Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good day

Wow, yesterday was a really interesting experiment for me. The weather turned out to be ideal, the miles clicked by quickly, and the food from McDonald's wasn't nearly as uncomfortable to get down (and keep down) as I'd expected. After a short run from home to my first McDonald's stop on the Lake Washington loop, I stopped for breakfast. First, I was very pleased to see the inside of the place totally empty, then realized that the drive-thru was lined up nearly down the street. I had a Deluxe Breakfast and a Medium coffee. It was a large amount of food, and I certainly hope not many people ever order it. Feeling pretty full and like I had a load of bricks in my stomach I started making my way up and around the north side of Lake Washington. Once things began to digest a bit, I moved quickly and felt good all the way around to Bellevue. I had planned to stop for lunch there, but was feeling good, not hungry, and couldn't stomach the thought of another grease bomb meal already, so I pushed on.

Next stop was the McDonald's in Renton where I had planned to have a Big Mac, but the picture up on the menu was just too daunting for my shaky stomach. I went with the 1/4 pounder value meal instead, and it seemed about right for me. I was definitely hungry at that point, but it wasn't so much food that it made me feel bad this time. On down around the south side I went, and started coming up the west side. The many miles of pavement began to take their toll on my body by the end, but I still felt strong.

I stopped for one last "meal" of sorts at the McDonald's near University Village. I simply couldn't stomach any more full meal deals, but figured I'd better have a bit more food to get me home. I just had 2 apple pies and a medium mocha and was back on my way. My head lamp and blinking red light on, I powered through back home, and started refueling like crazy on water and sports drink.

So my total calories burned on the day (according to one of those simple calorie calculators online) was 7,822. I consumed only 3350 calories through the course of the day (oops). So I actually ended the day with a 4,472 calorie deficit, but felt amazingly fine throughout the day. Although my last "meal" ended up being only a snack really, I feel I definitely proved that just a few meals from McDonald's pretty sufficiently fueled me all the way around Lake Washington for a 60ish mile run. At the same time many people are eating the same thing, sitting at a desk, and not exercising. That is really scary. You can see my caloric/nutrition breakdown in the below chart.

Some observations in general:

McDonald's related;
1) I was amazed/baffled by how many people were at all the McDonald's I went to and just how busy they were.
2) McDonald's staff is not accustomed to a shorts-clad sweaty runner ordering food (that's a good thing I think). It was like worlds colliding and I could tell it just felt strange to them.
3) McDonald's has the calorie count of most menu items displayed on the menu now. That's a step in the right direction I think, but I very seriously doubt this affects anyone's ordering decisions (judging from what was on peoples' trays).
4) They don't even give you the option of ordering just 1 apple pie. On the menu, it's listed as just "2 apple pies." Period. I think the option for just 1 could be a positive thing.

Running related;
1) I don't generally eat enough when I run, even though I try really hard. Although this was clearly a bit too much in single sittings (and far from the right fuel for running), it did make it clear to me that the high calorie intake was beneficial in keeping me feeling good (once my stomach settled down of course).
2) Although they're conveniently located and occur frequently, McDonald's does not make for a good aid station option.


Will Thomas said...

What a great idea. I hope it motivated lots of people.

It's sad, I'm not a huge fast food fan (maybe once a month), but one reason I run is so that I can eat what I want, when I want. I probably have that backwards. oh well!

Unknown said...

would love to get in touch with you. miss those days we used to run thru the military park in v'burg. whenever you have a moment... send me your email address at

best wishes, jason

Anonymous said...

Dear Sam - Have you posted your Lake Washington route anywhere where those of us contemplating such an endeavor can take a peek? Thanks!

Peter said...

Nice blog... I've read your story a few years back when you did the 50/50 before Dean. Very impressed. I also went to school at St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, so I'm especially familiar with your cause.

So, regarding fueling, have you tried Spiz?

I mix it to about 1/2 capacity, which is still over 350 calories per 16 oz bottle. Any more and it starts mucking up my stomach too.

Aside from that, I feed the beast whatever I want during a long run. But like you, I often do not eat enough prior to, during or after my runs... but some how survive through the big miles.

Best of luck with your running. Keep it going. -peter

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