FitOldDog Failed To Complete The Los Cabos Ironman But The Primal BluePrint Fat Adaptation Experiment Was A Success

Mike Voice of Ironman Twitter

Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!

Photo from Cabos the morning after the Los Cabos Ironman

View from the balcony of the El Ganzo Hotel Los Cabos the morning after the Los Cabos Ironman, as FitOldDog reflects on a race not completed.

Just before the Los Cabos Ironman, 2013, my son said, “You look really fit, Dad,” which I attribute 100% to my low carb diet plus a little exercise. The next day I didn’t need to eat anything during a 10.5 hour grueling workout, whilst having plenty of energy. The Primal Blueprint Fat Adaptation Experiment was a success, in my opinion, but I need to apply it to an Ironman race I actually complete before Mike, the voice of the Ironman, will believe me, I’m sure. Thanks Mark, of Mark’s Daily Apple and The Primal BluePrint. It was great not having to carry all that food, eating on a strict schedule, whilst having no fear of bonking nausea. Just water and electrolytes! I got to enjoy the scenery instead.

Well, it’s the morning after the Los Cabos Ironman race, and you might think that I’m disappointed that I didn’t make the bike cutoff. First time I experienced that, but it was really interesting. Knowing I was recovering from the flu, undertrained on the bike, and in order to save my legs for the marathon, I went easy on the bike under really tough conditions, including endless hills, wind and intense sun. I went a bit too easy. But it wasn’t easy, it was tough as hell (wind, hills, intense sun).

Primal low carb meal in Los Cabos in preparation for the Ironman race.

Primal low carb meal in Los Cabos in preparation for the Ironman race.

I found myself sprinting in aerobars for the last 20 miles, and at about 105 miles a motorcycle pulled alongside and the young man, a very nice Mexican guy, pointed at his watch and said, “Cinco minutos.” I knew my goose was cooked, but my legs were too as I was clearly undertrained for such a ride, and doing a marathon would be a bad idea. So I happily conceded after the five minutes were up, during which time I was vainly hoping to finish. No Way! I was piled into a van with three very upset and extremely fit female athletes, and home we went. The ‘pickup crew’ was friendly and efficient, and I went over to my real job, support crew for my son, Nigel, who had a good race, and we were eating a marvelous tortilla soup together in a lovely Mexican restaurant within no time.

My friend Zaid grows lovely lemon trees in pots in his office.

My friend Zaid grows lovely lemon trees in pots in his office.

What did I learn from this? Roll with the punches. I suspect that Ironman training is good for me, but whether the actual races are I’m not quite sure. I’ll revisit that after the 2013 Lake Placid race in July, but I love the sport.

One thing came out of this really clearly. If you fat adapt you can workout intensely for 10.5 hours, which I did, and not eat the whole time, without bonking, feeling hunger pangs, or suffering from nausea. I failed to show that you can complete an Ironman this way, so I’ll save that for the Lake Placid race in July. Lots of bike training between now and then, including the Mountains of Misery.

Consolation prize: I was first in my age group out of the swim, a beautiful 2.4 miles in the Sea of Cortez.

I have no complaints. The staff at the El Ganzo Hotel were great, going to any lengths to help us have a good race (including a 4:15 am pre-race breakfast). The officials, support staff and volunteers were friendly and efficient, and the crowd was into it. Great race, but if they have it next year I’d better not neglect my bike training.

Onward and upward!

-k @FitOldDog



  1. You are really brave to even try this. I get really wonky about food but am definitely interested to keep watching the project. Thanks for sharing with me.

  2. Heck of an effort, by far! Just a note, I did a 12 hour race this weekend. If I hadn’t eaten during it, I would have crashed hard. Even the top runners at the event chowed down regularly. But I look forward to hearing how it goes for you later. You’re an inspiration for sure!

