Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or new to the 140.6 scene, nailing your IRONMAN bike fueling/hydration plan can be tricky, with a lot riding on getting it right. With the numerous sports nutrition products on the market today, figuring out how to fuel for 5-7 hours can be daunting, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one athlete doesn’t necessarily work for another, and no matter how appealing it might sound, the “rolling buffet” approach—eating and drinking everything in sight along the race route—will do more harm than good.
With so many sports nutrition products and fueling guidelines on the market today, it can be confusing to know what’s best for the long haul. And while endurance athletes thrive on raw data when it comes to aerodynamics, professional bike fits, and training zones, it’s all too common to let a data-supported endurance fuel plan fall by the wayside until race day is imminent. Then we scramble to find the perfect blend of sports nutrition to keep us going until we charge across the finish line. But often it’s a case of too little planning, too late, with a disappointing finish, or worse, a DNF (did not finish).
In the past few months, there have been some big races – Kona, IM Louisville, IM Maryland, B2B half and full IM, the NYC marathon & this weekend is IM Florida, followed by IM Arizona. Social media has been and will be flooded with “finish line” celebratory pictures, complete with medals, tears of joy and race reports. And while there is certainly a lot to celebrate, it occurred to me that arriving at the starting line sometimes doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Why? The journey to an endurance race start line may take months if not years of training, and sometimes life gets in the way.
This weekend, Race Smart coached athlete Lauree G. toes the line at IM Florida. While crossing the finish line in her first Ironman will be an incredible accomplishment, arriving at the starting line has not been without its challenges. Lauree has had her fair share … and then some. Without divulging her personal story, I have been incredibly moved by her commitment, consistency in training, and her will to push through some very difficult times during the past year. She has made no excuses, no shortcuts such as, “I didn’t feel like it today” when many of us might have opted out.
So, yes – the finish line will be a moment like no other, but just getting there with a healthy body and a grateful heart is a victory in itself. Lauree, you are an inspiration … as are those who are brave, strong and dedicated enough to push through the obstacles in our path.
Anything is possible.
I am an endurance athlete, mom of 2 busy kids, wife, small business owner, friend, volunteer and the list goes on. I am blessed with a full and exciting life. I choose to spend a good portion of my time swimming, biking and running simply because it makes me happy; not to get a medal, stand on a podium or impress others. It might sound a bit selfish but having an active lifestyle makes me a better, happier, more grounded person, and hopefully has a positive impact on those around me. Performing to my potential and pushing by body beyond my comfort zone is fun and rewarding. And, the results of my performance provide valuable feedback as to the effectiveness of my training. I have never had a time goal for an Ironman because it is too hard to measure given the long day and many circumstances out of my control. I do set execution goals – all based on things in my control.
So, in keeping my philosophy of focusing on the process and execution, I have never set my race intentions on a Kona slot. I always aim to do my very best on a given day and have a no excuse policy but never chased an outcome. In June, when I placed 2nd in my age group at IMCDA, I got the coveted Kona slot. I was thrilled to have placed 2nd as this tells me I really gave it all I had and overcame obstacles that I thought were beyond my reach. The Kona slot was the “cherry on the top” and an opportunity to race with very talented athletes from around the world, what a privilege!
I didn’t do this alone. Yes, I have worked hard, with consistency, dedication, and determination always in my toolbox. But, truthfully, it really takes a village. My village is made up of a massage therapist, active release therapist, acupuncturist, (I am my own sports dietitian), a coach, training buddies that keep it fun and super supportive, a supportive family, a bike fitter and mechanic shop, and my sponsors that provide the latest and greatest services and products. I am afraid I have forgotten someone. There are so many and each bring equal value to my achievements. I am lucky to have found amazing and caring professionals and friends to help me on my journey, with a healthy body, happy heart and equipment that is kept in great condition.
This Saturday as I toe the line in Kona, Hawaii at the Ironman World Championship, I stand there alone but I didn’t get there alone. My family and dear friend – who has accompanied me for a week in Kona as sherpa extraordinaire, Susan Washburn, will be on the sidelines watching and friends at home will be stalking me online. I will give thanks to my village who got me here in one piece with a body, mind and bike ready to race the 2014 Ironman World Championship.
Stay tuned this week for more blogs as I share Kona with you.