What to Eat Before an Endurance Race

So you’ve decided to tackle an endurance race—maybe a marathon or half marathon, maybe a triathlon, century ride, all-day hike, or some other multi-hour effort. Of the many tough decisions you’ll make that day, one of the first is: What should you eat for breakfast?

There’s only one right answer, in a sense, and that is: Whatever you practiced during your training. Race day is not the time to try anything new, because you’ll be living with the consequences for several (possibly agonizing) hours. Still, you have to start somewhere, so here are some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind to prepare the best breakfasts.

Source: What to Eat Before an Endurance Race

Here are the rules that can’t be stressed enough:

  1. NO SURPRISES ON RACE DAY.  That includes finding out what type of gels or drinks they might be handing out. Find out in advance, try out in advance.
  2. It’s very personal.  Some like gels, some do not.  Vice versa.  There’s no wrong answer, just what works for you.

For me, gels take a while to kick in.  And it really depends on what what I’ve eaten and how soon.  Which is great – knowing that, I can take one before getting in the water so it hits when I’m on the bike.  But I was finding myself quite parched when I got to running – and it’s been hard to drink water while on the run.

Your mileage may vary 😉

Sick Of Doping? Get Off The Internet, Get Off The Couch, And Run A Race

Yes, I get it, everyone’s doping and no one cares. About doping. But there’s a huge disconnect between what is happening at the top level of the sport and what is happening in my hometown, and I would guess, other people’s hometowns too. Which is running. Competition. Running races is fun and people care about it; it’s not smarmy and tedious—see the difference?

Source: Sick Of Doping? Get Off The Internet, Get Off The Couch, And Run A Race

A list of Minnesota runners without mention of Dick Beardsley?

A Road Map for Taking Your Running to the Next Level

When you laced up your shoes for the first time, you probably had a short term goal in mind: Finish this run. Do it again soon. Maybe work up to a short race. But if you like running, you’ll need a road map that takes you farther into the future. Here’s how to figure out what that goal is—and then get there.

Source: A Road Map for Taking Your Running to the Next Level

Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to eventually run a marathon. I’ve been running long enough to know that I’m not really interested in the training I’d need to race a marathon.  Same goes for triathlon – I have no interest in doing a half-iron or more (3/4 iron is becoming popular).  It’s the constant question I find when people engage about my hobby/interest.  I’m happy for those who do, but I could do without the people who can’t respect my decision or feel that I should have the same goal(s) as them.

Save Your Silver Blanket to Stay Warm Before Your Next Race

Make like Macklemore and “pop some tags” at your local thrift store. You can find old hoodies, sweatpants, jeans, and more for bargain prices. Can’t make it to your local shop? Just dive into the depths of your closet for items you haven’t touched in years. Most races will collect clothes left at the start to donate to charity.

Source: The Best Throwaway Gear to Stay Warm Before a Race

If you’re going to sport a bath robe, don’t forget the slippers …or a mug of coffee …and a paper.  Maybe some curlers…  I know someone who calls the space/thermal blanket “potato blanket”, like how you wrap potatoes in foil.

How to Prepare for Your First Race, Whether It’s a 5K or a Marathon

Running is hard. Sticking to a training plan is hard. But knowing that you have a race in a month is a great motivator to keep you going when you’d rather be watching TV. If you’ve never run a race before, putting one on your calendar might seem scary: Will I feel out of place? What should I wear?

Source: How to Prepare for Your First Race, Whether It’s a 5K or a Marathon

Most big races will have signs with a pace so you know where to stand.  That goes for cycling too.  Sadly, there will be twits who seed themselves in a pace group that is too high for some odd reason.  Depending on your speed, you’ll know them because you will pass them because they burnt themselves out.  I see it a lot in the swim in triathlons, because they’re the ones breast stroking.  It makes sense in cyclocross racing – being at the front means you’re through a choke point that can make a world of difference in the overall race.

Pace groups can be awesome for motivation. They can be very supportive, encouraging, and helpfully distracting. Obviously the attitude differs depending on the pace and on the personality of the pace group leader.  In cycling, things like sportifs and Grand Fondo’s, pace groups can be very small and change quickly as people either fall off the back or someone is joining the group from being dropped from a faster group.  But there’s a lot of benefit to being in the draft of a cycling group, just take a shorter pull if you need to.

I’ve also used pace groups just to help keep track of where I am without needing a watch. I like to position myself between two groups: as long as I stay ahead of the slower one, I’m happy. This is mentally easier (for me) than trying to keep up with a specific group.

