9/11/09

Vegetarian Macaroni Pie

This has to be one of my favorite "creations" that I have put together. It came out super yummy and Karel didn't even mind that it was vegetarian. Lucky for me, he eats whatever I prepare for him, which is something creative every night.
When you are in the mood for pizza, pasta or both, use this recipe to satisfy all your carbohydrate cravings. The healthy serving of pasta in this pie is matched with lots of veggies and you will find plenty of protein in this recipe. Most of all, I think this meal is total comfort food and without tons of calories and fat, you can feel absolutely healthy with every bite.
Enjoy!

Vegetarian Macaroni Pie
*To make this non-vegetarian, keep the tofu but add 1 cup ground turkey or your choice of lean meat. To keep with the vegetarian recipe, you can also add 1 cup vegetarian Boca crumbles with the tofu mixture.

1 cup macaroni noodles
1 egg
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup each sliced veggies: green peppers, mushrooms, onions, roma tomatoes
1/2 can chili beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 container firm tofu (crumble)
1 1/2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 tbsp hot sauce
Pepper
Marinara sauce
Shredded cheese

1. Cook Macaroni to package directions until al dente (slightly firm). Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. As noodles are cooking, cook sliced veggies in 1/2 tbsp olive oil, seasoned with pepper. Cook on medium heat until veggies are soft. Turn off heat and cover until macaroni noodles are cooked.
3. As veggies and noodles are cooking, combine crumbled tofu, garlic, hot sauce, Parmesan and beans in a bowl. Mix with fork.
4. When noodles are cooked, empty water and pour noodles back in pot.
5. After noodles cool for 2-3 minutes, add 1 egg and stir until egg is mixed thoroughly in noodles.
6. In a round deep baking dish, sprayed with non stick spray (especially on sides), place noodles in pan and press with spoon or spatula. Push noodles to the sides of the pan so that the sides of the pan are half-way covered in macaroni.
7. Place bean and tofu mixture on noodles and carefully spread with spoon.
8. On top of beans and tofu, place veggie mixture.
9. Top with 2-3 spoonfuls marinara sauce.
10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until noodles on side of pan are slightly golden brown. When pie is finished cooking, turn off heat, top with a small handful of shredded cheese and let the pie sit in oven for 3-5 additional minutes.

*Serve with green side salad w/ carrots, mandarin oranges, grapes and peanuts.























9/9/09

Hammer Endurance Aminos

If you've been reading my blog for the last four years, you know how passionate I am about Hammer products. It wasn't that I was opposed to Hammer Nutrition four years ago, but I was just getting into long distance sports around the age of 23.
Since graduate school, I have come across countless studies on the benefits of amino acids during endurance exercise, specifically branch chain amino acids. You probably know how much I am obsessed with whey protein and glutamine on a daily basis, in addition to complete protein foods in my meat-free diet.
Many people wondered how I was able to stay focused and energized during the 112 mile bike ride of IMKY with only 3 x 28 ounce bottles of my Hammer mixture, in addition to 20 ounces of water for a 5 hour and 44 minute ride. So long as I met my hydration needs (most athletes need around 20-24 ounces per hour) I knew I was in good hands with my endurance aminos to preserve my glycogen stores and keep my brain focused. I also took Liquid Endurance (Hammer) on the 3 days prior to the race which also had a major positive effect on my hydration status and ability to metabolize fats for fuel. Lastly, Hammer nutrition or not, my nutrition plan during training reflects a solid daily nutrition plan and proper training.
Here's a great article from Hammer Endurance News Issue 65 (which is FREE on the website, in addition to LOTS of free articles) that Steve Born asked me to contribute. Enjoy!
By the way.....when you are ready to make the switch to Hammer Nutrition and get rid of all GI problems and worries with your nutrition plan, mention my customer number 97495 for 15% off your first order.
*if you have any questions about the article, just let me know!

