Essential Sports Nutrition


IMFL - One more sleep.

Hello from Haines City, FL! Here we go again. It feels like it was just a few weeks ago when we were one sleep away from an Ironman!

During our travels back home from Kona, Hawaii on October 16th, we received an email from Ironman that Ironman Florida was cancelled due to extensive devastation from Hurricane Michael. In the beginning of the year, Karel wanted to do something that he has never done before - race two Ironmans within a month. While an experimentation to see how his body would handle two endurance triathlon events in such a short time period, Karel also wanted to see if he would be able to re-qualify for 2019 Kona. Seeing that Karel did not have the race that he wanted in Kona, he was really looking forward to another opportunity to race. Even though there's the uncertainty of what his body will be able to do in the later miles of the marathon due to the unknowns of what's still lingering in his heart, tissues and muscles, Karel was really looking forward to another Ironman.

Karel selected IMFL as his post-Kona Ironman because logistically, it was easy for us to get to. But IMFL holds a very special place in our heart for it was the first Ironman that Karel watched me race (it was so cold that morning, Karel had to borrow my jacket) back in 2007. We were dating at the time but I knew he was a keeper. Funny thing was after the race, he couldn't understand why anyone would want to do this sport. Why run off the bike when you can just ride your bike? Little did he know that 11 years later he would be about to race his 12th Ironman (13th start) and if all goes well, punch his 5th Kona ticket (4th time racing).

Ironman did something that we have never seen before from a race company. They moved the race to a new location on the exact same weekend! Alongside setting up a foundation for money to go to PCB to help with the Hurricane, Ironman has gone out of their way to move an event to a new city and essentially put together an Ironman in 3 weeks! Ironman offered options for athletes to defer their entry to 2019 Ironman Texas but most athletes decided to put all that hard work to good use in Haines City. While the course will be a bit more challenging than in PCB due to the hills on the run (rollers on the bike), the town of Haines City has welcomed us graciously and it will be a special day for everyone.

We have four athletes racing, including our coach Joe and Karel. We are staying with two of Karel's Czech friends which has been a lot of fun for him to speak Czech again after his mom left us a few weeks ago.

Campy is loving his time in Florida and taking full advantage of his warm vacation. We are staying just 2 miles away (Southern Dunes property) and if Campy isn't inside the house, you can find him outside by the pool - working on his suntan.

The energy at the race has been very positive. I rode one loop of the course this morning (plus a few extra miles for a total of 62 miles) and I didn't have any negative encounters with cars, no honks or unfriendly people. The city has also opened the community pool for athletes from 9am-1pm (Wed-Sat) for athletes to swim before the race (no swimming in the lake before race day). I have been enjoying my time in the outdoor pool with the other registered IMFL athletes.

Although I'm a little nervous for Karel to see what his body will do tomorrow, I always love the energy of being at an Ironman and I'm super excited to cheer for the athletes from early morning until late in the evening.

Best of luck to all those who are racing! Be thankful and grateful to your body for what it allows you to do. No matter how your day goes, the goal is to get yourself to the finish line and to enjoy your 140.6 mile accomplishment.  Stay positive, don't dwell on the what if's and don't forget to thank the volunteers.

Happy 20th anniversary Ironman Florida!


The History of Halloween Candy

The History of Halloween Candy
As featured in the free weekly Trimarni newsletter. Click HERE to subscribe. 
Candy makers in the United States love Halloween. Why? Thanks to trick-or-treating and Halloween-themed parties, Americans will spend over $2 Billion on candy during this holiday season.

Interestingly, the ritual of costumes, approaching the homes of strangers to ask for candy and haunted houses didn't become a national tradition until the late 1940's.

