Tag: nutrition

Race Nutrition Dilemmas & Decisions

Apologies for the TMI you’ll find below, but hey, I’m among friends and fellow runners, right? We all deal with this stuff at some point. Hoping you can share your thoughts, experiences and perhaps help me with a decision. I’m not crowdsourcing the decision or anything like that, but always looking for data, balance, more objective points of view.

If you’re a past blog reader or follower of mine on Twitter, you may be aware I have some GI issues. GERD (low acid diet & PPIs), hiatal hernia, gluten/lactose intolerance, possible FODMAP intolerance, IBS (“we don’t know the cause or a fix so we’ll name it”), other food sensitivities and GI crankiness from hormone swings or other unknowns.

Pre-race (day before) and in-race nutrition are things I am very careful of, practice in training, and try not to change. Especially 2 weeks before race day of a goal marathon. It’s all about finding what works, repeatability, control, and minimizing variables.

BUT.

(here’s the TMI part….)

I’m getting pretty worried re GI issues on my runs, specifically, bowel/elimination. There have been several long runs (today’s, at mile 13 of an 18 miler) or long speed sessions where I had to stop my run to sprint to the bathroom. (so glad I train on my treadmill!) Looking back, I see one occurrence in this week and each of the last 3 weeks prior (at least) where I either had to stop or by the end of the run (including this past Tuesday) or if I’d gone further I was going to have to stop. This is in addition to having multiple movements pre-run (and every day), which has been happening over the last few months.

I don’t know the reason for these issues. I don’t know if it’s that I’m trying to get faster, or if it’s something in GU (what I’ve been using this year) that my stomach just won’t tolerate after a certain time/distance/speed. I also don’t know if there’s some other thing going on, but I’m going to address what seems to be the proximate cause, run nutrition.

Background: last year for my Shamrock and Baystate BQs and PRs, I was using EFS Liquid Shot gel, which I loved, and didn’t have any stomach issues (other than regular burp-back, which can happen for me with plain water), and I didn’t have to stop. (I did take about half a Vanilla GU at mile 24 of Baystate, according to my race report, and they will have GU on course if I needed it.) But EFS is only available in flasks, which means carrying it those flasks somehow either in a belt, which my tummy doesn’t love, or a vest, which was prohibited at Boston.

So in 2015, preparing for Boston under those constraints, I switched to GU and carried it in a flipbelt at Boston, and was going to carry it in pockets of shorts and bra at Baystate. If you recall, I had some bowel issues around mile 19 of Boston, requiring a portajohn stop. At the time I put it down to undercooked veggies the day before, and to hormones (which were certainly in play) but now I’m wondering if it was the GU. (I’ll deal with what I do for Boston 2016 later.)

DH says it could be nerves and that I’ve been nervous for my long/hard runs for weeks now. He may be right but I didn’t perceive that today and didn’t feel that way (not a nervous agitated stomach). Today and Tuesday were just one of those “gotta stop NOW” things. Also, I could be nervous on race day, so should take that into account.

In terms of day before race/long speed session/long run:

I have been trying to eat less fiber/more carbs the day before my long runs and my long speed sessions (like Tuesday’s 15 miler with 12 at goal pace). I moved away from my chicken and steamed veg dinners and have had white bread with honey, turkey, rice, soup, etc. for dinner. I’m trying to nail down a suite of safe packaged foods I can buy when I travel to races (soup, GF bread, nut butter, lunchmeat, chips, oatmeal or similar) or things I can cook in the hotel (sweet potatoes). I can see no reason for these changes to cause GI problems, and because I’ve been trying a variety of meals, I’m not immediately seeing a common factor in what I eat the day before these issues.

For in-race nutrition:

I’m considering options (aka changes), of which there are only a few in my mind, and all of which I have limited time to try. But the “nothing new on race day” rule means I DO need to try whatever option I think I’m going with. The race is 10/18, so I’m entering peaking (or taper, for those who use that). Tuesday’s plan is tempo intervals, if I feel my legs are up to it, next Saturday is a half distance run with goal pace miles, the rest of the runs are shorter/easier and might not require gel or be good tests.

Options

  • Stick with GU, load up on Immodium pre-race

Pros: it’s what I’ve been training with; not sure it’s the problem; I like the variety of the flavors and choices for added electrolytes, caffeine, amino acids; I’ve used Immodium in non-race situations in the past without incident and have read of other runners with twitchy tummies taking it pre-race.

Cons: if it’s really something in GU that my system can’t take, the Immodium may not be enough, and the combo might be unpleasant. I don’t know if I have enough runs to know that the Immodium will sit well with goal pace miles or if it might cause other problems during the race.

  • Go back to EFS, whether in hard/soft flasks, carry in the waistband of shorts or go back to my vest

Pros: this worked well for me in PR races last year, the liquid consistency and using the flasks allows me to add water to the gel and not have to take as much water at aid stations, not be gulping a packet and spilling/gulping from a cup which could add to GI distress.

Cons: since I don’t know if the GU is the problem, I can’t be sure this is the fix, and have limited test opportunities; just because it was fine last year doesn’t mean it would be fine now; carrying the flasks is a pain/annoyance/weight, and one that I haven’t trained with in over a year – are a couple of runs enough to test the stomach, the vest and weight/speed effects?I suspect I’d wind up wearing the vest even if I could fit a soft flask in the waistband, as I might want extra gel. Of course, having to stop would be likely to take more time than the weight and the vest would add.

(FYI, I am not considering the cost/waste of shipping stuff pre-race in this decision, as I plan to do it anyway with some food and other items/backups – due to TSA restrictions and wanting to fly carry-on only. Also not considering cost/waste of leaving extra behind, tossing empty flasks…gotta do what you gotta do for a race. #firstworldproblems and guilt, but hey)

  • Go back to EFS and load up on Immodium anyway (belt and suspenders)

Pros: see 2nd bullet, above

Cons: see 2nd bullet above plus don’t know if the Immodium will sit will with goal pace miles or if it might cause other problems during the race

I’m leaning toward going back to EFS, trying flasks in shorts on Tuesday and the vest after that. I’m also leaning slightly toward one dose of Immodium after my first clear-the-pipes at the hotel on race day. I plan to get up by 4:30 for an 8am race, to have plenty of time for use of the hotel bathroom before and after a warmup, and before heading to the race site where it’s just portajohns in the cold. I’m also looking at anything else I changed recently in terms of food/supplements and if possible, reverting whether or not it seems possibly related.

Here’s where I ask for your experience, thoughts, opinions….please share! 



Arizona and after – What I Ate (the treats & the experiment)

Long post warning!

Faithful readers have patiently read (put up with) my discussing/analyzing/obsessing about my food plan post-race, a potential gluten free (GF) experiment, and what I’d do after. So this is to share what I actually did pre and post-race, what I learned, and what’s next.

(I actually wish I’d taken MORE photos and some I am sure I took seem to have gone missing. However, I’ll say it was weird to be taking photos of so much of my food, especially in restaurants. I found it a bit disruptive, got annoyed with myself at times. While I enjoy blogging and tweeting and connecting with you all, I’m not a “professional blogger” and I don’t live to blog/tweet. It felt like I was breaking the flow of actual life somehow and putting priorities in the wrong place. Anybody else run into that sometimes?)

Pre-race, I stayed on my Paleo diet plan. As always, not the easiest of plans to follow when eating out, but research, grocery shopping and being able to tolerate very limited options made it mostly work. (Thanks and kudos as always to DH for his patience and support!) I am gluten-free (GF) because I’m gluten-intolerant if not celiac – so out of need. I’m Paleo by choice due to other intolerances and a desire to limit carbs and sugar. I’m not Paleo because I believe we should eat what cavemen ate or anything like that, though I do think the less processed foods and sugar in one’s regular diet, the better. Paleo is just the easiest shorthand for the combination of foods that seem to mostly work okay for me – though I also follow the GERD diet for GERD/hiatal hernia and past ulcers, don’t eat nightshades for autoimmune reasons, though I do eat eggs, and am inching toward lower FODMAPS as I seem to have issues with some veggies, especially raw. The Venn diagram of what I can/do actually eat would be amusing.

