Embracing Fear

Posted: May 30, 2011 in Nutrition, Training
Tags: ,
  • (Long) Bike (click to see stats)
  • (Long) Brick Run (click to see stats)
  • 96.9kk (3:13:06) – 21.5k (1:54:52)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 132 bpm – 160 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 165 bpm – 167 bpm
  • Avg. Speed/Pace = 30.1/kph – 05:20 min/km
  • Best Speed/Pace = 57.8/kph – 03:53 min/km
  • Calories = 6887
  • Temp = 24º
  • SOTD: ‘White Fang’  by Bill Frisell

I happened to fall asleep while watching Jerry McGuire for the zillionth time last night on late night television and for whatever reason, I ended up crafting out my own “Memo”, or Mission Statement if you will, during my long Brick run this morning.  Why?  I have absolutely no clue idea why anything goes through my head when I do these things but, rest assured, it’s better than concentrating on the steady ache in your quads, or the fact that your lungs are about ready to explode through your chest.  Trust me.

Here is all I was able to come up with, except that they’re really more like my Sacred Triathlon Commandments:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Stop
  2. Thou Shalt Not Rest
  3. Thou Shalt Sucketh It Up and Taketh It Like a Man

Doesn’t sound like much fun, right?  That’s why I’m also apt to consider a fourth one as well:

       4.  Think Happy Thoughts

Sure that may seem easier said than done at times but, hey, in that case just refer back to the first three commandments and back to the business of kicking ass.

I tried to remember today while grinding out the kilometers why I first decided to get involved in triathlon.  Surely I didn’t get involved for the fun, did I?  Why did Michael Phelps first sign up for swimming lessons?  Why did Tiger Woods first decide to launch a little white ball into orbit?  Why did Cassius Clay throw his first hay-maker?  I don’t happen to know about any of these particular athletes, but I got into triathlon because I was fat, single, and had nothing better to waste my money on – simple.  But, really, it first appealed to me because it scared the living shit out of me.  It still does.  After all, doing something drastic like changing your whole lifestyle is very scary business indeed.   But triathlon scared me even more and nothing motivates me more than a little good ‘ol fashioned, pit in your stomach Fear…of failure specifically.

Part of my Fear this year lays in conquering this whole Race Day nutrition deal that I discussed in my ‘Did Well Assessment’ little over a month ago.  Up until this point, I’ve managed to get by on plain ‘ol tap water and maybe some Gatorade if I’m feeling festive.  Or, well, I did until recently anyway.  There’s just no denying it anymore, now that I’m pushing my body to greater physical limits I’ve been finding that I need, oh, I don’t know, a little extra, well, zip; something that ordinary tap water and gel packets alone don’t provide.  During my Sprint and Olympic races, water and gels worked fine but, remember, I burned nearly 7000 calories today!  At 100 calories each, that’d make for a total of 70 gel packets, and at a cost $2.00 a pop, shit, you’d need to be Daddy Warbucks just to afford completing a race.  Now, that kind of grocery bill is something to be afraid of!

So today’s particular workout was a bit of an experiment in overcoming this nutritional fear in that I tested out a new strategy for the first time, namely, taking nearly everything in liquid form.  I have learned from past trial and errors that my body does not like digesting solid food while it’s working out.  If I have solid food like energy bars, or whatever, I will inevitably begin to experience IB issues shortly after transitioning from the bike into my run.  You can read that as: I fart a lot.  The absolute worst case scenario being that I will have to quickly duck into a nearby café or coffee shop somewhere in order to relieve myself of about a lb. of dead weight – literally – before carrying on.  And, believe me, you don’t know what embarrassment is until you’ve barged through the front door of Good Eats Diner all sweaty and out of breathe and literally charge through the tables of Church-going diners on the way to the bathroom while clutching your ass cheeks together.  Yeah.

Vowing never to relive this episode again, I tested two new products today in an effort to overcome these digestive issues.  Given that I need the calories (i.e. Energy), is it possible to sustain myself on liquids alone?  The goal was to come off the bike feeling well fueled, hydrated, and ready to tackle head-on a full 21.5k run with, hopefully, no unscheduled poop breaks.  *fingers crossed*

For starters, I tried Hammer Perpetuem during my ride as my primary source of energy for the day.  Marketed as the “complete meal in a bottle”, the brochure says this about this miracle endurance elixir:

“Perpetuem includes a unique formula of complex carbohydrates, soy protein, healthy fats, and key auxiliary nutrients such as sodium phosphate, L-carnosine, L-carnitine, and choline – is unsurpassed for maintaining optimal athletic performance for as long as you need.”

Seriously, how can you pass up on marketing like that?  But, honestly, I have no idea what any of this bullshit actually means.  You could say that I have no more idea about carnosines or carnitines than I do about advanced nuclear physics.  But it does come highly recommended amongst my peers and it certainly provided that zip I was looking for throughout my entire workout; sans air waffles no less.  Containing 270 calories per scoop (2 scoops per bottle) this endurance formula sure kept my feet pedaling seemingly effortlessly.  I did find though, that the ‘Orange Vanilla’ flavor tasted a bit like the cats breakfast but, hey, nothing I can’t live with either for $69.99.

Secondly, I consumed a single packet of GU Chomps, pure performance energy chews (90 calories), as well as two packets of my ordinary GU Gels (100 calories).  Amongst the grocery-list of good shit in the Chomps including amino acids for added focus, rippin’ energy and speedy recovery; vitamin C + E, those mighty antioxidants that combat tissue breakdown; sodium and potassium to restore electrolyte balance; exclusive blend of complex and simple carbohydrates.  More importantly, despite their namesake, they require no chewing whatsoever and I can simply scarf them down quickly while on the go.  I’ve used GU Gels before and they are about the same as the Chomps but in gel form and I can easily slip a few into my fuel belt (or bento bag) for later; usually the halfway point in my run I like a gel but, trying to open and consume them on the bike is like tar and feathering yourself mid-ride as you inevitably just end up a sticky mess.  The Chomps were much better for that purpose.

What did I learn today?  Well, not only did I learn that I can manage an entire Iron distance brick workout while avoiding the shits, but I also learned that I can pull off a sub-two hour half marathon after a three-plus hour bike ride and all without taking in actual solids.  My gut felt pretty good throughout both the bike and the run (usual wear and tear aside) legs and my energy levels felt pretty well sustained throughout, so I am very encouraged that I am finally on the right track nutritionally.

My next Fear to overcome, you ask?  Well, in about another month or so, there will come to fruition another scary challenge:  the Heat.  But in the meantime, I am very happy with today’s result, so that whole heat thing will just have to wait for another sleepless Saturday night.

P.S.> On a completely unrelated note, check out this video from International Triathlon Union athlete Simon Whitfield.  It’s a pretty cool tribute to the balance of being a pro athlete and a parent.  If this doesn’t constitute itself as Happy Thoughts (click to see video), I don’t know what the hell does.

  1. HeatherJ says:

    Terry – great post! thanks for this. Where’d you get the Perpetuem??

    • Thanks Heather – you can find Perpetuem at any local cycling shop without problem (I see it in all of them). You can either buy the large tubs like I got, or the single serving packets instead if you just want to sample first. Happy cycling.

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