Essential Sports Nutrition


My last minute racing advice + to-do list

Don't waste energy on things/situations that are out of your control. What can you control on race day? Your attitude, pace, clothing and nutrition. Check the weather and plan ahead for proper pacing, nutrition and attire. No matter what level of fitness you are in on Sunday, consider where you once were and where you are today. Be proud of any obstacles you have overcome and reflect for all x-miles on race day. If a race (or part of it) gets cancelled or changed, feel good that you have a body that IS ready to race the full distance. No matter the circumstances, thank your body at the finish line as well as giving it a big THANK YOU for letting you get to the starting line. Also, here's my race week to-do list from the Iron Girl participant guides, to keep you calm, cool and prepared for race day (pg 13 and 14). To-do list,


Off to clearwater...

Have you ever said to yourself "if there were only more hours in the day!"

I use to think that all the time - wishing for a bit more time. Post graduate school, I refused to give up sleep just to get things done. Sure, some days are 6 hours of sleeping as I lose track of time but long for my morning workout (love starting my day with a sweat!) but my body really needs 8 restful hours of sleep. I don't rely on caffeine or sugary sweets for pick-me-ups during the day but rather, aim for a good night of rest to keep me energized all day long.

Well, I think if I had more hours in the day, I would probably fill those up as well...would you do the same? I do have to say, when I do have an opportunity to relax or travel, I take full advantage of it. As for other times when I find myself relaxing - making creations, making it a "rule" not to eat at the computer (or while doing work), walking campy, reading before I go to bed and just hanging out with Karel.

Speaking of creations...
Last night had a lot of "YUMS" from both me and Karel.

This is a super easy may take a little time for cooking in the oven but that just allows you to get things done, to allow for an early-night of sleep.

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
Red potatoes (sliced)
Purple onions
Sunflower oil
Lemon pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Slice potatoes and zucchini.
3. On two seperate baking sheets, line with tinfoil.
4. Drizzle 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil on both sheets and use one sheet for zucchini and the other for the potatoes. Toss to lightly cover in oil.
5. Sprinkle lemon pepper on zucchini. (I didn't use any seasonings on the potatoes but you can season to your liking).
6. Bake for 20-45 min or until potatoes begin to turn brown on edges and zucchini begins to turn soft and brown.

In other news....
I am really excited to speak at the Iron Girl Clearwater Pre-race Dinner in Clearwater Beach on Friday evening! I can't believe the first race of the 2012
Iron Girl,
race series begins this weekend!! I am really excited to be on the course to race the half marathon and to celebrate my 6th (I think) Iron Girl race!
After my morning workout, followed by 1/2 day at Baptist South, Campy and me will be hitting the road to head to my parents for the weekend.

Karel will be joining me on Sunday as he will be racing in the Gearlink Classic race in downtown New Port Richey on Sunday, just about 25 miles away from my race, a few hours after I finish. Talk about nice timing for a racing weekend!

I am very honored to have been nominated for the Young Dietitian of the Year Award! I am coming on my 1-year anniversary (JUNE) since becoming a Registered Dietitian and have loved EVERY minute of my new, hard-earned, credential.
If you feel I deserve this award, are an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Member and would like to vote for other nominees, you can
vote here,


Native Sun inspired Tilapia (Or tofu) wrap and salad

Inspired by the most delicious wraps served at Native Sun, I couldn't get these things out of my head ever since the Trek Event last week. Turkey, tuna (I think?) and the farmers wrap (vegetarian) are typpically served at events around town....and vegetarian or not, people can't get enough of the farmers wrap!
Karel was the one who actually introduced me to the wraps as Native Sun is across the street from the Trek Store (in Mandarin) and he occasionally enjoys a lunch-out....along with cookies from the local bakery in the same complex. :)

I have tried making my own wraps (the actually wrap) but I'm sure most would agree, it is easier to buy. But, I will continue trying. I really do enjoy spending the time chopping and cooking the "toppings" for my wrap as this is where all the flavor comes from.

