Lack of Quality Control – Fueling Blunder

Three miles into the run following a long bike ride Sunday morning I knew I was in trouble and I was in a downward spiral from there. This stemmed from one error before I even started the workout. Today I’ll share my experience along with a tip to help prevent this in the future.

My weekend plans changed when The Great Floridian Multisport Festival was canceled Saturday due to unsafe weather conditions. The race was to serve as my final tune up event prior to the USAT Duathlon Long Course National Championships in three weeks via Miami, FL. When the race was canceled early Saturday morning I immediately texted my buddy, Bob Brown, to see if he would be interested in doing a mock duathlon Sunday morning. Bob is also competing in the championship in three weeks. He was interested so we set our plans to meet first thing at Fort Desoto North Beach.

With my gear prepared for the race Saturday I didn’t have much to prepare for the Sunday trial workout. What still remained was preparing my bottles to fuel me on the bike. I use two products for long distances. The first is Hammer Perpetuem and the second is Precision Hydration.

As it reads from Hammer’s description of their product, Perpetuem, “its unique blend and precise ratios of complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fat, and key auxiliary nutrients allow you to stay strong and steady from start to finish.” As noted this product has helped fuel me to maintain energy for long durations and I’ve found it mild on my stomach.

Precision Hydration is “designed to help you start hydrated (and stay that way once you’re sweating, if you’re a heavy/salty sweater)” as they describe. I took their their salt test in Orlando earlier this year and it validated my hypothesis that not only am I a heavy sweater but I’m also a high salt loser. With that information they have a product to match the salt loss specific to my needs. I use the PH 1500.

Along with with having success this summer training long with these two fluid products I’ve also had success consuming bananas, Lara Bars, and Hammer Gels. I’ve used the banana after my first run transitioning to the bike, Lara Bars on the bike ride to ensure I’m getting enough calories per hour along with the fluids, and the Hammer Gels on the final run.

I was coming off consecutive weekends where my long runs after the long rides felt really good. I was feeling confident with my plan for Miami. That came to a screeching halt Sunday. I blew up on the run and it was bad. How did this happen?

Backing up to Sunday morning, the alarm went off at 4:30 AM. I had everything packed and ready to load the truck with the exception of my fluids. Those I mix the morning of a workout or race unless I’m freezing bottles the night before. In this case I did not freeze them as I don’t think I’ll be able to freeze my bottles in Miami. As with most things I want to practice with what I’m using in the race.

I mixed the Perpetuem bottle first. This bottle as you see in the blog photo is horizontal as it rests in the front portion of the bike with the straw lifted upright so cyclists can simply duck their head down to sip from the bottle. The challenge with transporting this this bottle from home to a training location or race is you have to load it into the cooler carefully or the drink can run out of the straw bleeding into the cooler. This is problematic for several reasons. With that in mind I rested the bottle to the side of the sink so I would load it last on top carefully.

I mixed my Precision Hydration bottles, loaded them into the cooler followed by extra bottles of water and a recovery drink for after the workout. What I failed to do was the final step of carefully loading the Perpetuem bottle in the cooler. Off I went to meet Bob at Fort DeSoto.

After I pulled up I began preparing for the workout including placing my bottles on the bike. I then realized the bottle of Perpetuem was left at home. I quickly made some calculations in my head to see how I could make up for the loss in calories and fluids. My plan was to consume an additional bottle of Precision Hydration and two additional Lara Bars while on the bike.

Bob and I completed our first two mile run and had a strong 50 mile ride. Near the end of the bike effort I ensured I finished my bottles, Lara Bars, and a salt pill. When I got off the bike I didn’t feel depleted. On the contrary I felt a bit too full and a tad bloated. At this point I didn’t realize what would transpire next.

As we quickly secured our bikes we set out for a 10 mile run looping back to our vehicles to grab anything we would need every three miles finishing with a one mile effort. As we left I felt a sensation I had not felt this year and I really can’t remember when I felt this way. I felt the dreaded sloshing feeling where you can literally feel and hear the fluids moving in the stomach. I hoped this would dissolve but it did not. For the first three miles I kept a pace I was aiming for and made it back to the truck.

I took some sips of Gatorade as that is what Miami will have at the run aid stations. I’m practicing consuming it on these types of runs recently as I normally don’t drink it. I quickly set out for lap two and like a ton of bricks falling from the sky, my body began to shut down. The sloshing continued, my legs felt like I was wearing 10 pound ankle weights, and my head began to feel fuzzy. I knew I was in trouble.

When realizing what was happening and knowing why, I transitioned my goal for the remainder of the run. It was simply to battle through and hope I could use some of the battling techniques in Miami if something similar would happen there. I battled through the next three miles and much of that was due to Bob’s encouragement after he soon caught me.

We set out for the third of the three mile loops with Bob now out in front looking steady and strong. I made it to 7.3 miles and at that point I knew I could not put my body in jeopardy and shut it down. This is a really important lesson I’ve learned. There is a difference between pushing your body to limits and enduring pain vs. pushing your body to limits when there is something more going on. It’s so important to know the difference and pull the plug when the signs are there.

It took me most of the day to recover. I was battling a pretty deep headache, an achy body and some nausea. This was quite the downer after following the two previous weekend tests and only three weeks out from Miami. After reflecting throughout the day it really emphasized again the point of how fragile our bodies can be when not fueling properly, especially in the Florida heat we are still experiencing. Just two weeks earlier on one of those really good runs I neglected to take a final gel in the final cool down portion of the run and quickly faded at the end.

I will have a final modified mock duathlon this Saturday to test my fueling strategy. My body is just about ready for Miami but I have to fuel effectively to race well. My plan is to be 100% ready to roll strategically, physically, nutritionally, and with an edge come race day. This is why we do mock races…learn, learn, and learn. And I learn a lot from mistakes I make and successes I have.

Three weeks ago before a race I left my transition bag with my helmet and cycling shoes at home (they were packed) and yesterday it was my fuel. I actually laughed at myself when I left home Sunday morning that I packed my transition bag. Like I wasn’t going to make that mistake again…not knowing I made another huge error.

Tip for myself going forward is to do a final sweep of my common area and kitchen before I leave home.  Taking one extra minute will save me many aches…

– Add Health to Your Life



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