I keep delaying the epic post regarding our massive success at the Disneyland Half Marathon until Brad has time to edit the footage he took during the race. Until then I will systematically work through all of the little details that made the day so successful. Today, we shall talk about the magic of gummy bears.
I have blood sugar issues. I’ve never been diagnosed with diabetes or hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia but my blood sugar is very sensitive and fickle. I’ve shared before the horrors of a blood sugar crash during a long run and I was so worried that would happen this year. It didn’t. I performed with fabulous endurance and vitality. I didn’t get sick. I didn’t get nauseous. I didn’t feel dizzy. My blood sugar remained steady throughout. I could posit that this has everything to do with the rigorous discipline I put into the Supergirl diet in the days leading up to race, but I might be lying to you. The truth is, I think it has everything to do with Gummy Bears.
I have a bit of a celebrity athlete crush on Jeff Galloway. He is totally the Chef Gusteau of the running world. He’s a class act, world-class actually, yet he makes running a completely accessible sport for anyone and everyone. He’s a guru, but down to earth. He runs something like 20 marathons every year and he believes that YOU can too. He’s even got my mom believing in herself enough to train for a half marathon. He’s like a magical running elf. He also happens to be the official trainer for the runDisney program. Disney picked the right guy to promote their running division for sure.
Okay, gush over. What I wanted to point out was that Jeff Galloway spoke at the Health & Fitness Expo hosted at the Disneyland Hotel the day before the race. I’m so glad that I got to hear him speak this year because one by one he addressed all of my issues with running that keep coming back to haunt me and gave me completely reasonable solutions. He talked about getting nauseous, trick ankles, what to eat before you run, hydration, heat, sleep, blood sugar. He hit all of the big topics. For now let’s discuss blood sugar. Jeff Galloway broke it down for us. It only takes about 20 minutes to burn through all of the glucose stores in your blood. After that, it starts to burn whatever else it can find like fat or muscle, but those are not as efficient forms of fuel as glucose. On a normal 3-5 mile run this is fine and even helps to burn fat, but if you go too long without replenishing your glucose stores (like you would on a half marathon) your body heads towards the sugar in your brain for fuel. Bad idea. It’s like you turn into a confused zombie that wants to eat its own brain. You should never let your sugar get that low. You can start to feel nauseous (check), dizzy (check), irritable (check) and disoriented (check). All of those things have happened to me. If not taken seriously this can actually lead to permanent brain damage or death and to quote Jeff Galloway, “I’m against death.”
“So how do we keep our glucose levels steady in a long run?” Yes Jeff. How? I must know. I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried nuts, I’ve tried sports drinks, I’ve tried muscle milk, I’ve tried bananas, I’ve tried Gu. Eeew! Gu. Wait, suddenly I hear Jeff talking about Gu. I have to hear this. He goes on to say that for many people Gu is an excellent sugar replacement. No Jeff no! I hate G… “BUT some people can’t digest it very well,” he finishes. What?! That’s me. He’s talking about me. He goes on to explain how the other properties in Gu, the electrolytes and stuff, are hard for some people to digest and actually make them feel nauseous. So I’m NOT crazy! In all my years as a runner, everyone tells me that Gu is the salvation. Gu will keep my blood sugar from dropping and will prevent me from puking. For me however, the very sight of Gu invokes a gag reflex. I thought my blood sugar must have been created on opposite day. I didn’t understand why Gu worked for every runner in the WORLD except me. Turns out it doesn’t. Oh Jeff. You’ve just restored my sanity.
He goes on to explain that the only thing in Gu that you need to keep your blood sugar up is the sugar. Just pure sugar. So if you’re the type of person that can’t digest Gu then you should just try life savers, a sugar cube, or gummy bears. Gummy bears? Really? Did an Olympic champion just tell me to eat gummy bears during a half marathon? Yes. Yes he did.
Well I give it a whirl. I buy some gummy bears at the Disney store and count out exactly how many I will need to get me through the race. Galloway suggests 4 bears every 3 miles so I put about 20 in my wrist pouch just to be safe.
Friends, it worked. I think these particular gummy bears may have actually been magic. I never felt my blood sugar dip in the slightest. I never got dizzy or pukey. I actually increased my speed at the last mile, powered by glee, gummy bears, and Jeff Galloway. After two weeks of eating strictly raw almonds, rice, vegetables and hummus, the key to my performance success turned out to be nature’s enemy… high fructose corn syrup. Fine by me. Since I burned every single gram of gummy sugar I put into my body while running it’s really not unhealthy. I just had to remind myself to stop eating them after crossing the finish line. Now go get yourself some gummy bears!