In the past few years, companies have been offering "wraps" as a more "healthy" items to consumers but many times, wraps are high calorie (often 250-300 calories just from the wrap) and high in sodium. I don't believe in off-limit food and I often love a nice-filled vegetarian wrap but just like with sandwiches or pitas, you can only stuff so much inside a wrap (or two pieces of bread) and like most of you all, I want to feel satisfied with my meal. Often, 1 wrap (often with little fillings compared to a typical trimarni "salad") is not enough. Maybe that's why many deli's and sub shops always offer give you that little bit of something extra (or perhaps 150--250 calories) that you are missing from your meal?

Therefore, I find it helpful to make a large salad of the "fillings" of a wrap, sandiwhc, taco or pita, especially in the case that you have trouble stopping after 1 or 2 wraps or you remain hungry or unsatisfied, soon after your meal. In this case, filling up with one or two, 100-200 calorie wrap(s) is just enough to compliment the rest of the meal which will provide a balance of nutrients and satisfying calories. For you can only stuff so much in a wrap, why not just use those items as the "bulk" of the meal. This way, no food is off-limit, you can enjoy every last bite of the wrap and feel absolutely wonderful (and satisfied) with your creation.

I'm not a calorie counter because I emphasize real food and I always try to be mindful with my personal "portions" (rather than looking at suggested serving size) and what makes me feel satisfied. But when it comes to foods with a food label and ingredients like wraps, I suggest a 100-150ish calorie wrap (make sure this is for 1 wrap and not for 1/2 wrap which may be advertised as the serving size) with less than 240 mg sodium and at least 2g fiber. Of course, the least amount of ingredients (and more "real" ingredients) is a good starting point.

Here is my latest creation, inspired by native Sun.

Tilapia (or tofu) "spring time" wrap
Tilapia or tofu - cooked to your liking (tilapia was for Karel, tofu for me)
Alfalfa sprouts
Artichokes (canned and rinsed)
Feta cheese (sun dried tomatoe)
Purple onions
Cooked mushrooms (in oven with tofu, tossed in a little olive oil)

Sweet and savory tempeh and mushroom meal

I think I will try to use the word "meal" more often than salad. All thanks to dieting and diet fads, I believe salads often get a bad reputation.
"Oh, he/she must be on a diet 'cause all he/she eats are salads."

Although I don't believe in judging people for their presentable actions, I can honestly say that when I eat my salads, I am satisfied. I realize my salads will hold me over for a few hours as that is my eat every few hours. However, I am not making salads to "save calories" to indulge later in the day or to allow myself extra room for a pick-me up snack 30-90 min after the meal. Speaking on behalf of Karel and myself, our "meals" are satisfying and work for us. The key is - how will your meal (aka "salad") work for you?

My lifestyle functions at an optimal level because of salads but then again, my salads are not skimpy on flavor, substance and nutritional value. I don't do iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and fat-free dressing. I do meals....a "salad" filled with fuel to keep me energized and healthy.

According to Wikipedia:
"Salad is any of a wide variety of dishes, including vegetable salads; salads of legumes, eggs, or grains; mixed salads incorporating meat, poultry, or seafood; and fruit salads. They may include a mixture of cold and hot items, often including raw vegetables or fruits."

When to eat salads?
"Salads may be served at any point during a meal, such as:
Appetizer salads, light salads to stimulate the appetite as the first course of the meal.
Side salads, to accompany the main course as a side dish.
Main course salads, usually containing a portion of protein, such as chicken breast or slices of beef.
Palate-cleansing salads, to settle the stomach after the main course.
Dessert salads, sweet versions usually containing gelatin or whipped cream."

Interesting: "The word "salad" comes from the French salade of the same meaning, from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). (Other salt-related words include sauce, salsa, sausage, and salary.) In English, the word first appears as "salad" or "sallet" in the 14th century."

I hope you enjoy my latest creation to not only fill your belly but to satisfy both your savory and sweet cravings....

Sweet and savory tempeh and mushroom meal
Olive oil
Raspberry vinegarette

1. On skillet, drizzle 1- 2 tbsp olive oil and cook mushrooms and tempeh until tempeh is golden brown.
2. Arrange salad in large, shallow dish bowl.
3. Top with cooked mushrooms and tempeh and top with chopped walnuts and dressing.
Recommend to serve with feta cheese.

