Essential Sports Nutrition


26.2 with Donna - 13.1 race report

"It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts. " - Robert H. Schuller

For most of us, we will never set a world record, receive an award for acting or singing, change laws or make a discovery that will change the world. For most of us, we are just living life to the best of our ability, trying to manage life, work, environment and training.

Knowing that most of us will never be "famous" for our passionate pursuits, it's an individual effort to do things that you will want to remember. Knowing that you have control over your life, are you living your life to the fulleset?

When laying in bed on Saturday evening, I heard the news about Whitney Houston. As an amazingly accomplished singer, what affected me the most was her age. 48 yrs young. As I turned off the TV and thought about my upcoming race, I once again thought to myself how lucky I am to have a tomorrow.

As an athlete, it goes without saying that I love training and I love healthy competition. More than anything, I love competing against myself...thoughts in my head that ask me to stop, muscles that scream for me to rest and the many "what if's" when trying to execute a race day plan.

In my own journey of life, I've learned to embrace competition with a healthy mind. As much as I am willing to take chances and put it all out on the course, I also realize that there will always be another race. My ability to create a great memory of my race day performance has nothing to do with achieving a PR or winning my age group. I want to get more out of a race than what I put in...and often, that can be tough when you are competitive within yourself and among others.

Far too many athletes put so much pressure on themselves to perform perfectly on race day. Pressure is simply a perceived expectation of the want to perform well- often placing in age group, receiving an award, qualifying for another event or reaching a personal best time. In other words, all that time training for one day (not to mention money) and when race day comes, we (as athletes) put so much pressure on ourselves to perform at our best.

But when you think about it, when the race is over, the pressure comes off and you get yourself ready (and recovered) for tomorrow. For with every race the best thing you can do for yourself is reflect and get excited for tomorrow. Another day to move closer to another goal. Successful performances are created from consistent actions. For on race day, we don't remember all the missed or bad workouts but the awesome, amazing and ground-breaking training sessions that give us the confidence (and data) to execute a fantastic race day performance.

Even though most of us will never set a world record or break any record times, we all aspire to be our best, do our best and most of all, create memories for a quality life. Successful race performance are far beyond finish times, places or comparing yourself to others. The beauty in racing is that we all have our own ways of defining success and that is what is worth remembering. For your worst day may be someone's best day.

13.1 mile race report - 26.2 with Donna

My alarm went off at 4:05am on Sunday morning and I was quick to get out of bed, put on my race day outfit (CEP compression tri shorts, CEP Pink compression socks and my Oakley long-sleeve top). After I put on my race day outfit, I put on a few more layers to brave the fridged temps as I walked Campy (and his best friend Bman who was staying with me over the weekend). Karel raced near my parents this weekend for the San Antonio Road Race on Sat and the Dade City Crit on Sunday.

(My amazing hubby breaking away from the Pro 1,2 field in lap 3 of the crit)

After walking the doggies, I sipped on my coffee w/ milk and warmed up oatmeal w/ sunflower seeds and peanut butter. By 4:45am I was out the door and drove to UNF to wait for the shuttle.

Keeping a positive attitude, I covered my ears and grabbed my gloves and waited in line for about 20 minutes (outside) with the wind blowing hard, right to my bones. With the wind chill around 20 degrees, I started to shiver. I could not control my shaking and I tried to hide my face in my Louis Garneau cycling jacket as well as keeping my fingers warm with two pairs of gloves. Some people were wrapped in blankets (what a great idea) whereas others were relying on body warmth and were in tight circles with their friends.

Finally, the line moved close enough to raise my confidence that I would get on the next bus. Around 5:35am, I moved my cold toes inches foward and finally stepped on a semi-warm school bus...this was one of those times when I actually wanted to stay on the bus and I didn't really care how long it took to get there.

After the quick 10 minute drive to the Mayo Clinic, I sipped on 1 scoop Hammer Heed in a sport bottle as I made my way (still shivering) to the bag drop. I removed one pair of gloves and my jacket, as well as my sweat pants. I took one last gulp of my sport drink and kept on my ear warmer, gloves and long sleeve Oakley shirt. I put on my Oakley Commit sunglasses on my head and grabbed my gel flask filled with 1/2 hammer vanilla gel and 1/4 water.

