To GU or not to GU, that is the question…
Whether ’tis nobler to hit the wall
or take on possible stomach issues
That is the thought that ran through my mind for nearly 13 miles of my run on Sunday. I have been a little gun-shy of ingesting anything other than liquid refreshment during my runs since my stomach disaster in New York back in November. That experience, though mildly triumphant, was physical misery.
I knew I was going to have to make a few adjustments for Boston.
The first adjustment I made coming out of New York was to give in to Gatorade. It was not my preference, but I knew that if I didn’t want to carry anything (i.e. a water bottle) at Boston, that meant I would have to take what they were serving. That transition went easily enough. I have to say, as much as it pains me to admit it, I have grown to actually like Gatorade.
But how many calories am I really going to be able to replace with a sip or two of Gatorade every mile? Sure, I’ll be fine with the hydration aspect of the race, but if I don’t replace the carbs at a higher rate (8oz. of Gatorade has only 50 calories), it will be sooner rather than later that I hit the wall.
And yet, I put off incorporating any kind of gel or gu or semi-solid substance into my long runs.
I have been training hard this cycle. I’ve seen improvement and am feeling confident. Unfortunately, that confidence has been feeding into pushing off my GU dilemma. With each successive long run, I was finding that I was running faster, drinking less and feeling better and less fatigued at the end of each. I tried to convince myself that maybe I could just run Boston without any help. All of my runs of 17 – 20 miles have me ahead of pace, and for almost all of them, I’ve felt strong at the end. In one recent 18 miler, I drank a total of maybe 3 or 4 oz of Gatorade and that was it – and I felt great at the end.
I almost convinced myself. Almost.
What happens if I hit the wall at 23 or 24 or 25? Once you hit the wall, you’re done. Oh, you can still finish the race (see my marathon debut), but if you truly hit the Wall, it’s a death march the rest of the way, even if you do take something afterward. After the Wall, you aren’t gonna hit your target time.
And that thought haunts me.
How pissed would I be if I were cruising along to a 3:15, or dare I say it, a 3:10, and my body ran out of fuel somewhere in the last 10K?
So yesterday, with just over 3 weeks to go, I decided I would suck it up and re-introduce GU into my running.
Truth be told, I almost left them in the car, for fear of getting stomach cramps 10 miles away, but I thought better of it.
Now it became a question of when. Most gel-makers recommend taking one 15 minutes before race time and then once every 45-60 minutes thereafter.
I didn’t take one before my run.
When I hit 6 miles 45 minutes later, I didn’t take one.
When I hit 12 miles at 1:32 I still didn’t take one. I kept thinking, what if I get nauseous?
I realized that New York was playing with my mind.
I just had to do it.
So at mile 13, a full 1:39 after starting my run, I finally downed a Lemon-Lime GU.
And you know what? It wasn’t so bad – I’ll just have to make sure that I time it with a hydration station during the actual race – and maybe the GU had something to do with being able to rip off a 6 minute mile for mile 20.
So now I have to figure out just how many GU’s I will need. I’m leaning toward only bringing 2 with me – one for mile 10, and one for mile 20.
Any words of advice?
Why do you run?
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