"I enjoy real food because it makes me feel good. I eat for fuel, not for calories."


Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium - "race" report

Karel knew it wouldn't be easy. But he didn't let it get to him. After he picked up his number, we headed back to the house where we were staying and Karel did a bit of resting for the rest of the afternoon. I prepared him a yummy lunch, almost identical to what he had before the Tampa Twilight Crit.

I made us mixed rice, eggs (Karel had two sunny side up, I had scrambled) topped with cheese, broccoli (cooked in olive oil on a skillet) and orange slices. It hit the right spot for Karel before he rested on the couch.

I caught up on emails for most of the afternoon and Campy did his share of napping with Karel.

Around 5:30pm, we headed to the race venue in downtown Charlotte. As Karel was getting the trainer ready for him to warm-up in a parking lot, Campy and I headed down the street to watch the women's race. Wow - they are fast!

The spectators were starting to line the streets so I made my way back to Karel to pin his number on his jersey and to wish him the best of luck.

Karel did not appear nervous but I know to just leave him alone so that he can get into his zone. Around 7:10pm, Karel headed to the corral to get staged...

Something new for Karel - as this was a BIG race with a BIG $50,000 purse prize, Karle had to sign-in on a big board before starting the race.

As all the teams started to crowd into the starting area, the call-ups started...

".... stage winner of Giro d'Italia"
".... stage winner of the Tour de California"
".... multiple USA crit winner"

The list just went on and on. Karel follows a lot of these guys via websites as these are some of the top cyclists from around the world.

For Karel, this is fun. Suffering may not be that much fun but he really loves riding his bike. This certainly takes him WAY out of his comfort zone but he only has three options...
1) Race local Florida races with guys at his level
2) Race as a Master's rider, among guys at a similar level
3) Race in the Pro category, among some of the best athletes in the world.

What would you choose?
One thing that Karel has taught me (and I have learned to embrace), is competition. A true athlete is not afraid to be beat but that doesn't mean he/she is not afraid to give it his/her all.
I read a quote once that said something along the lines of "train as if you are the worst, race as if you are the best".

Life is too short to always stay in your comfort zone for when you do the same thing all the time, you get the same results. Karel knew this race was far beyond his level as there is no way that he can train (and recover) like guys who do this for a full-time job. Karel works 45+ hours a week as the GM of the Trek Bicycle store in Jax 5-7 days a week. Karel's competition - they ride their bikes for a job.

Knowing that there was some heavy duty money on the line, these guys were not holding back.

The course was really technical and one of the hardest I have ever seen. A typical criterium is 4 corners around a block, typically less than 1K. In this race, each "lap" was 1.2 miles, with two "blocks" at each side of a long straight away (essentially the street was divided into two sections - out and back between each corner section).
You can see the course here:

Karel told me they were going 35-37mph on the straight section (with a slight grade that was noticeable on the bike) and because of the narrow corners, there was at least 1 crash at every end of the course for the first few laps. Lucky, Karel was not affected.

The problem with this course, was that with 140 starters, the line was spread out far around the corners that when the guys were slowing from the fast straight away, the front guys were accelerating back to fast speeds.

It was a constant struggle for Karel to move up because despite feeling really good during the race, guys in front where just giving up. Karel refuses to give up even when his body is screaming NO.

Around 40 minutes into the race, the field started to break into three sections and sadly, Karel was just behind the mid section. He sprinted to try to get up to the middle pack but the wheels he was drafting off of, started to drift back. Eventually, the guys gave up and with Karel giving everything he had to get back to the group, he exhausted all his extra efforts.

I finally found Karel outside the course and he was disappointed. I felt sad for him cause I know how hard he tries to finish these races. I tried to convince him that he did finish the last two crits but we both knew that this race was likely the hardest race he has ever done - all because of the course and the caliber of athletes. Even though I was so incredibly proud of him for lasting 40 minutes (considering that guys were getting dropped in the first 10 minutes and only 80 guys finished), it's hard to be an outsider (as an athlete myself) because I know when you want something so bad and it is not always within your control.

