Essential Sports Nutrition


Product Review - konkura and aquagear

A common trend for bloggers is to review products and to do give-a-ways. As you have noticed, I don't do give-a-ways on my blog. Whenever there is an opportunity for a discount, it's likely I will post on my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition facebook page (Be sure to LIKE it to keep yourself updated!).
 I like to use my blog for education, motivation and inspiration. I have great relationships with a lot of amazing companies and as an ambassador (not "sponsored") athlete, I really enjoy sharing some of my favorite things with you all - my dedicated blog readers.

Often, I receive emails from companies asking me to try their product or promote their product. Sometimes it is shoes, sometimes it is clothing, sometimes it is something very random. I believe in staying true to my blog and to my words. Although I am always open to trying knew things, I don't ever want to come across as misleading and try to win a popularity contest for blog hits. I am proud to have a blog where the readers are passionate about enhancing their active lifestyle, one bite at a time.

I don't want to receive free products from a company and then tell you how great they are, just because I get things for free. I really take my time to research companies, try things out and make sure I provide an honest product review. However, I am not the one who will bad-mouth a company's produce and say it is may just not work for me but it may be the perfect fit for you.

A few months ago, two companies had contacted me to review their companies. As a lover of the water and finding my inner-nemo and for healthy mind/body challenges, I couldn't wait to check out the websites that were introduced to me via email. I was not paid anything to endorse products or write a review and have not received anything from these companies but friendly words and passion. Aquagear offers an affiliate program (which anyone can sign up for) so I invite you to spread the word just like with Hammer Nutrition. I always love to support local businesses but sometimes you have to order online when you can't find what you are local for locally.
I have a growing list for Aquagear in order to write reviews on a few products but other than that, I am enjoying learning about companies who are dedicated and passionate about what they offer to the consumer. I would love for you to check out the websites that I am about to review below, and feel free to give your feedback either via my blog (comment section) or via email.


As an on-line retailer of swimming and water exercise products (based in Florida), aqua gear is a family-run company that's been around since 1992. They offer same-day shipping and very competitive friendly prices.

I asked aquagear to give their recommendations for a few goggles as I think many triathletes and fitness enthusiasts struggle with finding the right pair. I love my speedo women vanquisher goggles and for de-fogging, just drop a tiny drop of baby shampoo in the lenses and rinse.

As far as goggles go, the new models that are big this season are AquaSphere's K180 and Speedo's Polarized Speed Socket.
The  K180's are AquaSphere's first google designed for competitive swimmers. They are extremely light-weight and low-profile. The  K180's plus  also new this year, goes a step futher and actually sits inside the rim of your eye-socket for an even lower profile.
For a trialthelete, the K180 Plus might be too low of a profile to be comfortable for any length of swim. The Plus fits and feels like a sweedish goggle. If you like a lower profile, you might like the regular K180. If you prefer a wider field of vision and a bit more comfort, you might consider the Kayenne or the Kayenne Small Fit.   

Speedo's newest addition is the Speed Socket with a Polarized lens. This is another low profile goggle meant for competitive swimmers, but is notable due to its polarized lenses, which very few goggles have. If you like the feel of a low profile goggles, you might like the enhanced vision that polarized lenses provide when swimming in the open water.
Speedo's Air Seal Tri is also a popular choice for Triathletes. It fits more like a goggle than a swim mask, but still allows for a wider field of vision than competition swim goggles.

Many triathletes ask me about paddles which I find effective for swim drills and for working on the form (specifically the pull through) in the water. I also believe in water jogging when necessary for injury or just to change up the routine. I highly recommend checking out the paddle section as well as the aqua jogger belts.

