Essential Sports Nutrition


Heading to Georgia!

Bags are packed, bikes are in the car and we are off to GA. Campy has a sleepover at Beethoven's house until Mon morning and the cats will have to settle out their differences all alone this weekend. Hope our cat/fish feeder Matt doesn't mind the zoo here.
I'm wishing all the 70.3 Augusta athletes the best of luck this weekend. It looks like the weather will be beautiful for late September.
Karel and I are doing the 6 gap century (104 miles) ride in Dahlonega, GA on Sunday. We are leaving this afternoon to make our long drive up to the mountains. Tomorrow morning we will ride 2 hours and on Sunday, well, it looks like I have a long ride in (and out) of the saddle.
I've never done this event before, but Karel did it last year. I am really looking forward to a challenge and to do some climbing. The descends scare me a bit but I am a completely different rider compared to a few years ago. Karel and I, and a group of our Gearlink friends, stayed in cabins in Dahlonega and did most of the gaps that are on the 6-gap race course. However, we didn't do them all in one day. The great thing about this event is that it isn't a race. Well, for the majority of the 3000 participants, we won't be racing. As for a few of the fast guys (Karel included), they will put their cycling skills to the test and I'm sure there will be some competition of who can descend the fastest (I think Karel's max speed last year was somewhere in the 50-55mph range) and finish the course the fastest. Nope, not me. Just doing my thing, hoping that I can stay strong and finish strong...oh, and have lots of fun for the 5,6,7 hours I am out there.

If you are ever interested in the event, here's a brief description...
The Six Gap Century’s ultra challenging route takes you up and down six of the steepest climbs in the North Georgia Mountains. Test your stamina with more than 11,200 feet of vertical climbing over the 104 mile course. Elevations for the six gaps in this ride range from 1,400 feet to 3,460 feet. The toughest climb, Hogpen Gap, will test even the strongest riders, averaging a 7% grade for seven miles, with sections as steep as 15%.

The Three Gap Fifty’s alternative route offers half the gaps and half the distance, but is nevertheless a demanding and challenging course at 58 miles. Elevations range from 1,400 feet to 3,364 feet.

We are proud to present the 2nd Annual Valley Ride. This 35-mile valley option is a great introduction to the infamous Six Gap Century. Taking place in Georgia's Premier Cycling Venue, the Six Gap Valley Ride boasts some of the most scenic mountainside in the Southeast. This route will cast a special spotlight onto Yahoola Valley, Turner's Corner, and R-Ranch in the Mountains.

There is a distance for everyone and most of all, you will be challenged, and find your inner strength, no matter what course you decide to do.

Here are some pics of our trip to Dahlonega back in 2007 when we rode the gaps and watched the Tour de Georgia.

Phil Liggit is great! I was so excited to meet him.


Pre-race nutrition tips

Half of Jacksonville is racing at Augusta 70.3. OK, maybe that is an exaggeration but most of my friends are racing this Sunday. I have received several emails this week regarding nutrition prior to a 70.3 (Half Ironman distance) race. In my opinion, the information I tell athletes prior to a 70.3 race is not much different than what I would tell an athlete racing/participating in a half marathon, marathon, Olympic triathlon or 15K. Olympic and sprint distance triathlon nutrition, as well as 5K and 10K nutrition requires a bit less than the distances I mention above, but nonetheless, the concepts are similar.
Whether you are about to race in a long distance race (anything longer than 90 minutes) or training for your first long distance race, I hope you find these tips helpful and useful.

1) Don't overeat on the days leading up to the race - taper forces you to reduce your training. However, unless you consciously think about, you are likely to eat the same quantities as you did during high volume training. Keep your daily diet around 55-65% carbs, 20-30% protein (lean and low fat) and 15-20% fat during race week. Unless you were significantly losing weight on the weeks leading up to race week, you are likely consume an adequate amount of calories on a daily basis. With a reduction in training, your lack of caloric expenditure will allow you to carbo-load (store digested carbs-glycogen-in your muscles) without having to overeat.

2) Don't give into sugar cravings - with all that extra time, you may find yourself snacking on those sweets you bought after your last long weekend of training. No need to throw them away, just enjoy them after the hard work is done (after the race). Considering that all athletes should de-emphasize simple sugars (ex. sweets, ice cream, candy, deserts, bakery items, cakes, sodas), fatty foods and high calorie meals in the daily diet, focus on slow digesting carbs (complex carbs) and low fat/lean protein and healthy fats with every meal. Always add protein to your snacks and don't forget about your fruits and veggies (electrolytes!).

