"It's not your legs - it's your stomach". For high school and college runners who haven't experienced a race over 30-35 minutes it takes awhile for that to sink in. I'm a "distance runner" you say to yourself - "I don't listen to music on headphones and I don't carry water or gu's". In fact you make sure that you don't eat or drink too much close to race time to make sure that your stomach never comes into the equation. Then you run your first marathon - and your world changes. Your body breaks down in ways you didn't know were possible. You realize that your body - any body cannot run more than 60-90 minutes without taking in calories, nutrients, and water.
My first experience where I felt like a good nutrition plan was as important as training or pacing was the JFK 50 miler in 2009. Luckily I got some great advice from Alyssa Godesky (she also told me about the "band method" that I wrote about in my last post). First is hydration - she told me that I should make sure that I was drinking at least one bottle of water/sports drink per hour, eat an energy gel every 30 minutes, take a salt/potassium pill once an hour, and have some comfort food available (thanks to my wife). The 50 miler went fairly well - thanks partly to one of my best years of training since college - but just as much on keeping to my nutrition plan.
Only being my 3rd triathlon I'll have a lot on my mind this Sunday. But, I think the most important thing will still be nutrition. With a triathlon it's a little different. For the first 40 minutes I'll be swimming - unable to eat or drink. So, I'll need to eat a little more before I hit the water and drink/eat a little more once I get on my bike. I'm planning on drinking two bottles in the first 90 minutes - one water and one gatorade. The nutrition stops are supposed to be every 15 miles - and I should be hitting the second stop right around 90 minutes. I'll keep the same energy gel plan of one every 30 minutes and one salt/potassium pill once an hour.