Friday, December 13, 2013

Dawn Patrol In Santa Cruz

I ran into Mike, an old friend from high school, at this year's local Turkey Trot 10K.  Mike told me he had been reading my blog and that one specific entry was particularly useful.  I asked him to share his story along with some of his absolutely beautiful photos of Surf City, USA.  Thanks, Mike.



"I came across your blog and wanted to thank you for the great swimming advice.  I am not a triathlete. I don’t run marathons, my bike is a single-speed cruiser, and I don’t swim.


However, I do use your advice about “early vertical forearm” three days a week when I am surfing.

I live in Santa Cruz, California (the real Surf City, USA.) I moved here from the desert heat of Mesa, Arizona 13 years ago. But, I only started surfing four years ago. I attended a free surf lesson from my daughter’s junior-high school teacher.  And, I absolutely fell in love with surfing on that first day.
I now surf three or four days a week at dawn.


When I started improving, I asked around for tips on the best way to paddle. After all, surfing is 90 percent paddling and only 10 percent actually standing on your board. The majority of people I asked suggested the “s-stroke.” I assume all swimmers know this technique. This is where you push your hand away from your head, pull towards your ribs and then push away from your hips to make the letter “S.” I have been using this technique for the past three years. And, while it does split the load among different muscles, it may not be the most efficient stroke.

After reading your blog about the “early vertical forearm,” I have worked on changing my stroke. I am trying to focus on good form, and pulling.  I have already noticed that it feels more powerful. And, while I am still new at this, I already feel like this stroke gives me a little more power, especially while paddling into a wave. When you are in your mid-forties, battling kids half your age for a wave, every tip helps."

Thanks for the kind words, Mike!  Here's how I remember you best.  Westwood High School 1984....




Monday, December 9, 2013

Easy Nutrition Tips from Graduates and Grandmas

We are having lots of fun with our Nutrition Challenge.  This week's winner was Kristin McPhie...


Logging food into My Fitness Pal has been an eye opening exercise.  Calories add up fast, and so do carbs and fats!  Which is why the following tips from some of our challenge competitors are always welcome.

Brooklyn (recent college graduate): 
Brooklyn works full time and usually eats lunch at her desk, so she is forced to pack a meal each day that is healthy and filling.  

1. Have a substantial breakfast. It goes a long way to keep you full throughout the day.

2. Snack on veggies first, fruits second.

3. Do not drink diet soda! Keep a refillable water bottle with you all day. You will crave sweets and salty snacks less.

4. If you NEED a treat, try to stay under a 150 calorie threshold... like 20 chocolate chips.

4. Incorporate small amounts of fats like cheese or peanut butter with your veggies and fruits to keep you satisfied longer.

Colette (a very YOUNG grandma!):
I, with reservation, submit some ideas that have worked for me. I will say that I love to learn about nutrition and eating healthier.  I'm sure if I lived in the middle of nowhere with no friends or family or Chickfila Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milk Shakes, I would do better at practicing what I know good nutrition is. A few things that have worked for me:

1. Create your own "fast food".   I have a shelf in my fridge with easy access to healthy choices--already washed and sliced peppers, broccoli, carrots (I love raw yams sliced thin too), string cheese, yogurt. I even have single-size pre-made salads from Sprouts or Trade Joe's for hungry teenagers after school. I only keep good choices on this shelf and it's the easiest shelf to see when you open the fridge. This way I can  see when it needs to be restocked.

2. I try and keep good "shelf" snacks available too--raw almonds, favorite crackers, etc. When I buy a large quantity, I will bag them in single serving sizes to make it easy to grab and easier to control the amount consumed.

3. When I am trying to lose weight, I have found calorie counting to be key (I use the Livestrong app). There is nothing worse then thinking you are making a good choice only to find out it was no better than what you thought you were sacrificing.

4. I Fill up on good choices before I am faced with bad.  Grabbing a hand full of almonds before heading to that wedding reception or a small green salad from the fridge before meeting friends for dinner always makes it easier to stick to the decisions I wanted to make before facing all that on an empty stomach.

5. When I get a large size of fresh spinach from Costco, I immediately bag it into small baggies and put the whole thing in my freezer. I then throw a handful into about everything I make.  It thaws so fast if cooking and I love the frozen for smoothies.
--My breakfast of choice lately is: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop protein power, 1 handful of frozen spinach, 1/2 C frozen berries.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Heather's Healthy Eating Tips

Though Heather is not a dietician or nutritionist, she is one of the healthiest eaters that I know.  I asked her to share a few of her favorite ideas for meal planning to help those who are in the Dream Big Nutrition Challenge.  Here are a few of her simple tips.  

1. Be prepared. Shop ahead, chop ahead, prep ahead. No one makes good food choices in a hurry when they are starving. Keep pantry, fridge, and car (in my case) packed with "fast food" that is healthy. I have a big prep day once a month or so. 
(The following ideas can be added to the tips if you want specifics):

Blanch enough kale, drain, chop and mix with sautéed bell peppers and onions (add some sun dried tomatoes for flair) and bag in individual ziplock portions (1/2-1 cup cooked) and freeze. Thaw and serve over bed of greens, with some leftover meat or scrambled eggs for a quick, balanced meal. 

