#14: Sometimes, well, the bear eats you……….I need a sarsaparilla
***DISCLAIMER*** The following blog is not for the weak……a topic I hope never to have to discuss (or experience) again……the dude abides.
What started out as a strong week headed into Saturday with great anticipation (or something). It was to be my first full-day brick, the kind of fabled workout that gives ultradistance its mystique……the kind of workout that invokes the “You did WHAT yesterday? Seriously, you’re nuts” defense by friends and family who enjoy less active pursuits. The kind that really tests your progress so far, and believe it or not, in a bizarre way, I was actually looking forward to it: 6 hours bike + (up to) 2 hours run……..I can do this.
Well, if you’re one of my 647 clicks (BTW THANKS FOR READING, YOU ROCK…..my goal was to break 1,000 and you’ve put me well on my way), you know I’ve been feeling pretty strong lately and perhaps it was about time for that “1 step back”……except I didn’t know it until about 4 hours in; up until then, things were going smoothly, just as planned.
THE PLAN? Ride for 6 hours and run for (up to) 2, depending on how things felt. To do that, nutrition was going to need to be done right: consume up to 2700 calories and up to 160 oz of fluid.
From a caloric standpoint, this is substantially less than the 600-800 calories per hour lost, but is about what my system seems to be able to handle during regular conditions (+/- 300 to 350 per hour) and that included: PB&J sandwich x2, Powerbar x2, Banana x2, “Gels” x 6. In regards to fluid losses, I’m figuring a replenishment rate of around 20-25 ounces per hour (i.e. 4 bottles of Ironman Perform and 4 bottles of water). Both of these are on the higher end of the “generally accepted” spectrum. Most references recommend a bit under 300 calories per hour during endurance activities and b/t 17 & 20 ounces of fluid, but since one of my training goals is to condition my body to handle the nutritional processing required to get through 12-13 hours of racing, and I’ve previously handled around 300, I’m pushing that aspect a little bit too.
Seems like a lot from the fluid standpoint? It’s simple really, when I exercise, I am a sweaty beast. EEEEEW…..truly, 20oz/hr is probably not enough…..there are many people over the years who can probably speak to this (ask anyone who’s made the mistake of touching my post-workout clothes)….suffice it to say, water retention during exercise is not my problem……however fluid LOSS has been a problem in the past. Not just from the dehydration side of things, but also a mechanical problem. You see, when you use a stationary bike trainer there is no wind to blow-off the droplets…….I’ve learned the hard way that sweat can slime-up the front break on your bike so badly it doesn’t work and now? Well, I’ve now learned that it can cause a bike computer to short-out. CRAP!! (more on that in a bit), but for now, suffice it to say that after getting over the monster hill in Utah, the bike computer started freaking out……and then…..nothing. 4 hours of strong workout data lost and a dead bike computer to boot…….technical difficulties…..FROM SWEAT!
Well, at least I’ll have my run right? Sort of. Cutting the bike portion 2 hours short did some screwy things to my nutritional plan (most triathletes take in the majority of their calories on the bike to avoid the dreaded “runner’s trots” associated with too much in the gut and a lot of up/down sloshing around). I waited about a 1/2 hour, you know, like the old eating-before-swimming myth…..but regardless of my “determination” to do it right, it wasn’t enough. About 50 minutes into my run and my GI System decided it was not a fan of this new change of plans……if you ever had this experience….you know what I’m talking about…..if you haven’t, it’s the ugly side of endurance training and I’m sorry you had to hear it here first……the general gist is that for a host of reasons (salt loss, dehydration, heat-intolerance, improper nutrition strategy, running before “processing”, intensity routing blood to the muscles and away from the gut and others) the body can’t clear the contents of the gut efficiently enough and GI revolt ensues……this is why runners often can tell you where every porta-john, public restroom and private stretch of woods exists in their general vicinity……let’s just say if you ever meet a one-socked runner…..don’t shake his hand! I could go on, but that’s what Google-images is for…..and whereas I’m not one to use the raunchy to get my point across (not today anyway), let’s just say if you are bold enough to go searching, I’ve already told you everything you need to know to understand…..and why I’ll never coach someone to “leave it all on the field”.
Thankfully, I was able to limp my way back to the ranch……and retain both socks…..but after a technical crash and a (quite literally) screeching (or perhaps groaning) stop to my run…..I was done for the day…..3 hours short of goal…….get that bear a napkin.