I tried to jog to the port-o-potty but my feet were not cooperating. Now dressed in less layers than before, my shaking was uncontrollable but I had convinced myself early this morning that I was determined to keep a positive attitude. It only took a few looks up at the Mayo Clinic hospital for me to be reminded how lucky I am to have a choice to be outside and run this event.

As I was waiting in line for one last potty stop, you could hear voices of others talking about how cold it was. But not once did I hear anyone complain. Sure, perhaps some of the comments could have been classified as complaining but I constantly heard positive comments such as "you will warm up, it could be worse if it was raining, this is a great cause, look at all the pink on the guys, etc".

It was nearing the start of the race and I was cutting it close to getting to the finish on time. Luckily, at 6:25am after I left the port-o-potty, the announcer mentioned about delaying the start to 6:40am rather than 6:30am due to a few late buses.

Never doing this race before, I wasn't quite sure where to go for the start so I started jogging among the masses. I weaved my way through the crowds and ended up in the front corral for the race. With marathoners and half marathoners combined at the race start, I positioned myself around the 3 hour and 3:20 marathon pacers and continued to think positive thoughts.

Without a doubt, I am most vulnerable when I am cold. Without Karel by my side and a crowd of strangers around me, I really had no choice but to remain positive - for no person is going to want to hear me complain, especially when they are likely thinking the same thing.

As my feet began to go numb, I completely broke down with tears in my eyes. Perhaps this was because I was so cold but I just had no idea how I was going to be able to run 13.1 miles in these conditions. Certainly my coldest race of my life, I started talking with the lady next to me who had a wonderful smile on her face. We started laughing about the weather and that it was going to be an interesting day for racing and I asked her "are your feet frozen like mine?" She said "Oh yes! But don't worry, they will thaw out around mile 2." It was at that point that I was ready to get the race started and oddly enough, I believed this stranger. Funny thing, when you are at races, strangers suddenly become your friend for you can be having a bad moment or the worst race of your life and someone can say something to unexpected that it can lift you up to the most positive place. I swear that I have wanted to quit almost every race that I have done in my life but somewhere in every race, I am convinced that quitting is never the answer to anything.

I wished the lady good luck and off we went!

Up the bridge, right from the gun. 2 long miles up and down the bridge and sure enough, my feet got warm around mile 2.5. Sadly, however, my gel flask that I sipped on at the start of the race (10 min before the start) didn't close and ended up pouring all over my gloves. I knew the weather was cold but I couldn't figure out why my hands were stone cold. I couldn't move my fingers or even feel them and around mile 2 when I tried to grab some water, I realized that my gel flask was empty and my gloves were pretty much like ice.

Off went the gloves and I tossed the gel flask and rather than looking at my garmin to pace myself, my race strategy changed and my new plan was "the quicker I run, the quicker I finish". It was going to be a gatorade type of day with sport drinks every 3 miles and water stops every mile. I covered my hands in the sleeves of my shirt and just kept on running.

It was around mile 3 when I saw Karel's boss Jeff Kopp and our friend Sean C. and when they said hello, I was stunned to find my mouth completely numb. I wasn't sure if I was smiling or not but I think I was able to mumble "Oh my, it's cold!" as I ran on by. I also tried to give them a thumbs up but not sure as to which finger I was able to get up at that time. Hopefully they got a good laugh out of it as I couldn't help but laugh at the cold temps in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

I was finally able to get into a groove around mile 4 and with the beach section approaching, I was constantly being lifted up by the crowds. Yes - the crowds in these CRAZY cold temps were amazing! Signs for "FREE MAMOGRAMS" by guys dressed in bras and more pink than I could ever imagine. There were dogs, young kids and lots of volunteers, all cheering loud and making us feel like we were the coolest runners (no pun intended) in the world.