3) Don't forget to eat - traveling, packet pick-up, expo, photos with friends, meet and greet with tri groups, hotel check-in, bike check-in, re-pack transition got to the race venue at 10am and before you know it is 6pm and you have no idea where to go for dinner. Be sure to include 3 complete meals (around 400-550 calories) and 3-4 snacks (150-250 calories) on the day before the race and two days prior to the race. These same calorie guidelines should be followed on a daily basis to keep your blood sugar stable. Depending on your schedule on the day before the race, you may want to split up your snack calories so that you find yourself snacking (with clean hands of course) every hour or so. Apple, string cheese, granola bar, carrots, nuts/trail mix, PB&J, grapes, low fat yogurt, ripe banana, pretzels, etc. are acceptable snacking choices to keep on hand as you prepare yourself for race day.

4) - Don't go into a meal starving - Although I recommend eating around 5-6pm on the two days prior to the race, be sure not to go into any meal starving, which may cause you to overeat or not store food properly. Having a small veggie, fruit and/or protein mini-snack (around 50-100 calories) such as nuts, cheese, deli meat, apple, pear, trail mix, yogurt, milk, whey protein, hard boiled egg, carrots, celery, grapes or cottage cheese before your meal will keep your blood sugar stable when you eat your carbo-meal.

5) Don't forget to drink - keep that water bottle on hand during the race. Avoid drinking sugary drinks or energy drinks during the days leading up to the race. Don't over drink in order to make up for lost time...Do you find yourself saying "oops, only drank 20 ounces of water yesterday!!! I guess I was too busy to drink." I recommend sipping on 2 x 24-28 ounce sport bottles of water throughout mid morning and mid afternoon and including around 12 ounces water with each meal. You can start your day with coffee but finish off your caffeine fix by 1-2pm in order to ensure a good night rest (coffee or tea are fine on race day morning with breakfast). Avoid diet drinks, especially those with carbonation, which may mask the sensation of hunger, thus causing you to go long hours without eating and may throw off stable blood sugar levels.

6) Don't carbo-load on the night before the race
- you will not enjoy eating a pre-race breakfast at 4am if you had a huge dinner on the night before the race. To give yourself plenty of time to digest your "carbo-meal", "carbo-load" on two nights prior to the race. Carbo-load doesn't mean calorie load so keep your meal around 500-550 calories, emphasizing complex carbs (whole grain bread, salad, steamed veggies, pasta, pizza, potato/sweet potato, rice) with lean/low fat protein (fish, chicken, tofu, cottage cheese, nuts, eggs) and healthy fat (olive oil, avocado, nuts). Everyone knows my favorite pre-race meal which is a sweet potato, bread and salad at Outback, whereas on two nights before a race I have thin crust veggie pizza. Avoid fatty and greasy food (always ask for condiments/sauces on the side and for light on the cheese) and be sure to eat foods which you have practiced before a long training session. You can eat similar foods on the night before the race, but keep your meal around 400-450 calories on the night before the race. Remind yourself that eating a lot on the day before the race will not ensure that you will have plenty of energy during the race. So long as you are eating complete and balanced meals, with a respectable amount of daily calories on the days leading up to the race, and you reduced your training volume, you will have plenty of fuel on race day. The best situation you can put your body in is if you eat the right types of foods (in the right quantities) on the two days prior to the race so that those nutrients can be properly digested and absorbed to be used on race day. The last thing you want on race day is to wake up feeling stuffed, heavy and bloated because you ate too much food.

