Ironman Arizona Nutrition Report

Ironman Arizona Nutrition Report

I’ve been a bit remiss with my metabolic efficiency updates. For those new to the blog, last year I went down to Tempe to sign up for Ironman Arizona. Because nutrition is such a critical component for these ultra-endurance events, I took a few steps to get on the right bandwagon.

  • December 2010 – Metabolic Efficiency Study
  • January 2011 – Metabolic Efficiency Test
  • April 2011 – Ran 17 mile trail race in 3 hrs on ~120 calories
  • June-Novemeber – Ironman Arizona training with 5 triathlons during the season leading up to AZ.
  • I got a DXA scan in June put me at about 20% body fat, so I was heading in the right direction.
  • My training diet was still “metabolically efficient” for the main structure, adding in some grains when my training volume went over about 15 hours per week.
  • Generation UCAN was a large part of my fueling plan

Last Sunday (11/20/2011) the big day arrived….my first Ironman. here is what I did…
4am woke up, ate a banana and 1 packet justin’s nut butter by 4:30am
Mixed up 2 packets UCAN (1 chocolate, 1 vanilla) in a blender bottle to drink on my way to the race site.
About 30 minutes before the start I sipped on a little bit of cran-raz UCAN (but didn’t have a whole lot, maybe 25% of it.)
Total pre-race calories: ~725

At 7am the race started.
Swim 2.4 miles in 1:36:37. No calories and thankfully no fluids! consumed.
T1: 13:24. No calories or fluid consumed.
At this point I’m almost 2 hours into the race…time to get on the bike!

Bike: 112 miles in 6:11:59
2 clif bars (toffee peanut buzz!) = 500 calories. I had these broken into tiny pieces and took about 1/4 bar every 30 minutes. I need some solid food as when my stomach gets really empty and I get hungry, I get gassy. Not sure why, but I’ve been that way a long time. I can remember stomach aches from hunger when I was a kid. I wouldn’t be able to eat much and then would be gassy. Yay. As an adult I have a bit more control over when I eat so it doesn’t happen as often, but it still happens. The clif bar helped I am sure but I still got a bit gassy.
Generation UCAN: I had two bottles with two packets each (one chocolate/cran-razz and one vanilla/cran-razz) to start on the bike. At the Special Needs station I had another bottle of vanilla/cran-razz waiting for me. I went through about half that one. Total UCAN bike calories – 750.
I had dropped my electrolyte tabs near the end of the 2nd lap, so I was depleted there, drinking only water. But the clif bars and UCAN have electrolytes so I wasn’t completely negative. I did have half a banana at the end of the bike to get some potassium. I also grabbed a bottle of Ironman Perform to use in an emergency, but didn’t need it.

Total bike calories: ~1300
Hydration: I probably went through 5 aero drinks with water, plus the fluid in the UCAN, so I am going to estimate = 150oz of fluid (which would be 25oz/hour) so about to plan and I did have to pee each lap. Temps were highs in the low 70s.

T2: 7:10 – no fluids or calories consumed
Run: 26.2 miles in 5:00:49
I felt good at the start of the run, but a little light headed, probably because of the under consumption of electrolytes. I started immediately with endurolytes and took a few about every other aid station. I had about 1.5 packets of chocolate UCAN and and I think about 5 gels. Only other calories were a few pretzels and the chicken broth (mainly for the salt!). I didn’t get all the gel out and they are the Hammer Gels, which are about 90 calories each. So let’s say 80 calories per gel – 300 calories and 300 calories in UCAN and maybe 50 from pretzels.
Total Run Calories: 650
Hydration: 2-4oz every aid station (guesstimate 3×25) plus about 28 from my handheld with the UCAN = 75+28 = 103oz so ~20oz/hr. I had to pee several times on the run, so I think I was doing OK here.

Overall my energy levels were really steady and I didn’t have any issues except for the gas during the race, but that was manageable. Afterwards, it took a little bit for my body to adapt to eating food again. At some fries afterwards and that might not have been the best decision. I had half a turkey sandwich around midnight. System was a tad out of whack, but once I was eating real meals the next day I was good.

Total calories consumed during Ironman AZ: ~1950 so let’s just call it 2000. Over 13 hours averages to 150 calories per hour.

My goal was to complete Ironman Arizona (my first Ironman) with steady energy and no GI issues. I was comfortably taking in calories and fluids the entire race. Although I did have the gas, I don’t feel it caused me to slow down at all. So I am very happy with the results! I also was really close to my estimated times (90 min swim, 6:15 bike, 5hr run).

I’m writing this Thursday (on Thanksgiving) and I will say over the last few days my appetite has been very manageable. I was anticipating some hungry days, but I guess I had those before the race! Once I return to Colorado (I’m still hanging out it Arizona), I will return to metabolically efficient eating as I recover and then get ready to run the LA Marathon!

Feel free to comment if you have any questions or anything to add about your experiences with ironman fueling.
My entire race report, broken into 5 parts, can be found at

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Nicole Odell


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