run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Common Denominator

Look, I know you are all sick and tired of hearing about my gastrointestinal problems and trust me I am sick and tired of talking about them. I try not to complain too much, because honestly... I have it pretty damn good. Sure, my colon seems to fucking hate marathons, but for the rest of my day-to-day life, my stomach mostly behaves and I am grateful for that. I have friends who have problems with IBS and the fact that for them just eating food (cause... uhhh.. that's what you're supposed to do to LIVE) can cause spectacularly awful GI problems.. makes me whining about getting the shits while running seem a little douchey.

On the other hand, I am pretty self-absorbed and while my GI issues aren't the end of the world, they are (literally) a pain in my ass and I'd love, LOVE to find a solution. I've spent a great deal of time thinking about it, talking about it, listening to other people talk about it... and it's like... it's not one of those things where I can just stretch something or roll it with a stick or tape it up. I try to be mindful of my diet and have made adjustments when I thought something could be the culprit. I've completely eliminated certain things from my diet (sayonara flax and chia seeds!) and I've tried giving up certain things the day before the race (dairy and fruit).
If my food diary were a cat gif.

When I was in Eugene, I stayed with my best friend, Steph, who for medical reasons is staying away from gluten for the time being. I felt really bad for her while I scarfed down biscuits and veggie gravy on Saturday morning and then about 15 doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts on Monday morning. 
VooDoo Donuts from my trip in 2011. 
The top one is my fave: Butterfinger.

But as we traveled home, I thought to myself.. ya know... I guess that's the last thing to try to eliminate: gluten. When I got home, Cheryl and Tanya mentioned an article they had read that cited gluten as a potential shit-causer late in a race. So... I decided... that's it! No more gluten the night before a race!

And then this weekend, I had an epiphany.... what has been the common denominator in all my GI distress ruined/effected races? Let's take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

2007: St. Jude Marathon- Pizza
2009: St. Louis Marathon- Pizza
2010: Big Sur- Pizza
2012: Flying Pig Marathon DNF- Pasta
2013: Birmingham Marathon- Baked Potato*
2013: Eugene Marathon- Pasta

*Birmingham, I believe was more nerves than actual GI distress, since I was puking more than shitting, so we will take that out of the equation.

All this time, I assumed it was the cheese on the pizza. But, what is the one thing that ALL those pre-race dinners have? G-L-U-T-E-N.

DUH. So, now, I'm really excited to test out this new theory. Pre-race from now on, I'm going to try rice, quinoa, or potato as my pre-race carb. And keep my hands out of the bread basket. When I think back to races where I didn't have issues, they were always races without pizza or pasta. Before I became a vegetarian, my favorite pre-race ultra meal (granted, I've only done 3) was grilled salmon, rice and a sweet potato and I've never had GI issues during an ultra (which, I always assumed was because I was practically walking the damn things instead of racing). 

I look forward to the day when I can just complain about my legs getting tired after X amount miles of a race and not about spending 2 miles looking for a porta potty. Hopefully that day will come soon.


Carina said...

Very interesting! Hope it works. My stomach freaked out for about the first week I was eating chia seeds, but it's finally back in line. I have to avoid dairy and fiber about 24 hours before a race, but on the few races where I had stomach issues anyway, no discernable pattern. One thing you didn't mention, coffee -- some swear by it. Just another idea, but hope GF works.

Bitch #3 said...

THAT CAT!!!! Tears of laughter.

Daryl said...

I have since been diagnosed as gluten intolerant and have strictly cut it out of my diet for over a year now, but I had the same epiphany originally too! My GI problems ruined my run EVERY time I ran, which kept me from turning running into a habit for so many years. As I slowly cut gluten out, I noticed that my GI problems became less frequent, and they are now non-existent!
The plus side of running on a gluten free diet? GF foods have twice the carb content of their gluten-ous counterparts, so when we're carbo-loading, we REALLY carbo-load haha. Also, my favorite pre-race meal is now oatmeal, I just make sure I buy certified GF oats!
Good luck with this experiment!