When entering the beach, I was instantly hit by a forceful headwind. It was like I was running up a steep hill but rather on flat sand with the wind howling at my face. The ocean looked pretty and I couldn't help but think about the beauty in running on the beach. Painful conditions - sure. But the beauty was not taken away from this race day.

At the turn around on the beach, I counted the women ahead of me and surprised myself that I was in the top 20 of the women. I believe that within every race, no matter how the race day plan is being executed, you have to find reasons to remain competitive. I believe we all have a fire inside of us that wants us to compete against ourselves but there's nothing wrong with competition and often it allows us to achieve things that we never once thought were possible.

Running back towards the bridge, I was excited to run back up the bridge. With my run/walk strategy out the window and no idea as to my overall pace or HR, I was simply running this race by feel....something I haven't done in several years. I can't say that it was a bad thing for this race day (and perhaps a good thing considering the conditions) but I'm the type of athlete who likes to execute my race day plan.

Kinda bummed that the day was not turning out like I had planned, I approached mile 9 without any walk breaks and knew that even though bridges/hills are my strength, the anticipated thought of head wind and my body finally feeling a little warmer (although mouth was still numb) made me a bit concerned about these last 4 miles. I knew I could do it but still feeling competitive, I needed to find something inside of myself to keep me digging deep.

4 miles. On Tuesday morning I did my last "long" run of 9 miles (with intervals) and started the workout off the bike, with 4 miles with Campy. I told myself "If Campy can do 4 miles, I can do 4 miles!"

Then, I thought about my 13.1 dedications. All the people who were cheering for me and the runners ahead of me, telling us how great we looked. When running up the bridge, I saw my friend Jo Shoot as she was running with a girl a minute or two in front of me. I was so excited to reach the top of the bridge and reach the Lululemon crowd. Hoping that JO would turn around at the top of the bridge, she did just that I spotted me in the crowd. Thankful that she found me, this was just the last "lift" that I needed to finish strong to the finish. Remembering all of my dedications as well as hearing the positive words from the crowd, I was running with another girl in the last mile and we both said to each other "Cold day...but so grateful to be running".

Running off the bridge, I made a turn to the finish line. Once again, that crazy wind made it feel like I was running up another bridge. With a smooth stride and feeling a major sense of accomplishment for one of my hardest racing conditions of my life, I crossed the line in 1:35. A few minutes off my best, but hey - this was a race to be remembered and I am proud that I didn't count myself out before the race had started.

Truth be told...I wanted really badly to just stay in my car when I was about to stand in line for the bus. I never imagined it would be so cold and what I would have to do to make my mind and legs work together with these tough "Florida" racing conditions. But thankfully, knowing that we can't control the weather but we can control our attitude and racing plan, I feel as if this was one of the best racing experiences. Hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I'm lucky I survived :)

After crossing the line, I grabbed a water as I knew I didn't drink as much I needed to during the race. I made my way to the 110% gear recovery tent and couldn't wait to put on my 110% Clutch Tights....without the ice as my body was still trying to get warm even after 13.1 miles. The sun was finally shinning and I called Karel to tell him about the race as I was hidding under a heat lamp in the tent. The 110% tent was amazing with blow-up chairs, free compression and ice calf sleeves for the runners to wear for a few minutes after the race and plenty of food to snack on after the race.

“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.” -Orison Swett Marden

I was quickly reminded by Karel that this is the beginning of my tri-season and despite not breaking my best time of 1:31 (which I did in Nov), training is built on many training sessions. For if we all peaked right before every race or in the early parts of our season, it would be likely that we would be burnt out before that big key race. Knowing what the day brought to all the runners, I felt accomplished that I was able to share this experience with survivors and passionate individuals, who all had something in common.....
We all like to finish what we start and regardless of excuses, the mind is a powerful thing if you know how to use it correctly.

