Essential Sports Nutrition


Let's eat! Trimarni sushi, pomegranate banana bread and more!

Pomegranate smoothie
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 large orange (without peel)
1 large celery stick (chopped)
1/2 large banana (very ripe)
1 tsp ginger chopped
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup  milk
1/3 cup greek yogurt (Fage 0% plain)
Small handful spinach
1 tsp cinnamon
~25g protein powder
10 ice cubes
water to meet consistency needs.

1. Blend ingredients for 90 seconds to make a smoothie meal that is thick enough to eat with a spoon. 

Zucchini pomegranate banana bread
2 bananas (very ripe), mashed
1 egg
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup skim milk
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch all spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup zucchini (shredded)
1 cup pomegranate seeds.
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup oat flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8 x 1 1/2 inch pans with non stick spray.
2. Combine all ingredients except flour and mix well.
3. Add the flour until evenly combined.
4. Pour batter in one pan until 3/4th filled. Pour leftover batter in other pan (will make a thinner bread for pan #2).
5. Bake for 45-50 minutes. 

Mixed greens salad w/ fresh fruit and pistachiosMixed greens with pistachios, pomegranate, avocado, raspberries, apples, orange pepper, chives, purple onion, edamame and Parmesan topped with olive oil and a side of bakery fresh bread.

Avocado Sushi
Wild rice (cooked)
Sauteed onions and mushrooms (in oven or skillet - tossed in a little olive oil) or raw
Avocado - chopped

1. Take seaweed "paper" and lay flat on plate.
2. On 1/2 of paper, spread with semi warm rice. Top with onions, avocado and mushrooms.
3. Roll seaweed into roll and enjoy. 

Taco saladMixed greens, avocado, onion, green and red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, salsa, pinto beans and carrots topped with crumbles chips (from Miami 70.3 travel home stop at Moe's) and a side of cottage cheese.

Why I love my real food diet: It is not a mass marketed diet fad, temporary change or extreme approach. It's real food in a balanced way that fuels life and reduces risk for disease....and it tastes great!
Happy eating!


Karel's Miami 70.3 race report

1.2 mile swim

Around 8:40 or so, Karel lined up near the front of his wave just behind the inflatable swim start sign. Karel went into this race with a lot of swim confidence as he has been working really hard with a swim coach/masters team at UNF on his swimming skills. As a cat 1 cyclist turned triathlete and just learning how to swim 15 months ago, Karel has come far in both his endurance and efficiency as a swimmer. But all of triathletes know that to be a great triathlete you need to be able to exit the water relatively fresh - with a body that can bike and then run to the finish line.

The great thing about this specific swim course is that it was designed really nicely for all levels of swimmers. For Karel, the numbered buoys and 3 specific turn buoys allowed him to pace himself but also mentally swim strong throughout the swim. Also, Karel liked starting in the water, after jumping off a dock. Karel has expressed that the mass swim start chaos is not something he looks forward to so the smaller waves alongside smooth water conditions presented the perfect race start for Karel.

35:08, 458th male, 92 age group

Karel exited the water just over 35 minutes which he was really happy about as that was his same time with a wet suit from Branson 70.3 last year. Karel knows that in triathlons, you have to forget the past and be in the moment and every race is different so you can't compare race times. So even if the swim wasn't as good as it was at Miami, he always says "forget about it and move on. Let what happened happen and don't try to make up time on the bike because of a slower swim." When you give your best effort you must always accept it with no regrets or wish-I-would-have's.

The hardest part of the swim was getting out of the water. Karel said they had to climb a few stairs to exit the water and then it was a jog to transition. But other than that - Karel was really excited about his swim time. He also felt much better exiting the water and not exhausted for the bike. Yay progress!

56 mile bike

Amber and I had a little time to kill after our guys were on the bike so I grabbed some food from my bag and cooler and we sat on the ground in Bayside Market Place to enjoy a few snacks. I also charged my phone as it was super active all morning with updates on Facebook and Instagram.