Race Report

This is marks the 9th week of the recovery from my broken rib & fractures…

The Swim

This was the first open water swim triathlon of the season for me.  I’d gotten two open water swims in prior to, but not at the location.  The water was 20.2 C, making it wetsuit optional.  The previous year, it was 17 C.  I think I was the only one, Sprint or Standard/Olympic, that swam without a wetsuit.

I looked at how people were setting up, and opted to take the inside track.  The rest were going to be swimming more distance to the first bouy, because they were swim at an angle.  It meant that I didn’t have to fight with people, and I am not in a position where I can take a smack.  But it meant that I had no draft, and no motivation.  The result was my worst open water 750 m time to date – 17:34.  To date, I’d completed the swim in under 14 minutes.  My best was 13:30…

Admittedly, I’ve only resumed swimming in the last 3 weeks.  There’s numerous aspects to why my time was so bad.  At this point, I have no ability to see improvement in the pool – we switch to open water swimming in a week.

Transition (T1) and The Bike

It was uphill all the way out of the water.  Even the bike racks were on an angle.  My T1 time is pretty consistent at ~2 minutes.  Part of that is because I put on socks and shoes.  Running in shoes can make rough ground much more tolerable so you can run faster, cutting down the advantage that having the shoes on the bike might provide.

It was uphill to the mount line, and the line was not immediately at the road as I believe it was last year.  The course was constrained to using only one lane (more about what can disqualify you below), so the space for the mount line was less than half the lane.  It was two bikes/people wide, at best.  It was a nightmare.  Besides the people anxious to get around you at any point, you had cycling traffic from people already on the course.  They were yelling to run past the mount line in hopes of alleviating the bunching, and it did not work.  I don’t imagine everyone was as lucky as I was.

I’d ridden the course a couple of months back.  Some of it I knew by heart, as I grew up in the area.  This is probably the roughest pavement anyone will ever ride.  Also, I remember the hills used to be so much steeper when I was a kid 😉

I knew spots to capitalize on, and what was coming.  What I could not foresee was the congestion.  There’s not supposed to be any, due to the no-drafting rules at this level of competition.  Either you overtake, and the person you overtook has to fall back or vice versa.  That’s what’s supposed to happen.  But at least twice on hills, I rode on the yellow line to get around people who were riding 3 abreast.  On one occasion, I heard someone shout about the fact that going over the line is an automatic disqualification (DQ).  But the reality of triathlon is there’s basically no marshal to enforce this, or they’d have had to talk to the people 3 abreast I got around (which merits only a warning and eventual DQ).  I’ve experienced people who would not surrender position as they should in other triathlons.  I could have shouted at the idiots, but it’s a waste of energy to me that I’d prefer to use to cycle/compete.

Hills are always my chance to capitalize.  Triathlon, at least the ones I’ve participated in to date, do not tend to have real hills – sustained climbs.  Part of that is likely because of the bike weights and general rider ability I figure.  The competitive threat to me is the people who are decent cyclists, in tuck/aero position for the downhills.  Currently they’re in a better position that I am, but it only lasts until the next hill.

Eventually a few of us were trading spots (no drafting).  But then my chain started slipping/skipping.  I thought it was just the high gears, but I’ve since encountered it on a lower gear.  It was incredibly annoying, but might have been good for me – I opted for easier gears than I would have mashed in, so I might have been approaching “spinning” and thus doing speed with less effort/better efficiency.

The stats say I was 12th fastest overall on the bike course for the Sprint (10th for my gender), with a 33.12 KM/h average.  I was second in my age/gender category.

Transition (T2) and The Run

What goes up, must come down.  It was downhill to the bike rack, and to the transition exit to start the run.  There wasn’t anything of note about T2 that I can remember.  Time was 1:44 minutes.

I haven’t been running, and to add to injury – the start of the run was a winding uphill.  Foolishly, I tried to look like I could run until out of sight.  My lungs paid for it – they didn’t recover until around the 2 KM mark, and still continued to get better.  My 5 KM run time was 35:14.


What I’ve lost while recovering from the ribs shows.  1h 36 minutes is ~10 minutes difference to all my races to date, and primarily in both of my weaker areas as well as areas I could not train in.  I’m not that surprised about the run time – it might not even be my worst run time.  But given the circumstances, it played a role in how relaxed I was about this race.  A friend and fellow competitor mentioned their surprise at my lack of anxiety.

Post Race Meal

This race always provides me with the ability to visit an old friend, who made me lunch.  I had delicious curried chicken on rice with black turtle beans, and watermelon.  Lemon cheesecake with blueberry sauce.  There was no time for pictures… 😉

I asked if I could lick the plate, and got the response: “Not in front of the cat!” 😀