From the email I received from my contact person at Aquagear (family owned business):
"I think what our company has that our competitors  don't have is the people working here. We try out almost every product that we carry. We might try all of the exercise bells in the pool to see which has the most resistance or try on each model of goggle to see how they fit. We use this knowledge to train the rest of our employees on all the subtle differences between different brands and models to help the customer find the right product for their needs.
We also take the time to talk to our customers to figure out who they are and what their goals are so we can recommend a product that they'll love. We believe that good customer service is more than sounding friendly on the phone. Its about knowing the products and the customer and finding the right match.
We throughly check incomming and outgoing merchdise to spot and weed out manufacturing errors before the merchandise gets to the customer. So while other companies may sell the same model of kickboard or goggle, you'll know that each product coming from us has been looked over thouroughly for any missing parts, defects or cosmetic blemishes. Unfortunately, many of the factories that make swimming products tend to toss in a few defective products in each batch as part of their business model. We're rather picky about the appearance of the product and aren't shy about sending defective or blemished merchandise back to the manufacturer when needed. If the customer is paying for something that's "new", it shouldn't have scuffs on it or indentations in the foam. Ultimatly all of these things create a better experience for the customer, since the purpose of a retailer is to help the customer get the right product, in brand new condition, on-time, with as little difficulty as possible."


Now a day, "challenges" are the rave. Whether it is a 30-day "diet" challenge or a fitness challenge, it seems like people are looking for ways to be dedicated to changing up the routine....for a short amount of time....only hoping that those changes stay.

As a triathlete, I have a routine and a schedule in order to be as consistent as possible to receive the most prominent physiological adaptations to the body with the least amount of training stress. As a coach, all my athletes use Training Peaks to upload data and to review their weekly workouts. I use it myself to see what torture..I mean fun workouts, Karel has me do for swim-bike-run.

But sometimes you need to change up the routine. I don't believe in keeping the same routine month after month. As a triathlete, I like to dedicate no more than 3 months training for one event, with the last 8-10 weeks being the "heaviest" of training load (duration or intensity depending on what I am training for). Despite having a "season" for triathlons (typically lasting March - Oct for most triathletes), I still like to put in a few "breaks" of unstructured activity to keep my fitness going but to not burn out my mind and body.

As for the few months that follow triathlon "season", I LOVE to change things up. I still exercise but "training" is not as necessary. I find that many athletes become burnt out by the end of their season and this turns in to a lot of doing nothing. I find nothing wrong with doing nothing but certainly, there should be a healthy balance between season and off-season. Too much or little of any one thing is never a good thing.

I am excited to introduce you to Konkura which is the FREE fitness challenge site. All you have to do is create a username (it took me less than 2 minutes) and you can browse the site to get inspired by challenges, exercises and even meet other like-minded individuals.

'Konkura is the free sport, fitness and workout site where you can join, share or create challenges for every sport or fitness activity imaginable.
Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, swimmer, rower, football player, paddler, strength athlete or just interested in getting more fit or changing body composition,  you’ll find a challenge just for you. Because many people don't have access to gyms and lack motivation to train on their own, this is a great website to give you a community of like-minded people to train against and enjoy friendly competition.

And if you can’t find a sport or exercise challenge that suits you, you can quickly and easily create your own, then invite your friends (or the whole world) to compete with you for mutual motivation.

Let me know what you think of the site...if you are a runner or triathlete, this is a great place to track your own progress and be inspired by others.


Trek event recap- Sport Nutrition in Today's Society

The look of confidence

A-mazing swag!!!

So, why is sport nutrition so confusing??? You'd think with how much Ironman athletes, marathon runners and every other "athlete" trains, there must be a major calorie deficit to encourage major weight loss. Sadly, I find athletes struggling with weight despite training 10, 15, 20 hours a week and often, sport nutrition is overlooked. I find it absolutely amazing that athletes will excuse 200, 300, 500+ calories in the late evening hours due to working out earlier in the day yet when it comes to supporting ALL the metabolic processes that are needed to encourage gradual performance gains during training, athletes will often compromise performance by being fearful of pre, during and post training sport nutrition. Certainly, by prioritizing liquid calories (electrolytes, fluids and carbohydrates) during workouts, you will put yoursel in a better situation to reach your short and long term training goals and if you want to "save" calories, you can find 100-200 calories to "save" in your 1500+ calorie a day, diet.

