In 2005 I participated in my first Ironman. Ironman is a 3.2km open water swim in Lake Okanagan, 186km on the bike through the scorching desert under the Okanagan sun, and 42.2km on foot running a marathon into a relentless head wind.
When I was finished, I was exhausted, bitter and disappointed. Even though I had met the cut off time of 17 hours, I felt defeated. I had trained ruthlessly through a BC winter which means freezing cold rain – and lots of it. I was up at 430am to be in the pool until 7am before work and on the track and the road after work until bed. Every single day, I was training both before and after work and all weekend – for 9 months. And through all of this, because I was putting out thousands of calories a day, I thought I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I wasn’t going over my calorie expenditure.
I walked away with a finish time of 15:46;39 and a lot of anger. I would say the “average” time for a girl of my age and fitness level should have been somewhere around 11-13 hours. I had a bone to pick with this race and the next day was in the line-up at the crack of dawn to put my name down for another year. I was not finished.
In the months following my 2005 race I did a lot of research on where I may have gone wrong. I took a good look at the coach I was using and made the decision to move on to another coach who had been recommended to me and who had a good history dealing with athletes with bad attitudes like mine. I needed a mind flip. I looked at my training plan and how I thought it could be altered and where I felt I had struggled most on the course. After I was up and running with a new coach and a new plan was still searching for something that would give me an edge. I took a look at one thing that I hadn’t really ever considered before as a performance tool. I took a look at my diet.
At the time, the movies we have today such as Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives and Food as Medicine were not yet made, and I would have found them more than useful I am sure. I did find an old tool called the Canada Food Guide, and an app called My Fitness Pal and made an appointment to see a nutritionist. This was the year I was going to be fast.
I was putting out often 4000+ calories per day just on a weekday so why on earth could I not eat a cheeseburger meal from McDonalds? I would have plenty left over in the calorie bank right? It was through this journey that I discovered performance and food are 100% directly related. With the information I had I didn’t turn fully plant based at first. I don’t think I really even knew what that was at the time, but with the help of the nutritionist, I started making very smart choices. I would eat to perform and eat for recovery. I would eat for nourishment and energy. I got enough sleep and enough water and I had a race plan and a coach that were behind me.
In 2006 I took close to 3 hours off my 2005 race time on the same race course, and under harder conditions than the previous year. Because I was so much faster I was biking and now running in the hottest part of the day, but I did it, and with so much less effort or pain. I was elated. I was so pumped in fact that I decided to go back for one last hurrah in 2007 as a plant based athlete and finished again two hours faster than my previous year; proof that success is not only strategy and training, but it’s also what you consume as fuel.
This website is my recipe box. Feel free to stay a while and try some things out. I am always open to feedback and questions. Thanks for stopping by.