I also make a triple batch of broccoli or carrot soup and freeze in 2 cup portions for a quick way to add veggies in a hurry. These few staples keep me well fueled on hard days. 

2. Focus on produce. Aim for 75% of your daily intake to be from produce of varying colors, mainly vegetables. When in doubt, eat more vegetables. Go big on flavor and learn 5 different ways to prepare every vegetable. This will keep it interesting. 

3. Always eat breakfast. I almost always have 2 eggs with 1-2 cups of veggies (usually sautéed in bacon grease. Yep. 1 teaspoon of that goes a long way for flavor and keeps me satiated.)

4. Get rid of the junk. Seems obvious, but you're way less likely to binge on Oreos if you don't actually have Oreos in your pantry. Commit to only buy "real" food with real ingredients. 

5. Don't underestimate the importance of fat. It helps with nutrient absorption, flavor and satiety. Healthy food need not taste like cardboard. 


Friday, November 29, 2013

The Dream Big Nutrition Challenge 2013....Is Your Body Worth It?



DREAM BIG presents
THE NUTRITION CHALLENGE

It's been said that it takes 21 days to form a habit. The reality is habits are easier to make than they are to break.  For this challenge we are going to tackle HEALTHY EATING.  This is not a weight loss contest and there will be no prizes for the person who loses the most weight.  However, it can be part of your personal goals.  Our goal is to try and make better choices when it comes to food, substituting better choices for poorer ones.  Here is how it will work:

FIRST: download and get familiar with the website and app called myfitnesspal.com.  Record your information, your goals and your fitness.  This is a food and exercise log.  After a few days of getting used to logging in your food and exercise, we will begin our challenge on Monday, December 2, 2013.

SECOND:  Entry fee is $25 via paypal into the Lorie Tucker Paypal.com account.  After payment is made, send an email with your personal goals for this competition to lorie.tucker@gmail.com -- would you like to be more aware of your eating habits?  Would you like to eliminate an unhealthy food or beverage from your diet?  Are you looking to lose weight or build muscle tone?  This is YOUR challenge.

THIRD: Start tracking your food on Monday, December 2nd for three weeks.  Contest will end on Monday, December 23rd.

FOURTH:  Each Sunday evening, starting December 8th you will send me an email with  the number (1-7) of entries I should submit in your name for that week as directed below:

Week One: RECORD -- Our goal this week is to record all the food you eat at Myfitnesspal.com.  For the purpose of this 21-day challenge, you will receive one point for every day you record your food by 10pm.  I will not see your myfitnesspal account.  This contest is based on truth and honesty.  On Sunday night, you will email me the number (1-7) of entries I should submit in your name for that week.  On Monday morning, I will randomly draw one person's name from the entries submitted to me to receive a cash award.

Week Two: REVISE -- This week, not only will you log your food at myfitnesspal.com, but you will try and stay AT or UNDER the calorie limit you have decided for yourself.  This should not be done by starving yourself or over-doing it with cardio workouts!  You will receive one point for every day you are at or under your calorie allotment.

Week Three: IMPROVE  -- This week is more difficult.  Using the pie chart on the mobile app of myfitnesspal.com, you will try and achieve a 40/40/20 macronutrient balance in your daily diet. Macros are proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  An ideal macro ration for building lean muscle mass is 40g protein/40g carbohydrates/20g fat  daily (give or take 5% either way).  You will receive one point every day that you achieve this goal.  These are the nutrients the body needs in large quantities for energy, growth, tissue repair, immune function, and metabolism.   You will receive one point every day that you achieve this goal.

After week one, I will also add additional ways to earn points each week that can be applied to the Grand Prize totals, like, substituting fresh fruit for a late night bowl of ice cream, choosing steamed veggies over french fries, staying away from processed or fast food in favor of more nutritious meals at home, or making sure you eat the allotted number of fruits and vegetables as prescribed by the FDA.

AND THE PAYOFF:
Weeks One a drawing winner receive your entry money back ($25)
Week Two a drawing winner will receive $50
Week Three a drawing winner will receive $75
GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be based on total number of points for all three weeks at the end of the challenge. I will tally the point totals from weeks one through three, and the TOP point total will receive a CASH PRIZE (money based on number of participants).  Hint, hint, the more friends you get to join, the more money you can win!

So get cracking.  Sign up today.  The journey begins Monday.  Twenty one days until a new habit is formed, a better nutrition plan is conquered and an overall healthier person will emerge!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Ironman And Karina's Going To Kona

Karina qualified for Kona at Ironman Arizona, her first Ironman!  Here is her recap.  Way to go, girl!

You can do 100 Ironman races but you will only ever get to do your first one once --  and this was it for me. This is one of the many thoughts that were going through my head once I got past some of the nerves and shock of Ironman already being here. Even though I had waited nearly two years for this opportunity it was almost as if it was here too soon and I couldn’t believe it had come so fast.