Because sport nutrition is so individualized, I absolutely LOVE working my Trimarni coaching and nutrition athletes on developing an efficient and practical training and racing fueling plan to reach both performance and body composition goals. Although it can be scary at first for athletes to try something new, it often pays off in more energy during workouts, less fatigue during workouts, quicker recovery, an increase in lean muscle mass and performance gains.

Because what works for one person doesn't always work for another person, we must understand that sport nutrition depends on:

-Weather, terrain, duration, intensity, nerves, body size, fitness, efficiency, choice of fuels, fueling strategy, previous meals and daily diet.

Additionally, your sport nutrition will likely vary on a day to day basis, as well as throughout your training routine- with the hope that your body is becoming more metabolically efficient with each workout. To sum up the purpose of sport nutrition: your goal is to regulate body temperature, ensure proper gastric emptying and absorption of electroyltes, carbs and fluids, ensure proper muscle contractions and relaxations, postpone fatigue, support cardiac and respiratory functioning and of course, support all metabolic processes.  
The purpose of my talk was to give some insight as to why sport nutrition is so confusing in today's society. The reason why I picked this topic is because on race day, your race day performance is simply based on how you trained. Therefore, your goal is to train your body to execute a plan on race day and to be well-fueled throughout the course of training. Perfecting race day nutrition starts WAY before race day and of course, if you didn't train your body to run sub 7 min miles off the bike in a triathlon, no amount of sport nutrition will help you out on race day.
The first part of my talk was spent on the factors contributing to the confusion with sport nutrition:
1) Research - every sport nutrition company has research showing that their product is better than the rest.
2) Celebrities (aka "professionals" and sponsored athletes)
3) The current food industry

As you can imagine, I spent some time talking about the current food industry.

As you all know, we live in an obesity-promoting environment.. Today, our society is eating much differently than it did 10, 20, 30 years ago.  Today, we aren't consuming food, we are consuming products. We are consuming chemical concotions, created by science, that appear more healthful than the real option. Because of the choices athletes and fitness enthusiasts are making within the daily diet, often sport nutrition puts to the backstide. Not sure where the viscous cycle starts but athletes, overeat/undereat post workout due to poor fueling during (and before) the workout. Improper nutrition post workout often leads to feeling of guilt (or control) which can ultimately sabatoge a workout. Athletes are tired from poor nutrient density as well as from overtraining or training for quantity, not quality (often the overtraining comes from the desire to burn more calories or the obsession of burning calories to be able to eat certain foods). Althetes are then so tired during the day, that the rely on energy drink products and pick-me-ups (coffee, sugary treats, sport items, etc.) to give them "short term" energy that can also be obtained with a balanced training plan and more sleep. I find that for many athletes, the blood sugar is completely out of whack and luck for me, I learn a lot about diabetes from being a clinical dietitian - different yet oh so similar. It's a tough cycle to break - luckily, I have the tool set to help athletes learn how to fuel both the lifestyle and the workout routine.

Oh, not to mention that people are eating in the cars, behind the computers, during a 5-minute "break" between meetings and wherever else athletes choose to eat...or not eat/restrict. Oh darn it, forgot to mention poor stress and sleep management as well as emotional eating, anxiety, depression and feelings of being overwhelmed.

The western diet is nothing close to natural and because of that, athletes are confused as to how to eat - both for fuel and for health. My advice, eat real food, be mindful of how food makes you feel, honor your hunger and prioritize sport nutrition before, during and post workout. Yes, it can be a bit complicated for some people so be sure to contact your favorite sport nutritionist/RD to help guide you along the way.

Showing how much sugar is added to products like oatmeal packets, cereals, chocolate milk, granola bars, juices, yogurt, etc. (the list goes on and on and on)

Be aware of claims. Always read the ingredients and nutrition fact label. Often "healthy" options are no better/worse than the other "unhealthy" option. Remember, no bad or off-limit foods - just de-emphasize. This will allow you to appreciate what you do have in the diet. My favorite tip for cereal, make a veggie, fruit and protein smoothie (mixed with a healthy fat like chia seeds or flax oil) and top with a handful of your favorite cereal. I always have cheerios and a shredded wheat-type cereal in our place, as well as oatmeal (instant, plain) and crisp/wasa crackers for a nice crunch (especially with peanut butter or cheese). 

