Thursday, March 5, 2015

5:30 AM Wake Up Call

Those who say that Disneyland is the “Happiest Place on Earth,” are sadly misinformed. Clearly the happiest place on Earth – is my bed. When I jump under the covers at night, I declare, "I LOVE YOU, BED!" Being wrapped up with my head on a fluffy pillow and drifting off to sleep is like heaven. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, my day begins with denial and sadness, as I emerge from my happy place to take on adult responsibilities. 

I may have inherited the love of sleep from my father. Dear old dad was always a hard worker, but he was also a big fan of naps. Not those short, 30 minutes naps either - like falling asleep for a couple of hours in the middle of a Saturday. Now retired, he sleeps in until 10 AM, only to the chagrin of my mother who has always been an earlier riser. “People wonder if I’m depressed,” Dad says, “I’m not depressed. I’m so happy – it’s almost like meditation.” 

I hope I can retire someday and be just like him.

People claim that all kids get up early, and that I probably just don't remember waking my parents up at 6 AM. But, as long as I can remember, I've loved sleeping. Here is where I admit to my parents that,  as a pre-teen/teenager, I switched off their alarm clock on Saturday nights a few times – because I didn’t want to get up early and go to church. It worked once.  Another time, mom and dad made us get up anyway and hurry to service. We were half washed, and half asleep, and we had to walk in late with the good Christian folks looking us up and down in disdain. 

Have you heard of these crazy people who actually choose to sleep less in order to work more? I don’t get it.  As Steve Wozniak once said during a talk, “People are so worried that robots will take our jobs. But, if we don’t have to work, we can sit around and watch movies. I like movies.” Touché, Mr. Wozniak. If I could get a robot to do my job, I could sleep more.

Then there are people with children, who really don’t have a choice. They make me feel particularly spoiled, and I get no sympathy from them. They roll their red, sunken in eyes as if to say, “Suck it up, bitch, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

With Ironman on the schedule this year – how on earth can I train myself to get up earlier? Or do I just need to learn how to endure the early mornings?

While half Ironman training fit nicely into my sleep-heavy lifestyle, Ironman training has been different. I’d heard about these “double days” – when you do a workout in the morning, then another at night. I thought I could easily adjust my schedule, but it’s not that easy. I’ve so far had one week where I was up before 5:30am three days (thank God not in a row), and I walked around work in an “Ironzombie” state.  Still I have not yet gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to eat because I’m hungry. How long will it be before I need to put food on my bedside table so I don’t have to walk 100 feet to the kitchen? Further, when will my stomach ruin my sleep cycle?

The most difficult part has been going to bed at a decent hour. Sometimes I don’t get home from a workout until after 8 PM, and then I’m tired and hungry. I’ve found some quick cooking options, which are usually healthy. (It doesn’t take long to bake fish and vegetables, and it’s also rather healthy.) The trick is just to get myself into bed as early as possible, and read. Unfortunately I often get stuck in my Netflix cue, or chatting with a friend online. This turns my brain on more than off.

When I do get up early and complete a workout before my day job, I do feel really accomplished. I don’t feel like the workout was a waste of time or energy. It’s worth it to get up. It’s convincing myself that this feeling will be worth the drudgery of pulling myself from my cozy quarters. Still, I lay there weighing the options while I hit snooze. If I sleep one more hour, will I still have time after work? Will I still have the energy? Will the pool be open, or will the sun still be out long enough? Will I get wrapped up in work and not be able to leave? It would be nice to get home and just make dinner and watch TV? Oh wait, it’s a double-day. Ok, I need to get out of bed. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

Why hasn’t some pharmaceutical company invented a pill that releases a sleep aid at night then releases caffeine 30 minutes before you are supposed to wake up? This would be helpful to more people than Cialis. I’m sure, like depression medicine, they would find other useful applications. I'm sure there would be more sex going on if people were better rested! This is definitely the year I become addicted to caffeine.

If only I could wake up like the late, great Dicky Fox (Jerry Maguire movie reference), “I clap my hands together and say, ‘This is going to be a great day!’”

Never happens.  

The days are unfortunately not getting any longer. We are stuck with only 24 hours, and I am stuck on loving sleep. The hours I’m awake need to be used wisely – working hard, training the smartest way I know how, spending my time on projects that inspire and fulfill me, and surrounding myself with quality people who make me better.  Anything else is a waste of time, and cuts into my beauty sleep.

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