"Nothing new on race day." This is the golden rule most runners stand firmly by, that you hear over and over again. Stick with what works and what you've been training with.
Two weeks ago I stumbled acrosscompelling research pointing to the importance of protein with exertion of over 3 hours. Most of the information was found at www.accelerade.com. Somewhere on the site it stated something like "Do you want your body to cannibalize it's own muscle tissue when you run our of fuel, or would you rather take Accelerade?" Wow. Of course I don't want to my muscles eating themselves away for fuel; no brainier right?
Let's give Accel Gel a test run. During a 20 mile training run last weekend my first two gels were to be the tried and true CarbBoom and PowerBar brands, and my third and fourth would be Accelerade's Accel Gel. And so the story goes...
Gel One - yummy chocolate cherry CarbBoom, sweet and tasty!
Gel Two - a wake up call with PowerBar Gel Double Latte; just enough caffeine to help me pick it up, mmm, coffee.
And then – when I'm starting to get fatigued and ready for a glorious and wonderfully delicious gel to lift my spirits – Gel Three. Did the product descriptor on the nicely organized package really read "Citrus Orange"? Really? Apologies for my being so blunt, but a more suitable flavor descriptor would be "Upchucked Creamsicle." All I can say is guh-ross! I guess the protein has to come from somewhere; on the nutritional panel in the list of ingredients it lists milk. But I wasn't expecting it. Not a pleasant treat for mile 14, but ok, carrying on, I'll give the next Accel Gel flavor a try at mile 18.
17.95 miles means time to unzip the fuel belt, get the water bottle ready and tear open the next gel - Gel Four. I had lowered my expectation due to my previous experience, but was keeping a fair open mind. Key Lime. Sounds good, and the creaminess from the milk might actually make sense with this particular flavor. Hesitantly - but with an "I know I need this fuel" intensity - I thumbed up the goo into my mouth. Quick! Drink some water! Could this flavor top "Citrus Orange" in regards to God awful terrible flavor? I think so! Trust me, at mile 18, I don't need any help luring the possibility of puking, but the nasty taste really could have put me over the edge. I shared what was left of the Gel with my Dad (who was running the last 6 mile with me), and then he passed it back to my mom (who rode the bike, acting as my "aid station" for the whole 20. "Dar, you gotta try this," he shouted and passed it back. I guess that was my evil way of sharing the pain!
2.05 miles later, with a good sprint to finish it off, it was still top of mind - "Man, I'm never taking that stuff again."
From a fuel/performance perspective, the gels seemed to work just fine. But they were no different from the other gels that I had used in the past that were much more palatable. I guess I'm not "hardcore" enough of an athlete to justify the protein benefits over the disgusting taste. It's just not for me.
And so I choose to amend the golden rule of "Nothing new on race day." to "Nothing new on race day (or during your last 20 mile training run before a marathon)." I had to try it. I'm just glad I did during a training run and not the real deal.