Finishing time 1:35.3
Pace: 7:18 min/mile
Average HR 149 beats
20th overall female
5th age group (25-29)
60th overall athlete

Mile 1: 7:42 (134 HR)
Mile 2: 7:02 (140 HR)
Mile 3: 7:16 (144 HR)
Mile 4: 6:59 (144 HR)
Mile 5: 7:03 (150 HR)
Mile 6: 7:22 (155 HR)
Mile 7: 7:25 (154 HR)
Mile 8: 7:08 (153 HR)
Mile 9: 7:11 (154 HR)
Mile 10: 7:13 (156 HR)
Mile 11: 7:24 (156 HR)
Mile 12: 7:37 (155 HR)
Mile 13: 7:18 (154 HR)

(wow - those splits were all over the place! Looking forward to going back to my run/walk strategy in my future races...with hopefully warmer weather :)


Asparagus, zucchini and mushroom quiche

Some people eat for health, some for weight loss, some for performance, some for religion and/or ethics, some out of convenience and price and some for body composition. Then there are those who eat for a combination of reasons. Primarily, I believe that both health and performance/fitness should be the driving forces for choosing the foods that we choose to put into our body. For if you are providing your body with a variety of nutrients to support optimal health and reduce risk for disease, it is likely that your performance will improve because metabolic processes will be supported by a good balance of vitamins and minerals. If you are energized by efficient metabolism, you will likely be able to take your training to the next level (or fitness routine) and thus, body composition changes will become evident. Ultimately, when you find that right balance between diet and exercise, your body will become an efficient machine.

With so many rules as to when you can eat and how much, sometimes the easiest way to adopt more heart-healthy habits is to prioritize health over body composition. For some, don't worry - the weight will come off if you aspire to reach a healthy weight. For others, those who seek body composition changes for performance, perhaps it is most important that your training and recovery routine allows for consistent training to increase lean muscle mass and an efficient use of fuels prior to wanting to change everything in your diet. But when eating for health, you will find yourself wanting to gravitate toward more whole, quality foods packed with nutrition, rather than becoming obsessed with calories, grams and percentages....oh, and all that "bad" food that everyone is telling you not to eat. Bad food? Not in my food vocabulary.

To tell a person that they can only have 2 snacks a day and can not eat past 7:30pm would be silly if that person was seeking fruits and veggies for snacks. However, if the 2nd afternoon snack was a candy bar and the 9pm snack was a bowl of ice cream or bag of chips, more often than not it will be more beneficial to a person to make heart-healthy substititions rather than trying to eliminate the calorie-dense choices altogether (aka "go cold turkey"). By focusing on food for the prime reason that it helps nourish our body, it becomes quite simple to prioritize certain foods that you know will provide your body with a variety of nutrients. Once you create this wonderful foundation, there becomes a lot more wiggly room when it comes to enjoying occasional treats and not feeling so overwhelmed by the many food products available to consumers.

When reading my latest issue of Environmental Nutrition (march 2012, volune 35, Number 3), I read a great article titled "Cancer-fighting Plant Foods". I found it odd that it said "plant-foods" and not just "Cancer-fighting foods". Perhaps the emphasis on plant foods was to remind the reader that plant foods have a host of powerful properties, beyond just being "low cal" (which is often why people choose to eat them when "dieting". Particularly the ability to safeguard you against cancer, I think we should give a bit more credit to fruits and veggies. Whereas at one time, if you were eating a salad people would say "oh, are you on a diet?" I believe that a satisfying, balanced salad or plant-strong meal is simply a pro-active measure of increasing your chance of a quality-filled life (both in terms of fitness and health).

While you may not know (or need to know) the exact science of food in the body, I find it all very interesting. Perhaps my 6 years of higher education in Exercise science and Exercise physiology opened my eyes to an exciting field of how nutrition affects the body during exercise. But squeeze in my 3 years of education to become a RD and my current job as a clinical dietitian in a hospital, I have a very large appreciation for food and how it affects our body on a daily basis.

