Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post-DNF analysis

In my quest to figure out my exhaustion on Ironman day, I added up everything that I can remember eating that day on This includes breakfast and everything pre-swim and post-swim. By 8PM (going 13 hours of exercise by then) it added up to approximately:

Total: 3318 calories
Carbs: 579 g, 2246 cal, 68% of calories
Fat: 80 g, 721 cal, 22% of calories
Protein: 81 g, 322 cal, 10% of calories
Calcium, mg: 1061.2
Phosphorus, mg: 728.64
Magnesium, mg: 210.61
Sodium, mg: 7759.3
Potassium, mg: 2985.4

Uncrustable PB&J (4)
Corn syrup (in gel)
Honey (in gel)
Carbo-Pro (maltodextrin, in gel)
Cashew nuts, dry roasted
Gel candy
Ensure (2)
Chicken broth
Egg, whole, boiled (2)
Orange, raw
Cookie, NS as to type
Succeed capsules (8)
Rolaids (4)

There might have been a few more calories in there that I've forgotten, like a couple small packs of M&Ms or another gel or two, but that's most of it.

Hydration? I had some additional water on top of the Gatorade (mostly first and last 12 miles on the bike). I was definitely well-hydrated. I peed 4 times on the bike and twice on the run. Not large volumes each time, but hydration was present and accounted for. (I would have done it less on the bike, but I had to stop 4 times to put eye drops in my eyes to keep my contacts from turning to cinders. Which worked well, by the way.)

I had no muscle cramps, stomach cramps, stomach sloshing, or intestinal distress whatsoever all day. I didn't even have any back muscle spasms on the bike, which I often do. I had a very slight side stitch for a while on the bike but that is much less than normal for me on race day. I did have a bit of an upset stomach from time to time (probably from the acidic Gatorade) but that was solved each time by a Rolaids. Toward the end of the day I was stumbling and uncoordinated from fatigue, but not at all dizzy or disoriented. No discernible finger swelling, no blisters.

Intake of everything was steady and regular on the bike, like clockwork. It did decrease in regularity and consistency on the run, but I was still taking some fluid and calories from every aid station each mile.

I just felt far too exhausted to finish another 13.1-mile loop. To do it in time for the cutoff I would have had to run part of it, and I didn't believe at the time that I could run another step.

After I stopped the run, I threw up about 20 minutes later when I started getting chilled (mostly chicken broth that I had just drank). (This is unusual for me - I've never thrown up during/after a race before).

Thoughts? Are there any glaring holes that I'm missing? (I mean, besides "train more" - do you see what you consider any big race-day mistakes that I made?)


Geek Girl said...

gosh, it's really hard for me to make and judgements, since my longest event to date is the half IM, but my first thought was that you ate an awful lot of stuff that day. I'd always heard that digestion is pretty fussy when racing. Everyone is very individual, so everyone will have different results, but I had my best results when I had very simple foods: I had enduralytes every hour, first. I drank only Perpetuum on the bike, bottles of it, which has a buffer and very easily digested. I had one gel. Before the run, I had a half of an energy drink, because I hate coke. On the run, I had 8 ounces of water plus a half gel each mile or so. Seemed to work well. Maybe you ate too much solid food? Just a guess. You gave it your best shot, you never know how hydration and nutrition will react.

bunnygirl said...

How much ocean did you drink before you got started with all that? If what you posted is a normal type and quantity of food for you under ordinary conditions, I'd blame the Gulf.

Comm's said...

really I would try to over analysis it unless its what you need to feel at peice. I don't think you were a victim of nutrition or supplementation.

I have learned after going through two IM's (as a witness and participant) that there is a energy unleashed postive and negative on the race course that is beyond your control.

Odd things happen to good people doing exactly what they did hundreds of times in training, month after month.

21st Century Mom said...

I know nothing about race day nutrition but I have to agree with Comm.

Given your performance at ChesepeakMan I'd say that you get what you need for the swim and bike but maybe not what you need for running? I don't know.

You got dealt a bad hand but you still did 127.5 and that is more than impressive.

mipper said...

i'm not qualified but i would go with Comm on that. i know you trained w/ real food, so you know, i don't think what you ate/didn't eat was an issue. but for 13 non stop hours, 3300 calories seems low to me... am i wrong on that? just to function, during marathon training, for me, if i ran over 5 miles in a day, i had to consume at least 3000 calories that day just to function with a clear head. so, from my limited experience i would say just not enough calories. but i can't explain the vomitting and chills. isn't that a sign of hypothermia? i'm probably off. i agree with Comm though... you just never know how your body will react in the actual race.

