As most us know by now, WTC has recently switched from Gatorade to Powerbar Ironman Perform for on-course hydration/nutrition. I saw this as an opportunity so my good friend, Laura O'Meara, set me up with bottles (she works for Nestle/PB).
First off, why did I see this as an opportunity?
As the saying goes, nutrition is the 4th discipline in IM. Gatorade was dreadful in my experience and my stomach has learned to tolerate a fair amount these days (after 13 IMs). I see the opportunity of taking nutrition from the course as a means of greatly simplifying my race. For example, what happens when you lose a bottle or it breaks? Can you tolerate a high concentration or do you need to depend on special needs? What's the best way to set up your bike to address multiple bottles that must be carried for 112 miles? These questions are easily addressed by taking your nutrition from the course.
So, what's the challenge?
Obviously I don't know if PB Perform is going to work for me or not. I'll be honest, I'm not a huge believer that testing your nutrition in training is any sort of guarantee that it will work when racing. First off, very few people have the same HR:power in training vs racing. I myself can take in many different types of nutrition when training on my long rides, which are typically done around 5% greater than IM power, and not have any stomach problems. As a matter of fact, I can't think of one training ride in my life where I've had stomach problems but I certainly can't say the same for my races.
This year Kona was a great opportunity for me to try it. I did IMC in August and they hadn't made the switch to PB Perform yet. I certainly hope they are going to make the switch next year. I never truly "race" Kona anyway. I see that race as an opportunity to try something different so there was no better time than Kona this year to try PB Perform.
The result was simple. It was one of my best IM bike performances ever. Now I'm not talking about my time necessarily. I'm talking about the whole experience. I was able to greatly simplify my bike setup by removing my rear bottle cages. I also felt like I had more or access to more nutrition than I needed which was different from the past where I had to constantly monitor my intake. Most importantly, I had zero stomach issues and was probably able to easily get in around ~1500 calories.
It's safe to say that I have a new hydration/nutrition strategy going forward and I'm super happy about it!! I definitely have to thank Laura for turning me on to this stuff and addressing my questions!
My old strategy was the following:
3 x 28oz bottles filled with ~400-450 calories of Carbo Pro. I would put 2 bottles in my rear bottle cage and the 3rd in special needs. I had one bottle filled with water on my frame and would take water and bananas (~300 calories) from the course as needed.
New strategy is the following:
1 x 20oz bottle of Powerbar Perform in my aerobar cage and 1 x 20oz bottle of water on my frame. I take PB Perform, bananas and water at each aid station as needed.