Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ironman Boulder and Ironman Anywhere

Since I live near Boulder and knew several athletes racing Ironman Boulder, I spent some time on the run course this past Sunday to show support … and observe.  I am not one to “kick someone when they’re down”, so don’t get me wrong with the intent of this blog post.  But with what I saw (and have seen at several other long course triathlon races) and what I see on social media posts, nutrition and hydration continue to be a sore spot for many triathletes.

Some questions to ask yourself:
  • did you suffer energy lulls… even lightheadedness, dizziness, foggy brain?
  • did you experience gastrointestinal distress?  (cramping, bloating, gas, or worse… vomiting or diarrhea)
  • did you feel a sloshy stomach or have swollen fingers and ankles when you were running?
  • did your nutrition plan go awry?
  • did you consume too many or too little calories? (do you want to know?)
If you have just completed your first Ironman, congratulations!

But if this was your first Ironman and you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, I encourage you to work with a sport dietitian the next time around to work on these issues that probably made your race not as great as it could have been. 

And if this was your first Ironman (or even your fifth Ironman race) and you DNF’d due to any nutrition-related issue as mentioned above, then I strongly encourage you to invest in nutrition guidance from a qualified sport dietitian so that you can rock your next Ironman with nutrition being the least of your worries.

I am proud to be a part of the eNRG Performance team of sport dietitians who live and breathe endurance sports. We help athletes locally and all across the world with our nutrition coaching services, metabolic efficiency, lactate threshold and sweat sodium concentration testing services that enable athletes to improve and excel in the sports they love to do. For the price of a good pair of shoes, but for guidance that will last you far longer than those shoes, check us out at and put nutrition on the top of your priority list for your next Ironman adventure!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Comrades Reflections

Yikes, summer is zipping by!  Before I announce what sort of goodies I have lined up next in my athletic endeavors, I wanted to post a few notes about my Comrades race in South Africa on May 31. Quite simply, it is an understatement to say this race is an incredible experience. I won't go into the history of Comrades, but it’s important to know this was the 90th year of this race AND it is the oldest ultra-marathon in the world. That should be enough to warrant some respect. For anyone who wants to read more history, go here. I also did not carry a camera/phone with me during the race, so if you want to see photos, check out Scott Dunlap's blog..

With this year being the “up” year where the course starts in Durban and ends in Pietermaritzburg, the Garmin profile looked like this for a total of 55.3 miles and nearly 5,800 feet elevation gain:
Me, Henry G, Marisa: at start line
 One of my concerns going into this race was the road surface, as this was my first ultra distance on paved surfaces (I so love the dirt!). I had switched to the Brooks PureCadence shoe 2 weeks prior to the race and with plenty of Body Glide on my feet, the wear and tear on my feet was typical rather than nasty gross.  This was a big relief for me!

Another main concern I had was heat/humidity, even though May is one of the cooler months for South Africa. However, my training was done in the winter months here in Colorado with the bulk of it in sub 45 F weather, so a balmy ~75 F is toasty warm for me.  Luckily, the heat was manageable, especially with cold water sachets provided by the aid stations.

This race was massive in terms of participation with 16,993 starters. I felt like I finally had some room to move around after mile 25 - it was crowded with where I had started in the corrals. True to its name though, I felt my comrades all around me from start to finish. There was so many friendly runners from all over the world, as each runner’s country was listed on race bibs worn on both the front and back side of the upper body. I’m not a big talker during races, but I admit to starting up a few chats to kill some time and have extra reasons to smile on this special day.

I didn’t get to run with my friend, Marisa, as we got separated in the starting corrals. We met up briefly somewhere around mile 17, but then we did not reunite until we found each other in the International tent at the finish line. I was so happy to see her! An extra bonus was having my running friends from Boulder, Suzanne (wife of Henry G) and Cheryl, there who assumed the duties of awesome support & cheering crew!
Me & Marisa with our Bronze Medals
It was also great to see Henry Guzman from Boulder, CO, finish his 9th Comrades race. He wasn’t kidding when he had warned me this would be one of the toughest runs I would ever do. I’m still not sure what made it so challenging - if it was the road surface, the hills, the weather, or a combination of all. I recognize I didn’t put in much training time to prepare for this race, so of course, physical fitness limitations can be a contributor as well.  Luckily, I did not have any nutrition or hydration issues. I did observe many runners suffering with vomiting, which saddened me (shameless plug: working with a sport dietitian like myself could help avoid these incidents!).  Anyway, if you are curious about what nutrition and supplements I consumed:
  • 2.5 packets plain GenUCAN + 1 orange GenUCAN
  • 3 Chia bars from HealthWarrior
  • 4 banana bites (from aid stations)
  • 6 sport beans
  • 4 shots Coke (from aid stations)
and strategic use of:
  • SaltStick + Base Performance Salt
  • FirstEndurance PreRace
  • NOW Sports BCAAs
If you follow me or my work with eNRG Performance, you may wonder why I took simple sugars from jelly beans and Coke.  To be completely honest, they sounded good to me (the endurance athletes out there know what I mean about the Coke in particular). I don’t know that I really needed them but I also know these calories made up ~10% of my total calories consumed and I had tried these calories during previous competitions with no issue. For total calories, the math works out to ~80-85 calories per hour for this race, which is interesting when you consider there are still a lot of mainstream nutritionists and coaches who push 200-350 calories per hour even for ultra runners.  There’s no way I could end my race with a smile on my face having to consume that much!  On another note, I am thrilled to have been able to test my own sweat sodium concentration at eNRG Performance and do some sweat rate tests prior to Comrades.  This enabled me to fine-tune my electrolyte strategy for a day I knew I would be sweating fairly heavily.

My Finish Info for those who care:
10:33:52 (bronze medal)
299th in age group (out of 1002)
736th female (out of 2497)
5456 overall (out of 16,993)

I’m forever grateful for the Comrades experience and strongly recommend this “bucket list” race to anyone who is able to get to South Africa. Next year is the “down” year… hmmm...

Thanks for reading,