After the race however……I’d decided to go wild and temporarily abandon Paleo tenets (no dairy, legumes, etc.) after almost two years of following them. I also allowed myself to eat foods that are prohibited on the GERD diet (spicier foods, carbonation, caffeine, citric acid), a bit risky, and I did have some acid issues, especially toward the end of the two weeks. I continued to eat gluten-free as the pain of not doing so would be not literally intolerable, but severely miserable, and not worth it. (I did contemplate trying the gluten-containing Tammie Coe cupcakes and other yummies – we had the Ooey Gooey cupcakes at our wedding, or naan at our Indian restaurant, but decided the risk/guarantee of pain was just too high. If you can eat gluten though, make sure you eat Tammie Coe products while you’re in Phoenix. Amazing.)

One reason for this “break” is that for the last year or so, the Paleo diet had felt like deprivation more than a positive choice. We had some problems over the 2013 holidays while visiting DH’s family that caused stress for everyone, and it seemed everywhere I looked was something I couldn’t have or chose not to have. It got to be kind of upsetting. Another reason I chose to do it after my ultra is because so many of my favorite foods are in Arizona, places that handle GF well (and my favorite brand of ice cream). It would have been best if I stuck to only restaurants for higher quality food but I did pick up some GF packaged foods like Glutino’s pretzels (ate while crewing), some bars I wouldn’t normally eat (Hammer Whey and Picky) and discovered – thanks to DH – the amazing Tim’s Salt and Vinegar potato chips. You may think you’ve had good salt and vinegar chips, but believe me, these are THE BEST. (and, dangerously, available directly from the manufacturer – not sold in our geographic area).

Tim's Salt and Vinegar Chips

Tim’s Salt and Vinegar Chips

Here’s how it went…..

Thursday 12/25 (left home 5am ET, ate my own food on plane, arrived at the hotel around noon local, which is MT)

Ate our holiday “lunch” at the hotel restaurant, beet and spinach salad with candied pecans and small chunks of steak. We went to Walgreens to pick up SmartWater and snacks, but there wasn’t much available. I believe I got a fruit cup. Our shopping was limited as all the grocery stores near the hotel were closed on the holiday and even Walgreens had limited hours.For dinner, room service burger with bacon (which got remade as they’d put GF bread on it) and sautéed veggies.

Friday 12/26

Breakfast – in the room, Paleo bread sandwich and nut butter (I carried these on the plane)

Lunch – salmon and asparagus along with another beet/spinach salad (no meat) at the hotel’s spa cafe

Dinner – spinach/spring mix salad with mushrooms, chicken, bacon, nuts, strawberries and fig balsamic dressing at Picazzo’s (if you eat gluten-free, this is a place for you…only 2 items on the whole menu not available GF)

Picazzo's spinach salad

Picazzo’s spinach salad

We went to a favorite local grocery store and found kabocha! DH pushed me to get it. It IS possible to cook it in a hotel room microwave, but it takes forever and doesn’t turn out as well….also, I think it wasn’t quite ready to be picked.We also went to Whole Foods and picked up sweet potatoes, fruit, asparagus, turkey lunchmeat, a new loaf of Paleo bread, strawberries and some nut butter. I think we also got some GF treats in preparation for my post-race “indulging”.

Arizona kabocha

Arizona kabocha

Saturday 12/27 (day before race)

Breakfast – in room, asparagus, Paleo bread and turkey sandwich, kabocha, some strawberries

Lunch – grilled chicken and asparagus at the hotel’s spa cafe

Dinner – PF Chang’s steamed Buddha’s Feast with chicken – this was a bit disappointing as while I was very clear with the server, some “unapproved” (can’t eat) veggies wound up in my meal. I chose to pick them out as it took so long to get the order in the first place and I needed food in me early, but it was stressful and not the first time it’s happened at PFC. It makes me think I’ll have to re-evaluate them as my go-to option.

Snacked on frozen bananas w nut butter (yes, managed that with a freezer compartment) and Terra sweet potato chips.

Sunday 12/28 (race day!)

Breakfast – none. I did my regular BeetElite and FRS chews in the room before we left. I’d debated about trying to eat something before the race as it was a 9am start (11am ET) but I just didn’t want to risk it. I was pretty hungry at the start.

During the race I had a craving for flat Coke (DH said aid station didn’t have, but post-race they had flat Sam’s Cola which is remarkably similar and was yummy). My brain translated that into also wanting fries and a burger.

Post-race – my usual Ultragen immediately after. Then we had to pack the car and get back to the hotel, get cleaned up, etc. Fortunately, racing usually kills my appetite and the Ultragen held me for a while.

Let the binging begin……

Dinner – Five Guys…..so glad they have gluten-free fries! First time I’d had potatoes in almost 2 years. I got a little burger w/ bacon (no bun) and a medium fries to split between me and DH, and Coke Zero. Turns out all I really wanted was the fries, at a bite of the burger and a little bacon and ate about 2/3 of the fries. Went to Picazzo’s and picked up GF skillet chocolate chip cookie and coconut milk ice cream.

Picazzo's GF skillet choc chip cookie w coconut milk vanilla ice cream

Picazzo’s GF skillet choc chip cookie w coconut milk vanilla ice cream

Monday 12/29 

Breakfast – Went to the AMAZING Jewel’s Bakery and Cafe where EVERYTHING is gluten-free and almost everything is unbelievably delicious! This place is uber-dangerous. Have the pancakes. Trust me. The texture is a revelation in GF pancakes, and they have a “buttermilk” syrup – I don’t know what’s in it, it has a hint of sweetness but not necessarily maple, but it will become your new favorite. (think it might be butter and agave)

Jewel's biscuit and pancakes

Jewel’s biscuit and pancakes

Donuts, oh, donuts, puffy yeast donuts. I loved the cinnamon sugar (but I love cinnamon sugar on its own, so that’s an easy one) but I think I loved the glazed more.

Jewel's donuts

Jewel’s donuts

Also got scones (blueberry, maple pecan, chocolate chip, all excellent – made from their biscuit dough I think), cookies (terrific molasses, dense and subtle oatmeal raisin, okay peanut butter), cupcakes (Elvis – banana cake good, pb frosting good, fluff and bacon overkill, Vanilla birthday cake only okay) and a sample of a swoon-worthy pecan bar.

more Jewel's yummies

more Jewel’s yummies

Dinner – Chelsea’s Kitchen, owned by LGO, which owns other restaurants we’ve liked. I had smoked trout dip (cream cheese, ok, not great, good tortilla chips though), kale salad unique and pretty good, short rib tacos and seasoned fries excellent – great tortillas, amazing fries and nice sauce on the meat (which reminded me of pot roast). They’re pretty good at GF, but always make sure to double-check details with the server as modifications may be required.

Tuesday 12/20 (day before race for runner I was crewing)

Breakfast – leftovers in room

Lunch – kale salad leftovers

Dinner – Picazzo’s again…..sauteed spinach as I was trying to include veggies (even a half order was too much, and a lot of olive oil)

Picazzo's sauteed spinach

Picazzo’s sauteed spinach

and this beautiful GF flatbread/cracker crust pizza with BBQ sauce, goat cheese, chicken and artichoke hearts

Picazzo's pizza

Picazzo’s pizza

Wednesday 12/31 – 24h race crewing day

Breakfast – in room before leaving at 7am.

Rest of day, night, into next day, was food I brought to the race along with a couple of chunks of cold boiled potato with salt. (I’ll put more detail in my crewing post)

Thursday 1/1/2015 – 24h race continues…still crewing (until 9am, then getting everything to the hotel, getting showered, etc.)

Dinner – picked up from Picazzo’s – an even better GF pizza! Cracker crust, BBQ sauce, artichoke hearts, bacon, mushrooms, 1/2 white cheddar, 1/2 smoked mozzarella. And of course another cookie.

Friday 1/2/2015

Lunch – Waldo’s BBQ – a LOT of food. I had pulled pork and a different type of rib than I’m used to…pretty reasonable. Side of a baked potato and lettuce salad (no dressing, unapproved veggies removed) as the GF options were….a baked potato/sweet potato and lettuce salad. (I saw onion rings and mac-n-cheese pass by.)

Waldo's pulled pork and rib

Waldo’s pulled pork and rib

baked potato and salad

baked potato and salad

We’d tried to go to Little Miss BBQ which smelled amazing, but after waiting in the parking lot line for 15 minutes, it became apparent we’d have to stand at least another hour to even get in the door, so we left. Perhaps another trip. Both BBQ places were helpful in answering my question about GF options via email or twitter. (I always research and try to confirm ahead of showing up.)