If you want chocolate, eat chocolate!! But make it the good stuff (>75% cacao) and pass on the granola bars, sugar free candies/goodies and anything else that is modified to be almost as good as the real thing. We LOVE sea salt chocolate dark chocolate in our house....yum.

Mango juice? How about eating a mango! fruit which is low glycemix and empties from the stomach slowly. I don't encourage a high fructose consumption (sport drinks) during training which may increase risk of bloating, cramping or diarrhea. No need to fear fruit for the "sugar". Keep in mind that you need to give food a nutritional value for what it provides to your body as well as how it makes you when you eat it (and after you eat it). Fruit has electrolytes, vitamins, minerals and fiber...go on and eat the rainbow!

Natural. Such a misleading word. now a day. In my right hand, I have an almond, in the shell. When Karel was growing up, he couldn't get enough walnuts from all the walnut trees in Czech Republic. Once a nut is picked, companies think you desire more so they add seasonings, salt, preservatives, artificial flavors, etc. to "natural" nuts. Grab yourself a nut cracker, save some money, and buy the real thing. I think you will really appreciate nuts a lot more after cracking them yourself. There's something so beautiful about food in its real form.
Oh, my thoughts on organic? We don't do organic because I like to shop around and shop seasonal. Last time I was sick was in 2006 - still going strong as no virus has stopped my active lifestyle. I don't get flu shots, I don't take antiobiotics, I don't take daily supplements....I just eat real food, get good sleep, try to manage stress and exercise just enough to receive optiomal performance gains (but not put me over the edge). Certainly, everyone is different and we must always respect the body and focus on what is best for us at this time in our life and to protect us from the future. I am not against anything and for those who have worked with me, they know I don't have "rules" for my athletes but rather suggestions and tips - with research in mind, but practical for real world settings. I encourage others to shop what is in season and to aim for a variety of color in the diet. Certainly, choosing an organic food from california would not be as fresh and nutrient dense as local strawberries from a farmer down the road. And although I like to say that food without a food label is not processed, anything that is handled by someone else and travels, is likely "processed" in some form (cut, washed, chopped, etc.) As for fear of pesticides, approximately .04% individuals over 20 years of age were exposed to pestides in 2011. More than 140,000 people die from stroke, which is the third leading cause of death in America. Eat your fruits and veggies people!

As for the rest of my talk...I got into the fun stuff, that all athletes want to know about: how to improve performance with sport nutrition! I spent a bit of time talking about what factors affect gastric emptying and absorption (ex. intensity, type of carbs, osmolality, fluid intake before and during training, electrolytes, etc.) as well as how to recognize factors that may be affecting performance besides just sport nutrition:
-Training tools/gadgets (ex. power meters, garmin/GPS, HR monitor, training peaks, etc.)
-Stress and sleep management
-Periodized training
-Proper pacing during training and racing/intervals
-Daily diet

. Want to learn more??? Contact me and I'd be happy to arrange a talk at your local triathlon or running club...I always try to come with goodies...and a yummy Trimarni creation.....

Yogurt dip:
Non fat Dannon yogurt (about 2 cups)
Chili pepper (pinch or two shakes)
Lemon pepper (pinch or two shakes)
Dried chopped onions (1 tbsp)
Parsley (1/2 tbsp)
Feta cheese (1 tbsp)
Cumin (optional - start with a pinch, then add more to your liking)

                                                          1. Mix together in a bowl.
2. Refrigerate.
3. Serve with veggies - carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.

