Tag Archives: energy gels

Honu 70.3 Finisher!

I crossed the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (AKA Honu 70.3) finish line! Since then I have had and continue to have so many different thoughts and emotions about this race. I imagine I’ll post at least few times about it. For now I’ll share my race results and sort of recap each leg of the race.

The results:

Swim (1.2 miles) — 50:56

Bike (56 miles) — 3:20:04

Run (13.1 miles) — 1:58:35

Overall (70.3 miles) — 6:20:21


I definitely struggled with the swim. I have a hard time sighting the buoys and swimming in a straight line. I’m sure I swam more than the necessary 1.2 miles because of these shortcomings. (I don’t know my actual distance because I don’t use my Garmin in the water.) I was pretty late coming out of the water. Oh but the water, the water was absolutely beautiful! I could see the bottom of the ocean! The sky was blue and the temperature was practically perfect.


The bike was extremely challenging. The place where we mounted was on a very steep incline so I (along with lots of others) had a hard time with the start. In fact for a couple of seconds I thought something was wrong with my bike because I couldn’t seem to pedal! Then at some point way too soon — I can’t remember when exactly — I began dealing with the notorious crosswinds. I do know I felt them as soon as I made it to the famous Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway — we actually ride part of the Ironman World Championship course — but I seem to recall encountering them almost as soon as I got past the steep incline. Whatever actually happened, these crosswinds are a big reason why this course is one of the hardest in the world. The winds are so strong bikes will slant over to one side while going straight. There were a few times when I truly felt like the wind was going to blow me off the road. (Seriously, picture scenes from “The Wizard of Oz!”) And they don’t seem to give any warning when they’ll blow. At times right when I think it’s relatively calm enough and I’m stable enough to grab my water bottle or a Clif shot, they hit me, and wham or even double or triple wham I’m holding on tight! Proper hydration and nutrition are so important while racing. The heat and humidity make these components even more critical for Honu 70.3. I’m not the most coordinated person either so trying to:

  • drink,
  • down an energy gel or
  • actually eat a Clif bar


  • balancing myself on my bike,
  • bracing for winds,
  • navigating among other cyclists (without breaking any rules)
  • maintaining somewhat good form,

and oh yes shifting gears and pushing myself as hard as possible is “somewhat” challenging for me.

And WOW! I actually saw Lance Armstrong! I like to say, “I passed Lance on the bike!” Granted he was riding in the other direction well beyond the halfway point, and I was at something like mile 15. The cyclist right next to me yelled, “he makes it look so easy.” I completely agree. To see him in action was very, very cool. He’s truly impressive!


The run was hard but not for the reasons I imagined while training. I thought once I put on my running shoes, consume a Clif shot and head out of transition I would feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to run 13.1 miles. The distance didn’t bother me though. I told myself, “I’ve got this run down. Just tick off the miles.” And the miles didn’t seem long until I was around mile 10.5, that is. That’s when my mind and heart wanted to go faster to finish strong and hard but my legs didn’t cooperate. I was able to pick it up but not nearly as much as I’d like. What made the run hard was the brutal wind and sun. My hat blew off at least once, and I had to hold it down with my hands a few times — not the best form for running. I felt the sun beating down on my arms and its intensity seemed to increase over time.

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Food 4 Thought: 3

For as long as I can remember I’ve always sought out delicious food.  I used Chowhound (before it was acquired); I subscribe to Eater; and I let the James Beard Foundation, other food experts and recommendations from foodies influence where MLH and I dine next.  What’s interesting is now that I’m well into training for my upcoming races, depending on the training session 20%-50% of my daily calories consist of energy gels, protein bars, recovery drinks, pre-training meals, nutrition drinks/smoothies and hydration liquids.  I think manufacturers of these products have come a long way in terms of nutrition content and even taste.  These days I feel as though my meals are on two opposite ends of the spectrum:  pure nutrition to prepare for training, help endure my training and recover from my training versus meals to savor.  (Yes at times I have to resort to a frozen meal or crappy food.  Those are the only meals/snacks I dread consuming.)  Both training grub and delicious food give me great satisfaction for very different reasons.

Some of my Training Grub:

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Food 4 Thought: 1

Here’s the thing.  I know the basics of managing my nutrition during training and races for sprint and olympic distance triathlons.   I know after extensive workouts (including two-a-days) I need to recover with the right mix of carbohydrates, potassium, sodium and protein.  I know I need to consume a certain number of energy gels during long workouts and races.  I know I need to replenish my body with electrolytes.  I know eating fries and a burger before I workout (whether it’s the night before or earlier in the day) will cause a crappy session.  And yes I do know I have a lot more to learn.

To start I want to learn more about the body’s sensitivity to different foods during racing season and actual training sessions.

The other night I treated myself to a Starbucks Petite Cake Pop, the Peppermint Brownie Cake.

Silly me, I thought, “oh it’s a petite dessert; filled with only 170 calories.  It’s not a big deal.”  Whatever!  I came crashing down about an hour later, and felt it the next day during my workout.  Why did I feel this small, little, seemingly harmless dessert?  Was it psychological?  Was it a shock to my body?  I’ve been trying to eat more healthy for a while so maybe my body isn’t used to such sweets?  (Note: The bar for eating “more healthy” is pretty low since I’ve been known to eat dessert several times a week and chow down on burgers, pizza and fries on a regular basis.  And don’t get me started on my love for cheese!)  Perhaps my body is demanding more of the right kind of nutrients during my workouts and the cake pop actually hindered the supply.  I’m not sure what the explanation is.

And last night I consumed pasta with shrimp and crab with a touch of  butter.  I thought “oh I’m eating pasta; that’s great!”  Well I didn’t sleep well at all.  Did I eat too much? Was the seafood not sitting well with me?  Maybe I should have skipped the lemon garlic butter.  Proper rest is critical for everybody, and for an endurance athlete it’s even more important.  I did not get enough sleep last night and I’m feeling it now.

I do try to think twice before treating myself to a dessert or other delicious – aka unhealthy – foods.  I don’t want to mess up my next workout.  In fact I want to do what I can to ensure I have a great session!  And I want to make sure my body doesn’t damage itself during training and can recover properly afterwards.

One other thing I’ll tell you I know: I know “knowing,” “wanting” and “doing” are three very different concepts.

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