At first, kids would receive nuts, fruit, cookies, toys, cakes and coins. Once the candy companies stepped in, trick-or-treat candy options became widely popular to increase fall sales. Whereas Christmas and Easter were popular candy events, Halloween-themed candies were created just for this festive holiday. Although Halloween is known to be a fun holiday for children (and creative adults who love to dress in costumes), candy is easy to buy, fairly inexpensive and convenient to distribute, making it a perfect choice for Halloween. More so, candy companies provide wrapped candy which is a safe alternative to homemade treats, which the later may pose risks of tampering or poisoning.

Some of my favorite memories are from Halloween. I looked forward to dressing up in a creative costume and seeing the Halloween looks of my friends and neighbors. While Halloween costumes have become much more sophisticated over the past decade, something more noticeable has changed. Many children are at risk for obesity due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. And this is prior to the holiday season filled with sweets, treats and oversized portions of cookies, cakes and pies.

By all means, every one of us deserves a sweet treat without guilt. Halloween candy will not sabotage your health, performance or body composition goals. One tootsie roll a day will not cause weight gain. If your typical eating plan is healthy and well-balanced, you aren’t cheating on your diet by yumming over a piece or two of Halloween candy. No need to be scared - just make sure to indulge responsibly.

Popular Halloween Candy.
What's your favorite to yum over? 

1. Tootsie Pop - 67 calories
2. Hershey kiss - 22 calories
3. Nerds (1 tbsp) - 63 calories
4. Air head - 63 calories
5. Snickers Bar (fun size) - 74 calories
6. Baby Ruth (fun size) - 83 calories
7. Reese peanut butter cup (mini) - 42 calories
8. Reese's pieces (20 pieces) - 78 calories
9. Milky Way (fun size) - 78 calories
10. M&M's (fun size) - 74 calories
11. Dum Dum - 20 calories
12. Blow Pop - 60 calories
13. Twizzlers (3 pieces) - 120 calories
14. Smarties (1 roll) - 30 calories
15. Kit Kat (mini, 2 pieces) - 47 calories
16. Twix fun (mini) - 50 calories
17. Candy Corn (16 pieces) - 118 calories
18. Gummy bears (10 pieces) - 87 calories
19. Jolly Rancher - 24 calories
20. Skittles (mini package) - 100 calories 
"One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats."
Iris Murdoch


Chasing race weight - body image dissatisfaction

At Trimarni, we believe in setting a good example for our athletes by encouraging a healthy relationship with food and the body. Karel and I do not follow any extreme styles of eating and we don't strategically change the way we eat or train in order to change the way that we look. We don't weigh ourselves and we don't measure our food (or count calories). We see food as our fuel and as our nourishment and we firmly believe that when the body is well fueled and well nourished, it's healthy. And when the body is healthy, it can function well in sport. 

Sadly, we live in a society that focuses on competitive leanness. Many athletes are under the mindset that the leaner or more defined you are, the better you will perform in sport. Some athletes even care less about performance and more about achieving the "look" of an athlete. Rather than seeing the body as the vehicle that allows you to do the incredible in sport, many attempt to achieve a "race weight" through strict eating, fueling and dieting only to become injured, burnout or sick. 

When you have an "I feel fat" moment or feel the need to change the way that you look, first get to the root of this misinterpreted feeling. Who or what is making you feel unhappy about your body? Where did you learn that you need to lose weight in order to be successful as an athlete?

As an athlete, you have a very close relationship with your body. If you have a disordered relationship with food or unhappy thoughts/feelings about your body, you may not be aware of (or care about) the long-term damage that can occur by manipulating your eating and training in order to weigh less or change the way that you look. You may also be unaware of how the comments by a coach or advice from a forum/podcast/training partner may affect your mental health.

To think that you (or your coach) can equate leanness with speed and thus an increase in performance will occur when you are lighter is rather foolish if you ask me.  So you are telling me that if you go to the doctor and he/she sucks 10 lbs of fat from your body, you'll suddenly become a more mentally tough, resilient, strong, nutritionally prepared and physically fit athlete?