7) Don't over or under eat on the morning of the race - depending on your race distance, pre-race nutrition will vary. However, the majority of races require around 150-400 calories before the race. For a 70.3 distance race, I recommend around 300-400 calories, 3 hours prior to the race. Do not eat at the race site, eat in your hotel/room. Nerves and excitement can disrupt digestion and may lead you with an upset stomach. Do not fear fiber, as it will be your friend when you go to the bathroom for the first (of many) times on race day morning. Oatmeal is a great way to start your morning prior to a race. However, once again, if you haven't practiced with it, eat something which you know will digest well. Plan ahead if your accommodations for the night don't accomodate your typical pre-race breakfast. You may find yourself eating oatmeal out of the coffee pot without a spoon because you brought your oatmeal but forget the spoon and bowl.
Most people don't consume enough fiber on a daily basis (recommended 25-35 grams) so unless you are trying new high fiber foods on the days leading up to the race, you don't need to worry about the runs or having GI upset during the race. You may be surprised that a large banana has more fiber (3.5g) than Apple and Cinnamon Quaker Oatmeal (2.8g) or 1 plan bagel (2.5g). Be sure to add a little protein and fat to your pre-race meal. The purpose of the pre-race meal is to top off glycogen stores, keep your blood sugar stable prior to the start and to prevent hunger during the race. Overeating before the race will NOT give you lots of energy during the race and under-eating before the race does not ensure that you will prevent GI problems during the race...or, for those aesthetically concerned, will not make you look "lean" at the race start. By balancing a little protein (PB, yogurt, egg) and fat (nuts) with your complex carbs (bagel, english muffin, oatmeal, bread, cream of wheat, granola, ripe banana) you will have a perfect balance in your body to keep you energized during the race. After breakfast, NO more solid food. You may sip on a maltodextrin sport drink (around 80-130 calories mixed in 20 ounces water), in addition to drinking 12 ounces of water with breakfast, if you do not feel like drinking only water (20 ounces) during transition set-up. For the majority of long distance races, I recommend taking in a maltodextrin gel (hammer) 15 minutes prior to race start with 4-6 ounces water. If you can't take in the whole gel, have half.

8) Don't overdo it on supplements - everyone loves the placebo affect but to save you money before the race, don't buy every supplement targeted to triathletes in order to race like the professional athlete you aspire to be. Supplements I recommend: 2 electrolyte endurolytes on the 3 days prior to the race and 2 race day morning. 2 hammer endurance aminos on the 3 days prior to the race and 2 on race day morning. 1 tsp glutamin, 1-2 hammer tissue rejuvinator OR 1 fish oil on a daily basis, but highly recommended on the 4 days prior to a race. Maltodextrin sport drink (ex. Hammer) during the race to ensure stable blood sugar during the race.

9) Food does not equal immediate energy!!!!

You will have good moments, bad moments, happy moments and sad moments. You might not remember the bad moments when you set a PR but when you walk or ride through an aid station during a low moment, eating and drinking everything in site is not recommended. Whenever you have a low moment just slow down. So what if you are riding at a fast pace, chasing down an age group athlete. Who cares if people see you walking for a few minutes during the run. DO NOT add more calories if : you are lightheaded, you are bonking, you are hungry, you have a cramp, you are bloated or you feel tired. Pouring down the sport drinks and eating a gel, 15 minutes after you just had one, will not do the trick. Your body is asking you to slow down because your body is working harder than you trained it to do and/or because you are pushing harder than your nutrition intake will allow. Your body can only take in so much nutrition, at a specific heart rate, to give a steady stream of energy to the working muscles. More so, eating too much may make matters worse by causing bloating or GI upset. By slowing down, your body will quickly turn to fat for fuel. If you are running, just start walking. If you are riding, just spin the legs. Do this for a few minutes and see if the feel passes (it probably will). Next, listen to your bod and rethink your nutrition intake. Taking in 4 electrolytes per hour will not prevent cramps (I recommend 1-2 per hour) and if anything, will likely cause GI pain. If you are cramping, maybe it isn't nutrition related. Maybe your muscles are just tired and overworked. If you are lightheaded or feeling bonked, slow down, take in a sip of sport drink or a gel and give your body time to get back to its pace. Jog for a few minutes and before you know it, you will be able to get back to that sustainable HR that you forget to stay at during the race.
In long distance races, it is likely that some nutrition-related problem will occur. However, the worst situation is if your nutrition-related problem prevents you from reaching the finish line. There are many scenarios that may occur during a race that are also training related, and not nutrition related. But by planning out your nutrition prior to the race, sticking to a plan during the race and then listening to your body when situations arise, you will find yourself reaching the finish line without any major nutrition problems.

Last tip:
10)Have fun - Trust your nutrition and trust your training. The more stressed, overwhelmed and worried you feel about having "perfect" nutrition before and during the race, the more likely you will forget the little things that make a great race. Stay positive and be in the moment when it comes to your nutrition during the race. As for before the race, put your Type-A personality to good use and just race your plan and stick to your own schedule.
Good luck!!


