As I mentioned in my last post, I had a big fuel problem at the Space Coast Marathon. During the two weeks after the marathon I was a bit bummed and did not care to talk about it much. When people saw me around town at cross country meets, group runs, and at the running store I cringed when they looked so excited and asked how it went. I think they were excited because they also knew how well prepared I was.
But I gave my standard short version recap of how it was pretty good through 20 miles then I just fell apart and struggled to finish. It almost felt like a script after explaining it to so many people. After Phil and I finished timing and scoring the county championship middle school cross country meet on December 10, we were headed out the gate to the parking lot and got stopped by a good friend who has completed many marathons, half marathons, and has done even more crazy stuff like Ironman and several half Ironman races.
Anyway, when I gave her the scripted recap of the race she then asked, (paraphrasing here) “you didn’t take any Gu?” When I answered “no” and continued to explain my intake of water and Gatorade, her jaw dropped and she looked shocked and amazed. I so wish I had a photo of her face at that moment! We laughed so hard at her reaction. It was the perfect mix of surprise and disbelief. As funny as that moment was, it really stuck with me and got me thinking…
I tried Gu way back in the mid to late 1990s when I was running lots of marathons and I thought it was so disgusting. The consistency was gross and the flavor about made me gag. But as with so many things…they can and do improve over time. I asked around about the flavors that my fellow endurance athlete friends preferred. I even tried eating Sharkies during a long run before I gave in to try Gu again. Although I love Sharkies – taste, consistency, healthy – everything about them! It was too much for my stomach to deal with during a run. I know people who can eat bananas and Clif Bars during training runs and long races; I am just not blessed with that type of iron stomach.
So, here we are on Sunday, December 18 at our group long run. I ran a 10K (about 8 miles total with warm up and cool down) the day before so I only planned to run 12 miles. I took half a packet of Gu with water at six miles. The run was supposed to be easy and I averaged 9:23 for the 12 miles but my last three miles were 8:47, 8:43, 8:24 and I felt pretty good. No stomach issues from the Gu and the Vanilla Bean flavor was not bad. Still not crazy about the consistency but there’s the incentive to get it down quickly! Tuesday and Thursday that week were pretty hard runs followed by acupuncture and massage for my knee and Achilles on Friday in preparation for Saturday’s 20 miler.
The Christmas Eve 20 miler ended up being an awesome group run at the preserve. I think we had over 20 people join in. The 20 miles took 2:54 for an average pace of about 8:44. I took a full Gu packet at mile 8 and mile 14 with water stops about every 3 miles. I felt great and knew I could run more if I had to. I ended the 20 miler with the last 3 miles in 8:34, 8:19, and 8:08. That never happens!
So, yes, I have given Gu a second chance and discovered its many benefits. I am a fan! And no longer wondering when my next marathon will be. Gu has worked so well for me in these two training runs that I signed up for the Five Points of Life Marathon on February 19, 2012. I will keep using it in training so I know exactly how much to use on race day. Fueling issues are now under control.