Essential Sports Nutrition


Athens Twilight Crit!

This will be my second Twilight and Karel's third. As a spectator, there are no words to possibly describe this race.
Our friend James, who is an amazing cyclist, posted this on Karel's FB. If you are a cyclist and race/ride with others I am sure you can agree with James:
"Karel, Good luck in what I used to do...keep telling yourself, "It can't keep going this fast for the whole race, it will slow up soon..." :-)

If you only knew how fast this race was you would totally agree with that quote.
We will be in Athens tomorrow around mid-afternoon so that Karel can do the Computrainer event at 5:45pm (his heat of 8 cyclists). Although Karel is not a fan of the trainer, this unique event gives certain riders an advantage on Sat for the Twilight Crit by assigning them a higher number for the starting corral. It is really neat to watch 8 guys "race" on computrainers with TV's in front of them (and in the audience) to see who is winning. The Computrainer is set up to replicate the exact Twilight Course and it is just brutal to see these guys go all out on the computrainer. It is also really neat to see their power and HR. I will be sure to post pics.
Here's the info about the main event:
The main event of the Athens Twilight, features cyclists representing teams from all over the nation and the world. The men's criterium is a 80-km race around historic downtown Athens. The course start-finish is on Clayton Street at College Avenue. The 1 kilometer course runs clockwise on Clayton, Lumpkin, Washington and Thomas.
With $120,000 in prize money on the line for the USA CRITS Series, the Athens Twilight Criterium is dubbed the most insane criterium in the world. Don't miss a minute of the evenings events.

This event starts SpeedWeek for USA crits so Karel will be racing 6 (possibly 7) crits in 9 days. This weekend and next weekend is our "vacation" so we are really looking forward to getting away. We both look forward to Speedweek all year long...I can't believe it is finally here.
Karel has never finished the race before (most people don't) so he is hoping that this is the year that he doesn't get stuck behind a crash (like last year) and can get in a good position to stay in the race. With 150 starters and around 40-50 finishers, you get treated like a superstar regardless if you cross the finish line.
Karel's favorite part of the race last year was getting high-fives from spectators and getting congrats from people just because he stayed in a little longer than the last guy who didn't finish.
I will be doing the 5K race on Sat morning, followed by a bike in the hills of GA (YAY!!). Sunday I will do a long-ish run, probably followed by an easy bike with Karel.
On Sun afternoon we head to Roswell GA for Crit #2 which will be at 6pm at night.
Did I mention that the Athens Twilight Crit starts at 9pm?!?!!?!
CRAZY! Nothing like watching the top cyclists in the USA race for close to 2 hrs, with over 10,000 spectators.
*If you live in the Athens or Roswell area, let me know (email me). I'd love to meet up!
Here's the link for the Athens Twilight Crit


Happy Earth Day and Chocolate peanut butter tofu pudding

My furry little ones....

Although I don't recognize it all the time, every day is Earth Day to me.

Last year I posted some tips for being more Earth-friendly and I got some great comments from others who do their part in keeping the earth clean and respecting the planet. From having garden's to using "green" products, I sure do have a lot of earth-friendly blog readers!
I think it is important to take some time today and find a few small things that you can do to save your planet. If I could make one suggestion, I think the biggest change is driving less and walking/biking more. Just think of all the places you drive to during the day. I know there is a big movement right now (more than ever) to create more biking/walking friendly roads but if you have the opportunity to walk instead of drive, I think it is an easy (and heart-friendly) change that anyone can do a few times (if not every day) during the week.
I want to stress that we all do not have to strive for perfection when we want to make a change in our life or make a difference in this world. There is no perfect training/exercise plan, there is no perfect eating plan and certainly, no one is expecting you to be 100% "green".
Just because you don't recycle your plastic doesn't mean that you aren't saving the planet. Maybe you re-use wrapping paper, avoid buying plastic water bottles or turn off lights when you aren't in the room. Just look of the many ways that you are saving the planet!
Rather than thinking of ALL the things you can do to live a healthier life, think of a few things that you can do to be a healthier person. Rather than trying to stick to training/exercise plan every day of the week, which may be unrealistic or not beneficial to helping you meet your weight loss/training goals, try to stay consistent with a training/exercise plan most days of the week. On the other days, just stay active and have no expectations for your workout.
Rather than having the "all or nothing" approach to "saving the planet" just pick up trash when you see it or buy/use a re-usable grocery bag.
No matter if it is exercise, fitness, health or nutrition-related, believe me when I tell you that small changes in your life really do make a big difference. You have to find what works for you, without comparing yourself to anyone else.
In honor or Earth day, take a minute and look at all of the great things you are doing in your life (nutrition, activity, health related) rather than looking at the things you "wish" or feel you "need" to be doing.

