Blue Ridge Mountain Vacation

March 11, 2013

Our weekend in the mountains is sadly over. I don’t think any of us wanted it to end. It was the perfect getaway from the city lives we all lead and a care-free schedule was pretty fantastic. the beauty of the end of vacation is you can start to plan the next one.

Blue Ridge

We stayed at the Wisteria Lodge in Blue Ridge, Georgia that we rented through an amazing company - Mountain Top Cabin Rentals. I can not recommend this company enough. We looked at quite a few different places when looking where we wanted to reserve the space, and Mountain Top won me over. Their site was easy to access, the photos of each property were clear and crisp, the representatives were incredibly helpful, and the prices were very reasonable.

Blue Ridge

We had 10 people travelling with us, and really wanted a nice big space that everyone could fit comfortably in. We had mostly couples travelling with us, as well as a few single friends, so finding a house with enough space for everyone to have their own beds was key. The Wisteria Lodge was exactly what we were looking for. There were 5 bedrooms, one of which had twin beds – perfect! There was also a fully stocked kitchen, satellite tv, speedy wireless internet, a fireplace, hottub, and amazing views!

Blue Ridge

We ended up reserving our trip for a time that was considered out of season, so we were given 30% off of our total rental price! It was an unexpected surprise, and made the trip even sweeter! Being from Florida, we were excited to get up to the mountains where there could be a chance of cold weather and snow. The snow didn’t really happen, except for a little bit that we found on a hiking trail, but the cold weather was amazing. Yoga pants and sweatshirts was our uniform for the weekend – ultimate lounging attire!

Blue Ridge

Our goal of the trip was to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Given that everyone who travelled with us are athletes, an active vacation was important as well. I am fairly certain it would be near impossible to keep us all in one place for a full four days. We hiked, we ran, and we really enjoyed everything the mountains of Georgia had to offer, with plenty of R&R in between.

Blue Ridge Day 1 took us to a waterfall via a short hike. We covered about 90 minutes of the Appalachian Trail, which put us finishing right around lunch time. Needless to say , the hike was some what short lived. We were so hungry!

Blue Ridge AT Hike

Blue Ridge

I was able to get in a 3.5 mile run post hike with my friend Felipe. It was pretty much all straight up some pretty intense hills, so I am going to have to give this run a bit more credit – our exertion felt way closer to a 5-6 mile run – not easy. It was well worth it – I think we may have found the best views in the area.

Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge

Our second day had some more hiking, relaxing, and running. See a theme here? Meghann and I got in a few very hilly miles before the group was up and ready to head out hiking. We went about an hour east to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in Georgia. After a short hike, we reached the summit and discovered some unbelievable views.

Blue Ridge

Brasstown Bald

With 10 people on a trip together, it can get a little crazy. We all have different opinions and have our own idea of how to do things. Here are a few tips on how to plan an amazing trip with friends!

1. Start planning early

We all have crazy schedules so picking a date that everyone could agree on was not easy. We started planning our vacation before Thanksgiving even rolled around. This way, as many people as possible could attend. Not everyone was able make it, but 10 out of 11 people is a pretty good showing.

2. Stay organized

I made a Google doc that contained everything we needed to bring from home, and we all signed up for different items. We assigned each meal to everyone, so everything was covered. We knew what we would be eating, and when. We all pitched in food and supplies so that everything was pretty evenly distributed. It is the only way to go!

3. Be flexible

Keeping a schedule is pretty easy when it is only a few people, but when you have almost a dozen people in the mix, it can get a little hectic. Have a time goal in mind to do activities, but don’t take the time too seriously. It is not easy to get everyone out at the same time. Focusing too much on an exact time will drive you a little crazy. Remember flexibility is key.

4. Stay on a budget

When everyone commits to a certain time, be sure to check a few different companies to rent through. We knew what budget we wanted to keep, so finding a good property to rent within those parameters was key. Like I said before, I can not recommend Mountain Top Cabin Rentals enough. They were awesome, and even gave us a 30% discount for booking the trip in the off season.

5. Get Creative

We brought plenty of games and ways to keep us occupied, without having to focus on a tv. It was so nice to not even turn on the tv, except for some fun video games and karaoke. We played cherades and Catch Phrase – my ultimate favorite!

6. Enjoy Yourself

Everyone has so much going on these days, that relaxing and just enjoying each other is pretty few and far between. Have a great time and treat it as an amazing vacation. If all 10 people do not want to do the same activity, then don’t. No one ever said that just because you are all staying at the same place means you have to spend 100% of your time doing the same things. Split up and divide activities, then reconvene for meals. That way everyone wins.

Have you ever travelled with a group of friends? Did you rent a house or stay in a hotel?


Mountain Time

March 8, 2013

Hello from the mountains!!

