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Day 87 – Nutrition Story

I’m still not sure how I will handle the nutrition end of the impending big race which is only 88 days away. The other day, I was bitching about how difficult it is to get together a good race nutrition plan. I was so upset, I dropped my box of Krispy Kremes.

Today, I want to relate to you a nutrition story from 2013.

Stewart was not one of our usual training partners. His bad knees forced him away from triathlon, but he still rode his bike a lot. On one particular Saturday morning, early in the season, Stewart and his friend Terry were out riding with us in the far reaches of Sampson County which, by the way, is pretty far from any convenient food sources unless you like picking blueberries.

At an intersection of two lonely county roads near Ivanhoe, NC we stopped for a short break and that’s when I thought I had found the answer to all my race nutrition questions.

Everyone pulled out their nutrition of choice: gels for me, liquid stuff for Mike, and crackers or Crustables for Marty. While we were happily refueling, Mike noticed that Stewart and Terry were eating something from a piece of foil and the conversation that followed changed my whole mind about nutrition for that year.

What Stewart and Terry were eating were balls of rice mixed with various proteins like bacon or something that looked like it. We learned that these rice balls were becoming a popular way for endurance athletes to fuel and they made so much sense, because it’s real food and it tastes good and it’s cheap and it’s easy to make.

This discovery was so exciting. Mike may have actually bought a book with recipes for these rice balls. In fact, I probably borrowed it, because within two days of that ride, my refrigerator was full of rice balls. I trained with them for the rest of the season, right up to the big race, IRONMAN Lake Placid.

Because I knew I would not have a rice maker in the hotel at Lake Placid, I made a bunch of rice balls ahead of time. A cooler was used to hold the stash during travel and the plan was to transfer the rice balls from the cooler to the hotel refrigerator once we arrived.

It was near mile 50 of the bike on the big day when I realized that I hadn’t followed my plan. While pulling out a foil wrapped rice ball from my trisuit pocket, something didn’t seem right. I was hungry and couldn’t be bothered with little nagging thoughts of doubt. With smooth precision, the rice ball was skillfully unwrapped while I peddled the bike up Mama Bear hill.

Before my mouth closed around the first bite, I figured out what was wrong. I forgot to put the rice balls in the refrigerator three days earlier. The cooler had since lost its ice and I hadn’t even noticed when I put the rice balls in the transition bag that morning. As quickly as that rotten rice ball went in, it came out all over the road.

I haven’t tried the rice balls since then. Maybe it’s time I revisit them.

Until tomorrow…

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