What are your "EARTH DAY" tips???

Although most of my habits started a bit before graduate school, I realized I was doing a lot of great things for the planet as I was trying to save money.
Here are 21 of my earth friendly habits:
1) Reuse grocery bags for "lunch" bags
2) Reuse grocery bags for trash and/or dog/cat poopy bags
3) Use re-usable grocery bags most of the time
4) Separate my "big" trash items (ex. milk jugs, egg cartoons, laundry detergent, boxes that I can't open up, etc.)from my regular small trash so that I take out less trash bags and fill-up the bags as much as possible.
5) Air-dry cycling/triathlon clothing (with the increasing temps we do laundry a lot more often than in the winter)
6) Never throw away food. I freeze/refrigerate leftovers and find a way to use it.
7) Walk to the post-office (.3 miles down the road) and to the bank (.4 miles down the road) w/ Campy.
8) Walk to the Trek store w/ Campy (1.2 miles) a few times per week to say hi to Karel.
9) Walk to the grocery (.4 miles) w/ Campy and Karel when we need a few necessities (ex. milk, eggs, dark chocolate, yogurt).
10) Karel bikes to and from work in the summer.
11) Carpool whenever possible.
12) Try to run errands on the same day.
13) Re-use wrapping paper.
14) Re-use tinfoil, baggies, glass containers, etc. whenever possible.
15) Don't use lights unless I have to. I LOVE sunlight through my windows.
16) Britta water in the fridge instead of plastic bottles.
17) Turn down the AC 3 degrees in the evening and keep the apartment comfortable during the day.
18) Print out directions on scrap paper (or just hand-write directions on scrap paper).
19) Re-use big envelopes from races (typically race packet) for mailing or storing papers.
20) Pay bills online and re-use envelopes from credit card, electric company, cable, etc. whenever I can (typically I use old envelopes when I pay the rent or need to put together some papers to bring to meetings).
21) Give away (or try to sell) items I don't use rather than throwing them away.
22) Ask the grocery check-out employee's to stuff my bags when I don't have my re-usable bags
23) Shop at farmer's market for fruits and veggies
24) Buy in bulk whenever possible

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tofu
Karel loved this dessert so much I caught him licking the bowl!
Campy also loves this recipe - who doesn't like licking the peanut butter off the spoon?

Serves 2
1/2 cup tofu
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tbsp water
1 tsp natural PB
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp honey
1/2 ounce dark chocolate
optional: Brown sugar

1. Melt chocolate for 30-45 sec., stir and then melt again for 30-40 sec. You don't want the chocolate to become hard but at the same time you want it a little soft so it will blend evenly.
2. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth (you may need to scrape down the inside of blender incase chocolate or PB sticks to the sides).
3. Pour into two dishes and top with a pinch of brown sugar (optional).
4. Best if you refrigerate for 30-60 min.
*Packed with protein!


