My IRONMAN Nutrition Recap

August 25, 2015

Earlier this month I completed my third Ironman in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.


It was a lovely venue with the most amazing finishing chute.  The race director and community do a fabulous job of pulling together a top notch event.  I highly recommend it and there are still spots left for next year!


Now that the dust has settled, I wanted to give a recap of my race day nutrition for those who are interested. I don’t usually write race reports, but if I did it would probably look like this anyway.


While none of my splits were PRs, I had a great day despite the conditions.  It was unseasonably hot and humid.  There was even a rumor that it was the hottest day of the year so far.  I was also lucky enough to be in the second to last wave, so I was on the bike course late enough to encounter wind on Rt.117.


Everyone has to deal with the conditions though, so one of my indicators of a successful race is whether or not I can run well and finish feeling great, which I’m happy to say I did! And as you might guess, I attribute this to having the right nutrition strategy.  For anyone who follows me, you know that the right strategy starts way before you toe the line, but for this post I will start with pre-race dinner.


6:30pm Pre-Race Dinner:
1 ½ pieces of grilled chicken
green beans & tomatoes sauteed in garlic and olive oil
small sweet potato with butter
⅔  cup brown rice


8:00pm: Protein shake
9:30pm: Bed time


4:30am Race Morning Breakfast:
2 eggs over easy
2 slices bacon
1 piece sprouted grain bread with butter and avocado 

calories: 390
cho: 17g
fiber: 6g
pro: 23g
fat: 26g
sodium: 413mg


6:30am (30 minutes prior to race start):  
2 scoops of Vanilla Cream UCAN in 10 oz water
calories: 200
cho: 36g
pro: 16g
sodium: 260mg
potassium: 260mg


Race Start: 6:57am
Swim: 1:10:33/8:07am
T1: 5:55/8:13am


Bike: 6:49:49/3:03pm
At about 1 hour into the bike, about 9:15am or 2:20 into the race, I had my first bottle of fuel.  Typically this bottle would be 3 scoops of UCAN (1 Vanilla cream + 2 tropical orange), but because I knew the weather would be pushing 90 degrees with high humidity I added an extra half scoop to each of my bottles.  So,  the first bottle was 1 scoop Vanilla cream + 2.5 scoops tropical orange.  I finished this entire bottle in about 30 minutes.  


At the beginning of my second loop, at about 12:15pm or 5:20 race time, I felt a little bit of belly hunger creeping in, and I knew the liquids wouldn’t satisfy this so I had a PocketFuel.


Shortly after my snack, it was time to fuel with my second bottle of UCAN, again finishing the entire bottle within about 30 minutes.


For additional electrolytes I took 1 Salt Stick tab with water every hour in addition to drinking water whenever I was thirsty.


My strategy made bike nutrition super easy, having both bottles of UCAN on my bike to start and using water from the aid stations allowed me to skip right over bike special needs and use that time to have a proper (much needed) pee stop instead.


Generation UCAN Bottles (each); consumed 2
calories: 300
cho: 68g
sugar: 3g
pro: 8g
sodium: 455mg
potassium: 368mg


Salt Stick (each); consumed 6
sodium: 215mg
potassium: 63mg


PocketFuel Banana Blueberry; consumed 1
calories: 169
cho: 12g
fiber: 3g
sugar: 5g
pro: 5g
fat: 13g
sodium: 38mg
potassium: 173mg


T2: 3:11/3:06pm
Took another pee break before heading out on my way.


Run: 4:09:23/7:15pm/12:18:51
On the run I also use UCAN and carry it out of T2 in two 5 oz gels flasks that I can put in my kit pocket for when I want it.  This race I was trying Base Salt for the first time for my run electrolytes.  I prepared two flasks of the salts, which fit very nicely in the gel loops on my race belt. My electrolyte plan would only require one flask, but I brought the second in anticipation of dumping lots of water on myself.  I wasn’t sure if the salts would get wet and how challenging it would be to use them if they did, so I brought the backup.


Coming out of T2 I started with the salt, water, and ice in my bra and mouth. It didn’t take me long to realize that I needed to increase the amount of salt I was taking in. It was hot so I was drinking more water and chewing a lot of ice. With the temps being where they were, that amount of water needed an increased amount of sodium to keep my fluids balanced.


My first fuel dosing was at about 30 minutes into run around 3:30pm or 8:30 race time.  I drank my first warm flask of 1.5 scoops of tropical orange UCAN and laughed to myself because I liked it! That thing was warming up for hours and it wasn’t even hard to get down at all.  Some might say that’s a sign I should be running (or biking) harder, but I think it’s more about the way in which I fuel that I don’t tire of taste and can always stomach my fuel when I need it.


I took the second UCAN flask when I was heading out of town to start the second loop of the run. It was just past 5:00pm or 10:00 race time.


Between fueling I kept chugging along and stayed on top of my electrolytes.  During the second loop I was thanking myself for bringing along the second flask of salt, because I finished the first one with about 10k to go.


I teach my clients to hold off on the aid station ‘shiny objects’ until the last minute possible. Allow your fueling plan to get you through the race feeling good and use those things for a late game pick me up.  In the last 5 miles if there is something that you think will give you a boost, go for it, but doing it any sooner is not usually wise.


I felt really good heading back to town and wanted to see if I could pick up the pace a bit for the last few miles. I decided to have some Gatorade at 5k out to see if it would give me a little boost. It’s really interesting and hard to put into words, but the minute I had it I knew it was a mistake.  Nothing bad happened (I didn’t feel a surge from it either), but I something within me said, don’t do that again. haha. So, I went back to my trusty Base Salt and water and kicked it in to a wild finish line crowd!


UCAN flask (each); consumed 2
calories: 120
cho: 30g
sugar: 2g
sodium: 195mg
potassium: 143mg


Base Salt (serving); consumed 10
sodium: 290mg
potassium: 2.6mg

Race Day Totals:
Race Day Nutrition