To conclude the evening, I had a fantastic group of individuals donate items for the raffle. I am so fortunate to be an ambassador for so many great companies. I don't believe in calling myself a sponsored athlete because I embrace the brands that I support. They aren't paying me to use their products. As a loooong time Hammer and Oakley, I love the brands that help me succeed (like CEP compression) in my athletic career. Over the past year and a half, I have created a fantastic relationship with 110% Play Harder and love their fantastic products and gear. Although not an ambassador of Trek, I love being part of the Trek family and I am proud to support local small businesses. I want to give a special thanks to the following for helping out with my event:
Carla - CEP, I totally believe in compression. It has helped me out in so many ways. I don't train without calf sleeves or socks. As a helpful reminder, only socks or tights covering the feet (not sleeves) should be used for recovery for graduated compression.
Steve - Vibewired (currently website under construction - check out vibewired on facebook and on twitter). Great invention Steve - short wires for your nano so you don't have to battle with dangling wires while you are working out! Just attach to your hat or helmet (ride safe please, use music only on quiet roads and not on group rides or in races) and you are good to go!
Hammer Nutrition - Please support local tri or running stores but if you want to order online, use my customer code 97495 for a 15% discount on your first order. My favorite products - huckleberry gel and Strawberry Heed. I've heard from many that Hammer sends lots of free samples with your first order :)
Trek Bicycle Store of Jacksonville - Thank you Jeff, Karel and the other guys who stayed after hours to listen to me speak...and drink your beers behind the service counter :)
110% Play Harder -    Have you seen the new quad sleeves? Need to boost your recovery post workout
Oakley women - for the NEW radar edge sunglasses. I am so proud to be part of the Oakley women ambassador team and to be able to call Oakley women, my family. I invite you to check out the website as well as on facebook, as Oakley is gearing up for the olympics with a lot of inspirational campaigns (Beyond reason) and information on the latest with Oakley USA olympic athletes. If you have any questions regarding Oakley sunglasses or gear, just let me know. BTW - you don't need polarized unless you like them better than polarized. I hear it all the time and Erik (Jax Oakley rep) discussed the importance of Oakley testing, lenses, style, cut of lenses, etc. and explained that polarized shades reduce glare - like on snow and water. They make it hard to see computer screens but many people like it better. So do you have to have it? No, it is an individual decision. My fav racing/training shades: Radar edge and commit.
**And a SPECIAL BIG thanks to my friend Tyler S. for taking these wonderful pics during the event. If you'd like to have Tyler take pics at your upcoming event (or family pics, active, or anythingn you need), just send me an email.

Showing how my Drizzle active eyewear do not fall off my face. You can even run in them - no slipping!

Congrats to the Oakley shade winners!!

My biggest take-home message for the evening was to remind everyone that triathlons are our lifestyle, not our life. It is a hobby that makes us feel good and that should certainly enhance our lifestyle. We don't have to train for an Ironman or marathon to "lose" weight and the goal of any diet or training routine should never be for the goal to be skinny. I believe we should eat and train to gain strength, both in body and mind.
Secondly, we only have one chance at life. I don't believe that we can prevent disease, simply reduce the risk. Lifestyle factors have a significant impact on what gets "turned" on in your body as well as how the organs will continue to function, 10,20,40, 50 years down the road. By taking care of yourself now, you are more likely to create fantastic memories as you continue to age. If you are one of the many who experience an illness or disease later in life, hopefully you will be reminded of all the amazing steps you took to reduce your risk and you will be one of many who will come out a winner.

Life isn't about being perfect. Just do the best you can - don't waste energy on things out of your control and set goals for yourself to feel just as good, if not better, tomorrow, as you were today. I'm not one for making excuses but rather for making things happen.

I know you can do the same.


Welcome-home salad

YUMM....A fresh garden, in a bowl.

I love traveling to new places, exploring new venues and eating at local restaurants. To me, this is what life is all about. No consequences as to my "occasional" choices of indulging in not-typical Trimarni foods and deviating from a consistent training routine. Not having restrictions in my diet and not obsessing about burning calories gives me so much freedom to explore new flavors, to change up the routine and to be inspired to create new Trimarni creations.