I estimated that Karel would be a few minutes in transition and depending on the wind, I was thinking between 2:20 and 2:25 for his bike. I didn't discuss times with Karel before his race so I used the Ironmanlive tracker for his 28 mile split to guesstimate his return time.

Karel and I spent the night before studying the course map - specifically the first few miles of the bike so that Karel would know exactly how he was leaving transition and what to expect in the first few miles of the race when the body is acclimating from swim position to bike position.

Karel exited the water in 92nd place out of his age group of 524 (35-39) males.

Karel new he would be passing a lot of people since he was in the 22nd wave (out of 26) so the goal of the ride was to race smart for a strong run. Karel has been craving a sub 1:30 run off the bike but he had a lot of work to do on the bike to move forward in his age group placing to be pushed by the other guys in his age group for that strong run.

Karel said that the course was simple - out and back. There was a slight tailwind after the turn around but overall, Karel said it was mostly crosswinds.

Karel was able to maintain a good pace to the turn around and averaged around 24mph for 28 miles (1:09). I wasn't sure how the wind would affect him on the way home but knowing Karel he is not the biker who would overbike the first half of a race. If anything, Karel likes to save his effort and I knew he wouldn't overbike this course so I figured he would be at around the same time -give or take a minute or two- on the way back. The one downside to this course for Karel was that it was pancake flat. Karel and I both prefer rolling courses for it gives us a chance to stretch the legs and change position on the bike. Karel gets really tight in his adductors and hip flexors which is relieved by getting out of the saddle. But on this course - Karel stayed aero, had all his nutrition on the bike and stretched as needed throughout the race.

After passing groups and groups of riders on the way out, Karel was stuck on the way back. With 3133 participants in the race, let's just say that many athletes were enjoying a free ride and according to Karel, it was like a team time trial out there. Karel was unable to pass 4 abreast on the road for then he would be risking a penalty for crossing the middle line. So I guess you could say in this race you are only as fast as the pack in front of you.

Karel has had his time racing bikes for most of his life so it would be easy for him to draft in triathlons for it is normal in cycling races. But the difference between bike racing and triathlons is the individual effort needed in tri's. Although Karel misses being in the hurt box at his crit races, he really enjoys the solo effort and having no one to blame but yourself for how things go on race day. In other words, in cycling races you can have a great day but get dropped from the pack that is having a better day. In triathlons - it's your own effort and either you race smart or suffer.

Karel ended up having a slower ride (relative) on the way back because of the massive groups of riders so he was a bit bothered by the craziness on this course but happy that he was about to wake up his run legs. Even though he wasn't quite sure how his legs were going to enjoy running 13.1 miles at almost noon time and up a bridge four times, the mind knew it was time to run and the body had no choice but to follow.

I was so thankful to my Facebook followers for everyone was helping me keep up with Karel on I managed to catch Karel on the way into transition area and the set-up for the Miami 70.3 course was really great for spectators to see athletes riding into transition area through the middle of downtown.

The course had many road closures in the downtown area which was great for getting around the swim/run course rather easy. Campy was starting to get a little exhausted but he had just enough energy to smile and cheer for all the athletes on the course. He was super excited to finally see his daddy.

2:22:17 (23.61 mph) - 19th age group, 125th male

13.1 mile run

After passing 396 people on the bike course in 56 miles, Karel transitioned in less than 2 minutes and was off for the run. The run course was an out and back course, 2 loops. The course was not forgiving on the legs and running in the middle of the day was also another challenge for the body. 

I stayed near mile 6 so that I could see Karel heading back from his first loop. Thankfully there were a lot of tracking mats on the course to record his chip for frequent updates. A former nutrition athlete of mine, Roger, was a lifesaver for I was able to know about when Karel was coming. Holding Campy and my camera was taking my love for multi-sports to the extreme. BUT, I managed to catch Karel both times.

When I saw Karel he looked great. He had been averaging between 6:23-6:57 min/mile with a few slower segments (relative) on the bridge. Just like on the bike, Karel had all his nutrition with him so he relied on his Nathan fuel belt and then grabbed ice/water at the aid stations for sipping and cooling. Karel usesInfinit Nutrition and a custom formula that I created for him for the bike and run. Karel said that the aid stations were running out of fuel on the run so he was happy he had his own nutrition.