Successful athletes come in all shapes and sizes. To be successful, you need to be healthy and strong. You need to be consistent with training and you need to take care of your mental health, just as much as your physical health. Restricting food, eliminating food groups or overexercising does not make you a better athlete. It makes you weaker and more fragile.

Food is one of the easiest and most common ways for people to gain a feeling of control. Using food for a sense of control is a common strategy to deal with stress, anxiety, low self-esteem or poor self-confidence. As an example, if you feel stressed because you can't stay consistent with your training or you feel upset that you had a bad workout or race, you may turn to your diet to make you feel better. Turning to food (ex. restriction) to gain control over your body may seem like the only logical solution to remove these uncomfortable emotions but it doesn't have to be this way.

Your body is amazing. Health (mental and physical) should always be a priority when it comes to eating, fueling and training. For many athletes, this idea of "race weight" is not actually about a weight but why you feel the way that you do about your body.

As an athlete, it's important to direct your energy to more productive things in life besides the way that you look and the way you think you should look. Who or what is making you feel unhappy about your body image?

Recognizing that there is no perfect body image (or level of body fatness) that is required for athletic success or optimal health, the way your body looks to perform or function at its best may not match up to the way you think you are supposed to look and this is ok. 

As a human being, your closest and longest relationship in life will be to your body. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. 


Run Town USA Half Marathon - Race Report

Pretty cool finish line in the baseball stadium of downtown Greenville.

Prior to transitioning to triathlon racing, I considered myself a swimmer turned runner. Since the bike was unfamiliar and somewhat scary to me, I found running to be the easiest sport to do - anytime and anywhere. Living in Florida also made it incredibly easy to find a running race to participate in, almost anytime of the year. Although I struggled with hip/back issues in 2007 while training for my first Ironman World Championship (2nd Ironman), those hip/back issues lingered on for many, many more years to come. Interestingly, there's a connection between my chronic hip/back/glute injuries and running races. From 2008-2012, I would dedicate the spring, summer and fall to triathlon training and then focus on running (with a few half marathon running races) in the winter. Although I didn't give up swimming or biking during the winter, my focus shifted from triathlon to running. I always thought that this approach would make me a better runner as a triathlete (or at least I kept telling myself this) when in reality, it actually made me worse of a triathlete....because I kept getting injured. I was also not getting any faster with my swimming or cycling. Although I was able to finish triathlon and running races, there was a link between my injuries and running races. After a summer of triathlon racing and into a few months of run training, I would always find myself injured come the spring. This cycle continued year after year after year.....for five years. There were many times when I wanted to give up the sport of triathlon because I thought my body was not healthy or strong enough to accept the training. Thankfully, with those learning lessons came a new appreciation and strategy for how to best train for triathlon races. I'm happy to say that I am having more fun than ever, staying healthy and injury free and continuing to get "faster" as a triathlete.

Seeing that the last running race that I specifically trained for was in the late winter of 2012 and I have not been injured since May 2013, I've learned several important facts about the difference between triathlon training and running training and why I feel the majority of triathletes should not train specifically for running races:

  1. Simply put, when you run in a triathlon, it couldn't be more different than a stand alone running race. In a triathlon, you are running after swimming and biking, you've been exercising for 1-7 hours, it's typically warm or hot, it's nearing mid morning, lunch or late afternoon and you are nutritionally (fuel and hydration) compromised. There's great mechanical fatigue that is occurring when you run in a triathlon and the strategy to get to the finish line is very different than in a stand alone running race. 
  2. You can be a very fast runner off the bike but not be fast as a stand alone runner. You can also be a very fast stand alone runner and not be a fast off the bike.
  3. To put together a fast triathlon performance, you need to be great at not slowing down. Therefore, it's not about being a fast runner but being able to put together a solid swimbikerun combination.
  4. As a triathlete, training should be designed to make you resilient and strong. A durable body can resist fatigue and since a triathlon is an endurance event (Half and Full distance), speed is all relative.
  5. A huge component of triathlon racing is being able to pace well, have good skills (swim/bike/run), be efficient, be able to manage the terrain/conditions, have a well-practiced and fine-tuned fueling/hydration strategy and have exceptional mental skills. This requires a lot of training and year-to-year development without inconsistencies in training and little to do with being a better "runner."
  6. Triathlon is swimbikerun. Running is running. They are two different sports that require different training methods, physiological adaptations and nutritional strategies. While some methods can overlap, they are still two very different sports.
  7. As a triathlete, you have the ability to jump into a swim event, bike event or running event anytime you wish as you have the fitness, skills, strength and endurance to do so. You can't say this about (most) pure runners. Aside from cross training, it's rare to see a road runner jump into a gran fondo or century ride or participate in an open water swim event.
  8. Breaking up the year into swimbikerun season and then running season (with minimal or no swimming/biking) is a huge mistake for triathlon is three sports. When you remove or eliminate one or two sports for even a short period of time, you lose the skills and fitness for your sport - triathlon. There's also a great risk for injury and slow adaptations for physiological improvements when a triathlete has chunks of tri-specific training removed throughout the season.
  9. Swimming and cycling can make you a "faster" runner. Running more or running faster does not make you a better swimmer or cyclist.
  10. As a triathlete, your focus should be on getting strong....not lean and fast. Triathlon (especially long-distance) is a strength-endurance focus, not a speed sport. The risk for injury, burn out and sickness increases when you put focus on being light and fast versus being strong and healthy. Train, fuel and eat smart.
  11. The training, nutrition, skills and pacing strategies to put together a very strong run off the bike in a triathlon are very different than stand alone running. Having said that, you must train appropriately for your sport demands and to run well off the bike means being able to swim and bike very well, before you run. 

Photo by Kristen Johnston

After IMWI in Sept, I was not ready to end my triathlon season, however my triathlon racing options were limited due to upcoming travel (Karel's races). After coming to terms that my triathlon season was complete for 2018, I decided to look into some fun events to keep me fit and to give my training a bit of purpose. Although the structure of my training changed week to week (let's call it loosely structured), it was nice to have a few events on my schedule to keep me motivated and excited to train. Plus, I was not ready to have my official off-season just yet. 

After "racing" the 2.4 mile Kona swim and then the Hincapie Gran Fondo (80 miles), I decided very last minute (Wed last week) to register for the local half marathon in downtown Greenville. I had no plans on participating in a running race this year (or anytime soon) but my body was healthy and strong and I have been enjoying running lately (which is sometimes rare for me as I have a love/hate relationship with running sometimes). I heard about the SpinxRun Fest and I thought that it would be a fun event to officially end my season. It was also a way to complete a triathlon spread over 4 weeks (swim, bike and now run event). The big kicker for signing up for the half marathon was that the race was not flat. With around 650 feet of elevation gain and lots of turns, I knew I would have fun with this course. Not having raced a half marathon since 2012 also had me feeling excited and not at all nervous as I had a beginner's mindset going into this race, with no expectations or pressures. Seeing that most of my runs off the bike in a half marathon are around 1:39-1:40, I figured that anything better than that would be a successful run. Although I have a PR of 1:31.51 (flat course, 2011 Subaru half marathon), the thought of averaging around anything less than 7:30 min/miles seemed impossible since I never hold those paces in any of my training runs.

I left my house around 6:10am on Saturday and left Karel to his training later that morning (one weekend left until he races IMFL in Haines City). I do have to say that it's been nice having a few "fun" races to keep me to my normal routine. It also keeps me doing my own thing and out of Karel's way as he stays mentally committed and focused on his upcoming Ironman.

I arrived to the race venue in downtown Greenville, just across from Flour baseball stadium around 6:30am. With the event not starting until 7:30am, I felt like I had so much time to kill. So different than a triathlon event to just show up with a pair of running shoes. The weather was absolutely perfect for running in the low 50's. Although it was a little windy and overcast that morning, it was still perfect for running.