To be honest, I would be completely bored with my life if there was only one way to eat and one way to train, forever. For as my life changes, so does my diet and exercise routine.  There was a time when I feared change. That was before I met Karel. Now, I LOVE change. I love my routine that brings me consistency but I welcome opportunities to try new things. For with new things, I am also reminded as to why I LOVE my routine so much. :)

But certainly, the food I choose on a daily basis fuels my lifestyle and my workout routine. It makes me feel good from my head to my toes and it keeps me well. Because of the respect I give to my body on a daily basis, I am fortunante to be able to live the life I choose to live. Do you feel the same way and do your current actions/habits enhance your life?

When it comes to my body, I love using it and moving it. I like to say I have a lot of contained energy and somehow I don't seem to run out of it on a daily basis. I don't rely on energy drinks or coffee past my morning cup of joe. For if my body and mind becomes extremely tired during the day, that is a sign. A sign that I need to make a few changes in my sleeping routine, eating routine and training routine to ensure consistency in reaching my short and long term goals.

Prioritizing at least 7 hours of sleep almost every day of the week, finding healthy ways to handle stress and always focusing on what I CAN do, I absolutely love waking up fresh, feeling positive about what I can accomplish for that day. It's not always singing birds and roses, so there are certainly times that I find something that gives me the right amount of loving energy, to keep me going.

The other day at the hospital, I had a patient say something to me and it really stuck in my head. This wasn't the first time that my job as a clinical RD has changed the way I think about life. After speaking to him, he said "What I wouldn't give for some fresh air right now."

I hope you enjoy my latest Trimarni creation filled with color, nutrients and fuel your lifestyle and workout routine. Enjoy!

Welcome-home salad

Mixture of greens - arugula, kale, green leaf lettuce
Feta cheese

(add the protein of your choice - we used hardboiled eggs)


USA crit Speed Week recap (cyclist perspective)

There are cyclists and there are triathletes. Two completely different sports, both using the same piece of equipment. Campy happens to live with one of each.

Speed Week is a cyclists dream..that is, if his/her dream is to suffer at and above his/her max, with over 100 other riders in battle for the best position at each corner, hoping not to crash, be behind a crash or be affected by a crash, only to remind him/herself that after one race is over, he/she gets/has to do it all over again.

According to the website:
"USA CRITS Speed Week is a series of seven criterium races over nine days across three southern states – starting with the Terrapin Twilight in Athens, Georgia and ending in the North Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. Speed Week features the best criterium cyclists in the world racing the downtown streets of seven cities, transforming these areas into international cycling competition arenas. Olympians and world- and nationally-ranked athletes take to the streets to contest the series, as well as to pursue qualifying positions for the USA CRITS Finals. The week of racing will once again offer one of the largest prize purses in North America with $120,000 in prize money for the week."

This is Karel's 4th year participating in Speed Week. Because of his work schedule, it is hard for Karel to take off so many days of work as well as recover and race and finish with the professionals. But, thanks to a supportive boss (who is doing his first IM in 2 weeks!) and a wonderful triathlon/cycling community, Karel is able to squeeze in as many races as he can - all while keeping life balanced.

This year, Karel was able to do Athens, Beaufort, Spartanburg, Anderson and Sandy Springs. 5 races, 5 cities, 2 states, 36 hours driving and over 1700 miles driven. Did I mention that Campy had a blast!?!?

Here's a quick recap of the week:

FINISHED!! 50th place and the title of 2 years in a row "Athens Twilight Finisher". Can't ask for a better feeling to start off Speed Week and the glory of knowing that for 365 days, only one race is on your mind and a finish is the only goal.

I had to miss Beaufort because of work and preparing for my talk at the Trek store on Wed (pics/recp of that will come soon) but Karel said that this 1 hour and 30+ minute crit was harder than he could ever remember. Perhaps having to work all day and then leaving at 1:30 for a 4 hour drive to SC affected his energy but he didn't let that get in the way. Karel refuses to quit or make excuses. The town of Beaufort is beautiful and always brings a nice crowd. The course is very technical and tight. He was suprised he finished 37th and 3 places away from being "in the money" because he said there was at least 5 times during the race that he convinced himself to finish, despite his body nearly quitting over and over again.