Blue Ridge

Myself and 9 of my friends headed up to North Georgia yesterday, and we are playing hooky for a few days. Can’t really say I mind it much.

Blue Ridge

It’s pretty amazing to get a little snap of cold weather before Spring and Summer hits in Florida. Frost is just not a common occurrence!

Blue Ridge Frost We rented a house big enough for the 10 of us to hang in comfortably for 4 days. So far, the company we have rented from is phenomenal. I will definitely share with you all the fun details when we head out. We have next to no plans other than running, hiking, eating, and relaxing. Do we ever have to leave!?

Blue Ridge

Have an amazing weekend!!!

Sprint The Block Circuit Workout

March 6, 2013

Hooray for Workout Wednesday!!!  I have a great circuit for you today! Marcus came home from work on Monday asking for a tough workout, so I drew up a good one during his commute home! This is meant to be done at home, with nothing but you and your sneakers (and maybe a pull-up bar). You really don’t need anything else!

Sprint the Block Workout

Start the workout by walking around your block one time, or by doing a light jog. Then get back, and get through the first circuit, and go right into sprinting around your block. Don’t take a rest from there – just go right into the next set. Focus on form and function, rather than how quickly you get the exercises done. This is key! If you don’t have a pull-up bar, then go ahead and do tricep dips on a kitchen chair or coffee table.

If you get the workout done and still feel like you have a bit left, do another round. It is a very quick and efficient workout, and should take you only about 20-25 minutes. Your heart will be pumping for sure!

Do you prefer workouts at home or in a gym setting?

A 5k At The Zoo

March 4, 2013

Saturday I was up bright and early for a fun 5k at our local zoo – the Lowry Park Zoo!

Lowry Park Zoo

I won 2 free entries through Yelp a few weeks ago through a Twitter contest (see, social media pays off again!). Since I had 2 tickets, I had to grab a friend to bring along. Of course I asked Meghann, because I know she is just as likely to say yes to any type of race like I am! We met bright and early for our 7:30 start time, and danced around to keep warm until the gun went off. I was told at registration that they were expecting around 500 runners – not too shabby for a small, local race!

The gun went off and we pretty much just squeezed in with the front of the pack. We both were just looking for a training run, and didn’t even think about pushing the pace. We weaved in and out of everyone for the first few hundred yards, and then met up to run together after that. There were a lot of people in a pretty small space, and we were much more confortable after getting around the bulk of the crowd.

Lowry Park Zoo

The race took us in a local park for about a mile, and was very nice to run in. The path was well paved, and it was right on the Hillsborough River.

Lowry Park Zoo

Lowry Park Zoo

After the first mile, we headed in to the actual zoo, which was obviously the fun part! A lot of the animals were still sleeping, but we did get to see a few of them just starting their morning. It definitely made me think of Madagascar! It would be pretty fun if that was actually real life ;) I remember seeing a panther, a rhino, and my favorite… the manatees!

Lowry Park Zoo manatees

Even though I have seen so many of them since I have lived in Florida my whole life, it never seems to get old. They are just such neat animals! After running through the manatee exhibit, we came out and found ourselves a bit confused. The markings on the course we less than ideal, so we ended up having to pick which way we thought was best – which ended up being incorrect. Woops! We turned around, and had everyone else follow us as well. We weren’t in the front, but there was enough of a gap between us and the leaders that we had no clue where we were going.

Lowry Park Zoo

The next half a mile or so was just a lot of guessing. Meghann and I hoped we were headed in the right direction, but really didn’t know for sure. This wasn’t a big deal since we were not trying for a certain time, but I would have been pretty frustrated if I were trying to PR. We ended up running back along the same path that we had ran for the first mile, and pretty much just hoped we weren’t taking everyone else on a completely wrong path.

Lowry Park Zoo

A note to any race organizers – have someone run (or walk) the course that didn’t have anything to do with the planning, and see if they can figure it out. If not, be sure to place markers or volunteers at those spots. It can be as simple as using sidewalk chalk with a simple arrow, pointing runners in the right direction. They will really appreciate it. :)

We ZooZoomed around the last corner and finished with a respectable 8:20 pace. It was a very comfortable run for a chilly Saturday morning! We grabbed a few snacks and we were on our way – for these Florida girls, the 40 degree temps were enough to have us running back to our warm cars for sure!

Lowry Park Zoo


Thanks Yelp Tampa Bay for hooking Meghann and I up to run the race. We had a fun time taking in a view of the zoo we had never experienced before. I would recommend this race to families and those looking for a fun, low key race. There were no timing chips or fancy scoring – just a simple card as you crossed the finish line indicating your time and place.

Lowry Park Zoo

The race was perfect to keep my legs nice and fresh for my 19 mile long run that I had on Sunday. The weather was pretty dang chilly, so it made 3 hours of running a breeze. I hope race day is even a little bit close to that kind of weather. With a late spring race, it is not too likely – good thing I am expecting heat rather than cold weather. 53 more days until race day! This race is really starting to creep up on me!