    • Hi Joe, thanks for the comment. You have to fat adapt OR eat, no half measures, that is the key. I only adapted for 4 months, and it was enough to switch my transcriptome across to a quasi-fasting pattern. We’ll see how the experiment goes. Mark is on track, but when it comes to exercise he doesn’t approve of these endurance events, considering them excessively stressful and un-Paleo. He writes some interesting stuff. I think that the closer you come to LT the more likely you are to need to eat some moderate glycemic index carbs during your race. One of my worries was adequate up-regulation of my Cori cycle to keep pace with loss of muscle glycogen. I’ll continue the experiment and post each one as I complete it. Have fun in all your events this year. OH! Come to think of it, I don’t remember the Boston Marathon winners eating or drinking. Do they I wonder – can’t imagine they can spare a second? I would love to do that race again, so it’s on my agenda for next year. Never know your luck. Cheers, Kevin

  3. Hi Ann, thanks for your encouragement. I plan to test it again during the Mountains of Misery ride in May, the Raleigh Half, and then Lake Placid IM in July. In spite of little niggling doubts as I headed off on the bike with absolutely no food, just Endurolytes fizzy tabs and water, I wasn’t hungry on the bike, didn’t need to eat, no sign of bonking, and didn’t have to carry the usual 9 PowerBars on the bike. Remarkable. I think that Mark is onto something, and I’m sure the medical community and the American food industry will catch up in my children’s or grandchildren’s life time. Makes me think of Woody Allen’s old movie, Sleeper. Again, your input is much appreciated. I’m still finishing The Primal Blueprint, which I’ll review on my blog soon. Happy Running, got to love it. Kevin

  4. Interesting how you apply science to this art. And I so love your good attitude about conceding, this time.

  5. Hey Kev, I asked for my friend Jay (we did the Rugged Maniac together) to weigh in on this, as he Follows the Primal BluePrint diet. Here is his response:

    “Hey Meghan! I have read Primal Blueprint, and basically follow its diet plan. I also casually follow the author’s blog (marksdailyapple). Without judging the fitolddog’s approach, I would say that Mark Sisson advocates strongly against ultra-endurance events — both competition and training standpoint. He recommends low energy activity (walking and hiking) with weight training and sprinting once a week each. (BTW – this is basically the workout program I’m following now, having given up, for now, any races longer than 10K and/or races that might maim me.) I also don’t think Sisson would advocate completing an ultra-endurance event in a fasted state. A Google search will turn up a two part post on his blog about fueling for a marathon in way that keeps with the primal diet. Personally, I have on numerous occasions gone for runs and lifted at the tail end of 18-hour fasts, however, these were hour-long workouts at the most. All of our runs were under these conditions. I always fuel before a race, because competing fasted will affect your performance. Sometimes that fuel is primal, sometimes not Hope all is well in Carrborro. We miss you guys!”

    Also, I plan to call you The FODz from now on.

  6. Thanks Meg.
    Hi! Jay, yep, I was thinking about this during the race and wondering if my Cory Cycle would keep up with my rate of muscle glycogen turnover. I plan to continue experimenting. I finished the Primal Blueprint during the trip, and agree with Mark Sisson on endurance races, but only if you are anywhere near LT, which I never am. I sure felt good during the ride, and not hungry or out of energy generally. It was great not to have to eat all those Power Bars. I think there is a way to finish Ironman’s feeling good. In fact I did by going slow in Lake Placid in 2011 – you can see that from the video of my finish. I plan to continue this experiment with further thoughts on muscle glycogen maintenance. I’ll read more of Mark’s stuff, as it pretty impressive and fits my studies of gene expression patterns in response to fasting during the tail end of my research career. Lots of new stuff to learn, which I enjoy. I think that the trick is to think persistence hunter as you do the race, without being so focused on winning (which I’m not). I’ll follow up on this later, as I recover from my airport-induced food poisoning contracted during my return trip. Los Cabos was a cyclist’s race, a heat adapted cyclist. Best part was the people and the whales, and seeing my son, of course. Thanks again for your comment. Cheers, Kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.