Stopped by Gluten-Free Creations, which had been my favorite GF bakery and cafe (prior to Jewel’s). I had a couple bites of their English muffin, which needed to be toasted more and wasn’t quite as good as I remembered. Had a bite of a holiday cookie (meh). Ordered their pumpkin pancakes, ate one and took the rest back to the room (think I only ate one more). Bought their buttermilk biscuits (making trip home to be frozen), maple walnut scone (one of these going home too) and a huge iced cinnamon roll (which I’m eating over 3-4 days). Being able to compare them to Jewel’s makes them overall less attractive, though they do offer more breads (bagels, buns, English muffins) than Jewel’s. I think I actually liked GFC’s cinnamon roll better – more Cinnabon-y but with sugar icing which I prefer. Both ship so I could get more if I wanted. Both are worth checking out.

We went to Whole Foods to get Sweet Republic ice cream (best ice cream, IMO) from their gelato counter there (rather than going to the SR standalone store, also this way could get more flavors by the scoop). All flavors were incredibly yummy: eggnog, pumpkin spice (like pumpkin pie), cinnamon (different than fave Maggie Moo’s – good thing I didn’t realize they were in Scottsdale or we would have had to have a taste-off) and Belgian Chocolate (like Lee’s from Baltimore but Lee’s had chunks). I tried a taste of the peaberry espresso, it was terrific too. I’d say DH and I shared them but I’m sure I ate most of them.

Dinner – accumulated snacks, bakery, produce and leftovers in room

Saturday 1/3/2015

Breakfast – some Paleo bread with nut butter in the room

Lunch – buffet at Indian Delhi Palace (hugely recommend, we visit them every trip to Arizona) THE BEST Tandoori chicken I’ve ever had. Excellent chicken tikka masala, goat curry, palak paneer. Very good kheer and a dish of ground lamb, peas and spices. They do their rice with ghee and saffron, unique and works well with their entrees. Unfortunately, no naan for me (I miss naan) but DH assures me it’s still good.

Dinner – the leftover pizza from Thursday and other accumulated snacks, bakery, produce and leftovers in room – we were pretty full from lunch.

Sunday 1/4/2015

Breakfast – Jewel’s again where I ate more than I’m willing to tell you (but you MUST have their pancakes and one of their donuts, whichever kind is your favorite of cinnamon sugar, glazed, white/chocolate iced – the cinnamon roll is okay

Jewel's cinnamon roll

Jewel’s cinnamon roll – that glob is cream cheese icing

but I think the donuts are better) and picked up scones, cookies (chocolate chip, also good), a loaf of their flax bread and pancake mix to take home. Also got some pancakes for breakfast Monday – since we have to be up and out earlier than they open, I wanted breakfast to be something yummy to soothe the pangs of leaving. I wound up eating one pancake and bringing one on the plane with me, then deciding to save it and freezing it to have Saturday morning (Jan. 10) after my run.

So full from brunch that no lunch was required and there was barely room for dinner….during the afternoon while we were packing I did, however, take a little bit of peanut butter from some DH had bought and remembered how much I loved peanut butter.

Dinner – Tottie’s Asian Fusion, a new-to-us Thai/Vietnamese/Chinese place reputed to be able to handle gluten-free and other special needs. They seemed knowledgeable and answered my questions well. The spring rolls and chicken satay were both outstanding and a bit different. The rolls were heavy on veggies including mint, and the satay marinade had a hint of lemongrass in it, which I loved. The peanut sauce was only okay. The appetizers would have been enough for a meal for both of us but we didn’t know that when we ordered.

Tottie's satay and summer roll - 1

Tottie’s satay and summer roll – 1

Tottie's satay and summer roll - 2

Tottie’s satay and summer roll – 2

I had Pad Thai with thin rice vermicelli (how they made it GF) but wasn’t fond of the sauce, not what I’m used to. Ate some of the noodles but mostly the chicken and fresh veggies. DH had a red curry dish that he let me taste which was excellent – I even put some of the sauce on my noodles and it improved them significantly. A good find and one that we can return to again as it has a pretty big menu and can handle my needs.

Tottie's GF Pad Thai

Tottie’s GF Pad Thai

Sunday evening, did some in-room snacking to finish off some pastries, enjoy a few more tortilla chips, pretzels, etc. One day I had a handful of DH’s microwave popcorn, tasted just like I remembered.

On the plane home Monday, I had a Paleo bread and nut butter sandwich, part of a Quest bar and some dried bananas. I brought some Jewel’s treats on the plane but decided to save them for when we got home.

In the week of vacation back at home in Virginia, I continued the binge…. had 2 varieties of GF BBQ chicken Naked Pizza both excellent. Got Pad Thai from the place near us where we get my Chinese food (they changed the noodles and I didn’t like it as well).I checked out Happy Tart GF treats again, European-style bakery goodies – including this flaky apple turnover

apple turnover - 1

apple turnover – 1

 

along with some okay regular chocolate and chocolate chip cookies, and some yummy cake pops! (lemon, a really good red velvet, and chocolate)

I also stopped by Buzz Bakery (the GF brownie is tremendous). I made plenty of toast from AnnaB‘s multigrain and cinnamon raisin breads (bought at Richmond and frozen) as well as the flax bread from Jewel’s. I ate all the treats from Jewel’s other than the bread (saved some). I tried and liked goat’s milk yogurt both as yogurt and as a sour cream type dip. Wish it wasn’t so expensive.

I ate one Reese’s peanut butter cup, but was much more interested in the new spread DH had purchased. My rec: don’t get it – it’s way too dangerously delicious to have in the house. I’m not kidding.

Reese's spread - dangerously delicious

Reese’s spread – dangerously delicious

Once home, I also tried additional packaged things I’d missed or thought I wanted like GF clam chowder (Progresso). Okay, not great. Packaged GF oatmeal – over sugared and sticky. Didn’t get to the Annie’s GF mac & cheese we bought. (DH may be eating this leftover stuff, or I might take it to work and leave it out for folks.) Tried Swiss Miss instant hot chocolate. I did enjoy it, but it’s one of the suspects in a tummy ache I had that day. Enjoyed some Cape Cod salt and vinegar potato chips (we brought Tim’s back, but they’re hidden for the future) and some Green Mountain Gringo tortilla chips (wow, they were excellent!) as I’d been craving tortilla chips. I enjoyed the bizarre chemical taste of PopChips Salt and Vinegar chips quite a bit – you know you’re not eating real food, but it’s addictive. I also discovered that Harris Teeter (local grocery) makes their veggie “sushi” summer rolls with tapioca paper, not rice paper, so I can eat them even when Paleo. Yay! I did have some of the regular rolls with rice while I was off Paleo, as well as some yummy brown rice from our Chinese place – amazing what you miss, toast and brown rice. (By the way, goat cheese on toast is quite yummy.)

So what’s the result of all this? What did I learn or get out of it, other than probably a record for caloric intake in a 2 week period? (a record I am not proud of holding, btw)

I learned that I do still love the GF stuff – though I’m sure some of it was just the wonder of “look at all I can eat!” after so long of ignoring so much food I see (you should have seen me at the grocery store). I was reminded how much easier it is on me and DH if I’m only restricting to GF. I remember when that used to be difficult – it’s still limiting, but there’s so much more awareness and availability so I feel a little bad imposing Paleo on him.

I also learned that it can still be hard for me to stop with the sugar and carbs – at some point I seem to keep eating them whether I want to or not or whether I’m hungry or not (or even enjoying the food or not). Within the first couple of days I was feeling over-sugared and over-carbed, a bit bloated but decided to carry on with the treats (though i should not have eaten anything near the quantities I’ve eaten – it was a fairly stressful and sleep-deprived vacation but that’s not really an excuse).

I had treats every night after we got back and tonight (Mon. 1/12) is the first night I won’t be doing that, but I can feel the pull. “Fortunately” I ate almost all the treats and have frozen everything else out of sight and will ask DH to hide anything else. Making do with frozen bananas (no nut butter for a while, probably) and blueberries/mango/cherries is going to be a bit rough, though my appetite on Monday is really minimal. It’s 4pm and I think I’ve taken in maybe 600 calories, a chunk of that in a purple sweet potato I just ate. My system is really out of whack now.

Strangely however, given how sensitive I’ve seemed to be to carbs like sweet potatoes – I’d get sleepy and a blood sugar drop resulting in huge hunger 1 hour after eating them – I had NO blood sugar issues or sleepiness at all during my GF grain carb fest. Truly bizarre. My system did start to crave veggies though, and let me know that it was getting a little sick of all the junk I was eating. I also didn’t notice any big boost of energy from all the grain/carbs I was eating, which makes me think I was doing just fine on my prior plan (as my performances would indicate, but I’d been concerned about recovery, etc.). Of course, the real test would be to eat – moderately! – GF grain during a training cycle, but given past good results NOT doing so, I’m sticking with what’s worked.