After a LONG day of work + my talk on Wed, Karel quickly realized that his body is not recovering like it once did 3-4 years ago. It takes longer for him to recover, despite him feeling like his body is in good shape. Sleep and lots of time with the foam roller, he took it easy on the Lodge group ride on Thurs evening and by Fri, he felt that fire again to push his body (albeit, still tired from the last two crits in the past 6 days). There is only one word to describe Spartanburg - crashes and lots of them.
Luckily, I didn't witness any of the crashes but this dark, fast and challenging course caused so much chaos that they had to stop the race two seperate times because there were more people in the wheel pit for mechanicals and for getting "Free" laps because of being stuck behind the crash, than in the race itself. It was absolutely unbelievable to see so much action on the sidelines...not to mention the rest of the race. But surprisingly, this is Karel's course. Challenging, dodging crashes (yes, he still has the same amount of skin as when he started the race), dark, fast, a huge crowd and lots of aggression from the other riders. Karel has a great finish and was really happy to have finished this race. He said he felt great and that is always something great to say after a tough week of racing.

We made a 1 hour drive to Anderson, SC after the race on Friday evening and stayed at pet-friendly Country Inn and Suites. I enjoyed a "long" run on Sat morning after a restful night of sleep on the rolling hills of SC. My legs were loving the changing terrain but Karel's set for me of 6 x 5 min Z5 w/ 2 min walk recovery really gave me the confident boost I need for my upcoming half in Macon, G on June 2nd. After finishing my "long" run of 11.5 miles (1 hour and 25 minutes), I caught up with my athletes on training peaks and Karel and his teammate Erik watched the Giro (Karel's favorite tour) on the computer.
Around 3:15pm it was time for the start of the Anderson the middle of nowhere. An open field with a road and not a cloud or tree in sight for shade. 100% NOT Karel's course and he knew it. The course was so unsafe that there were several crashes on the same slopping corner after a descend, that was not designed for crit racing. Knowing that pro's know how to handle their bikes, saying that this course was not ideal for a race is speaking loudly for how crazy this course was for the riders (not to mention, tired and glycogen depleted riders). Karel didn't finish the race and after playing out scenarios in his head as well as his future with bike racing, he joined me and Campy and we watched the finish of the race. There was a lot of suffering going on and I think even if Karel finished this race, the heat would have completely drained Karel for weeks to come.

Sandy Springs:
After a wonderful night of rest, I woke up and took Campy on a walk. Campy was quick to go back to bed with Karel and after a morning cup of coffee while on the computer in the lobby of the hotel. I went for a fantastic time-based 45 min run after doing several hip warm-up exercises in the hotel gym.
Around 1pm we headed to hot and hilly Sandy Springs for the 4:15pm start. This is a hard 50K course to finish Speed Week but Karel loves it. Despite being at 4:15pm, Karel really loves the challenge of this race. This race was driven by a lot of strong riders and sticking with the theme of Speed Week, there was a crash around 15 laps within the 50 lap race and Karel was stuck behind the crash. Karel rode to the wheel pit which happened to be in a tough place to join back with the field. As the field rode by, Karel was pushed by a mechanic to join the field, only to pedal quickly up a slight incline and then to approach the "big climb" of this 1K course. Karel said after that climb, he had about 1 lap and couldn't manage to get his legs back to get his mid-field position. Karel got dropped and all he could think about was "I felt great". Sadly, that's bike racing. We watched the end of the race as well as seeing the field dwindle as the race went on and around 6pm, it was time to make our drive home from Georgia and to conclude another Speed Week.

Now what???
Just like you and me, we all love to compete. We all have goals and we have that drive, that fire, that burning itch to succeed. If we didn't, we wouldn't sign up for races and get nervously excited for the big day. Success is different from person to person and that is what makes "sports" so exciting and fun. You see, Karel is no different from me and no different from you. Perhaps from a cycling perspective, Karel and the other riders can suffer a bit more than us, but on race day, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that your ONLY limitor is your mind (hence the importance of training smart, recoverying harder and prioritizing both sport nutrition and the daily diet).

