For those of you, who have never had a gel, let this be a cautionary tale to you. I will never, ever forget my first experience with an energy gel and enjoy telling the tale to anyone who will listen.
I really have no clue why I was so pumped to try them. I mean, it’s not like I was getting ready to inhale a Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard or a bag of Snickers mini’s, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference in the aisle of REI, I was like a kid in a candy store. Everything sounded delicious. If anything, I believed that once I had to fuel myself during runs, I was a little more legit. You know, playing in the Major Leagues instead of the Minor Leagues.
Speaking to other runners about fueling during a run, I’ve either been told I fuel too much or I don’t fuel enough. Ok…eating a Big Mac while running a 5k may be a bad idea but if it’s a 10k, why not? Really though, why run longer distances if I can’t enjoy some sweet goodness while doing so!?
I sought guidance from the boyfriend because he always knows better, and since my running is his mountain biking, I knew he was a pretty reliable source. His recommendation: take one every hour, but ya know, he doesn’t always know better. And after Googling it, decided I’ll take it half way through my 8 mile run.
That morning, my nervousness about the new distance was overshadowed by the excitement I felt for finally joining the ranks of mid-run fuelers. I eagerly filled up my Spi Belt with several different flavors, because ya know, I might decide to run 3 times the distance I had originally planned, or perhaps I’d twist my ankle, end up in a ditch and have to survive for days on nothing but gel. Truth is, I’m just indecisive when it comes to food and snacks.
The first 35 minutes of my run were torturous, all I could think about was my upcoming fuel. I was like the kid in the candy store with a dollar burning in her pocket. When I finally hit mile marker 4, I almost stumbled over my own feet trying to open my pouch. God forbid I walk for 15 seconds and ruin my pace. Instead I looked like a drunk person, stumbling down the road while trying to pry those gels out of pouch!
After what seems like hours of fumbling around in there, I free one from the grips of my belt and eagerly attempt to rip it open with my teeth. Not realizing that the little rip portion is partially covered by the stores price tag. I incur mild whiplash as I attempt to open the pouch. Feeling defeated and let down by this highly anticipated moment, I stop, peal off the price tag and start sucking on the pouch like a baby who hasn’t been fed in 3 hours.
As I tilt back my head, anticipating a sloshy raspberry flavored jell-o shot filling my mouth, I was instead greeted by a sweet, sticky load that instantly triggered my gag reflex. My upper body lurches forward in an attempt to get rid of this crap that I so eagerly anticipated. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a figure moving towards me, and as I glance sideways I see an older lady hustling towards me. Unsure of whether or not I should throw up in her driveway, I attempt to spit it out but instead of it making it to the ground, it’s all over my chin.
The lovely lady finally reaches me and asks whether I am ok, suddenly I have a flashback to when I am 16, sweaty, red faced and unsure whether I should spit or swallow.
Delirious, I smile, nod and take off because I can’t fathom the humiliation again.
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