled for a while (and still do - somewhat) with the lifestyle change of not drinking.  I had quite a habit.  But I felt physically better right away. I dropped a bunch of weight without changing anything else.  I think this might partially be from the higher quality training.

I have long talks with Jill about my observations after quitting. I do this to help reinforce my decision to quit. I have the occasional beer, but I need to be careful with that because I notice a craving for more beer for a few days afterwards.

In three months after quitting, I dropped 15 pounds and stabilized at around 175.  That's right where I want to be for racing.

But this post isn't about quitting drinking.  That was relatively easy.

This post is about addiction. Physical addiction.  When I stopped drinking beer, I had no withdrawal symptoms.

So I was reading this book by a pro cyclist. He was saying that early in his career, he had a training partner who had found a simple way to cheat his training.

The coach had given him specific target heart rates for his workouts. The cyclist found he could easily reach those targets if he guzzled a bunch of coffee before training. The result was predictable. Poor fitness when racing started.

That got me thinking. I drink a lot of coffee.  Maybe, I should cut back for the sake of better training.

So I started filling my daily thermos with half regular and half decaf.

When I started feeling dizzy for the next few days, I came to the 100% wrong conclusion. I didn't make the connection that I had reduced my caffeine intake. I thought maybe I was still drinking too much coffee, so I tried to stop completely.  Big mistake.

I went to work on Monday and could not concentrate. I couldn't focus my eyes.  My vision was blurred. My balance was off.  I was having difficulty listening to people. I felt tongue-tied.  My words were coming out wrong. The whole day was miserable.

I tried again on Tuesday and it was worse.  Finally, I went over to Starbucks and got a small (tall) cup of coffee.  I drank it down and about an hour later, I felt a lot better.  Still a little dizzy, but most of the brain fog was lifted.

I realized that since I have to work, I can't just quit drinking coffee. I'm going to have to carefully measure how much I take in and slowly reduce it.

But why? 

That has been the question I've been hearing. Why would I need to cut back on coffee?

Well first it was because I wanted to train without the artificially elevated heart rate. But now that I see what the withdrawal is like, I'd like to completely get away from the dependence.

Not in a million years would I have guessed that it would be harder to quit coffee than beer.

I like beer so much more, but coffee has me physically jacked up.

The main reason I don't want to be dependent on coffee is in case there's a Zombie Deal. I know everybody says, "Zombie Apocalypse" but that word seems wrong to me.  I think "Zombie Deal" is a better phrase. Or maybe "Zombageddon." Yeah - I like that. It sounds a little like a pasta dish with brains in it.  But yeah - When (not if)  Zombageddon happens, you know Starbucks is going down first.  Then all of the people who can't get their caffeine fix will be walking around like zombies and promptly getting their brains blown out.  

So now if somebody asks me why I'm cutting back on coffee, I just say, "Because. Zombies."

Saturday, June 03, 2017

I'm back (for one very special night) -- You should probably read this one unless you hate laughing.

But this time ... it's traditional.

There's a fantastic movie from the 80's. It's called "Hot Shots!" The exclamation point is part of the title.

Anyways, there this thing they do in this movie where the love interest of Topper Harley says something that Topper can't believe is true.

So he says, "You're joking."

Then the woman says, "If I were joking I would have said "A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, 'Why the long face?'"

At which point, Topper realizes just how serious it is.

I thought of this joke several months ago. At the time, I thought there was something I could do with it.  There's a thing that I used to hear or that people used to say, I can't remember which.  But it's about a joke that someone doesn't get.  Sometimes (not usually) if someone doesn't get a joke, they will tell you.  They'll say something like "I don't get it."

Then the person telling the joke might say "It's not as funny if I have to explain it."

This is a dumb thing to say.  If somebody didn't get the joke, there's no way it's less funny if you have to explain it.  It will be at least as funny.  Or maybe ... You didn't explain it right. Or maybe the thing that isn't funny is you!

Or maybe you are telling a joke that you didn't get in the first place but since everybody else around thought it was hilarious, you thought you'd tell your friend.  Then maybe you didn't quite tell the joke right.

I'll give you an example. It's a joke I've told on this blog before to explain something about how some written jokes won't work as well as if they were spoken.

Charlie Brown is showing off his brand new Speedo at the lake.  Lucy says "Charlie Brown. I always suspected you were crazy, but now I can clearly see you're nuts."

As a spoken joke, the homophones  "your/you're" really go to work in a lovely way.

But what if you heard the joke and didn't get it.  So you're all, "So what? Lucy thinks Charlie Brown is crazy. Big deal."

Then everybody laughs even harder. Now you think it must be terribly funny to people what Lucy thinks of Charlie Brown. So you figure that you've got a joke people will like next time you're sitting around and people are telling jokes.

So you give the joke you don't understand a try, finishing with "... But now I can clearly see your testicles."

Ok that's still pretty funny. Never mind.

Or what if you hear the joke and don't get it and you have the misfortune of being British?

Then you might say, "But now I can clearly see you're a nutter."

Stupid British people.

But if everybody else was laughing and you didn't get it and you said "I don't get it" maybe somebody would explain it to you.

"It's funny because Lucy is either saying the Speedo is a ridiculous thing for a boy of  Charlie Brown's physique to wear, or that his balls are exposed."

Or maybe you get the joke when you hear it, but you start telling it and you can't quite remember the trick.  Maybe you forget that Lucy was speaking directly to Charlie Brown.

Your version goes like this: So Lucy and Sally are at the pool when Charlie brown walks up in his brand new Speedo and says 'Hi' and as he's walking away, Lucy says, "Sally, I always suspected your brother was a little crazy, but now I can clearly see he's nuts."

This one could still actually work, but Lucy would need a thick accent and Lucy doesn't have a thick accent.

You could change it slightly to say that Sally and that guy from the Raiders of the Lost Ark who saved Indiana Jones by preventing him from eating a poisoned piece of fruit (because that guy had a heavy accent) were at the pool ...

Then the guy from Indiana Jones turned to Sally and said with his heavy accent of unknown origin, "Your brother. I can cleerly see eez nuts!"

Do you get it? Because in heavy accent, his/he's is a homophone. Oh never mind. It's not as funny if I have to explain it.

Anyway - back to the "Why the long face" joke. I have written an explanation or apology for it.  I wrote it on a piece of paper and placed it right here on my desk.  It's not here on my desk anymore. It might be in a drawer. I will look later.  If I find it, I will post it.

Otherwise, I'll probably just write some self-indulgent bullshit about the races I've been doing lately.