A healthy breakfast makes for a great day

There are a lot of blogs on the web. Some blogs are inspiring, funny and/or entertaining while others are informative and educational. I would like to think that my blog is both informative and inspiring and perhaps a little entertaining with my Campy pics. If you are one of my daily blog readers, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for checking out my blog as you make small changes to live a more active and healthy life. Regardless if you are a newbie triathlete, top age group Ironman, fitness enthusiast or are considering participating in your first running race, I hope my blog has inspired you to have a healthy relationship with food and enjoy the many benefits of staying physically active.
The goal of my blog is to inform and not to preach. While I do get off on a tangent every now and then with my own personal views of the health of our nation, I try very hard to not to tell you what to do, but rather to give you the tools or the template of living a healthy and active life. Certainly there are a lot of food, health, fitness and wellness blogs out there and no matter if the blog creator is an educated professional or just a passionate individual, it is important to recognize that every blog writer (including myself) has his/her own philosophy and views of what it means to be healthy.
If I can assume that the majority of my blog readers take part in some type of physical activity on a daily basis (or most days a week), I believe that a balanced diet is 100% dependent on your individual lifestyle, your daily commitments and your exercise routine. How I eat on a daily basis is completely different than how Karel eats, it is different than how my parents and brother eats and it is different than how my best friend Laura (RD) eats. However.....although "how" I eat may differ from other individuals, "what" I eat is very similar to what I believe makes up a healthy diet. Having said that, what I eat is very similar to what Karel eats, what my parents eat and what my best friend Laura eats. I would hope, after reading my blog and checking out my many creations, that you have learned a few tricks on what to eat in order to lose/maintain weight and/or improve performance. Without a doubt, I am not perfect but I believe that there are a few key points in creating a healthy diet to support longevity and a lifetime of exercise.
Because there are so many diets out there, telling people what to eat in order to lose weight, tone up, stay healthy, maintain weight or improve performance, I find that many people are forgetting (or have never learned) that we all have different dietary requirements and different fueling strategies based on our physical activity routine, fitness levels, dietary choices, age, gender and socioeconomic status.
For example, right now in my life I am trying to be the healthiest vegetarian I can be to support my current training routine as I prepare for to go sub 5 hrs in a Half Ironman in June and qualify for Kona at IMWI. I am training very hard for my upcoming events and my eating routine is supporting the intensity and volume of training. Not only am I eating for fuel but I am eating to recover quickly and avoid injury and sickness. However, after IMWI, my focus will be on completing the 1200 hrs that I need to finish my dietetic internship in order to be eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian national exam. After Sept, I will set new racing goals for the upcoming season and for a few months after IMWI I will be exercising and not training. Although the composition of my diet will change to support a decrease in volume (and perhaps intensity) my food choices will be similar because I enjoy being the healthiest vegetarian I can be.
Rather than telling you what I eat or what I think you should eat, I will give you some pointers to help you find what works for you.
The best way to start my day is oatmeal. I feel satisfied and my blood sugar stays stable for a good 3 hrs after I eat. When I increase my volume with training, I add in extra's to my oatmeal like nuts, seeds or fruit. When I increase the intensity with my training, I add in protein to my oatmeal like yogurt, skim milk or whey protein. When my weekly volume and intensity increase and I find that appetite is larger than normal, I add in a little more fat to my oatmeal like flax seeds or peanut butter. And, when I am nearing the end of a big build week I add in a smoothie to my oatmeal.
With my two hardest workout days being Tues and Wed, I typically have oatmeal and a smoothie on Wed and a smoothie w/ oatmeal on Tues. Sounds like the same thing but they are not.
My intense interval bike and run is on Tues and I have learned that I have a great workout following an active recovery day on Mon. However, because I am feeling fresh, I work extra hard on Tues and really need to think about my recovery.
I go for a big smoothie w/ whey protein, fruit, milk, flax seeds and ice and then I add in a bowl of oatmeal w/ raisins (about 1/4 cup oats). I use to just do a smoothie w/ about a handful of cereal (like Kashi Crunch) but I found that I was extra hungry come lunchtime and snacking more than normal throughout the day. I decided to add in a little oatmeal, rather than the cereal in my smoothie and well, that did the trick. Recovery was good and I felt satisfied.
As for Wed, my early morning Run + Swim gets me out of bed at 4:30 and I get home around 8:30. It's a long morning but a quality of my favorites. My run is an interval run (usually 7-8 miles) and swim is typically anaerobic (around 4000yrds) but afterwards I am pooped and anxious for my tempo bike on Thurs...with no running on Thurs. Because I am usually super hungry after my Wed workout, I have a small smoothie w/ whey, yogurt, ice and fruit (usually a piece of banana) and cinnamon and then I have a big bowl of oatmeal w/ fruit (usually apple or peach/nectarine), nuts, seeds and raisins. If I decide to pass on the smoothie, I would just do a glass of milk instead.
As you can see, my workouts changes, as does my appetite and my morning meal. Similar foods but over the last few months, I have really tried to pay attention to what I need rather than what I think I need.
Starting tomorrow, try to work on your breakfast so that you can start your day with a balanced and healthy meal. Regardless if you workout in the morning or at night, I find that many weakness's in the diet come from not eating a balanced breakfast. Thinking back to yesterday, when did you feel the most hungry? If you say lunch through dinner, it is likely that the composition of your breakfast needs some tweaking in an effort to help you stay satisfied and energized throughout the morning.
Any questions...just let me know how I can help you! Starting with breakfast, I think this could be a great topic to discuss on the comment section.
*Once again, I have to stress that my current eating habits did not come about over night and they will always be a work in progress. How I eat now will likely change next fall and the following summer. While you may think it is stressful finding what works for you, just remember that there are 365 days in a year and because we must eat for fuel, you have plenty of time to find what works for you. ;)