At this point, I’m thinking of keeping white potatoes as another carb source (even though they’re nightshades) in my diet. I had forgotten how much I liked them. I’ve read they’re considered Paleo/Whole30 ok now – and supposedly if you peel them you address the autoimmune concerns, though I think I’d eat the peel for the nutrients. I doubt the intent would be to let me have baked/regular chips and fries, but that may happen as well as baked or boiled or mashed potatoes. (boiled/cooled have resistant starch, a good thing) It’s easier to be able to have those things and a bag of baked Kettle potato chips is less calories and fat than the straight up Terra sweet potato or Terra chips…yes, I know the answer is “don’t eat them” but I’ve got to be realistic….sometimes it’s just choosing the least bad option. I might also keep the goat’s milk yogurt – like yummy sour cream – and goat cheese as I didn’t seem to have any lactose/dairy reaction. I’m debating that. I’m not a Paleo purist, but it can be easier for me to just say no than have to repeatedly make decisions. (I’m also saving a can of GF chicken noodle soup I didn’t get to…in case of a cold or something, sometimes you just wanna open a can of soup and not have to make it yourself!)

I think not having GF stuff in the house (or hiding it so I forget it, freezing it so I have to think about eating it) is how it has to be. I’ve also decided to try to – next time I do this, possibly post-Boston – go with something I did a few times this trip: is take a bite and if it’s not exceptional, get rid of it. It’s wasteful of money and food, and both those things are problems for me (if I’ve bought it, I feel obligated to eat it) BUT better to waste those things (if I can’t resist buying them) than be in the position I am now, where I’ve overindulged and need to lose weight.

It was yummy, but it wasn’t all great or worth it. I didn’t need to eat as much or as often as I did, and some of it I’ll be regretting as I now have to lose whatever weight I’ve gained and get my body back to feeling normal. (I’m not going to weigh myself – I think I’d just get too upset and it wouldn’t change my approach in any good way.)

Thanks for reading! Hope you found something interesting or enjoyable in the above, whether it’s places to eat or the details of my experiment in informing your own food choices.

What, if any, “rules” do you follow about what you eat, and how did you arrive at them? What experiments have you tried?

 

 

 

 



Friday Five – 5 favorite fuels for running/fitness

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week’s theme is: 5 favorite fuels for running/fitness. My twitchy tummy makes this a list with no surprises for regular readers.

1) Pre-run: Beet Elite, FRS chews. A serving of BeetElite is about 30 calories, 2 FRS chews 40, with a little caffeine. For races or long runs with lots of goal pace miles, fast-finish long runs (FFLR) or simulator runs, a bit of gel/water right at the start.

BeetElite and FRS chews

BeetElite and FRS chews

2) During long runs, long speedwork and races:  EFS Liquid Shot Vanilla

Lately I’ve been trying GU as a backup since my vest can only hold 2 flasks of EFS (only downsides of EFS is they aren’t really in stores and  they don’t sell in packets as well as flasks). I’ve tried 4 flavors so far and liked all to varying degrees. They seemed to sit okay in my tummy, though each has only been tried once. All have caffeine which is new for me. L to R: Vanilla Bean, Salted Caramel, Jet Blackberry, Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate.

3) Post-run Recovery – Ultragen. Right combo of carbs/protein to replenish my stores, and super-easy on my stomach. Cappuccino, yum.

EFS Liquid Shot, Ultragen and GU

EFS Liquid Shot, Ultragen and GU

Backup for post-run protein when I’m at home on telework days is Hammer Whey protein, alone or mixed w/ water, “milk”, applesauce or pumpkin puree. Can be eaten hot, cold or room temp. I’ve also used it as an afternoon or evening snack, and I’ve even brought it to work a time or two. A little Torani sf syrup or sweetener doesn’t hurt. You can also add nuts. Another option is to make chia seed pudding w/ whey.

4) After my recovery drink/protein: sweet potatoes! With or without nut butter, coconut manna, maple butter/honey but always with celtic sea salt.

5) Daily nutrition: My daily nutrition is pretty consistent (some might say boring). I tend to eat the same things over and over because I like them and they work for my tummy. I eat a lot of kabocha and other squashes – but mostly kabocha when I can get it, as it’s my favorite. I often eat it plain, but I’ve been known to top it with nut butter. I also eat root veggies like beets – lately lots of beets, a small can a day. Frozen bananas, with nut butter and celtic sea salt, are almost a daily staple.

Kabocha piece and whole, Japanese sweet potato (L), Stokes purple (R)

Kabocha piece and whole,(center), Japanese sweet potato (L), Stokes purple (R)

6) Speaking of nut butter, it deserves its own place in the list:

 

my fave nut butters

my fave nut butters

 What are some of your favorite fuels for running or overall fitness? I’m always on the hunt. Happy Friday!



My Race Nutrition: Runners Tell All Linkup

I’m joining, at least this month, a linkup called Runners Tell All. Thanks to Deb at Deb Runs for posting as part of this linkup last month – gave me the idea to hop in and join. Wish I’d found it sooner, some fun topics I would have liked to have written about!

The linkup hosts are Amanda at The Lady Okie and Becka at Sunshine to the Square Inch. There’s a running-related topic provided for the post on the 21st of each month. That it’s a Monday means you get a two-fer, this post along with my regular Monday training recap.

This month’s topic is nutrition – “go-to nutrition to optimize training or what you eat to get you through races”. 

I’m not sure I’ve got my training nutrition optimized! I’m trying (sort of) Generation UCAN now, but I’ve had mixed luck with it. I recently heard there’s an adaptation period – 2 weeks where you can expect to not feel right, then 6 months to 2 years to get the best performance benefit. I’m not sure I want to spend that kind of time in this training cycle when I have other products that seemed to be working for me. Trying to optimize and get better brings some risk with it – but the old faithfuls could also stop working. It’s an ongoing experiment….like most aspects of my training, and really my life.

So, what about races? Here’s what I did for my BQ marathon at Shamrock in March. (Note to those who have read the blog from the beginning, this a re-pub of my March Shamrock nutrition post.)


Fueling is a very personal issue. It’s taken me quite a while and a lot of trial and error to get to “what works for me” and even then there are days where my very twitchy tummy has issues on the run.

As you’d expect, I race with the products and protocol I’ve used in training. For Shamrock, I got lucky – the day wasn’t warm so I wasn’t thirsty, and my stomach cooperated completely. Some days it all comes together, and it’s pretty amazing. I still can’t quite believe it.

Below is a LOT of detail. You may wish to skip to the “during the race” section if that’s your primary interest. Reminder, I link to products only for your information. If I’ve mentioned something in a prior post, I may not re-link here.

PRE-RACE

Let’s start with food before the race. Because of GI issues and food sensitivities, I’m even more set on eating EXACTLY the same things before, during and after long runs and races than your “average” runner (who might easily get labeled superstitious or OCD by those who don’t understand how the tummy affects your run).

At home, Fridays are Chinese takeout and snacks. I always eat the same thing (moment of pity/sympathy for my dear husband – DH – please). That’s steamed chicken and vegetables (broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, baby corn, mushrooms) from a local place, with some Coconut Aminos (fake soy sauce) and sunflower seed butter on top. Then I move into snacks like a few kale “salt and vinegar” chips and some kale “greenola”, some frozen organic strawberries, a pint or so of vanilla maple Arctic Zero with frozen organic blueberries, and my nightly snack of frozen banana chunks topped with a variety of nut butters and sea salt: pistachio, cashew, walnut, pecan, almond and Nuttzo peanut-free creamy. (my snacks deserve a whole post of their own)

I realize the above has a lot more fiber than most would recommend and doesn’t adhere to the carb-loading protocols many follow. But it’s what works for me, and what I’m used to. Since I don’t eat grain, I get my carbs primarily from sweet potatoes, which I eat daily, squash, and a variety of fruits/vegetables.

How to recreate this on the road? Enter PFChang’s, a restaurant with a reliable gluten-free menu and educated staff that serves just such a dish in the form of Buddha’s Feast with modifications. This time I brought my aminos and sunflower seed butter along with the rest of my food. (I don’t travel light when food’s involved and the stakes are high.) We ate both Friday and Saturday dinners from PFC – Friday to test their ability to provide what I needed and ensure my stomach didn’t have any problems, and Saturday (takeout) as a regular pre-race meal, a bit earlier than normal, around 5pm. I brought/created the rest of my evening snacks thanks to coolers, lots of space in the car and Whole Foods. For the entire trip, everything I ate was either brought from home, purchased at WF or from PFC. Also, while on travel, anything I haven’t brought and prepared myself gets eaten with a dose of Gluten Defense enzymes just in case.

