Over the course of  3 days I completed a broken half ironman as 8+ mile run on Thursday evening, 1.2 mile swim on Friday, and then a 56 mile bike + 5 mile run on Saturday to cap it off.  I consumed some water for the run on Thursday, and then a little water again on Friday.  For Saturday I figured given the long workout ahead of me that I would give my natural sports nutrition experiment a go.  

I made the following:

  • 3 bottles of electrolyte drink (agave, salt cap, dates, lemon juice, coconut oil, water)
  • 1 flask of gel (dates, agave, lemon zest, salt, dulse)
  • 1 bottle of water with salt stick cap in it (I never drink water without sodium during exercise)
  • Mushroom thyme bread cake (sort of a really salty and savory bread pudding)
  • PB&J mini sandwich

What is all that?  The fuel for my 56 mile bike ride and 1 hour run (as well as post-workout recovery)

Nutritional comparison of Ironman Perform vs. my homemade lemon drink. 

Nutritional comparison of Powergel vs. my homemade energy gel

I have to say that the taste of my energy drink was really pleasant.  Not terribly lemony, sort of sweet due to the agave and dates, but I was able to drink it all without even a reminder from my "nutrition alarm" on my Garmin.  It suited me well on the ride, and I felt really good the whole way through (well that is a lie, but as far as nutrition went I felt good on that front at least.)

I used a recipe from Thrive founder Brendan Brazier and I think that for longer rides I would want to add in more water or even add more electrolytes ( I break open a capsule of Salt Stick caps and dump into the drink to assure that I am getting sodium and potassium as well as magnesium) to help curb the sweetness.  I know that after about 4 hours on the bike I start to hate sweet things.   

The savory bread pudding that I made came from the Skratch Labs Portables cookbook.  Wow do I love it!  It was super salty at the start but then as you work out you need that salt so it starts to taste really good.  I was so happy after hour 3 when I took in my last bit of bread pudding.  It was like a reward.  

The PB&J did not work out so well.  The roll that I used was just too thick and was difficult to eat.  I think that for a half Iron this is just too much and that I will try again for the Ironman.  

So my preliminary result was very good.  I felt well fueled and had no stomach issues.  Likewise I was not hungry at all for the ride, and I think that I had a good fueling strategy.  

I started liquids only for 40 minutes then had my first solid food.  I then drank solids only for the next hour, to 1:40 and then ate again.  I kept doing this until I was done with the ride.  

Unfortunately I did not get the chance to try out the gel as I was so "out of it" for the run - that wind really killed my mojo and my hands and feet were frozen so I was in a very unhappy place.  In fact,  I barely even took a drink of water.  It was cold, windy, and over all just sucky.  

I plan on making the mushroom bread again, and will be using the gels and electrolyte drink for the rest of my training for my June 8th Half race in Grand Rapids. This weekend is a 3.5 hour ride with 1 hour run and then a 2.5 hour ride with run.   Wow - that is 6 hours of riding in less than 30 hours. 

I realized that I am growing stronger every day.  Not just physically but mentally.

This week I missed one workout day due to time (a swim/run on Tuesday), but got in my 3 hour ride on Saturday, my 2 hour bike ride after a long Easter day up north on Sunday, my swim on Monday, my bike ride on Wednesday, and my long run last night.  Tonight is a race rehearsal swim at the pool with Yvette, and then Saturday is my RR bike and run with Yvette and Vickie.

The mental part is that I have been able to get in the workouts even when I have felt tired.  I knew that my body would be OK I just needed to start.  This is the key lesson:


This was my mantra last season as I hurriedly trained for MiamiMan Half Iron.  I realized that the first bit always sucks.  Starting every workout is tough, not just physically, and in doing so you have the opportunity to shine only if you give yourself the chance.  Pushing through the suck means that you BELIEVE in yourself.

