Learning from my Mistakes

As many of you know, I am again training for IRONMAN Wisconsin.  I participated in IRONMAN Wisconsin 2011 and crossed the finish line, but in a less than desirable state.  As a result, I feel it is important to look back on my experiences from my IMWI race day in 2011 so I don’t make the same mistakes again.  What was my biggest mistake???  Hyponatremia…a condition when the sodium in your blood is abnormally low.  While anything can happen on race day, I don’t ever want to relive hyponatremia.

So…What happened?

On race day, it was sunny, 84 degrees with wind speeds as high as 16 mph from the SW.  While this isn’t ridiculous midwest summer weather, it was warmer than I had planned for.  I drank plenty of water…a little too much actually.  I didn’t take in enough salt tablets or salty foods while on the bike.  I finished the race, but I don’t remember the last 90 minutes on the bike or the entire marathon (which I mostly walked…6 1/2 hours).  As a matter of fact, I don’t remember much until about 1 pm the next day and what I do remember is foggy…imagine getting completely intoxicated, waking up the next morning and having spotty memories from the night before wondering if “that really happened” or if you are imagining it.

What did I learn?

  1. Too much water can be a very bad thing.
  2. Many of the symptoms of hyponatremia and dehydration are the same, which can make proper diagnosis difficult.
  3. I did not have enough sodium in my nutrition plan on race day at IMWI 2011.
  4. I need to develop a different nutritional plan for IMWI 2014.
  5. I need to practice with a variety of fuel sources.

mistakes are progress

What will I do differently in 2014?

  1. I will try to incorporate solid food while on the bike.  In 2011, I only used liquid calories (Carbo-Pro), which did not contain much salt and I did not do a good job on race day of supplementing with salt tablets.  I am starting to practice with these now while on the trainer to see how my stomach responds to them.  This will give me about 7 months to practice and adjust as needed.
  2. I will try a variety of fuel sources during training and smaller races throughout the year…I am not going to stick with only one fuel source this year.
  3. I will develop a different nutritional plan for race day in 2014 that has multiple levels to it.  My nutritional plan will have possible strategies for different weather, different moods (what I feel like consuming), etc…if plan A doesn’t work, go to plan B or C and so on.  If it is hot, try this…if it is cold, try that.  You get the idea 🙂

What I DO know…

  1. I do know that I am lactose intolerant and anything with whey protein upsets my stomach, so I will need to avoid fuel sources that use whey protein.
  2. I do know that I need more sodium than what I used in 2011.  If I continue to use Carbo-Pro, I will need to supplement it with salt tablets or additional fuel sources containing sodium as Carbo-Pro does not have sodium in it.
  3. I do know that my body does not respond well to caffeine (accelerated heart rate, excessive sweating, twitchy muscles, etc.), so I will need to find fuel sources that do not have caffeine in them.
  4. I do know that I have struggled with solid foods on the bike in the past.  For some reason, my body struggles to digest the food and it feels as though someone has put jagged rocks in my gut.  I am willing and not afraid to try solid foods again and hopefully find a solution or two that will work.
  5. I do know that I did have some success in 2013 incorporating Oreo cookies into my nutritional plan for my 1/2 IRONMAN races, so that is a starting place for 2014…

Finding a nutritional plan (with back-up options) will be an ongoing experiment for me this year…good thing I am a science teacher and enjoy a good experiment!!

Errors are stepping stonesWhat struggles have you encountered while racing and how have you overcome them?