Happy Birthday Karel!!!!

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband. The one who calms me down when my stress level is 10x100. The one who makes me laugh when my day seems blah and the one who shares my excitement when I have so much to say and just need someone to listen. And most importantly, the one who will love me unconditionally for the rest of my life.
I love you babe!!!

K - Kind
You are so kind to everyone. I never thought I would marry someone who cares about animals the way that I care about them. Although you keep me realistic that I don't have to rescue every animal that I see, you let me welcome home the special ones. Thank you for giving our fish a burial outside rather than flushing them down the toilet. Thank you for being so kind to my family, my friends and strangers. You go out of your way to help people at the Trek store and I know they love your over-the-top service.

A - Authentic
You are like no one else I have ever met. Ok, maybe the accent kind of gives it away that you aren't from the US but you are unique is your own special way. Your work ethic is amazing and I think that is due to your European upbringing. You are soft spoken when you are have things on your mind and outgoing when you are comfortable in a situation. You are incredibly funny and our close friends see that on a daily basis. You have learned many things the hard way but because you never gave up, you are excelling in so many things. You have taught me so much about myself and showed me how special you are in this world.

R - Really, really fast
The week before we met, our match maker told me that you were "really, really fast". At the time (May 2006), you were only a category 3 rider who just loved riding his bike. Now you race as a category 1 rider and you are placing top 10 in so many of your races. Cyclists in the area like when they see you on the group rides because they know the ride will be much faster than normal. Then when the ride is over, I hear whispers about how exhausted people are from trying to stay on your wheel or chase you down for an attack. Despite your 40+ hour/week work schedule (often 6-7 days per week) as the general manager of the Trek store, you still find time to put in the hours on the bike to make improvements with your training. And lastly, because you are super super fast, and I enjoy your company when I need to train, I have no choice but to work hard and to get faster, in order to be able to ride with you.

E - Eat!

You are a great eater...where does it all go?
Although you have a fit and athletic body, I think it goes unannounced how healthy you are and how much you enjoy taking good care of your body. I know you love your chocolate, wings, wine, beer and sweets but I love how you also enjoy eating your fruits and veggies. With your great appetite you are able to eat all of my creations at night and 100% of the time, clean your plate. Although we don't eat out at all when we are in Jax, I love going to new places when we travel. Thank you babe for keeping yourself so healthy so that I can enjoy many many many quality years with you.

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving my family and my friends. I couldn't imagine my life without you and I look forward to forever with you!




Around late March/early February I noticed a black and white cat in the bushes in our apartment complex. I was driving to swimming at 5:15am and barely noticed her because it was dark. I didn't think much of it because there are lots of stray cats in our complex and several outside cats which stay outside their owners apartment. It's easy to notice the stray cats from the cats with owners because the stray cats usually wander around different complexes whereas the cats with owners stay in the same spots everyday. Campy knows the hiding spots for all the outdoor cats and he's gotten a few smacks from getting to close to their personal space. Campy is used to the smacks from Smudla here in our own place. Poor Campy, he never fights back, barks or attacks. In our place Campy is just in the wrong place at the wrong time and when Smudla wants to eat, Campy just turns his head for fear that Smudla will raise her paw to him. My little one just wants to be friends with everyone and Smudla LOVES to eat.

