This week’s scheduled 14 mile long run coincided with The Cedars Frostbite Half Marathon, an insanely inexpensive and fairly local-to-me race that runs through the Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Lebanon, TN.
For this race, I fueled SOLELY with EnergyBits, which is 100% pure organic spirulina algae. These one-ingredient bits of real food contain the highest concentration of protein in the world, over 40 nutrients, and have nearly twice the antioxidants of goji berries. EnergyBits meets FDA regulations (I tried to do some fact checking on the consumer-unfriendly FDA website, but gave up after two hours of searching only produced a non-comprehensive database (that may or may not have even been what I was really looking for) that I couldn’t access because the .xls spreadsheet had “too many cells” for my iPad to handle). Anyhow, moving on…
EnergyBits algae is grown organically in fresh water tanks. I was impressed by what NASA has to say about algae: “1 kg of algae has the nutritional value of 1,000 kg of fruits and vegetables.” Apparently astronauts and Olympians have been eating algae for decades. And here I just thought it was a hippy thing!
Honestly, I probably never would’ve tried EnergyBits if not for their wonderful Brand Manager, Jonathan, reaching out and offering a free sample. I normally use gels for fuel, and I was fairly content with them… except for the sticky mess they make when I put the empty packets in my pocket. When Jonathan reached out and I started learning about EnergyBits, I became excited at the idea of an organic, real food alternative. And…. well, I struggle with eating enough fruits and veggies, so this could really help me in that department, too.
Yes, I’ve already stated lots of good, but here we go with some good I personally experienced in my own little trials. Originally, I planned to test EnergyBits on a short run, and then my race. but then…
Sometimes it sucks when “life happens” and sometimes something great happens. This time, something great happened. My first trial ended up being 13.1 miles on the treadmill early in the morning before working my 7 am shift. I took 20 bits just minutes before running… and I forgot all other forms of backup fuel in my locker downstairs. I was not about to quit my run to go get any gels, so I decided that this would be a truly good test.
I never felt an energy spike. I never felt an energy crash, or lull of any kind. Throughout the entire run, powered by only 20 bits at the start, I felt like a well-oiled machine. Just a steady energy flow. My knee gave out before my energy did!
So, I felt extremely confident in my choice of fuel leading up to the Cedars Frostbite Half Marathon…
It is one of the last stops on the Tennessee Running Tour race schedule, and all of the races on their calendar have the same fee – $20 with a tech tee, or $8 without. I sprang the extra $12 for the tee, and ordered mine 2 sizes larger than usual. I’m glad I did, because it is perfectly oversized, soft and supremely comfortable. I’m wearing it now as I lounge around, icing my ankle and typing this.
Another good point, for me, was the small crowd. I don’t know how many runners there actually were, but it was a small pack of runners from my view. I was near the back of the pack at the start, and you see how close I was to the starting line.
I absolutely loved that, just past the first aid station, not quite 4 miles in, we turned onto a dirt/limestone/gravel/mud road that made for a much nicer trail than road.
The feeling of being off the pavement did wonders for my legs and put a smile on my face. My right ankle had been stiff and sore (the reason I’m icing it now) causing my left hip to hurt for all the compensating it was doing. Leaping, hopping, and just enjoying the mud seemed to ease the pain and was refreshing.
At mile 6 I took my second helping of EnergyBits. I had swallowed 20 or so little discs of algae without chewing about 20 minutes before starting the race. I knew an aid station was coming up after the 6.5 mile marker, so I decided to experiment… and chew my bits.
First, the bad with the race… Nothing much to report here, except for only two things.
1. When I entered online I forgot to change the year on my birthdate on the electronic form. I caught the error on my confirmation email (it had my birth year as 2014). I immediately emailed the contact listed on the Cedars Frostbite website, notifying them of the issue. I received a reply that my birth year would be updated in their files. Last night, I saw an email from a different person with Cedars Frostbite, asking for my age. I emailed back, but today, when I went to check results on the board, I was listed as “unknown” for the age groups. Honestly, it didn’t matter on this day, as my time would’ve put me in the 20th spot in my age group, but it is definitely something to keep in mind for the future – DOUBLE CHECK ALL FORM FIELDS BEFORE CLICKING THE SUBMIT BUTTON!
