IMAZ 2012 Avoid the Sugar Crash unlike I did (then again…)

After getting out of the water and jogging to transition, I grabbed my bag to change. I think I was smiling from ear to ear because one of the volunteers told me it looked like I was having fun. In a matter of minutes in the water I went from a panic to calm confidence and that made me smile.

I’ve been having a tough time avoiding what became an inevitable sugar crash during training. I knew it was coming that day, just didn’t know when. In my transition bag I packed a coconut oil and water combo and a small serving of veggies. That was my attempt to push the crash back to later in the day. On the course the volunteers hand out some sort of sports drink, gu packets, and power bars. All of which are really tasty, easily handled and a source of ‘energy’. The ‘energy’ comes with a price though. As long as I could keep my blood sugar high by timing the consumption of these energy sources, I’d avoid having to feel like I have to go to sleep.

When I say I have a sugar crash during training, I mean if I consume too much sugar, my body shuts down (and it happens quickly!).  I can feel great, then within a matter of minutes, I would rather be in bed under the covers with the sound machine playing white noise. The ‘crash’ starts with a false energy burst (which has fooled me in the past) but is accompanied by a voice in my head telling me to stop immediately or I’ll be sorry. It’s sort of like the voice I hear when I’m eating a delicious meal and there is plenty to be saved for the next meal if I stop, but if I don’t I’ll have a food baby later and I’ll be miserable from over consumption. I only listen to that voice (You’ll Be Sorry If You Eat Too Much Food Voice) about half the time (which is a really high percentage…for me), but I DO listen. Back to the first voice (You’re Gonna Have A Sugar Crash If You Don’t Change Something Voice), I DON”T listen, at least I hardly ever listen.

After ignoring the voice, I develop tunnel vision. Then quickly after, I get the shakes and feel light headed. The shakes seem mostly internal. If I looked at my hands (I’d only see my hands, you know the tunnel vision thing) I probably wouldn’t see them shaking, though they feel like they were. Come to think of it, it’s probably more like slight muscle twitches.  What is actually going on in my body, I don’t know. I can guess that my body is trying to balance out my sugar level. It’s also taking protein from my other muscles to put it where I was using it, in my legs. Perhaps the protein carrying blood heading south contributes to my  light headedness.

So, here I am, 10 miles to go, internally shaking with tunnel vision and a light head (though I’m sure if I didn’t balance it properly above my shoulders, it’d be so heavy I’m sure I’d topple over). ‘Concentrate Tom’, I’d say to myself. I’m on my bike, taking turns slowly (there are so many turns at the end!), hoping to get back to the transition safely. Each mile passed slower and slower as it felt like the end was getting farther away. My cartoonish idea of the line getting smaller and smaller as if was being sucked into a vacuum I wasn’t invited to.

I grabbed a bottle of water at the last aid station and pedaled into the abyss.

I can’t remember anything that went through my head those last miles, but I did somehow make it. I had a jelly and salt sandwich waiting for me at the transition (made at Nourish (not a menu item)) and couldn’t wait to get there.  I handed my bike over at the dismount line and stumbled into the change tent……

Chomp, chomp, gulp.

Five minutes later…. I was jogging out of transition and onto the marathon.

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