After seeing Karel again, starting loop two, I could tell that he was going to give it his all. That's what I love so much about Karel - absolutely no excuses. It is what it is, all that he has, 100% of the time. I've watched Karel race bikes for 6 years so I have experienced the rush, the highs and the lows that come with bike racing. But I can't help but remember that Karel just started triathlons last year and although a very talented and gifted athlete, he trains really hard using our "train smart" philosophy. 

At around 1 mile, Karel had moved into 17th place. Nearing mile 9, he was in 13th place. I could tell from his splits that he was getting tired and later did I hear that Karel was really suffering on the run in his hip flexors. He said he was super tight and just couldn't get his legs to freshen up. With all things considered, it was just after 1pm and running up and over a bridge four times doesn't make running any easier. But, no giving up for Karel - ever. He will push til he can't push any more. 

I was also so happy that I spotted Trimarni athlete Caitlin on the run course who later finished her first Half IM in just over 7 hours! She looked amazing the entire run and I was just so happy for her!
I made my way to the finish line because I didn't want to miss Karel's finish. Of course...I missed his finish after waiting over 20 minutes in the most perfect spot to see him coming and then move over to the barricades to video his finish. I have no idea how I missed him but when the announcer said his name I was so sad that I missed his finish!

The finish line was in the park area so it was really easy to find athletes after they finished.
I walked with Campy to the area where athletes were exiting the finish line chute and waited, and waited and waited.
I wasn't sure where he was and I was concerned that I wouldn't find him and it would be really hard to find him with so many athletes and spectators around if he was in the park area. I knew he wouldn't go far as we planned to meet at the finish line area but I waiting and waiting and no Karel.  I knew the medical tent was near by and I couldn't see Karel in there so I figured he had just collapsed somewhere to rest his aching legs. 

My friend Amber and her hubby Tommy (who did AMAZING in 4:40!) spotted Karel and I was very relieved.

After Karel and I made our way to an empty grass area, Karel told me that he ended up in medical because he was on the verge of blacking out at the finish. Medical iced him down and after a few minutes he was ok to walk alone. Neither Karel or myself have ever received an IV after a race.

After Karel rested a bit and received some happy celebratory kisses from Campy, we walked (as Karel hobbled) to the parking garage so that Karel could get his backpack with his change of clothes. Karel went to our friend's hotel to shower since he had his room key and I hung out at the market place for another 30 minutes so that I could see Caitlin one more time on her way back to finish her race. I also cheered for the other athletes and spotted my friend Dee Dee who also finished her first half IM.

After Karel showered, he grabbed his bike and gear from transition and met me back at the car. Not surprising, Karel started to feel the normal waves of "I feel OK" to "I think I am going to die" so he just sat outside the car on a curb in the parking garage for a good 15 minutes. I put an ice pack on his neck from the cooler and went to the market to find him something that would help him feel better.

A fruit smoothie did the trick and Karel was feeling a bit better after a few sips. He also had a little bit of milk and some grapes post race, along with a Coke and Water (and a few electrolyte tablets).

Nearing 3pm, we were ready to hit the road for our 5 hour trip home. Karel rested, Campy was passed out in his bed and I drove home.

To recap Karel's race - he finished strong and gave everything he had for that day. 7:01 min/mile pace for 13.1 miles = 1:32:08 finishing time (including walks at aid stations).
Karel finished 14th age group with some crazy tough competition out there.
His run was 104th overall and 94th male.

Finishing time: 4:33:37

                                                                         Go Caitlin!!!

Finishing strong!!!

Well Miami - thanks for the memories. Miami 70.3 is complete. 

Another race in the books and another chance to thank the body for what it allows us to do. Crossing finishing lines is great and it makes for great stories when we walk funny after the race. But the best part of our life is being able to live every day to the fullest. We love to use our body and racing gives us a means to release all that energy. We love to travel and racing gives us the excuse to see new sights.