Mojo said...

I don't have any clue about Ironman nutrition but I'll tell you what my coach told me during my half.

He told me to stop eating solid food 30min. before I a finished the bike. During the run, I was only to consume gels and energy drinks. He said if your HR is too high, your body stops digesting food properly.

I don't know how that would work for a marathon though. I'd think you'd need more than gel and energy drinks going on 13+ hours of racing.

Heck woman, ya did awesome! I'm 20 years younger than you and I think I'd be exhausted from the bike ride alone!

nancytoby said...

Ack! You mean it was just BAD KARMA that got me!? Or yeah, I like the BLAME THE GULF approach!


Mostly I'm trying to take really good notes *just in case* I try it again, so I'll have records on what worked and what didn't work, what I screwed up and what I did right.

And try to make different mistakes in the future.


Brent Buckner said...

Given your level of fatigue, I'd wonder how many of calories you actually managed to digest during the event, especially as a fair number were from fats.

nancytoby said...

Hmm. Well, I had almost nothing in my stomach at 13 hours, and I didn't have any major digestive upsets during the race, which leads me to think I was digesting well.

Some level of fat slows gastric emptying and calms the stomach, and the fats were from reasonable sources - primarily peanut butter and eggs (and a few M&Ms).

But thanks for the thoughts!

j. said...

I'm not a nutritionist, Nancy, but knowing how nutrition was my biggest obstacle in 1/2 IM's for the past few years, I've spent the past year really focusing on what I needed to take in for IM (and 1/2 IM) distance races. Again, I can really only speak for my caloric needs and not the overall health of everybody, but it seems to me like you took in quite a random assortment of food types, mixing hard-to-digest sugars with high protein and carbs while stretching your body to its limits. Do you think you were eating simply to get the calories and not necessarily thinking what specific food was going into your stomach. In other words, did you consume all this stuff (apricots, cashews, craisins, PBJ, muffin, egg, cookie, etc.) during your training sessions? If so, did it work during your training sessions?

It's very important to stay as close as possible to what you've done - and what has worked - during your training session. I remember when I was out on the course, I took an orange piece during the bike. Right after I bit into it, I started to get nervous and tried to spit it out - I had never had an orange during training and didn't know what it would do to me. I didn't want to risk it. I had tried fig newtons, coke and bananas during training because I knew they would all be on the course. I made sure that they all provided me with the energy I needed...and well before the race I tried to determine how much I would need to injust to meet my caloric requirements. I tinkered with this while in training to make sure it was right. I carried my own pretzels - I knew those worked for me as well and didn't think they'd have them on the course. The moral being that it is important to stick with only the things you know that work.

All that aside, it doesn't sound like you got cramps - you were just lacking energy. For many of us, an Ironman is really a 10 mile race with 130 miles of warm-up. The last 10 miles are VERY difficult for most people. It becomes more of a mental game at that point than a physical one - simply because there is not much physical left in us. That said, you really need the nutrition dialed in for the first 130 miles to put you in a good state for those last 10.

Without knowing much more, sounds to me like there may have been a bit too much food experimenting and "calorie-cramming" during this race, leaving you drained by the second run lap.

I hope that helps, or at least provides some food for thought.


nancytoby said...

Yes, everything I ate had been successfully pre-tested in training multiple times. And other than exhaustion (and that little puke after I stopped), I had absolutely no unusual adverse digestive problems. In fact, my digestion seemed better than it's ever been.

runr53 said...

Nancy, I'm thinking 68%/22%/10% ratio of carbs to fat to protein is not the right mix, but what do I know, never done an IM! I would think the ratio should be closer to daily needs. Run Good!

dw said...


dw said...

Nancy, I think you trained plenty. I did the distance in Maryland in October and I used the 13 hour plan--my longest ride was 75miles,longest run 18miles. As for nutrition--2 ensures(your idea),1 bar, 2 accelerade drinks and a couple of gels.Consider the full distance in Md for your next attempt--its a much more user friendly course and not a lot of hype.Congratulations for your effort--you've been an inspiration to me over the past year.

nancytoby said...

Yes, I'm thinking about Chesapeakeman! (Don't tell my husband!!)

dw said...

If you do go give the 13 hour plan a try--it allows you to have a life and finish the race. Your husband will never know.