Are you a fan of bigger, more commercialized races, or do you like the small local ones? Have you ever been lost on a race course before?


Training and Nutrition for the Young Athlete

March 1, 2013

On Wednesday, I introduced everyone to my favorite session that I attended at the ISSN Workshop. I mentioned that I had two that I loved, so here is the second one – Training and Nutrition for the Young Athlete

Dr. Jeffrey Stout led the session, and was an incredible speaker. He was very engaging and I feel like I took away so many pointers, even though it was solely based on children. He used a lot of examples from his personal life in his presentation. He has kids that are very gifted athletes, and, per his words, “uses them as his guinea pigs.” Fair enough.

Here are the biggest and best tidbits of information that he shared with us:

Kids participate in sports because they want to have fun. This has always been true. However, there are a few changes that have been happening more often:

  • Focusing on one sport as a child is becoming more and more common, but is that a good thing?
  • No longer have an off season like the past – kids train year around
  • 70% of kids drop out of youth sports by age 13 due to pressure from adults, coaches, and parents

Herbert Simon, and American political scientist, said, “It takes 10 years of extensive training to excel at anything”. This includes children in sports. According to Simon, this equates to the following:

 2.7 hours a day, per day, for 10 years –> 10,000 hours

Studies have shown that it takes 8-12 years for a talented athlete to reach elite levels. That is a pretty extensive time period if you ask me!


From childhood to adolescence marks a period of rapid growth and development and may also be a sensitive period where there is the potential for irreversible effects on the body in adulthood (Brustaert et al. 2006). Nutrient deficiency in this age could result in them not achieving their goals, and actually doing more harm than good. They could be the most talented athletes, but if they are receiving inadequate nutrition, they may not reach their full potential.

Chronic nutrient deficiencies may lead to:

  • menstrual irregularities
  • poor bone heath (stress fractures)
  • delayed puberty

These deficiencies happen most often in sports that are concerned about weight – gymnastics, cross-country, figure skating, and wrestling.  It is proven that kids need 20-30% more energy than adults for the same exercise activity – they are nowhere near as efficient since they are not as strong. Their bodies are not developed yet, so their body uses nutrients differently. Glycogen stores are lower in children compared to adults, yet children are recommended the same carbohydrate intake as adults –> 3 to 5 grams per pound. This is way too high. it should be closer to 2-3 g/lb of body weight, depending on volume and intensity of training (2 for lower intensity, 3 for higher intensity)

If calories are not met for normal growth, then there is a risk for :

  • decrease sports performance
  • increase of overtraining
  • increase risk of injury
  • increase risk of getting sick

Too many young girls try to cut out fat, but it is a terrible thing to do. They need it for neural development. They are not educated early enough that not all fat is bad. Some is incredibly integral for growth and development. 25-35% of daily energy should come from fat (10% from saturated).

A few other important nutrients and tips:


  • most important for kids in sports and when they are growing
  • .5g/lb recommended for kids
  • .4 recommended for boys ages 15-18, & .36 for girls age 15-18
  • His recommendation –> .7g/lb per day for young athletes

Bone Health and Development

  • Calcium and Vitamin D are the more important nutrients to maximize the development and peak bone mass within an individual’s genetic potential and for preventing osteoporosis
  • About half of adult bone structure is developed during teen years
  • Peak growth velocity in the skeleton occur at age 14 for males and 12.5 for girls
  • Dietary intake is leading cause of insufficiency!
  • Positive relationship between Vitamin D status compared to muscle mass, physical function, and bone mineral density
  • Growth in height in kids is significantly associated with dairy protein

Nutrient Timing

  • Pre pubescent kids use more fat and less carbs than adults
  • recent studies use more exogenous Carbs than adults – better for them to drink Gatorade
  • Study showed –> a 6% Gatorade solution resulted in 34% increase in endurance capacity compared with the 10% Gatorade

Dr. Stout mentioned that his kids use glucose tabs for fuel when they are competing. Since they are not in need of hydration for the sports they compete in (wrestling & gymnastics), they are able to get the sugar and quick surge of energy from a glucose tablet. he recommends looking for them in the diabetic section at a CVS or Walgreens.

Post Exercise

  • Rehydrate, replenish, and repair muscle
  • Chocolate Milk is best for right after a workout and kids love it

The biggest tip that Dr. Stout left us with was the following:

Kids are NOT little adults – they have different nutritional needs

I know this is a bit of a wordy post, but I think the information is too good not to share. I hope you enjoyed it! And if you get the opportunity to go to a conference like ISSN, take it! You will be happy that you did!

Did you know about the difference in kids and adult needs before reading this? I had no idea!