So I am coming into the last few weeks before Ironman. This is the crunch time. About 8 weeks out. The time has flown by. Now is the time that I will be doing my last 5 weeks of the Peak phase. Continuing to build distance, endurance and speed. Have the last few weeks of intensive training volume buildup. And then a three-week taper.
This is “tweak” time. Time to tweak workouts. Tweak the bike for comfort and power. Tweak nutrition. Figure out what is working and what isn’t. I am a FIRM believer in training with what you will race with, as far as nutrition. Never, would I add something new to the plan. NEVER! I have learned this the hard way. Even gels are different. They have different ingredients. Could sit in your system different. Could cause major distress. This happened to me during a ½ marathon last year. Instead of sticking with the plan, I used a gel on the course that was being handed out. BIG mistake. It’s funny when racing longer distances, what the mind will tell you sounds good, compared with the reality of what your stomach would say. Gummy Bears sound yummy, but did you train with them? What would your gut say? Those cute, little, tasty bears, could leave you feeling like they are ripping your guts out.
Nutrition has always been a mystery to me. Being Vegan I am limited to what I can have and can’t have. Being Vegan also means I eat pretty clean. I am not a junk-food Vegan. I eat fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, nut butters, Tofu and try to keep it Organic. Going into Ironman, I had people say I could never train for that distance on a Vegan diet. I researched and found other endurance athletes that eat a Vegan diet. Ironman Brendan Brazier wrote a fantastic book called Thrive, that I love. Ultra runner, Scott Jurek, is Vegan. Track star, Carl Lewis, Vegan. And many other, runners, cyclist, NBA stars, MLB stars and even body builders, that are Vegan and Vegetarian. All doing long endurance races, or kicking butt at their sport, and are healthy.
So, last week during my Adventure Race, I made a few mistakes that got me thinking. The week prior, I ate well, hydrated well. The day before the race, I made sure, that even though we were traveling to Montana, I would not make the mistake of eating bad. I ate often, and ate great nutritious food. Drank a ton of H2O. So on Saturday when we started the race I thought I was well hydrated. Drank about 10oz of a sports drink, and figured I was good to go. I had a hydration pack on but for the first part of the race during the run I didn’t drink. Falling back on the fact that I had hydrated so well the day before. I finished that run, and into the kayak EXTREMELY dehydrated. My mouth full of cotton, and sticky, pasty, lips. I was so thirsty I was tempted to scoop in river water. YUK! By the time we got to the bikes, it was bad, and I downed a full 20oz bottle of Heed. It helped, but I was still in a position of deficit and then I couldn’t eat. Just couldn’t. Lesson learned. I know now, that even though I was well hydrated the day before, I had flushed all the salt from my body. So finding that balance is important.
These next few weeks will give me the time to dial this all in. Last weekend, I ran the 5-mile Spring Dash, and then took off on my bike for a 66-mile ride. I stayed hydrated, felt good, used my Hammer products, (which I swear by) Figuring out what “real” food, and what liquid food I need on the bike is important. I have found out this: Heed, and Perpetuem work awesome. Perpetuem can give me GI issues if I drink it too quickly. Meaning, if I mix a 2-hour bottle, I need to SIP the bottle over 2 hours. Not look at my time, and think, ok it’s been one hour, drink half. Not good. Also, almond butter, and honey or jelly sandwiches cut into fourths, and eaten every so often work well. Snickers bite-sized candy bars ARE THE BOMB!! (My ONLY non-Vegan race food, and ONLY eaten for racing in small amounts)
I do know I will gel during my swim, eat real food as much as possible on the bike and liquid only on the run.
It is amazing to me that it is such a science. An art. A major part of racing. It can make or break a race, especially on longer distances. The SLIGHTEST little thing can throw you off. Something that may seem insignificant could make a HUGE difference. You could easily have the best race of your life, or end up double over in pain, on a porta-potty, or on the side of the road puking. It happens.
What is your best meal plan? What products do you love/hate? Have you had a bad experience with a product or in a race?