RACE MORNING

I take a number of supplements daily (again, a post or two could be devoted to these). Do they do what they say? For some it’s hard to tell, and I may go through times of not using all of them, but once I find something that works and I’m in a training cycle, I won’t change it.

Among the dailies are Wobenzym, EndurolytesAcid-Ease and Master Amino Acid Pattern (MAP) as well as Prevacid for acid and Allegra for my allergies. I down two FRS Chews (a little caffeine and some taste).

On long run and race days, I add Endurance Amino and Anti-Fatigue Caps. I also take BeetElite beet root concentrate – I mix it with about 4 ounces of water and use it to get my supplements down.

Before runs, I take an Energy Surge. On race day, I took a second one right before the start while waiting in the corral (good suggestion by DH).

I can’t eat before running. Once my stomach starts processing solid food, it’s going to be very displeased with that level of activity, and bad things happen. However, I can usually manage just a smidgen of gel before I start a run, especially if mixed with water, and I did that for Shamrock (see below).

DURING THE RACE

I use EFS Liquid Shot in vanilla (we’ll call it gel). The taste, texture (runny) and electrolytes suit my palate, my tummy and my body. I thank Ray Maker at dcrainmaker.com for mentioning the product a while back when I was looking to get off other gel products due to some blood sugar spikiness.

I put my gel in Hammer flasks (because they fit in my fuel belt better) in this ratio: to the line marked 4 (4 ounces), then added SmartWater (which I drink) to the 5 line. So a flask had about 320 calories in about 80g of carbs with 1 ounce of water. I added the water to ensure I’d get some water along the way even if the aid stations didn’t work out and I’m glad I did! I made 4 flasks, carried 3 flasks in my belt, plus gave an extra to DH to carry and meet me along the way.

I made an extra flask of 1 serving of my gel with 1 ounce of water, brought it to the corral and downed it a couple of minutes before the start.

I had a plan going in to take some gel roughly every 3-4 miles, with more if I felt like I was starting to need it. I don’t really remember taking it except in the Fort Story section where I was trying anything to make the badness stop, but from what I had left and the fact I didn’t bonk, I must have been taking it about that right for the day.

When I finished the race – didn’t take the flask from DH – I had one full flask, had pitched one empty flask, and had a flask with contents to about the 1 mark left in it. I estimate I took in only ~700 calories pre and during race, and maybe 6 oz. of water in total.  I took somewhere between 160-180g of carbs from the gel, which works out to at least 40g per hour if you assume a constant rate of consumption…unlikely because I know I didn’t take gel early and sipped more late. (one benefit of the flasks is you can take as much or as little as you want) Supposedly at least 30g of carbs per hour is desirable, more up to 60 or so if you can tolerate it. (read The New Rules of Marathon/Half Marathon Nutrition for an interesting discussion and ideas)

I didn’t have any problems with dehydration during the race but I was probably dehydrated at the end. However, the more I read and hear about hydration, the less I worry about it during the race itself. If I go in hydrated, drink to thirst whether from aid stations or what I carry, and rehydrate well after, that seems to be a reasonable balance between health/safety and performance concerns, as long as I’m mindful of conditions.

POST-RACE

As I mentioned in a prior post, DH brought an empty bottle and a packet of Ultragen and mixed my recovery drink immediately after finding me at the finish. The packet is – to me – 2 servings. At home I’ll use the canister, which allows me to use 1 or 1.5 scoops instead (2 scoops = 1 packet), but the packets are great for travel and I figured I’d need all the help I could get. Ultragen is amazingly easy on my stomach, and seems to help recovery. I try to get it in down the first 10-15 minutes after long runs, usually when I’m cooling down on the bike (at home). I’ve also started taking SportLegs again. I’d take the product years ago and stopped when I started reading about how lactate is good for you instead of bad. But in this past training cycle, after particularly tough long runs, about 4-6 hours later I’d get what I called “screaming legs” when suddenly my legs would just ache horrible and that would last 4-5 hours. One day I decided to pull out the SportLegs (DH had a bottle) and took a dose with my Ultragen. No screaming legs! I’ve been using it since then and plan to continue.

It’s taken me years to get to the above, which is what works for me. Trial and error can be such an unpleasant process, but maybe something I’ve shared can help you. I hope so!

 

 

 



Hills, Spills & Thrills: Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half recap

Hills  – that’s really the point of the event, to run on the infamous Newton hills….here’s the course profile according to my Garmin:

Heartbreak Hill Half course profile

Heartbreak Hill Half course profile per my Garmin

Spills – well, only one – we’ll get to that, but if you follow me @readeatwriterun you know what I’m talking about

Thrills – finishing strong AND under my goal time (and not far off my half PR) despite a challenging course (especially for a flatlander), heat, humidity, not perfect food or rest the day before AND the spill….and getting to run part of the Boston Marathon course before April. It was a terrific opportunity!

AND my pace wasn’t all over the place, despite my lack of pacing experience, the hills, the heat, etc. You can see one problem water stop though – it was more of a pace hit than the fall!

Heartbreak Hill Half pace top faster x axis zero

Heartbreak Hill Half pace top faster pace, x axis zero

Quick take: Good race, well-organized especially for the first year (but I’d expect nothing less from RW and Dave McGillivray). The hills were hills, but – dare I say this, knocking wood – not as terrifyingly hard as I’d thought they’d be or I made them out to be in my mind. That said, they weren’t coming in the last 8 miles of a marathon, so I’m not taking them lightly and plan to continue hill training.

Though it’s much later in the year than I normally race (I don’t like heat), I’d do the half again. I also find myself vaguely tempted by the Hat Trick (5k & 10k Sat, half Sun). So many people did it, but I know at least one who’s going to only do the half next year to focus on it. So we’ll see what next year brings.

Now on to the details! (get a cup of coffee/tea and a snack, this is a long one)

Saturday – the race-related parts (more on the expo/festival in a later post)

Up at 3am to get in a warmup and 2 mile shakeout run before a snack, tea and heading to the airport for a 7am flight. All went fine at the airport and on the flight, and had a really nice flight attendant.

Grabbed a cab after my flight landed around 830, not realizing I’d be approaching campus while the 10k was still going on. The road closures caused traffic backups and detours which gave me plenty of views of the lovely houses of Newton (yowza, and what landscaping), and a cab fare that was more expensive than I’d planned. I got in a little extra walking as a cop at one of the detours told the cabbie it’d be easier to let me walk. Cabbie kept driving around for a bit after then gave up and took me back to the cop. So I walked a block (me and my backpack of food, race gear, etc.) and then walked along the 10k course, probably the last 0.5miles or so, clapping once in a while. At about 930, it was over 80 and sunny, and walking up the hill toward BC, I thought, “this is not gonna be good tomorrow!”

Saturday on fast forward: expo; seminars; lots of eating the food I had brought throughout the day – was so hungry I ate about every hour;  a failed attempt to get to my hotel mid-afternoon which had me walking almost an hour and a half with my backpack on in the heat/sun; dinner of food I’d packed and convenience store purchases at tables outside the building where the pasta dinner was being held; listening to Sarah Reinertsen’s amazing story

I finally got to my hotel via cab around 845pm. The cabbie was so nice – when I mentioned my struggles to find a cab earlier and find food I could eat, he insisted I take one of his two bananas. The hotel couldn’t find my gel for the race which I’d shipped ahead though they’d confirmed receipt via phone multiple times. I went up to the room and they brought it up within a few minutes. (Turned out to be the pattern with this hotel – I encounter some minor problem, but they solve it quickly.)

I started “unpacking”, pulling everything out of the backpack I’d been lugging all day. I knew I had to get race prepped and then get as much sleep as possible. I put a bath towel down on the couch and laid out my full race kit on it including ipod, Garmin, and loaded fuel belt. I find the white background of the towel helps draw my eye to remember to look there and makes the items stand out. I made a list of the things that HAD to come with me to the race in the morning – I don’t trust myself to remember. Then I set up my post race (hot pink, from Eukanuba at the expo) bag with Ultragen, bottled water, empty water bottle, sportlegs and a few other items. I’d been crashing and feeling sleepy but getting everything laid out and the bib pinned on – with emergency info on the back, of course –  woke me up. I made some hot water in the coffeemaker (didn’t drink much because it tasted like coffee) and read a little before trying to go to sleep around 1015. I don’t think I slept much between then and 1am when I had to get up briefly, but I slept pretty well between 1 and 4am….