I was able to practice this mantra last night on a group run at work.  I am a slower runner - my best effort 5k time is about a 9:40 pace which means that my long run pace last night was 11 minute miles.  This in itself is funny because 4 years ago I would have killed for a sub-10 pace run at any distance, and to run 11 minute miles for 8 miles straight would have been like a dream!  I started to compare myself to the others that I was running with - they all run an easy pace of 8:20 - even 6:30 minute miles, so I felt like a total slow poke out here.  All that it would have taken would be to change the group of runners that I was running with and I could be leading the run - so it shows that it is all relative! Comparing ourselves to others does NO GOOD.  We are only in control of ourselves and should not worry about our performance as compared to theirs.  Faster, stronger, more endurance does not mean BETTER.  It means stronger, faster, more endurance.  We attach emotion to output which creates a cycle - either it motivates us to work harder to grow stronger, faster, more endurance or it demotivates us and we leave feeling worse about ourselves.  Alternately - the third outcome is that we have no attachment and find a pure happiness in just being able to participate.

I want to live in the 3rd outcome.

My theoretical Marathon pace is 11:01.  That is crazy to me given that my marathon paces in the past have been 15+ minutes, with my best effort being just shy of 13 minute miles. An 11 minute paced marathon is a 4:48!  That is almost an entire hour faster than my current best (from 2011) however that train of thought is the worst thing possible.  I am PREDETERMINING my fate based purely on FEAR.  I know that I am not the only one.

Why not think of it that I have the opportunity to train well and beat my prior best time by 50 or so minutes?  I have goals for this year's races and think... how can I do that?  What I need to do is think this is how I will achieve it: ....  

I am working on turning my fears into opportunities this year.  That is where the great stuff happens!  When we realize that we had it in us all along, we just had to open our eyes to it.  Where we see that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to and our hearts into.  Where we see that we are pretty awesome for even trying something scary to us.  Even if I do not run an 11:01 paced marathon, and even if I do not hit my goals in any of  my races - so what?  At least I set them and worked for something.  I have realized that no one really cares about my times on the courses I race.  The only thing real friends and supporters care about is that I am happy and content in what I am doing.

This week join me in taking the time to celebrate the successes - even the smallest of successes matter.  Some days it pays to celebrate lacing up your shoes even if you don't make it out for the run.

~ The IronSeashell

I have recently had an epiphany when it comes to my sports food stuffs.  I hate calling it nutrition because honestly - it isn't.  I realized that I use a lot of commercially prepared sports food stuffs and actually had a panic attack the other day when I realized that I was out of my Ironman Perform.   How on Earth am I going to get through my training rides until I have my sweet sugary guuuuudness?  

At some point I wonder - is this stuff even good for our bodies?  If athletes like Brendan Brazier and Rich Roll can survive and thrive with real foods as fuel, can an age grouper like me do the same?  My concern is the heat stability of food.  They are done with the race and I am still on my bike.  My back-up and back-half of the course nutrition will have to be in special needs for a long time before I will be able to get it.  Hmmmm.

The more I clean up my diet outside of working out, and the more that I ramp up my training the less nutritious the traditional idea of sports nutrition makes me feel.  In fact, trying to give up crappy refined foods is very difficult when your sports fuel is all refined junk.

I realized that I have been experiencing a Trifecta of Funk - crappy weather plus poor nutrition while working out (and thus when I am not working out) plus harder longer more frequent workouts equals = UGH.

Now that the roads and skies have all cleared up and the temperatures are rising, possibly due to this weird ball of burning something that keeps showing up earlier and staying later every day, I am starting to feel a pull to get my act together all around.

I eat crappy and feel crappy then do a crappy workout and feel even crappier.  This cycle is just ridiculous and I cannot exist in this state for much longer.  I fee that I am disrespecting all of the hard work I am putting in by the food and mood choices that I am making.

Crap in means crap out - in performance, in mental acuity, in overall wellness.  My sleep went to pot and my waking hours were spent being terribly not motivated.  In the time that I should be repairing my muscles, recovering and refueling/replenishing my body I have been consuming more and more junk. Add to this school application stress and some serious triathlon training.  Whew - exhausted.

Well I am stopping this.  I have gone on a Spring Cleaning of my diet. Warning! Warning!  Total fresh food overhaul in process!   I started with consuming better foods this weekend, foods that I have prepared with love and thought.  A loving smoothie in the morning packed with good Omegas, Maca root, goji berries, plant strong and non-inflammatory proteins, and antioxidants in the form of cacao and berries. My pre-workout, post-workout and regular meals are all thought about before consumption so that I am focusing in on real foods again.  Before I eat it I ask myself - does this fuel me as well as fill me?  Will I regret this when I go to work out?  Do I need this or want this?

