After nearly a 12-month forced hiatus from racing – a break that mentally seems infinitely longer than that – due to medical struggles that I have documented ad nauseum, I finally returned to racing this weekend at Ironman 70.3 Muskoka. And despite a day that proved to be the most difficult day of racing in my life – my lack of training (having only one 3-week training block since the end of my medical treatment) and absence of race sharpness obviously playing a significant role in that – I managed to pull out a podium finish in 3rd place and nab the fastest run split on the day as well.
All told, I am a bit disappointed with my performance in a couple of areas during the race. But to go through the spring and summer that I have had and be unsatisfied with a podium finish in my first race back would be a big mistake, so I am very pleased. In terms of performance, there was more that I could do (and will do), but I was more than happy with my mental approach and continued focus on a rough day of swimming, biking and running.
My nutrition report for the race is as follows:
For my dinner the night before the race, I am generally most concerned with calorie intake. As a bigger athlete (6 ft. 3 in. and 170 lbs.) with a fast metabolism, my success on race day is largely determined not necessarily by “what” I eat the day before but “how much.”
That doesn’t mean that I don’t focus on eating high-quality, nutrient dense foods, however. But when push comes to shove, I will eat what is necessary to reach my calorie needs. And as a general rule, I focus on eating very well during the morning and afternoon on the day before the race – with lots of lean protein, whole grains, fruits & vegetables, EFS electrolyte drink and one serving of First Endurance Ultragen Orange Creamsicle after my morning race-prep workouts – and then eat whatever my body craves for dinner at that particular time.
One plate of loaded chicken nachos
- grilled chicken
- red & green peppers
- black beans
- sour cream & salsa
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki Platter
- 2 skewers of grilled chicken
- 1.5 cups rice
- 2 cups Greek salad w/onions, cucumbers, olives & feta cheese
After a larger-than-normal dinner, I generally feel that my glycogen stores are pretty well replenished and focus on a smaller, high-quality breakfast simply to top off those stores. I do not like to eat a significant amount of calories at breakfast mostly due to the fact that I enjoy my sleep the night before a race and do not want to wake up 3 hours in advance of the race in order to properly digest a larger meal. Instead, I will eat a smaller, nutrient-dense meal about 1.5 hours before the race.
- 1 cup slow-cooked oats
- 1 serving Dr. Mercola Pure Power Protein
- ¼ cup blueberries
- 1 banana
24 oz. EFS Electrolyte Drink (Orange)
After breakfast, I generally do not consume anything additional until I get on the bike during the race. I prefer to swim with a relatively empty stomach, which allows me to better handle the anticipation and nerves that generally precede a race.
I carry two 24-oz. bottles on the bike for my half-Ironman racing. In one bottle I carry my “nutrition concoction,” while the other bottle is full of water. I prefer to have the large majority of my nutrition in liquid form so as to not have to fiddle with gel packs or bars and instead focus only on my effort. That being said, I always tape 2 additional gel packs on the top tube of my bike just in case the demands of that particular day warrant more calories than I had originally estimated.
Over the course of the 56-mile bike ride, I will slowly sip on the bottle containing my nutrition while picking up 2 additional bottles of water.
- 2 EFS Liquid Shot Flasks Vanilla (800 calories)
- 1.5 servings EFS Electrolyte Drink Lemon-Lime (144 calories)
- 12 oz. water
64 oz. water
My run nutrition is never the same from one race to the next. While I always plan ahead and create the same nutrition plan for the run, the demands of the run on that particular day, as well as my stomach’s tolerance for nutrition, largely dictate how much I consume.
In general, I am probably more of the exception than the rule when it comes to fueling on the run in that I prefer to fuel very little. Instead, I like to rely on my bike nutrition while maintaining a more empty stomach on the run, which allows me to put more effort into pushing the pace without having to worry about fuel sloshing around in my gut and disrupting my performance.
I carry one EFS Liquid Shot Flask with me out of transition, which provides more than enough calories (400 kcal) and electrolytes to keep me sharp on the run. After using the vanilla flavor on the bike, I generally switch to the mixed berry flavor on the run to keep things palatable. However, I have never finished a complete flask during the run and instead just sip on it as needed.
When I feel like I need a boost in addition to the EFS Liquid Shot, I supplement with cola at aid stations. In addition, I take one cup of water at each aid station, drinking half of the cup and pouring the remainder on my head to help my body remain cool.
My run nutrition during Ironman 70.3 Muskoka was as follows:
One EFS Liquid Shot Flask Mixed Berry (400 calories)
- During the run at Muskoka, I consumed approximately 150 calories out of the flask
Four 3-oz. cups of Cola
20-24 oz. Water
My nutrition after the race is very simple. I make a point to keep a ready-made bottle containing one serving of First Endurance Ultragen Orange Creamsicle in my backpack in transition. After the race, I return to transition and immediately consume the Ultragen for initial recovery. From there, my post-race consumption becomes all about eating whatever I can get into my hands.
One Serving First Endurance Ultragen Orange Creamsicle (320 calories)
Two Turkey Sandwiches
- 6-8 oz. sliced deli turkey
- Lettuce, tomato, onion & mustard
Two cups of Whole-Wheat Penne Pasta with Tomato Sauce
One Medium Apple
Two Servings EFS Electrolyte Drink Lemon Lime (192 calories)