Printed in my latest issue of Environmental Nutrition,
Nutrients, Fiber and Phytochemicals help fight against cancer
The latest research suggests that food choices can fight cancer development at many different stages:
1) Nutrients - such as folate from dark green vegetables, oranges and legumes (beans, tofu) and phytochemicals (compounds found in plant foods), such as allyl sulfur found in garlic, and isothiocyanates, found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, help turn on tumor suressor genes and turn off genes that lead to cancer development and its ability to spread.
2) Healthy bacteria in your gut use dietary fiber and resistant starch (a type of fiber abundant in dried beans) to produce butyrate, a fatty acid that seems to protect colon cells.
3) Some phytochemicals stimulate inactivation of carcinogens or self-destruction of abnormal cells.
4) Phytochemicals can provide antioxidant protection against DNA damage and fight inflammation.

Every year I make breakfast for dinner on Valentines day, for Karel and myself. This year I wanted to do something besides French Toast or Pancakes (two of our favorites) so I decided to look inside my 'fridge to see what ingredients I could put together.

I called my mom when I was pulling out ingredients for the meal and I told her about my idea to make a brown rice crust. She asked "Where did you come up with that idea?" and I said "In my every creation I make."

There are so many different ways you can use the same ingredients in my quiche and make your own plant-strong creation. Never lose sight of not only enjoying what you put in your body but also the "work" that goes into making a fabulous "insert-name" creation.


Asparagus, zucchini and mushroom quiche w/ brown rice crust

1/2 cup brown rice (cooked)
1 tbsp part-skim ricotta
1 whole egg, 1 egg white
Pepper, cumin seeds, chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a glass casserole dish with non-stick spray or coat with oil.
2. Scramble all ingredients in bowl and pour into dish.
3. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until crust is brown on edges and firm to the touch.
4. Turn down oven to 350-degrees.

4 large mushrooms (sliced)
1 small zucchini (sliced)
2 large roma tomatoes
1/2 medium onion sliced
1 large clove garlic (sliced)
8-10 spears asparagus (cooked and chopped)
Spinach (handful)
4 eggs (1 whole, 3 whites)
1/8 cup skim milk + 1-2 tbsp
1/4 cup shredded cheese (either as a topping or inside quiche)

1. In large bowl, combine all ingredients (except onions) and mix well. Add additional 1-2 tbsp milk if you can't seem to wet all of the ingredients. The liquid should not be higher than the veggies. The eggs will rise in the pan to form a quiche so it's ok if the veggies are not submerged in liquid.
*Tip: if you are wanting to make this for kids or someone who is not a big fan of veggies (yet :) ), use the cheese as a topping as seeing the cheese will make the meal look more exciting rather than mixing in the cheese.
2. Pour mixture on crust and press down firmly. Sprinkle onions on top.
3. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until egg mixture is firm.


LOVE to Brownie Thins!

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~Buddha

I have learned to love myself on a daily basis, just like I love others, by embracing a positive attitude and being grateful for what my body allows me to do. I believe it is much more difficult to debate, criticize, blame and complain when you can simply love, smile, think positive thoughts and spread joy to others.

While researching for a great amount of time on my latest topic for LAVA magazine, I couldn't help but think about my power to educate others as a health and fitness professional. The simple choice as a passionate individual would be to write about topics that I know and feel comfortable discussing. But perhaps that is why so many people are confused as there is too much chatter from passionate individuals and not enough time spent on putting the pieces together. As a licensed dietitian, my service to you is to make sure that you are reading reliable, practical and sound advice that you can apply to your every-day lifestyle. I am not here to confuse you, mislead you or overwhelm you and my goal is never to "lecture" to you. I take my job very seriously, whether I am writing an article, speaking or providing nutrition consultations via the web on my website

Despite reading research, I also find it important to embrace my philosophy of balance, finding the best way for each individual to merge diet and fitness into complete balance.

I am very excited to share my latest article on Magnesium with you as I feel it is such an overlooked nutrient in the every day diet. I expect to see more research and more press-related information on the importance of dietary magnesium, in the next few years. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email (there are no silly questions, especially when it involves your health).

After you read the article, click on the link to see my delicious Brownie Thin recipe. A perfect treat for Valentines day as well as a feel-good chocolate "fix" snack for any day of the week. Enjoy!

Plates Not Pills: Magnesium : LAVA Magazine