We love setting goals and working hard for them. Sometimes we don't reach goals on race day but it doesn't stop us from enjoying the journey to get to another starting line and remembering where we were when we started the goal setting process.

Racing has no guarantees. There is no magic trick to ensure a great race day performance or even a finish at all. But racing is more than just getting a medal and a t shirt. It tests you when you are weak and vulnerable, it makes you discover a lot about yourself and it forces you to return to your "normal" life as a stronger and more grateful human being.

No matter how a race starts or how a race finishes, what counts is your gratitude for what your body was able to let you do on that very day. So long as you keep yourself nourished and well,  hopefully there will always be another race.


Miami 70.3: Spectator report (and tips) part 1

I've been a participating athlete at races more than I've been a spectator since I started being a competitive triathlete in 2005. But, that doesn't mean I don't know a thing or two about spectating.

Lucky for me, I've learned from the best...thanks mom, dad and Karel for being the best cheerleaders out there!

But to be a great spectator you have to do your homework and some experience goes a long way. You also need to have some patience and plenty of snacks..... compression socks help too. But most of all, you have to be supportive.

Having goal times and meeting them has been proven to be very helpful to my parents and Karel as spectators but of course, they've done their share of worrying when I don't hit my goal times. That's the wild thing about sports - you never know what will happen on race day and the ultimate goal is to get to the finish line as your biggest fans will be excited for you no matter what the day brings.

Now that Karel is sharing this multisport lifestyle with me, I have really enjoyed being his number one fan at his races. Of course, it is great sharing the course with him but I absolutely love being his sherpa before and during the race. It's not about me or us but instead, it's all about him on race day and I love that he can count on me to make his race experience as simple and easy as possible.

After our 5 hour drive down south to Maimi, we headed straight to the race venue for Karel to pick up his packet. We opted to stay a bit outside of Miami at an Extended Stay hotel which works very well for us when we travel thanks to the affordable rate, pet-friendly accommodations and full kitchen. The parking in downtown Miami was a bit more than my frugal mind can handle but after dropping Karel off to get his packet, I drove around and found street parking with $1.50 per hour.

Spectator tips: Be prepared to drop your athlete off, wait around, walk a lot and find/pay for parking. Your athlete will likely be on a time schedule and perhaps a little ancy and anxious if things aren't going "as planned". Try to make it easy on your athlete by getting him/her where they need to be on time and avoid stressing out if there is traffic (that's the last thing an athlete needs is to sit in traffic when they think they need to be somewhere 5 minutes ago). Review directions to avoid getting lost and always plan for extra time (at least 15 minutes). Be sure to read the athlete guide before arriving at the race as well as any last minute details on the race website. There may be parking specials in certain areas, schedule changes as well as road closures before and during the race. Lastly, if your athlete is racing a very important race (ex. A race of the season, qualifier race, etc.) be accommodating to their requests to stay within walking distance of the race venue, but likely paying a more expensive price for the hotel room. Staying near the race venue saves a bit of time and hassle. However, the downside is often no free WiFi, paying for food (coffee/meals) and perhaps paying for overnight parking (sometimes). This isn't always the case for staying close to the race but do your homework - always review your lodging accommodations especially if you need a microwave/fridge, wifi, etc. Weigh your options before booking a hotel room for sometimes it pays to be close whereas sometimes you may be fine staying up to 10 miles away from the race venue. I recommend no more than 20 minutes away due to the already early wake up call on race day. 

After walking around the expo area and checking on the transition area, we headed a few blocks to the car and drove to our hotel. Of course, being 5:30pm on a Friday night in Miami meant enjoying a little traffic for our planned 7 mile commute. Finally, around 6:30pm we checked into our hotel and made ourselves at home for the next two nights. I planned extra food in the cooler in the case we would not get to the grocery store on Friday evening which worked perfect for us both so that we could make dinner and Karel could relax.

