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 ūüėČ 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!

ISSN Sports Supplement Workshop

February 27, 2013

One of the requirements of being an NASM personal trainer is earning continuing education credits. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the ISSN Sports Supplement Workshop here in Tampa. My friend Chuck invited me to go with him, and I immediately said yes. Sports, Nutrition, Education – sign me up!

It was an all day event with multiple sessions, ranging from body building overview to a session on sports nutrition for kids.


I took notes on all of the sessions, but really want to talk about two of them.

My favorite session was actually the first one of the day РEnergy Thermodynamics Revisited: A Strategy for Improving Body Composition and Performance. The two speakers were amazing РDan Benardot  PhD,DHC, RD, LD, FACSM and Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, CSSD. Both individuals were incredibly knowledgable about the practical implications, which I really appreciated.

Here are a few highlights from Dr. Benardot:

  • Humans are energy first systems. Energy needs to be used at the right time
  • All physical activity results in an increased rate of energy expenditure and an increased rate of body fluid loss
  • Physical active people don’t eat enough and they don’t drink enough – interesting because these are they most important aspects of a prime athlete
  • Tend to supply needed energy and fluid after they need them – people don’t so this with their cars, so why do they do this with their bodies?
  • Meal Size, meal frequency & diet quality – we have control over all of these things
  • Leptin & Ghrelin – L deals with lower weight and G deals with higher weight
  • 3 meals a day from a human physiology standpoint is too little. You end up with low blood sugar. Results in increased fat intake
  • Increased energy intake is not matched with higher activity, resulting in higher body fat
  • The longer you wait in between meals, the more insulin you will make, which in turn, turns into fat quicker
  • Breakfast skipping is the worst – even before running, its important to get in at minimum 200 calories


Logic: A 25% reduction in energy intake will lead to a 25% reduction in weight

Reality:The amount of calories burned after weight loss is lower than would be expected by the amount of weight that was lost.You don’t just lose fat mass, but you also lose metabolic mass – not ideal. It becomes a temporary loss in weight, and then you bounce back up to normal.

The way we look at energy balance is not that accurate. Normally, we look at a 24 hour period, but this isn’t the right way. Our body functions differently from day to day, based on what we eat, when we exercise, etc.

Smaller, more frequent meals that dynamically match energy expenditure to stay in good energy balance throughout the day. He compared it to stopping many, many times on a cross-country trip to fill up a car –> makes perfect sense to me.

+- 400 calories throughout the day was associated with lower body fat levels. Energy balance can easily be corrected with just the moving around of some calories. For example, instead of eating a huge lunch and a small dinner, make the meals equal in calories, by not actually adding calories, just moving them around from lunch to dinner.


Susan, an incredibly smart Registered Dietician, was up next. She works with college athletes on a day to day basis to work through ways to get them to eat healthier for optimal performance. If you are a college athlete with limited funds, you may not always make the best nutritional choices. It is her job to make sure these students are educated and making good decisions.

Possible barriers to optimizing energy intake

  • sleeping in – rather than eating breakfast
  • knowing what to eat
  • learning to prepare meals and snacks
  • food cost
  • finding time to eat during the day
  • choosing high quality food

An optimum high performance nutrition program can be the difference between being a good athlete and being a great athlete


Take a 3 Tiered Approach 

  • Frequent Fueling (focus on timing)
  • High-Quality Foods and Fluids
  • Fine Tuning for Personalized Needs (weight management, bone strength, anemia prevention, immune enhancement)

Strategies for a healthy lifestyle

  • Optimize Breakfast
  • Eat every 3-4 hours during the day
  • Fuel 1-2 hour before training and within 30-35 minutes after training
  • Maximize nutrition

A few quick tips

  • Getting in fuel early in the morning is critical. Just a greek yogurt and apple juice (easy for body to break down and not acidic) is even enough
  • Optimal fats should be ingested to decrease inflammation and aid recovery – low fat diets inhibit optimal performance
  • Focus on a wide range of protein sources to reach optimal performance – 1-2 protein sources per meal
  • Branch Chain Amino Acids – aid in recovery, decrease soreness, etc.

Not eating after 7pm¬†is a complete misnomer. People that do this actually have higher body fat percentage overall. Just be smart in what you eat throughout the day, and you will not need to even worry about such a thing. We eat food – we don’t eat nutrients or numbers.

After the session was over, we were given the chance to ask questions. I approached Susan with a question that has been on my mind lately. I asked her what she thinks of the Paleo diet trend that is going on right not. She mentioned that it is completely based on the individual. She mentioned that she has seen some good results from it, since it helps to get people to eat real food, rather than so much processed food that is out there right not. However, the same diet doesn’t work for everyone – no one should ever really be on one diet. She is all about being practical. It’s not always practical to go all one way, or all the other. Do a good mix of what works for you.

I mentioned that I really enjoyed 2 of the sessions, but I think I will have to leave you with one for now. This is a bit of information overload as it is. There was so much information presented, and I did my best to jot it down and soak it in. It was really incredible!

Have you ever been to a fitness based conference? What were your thoughts?

Gasparilla 2013 Half Marathon

February 25, 2013

Another Gasparilla Race has come and gone. I love the race that Tampa puts on, and it truly gets better year after year. This race weekend has been a part of my race schedule for as long as I can remember, and I do my very best never to miss it. There are four races that make up race weekend Рa 15k and 5k on Saturday, then a half marathon and an 8k on Sunday (last year I ran all 4 races!) This year I chose to run one race to better accent my marathon training plan, and I am so glad I did!