What's your favorite breakfast?
Do you think your breakfast needs some tweaking? What small changes do you think will make a difference in how you start your day?

Banana smoothie
1 scoop body fortress vanilla whey protein
dash of cinnamon
1/2 small ripe banana
2 tsp PB
1 tbsp flax seed
2-3 ounces strawberry low fat yogurt
Almonds for a topping

Crunchy Oats
1/3 cup instant oats
dash of cinnamon
1/2 small apple (chopped)
A few raisins
Kashi Crunch, nuts and sunflower seeds for a crunchy topping


Homemade almond ginger granola bars

My philosophy of eating and training are very similar.
Balance and quality.
However, it has taken me a good 3-4 years to learn this.
When you think about balance and your life, I think everyone wishes for more time to balance out all daily responsibilities. Of course, if there were more hours in the day we would also have a bit more time to squeeze in more "fun" activities as well.
As much as I stress the importance of eating wholesome and natural foods, with little to no ingredients, I certainly don't believe that everyone should live by a raw or organic diet. I don't think it is realistic for me to tell you not to eat low-fat yogurt, ice cream or pita chips (or any food for that matter) because they have ingredients. I believe balance is key when fueling your body for sport and for meeting recommendations to prevent and reduce risk from disease.
If you are aiming for a balanced diet, why not have a bowl of fruit with ice cream on top, yogurt w/ cereal on top or a plate of veggies with a few pita chips.
I have a feeling that many people don't even touch a veggie or piece of fruit between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner, simply because there is the convenience of ingredient-filled food, alongside the desirable taste of many processed foods. And no, a sliced tomato and piece of iceberg lettuce in your chicken wrap does not technically count as a serving of veggies...not to mention a bowl of fruit loop cereal because it now contains fiber and includes "fruit" in the name.
When it comes to meeting realistic weight goals and maintaining a life of activity and weight maintenance, I believe we all should aim for balance in both our training/exercise routine and eating routine.
As an example, since I work with a lot of Ironman athletes, I find that many people get so accustomed to fueling long distance training (regardless if the fuel is healthy) and when the Ironman distance race is over, a big question-mark follows the phrase "now what, I don't want to get fat". Certainly, if you were 'rewarding' your Ironman training with donuts and pancakes you may find it difficult to maintain weight post Ironman. However, if your diet was balanced and portioned controlled prior to the Ironman, you should find an easy transition of enjoying a variety of healthy foods but in less quantity (aka decrease calories but enjoy the same healthy foods you were eating prior to and during your Ironman training).
It's very important to see food as fuel to give you energy to live an active life but more than anything, food gives your body vitamins and minerals to stay healthy....regardless if you are training for an Ironman or exercising for fun. Likewise, if you were training for a big event (Ironman or your first running race) which took you out of your comfort zone and required that you put in more hrs than normal of "training", there needs to be some sense of balance in your life and an understanding that training for a big race does not mean that you have to train like that for the rest of your life in order to maintain your weight.
Without discussing the importance of timing your nutrition with your training/exercise, I want to stress the importance of including a variety of foods, from all of the food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meats and beans, and oils) in an effort to meet vitamin, mineral and nutrient recommendations. However, with much of the population seeking ways to lose weight, maintain weight or live a healthier life, you are in no shortage of "diets" to follow in an effort to reach your weight goals.
A lot of people ask me about diets like the raw diet, thrive diet or paleo diet (as examples) and whether or not I feel the diet will help the individual reach weight/performance goals. I personally live by the "Marni" diet which means I know what my body needs and my diet helps me recover fast, improve performance, avoid sickness (and hopefully disease as I age) and feel satisfied throughout the day.
In my opinion, regardless if you choose a diet including meat or a vegetarian diet, vegan diet, semi-vegetarian diet or some other type of restricted diet, it is so important for your performance as an athlete (even if you are a newbie) or a fitness enthusiast/weight loss seeker, that you emphasize a balance of foods to ensure that you aren't neglecting key nutrients in the diet. Most people aren't going to make healthy transition overnight (nor are ready to make every change all at once) so as you try to achieve a more balanced life with your training and nutrition, realize that you will always have a "today" to work on your eating/exercise habits but waiting "until tomorrow" will not make it any easier to start a change. You must be patient and recognize the whats, why and hows of your individual exercise and eating routine.
When it comes down to it, if you don't take the time, on a daily basis, to address the strength's and weakness's in your diet (why you are hungry at 10am, why are you tired at 3pm, why do you eat late at night, why don't you eat breakfast, why aren't you getting stronger or faster.....) you will never understand how great it feels to live a healthy and balanced life. If you make unrealistic changes and set unrealistic goals, you will continue living a life of stress, guilt and unhappiness.
Life should be you go to sleep looking forward to tomorrow? Sure, work and other responsibilities in life can be a bit stressful but food and exercise can be fun and positive.....don't make fitness and a healthy diet the enemy.
Believe me, this balance thing doesn't happen overnight and it isn't a one-time deal. You always need to be conscious of your eating and training so that you make healthy habits that can be maintained for a lifetime.
So, as you are working towards a more balanced life, whether it is with your work, training, eating or with friends/family, enjoy some homemade granola bars!

