Thursday, March 24, 2011
a bar by any other name...
I saw some debate going on over the use of energy bars and gels and what is in them. With 'paleo' all the rage these days, use of these products seems to be under serious scrutiny. I saw one question that asked whether Gu was just sugar in a packet. In this post, I will address none of these bigger nutritional issues. Instead I just have a funny story for you.
Years ago (many) when I was in college, I went on a study abroad program to Canada. (This is usually when people laugh at me because Canada is not technically 'abroad' but that is where I went because I wanted to go to Palau but there was civil unrest there and I guess they thought I might not come back alive). Anyhow, while on Vancouver Island I met one of my best friends who commented that she was going to run a marathon. In my 'oh so competitive' nature, I thought to myself if she could do a marathon, I certainly could. So upon returning to the states, I set my sites on the Los Angeles Marathon. All I knew about marathons was from a story on the news where they reported that during the course of a marathon, you broke every capillary in your foot. Oh, this was going to be fun!
I went about training as any marathon newcomer and ran every day or so with a long run once a week. I still have the calendar I kept of my miles. I probably thought I was the coolest thing next to sliced bread because no one in college was running distance. So there I was, ready to run the LA Marathon. I learned that the day before the race, everyone had to attend an 'expo' where they picked up their race number, t-shirt, and whatever other fun stuff they might provide. And fortunate for me, my closest friend in California, who did not like running one smidgen, agreed to come with me to the expo. I think she was fascinated by it all and I promised her there might be free stuff there so it would be worth it, and really, who doesn't want a chance to get off campus when you are in the smog filled valley of LA?
This is where the story starts to get funny. Keep in mind, this is the DAY BEFORE the marathon: my first marathon. We drive in and are instantly met with an immense room filled with awesomeness. It was like Vegas in its ability to completely overwhelm; there were booths of every kind of product you could imagine filling the entire convention center. There was a Honda car, which would be awarded to the winner of the race (which I promised Michelle I would try to win). Not knowing where to start, we decided to start at one end and weave our way up and down the aisles to get to the other end. Off we went.
We were especially excited to get to a booth that was giving out free food. This seriously beat the cafeteria food, so we were eager to try. There were bars cut into small little pieces, which we willingly ate. Some tasted good, some made me want to vomit. Then there were booths that had gooey matter on a spoon that we were told gave you energy during a race. We tried that and were somewhat less impressed. I've never been a fan of gooey consistencies unless they are of the frozen variety and are called frozen yogurt. Down the next aisle, there were more booths with little pieces of energy bars, called various names with the word 'power' or 'energy' in them. Many of them were actually quite tasty with flavors of chocolate, peanut butter, or my favorite: coffee.
Michelle and I made it across the entire room and had "scored" a lot of giveaways. Funny enough though, we also seemed to score some bad stomach aches. As we lugged ourselves back to the car and back to school, I really started to rethink tasting all those bars and gels. Despite my naivety, I did know the cardinal rule to not do anything new the day before or day of the race, and here I had gone and loaded up on bars galore.
There's no sad ending here. I did fine on race day and finished just under Boston Marathon qualifying time. It hurt really bad and I had trouble making it upstairs to my dorm room for days after. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I was proud to say I had run a marathon. In retrospect, I probably consumed the equivalent of 6-7 power bars and a few packets of gel. I would not recommend this to anyone the day before a race. I don't use them to train at all, but that has nothing to do with my stomach ache that day.
On a side note, my husband and I gave out Promax Bars as favors at our wedding. It was AWESOME!