Sunday – race day!

Pre-race

I woke just before my 4am alarm in the hotel room and turned off the alarm. I thought perhaps I could get a bit more sleep before the next alarm went off at 445, but nope, so I got up around 420. I’d actually set 3 alarms: my usual 4, then 445 and 5 as backups. Given that the charming & gracious Alana Bonner @alanadbonner was picking me up at 6, I wanted to be sure to be ready! I got up and started puttering around, taking my usual pre-race (and pre-long-run supplements, including my BeetElite).

It felt awfully quiet in the hotel room and I knew it would be easy for me to get distracted and lose track of time, so I listened to an old Endurance Planet podcast episode I have stored on my iphone. It helped keep me moving, kind of like background music (but endurance sport focused) and it was one where Tawnee mentioned my BQ, so that helped pump me up. (thanks Tawnee & Lucho!) Also sent some tweets, DMs and IMs to various folks while I was getting ready. I so appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement – it helped to know you were thinking of me!

Slathered on lots of sunscreen, then added a bit more, recalling the full sun of Saturday. The RiteAid sport version I got (it came in a travel size) smells just like Coppertone sunscreen from my teenage years. I got lucky that my skin tolerated it okay as I hadn’t tested it before – I know, violating the rule. Heck, at this point with my eating and hydration on Saturday, I was pretty far past the “nothing new or different” rule. Got dressed and still had plenty of time, so back onto twitter for a bit. Alana was right on schedule, and down I went.

It’s a lovely gift from the universe when you meet someone you’ve only corresponded with and they’re just as nice and cool and interesting and fun as you hoped/thought, as well as generous and thoughtful. That’s Alana! So glad we got to meet, looking forward to our next time together!

We very quickly got to campus (thanks googlemaps! weird to hear distances in k, for my Canadienne driver) and parked. Alana had done the 5k & 10k the day before, so she was more familiar with the athlete’s village and start areas. She graciously offered to grab my bag from the car after the race – since she’d finish ahead of me – and bring it to me at our designated meeting point, building steps in sight of the finish. (see what I mean?) She put on some sunscreen and we threw stuff in the trunk.

My Garmin made its usual pre-race dive for the concrete in the garage but I caught it this time. At least it wasn’t at the start like it was at Shamrock and the Parkway 10 miler, where it picked up a ding on the edge.

Re the Garmin: The problem is the plastic band broke, and I replaced it with a Garmin velcro band, but my wrist is so small only a little of the velcro loops meet. It’s very easy to knock it apart if you hit the end of the strap, which sticks out – I’ve even done it on the treadmill. The watch face (610) is bigger than my wrist as well, so the watch always moves around. I think perhaps this third time was the charm and I’m really going to get the 620 before my next race, sooner if possible so I can train with it. (the question is white or black – I’m leaning white like Meb!) I’m also thinking of selling my 610 with HRM and footpad on ebay. Hey, why not?

We strolled toward the start, with a stop at the outdoor facilities, chatting and having fun. We stopped by the water table for a while and met up with a friend of hers (whose name escapes me, sorry!) and talked some more. I should note that at this point, I was comfortable in a super lightweight tank, running bra and shorts, especially if I was in the sun. So….I knew it was going to be a warm one. (my Garmin says 70 and sunny with 69% humidity at the start) Alana’s Garmin didn’t want to play and apparently died. Fortunately, she had a different Garmin in the car, albeit with less charge, so she went back to get it. I headed back to the portajohns but happily discovered there were campus buildings (with indoor bathrooms!) open. That just rocked. (not sure if it was intentional, but much much appreciated)

I headed back to the water table. I wasn’t going to take any, but decided to take a 2nd dose of Endurolytes (had one at the hotel) just in case. Swigged a little water with it, stuck an Energy Surge tablet in my mouth and went to find the pace group I was going to run with. The pacer was an energetic woman, tiny (didn’t come up to my shoulder!) and very experienced. She explained we’d try to run even effort not even pace, she’d take water at every stop and suggested we do too, and said she’d talk during the race and hold the pace sign the entire way. (helpful because of her size, but that’s gotta be tough) A little chat within the pace group about races we’d run, times, goals, nerves and all the fun stuff that comes up when you pack runners in corrals, and then it was time for the National Anthem. You could hear the silence roll back through the corrals as the notes carried on the warm air. It was a lovely rendition. Then the front pack was off, and shortly thereafter, so were we!

The Race 

The start was quite crowded and of course everyone wanted to stay close to the pacer. So there was a fair amount of jostling, weaving and bumping. I remember turning right after heading out the gates, and running down a road I’d walked yesterday, then heading toward a downhill and thinking, “don’t go out too fast” (echoes of Dave McGillivray in the strategy seminar). I did remember to start my iPod but couldn’t really hear it until we had gotten on the road. I kept turning it down to hear the pacer or a conversation or up to try to get the music in my head.

There were so many people it wasn’t really possible to get into your own rhythm/head and just run your own race in the early miles. It would have been almost dangerous to do so given we were limited to half the road in many places, so if – like me – you tend to run in the middle of the road, you need to sidestep the cones meant to keep you to your half. (I need to get better at this, the lateral motion is wasted energy.) Runners needed to pay attention to the hills, to manhole covers and occasional poor pavement (spoiler alert!) and to where everyone else was. I know I bumped into one runner trying to pass and though I apologized, saw from her shadow behind me that I’d unbalanced her momentarily and felt horrible about it. I was grateful it was on a flat section, not on a downhill.

According to the pacer, we were doing well on our pace even with the hills. The road we were on had some trees on it so there were little patches of shade, but not much. It was mostly full sun.

The Spill

Somewhere around mile 4, perhaps a little before, I was running uphill and caught the toe of my right shoe on something in the road. Not sure if it was a manhole cover edge (they’re recessed, so there’s an asphalt lip) or some other pavement oddity, but whatever it was, it was enough. I felt the catch and realized I was going down, and got my hands out in front of me. I slammed hard into the pavement on the heels of my hands and my knees (especially the R knee) and my right shin (road rash & bruise). Thoughts flashed through my mind about runners being “trampled” after a fall, and I moved my body to look behind me. All I saw were legs from about shorts’ end down coming at me, and I was scared. Then I heard two female voices saying “are you ok?!” and saw hands reaching down. I grabbed the hands and they pulled me up. We almost immediately turned forward and started running again.

My rescuers were two women – one whose name I didn’t get, a blonde in a blue sparkle skirt over shorts, and Runner’s World editor Meghan Loftus. (note to David Willey – having the staff in shirts so they could be identified was a terrific idea) I was a little bit shocky – first the adrenaline rush, then the pain, then the feeling shaky and like you’re going to cry, all typical after such an incident – but I didn’t want to stop. I’d been so nervous about the race, and had the stress of travel and food worries the day before – now I was running it and I didn’t want to DNF, couldn’t stand the thought. My saviors asked me repeatedly if I wanted to stop, if I was ok, told me the medical tent wasn’t far, and offered to go get medical personnel.

As we were running, I looked at the palms of my hands and saw red, so figured I’d scraped them up. I couldn’t really see much of what happened to my knees/legs given the angle, but I didn’t see blood running down. I asked them how bad it was, and Meghan ran ahead, looked back and said, “not too bad”. She wasn’t totally convincing; the look on her face conflicted a little with what she said, so I figured she was trying to give me the choice to keep going. The places I’d met the road hurt, but not in a way that suggested an injury that would affect my running (though my right VMO twinged for a minute or two, making me think ‘uh oh, the chiro’s going to have to fix that’). I didn’t feel like my gait was different. Every step just hurt my knees in a new and different way, but I didn’t think I’d be doing myself long-term damage, so I said again that I didn’t want to go to the medical tent. (I figured they’d just clean me up, but it would take a while to clean me up and then my race would be over and that was unacceptable.)

I realized after the race that I had these clots/scabs of blood on my right knee, lots of red on my right shin and a red spot on my left knee. 

legs after RW HHHalf 06-08-2014

legs after RW HHHalf 06-08-2014

Explains why the medical personnel at every aid station looked at me carefully as I passed. Very pale runner with blood on her leg? You’d be keeping an eye on her too. I can’t wait to see the on-course photos. I really want one of me that shows the injuries.