What is your number one tip or suggestion when it comes to balance with training and/or eating?

Homemade walnut ginger granola bars
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raisins (chopped)
1/4 cup cranberries (chopped)
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups instant oats
1 tbsp fresh ginger (shaved)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
1 tbsp flax seed
1 cap-full rum or almond extract
1 egg
3 tbsp honey (or if not using molasses, use 4 tbsp honey)
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (good source of Iron and Calcium for vegetarians!)

1. Stir ingredients well.
2. Spread on a non-stick pan sprayed with a little non stick spray.
3. Cook for 30-40 min (or until crisp and hard) in a 325 oven.
4. Brake the bars into squares or bars and store in a covered container.


Quality weekend training

Last week, when I was riding home with my parents after the Iron Girl race, Karel informed me that he crashed on the group ride. He taped a wheel in a 5-man breakaway on a training ride.
Karel posted this pic and comment on Facebook:

For sell: LCA Team Jersey and bibs. Lightly used.........;-))

Well, I am glad he has a sense of humor because no matter how many times I hear "I crashed" from Karel, it never gets easier for me. As much as cycling is exciting to watch, my life as a cyclist's wife is never stress/worry-free. I asked Karel if he was ready to switch to Triathlons after his crash and he just laughed at me (I would never ask him to do that since he is and always will be a cyclist). Just a side-note, if you ever need gauze, band-aids and neosporin and second skin, just give me a call or stop by...we got it all here!

So, I was a little nervous to ride my tri bike with the group at the beach on Saturday morning because it's been a while since I have rode with this group.
And, considering that I was about to do the ride that he crashed on, I was extra nervous as we were driving to the beach. But like usual, the nerves went away once I hoped on my bike and warmed up with Karel.
Karel got me new training/race wheels and I have fallen in love with tubulars. Don't worry, Karel already gave me my lesson of changing a flat with tubulars.
Did I ever tell you that before my first IM (IMFL 2006) Karel made me change a flat for 30 minutes straight. On and off, on and off, etc. He said that was the only way I would learn and feel confident and well, I sure feel confident changing a flat tire!
Still loving the new ride....