Spectator tip: Always bring extra food with you and plan ahead. If your athlete wants to be in control of food choices, whether eating in the hotel room or at a certain restaurant, let him/her make that call. The only body that is racing on race day is the athlete and he/she will likely know what foods work the best pre race. Not every athlete is the same so this may be something worth communicating with your athlete in the case that you would like to eat out but your athlete wants to eat in. Typical foods I travel with include: cereal, nuts, bread, PB, veggies, fruit, pretzels and KIND bars. If I have a cooler, I can bring other items like sandwich items, eggs, milk and yogurt. I recommend searching ahead of time for the nearest grocery store and also consider places like gas stations, CVS, Target and farmers markets for other food finds. Also, don't hesitate to go out for little trips for certain food items if your athlete is requesting a certain food item but if you can, try to plan ahead. Here's an article I did on eating while traveling: Reheat, Repeat: Smart meals for traveling triathletes and another one on traveling tips.  

 After a great 10 hour night of rest we both woke up without an alarm and it was time to start the day. Of course, Campy was the last to get out of bed.  We were on a bit of a schedule because the athlete meeting was at 11am and Karel needed to do his race warm-up (about an hour bike with a few pick ups) and eat. After I got some coffee from downstairs in the continental breakfast, Karel joined Campy and I for our morning walk which made for a lot of fun as we explored the back of our hotel - which happened to be a golf course, run/bike path and an outdoor "gym". I did a 20 min circuit outside and then walked Campy for about 15 minutes and then headed back to the hotel to make Karel some breakfast and then myself some yummy food.
After I showered, Karel had returned from his bike and around 10:15am we were out the door. After the athlete meeting, athletes could check in their bikes at noon so Karel brought his bike (stickers attached) to check-in in the secured transition area.

Spectator tip: you may feel a little rushed the day before the race so be aware of changing plans. On the flip side, your athlete may have a schedule but may be a bit behind what he/she needs to get done for the day. The best suggestion is to have an itinerary and between the athlete and spectator - try to make it all work out in the easiest way possible..teamwork. Try to minimize driving back and forth if there are two transition areas, if you have to attend athlete meeting before the race (I highly recommend) or anything else at the race venue. A must for many athletes is coffee pre race. A few suggestions depending on your lodging: by instant coffee and mix with hot water, buy Starbucks Via packets to mix in hot water, buy coffee the day before and heat the next morning or use coffee maker. Be aware many coffee places may not be open before you need to be at the race and expect long lines if getting coffee after your athlete exits the swim and you wait along with a thousand other spectators near the closest coffee shop. Be sure your athlete eats and rests. 

After attending the athlete meeting, we headed to the car for Karel to get his bike and then we walked over to the transition area. Since only athletes are allowed in transition area with their wrist band, Campy and I stayed outside the transition area. Nearing 1pm, we headed back to the hotel and although we needed a few groceries for Karel's dinner, we had enough for lunch in the room. The morning had been rushed and it was nice to relax in the room. We both had some things to do on the computer so with our spacey room, we each worked for a few hours while Campy watched for birds out the window.

Around 4pm, we headed to Publix (1.5 miles down the road) for a few groceries and around $40 later we had our first food purchase since leaving on Friday morning. Karel and I both don't watch the clock when it comes to eating on a daily basis but for races, we both like to eat early. Around 5pm, Karel fixed his dinner which is his typical pre race meal of chicken, rice and veggies (in this case - soup).

We looked for a movie on TV but didn't find much so we reviewed the race course in full detail (athlete guide + mapquest) for turn by turn directions. Nearing 8pm, we got ready for bed and enjoyed a few episodes of Modern Family before lights were out around 9:30pm. Again, Campy was the first to bed.