Hammer Endurance Aminos
Ever since its introduction just a short couple of months ago, we have received rave reviews on this product. Athletes are noticing that both their endurance and recovery is significantly enhanced from consistent use of Endurance Amino. Considering that amino acids foster protein synthesis after exercise, as well as delaying protein degradation during exercise, our newest product is recommended before, during, and after exercise.

During prolonged bouts of exercise (more than two hours), some amount of fatigue is expected. Although maltodextrin-rich carbohydrate drinks are the primary sources of fuel for meeting energy and fluid requirements during exercise, Endurance Amino plays an important role in energy production, glycogen resynthesis, and the postponement of fatigue. Taking hourly doses of Endurance Amino, along with Anti- Fatigue Caps, proves to be the ideal combination for athletes hoping to maximize performance. In reference to one of the plausible culprits of fatigue, Anti-Fatigue Caps scavenge excess plasma ammonia, which contributes to a reduction of lactic acid during exercise.

Although Endurance Amino is consumed in capsule form, the same performanceenhancing amino acids (l-leucine, l-isoleucine, l-valine, and l-alanine) naturally occur in the soy protein found in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem... when you take Endurance Amino along with Sustained Energy or Perpetuem, you’re bolstering the amounts of these highly beneficial, exercise-specific amino acids that your body receives (one athlete told me that taking Endurance Amino “supercharges” the benefits received from Perpetuem). Additionally, amino acids play a significant role in providing antioxidant support (via the reduced glutathione component) in Endurance Amino.
BCAAs – The heart of the Endurance Amino formula
How to Use
Endurance Amino
Endurance Amino
2-4 capsules prior to and after exercise. For prolonged exercise, 1-2 capsules may also be taken every hour during exercise.

Without taking anything away whatsoever from the l-alanine and reduced glutathione components in Endurance Amino (because they most definitely have an important place in the formula), the undeniable “heart” of the product is the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) – L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L -valine. Here is some information on these all-important amino acids:

* The BCAAs are considered “essential” amino acids because the body cannot manufacture them on its own. Therefore, the 9 essential amino acids, including the BCAAs, must be obtained from the dietary sources.

* Exogenous protein sources are required in the diet, either through supplements or food, in order to provide essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis.

* Approximately 1/3 of muscle protein is comprised of BCAAs.

* Unlike the other 17 nonessential and essential amino acids, BCAAs are oxidized in the muscle as opposed to the liver. Therefore, BCAAs are used as a fuel source during strenuous, intense, or prolonged activity.

* BCAAs help fulfill 5-15% of the body’s protein-derived energy requirements in an effort to spare glycogen stores, prevent the breakdown of lean muscle tissue, and postpone fatigue.

* According to the central fatigue theory (Bloomstrand, 2006), research suggests that BCAA supplementation plays a significant role in reducing perceived exertion and mental fatigue during exercise. Due to the natural decrease in plasma BCAAs during exercise, the ratio of free tryptophan to BCAAs increases, with a subsequent feeling of lethargy or fatigue. Through BCAA supplementation, tryptophan transport to the brain is inhibited, thus decreasing the buildup of tryptophan in the brain (tryptophan being a precursor to serotonin).

* BCAAs promote anabolism post exercise. Due to a natural catabolic state after exercise, BCAAs help increase protein synthesis and repair micro tears in order to promote an increase in lean muscle mass.

* BCAAs are a precursor for alanine and glutamine, both of which are depleted in large amounts during prolonged exercise. Supplementation with BCAAs helps to restore levels of alanine and glutamine. Maclean et al. (1996) states: “BCAA administration results in significantly greater muscle alanine and glutamine production.”

* L-Leucine appears to play a significant role in protein metabolism. Mediated by intracellular signaling pathways (mTOR), L-leucine encourages protein synthesis in the skin, liver, and muscle while stimulating the secretion of pancreatic insulin.

* Although all three BCAAs are metabolized in the liver, L-leucine has the highest oxidation rate, which contributes to protein synthesis. During exercise when glycogen stores diminish and carbohydrate administration is not meeting energy demands, L-leucine is rapidly broken down into glucose, thus demonstrating its effectiveness for averting muscle loss.