No more boxes, fast food for this girl.  And already, after just three days I feel remarkably better.  My body feels... how do I even put this into words?  Awake.  Vibrant.  Happy on a cellular level.  

My mental fog has lifted and I am thinking clearer again.  My motivation is back on track and I have no issues falling or staying asleep - nor do I have any issues waking up even after a shorter sleeping period.

I am back to THRIVING not SURVIVING.

So i went from spending 3-5 hours on a Sunday doing meal prep and cooking all of my dinners and lunches for the following week to outsourcing the process all together.  Starting this Friday, I now have 10 entrees hand made and delivered to me from Thrive Foods Direct - that would be of Brendan Brazier "Thrive" fame - as well as I supplement with a "bitty box" of mixed fruits and misc. veg from Door to Door Organics every week.

I literally only go shopping now when I need something esoteric - nutritional yeast mainly.  Everything else I can get from D2D!  

Starting this week I am also making my own sports nutrition - this time it will be FOR REAL nutrition.

I was doing some comparisons and saw that 1/4 C of the Himalayan super fruit goji berry is nearly identical in properties to 1 standard gel pack.   The big difference is that the goji berries have 1 ingredient, whereas the gel packs are barely pronounceable. And that got me thinking - why not carry real foods and see what will work for me out there?  Why wouldn't real foods be enough to sustain me over the course of 140.6 miles?  Especially if I train with it all day every day to really get accustomed to the possible side effects of that much fruit, rice, and veg.   I am willing to train my body, well rather DEtrain my body and get back to trusting real whole foods to get me through.  I am a little scared - but it is worth a shot!  

This weekend is prime time as it is a Race Rehearsal - 1.2 mile swim (Friday) then 56 mile bike, 1 hour training run easing into pace (Saturday) -  so I am planning on trying out some different things to see what works.

I am thinking of making sticky rice balls with goji berries and dates for portable fuel on the ride, carrying with me some raw cacao energy bites and some packets of Vega sports gel as back up just in case I feel the need to "punch out".  I will carry watered down coconut water or even my old hand-made electrolyte drink that I did really well on in 2011 (dates + water, sodium, citrus in the form of lemon or orange, and coconut oil).  That does mean that I will need ~6 bottles of it on the bike for the Ironman but if it is stable enough, it may just work!   For me the stomach issues happen on the run off of the bike, so since I am doing a 56 mile bike with a 1 hour pace run, this will give me a chance to see how the tummy will react on some level.

I will keep an update here as to progress as well as what I have learned along the way.

Shine on my friends!

And that is just what they'll do!  

This past week has been BEAUTIFUL for riding and running outside.  I took advantage of the weather and did as many outside workouts that I could.  Looking at this week of SNOW, it looks like I am in a holding pattern for outside riding again, however inside biking during the week is my norm (too hard to rush out someplace to ride after work - would rather do the hard work rides on a trainer anyhow.)  

This Saturday I have a 3 hour ride that I am planing on doing out at Island Lake State Park - rolling hills and a great 12 mile loop - with my Ironsister Vickie, weather permmitting.  Our A races are on the same day - her's being IMWI and mine being Rev3 Cedar Point. 

The plan for this week is:

Monday - Swim (done)
Tuesday - 1.5 hour bike, 30 minute run brick (was Wednesday's workout but swapped due to time constraints)
Wednesday - Swim and Run (each 1 hour)
Thursday - Long run - 1.5 hours
Friday - Swim
Saturday - 3 hour bike, 30 minute run
Sunday - 2 hour bike, 30 minute run

With Sunday being Easter, I will have to get the ride in EARLY as I will be heading north to my Parent's house which is 1.5 hours away - so let's put that ride on TBD status ;-). 

Now that I am in HIM training, rest days will be only about 1 time a month - and typically around a big training day or on a testing week.  So - here we go!  

Let the fun times begin!