I made sure to do a long warm-up so I jogged, walked and kept myself moving for a good 15 minutes (1.5 miles) as well as some extra walks to the bathroom inside the stadium. It was fun to surround myself with so many runners (there were other race distances like a 5K, 10K and marathon). I ran into my friend Kristen and her hubby as well as a few other familiar faces. I really do love our Greenville running/triathlon community, everyone is so nice.

When the gun went off, I started running what felt like an easy pace up a small incline on the road. After a few minutes, I looked down at my watch and it was showing numbers in the 6:20's. I decided to "run" with it and see what would happen. I found myself near the front of the race (the half and full marathon athletes started together) and the field started to quickly spread out. The course was very hilly so there were very few sections to settle into a rhythm - which probably worked well in my favor being a triathlete who enjoys hilly/hard courses.

After the first 5K, I was waiting for the effort to get tough. It wasn't too long later when my energy started to dwindle. I wasn't having trouble breathing but my body was a bit confused by this effort as it is something I never train (aside from higher intensity intervals on hills or the track, which are both very short 2-4 minutes). My form felt good so I kept focused on my form. I also had to remind myself that this was not a triathlon as I found myself slowing down and resorting to a steady sustainable effort that feels much better to me than a stand alone half marathon effort. To be honest, I wasn't really sure what I was suppose to feel but I knew it was a running race and I should be suffering a bit. I really tried to work the up and down hills and push on the flatter sections. It helped to be around other runners for you get sucked into their paces (something I'd never do in a triathlon as it's all about pacing your own race). Although I packed my hydration belt in the car (with flasks filled with nutrition), I decided last minute not to wear wear my hydration belt for this race but instead, carried a very small flask with an Enervitine gel (225 calories worth) and grabbed water at each of the 5 aid stations. I sipped the flask every time I needed a little pick-me-up.

I tried to take notice of our beautiful Greenville and Falls Park but I was so focused on my effort that I had to use a lot of mental energy to keep myself going. My body kept wanting to slow down but I used some powerful mental talk to keep myself going. My mantra for the day was "you signed up for this and there's nothing else you'd rather be doing this morning than this."

Nearing the last few miles of the race, we approached some longer climbs. I actually liked this more than the punchy climbs as I could use my strong legs to carry me up the longer hills (and downhills). I was surprised that I wasn't feeling too fatigued throughout the race and I could keep good form. I just didn't have anything more to give in terms of speed. I got passed by a few girls in the last 6 miles but I wasn't upset about this as I reminded myself that I am a triathlete in a runners race and it's all about me and the clock. Not knowing what I would be able to do in terms of a finishing time, I was in shock when I looked at my watch in the last mile and did some quick math that I would be well under 1:35! As I sprinted my way into the stadium and around the field, I gave it all I could (if you know me, I'm not much of a sprinter) to finish in 1:33.10 (per my watch). There was a timing issue so they didn't have my official time (along with many other runners) so I had to give them my watch time.

I was thrilled with my performance and I couldn't help but give my body a huge thank you for being healthy, strong and injury free. While I think this run time is super fast for me, I'm proud of how my body responded to this type of effort at this distance. While I didn't train specifically for this race, I feel my previous triathlon training provided me with the strength to be great at not slowing down. This was the perfect end to my 2018 triathlon racing season and a sign that my training is working for my body. I am feeling motivated, excited and grateful for what my body can do in 2019.

Race Results
1st AG (35-39), 7th overall female

Garmin splits:
Mile 1: 6:37
Mile 2: 6:43
Mile 3: 6:34
Mile 4: 7:09
Mile 5: 7:05
Mile 6: 7:25
Mile 7: 7:46
Mile 8: 7:19
Mile 9: 7:17
Mile 10: 7:27
Mile 11: 7:14
Mile 12: 7:16
Mile 13: 7:13
Total: 1:33.10