We were chatting a little, trying to get my head back into the race. Having a water stop at 4.5 (soon after the fall) helped, I had to focus on that. I knew it was hotter and more humid than any conditions I’d run in since last summer, and since I’m not an outside runner by any stretch, I thought I was probably at higher risk of dehydration. I think just prior to this station I took a swig of my gel, figuring the sugar would help not only energy but my mental recovery from the injury. I swallowed the water I could and kept going. I lost the blue sparkle skirt runner pretty soon after, but Meghan and I stayed sort of together or in the same area for a while longer.

Water stops seemed to collect bunches of runners more than they usually do – you had to be careful where you stepped and to not knock into anyone. There were plenty of stops – about every 1.5 miles – and except for one, they were well stocked. Everyone seemed to be using caution and taking water or Gatorade (offered at all stops but the first), and I saw some people carrying liquid in belts, handhelds and even a few Camelbaks – good day to do that. I don’t remember if the stops were consistent about whether water was first or Gatorade, my recall is they weren’t and if that’s the case, that could be improved. Shamrock had a water table, Gatorade table, water table order at every stop, and they publicized that pre-race, worked great.

For the rest of the race, I remember snapshots or moments over the rest of the race, and where certain things happened may be mixed up, which seems to happen to me when I try to go back through the miles:

  • starting to dump water on myself, down my back – first time ever – at the mile 6 water stop, and every time I took water after that
  • hearing the pacer, shortly after the 10k mark saying “halfway there!”
  • the water stop at 7.5 (I thought it was 9, but my Garmin thinks otherwise) that was overwhelmed – I kept yelling “water” and got to the last table, had to keep going, stopped and turned back trying to get water only to be handed about an ounce of Gatorade by a frantic young woman; I tossed it, knowing it was only 1.5mi to the next stop – I really was thinking water stop to water stop, and then “only x miles to the finish” at each one
  • lovely flower scent wafting from some of the beautiful yards on the course
  • patches of shade from leafy trees that were so much cooler everyone tried to run in them, and one breeze for about 10 seconds in the last 3 miles
  • the nice houses and yards in the neighborhoods
  • seeing the Heartbreak Bill gorilla high-fiving runners and the HHRC Newton store on a corner on the course
  • a few spectators out on the course with signs or dogs – not that many and in some places none, but there were enough runners to keep the energy up
  • the famous Newton fire station (mile 17.5 on the marathon course I think) with its Boston Strong sign up – I waved to the firefighters out front but got no response
  • the “frontage” road we ran on alongside Commonwealth for the last few miles – the pedestrian crosswalks had a foot-wide strip of concrete, maybe 8-10 rows of flat cobble-like bricks and another strip of concrete; I was already trying to be really attentive to anything in the asphalt that could be a problem like manhole covers, holes, overfills, dips, and then got the added concern of these crosswalks as I figured the bricks might be overly smooth
  • appreciating that I’d had to walk the last bit of my trek to campus on Saturday, because I recognized when we were getting fairly close to campus and paused my iPod – I even high-fived one guy I’d seen the day before (who I swear I know but I can’t place him) and another woman
  • turning into the gates of campus, then heading toward toward the finish and everyone speeding up, like when a jet surges just before you land
  • speeding up myself, seeing the long straight line to the finish, and moving to the left to try to not be behind anyone but not necessarily pass anyone
  • the announcer (not Bart) announcing my first name, pausing (my last name isn’t easy) and just moving on to the next runner
  • realizing too late that I was stopping my Garmin right in front of the finish line photographer, then double checking I’d actually stopped it
  • getting my medal a few steps later, then seeing photographers who asked if I wanted a picture with my medal (yes), then heading to the food tent and the steps to meet Alana

Post-race, Alana continued to be a terrific running buddy. She kept asking if I wanted to go to the medical tent, and I said maybe I would but after I got my drink in me, found a bathroom, etc. She went and got a security guard, who looked at my legs as I sat on the steps and said he’d get medical. Apparently in addition to all the medical support people on the course and at the medical tent at the end, they had roving medical staff too (big kudos to the race organizers, best med support I’ve ever seen). A guy came over with a bag and checked me out. He sprayed something on my right knee to clean it (guess in addition to the blood there were little pavement stones in the skin/blood) but it didn’t hurt too badly. He didn’t work on it a lot since he said it had stopped bleeding and clotted nicely. He saw things were bruising and suggested I go get ice and told me to clean it well back at the hotel. I said I’d ice it back at the hotel too. (I still haven’t iced it, and it’s Tuesday – just didn’t feel like I needed it)

Alana took this photo to share our triumph over the heat, hills and humidity (triple H threat – hey, HHHalf)

HHHalf medals shoes photo courtesy Alana Bonner

HHHalf medals & shoes photo courtesy of Alana Bonner

What I don’t remember but wish I did: the Johnny Kelley statue. I’ve seen photos of it and the course description as well as the strategy session mentioned it. I don’t remember seeing it AT ALL.

Music – I don’t recall hearing that many of my songs. I could probably only say for sure I heard less than 10 of them, identifying them in my mind with particular snapshots of road and sun. I think had the volume pretty low. I felt like the course had enough people that I needed to be paying attention and be able to hear runners around me whether or not I was talking to them. Given that we ran near a hospital with ambulances going in, and at once point a fire truck & ambulance were brought onto the course, I think it was the right decision. I prefer to take the “change the volume” approach rather than go completely without a player, that way I can make the decision real-time and the music is there if I need/want it. No song reached the 5x pinnacle of Wild Wild West in Shamrock, but I do recall playing Tusk twice – good beat for the uphill section I was on – and Raise Your Glass twice, mouthing along with the words.

Thanks for reading! To come, probably Friday – my thoughts on the festival (expo, seminars).

Read on if you want info on my race kit and lots of detail on my fueling.

Race kit
Brooks Adrenaline GTS13 with custom orthotic
Feetures socks
The North Face Better than Naked shorts
The North Face Stow-n-Go bra (iphone in ziploc)
The North Face Better than Naked tank
UltrAspire Quantum fuel belt
Garmin 620
ipod shuffle with yurbuds
The North Face visor
sunglasses
lots of sunscreen!

Race day fueling & hydration
Pre:  The usual supplements – Hammer Endurolytes, Endurance Amino, and Anti-Fatigue Caps, Wobenzym, Acid-Ease, glutamine, MAP.  2 FRS chews and 1 packet BeetElite (mixed with about 6oz of SmartWater). Also made sure to take my regular meds (4a), my Prevacid and my Allegra. Just before race start, I took 2 more Endurolytes with a sip of water, and a Hammer Energy Surge.

During: I think this went well. I took water at all but one stop though I wasn’t really ever thirsty. I think I got down probably 14oz of water total. I am better at drinking from a cup on the run now! Calorie-wise I took EFS First Endurance Liquid Shot (vanilla) at 4.5, 7.5 or 9 (I think, whichever stop I missed water at because I remember thinking how glad I was that it goes down ok without water) and maybe 10.5. I was trying to make sure the fall didn’t mess with my energy too much and keep up on electrolytes which the gel has. So though I didn’t feel like I desperately needed it, I made sure to take it regularly and wound up taking the whole 400calorie/5serving flask. (BTW, I don’t like the new flask tops but the new shape is ok. I’ll still use Hammer flasks at home though.) During the race I wasn’t really thirsty, I wasn’t hungry – my stomach did “re-announce” a few of the water/gel inputs but that’s fairly normal for me so I wasn’t concerned. I wasn’t queasy and my stomach wasn’t rebelling. All good.

Post: I think this went well also. I grabbed a bottle of water at the post-race food setup and took a few sips. I wasn’t really that thirsty but knew I should drink. Alana was incredibly nice and grabbed my gear bag from the car after she finished so that she could meet me and I could have my recovery drink immediately. I think it was less than 10 minutes after I finished the race when I started mixing it. I used a full 2scoops (travel packet) of EFS Ultragen cappuccino (only for races, at home I use 1-1.5 scoops) and about 12 ounces of water and swigged it down in maybe 5 minutes along with 3 sportlegs. I had a few sips of plain water as well.

When we got back to the car to head to my hotel, I opened the 11 oz bottle of Zico coconut water I’d put in the gear bag. It was warm but not hot, and still palatable, so I sipped at it and eventually finished it back in the hotel room. I got back to the hotel and took 5 MAP and 2 more Endurolytes. I brewed about 12oz of tea using SmartWater. I drank the tea, finished the Zico and ate the rest of my last JSP with salt. I had a second Zico, which I opened and started drinking; I wound up taking it in the cab and finishing in the airport. I filled up my 12oz Klean Kanteen with water from a drinking fountain for the flight. On the flight I ate a Quest bar (protein/fiber). I really think having the Ultragen immediately and taking in so much fluid made a big difference in how I felt and recovered (well) and that my Saturday hydration and eating helped as well.

