Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Bonk

Sunday, I bonked.

Phil and I planned to meet Jeffrey at the Echo Lake Lodge
at 8 am, then ride to the top of Mount Evans. Rather than driving up to the Lodge, we decided to begin riding in Idaho Springs. That meant we needed to be riding by 630 am at the latest (it is 14 miles from Idaho Springs to Echo Lake, with 3,000 feet of elevation gain in that distance).

Phil and I got up at 430 am so we could eat some breakfast, pack up our gear, and get to Idaho Springs early enough to unload the bikes, make a pit stop at the Forest Service facilities, and get on the road.

It was about 48 degrees when we left Idaho Springs. Even though the temperature rose throughout the day, we kept climbing out of the warmth (a 7,000 foot elevation gain over 28 miles), so the entire ride was done at between 48 – 40 degrees. [At the summit of Mt Evans a very nice Forest Service ranger advised me that with the wind chill, it was 18 degrees; I was glad to have my balaclava!]

I typically have a pretty good handle on my nutrition needs.

When we ride for two hours or more, I try to eat 1 Gu
(I tried the Roctane version of Gu earlier this season, but it caused some gastric distress, so I went back to the simple Vanilla Gu – with caffeine) or 1 Enervitene Cheerpack each hour, as well as taking 2 Sportlegs capsules and one Endurolyte capsule each hour.

My basic plan failed me yesterday, and I think I know why.


I rode for an hour Thursday afternoon; we rode 3-and-a-half hours at Leadville on Friday; 2 hours and 15 minutes at Buffalo Creek on Saturday; then topped it off with the ride up Mt Evans on Sunday morning. So, I was a bit worn out and probably hadn't done a good job of keeping my glycogen stores topped off. Added to that was the cold, so I was burning through more calories than I typically do.

By the time I hit Summit Lake, I was hungry, had a headache, my hands were shaking, and I was nauseous – awesome!! I stopped and downed an extra Gu, but I was already over the line. While I was able to finish the ride, I spent yesterday afternoon fighting off a migraine and feeling miserable and puny.

I needed the reminder, I suppose.

At Leadville, nutrition is at least half the battle. If you don't get enough calories in throughout the day, you will suffer [even more than you are going suffer anyway . . . !].

Here is my nutrition plan for Leadville (keep in mind that I'm a small woman – if there are any guys reading this and looking for tips, you probably need to double the carbohydrate intake.)

I aim for about 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per hour, depending on how well my stomach can tolerate the food. Even though I'm burning anywhere between 300 – 600 calories per hour during the race (depending on whether I'm climbing or cruising on the flat stretches), my body can only process about 120 – 150 calories per hour. The point is not to keep up 1 for 1 with the output – it is more like a trickle charge for a car battery. Keep just enough juice flowing in to stave off depletion. So, I try to eat 1 Gu and/or 1 Enervitene Cheerpack every 45 minutes to 1 hour.

I am a big drinker, but I don't go with Cytomax or anything like that in my water. It is a gut bomb for me. I add a couple Elixir tabs to my Camelback to give the water some flavor.

I take 1 Endurolyte and 2 Sportleg capsules each hour. Advil/Aleve/Excedrine also get added to the mix on an "as needed" basis.

I'm not able to tolerate solid food during the event, though I did slurp down Ramen noodle juice at the top of St Kevin's one year, and that salty water was a little slice of heaven. Some folks can eat a ham sandwich or a burrito with green chile - more power to 'em. Just remember - your gut will divert blood to digest the food - and your legs need all the blood they can get during the event, so timing your intake is critical.

Oh, and my pre-race breakfast – a PowerBagel from Einstein's slathered with peanut butter. And a diet Pepsi. I try to eat about 90 minutes before the race begins.


So far, this strategy has worked for me.
Let's hope my luck holds. Nutrition may be the difference between recording a personal best and failing to finish.

1 comment:

  1. I love knowing your "plan"!
    No, really - it does help
    me as well! Lv, PK

    ReplyDelete