Gasparilla Race

The race started at 6am, and lucky for me, it is right up the street from my house. I made the 10 minute walk down right around 5:30, and was able to get a good spot in the corral with enough time to stretch and get ready to race. The national anthem was sung, and we were off right on time!

Gasparilla Race 2013

The first 5 miles are on Davis Island and always just fly by. It is through quite neighborhoods in the dark, so you really don’t even realize what you are doing. To add to the day, it was super muggy and fog filled the air. It covered the top of the buildings in downtown Tampa too.

downtown Tampa

All you hear is breathing and the pitter patter of feet – a runner’s anthem. I ended up right in the middle of the 7:40 pace pack a was feeling pretty darn good. It was a very cloudy, but humid day – however we had one thing on our side – the sun was staying behind the clouds. Race highs were predicted to be in the 80’s, so I really wasn’t expecting too much out of the race. With the sun in the clouds, I did some quick reevaluation. Could I hop in front of the 7:40 group and hold that pace for the rest of the race for a PR? Well, I was sure going to try.

Once we got onto Bayshore, I just focused on getting to different points on the course that I knew I would have supporters. Marcus, Winnie, and my parents were at miles 6.5 and 11.5, and the lovely Lululemon ladies were at miles 6 and 11. The course is out and back right on the water, so it is very spectator friendly. I really just focused on keeping a steady pace, and then picking it up, little by little. Around mile 8, I just started passing people. It was somewhat risky to pick up my pace with 5 miles left, but I was willing to give it a shot. I really didn’t have anything to lose.

Gasparilla 2013

Mile 10 was the point that I knew my mental game was going to be the deciding factor on whether or not the PR would be mine. Speed work is obviously important in achieving any kind of time goal, but the mental fortitude you build during those sessions is even more key to reaching new heights. I told myself it was only a 5k I had left. I have done more 5k’s that I will ever be able to count, so I went ahead and just treated it as such. With that, I knew it was going to hurt. Picking up the pace at the end of a race is never easy, but it is the best way to have the confidence and reassurance of conquering a new time goal.

Since I still don’t have a Garmin, I took a look at my Timex Ironman watch to catch my 10 mile split – it was right at 7:23. The next mile zoomed by and I saw Marcus and my parents again. I took another look at the watch – 7:21. 2 seconds off the previous split, but I needed more, so I picked it up. Next was the Lululemon crew, and then mile 12 – 7:15. Much better. I had 1 mile left, and was going to give it all that I had. I passed right around 8 people that last mile. I felt unstoppable. I crossed the mat, and knew I had just PR’d. That last mile was 7 minutes flat. Amazing way to end a race!


I grabbed my medal and then started to look for a couple of friends that volunteered at the finish. Chris and Meghann saw me way before I saw them Рthey knew just about to the minute when I would finish Рthey know me way too well! Thanks for helping us all with a very important aspect to any race Рrehydration!

Gasparilla 2013¬†As always, there was a ton of water, food, snacks, soda, and plenty of post race goodies. I didn’t grab too much, since more often than not, my stomach doesn’t tolerate a lot of food after racing. It is something that I have learned the hard way, and have come to respect it. No biggie. I walked around, found a few other friends that were spectating, and then made it back to my cheer squad. Marcus is always at my races and is so incredibly supportive, even if he has to wake up at 6am on a weekend. He is even breaking in Winnie to become a superb race supporter!


Not too long after finishing, I was able to look up my time on the results page, since I forgot to stop my watch and the app I was using on my phone. I guess I was just glad to be done ūüėČ

Gasparilla 2013 Race Results

I was very happy with my time – a 58 second PR, dating all the way back to 2009. It had been years since I was able to reach a new goal in the half marathon, and I was glad I was able to do it Gasparilla – my favorite race! Oh, and the best part of Gasparilla – the amazing medals. I just love them!

Gasparilla 2013


Gasparilla 2013

Pretty cool huh?!

Congrats to all of the finisher’s yesterday! Especially Bob & Josh, crossing the line of their first half marathon, Denise at the 8k, Samantha on her first 5k, and Christine gaining a big 9 minute PR in the half marathon!! You all rocked it!

Anyone else race this weekend? How often do you really use your mental game in a race, over the physical game?

Keep It Simple

February 22, 2013

For those of you that are planners (like me!), I have a question for you. When you go out and run, do you have a certain course in mind? Do you lace up your shoes, and know exactly how far you are going to go, how you are going to get there, and what music you are going to listen to?

If you do all of these things, I have a challenge for you. For your next easy run, go out with the intention of exploring. Run a new route, and see where it takes you (with safety in mind, of course!). Leave the Garmin at home. Keep your iPod on the counter. Just get out and run.

One of the big draws about running is that you only need one thing to actually carry out the sport – a pair of shoes. You don’t actually have to have anything else to find the benefits of pounding the pavement. In recent years, when they running boom has really started to take off, there has been so much more added to running than just the shoes that we wear. We have top market GPS watches, iPods, iPhones, compression socks, arm sleeves, sweat wicking fabric, and so many more great additions to the running world.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the bells and whistles that have taken off. There is obviously a massive market for it, with so many new companies becoming extremely successful in a short period of time. However, there is something very freeing and uplifting when I go out and go for a run that I don’t know what the ending mileage is going to be. Or I don’t have my watch let me know how fast (or slow!) I am going.

We have so many distractions in our world to keep us on track. Most of our lives are pretty scheduled out. Your running doesn’t always have to be one of them.

I have a challenge for you in the next week….

Keep it Simple



No pre-determined route. No GPS. No Music. For one run.

Just you, your running shoes, and the road.

Do you ever run with no distractions? What do you think about it? Will you take me up on my challenge?