Saturday fueling – different than usual so thought I’d log it since the race went well
Pre-flight – 12oz tea, 2oz chicken breast
Flight – Quest bar (protein/fiber), JSP with sunflower seed butter, 12oz matcha tea
At expo – 12oz water from fountain, coconut bread sandwich with almond butter, dried bananas, a bite of a JSP
After first seminar – half an Epic bison bar, half an apple/mango fruit bar, more water
After second seminar – other half of bison bar, more water then
1.5hours walking outside carrying my backpack looking for a cab and finding a convenience store, followed by half of 11oz of Zico coconut water, serving of kale greenola, more dried bananas before last seminar
Dinner (530pm, after second trip to convenience store, sitting outside) – Muscle Milk (vanilla), second serving of kale greenola, remainder of JSP and salt, 3/4 of a (6 serving) bag of Terra crinkle cut sweet potato chips, dried bananas, rest of the Zico, probably some more water
Hotel before bed – maybe 4oz hot water with stevia
I felt REALLY hydrated and somewhat overly carbed, but I had been getting hungry about every hour, really hungry, so I just went with it. I probably ate 1000 calories over what I’d normally eat or had planned, but it sure seemed to work out for me on race day!

 



Not Exactly a #WhatIAteWednesday – Shamrock race nutrition report

Fueling is a very personal issue. It’s taken me quite a while and a lot of trial and error to get to “what works for me” and even then there are days where my very twitchy tummy has issues on the run.

As you’d expect, I race with the products and protocol I’ve used in training. For Shamrock, I got lucky – the day wasn’t warm so I wasn’t thirsty, and my stomach cooperated completely. Some days it all comes together, and it’s pretty amazing. I still can’t quite believe it.

Below is a LOT of detail. You may wish to skip to the “during the race” section if that’s your primary interest. Reminder, I link to products only for your information. If I’ve mentioned something in a prior post, I may not re-link here.

PRE-RACE

Let’s start with food before the race. Because of GI issues and food sensitivities, I’m even more set on eating EXACTLY the same things before, during and after long runs and races than your “average” runner (who might easily get labeled superstitious or OCD by those who don’t understand how the tummy affects your run).

At home, Fridays are Chinese takeout and snacks. I always eat the same thing (moment of pity/sympathy for DH please). That’s steamed chicken and vegetables (broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, baby corn, mushrooms) from a local place, with some Coconut Aminos (fake soy sauce) and sunflower seed butter on top. Then I move into snacks like a few kale “salt and vinegar” chips and some kale “greenola”, some frozen organic strawberries, a pint or so of vanilla maple Arctic Zero with frozen organic blueberries, and my nightly snack of frozen banana chunks topped with a variety of nut butters and sea salt: pistachio, cashew, walnut, pecan, almond and Nuttzo peanut-free creamy. (my snacks deserve a whole post of their own)

I realize the above has a lot more fiber than most would recommend and doesn’t adhere to the carb-loading protocols many follow. But it’s what works for me, and what I’m used to. Since I don’t eat grain, I get my carbs primarily from sweet potatoes, which I eat daily, squash, and a variety of fruits/vegetables.

How to recreate this on the road? Enter PFChang’s, a restaurant with a reliable gluten-free menu and educated staff that serves just such a dish in the form of Buddha’s Feast with modifications. This time I brought my aminos and sunflower seed butter along with the rest of my food. (I don’t travel light when food’s involved and the stakes are high.) We ate both Friday and Saturday dinners from PFC – Friday to test their ability to provide what I needed and ensure my stomach didn’t have any problems, and Saturday (takeout) as a regular pre-race meal, a bit earlier than normal, around 5pm. I brought/created the rest of my evening snacks thanks to coolers, lots of space in the car and Whole Foods. For the entire trip, everything I ate was either brought from home, purchased at WF or from PFC. Also, while on travel, anything I haven’t brought and prepared myself gets eaten with a dose of Gluten Defense enzymes just in case.

RACE MORNING

I take a number of supplements daily (again, a post or two could be devoted to these). Do they do what they say? For some it’s hard to tell, and I may go through times of not using all of them, but once I find something that works and I’m in a training cycle, I won’t change it.

Among the dailies are Wobenzym, Endurolytes, Acid-Ease and Master Amino Acid Pattern (MAP) as well as Prevacid for acid and Allegra for my allergies. I down two FRS Chews (a little caffeine and some taste).

On long run and race days, I add Endurance Amino and Anti-Fatigue Caps. I also take BeetElite beet root concentrate – I mix it with about 4 ounces of water and use it to get my supplements down.

Before runs, I take an Energy Surge. On race day, I took a second one right before the start while waiting in the corral (good suggestion by DH).

I can’t eat before running. Once my stomach starts processing solid food, it’s going to be very displeased with that level of activity, and bad things happen. However, I can usually manage just a smidgen of gel before I start a run, especially if mixed with water, and I did that for Shamrock (see below).

DURING THE RACE

I use EFS Liquid Shot in vanilla (we’ll call it gel). The taste, texture (runny) and electrolytes suit my palate, my tummy and my body. I thank Ray Maker at dcrainmaker.com for mentioning the product a while back when I was looking to get off other gel products due to some blood sugar spikiness.

I put my gel in Hammer flasks (because they fit in my fuel belt better) in this ratio: to the line marked 4 (4 ounces), then added SmartWater (which I drink) to the 5 line. So a flask had about 320 calories in about 80g of carbs with 1 ounce of water. I added the water to ensure I’d get some water along the way even if the aid stations didn’t work out and I’m glad I did! I made 4 flasks, carried 3 flasks in my belt, plus gave an extra to DH to carry and meet me along the way.

I made an extra flask of 1 serving of my gel with 1 ounce of water, brought it to the corral and downed it a couple of minutes before the start.

I had a plan going in to take some gel roughly every 3-4 miles, with more if I felt like I was starting to need it. I don’t really remember taking it except in the Fort Story section where I was trying anything to make the badness stop, but from what I had left and the fact I didn’t bonk, I must have been taking it about that right for the day.

When I finished the race – didn’t take the flask from DH – I had one full flask, had pitched one empty flask, and had a flask with contents to about the 1 mark left in it. I estimate I took in only ~700 calories pre and during race, and maybe 6 oz. of water in total.  I took somewhere between 160-180g of carbs from the gel, which works out to at least 40g per hour if you assume a constant rate of consumption…unlikely because I know I didn’t take gel early and sipped more late. (one benefit of the flasks is you can take as much or as little as you want) Supposedly at least 30g of carbs per hour is desirable, more up to 60 or so if you can tolerate it. (read The New Rules of Marathon/Half Marathon Nutrition for an interesting discussion and ideas)

I didn’t have any problems with dehydration during the race but I was probably dehydrated at the end. However, the more I read and hear about hydration, the less I worry about it during the race itself. If I go in hydrated, drink to thirst whether from aid stations or what I carry, and rehydrate well after, that seems to be a reasonable balance between health/safety and performance concerns, as long as I’m mindful of conditions.

POST-RACE

As I mentioned in a prior post, DH brought an empty bottle and a packet of Ultragen and mixed my recovery drink immediately after finding me at the finish. The packet is – to me – 2 servings. At home I’ll use the canister, which allows me to use 1 or 1.5 scoops instead (2 scoops = 1 packet), but the packets are great for travel and I figured I’d need all the help I could get. Ultragen is amazingly easy on my stomach, and seems to help recovery. I try to get it in down the first 10-15 minutes after long runs, usually when I’m cooling down on the bike (at home). I’ve also started taking SportLegs again. I’d take the product years ago and stopped when I started reading about how lactate is good for you instead of bad. But in this past training cycle, after particularly tough long runs, about 4-6 hours later I’d get what I called “screaming legs” when suddenly my legs would just ache horrible and that would last 4-5 hours. One day I decided to pull out the SportLegs (DH had a bottle) and took a dose with my Ultragen. No screaming legs! I’ve been using it since then and plan to continue.

It’s taken me years to get to the above, which is what works for me. Trial and error can be such an unpleasant process, but maybe something I’ve shared can help you – I hope so!

Questions, comments, tips of your own to share ? Leave them below, tweet me or use the contact form. Thanks for reading!