Testing Hammer Nutrition in Abu Dhabi International Triathlon

I wouldn't normally write a race report for what is considered our "local race".  I am this time around given that I was testing some new nutrition and tactics and the lessons learned could be of some value to others.

Overall, my time was disappointing, but I'm satisfied because of the number of new lessons learned and it was a good fitness test after a couple of months of bad illness and big work commitments.

Nutrition Strategy

ADIT was going to be my first event after I switched from the usual Gu gels to Hammer Nutrition.  I read a ton of research before making the switch, and found a lot of evidence that supported Hammer's unique approach to Nutrition (less is more, protein crucial for long sessions, etc.). Thanks Capt J for pointing me in that direction, I owe you one big time!!

My plan was as follows:

Breakfast: 2 scoops of Perpetuem (a mix of complex slow-burning carbs and protein) = 270 Kcal, 2 Saltstick before swim

Bike: 2 scoops of Perpetuem / hour = 6 scoops pre-mixed in water in 1 bottle. Saltsticks every 30 min

Run: 1 gel 15min intro run then coke/water

The Race

The Swim: 30min

My last 1.5k swim in a race was back at Mamzar Olympic in early Dec, where I swam 26 and change. I had no real expectations for ADIT though given I had swum less than 6 times in 2013 (5 weeks out with acute bronchitis then work/travel commitments).

I started the swim in ADIT in a comfortable position and kept a steady rhythm throughout. I didn't wear a watch as I knew my swim would be slow and I didn't want it to play with my head on the bike and make me push harder. I felt pretty comfortable coming out of the water and ran straight into transition. I had planned for a quick T1 but it was packed! Lost a bit of time there.

Bike: 3:06

My plan on the bike was to test the new nutrition strategy. And with my newfound love for running, I wanted to test my run as well, so the plan was to keep the bike at 80% of HRMax the whole time (I train with power on hometrainer but race with HR). 

The plan was well implemented from a pacing point of view, I think, as I stayed at 80pct in the headwinds and tailwinds, with an overtaking/overtaken ratio of about 15/1.

Nutrition-wise, plan was: sip of Perpetuem every 20min (1/3 of bottle / hour), Saltsick every 30min, and 600ml of water/hour.

First mistake: when taking Perpetuem, you need more water, 600ml won't cut it.

Second mistake: with the strong winds, I couldn't monitor my sweat rate, so I under-hydrated

Third mistake: when cramps started creeping up in my quads in the last 10k, I thought I was running low on electrolytes, so I popped 2 more Saltsticks. Big mistake as it exacerbated an already bad case of dehydration.

By the 90km mark, I was averaging 33.2kph, shooting for 34kph, after the cramps kicked in, my pace fell off and I ended up at 32.3kph for 100k.

Bottom line on Hammer Perpetuem: fantastic product. Energy stayed steady and good throughout. Never went through the boom/bust of regular gels, no stomach problems, overall very satisfied and will definitely continue using it.

When I got home and did my calculations, I realized I had only taken in 500ml of water / hr on avg. Stupid stupid stupid!

Run: 1:02

Got to T2, and someone had unhooked my bags and dropped them on the bench. Some of the stuff in my run bag had spilled out and I had to dive under the bench looking for my Garmin. 

When I stood up, I felt the first cramp attack in my quads, which locked up badly. I hobbled over and got onto the run course. I just gritted and forced myself to run, first 1k at 5:45 pace, and I figured if I could maintain that then negative split on the return I should be at least around the 0:55 mark. 

ummm, didn't happen that way. My quads started locking up every 500m, and soon my run turned into a combination of hobbling, walking, grimacing, cursing, and taking more Saltsticks (see a trend there?), which made things even worse. 

For some stupid reason, it didn't occur to me that I was dehydrated until the 6km mark. I downed everything I could at the aid station and soon found myself running again at around 6min/k feeling I could run to the finish, and I did. 

I didn't feel too tired at the end, just in bad pain from cramps and dehydrated, so Perpetuem really worked well.

Total: 4:48.

So, nutrition lessons learned:

1. when you're covered in salt, no urge to pee, cramping, and suspecting dehydration: YOU ARE DEHYDRATED, DUH!!

2. and when you are dehydrated, DON'T TAKE MORE SALT, DOUBLE DUH!

Well, at least I know where I stand fitness-wise and where I need to focus for Roth.

Big shoutout to my team-mates who were all superb out there on the course, and congrats on some massive performances. Chicago, Higzy, National: Yawza!!!

Oh and by the way, I drank over 3 litres of water post-race and waited by the phone for mother nature of call. She didn't call till midnight. DUH!

Till the next one...