You see, in cycling, you are racing to win. Many of these guys know they will not win and maybe will never win, but perhaps a podium is possible. In triathlons and running races, you are out for a great experience but more often than not, a PR or an age group placing. You know you will finish (well, in an Ironman, I believe a Finish is the ultimate goal) and depending on if you pace your race, a successful finish will come if your body and mind are strong and healthy.

In cycling, there are no finisher t-shirts or medals. If you don't place on the podium or bring home some money, you are just a finisher. Sounds impressive to finish a race but when you are a cyclist, you are constantly experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions and it is never just good enough to finish. For whether you are stuck in a crash, behind a crash or don't have the legs to handle the speed that is driven by the front of the pack, you are wondering to yourself "why do I do this to myself and how can I get faster so it doesn't hurt so bad?"

Karel loves bike racing and he gets it from his dad, who at the age of 73yrs old, still rides his bike in Czech Republic. Often, a Skype session with Karel's dad will involve Karel Sr. telling Karel (in Czech) that he just has to have the latest parts and accessories..why? Because all of his 70+ yr old training partners have them!
Sadly, Karel is realizing that his body is not recovering like it did a few years ago. Karel has significantly changed his diet over the past 6 years of us being together and that has allowed him to gain strength and improve overall health. Additionally, strength training has been a big part in his training routine over the past 3-4 years. Karel is very specific with his training (he coaches himself) and analyzes every workout to allow for consistent performance gains.

Although 40+ hours of working a week, in addition to helping me with my Trimarni Coaching athletes, is not stopping him from loving his bike, he feels he is just not able to respond to the training stress, like he did in past years. In my eyes, we must respect the body. Of course we "ride clean" and performance enhancing drugs would never enter his or my body, but Karel is keeping things real. We both know that dumping a bunch of supplements and stimulants into his system is not the practical approach. If anything, the longterm cardiac and liver consequences are not worth a finish at speed week or reaching higher watts during a group ride.

So, perhaps I should rephrase this - he is continuing to improve his fitness on his own level BUT it is hard to keep up with the other guys. Karel has raced several BIG races this year and has finished many of them. I am so incredibly proud of him and finish or no finish, I love knowing that Karel is able to overcome the emotional side of "sport" as well as the physical and mental side. To me, that is what sports are all about. Growing stronger as a human being and being able to achieve things that you never thought were possible. For you only fail, if you give up. He never stops wanting "it" and refuses to stop competing.

So, what's next. Well, Karel has the Crit State Championship in 2 weeks and then he will be supporting me at the Macon Halfman on June 2nd where I will be racing in the Open/Elite division on a challenging hot and hilly course.

What about triathlons???

Will Karel transition to triathlons (as many people have asked me in the recent past)??? Well, that's something that Karel will need to decide. He is driven by competition but surely, triathlons are very different than cycling. I have never asked Karel to be a triathlete nor put it in his head that he should "try" triathlons. Karel has helped me gain tremendous strength as a triathlete and has helped me (and my athletes) cross many finish lines. He certainly knows the aspect of cycling but he also knows how to train smart and of course....what it feels like to get into the red zone and stay in the hurt box.

I've learned a lot from Karel and one (of many) things that I am so fortunante to have learned from himl is that being physically fit is only the foundation in how we can succeed in sport. Determination will drive you to get out the door every morning and to see what your body is capable of achieving. But you have to want it....bad. For only when you are mentally strong, do you really start to reach your ultimate goals and you find yourself creating a more balanced lifestyle to meet both your lifestyle and athletic goals.

Trainins is never only about the miles. Nutrition is never about being skinny. We must always remember that if you want to succeed, you have to train hard, recover harder and of course, keep your mind strong to be able to overcome any and all obstacles that may come into your way and may possible hinder you from seeing what you are truely capable of achieving in life. Oh and don't forget to have fun.

Here's some pics from the week...