Sunday, February 10, 2019
Just over a year ago, I put my thoughts into words and cemented the story of going five
years without alcohol. In this social media-driven world we live in, where people only
seem to have time to read 140 characters or less, I knew there was a chance a lot may be
lost in translation, or in this case, a headline.
I wrangled with putting together a headline knowing full well that most people think they
know what's in the body of the story by just reading the headline. The one I decided on was
pretty simple and to the point: Five Years Dry: Why I Quit Drinking.
Just as I surmised, though, there were many people who just read the headline,
particularly the 'Why I Quit Drinking' part and felt like the knew what the reason was
without bothering to read the the body of the story.
I got a few, "Hey, congrats, I was in 'the program, too.' (I wasn't)
There was the, "Hey, I didn't know you had a problem. (I didn't)
And several people chimed in with the obligatory, "I hope everything's all right.' (It is).
As I sit here after going through another alcohol-free year, running my streak of days
without any kind of booze to 2,190 days, I had to drop the most common and over-used
response in social media today in response to those comments by my friends: LOL.
Man, people read a headline and the imaginations run wild. Sorry, my story about giving
up alcohol is quite boring. There wasn't a seminal moment or life-altering experience that
forced me to give up drinking. Six years ago of February 10th, I just didn't feel like I was
the best version of myself. I didn't feel all that great and didn't feel like I was in the
physical shape I wanted to be in heading into my 50th year on the planet.
So, I decided to give up alcohol and just about anything that wasn't good for the body human.
The Lenten season was coming up on the calendar so I challenged myself to give up alcohol,
bread, butter, cookies, candy, and ice cream for six weeks. I accomplished my goal with little
problem so I decided to see how long I could give up alcohol. Six years later, here I am.
I don't want alcohol. Don't need alcohol. And don't care if I don't have it again in my lifetime.
I don't care what people think and don't care about being 'social.' I just believe that drinking
is the single biggest waste of time, energy, and money in our society today. Yeah, it's even
more useless than spending time playing Fortnight.
I don't make judgements about other people and their drinking habits. To each their own. We
are free to live our lives any way we choose. However, I do offer advice when friends of mine
want me to talk to their kids about drinking. And it's easy. I tell them the sooner they figure
out that alcohol is poison to the mind, body, soul, and wallet, the better off they'll be.
Drinking even a couple of beers affects every single organ in your body. Liver, heart, brain -
name an organ and alcohol will eventually destroy it. In the last six years without alcohol, I have been sick just once - a bad case of bronchitis which wasn't enough to keep me from going to
work. A lot of luck is involved, I know, but alcohol weakens the immune system, too. I
want to make sure that as I grow older that I'm not polluting my body with toxic waste. That's
what alcohol is: toxic and a waste of everything.
Life is better without alcohol. Way better. As boring as it may be, that's my story and I'm
sticking to it.
Saturday, February 9, 2019
I've thoroughly enjoyed the five Ironman events I've completed. From Boulder to Lake
Placid to Mont-Tremblant, the events were well-organized and well-run, making for a truly
There's not much you can do about the pain one endures over the course of an 140-mile event,
but when it's all said and done, there is nothing quite like hearing Mike Reilly say, "You are
an Ironman" as competitors cross the finish line. It's a nice touch for an incredible event.
However, I really believe there is one thing the Ironman can do without: calling the bags
we use during the race "special needs" ones. Whenever I hear volunteers at check-in say,
"These are your "special needs bags", I cringe. It just doesn't sound right. In fact, it sounds
awful. The "special needs" bags in an Ironman event are used by competitors to put their
'goodies' in to help them get through the race. Power Bars, gels, goos, Swedish fish, aspirin,
band-aids, socks, Vaseline, sandwiches - if it can get a competitor through the endurance race,
chances are it will be in the "special needs" bag.
When I hear "special needs", I think about what most people do: those special kids who are
sometimes referred to as ones with "special needs." They are ones who need a little (or a lot) of
help just to get through the day.
Wikipedia defines special needs as people with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome,
dyslexia, blindness, ADHD, and cystic fibrosis. However, there are a lot of children born
with many other things that make them children with special needs.
When I hear someone talk about those "special needs" bags at an Ironman event, I feel
uncomfortable. If I was a parent of a child with special needs, I would certainly find it, um,
awkward, if not offensive. It's just not right and I think the Ironman franchise should find
a way to change the name of the bags. Call them Fuel and Recovery bags, but please don't
call them "special needs" bags. Call them S.O.S bags - anything but 'special needs' bags.
Major League Baseball recently made a big change when it came to how they described
the list where injured players land. Almost since its inception, baseball had a "disabled list."
Because of their sensitivity to others, it will simply be called the "injured list"
"The principal concern is that using the term "disabled for players who are injured supports the
misconception that people with disabilities are injured and therefore not able to participate or
compete in sports," said Jeff Pfeifer, MLB's senior director of league economics and operations.
Despite the change being long overdue, it was a great move by Major League Baseball.
There is nothing special about those bags, But there is certainly a lot that is special about
the kids who have to overcome a lot just to get through the day. Same goes for the parents.
It is extremely tough, both mentally and physically, for the parents and kids with 'special
needs' to deal with the cards they've been dealt. It's heart-wrenching for those who watch
them try to overcome the challenges they face every single day, 24/7.
When I'm swimming 2.4 miles in a beautiful lake or riding 112-miles on courses with
spectacular scenery, I find myself counting my blessing on just how lucky I am to compete
in an Ironman event, especially in my mid-50's. I am thankful that I'm able to run, bike, and
swim and enjoy everything an Ironman event has to offer.
I just don't like to see "special needs" slapped across the bags that contain fuel and
recovery items. I don't think it qualifies as being in good taste. Competitors really are not
special. Special should be used on those kids who didn't have luck on their side when they
came into this world. They are the ones who have incredible character and tremendous will.
The "special needs" bags need to go away in the Ironman events. Call them Fuel and Recovery
bags. The "special" part needs to always be used when describing those special little kids.