Friday, April 9, 2010

Hydration and Lonestar 70.3...

The Lonestar 70.3 in 2009 was a story of contrasts for me... the first story being the combination of swim, T1, bike, T2 and the second being the run. Thought I'd share in the hope that there's some key learning I could pass along to any who may be racing this event in the near future.

The first story...

Swim, T1

The swim was fantastic for an early season swim. While I was not even kinda approximating a straight line and learned it was key to swim with your mouth closed while in saltwater, it was a moderately fast day, and a good crowd - very sporting. A little bumping around, but nothing overtly combative or inappropriate. Sight lines were very clear and easy, and I rather enjoyed the bit of current and chop we encountered; reminded me a tiny bit of big lake swimming rather than the smaller lakes we normally race in for the local triathlon circuit. T1 went smoothly – I was fortunate enough to have received a very low number, and our bikes were racked according to race number (I love it when race organizers do that). T1 complete, off on the bike.

Bike and T2

Straight, flat, a little breezy. Lonestar 70.3’s bike course is basically like riding a trainer for the amount of time it takes you to cover 56 miles. If you stop pedaling, you slow down. No hills to coast down, no real terrain variety. All considered, I did enjoy it… we had very little wind to battle, and I can only pray that conditions will be as friendly in 2010 as they were in 2009.

I did discover through this style of racing that my aero position on the bike, as well as the flexibility needed to maintain that position for this length of race, were considerations that would need a larger portion of my attention throughout the season. I’m generally not one of the world’s most flexible people, and staying in an aggressive aero position for 2.5 hours was not yet a trick I had in my bag. However, I had a very solid bike, a solid T2, and thus began the run.


The run is where the wheels fell off. Up to this point in my racing career, I wasn’t quite aware of the fundamentals of proper hydration beyond fluid intake… the primary missing piece being the role of electrolytes. I began the run looking around 4 months pregnant; had a ton of water onboard, but none of the electrolytes my digestive system needed to process it. Therefore, the most curious thing happened – while I had a surplus of water in my stomach, I was dehydrated and getting worse by the step. Your body goes through a few different phases when progressing deeper into dehydration…

1. You feel thirsty – dry mouth, etc.

2. You stop sweating

3. You begin to feel cold, possibly with goose bumps.

4. To say it politely, your stomach ‘empties’ from whence it became full J

So I was solidly in step 4… once per lap. It was a four lap run. That was not pleasant. The key learning for me – while water and sports drink are important, separating the plan to satisfy your caloric needs from your hydration needs is key. Your nutrition plan should have two distinct phases – caloric needs, hydration needs.

Thus was born my love for Thermolytes. I began using Endurolytes – an excellent product made by Hammer Nutrition - but soon realized through a good amount of research and numerous discussions with friends/teammates that they just didn’t pack enough punch for my particular needs. When you see me racing, it’s a guarantee that if the race is longer than a 10k (which is pretty much everything these days) not only will I have a tube of Thermolytes on my person, but I’ll have a spare in T2 in case something happens to my first. I consider them as important any other key need – body glide, timing chip, etc.

How’s your nutrition plan for long course these days? Do you separate your caloric needs from your hydration needs? If not, you may want to consider it!

See you at lonestar… errrr, the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas (name changed for 2010).

1 comment:

jimbo11604 said...

Tom, thanks for the post, great information to have at hand as we get closer to the race.

Those who want to 'See Tom Tri' :)