You see, that's cycling. It really makes me appreciate the sport of running and triathlon because so much of it (more like all of it except for weather and terrain) is within our control. Cycling is far from controllable circumstances. For you can be having a great day and someone is just having a better day. Watching Karel really makes me value my sport, my body and what I have within my control which is the ability to control my attitude, nutrition and pacing. For training is far beyond just putting in the miles but rather just giving your best effort on race day which is solely reflected on how you trained. It's not about training "hard" but rather, training "smart".

In cycling, you have to be strong, fast and smart. You have to be lucky and you have to have guts. Karel trains his body just as hard as he trains his mind and without giving excuses for the situation (we don't do excuses in the Sumbal household), I know Karel is in the best shape of his life. Fueled by plants and still, at the age of 35 yrs, he loves riding his bike.

After Karel changed his clothes and texted some of his close racing buddies, we all went back to the course, enjoyed some local pizza (yum for local late-night eats) and watched the end of the race.
Due to the dark, I wasn't able to take very good pics so here is a video I found on YouTube from herrjohn.

Karel slept in on Sunday and we both enjoyed the morning, sipping coffee and enjoying a few last hours in the beautiful city of Charlotte, NC.
A much easier drive home, it was nice for Karel to reflect on the race and re-charge before Gearlink Cycling Classic this weekend (I'll be running the Iron Girl Half Marathon the same day, earlier that morning on Sunday) and then the BIG race of the year - Athens Twilight to kick-off USA crit Speed Week!

Thanks for reading and for all your support via facebook.


Find your strong!

In 2006, I was a newbie. A newbie running the Boston Marathon. I didn't know much then about training or sport nutrition but I was passionate. Passionate to set goals and to give no excuses as to how I would accomplish them.

This race was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and certainly something that I am so proud to check off my bucket list.

As you know, I am a fan of quotes, motivational saying and anything inspiration. I believe my every-day life IS the Oakley women campaign of "Perform Beautifully". I suppose I need inspiration on a daily basis for if I am not inspired by others, it is often difficult to find motivation within myself. Every athlete or fitness enthusiast must be strong-minded just as he/she is humble. For we can only talk ourselves up to a limit before we increase the risk of burnt-out. Therefore, I find it important to always seek out something, every day, that will get you out the door to become something that you never thought that you would be in life.

I was contacted by Saucony to share the mesaage of "finding your strong".

My strong is to always focus on what I CAN do and not on what I CAN NOT do.

From Saucony:
"Ask the 30,000 Boston Marathon runners about their race goals and you’re bound to hear just as many responses. And while they each have their own individual motivations, they remain passionately united, together on a journey to find the ultimate reward—strong.

On the eve of the Boston Marathon, Saucony is both igniting and uniting the running community with the launch of the
Find your strong project.

This socially-driven initiative invites runners to share their personal strong story --mental, physical, spiritual and emotional -- while connecting with others who share the similar passion of running.

Saucony’s latest initiative, an evolution of the Find Your Strong campaign that launched a year ago, is a collaboration between the brand and the consumer that focuses the community around a purpose: that runners want to contribute to and be involved with finding their strong through running.

The hub of the project is an innovative micro site, that is as much about building relationships as it is about sharing content. With this project, Saucony is taking a long term approach that will enable the brand to tap into and share in the journey of strong in a way that inspires runners of all types.

The Find Your Strong Project’s digital platform delivers the following elements:

• A 12 week period of community challenges where runners are invited to share their strong through words, images and videos, creating a digital mosaic of inspiration.

• A series of micro documentaries featuring inspiring runners and everyday athletes, including: Dorothy Beal, a mother of three and a 19-time marathoner; Gary Muhrcke, the first New York City Marathon winner and a legendary running store owner; and Mark Herzlich, 2012 NFL Super Bowl Champion and cancer survivor.

• The Find Your Strong Speaker Series kicks off over Boston Marathon weekend on Friday, April 13, with Mark Herzlich, Bill Rodgers and Karen Smyers.

So, I ask you this......
What is YOUR strong?