NOTE: Though L-leucine has the highest oxidation rate of the three BCAAs in contributing to protein synthesis, supplementation solely with L-leucine is not recommended because it may lead to an amino acid imbalance. All three BCAAs work together and synergistically; high L-leucine intake is purported to decrease blood and muscle tissue concentrations of both L-isoleucine and L-valine.

Why BCAAs are at the heart of Endurance Amino is summarized nicely by nutritional scientists Bill Misner and Antti Mero. Misner writes:

“Amino acids provide from 5-15% of the energy moiety (portion) for the glucose fraction recruited for energy during exercise. Branched chain amino acids support endurance performance, improve immune system reaction, and enhance recovery. Physiologists often use BCAAs in various formulations to decrease central nervous system fatigue in athletes. Intake of BCAAs during or prior to exercise may delay exerciseinduced or central nervous systeminduced fatigue.”
Amino acid power

“BCAAs (L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine), particularly leucine, have anabolic effects on protein metabolism by increasing the rate of protein synthesis and decreasing the rate of protein degradation in resting human muscle. During recovery from endurance exercise, BCAAs were found to have anabolic effects in human muscle. These effects are likely to be mediated through changes in signaling pathways controlling protein synthesis. Intake of BCAA supplements and/or BCAA-enriched energy gel or drinks enhances endurance performance. BCAA administration results in enhanced endurance performance. Research dramatically supports each of these statements.”

Mero writes:

"Consumption of BCAA (30-35% leucine) before or during endurance exercise may prevent or decrease the net rate of protein degradation, may improve both mental and physical performance and may have a sparing effect on muscle glycogen degradation and depletion of muscle glycogen stores."

If Endurance Amino is not yet a part of your supplement “arsenal,” it’s time to put this powerful product to work for you! It really does deliver the results we say it will, and it’s cost-effective as well (unlike those “everything-and-thekitchen- sink” amino acid products.

Note: Special thanks to Hammer Nutrition sponsored athlete Marni Rakes—who holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN)—for her contributions to this article.

