Introduction to Ingurgitation
by Bob Schwartz
I remember many years ago approaching an aid station for the first time during a marathon. I'd never tried drinking on the run before as I usually sat for my meals. I hadn't really thought that there would be any difficulty with this undertaking. Guess again liquid refreshment face.
I quickly lost the handle on seven consecutive cups and just about ripped the arms off of two volunteers handing out drinks as I incorrectly gaged my cup grab speed and strength. I soon realized there's more here than meets the mouth.
I finally held onto a cup and proceeded to take an unintentional and quick shower with a punch-flavored sport drink. As my singlet became stained in red liquid I seemed to be equal parts sweat and fruit cologne.
I quickly surmised that sometimes things are more difficult than they seem. This was clearly apparent as I gazed into my paper cup and noted the solitary drop of drink that remained. It appeared to be mocking me and indicating, "Buddy, you just spilt the rest of me over your shorts and up your nose and I'm all you got left for the next two miles. Don't blow it."
After this initial foray into the arena of drinking while moving, I concluded that along with putting distance, speed, stretching and nutrition into my training regime, I also had to leave ample time for imbibing practice.
To be able to delicately grab a cup of fluid at racing speed and gracefully empty the contents in your mouth is pretty much an athletic event in and of itself. Most of the time the drink goes in every available orifice but my mouth. After a race, I often have to explain to my wife why my ears have a grape colored liquid dripping from them.
Needless to say it's not the most comforting feeling at mile 20 as you try to fight off glycogen depletion and find that most of your electrolyte replacement drink just went into your eyes.
It always amazed me how I could move the cup's contents quickly towards my lips and have it often miss my face completely. The runner along side me is never the least bit amused about having four ounces of energy drink running off his forehead courtesy of my inability to hit the moving target otherwise know as my mouth.
I figure with practice that I can get better. My neighbors undoubtedly question my family's sanity as I strategically position my wife and young children in the driveway, all holding paper cups for me as I run back and forth and back and forth.
I could only hope that others believe we are engaged in some type of high-tech research experiment. Perhaps testing the body's ability to rapidly assimilate different levels of complex versus simple carbohydrates and the yo-yo effect of blood sugars. Unfortunately, I'm sure they're thinking doe-doe and not yo-yo.
I eventually uncover that the key is to squeeze the top of the cup in half, pour it into the mouth as quickly as possible, hold it there, get your bearings, straighten up the esophagus and then give it a quick hard swallow. At first I can't hold it long enough to gulp before it's finding its way up my nostrils. Thankfully, I improve with due diligence and late night training cup sessions with my family in the basement.
I just know that, with my luck, as soon as I perfect the art of aid station drink consumption that they're going to go to sippie cups. You can't stand in the way of imbibing progress.
This story and more in Bob Schwartz's New book: I Run, Therefore I Am - NUTS!