2. They ran out of pizza. Huge bummer. I actually got to the counter just in time for the last slice. I felt bad for all the runners still coming in. There were some cookies, oranges and lots of bananas still left, but nothing beats pizza after a long run like that. It’s so good, we stopped on the way home and got a couple for supper!
Now, then, I’ll address the only bad thing I found about EnergyBits – the annoying rattle of the bits inside their tin. I noticed a few looks from other runners as I rattled along, but I just acted oblivious. About 2 miles in, my head was sweating, so I pulled my beanie off and stuffed it in my pocket (so now you know why it looks like my belly is pooched out in that photo above!). That nicely muffled the noise. On my next run with EnergyBits I will try putting cotton balls in the tin to keep the bits still and silenced.
Picking them out of my tin left my fingers covered in green, but that wasn’t really that bad. I just wiped them on my jacket – it’s getting washed after this run anyhow. I had been warned about the taste. Some say EnergyBits taste very GREEN, others call it earthy. I’d agree with earthy. It’s really not bad. The really ugly part was my teeth!
As I chewed, they seemed to grow in my mouth, becoming a big wad of cow cud that stuck in my teeth, coated my mouth and made my lips green. (Hmmmm, sounds great for a Shamrock Shuffle!) I was picking at my teeth for the next 3 miles, trying to clear them out and get every bit of nutritious goodness into my belly where it could do some good. By the time I finished the race, my teeth were mostly clear of all the algae, but my tongue was still green!
SUMMING IT UP
Coming in at 2:18:08, I finished the run in the 2:15 – 2:20 time range I had HOPED for. My 13.1 treadmill run two weeks ago took me 2:25:00, and that was with my knee acting up in the final mile, causing me to mix in some walking. I didn’t know how many hills this course would have and how big they would be or how they would affect me… or how my knee would behave. My knee was fine throughout the run, thankfully. This time it was my ankle and hips, but I pushed through. The hills weren’t bad at all – nothing like the ones I train on. I did walk some on the hills, though, trying to find relief for my ankle.
All my little personal pains aside, this is definitely a race I would do again. It had a friendly, laid-back atmosphere and was family-friendly. There was a big playground near the start/finish, so I know in the future baby girl could be having fun with that while I run. There are also lots of trails to explore. On this day, Mr. Incredible enjoyed about 5 miles of the hiking trails while I ran. It really meant a lot to me that we both got to enjoy the great outdoors.
As for the EnergyBits, I’m sold on them. Once again, I experienced a steady energy flow and never felt like I needed something extra. On my treadmill run, I was absolutely starving afterwards and INHALED my breakfast. This time, though, the second portion of bits sustained me even after the run. I took my time stretching, I ambled over to the results printouts, I shuffled through the crowd to get a plate of food… all without feeling hungry, much less starving like before. Hunger came a little later, but by then I had my pizza in hand… and a bagel with peanut butter… and a banana… and a peanut butter Clif bar… and later a few more slices of pizza at home. Hmmmm, maybe next time I should eat a few more EnergyBits post-run and see if that helps the pizza craving?
I know as I increase my distance to the marathon, and onwards to my plans of running Ultras, I’ll need more calories to fuel my run. So, I’m experimenting as I go, and I’ll share with you what I find as I test more products. Hopefully, I’ll find some more companies as generous as EnergyBits so that I can share more than just words of experience. So, keep your eyes peeled for more to come in the FUEL THE FIRE series!
And, stay tuned for a FUEL THE FIRE giveaway in March! I’ve teamed up with some other bloggers for a Blog Hop Giveaway in March, and I’m putting together some goodies for you so that you can FUEL THE FIRE in you! If you want to give EnergyBits a try, then this is a giveaway you will want to enter as the friendly EnergyBits team has offered a sample to include in the prize package. If you’d like to know more about EnergyBits, visit their website at www.energybits.com.
So, tell me, did you run this weekend? How did you FUEL THE FIRE?