London to Brighton – Post Script

Posted: October 11, 2012 in Races 2012, September
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I just wanted to do a short post script about the nutrition and gear I used for London to Brighton. On both these fronts I was ultra (if you’ll pardon the pun) prepared, bringing three sets of clothes/runners and buying a whole heap of food (that I never used).

 Starting with gear, I went with my Brooks Cascadia trail runners as my footwear of choice. I’ve had these for some time now and found them to be perfect for mixed terrain running – I’ve done plenty of miles in them on the road as well as trails, bogs, fields, mountains, rivers. You name it, I’ve probably ran on it in these. The only area where they come up short is on rocks where they lack a little grip, especially in the wet. Apart from that though they’re fantastic, a real Jack of all trades. As the weather in England had seen a whole lot of rain in the week leading up to London to Brighton I brought two other pairs of runners in case my Cascadias were completely soaked, or in case there was a lot of climbing/rocky stuff (Salomon XT-Wings Advanced) or smoother surfaces (Brooks Glycerines). In the end though my Cascadias and trusty Hilly Twin Skin socks saw me through the entire day.

Moving upwards from there I went with my old reliable Under Armor compression shorts with Nike Dri-Fit shorts over the top, while on top I went with Nike Pro-Combat compression top and New Balance high-viz long sleeved top. Once again I had multiple changes ready to go but the first set I went with worked perfectly for the day, from the very chilly start in pitch darkness, through the beautiful sunny day right up to the blustery grey finish (for me at least) in the afternoon. I had a Nike Dri-Fit jacket tucked away in my bag in case of any downpours but never had cause to crack it out.

 Speaking of bags, my Camelbak Octane 3l turned out to be absolutely perfect for the job. I’d been really hanging out for a Salomon S-Lab Advanced, but they’re really tricky to track down (in human sizes anyway), and not exactly cheap at roughly €160. Whilst in shopping for a bike with my wife I happened across some Camelbaks that could possibly do the job, and after a bit of further snooping managed to find the Octane 3l. With Brid’s discount in the shop the bag worked out at less than €80, though with my ‘Fantastic Husband’ discount it worked out at €0 for me. In the bag I had my map, my compass, my jacket, gels, small amount of food, my mp3 player and usually carried about 1l of water (I only refilled once).

Apart from that I wore my Innov-8 hat throughout and somehow managed to get 10.5 hours out of my Garmin 305, which are apparently notorious for dying at about eight hours.

Having experienced what it felt like to have both nowhere near enough fuel on board for a race (Race to Glory 2011) and way too much fuel on board (Race to Glory 2012), I wanted to make sure I got my fuelling for my first ever ultra as close to correct as possible. This wasn’t helped however by the nasty stomach bug which I’d had during the week. Friday was the first day I’d eaten properly but it was Saturday (the day before the race) before my appetite returned. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to have a big breakfast before the race due to the early start (6am, so up at 4am) so I had a really big dinner (chorizo, patatas bravas, penne with vegetables and salad) about 8pm on Saturday night and then had a tub of pasta with spinach and pine nuts at about half ten that night while lying in bed, watching the mighty Liverpool FC crush Delia’s Canaries.

 As expected, I could barely eat when I woke up, just about managing to shove down some yoghurt and muesli as well as some sugar covered fruit cake thing. I was a bit reticent about eating too much carbs, especially sugars, before, and early in, the race as I wanted my body to burn fat rather than dipping into its glycogen stores but I hadn’t done enough testing to go carb free before the start of such a long race. I had a banana before the off and that was that in terms of breakfast.

I’d brought 14 gels with me, Powerbar apple (with caffeine) and had eight in my Camelbak, the rest were with Brid. I had bought practically every calorie/nutrient dense item I could find in Marks & Spencer the night before – Jaffa Cakes, muffins, flapjacks, dried fruit & nuts, bananas – and had the amazing baked cheesecake topped chocolate brownie my mother had made and gave me for the trip.

I had almost all of them left over when I finished the race though as I’d used far, far less than I’d envisioned. I’d used nothing until the first checkpoint, and just ate a couple of Jaffa Cakes there. After that I just had the occasional gel and a banana at one of the checkpoints, with the flapjack keeping me going for a couple of stages. I did have a couple of biscuits while I was moping around at CP 3, and of course one of Chris’ mini sausage rolls.

From a hydration standpoint I used, at most, 2.5l of water. I barely used any at first, I’d to make three emergency stops in various London lanes/side streets, and didn’t want to get left any further behind with interminable piss stops. After that I was just drinking whenever I was thirsty, but got a bit of a shock when I rubbed the side of my face and noticed my fingers were covered in salt. I had a tube of Nuun hydration/electrolyte tablets with Brid but she wasn’t due to meet me until CP4. There was supposed to be electrolyte drinks at some of the checkpoints but I never saw any, presumably the runners going through before us had polished it all of (potatoes too as I never saw any of them either). It didn’t seem to affect me though other than having a real hankering for an ice cold can of coke for the last 30km or so.

My nutrition/hydration requirements seemed to really fall away on the last stage, unsurprisingly as I was barely moving by that point. Even later that evening I wasn’t particularly hungry as I think my body was, not quite shutting down, but definitely slowing down. In total for the day I consumed five gels, two bananas, about half a dozen biscuits, a flapjack, about 2.5l of water and of course one mini sausage roll.

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