I am a mother of 8 and a two-time Boston Qualifier (I ran it in 12 & 13- yes, I was there during the bombing) and worked hard at speed and endurance but I never had to give much thought to nutrition. I would run a 10-miler on a banana and never had to take in as much fuel as my peers.
However, in 2014, just one week before I was supposed to go back to Boston to finish what the bombing stole from me in 2013, I had to have open heart surgery to correct a congenital defect. Two weeks after my OHS, I was rushed back to the hospital, teetering between life and death, and underwent emergency surgery. My heart had accumulated over 500 cc of fluid (20 cc is normal) and the right side of my heart was completely compressed and my body was shutting down.
Miraculously, I ran a 5K just 5 weeks after that second surgery (well, it was actually a jog but hey ) but after all Id been through with my heart, I didnt see any more marathons in my future. I decided to focus on shorter distances and planned to max out on the half-marathon distance. After developing scar tissue in my heart and experimenting with medication to keep symptoms from it at bay, however, I was beginning to doubt if I could even return to half-marathons.
Two years after my OHS, with my heart stable and symptoms in check, I decided I was ready to give a half marathon a try. I trained hard and completed the race but struggled to even maintain a pace that was significantly slower than my pre-OHS pace. I did another half marathon later that year and ended up passed out in the medical tent. My pulse ox was low even though I was well trained and had kept a comfortable pace. My finishing time that day was over 21 minutes slower than my best half marathon time. A few months after that, I competed in an Olympic distance triathlon and spent the following 5 hours doubled over in pain from intestinal cramping. To say that I was discouraged was an understatement. I was doing everything I had done in training before my surgery but just couldnt duplicate the results. I couldnt even come close.
I finally went to see my heart doctor and expressed my frustrations to him. He told me that after OHS, I would need to give extra time and attention to hydration and nutrient intake. He said that my body was not the same as it was before having my heart shut off and that I would have to treat it differently. Specifically, he encouraged me to take in more sodium that the average person during long runs.
I went home from that appointment excited that the doctor thought I could still compete in endurance events and ready to learn how to fuel my body to its maximum potential. This is when I found Crank Sports. I was ready to try something different. I chose Crank Sports because yours was the only site that offered education on how and when to refuel. I was a veteran runner but was really like a novice in my knowledge in this area. The other reason I went with e-Gels is because they offered so much more sodium that other gels, which is exactly what the doctor ordered!
When I tried my first e-Gel, I was pleasantly surprised by the pleasant taste and thinner consistency. I had tried other gels before and was always turned off by their thickness. I began to use e-Gels in all of my long training runs and followed the advice given on the website religiously. I couldnt believe how much better I felt when using your gels! I was stronger during my runs, my mind was clearer and my recoveries were a breeze! I ran my first half with the E-Gels and took several minutes off my time previous half time, felt great the entire race and was clear and coherent after the race.
Because of the success I experienced with e-Gels, I gained the confidence to finally try a marathon again. I decided to take it slow and easy and just aim to finish it. I completed my first post-OHS marathon in 4:30 which is a long way off my PR but I achieved that finish time with only one 15-miler under my belt and I finished it an hour faster than I had anticipated. The best part is that I never struggled at all-mentally or physically- during the 26.2 mile distance. I actually found it easy! I felt great the rest of the day, too. I had run 7 marathons before this one and had never known what its like not to struggle in later miles or to feel good after a marathon. This experience one again boosted my confidence and I am now training to qualify for Boston again (I have some unfinished business there, you know!). Since using your E-Gels, I went from thinking I would never be able to complete another marathon to peak training again.
Only time (and effort) will tell if I make it back to Boston but without your gels, I finally feel like I can try again and thats a tremendous feeling!