An army travels on its stomach and the Iron army is no different. How a triathlete fuels his or her body may mean the difference between a strong finish and a bonk-filled DNF. Add in the harsh hot and humid conditions of Kona and you have an even more critical need for proper nutrition. Carolyn Rohde’s fuel of choice for Ironman Kona was based in part on her lifestyle.
Mark Davis: Your blog was titled “Where’s the Tofu, Carolyn’s Plant-based Journey to Ironman.”
CR: Yeah, I’ve been vegetarian for about twenty years and vegan for the last five or six years. I train all on plants. I don’t eat any meat, no eggs, no poultry, and no dairy whatsoever. I think the plant-based diet has helped my training. A lot of people think how could I possibly do that but I think that when you eat close to nature, you eat fruits and vegetables and whole grains and nuts and seeds that your body knows what to do with those foods. I think that I was able to recover from my training a lot faster than if I were weighed down by too much cheese and milk that tends to not sit well with me. Getting back to really clean, simple plant-based foods was beneficial for my training and beneficial for making me feel energized every single day.
MD: How did you determine what to have during the race?
CR: Dorette Franks helped me out a lot last year to come up with a nutrition plan and to really think about what works and what doesn’t. It was just a matter of trial and error.
MD: What specific products did you rely on during the race?
CR: I did SaltStick tabs throughout the bike and the run. I used Larabars on the bike. And then I did Shot Bloks as my sort of energy chew. Unfortunately I used the on course orange Gatorade. I say unfortunately because I hate Gatorade. Duane told me to dilute it with water, which I did and that really helped but I do think that my stomach got a little bit upset for the run. I wasn’t planning on using Gatorade, I was planning on using skratch LABS but the water bottles they were handing out had a mouth that was too small to pour powder into it. But in Ironman, I think it’s really important to have a plan A but then also make sure that you have a plan B and a C in case things don’t quite go to plan. So that was my plan B. So Gatorade, SaltSticks, Shot Bloks, Larabars and then on the run I added in pretzels. I love pretzels on the run. So good. Pretzels were glorious and water. At that point I didn’t do any Coke or Red Bull or anything and hardly any sports drink. I just did pretzels and water for most of the run. Again it wasn’t really my plan but it was sort of what my stomach could handle at the time.
Next up: Carolyn Rohde’s struggle on the bike leads to triumph at the finish line.