By Jack McDermott
As most runners know, GU is one of the many popular Sports Gels that runners use during endurance events to give them a much needed boost to finish the race. It tastes like liquid candy with a consistency somewhere between Elmer’s glue and snot. After the Rock N’ Roll marathon, I have been trying to adjust back to “normal” life by addressing my addiction to this running elixir.
I attended the GU-Addiction support group (Florida chapter) last month, and I would like to share my harrowing experience. I learned about the clandestine “GU-Addiction Support Group” on the Internet and was given an address for an abandoned warehouse outside of Orlando. After arriving at the location, I was greeted by a hooded figure who motioned me inside. After whispering the secret password, “glycogen,” I was ushered into a dark room in the basement.
As soon as my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, I found myself surrounded by a motley crew of burned-out runners in speedos and sportsbras. These sorry individuals were suffering from various GU-related withdrawal symptoms including, but not limited to: enlargement of the spleen, nervous twitching, jaundice, hemorhodial inflammation, and loss of bladder control. (Fortunately, I only had three of the above mentioned maladies).
There were roughly 20 runners in the group, including “Bob” another new person like myself. The Counselor was a local running champion until he overdosed on GU and collapsed beneath the Citgo sign with one mile to go in the Boston Marathon. He has since retired from running, and in addition to being a GU-addiction counselor, is a part-time motivational speaker. His latest book: “Clueless and GU-less: How I Overcame My Addiction” has achieved cult-like status in the running world. The meeting started:
Counselor: We have two new guests with us – first I’d like to introduce everyone to “Bob.”
Everyone: Hello, Bob.
Bob: Hi, My name is Bob and I’ve been addicted to GU for 2 years now. (Sobbing) It all started while I was training for my first marathon. All of my friends were “doing GU” and kept telling me how great it was. At first I resisted — but then a friend convinced me to eat some Tri-Berry GU.
Counselor: Yes, Bob, peer pressure can be difficult. Please continue –
Bob: After the marathon my craving just increased. I started experimenting with other flavors, Vanilla Bean, Orange Burst, Chocolate Outrage — and when the new Banana Blitz came out, I quit my job and drove to the GU headquarters in Berkeley, California so I could be the first in my running club to try it. I was out-of-control. (Tears were pouring down Bob’s face).
Counselor: Yes you were, Bob. Then what happened?
Bob: Then I started eating GU when I wasn’t running, spreading it on toast, putting it in my coffee, brushing my teeth with it —
Jack: Wow, Bob, I can already tell that you and I are a lot alike!
Counselor: Jack, please don’t interrupt. You’ll get your turn.
Bob: Now the next part is a bit personal.
Counselor: Well, Bob, that is why we’re here – to get personal.
Bob: I really want to quit my GU habit, but my wife won’t let me.
Counselor: Uh … why is that, Bob?
Bob: You see, these GU-packets work better than my Viagra prescription!
Counselor: Uh …
Bob: I couldn’t believe it at first, but I’m telling you people, this stuff really works!
Jack: Excuse me, about my earlier comment –
Counselor: Bob, I think that’s enough!
Bob: When I increased my mileage, I started to lose interest in my wife. Let’s just say my “performance” deteriorated.
Counselor: Bob! Too much information!
Bob: So, I started using Viagra, but that only worked occasionally.
Counselor: Good grief Bob! I’m not that kind of a counselor!
Bob: Then I tried some relaxation techniques that I learned in my Yoga class — but that didn’t work either.
Counselor: Bob!?!? I’m begging you -“
Bob: But when I tried GU-packets I finally got results. My wife has been so grateful that she keeps putting GU-packets in my sack lunch daily.
Counselor: Bob !!!!
Bob: I’m sorry. I am so ashamed.
Counselor: Yes, well, we do have another guest and his name is Jack.
Everyone: Hello, Jack.
Counselor: Now, Jack, you’ve admitted having the same problems that Bob has?
Jack: Uh … not exactly.
Counselor: Well to me it sounds like you are in denial. (Group murmurs agreement)
Jack: What!?!? Are you kidding me?
Bob: Yeah, Jack, it really helps to share your feelings with the group –
Jack: Shut up, Bob! I’m telling you, I don’t have that problem!
Counselor: I know it’s difficult but you really need to open-up.
Jack: I think there’s been some mistake.
Counselor: What kind of mistake?
Jack: I’m not even a runner!
Counselor: Oh really? Then why are you here?
Jack: I just came in to use the bathroom!