Spectator tip: Plan for an early dinner the night before the race as well as early to bed. It's recommend to discuss sleeping arrangements with your athlete for many spectators will not be able to go to bed at 8:30/9pm. Expect an early wakeup so it's recommend to have everything packed and ready to go and to save time, load up the car as much as possible if checking out on race day morning to save time. Again, allow extra time (15 minutes) in the morning. Every athlete is different with his/her typical pre race routine so discuss this with your athlete. Some athletes like to get in the zone (peace and quite) whereas others are very social and energetic. Nerves are not isolated to newbies so even if an athlete is experienced, avoid questions like "are you ready" and "are you nervous" and instead, keep the questions minimal if possible. To avoid an athlete freak-out, do NOT complain about the weather (cold/hot/windy) in front of your athlete. It's recommend to review the course map and have an idea of when your athlete will finish the race as well as predicted range of swim, bike, run times. This will help for cheering and a better spectating experience. Not every race is spectator friendly so it may be helpful to reach online forums for spectating advice at your specific race venue. 

Around 4:15am, the first of many alarms went off and Karel was up to start the coffee. Campy was not liking this early wake-up call but just to be sure we didn't leave him he slept with one eye open in the morning.

Karel made himself oatmeal and breakfast bread with jam and PB and had a few sips of his yogurt drink. I had a snack of scrambled egg + 2 WASA crackers and PB and had the cooler ready for the day, as well as a few snacks for my backpack (PB sandwich, nuts/cereal, peach, banana, KIND bar, yogurt) which I made the night before.

After I walked Campy and loaded up the car, we were out the door around 5:30am. Because Karel's wave wasn't until 8:45am we were not in a big rush to get to the race venue except for Karel to set-up his stuff by 7am (transition closing).

We parked at the race venue parking lot (parking garage) for $5 and I grabbed the pump as Karel grabbed his transition bag of his race gear.

We walked about 5 minutes or so to the transition area and I stood on the outside of the fenced-in area as Karel got body marked and then set up his spot with his gear. About 20 minutes later, Karel gave me back the pump and I had my friend Amber there with me (watching her hubby Tommy) to walk back to the car with me to return the pump. Karel hung out with his friend Elias in his hotel room across the street which worked perfect for Karel to rest for the 2 hours before his wave start.

The race officially started at 7:25am so Amber and I hung out at the swim start to watch the 25+ waves go off, one after another for all 2500+ athletes to start the race by 9am. The time went by really fast and before I knew it, Karel was texting me that he was walking to the swim start and for me to take his backpack from him.


I helped him put on his speed suit and sprayed body glide all over him along with sunscreen. A kiss for luck and speedy vibes and he entered transition area with his wave. Around 8:45am, Karel's wave (35-39 males, last of four of his age group waves) entered the dock and jumped off into the water. Karel mentioned the water was really warm and at 8:45am, that was to be expected in Miami.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from Karel as he wasn't going for a WC 70.3 spot because we are doing IMWI that day with our #1 goal to both try to qualify for Kona. So instead, Karel was there to chase the competition. Karel is not a time-goal chaser so he never thinks about a time on paper but instead, whatever the day will bring he will race with his fitness and execute in the best way possible. Karel is still very new to triathlons with this being his 5th Half Ironman but only learning how to swim last June before his first ever triathlon in July 2012. Karel really enjoys triathlons and also enjoys the tactics involves of racing in a three sport event. I really love this about Karel because he doesn't go into races with the pressure of expectations. Sure he has goals for himself which drive him to push his limits and to discover his potential but he doesn't let his ego take away from the race day experience. After 7.5 years together, there is one thing I know about Karel....he is not an excuse type of guy. When it comes to racing, he will give it his best effort and make no excuses as to how the day turns out. And Miami 70.3 for Karel was a true testimonial of what racing is all about....finish what you started.

Spectator tip: have a meeting spot for post race in case you don't see your athlete again after you drop him/her off at transition area. Also, keep a positive attitude the entire race as your athlete has a three sports to finish and the race is never over til he/she crosses the finishing line. If watching a newer athlete compete, the goal may be just to finish. For other athletes, there may be high expectations on his/her plate. Whatever the case may be - the best results are told by the athlete him/herself and not by a time on paper. Cheer your athlete on from start to finish. Be sure to coordinate with your athlete about pre race gear that he/she may want to give you before the race as well as any last minute requests/words of advice. Your athlete may need to warm-up so plan to be at the race venue at least 90 minutes before his/her wave to allow enough time for everything. 

Part II....1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.....To Be Continued....