9/8/09

US100K Pro Cycling Classic



This is one of our FAVORITE events of the racing season. Karel has raced this event for the past two years and placed 34th his first year and 14th last year. This race is open to Pro Teams Only and if you aren't on a professional team (full-time Pro) then you must be invited. Although Karel was in the money for both years he had a few of his team members with him last year. This year, Karel was all alone, racing for an overall place and a possible position for the $15,000 overall purse prize (largest single-day pursue for GA). This race is known as the fastest cycling event in the US and with a downhill finish, I always get chills watching the finish.
Last year I ran the 10K which is in conjunction with the cycling event. The event also has an incline skate division, walk division and wheelchair division. The whole course is closed to traffic and the course is NOT easy. You are either going up or down (as you can see in my pictures...if they do the course justice).
We left for Marietta GA (just outside Atlanta) on Sunday morning. I was able to get in a 30 mile ride before we left and at 8:45am we hit the road for our 6 hour drive to Marietta. Luckily, we didn't get our typical ATL traffic and the ride went smoothly. Campy was a joy in the car (like always) and when he wasn't sleeping, kept us very entertained. We brought sandwiches with us so with only a few quick stops we arrived shortly after 3pm.
We stayed at the Homestead Suites in Marietta, about 1 mile from the race start at Cumberland Mall. I always look for Extended stay-type hotels when we travel because I enjoy having a full kitchen when we travel. Usually, the stove and big fridge (and extra space) come in handy when we travel for races for more than 2 days but I don't think we have ever stayed in a hotel without a fridge and/or microwave. Campy made himself at home as soon as we arrived by playing with his bear (he only knows his toys as "bears") on our bed.
Karel wanted to loosen up his legs so as he rode his bike, Campy and I went to the US10K expo. Campy was the center of attention and he surely enjoyed everyone telling him how cute he is...ok, I enjoyed it as well :)
Around 4:45pm Karel, Campy and I headed to the Cheesecake factory, hoping that they would allow dogs in outdoor seating....Nope. I wanted Karel to have a good dinner so I told Karel to order something and we could pick it up when it was ready. Karel ordered orange chicken w/ Pasta (I ate our food that we brought in the room) and while that was being prepared we headed to Hawthorne Suites for Karel's packet pickup.
Karel and I both eat early (and not a lot) on the night before a race and luckily, the Cheesecake Factory does not go overboard on portions when ordering out as they do inside the restaurant. Around 6pm we were back in the room and after eating our dinners it was finally time for a little resting. Campy and I were pooped but Karel wanted to venture out in Marietta and headed to the International Market to do a little shopping. He came back with lots of interesting foods and fruit and I welcomed a few "international" treats for our trip home. At 9:30pm, lights were out.
We woke up at 5:30am on Monday morning and Karel had his oatmeal and coffee. Campy and I headed out at 6:35am for the feed zone.
Because the entire race course for the runners (Cobb parkway) is closed to traffic at 6:45, I wasn't able to watch the race start, which is super exciting to watch. There are SO many athletes in one area, it is just amazing.
I headed 5 miles down the road and parked at the feed zone for the cyclist. The cyclists do 11, 5-mile loops so it was nice knowing that I was able to see Karel every 10-12 minutes. The course is filled with rollers and after 11 loops, the races make a sharp left hand turn to the finish. The cyclists go in the opposite direction from the runners and I remember last year cheering for Karel as I was running to the finish line. Karel told me he likes hearing the cheers from the runners, since the runners just keep coming and coming as the cyclists are racing.
There was a 3-man breakaway for most of the race and the winner of the race (Frank Traveiso) was in the break for a few of the laps. The break got caught with 1 lap to go and I knew the finish would be exciting.
With 3 laps to go, Campy and I made our 1 mile walk to the finish on rolling hills. I ran a few minutes with Campy on the downhill finish because he kept looking at me like "why aren't we running mommy? Everyone else is!"
We found a good spot for the finish and the announcer (who I absolutely LOVE listening to, who also announces speedweek in GA) did a great job getting everyone pumped up. The finish is crazy fast and you can hear the guys running out of gears and pushing as hard as possible. It is so crazy fast, it is almost scary.
Like the last 2 years, I didn't spot Karel crossing the line. Along with trying to take a video (which didn't turn out that well) and holding tightly to Campy's leash, I just hoped that he would have a good (and safe) finish.
After everyone crossed the finish line, Campy and I walked to the other side of the finish line and spotted Karel and his exhausted face. I asked him how he did and he said "I think 10th or 12th". I told him GREAT!!
Karel was anxious to cool-down so I told him we would meet him back at the hotel. With payout usually taking 30 minutes after the results are posted and Campy and I having a 1 mile hike back to our car, we decided to get going. As we were walking I hear the announcer call out top 10 cyclists.
And in 10th place...no Karel.
Bummer, I know he would have loved to be top 10.
And in 9th place....
"Karel Sumbal"
Are you kidding???? I didn't have my phone on me and I knew Karel heard his name on the loudspeaker so I just started to talk to Campy. "Can you believe it Campy? Karel got 9th place!!!". Campy listens very well. I was so excited I was just smiling all the way back to the car. Of course, I find a text from Karel when I get to the car "I GOT 9th!!!".
Although the money is nice, Karel is super excited to have a top 10 finish in an NRC event. This race had 170 starters and is absolutely a race for the big pro teams.
Karel, I'm SO proud of you! I know you work just as hard on the bike as you do in both Trek Stores that you manage. You have passion for whatever you do and you are such an inspiration to me and many others. Most of all, you love being on the bike and it shows. :)

Here are his stats:
170 racers
9th overall
2nd amateur
100k
Total Time: 2hours and 18 minutes
54x11 gear ratio
Top speed (finish) 55 MPH

Enjoy the pics.
Since my video isn't so good...here's a great video of the finish.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5XV5_YLqXo