The group ride was fast. Curtis, Ralph and Karel (all LCA riders) pretty much controlled the whole ride and me and the other 20ish guys (yep, I was the lone woman cyclist) rotated and responded to attacks. This group ride is fun because it is on a really safe road with 3 90-degree turns. We do 2 loops in Nocatee (developing neighborhood near Ponte Vedra beach) so there are lots of opportunities for the guys to pick up the pace. Karel and a few of the other guys were impressed with my skills but I had no time to chat....I was in total focus mode the whole ride (with a smile of course). Every time we rotated and Karel would pass me on my rt he would tell me "great job babe". I just love hearing those words from Karel.
After the two loops in Nocatee, Karel finished the ride with the group to head back to the beach Trek store (where we parked) and I rode my bike home. The ride is kinda in the middle of the beach and our place so I had planned on doing the group ride as my "intense" part of my workout and then finishing off my ride with 2 x 30 min. pace w/ 10 min recovery. I ended up with 3 hrs and 24 minutes (65 miles). The group ride was around 35 miles (we averaged around 23-25mph) so I had a good amount of time in the wind to ride alone.
After the ride I headed out for a tempo/comfortable run and although hot, I was able to stay pretty steady with my pace. It sure took a while to gain my strength back in my injured leg but I am pleased where I am right now and I am hoping it only gets better.
Sat run off the bike:
32 minutes
4.2 miles
7:38 average pace
Mile 1: 7:41
Mile 2: 7:34
Mile 3: 7:35
Mile 4: 7:35

Sunday was a great morning. Karel headed to the beach to do some hilly neighborhood circuits w/ Curtis and Clint and I headed out for a run. I did 2 x 7 mile loops under a beautiful overcast sky. I had my music and fuel belt and it was great to put my tired legs to work.
My training philosophy this year is "quality over quantity" so I am not doing more than 15 miles or 2 hrs running before the Rock n' Roll HalfMan in Macon, GA on June 5th (as for biking I am not going more than 70 miles or 4 hrs riding). I have devoted the past few months to improving my efficiency as a swimmer, cyclist and runner and because of it, I am finding myself getting faster at a lower HR. I think lifting a few times a week has helped as well and I contribute much of my steady, yet slow, improvements this year to a variety of nutrients in my diet. In my opinion, food for fuel is more than just is most important to understand what is in the calories we are eating and how those nutrients can positively or negatively affect our training/exercise goals (or for some individuals, weight loss/maintenance goals). So, with this improved efficiency, I have also taught my body to perform off very little fuels/calories during training. I have never been a big calorie consumer for my long distance races and I don't plan on being one. I believe anyone can teach their body to metabolize fat for fuel and because faster at a lower HR. When I write workouts for my athletes, I really stress the importance of recovery and intervals during the week and understanding their individual nutrition needs during long workouts on the weekends. I find that way too many athletes want to train and race fast all the time and while there is nothing wrong with going fast every now and then, no nutrition product or nutrition strategy is going to help you maintain your elevated HR if you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, in a zone which you haven't trained it to do. Sure, you can try to pound down the sport drinks and gels to prevent bonking or cramping (I believe much of cramping is due to the contraction of muscles and not sodium related) but at a high HR for a prolonged period of time you will only end up with GI upset and a race performance that you didn't plan for...however, I could go on and on....
So, after spending over 2 months building up from running 6 miles comfortably, to 9 miles and now 14-15 miles, I am finally able to add intervals into my long runs. I do running intervals on the treadmill on Wed before swim as well.
Here's the workout for Sun w/ my stats:
3 mile warm-up
2 x 1 mile half ironman pace w/ 1 mile tempo recovery
2 mile pace
2 x 1 mile half ironman pace w/ 1 mile tempo recovery
3 mile pace/warm-down
+ 1 extra special Campy mile (10 minutes)

14.03 miles
1 hr and 50 minutes
7:52 min/mile pace average
Mile 1: 8:10
Mile 2: 7:55
Mile 3: 7:51
Mile 4: 7:22
Mile 5: 7:59
Mile 6: 7:25
Mile 7: 8:06
Mile 8: 8:02
Mile 9: 7:59
Mile 10: 7:35
Mile 11: 7:56
Mile 12: 7:25
Mile 13: 7:59
Mile 14: 8:08

This morning I took my time waking up (No alarm on Mon) and eventually got to the pool for a 30 min swim (2500 yrds).
These guys have it made....what a life...