I saw this cat every now and then over the past few months but over the past 2-3 weeks, Karel and I have noticed that this black and white cat has been wandering around our complex more than normal. We didn't know if it belonged to someone near us or if it was a stray. It was just weird that this cat would just sit in our bushes by our stairs at least 3-4 times per week. This cat was really scared of us so it was hard to get close to see if it was male or female and if we thought it was clean enough to have a home. The cat was scared of me when I called for him/her but for Karel, he has a special way with cats. After a few tries of getting the cat to come to us, Karel was able to see that it was a girl.
After a few more days of seeing the cat once or twice, Karel decided to give it some food. It was meowing so loud at us when we saw her and it was hard to watch her just sit in the bushes, scared and hungry. She wasn't incredibly skinny as if she was starving but her nails were super long, as if she didn't have a home or the owners left her at the complex. We heard from our apartment manager that people often do that with their animals. Absolutely horribly and so sad. she even said she has kept 2-3 dogs and cats that were left behind.
Over the past week and a half, we fed her whenever we saw her. We probably saw her 3-4 times over the past week and a half and we mostly saw her in the early morning and late evening. We thought that it this cat had a home, shouldn't she be out during the day and at home at night? I don't believe in letting cats out so for me, I was just assuming that the owner (if there was one) didn't care about this cat.
Last Wednesday I put up fliers at out complex with a picture of her and the words
"Is this your cat? If so, please email me (with my email). If not, I'd like to find her a good home".
I didn't receive any emails so we decided this cat had no home.
Karel and I didn't know what to do on Thurs and Friday because this cat would follow us up 3 flights of stairs (a little scared with each step) and try to get in our apartment. I had never seen such a thing before. We let her inside one time but I didn't want any fleas in our place. Also, with two animals already in our place, I wasn't sure if this was a good idea to have another animal just stopping by. It was hard on both Karel and myself to say good night to her when we had her in our place because it was about to rain and she was just insisting that she needed to stay with us.
If I had a house, I would probably have a lot of stray animals. I don't think of pets as major responsibilities taking up my time. The love I get from animals makes it effortless to take care of them.
Friday and Saturday were hard for us. We thought about her all the time. We gave her the name Madison on Wed when we put up the fliers. We both thought that her spots reminded us of a cow. Karel got me this cute Cow mug (with spots on it) from Wisconsin when he went to Trek World in 2008 so we decided on Madison (although she isn't from Wisconsin). Anytime Karel or myself were away from our place, we would call each other and ask "did you see Madison today?"
All last week (wed, thurs, fri and sat) Madison sat outside our place, in the bushes waiting for us to get home. She waited for us to wake up and waited for us to take Campy outside. She was very friendly to Campy and always listened for his rabies tag on his leash to make noise. She always knew when we were coming outside. On Friday night, we looked outside out bedroom window and saw Madison in the bushes. It was so hard to see her out there because we had gotten attached to her. It wasn't an option if we were going to keep her or find her a home. If we took her in our place, we would keep her.
On Sat evening, when Karel got home from work, we were eating dinner and he asked me if I saw Madison this afternoon. I didn't see her when I walked Campy but I saw her early in the morning. After dinner, as I was putting on Campy's leash, Karel looked at me before I walked out the door and said "Hey babe, if you see Madison, tell her she can come home now." I looked at him and said "Sounds good".
Campy and I walked all around the complex looking for Madison. I was yelling her name and Campy was a little confused, but still doing a great job looking for her. I didn't see her anywhere until we were about to walk up the stairs and Campy starts pulling hard on his leash. In the bushes, here comes Madison. I told Madison to come with me, and she did. Up 3 flights of stairs, Madison followed Campy and me and as I opened the door, Madison came inside and I told Karel that Madison was home.
Madison made herself at home very quickly and although Smudla wanted nothing of it (Smudla doesn't like any other cat or dog in her space. This is her apartment, we just pay the rent). She hissed at Madison but Madison wanted to be her friend. Campy loved her instantly and Madison rubbed herself all over Campy. I was trying to be compassionate but in my head I was just thinking about all the germs that were getting in our place.
We took Madison into the bathroom and it was time to clean her up. She got a bath with flea shampoo, she got her nails cut and she got a pretty pink color. Sadly for Smudla, she got a bath as well. Campy was due for his monthly flea stuff so within an hour of getting Madison, everyone was clean.
As for the rest of Saturday, it just felt right. Madison cuddled up to Karel and I (she went back and forth between us, curling in a ball) and cleaned herself and napped. She would sleep for a few minutes, then clean herself. We could tell she was happy to be under a roof, well feed and with clean drinking water. On Sunday, it was clear that campy and Madison will be great friends. They already love each other and Madison loves rubbing her head on Campy's body. Smudla is doing better than we thought and still has a great appetite and still hangs out with us when she isn't sleeping (which is only a few hours during the day).
Karel and I don't feel like we didn't anything special. It just feels right. Here we are with 3 fish tanks (55 gallon, 38 gallon, 20 gallon), 2 cats and a dog in our apartment... and well, it just feels right. Another cat off the street and in a loving home.
*It's so cute watching her discover everything in our place. First it was the fish tank and now it is the printer. She doesn't meow, she isn't annoying and she isn't mean. She is just thankful to get some rest.

Our two rescue animals (Smudla is a rescue cat as well, but she wants nothing to do with pictures right now)