Burnout in Florida: How Old Habits Cost Me IM70.3 Florida

I couldn’t be more excited getting back into racing this year. First on my docket was IM70.3 Florida in Haines City on April 18th, 2021. I left Fayetteville early to get to Haines City and settle in with plenty of time that Thursday. Leading up to race day, I thought I was doing everything right. The day before the race I had a big breakfast, a lighter lunch, and a dinner of chicken and vegetables, while snacking on gummy bears throughout the day (ok and maybe one beer…for luck). 

The morning of the race, I ate an egg, an avocado, and a banana and was feeling pretty good going into the swim start. Usually, I eat a Gu every 45 minutes to an hour after exiting the swim and leading up to the run. Throw in a stroopwaffel somewhere on the bike ride for good measure, and that typically sets me up well to finish strong on the run. My setup was no different on race morning. 

Pre swim, one Gu. Post swim, one Gu. One hour down on a windy bike ride, another Gu. Maybe it was the humidity, or the fact that I accidentally put two Gatorade bottles on my bike instead of one Gatorade, one water, but coming up on hour two of the bike, nothing sounded less appealing than a mouthful of Gu. I was feeling fine still so I thought, “Let me just turn out of this headwind and I’ll eat my next gel.” I kept delaying and delaying until I looked at my watch and saw I was approaching almost 1:45 hours of no intake. I knew I needed to, but I fell into my comfort zone that has cost me two marathons before: I feel fine, so I’ll just wait until I don’t. This thought pattern got me two years in a row on the All American Marathon when I was averaging 8:06 minute miles on no nutrition up to mile 20. Hitting that wall resulted in both years ending up with an overall average of almost 9-minute miles. Since then, I have been deliberate about nutrition intake during races.

But not this time. By the time I feel hunger pains, I know it’s too late and irrecoverable. But that’s exactly what happened on bike dismount as I moved into the transition area. Throwing my running shoes on, I forced another Gu down but I knew it was too late. I was two Gus and a stroopwaffel down from my usual intake, and while my brain said that was insignificant, my body told me otherwise. Things came to a crashing halt on mile two of the run. It was 91 degrees out and high humidity. I didn’t take into account the amount of salt I was losing, so I didn’t even tap in to my salt tablets on my race belt. I would try and run from aid station to aid station, but less than a quarter mile of running and my engine was sputtering and I was back to a sad walk. I knew I had blown it. It took me almost as long to run the 13.1 miles as it did to cycle 56. Talk about a humbling experience.

My overconfidence got the best of me this time. I fell back into my old habits of no nutrition and just assuming I could power through it and catch my second wind. That didn’t happen. I was happy to finish the race, but I was disappointed that I had made such a foolish mistake that cost me what I was hoping to be a PR. It was a humbling reminder that I need to be consistent and deliberate with on course nutrition. The outcome of the race literally depends on it. This lesson will be on the forefront of my mind heading into IM70.3 Gulf Coast. I’ll be looking for some redemption, and in the mean time, placing a bulk order of stroopwaffels… 

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