A couple years ago I never would have imagined that I would be crossing the Ironman finish line or qualifying to go to the World Championships. I was introduced into the world of Ironman when I met my husband two years ago and started training with him for his Ironman. After he completed his first one we stood in line to get us both signed up for the next year so I could have my shot at completing the Arizona Ironman.

It was a long year training for the Ironman, and we tried to keep it interesting by entering a few races here and there to keep some motivation. Between work, school, family and life in general, it was tough trying to balance it all. A huge burden was lifted off my shoulders when I graduated from the Honors college at ASU and could put studying aside for the most part. Every day it was a battle or new journey, trying to squeeze in a run or find time to do the long bike rides and keeping motivation in general. There were times when we had to train alone or would much rather have slept in or gone to bed after work or gone out with friends or family. My husband, Dallas, was a huge help as he was always reminding me that I did in fact have an Ironman to complete. Sometimes we would get in arguments when he didn’t think I cared or didn’t feel that I was pushing myself to be the best that I could because he had the most faith in me all along, even more so than I had in myself.

During training when I would swim, I would try and imagine the blue waters in Kona, Hawaii and what it would be like swimming alongside a thousand other swimmers. Running, I would try and envision myself around Tempe Town Lake and crossing the Ironman finish line imagining but not really knowing how much pain or hurt I may be in. We constantly spoke and dreamt of Ironman and making it to the World Championships. My husband would remind me that I had a legitimate chance if I pushed myself.

As the time for Ironman drew nearer so did the stress level along with my worst fear… an injury. I started physical therapy and had to go four weeks with pretty much no physical activity two months before the Ironman… not exactly comforting or ideal. I resumed my training as soon as I possibly could but I felt weak in the run. I was able to get in a few long bike rides and two long runs before it was time to taper for the big day.

As race day approached I went back and forth between aiming to make it to Kona and merely wanting to finish my first Ironman. It almost seemed surreal that it had come so fast and it was all coming together for the morning of the race!  I had been waiting for this for almost two years and it was here!

Completely nervous I just had to go in trusting myself and my training. It definitely helped to have my husband, who is my best friend, there competing alongside me and offering words of encouragement the whole weekend leading up to the race. I can honestly say that I was pretty nervous the whole day. Although I had no doubts that I would not let anything get in the way of me finishing I did not know what could possibly happen and until each event was finished I wouldn’t have a complete peace of mind.

I cannot explain the feelings of being in the water knowing your long day is about to begin and just waiting for the sound of the cannon to start it all. Overall the race went pretty smooth, there were a few things that I could not have predicted and made the race a little more interesting and difficult; like a cramp in my calf at the end of the swim, pain in my I.T. band on the bike and messing up my nutrition halfway into the bike, leaving myself only able to drink Ironman perform and Coke on the run. I knew I had passed two girls in my age group early in the first loop of the bike and was informed that I was in first place. That is exactly where I wanted to be, but it’s also a scary place when you have no idea who is chasing you, and no idea how close they are to you or far from them you are.

Near the end of the first loop of the run, one of my teammates who was watching the race ran up alongside me and told me to keep it up and keep doing what I was doing and I would have Kona. As I kept running I thought well what happens if I am slowing down, as I was, would I still have it? Having no idea how far ahead I was I tried to kick it in gear as best I could to ensure that I could still finish ahead, although I still had over 13 miles to run. However my strong and steady pace seemed to keep getting slower and slower and of course the muscles in my legs were hurting more and more. I tried to remind myself that it hurt just as much to run slow as it did to run faster so I might as well try and get it over with.

Finally, finally, I was turning onto the bridge with only two more miles to run! In the dark, I turned the corner to hear cheering and screaming, I was there! I had less than a quarter mile to the finish, and finally I was able to run through the chute slapping the hands of those around me and I could finally call myself an Ironman!

I was overjoyed to see my family waiting for me at the finish and to have my husband come walking up to me with the foil blanket and medal around his neck, limping from also having completed it an hour before. He looked at me and said: “You’re going to Kona!!”

Ironman was an amazing experience and as long of a race as it is, the day also seemed to fly by. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had to train for and complete the Ironman. It was a crazy day but the training, I believe is really what shaped and tested me.  I and all the other athletes put so much effort and dedication in everyday just for that one race day. The volunteers were amazing and really helped push me to keep going along with the thought knowing that my husband was also out there pushing his hardest.  I am thankful that my name was on my bib because it made all the difference to have the volunteers out there cheering for me when they could say my name and say, "Come on Karina you can do it."  The others athletes were great as well and a couple people were life savers when they wanted to run and keep pace with me and offered words of encouragement, especially the last couple miles. I am completely thrilled and nervous to go to Kona but again so thankful for the opportunity and glad that my best effort that day was enough.

Now it is time to go back to the drawing board, tweak some things and figure out how I am going to train to try and be the best I can and prevent injury for next year as well. I would like to improve my time in all three areas, the swim and bike but especially the run.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holiday Gift Giving For Your Favorite Athlete

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakkah and Holiday Greetings!  It's that time of year again, time to shop for those you love.   In the spirit of giving and receiving, here are some of my favorite items that I (or any triathlete) cannot live without.  And while I'm at it,  I'll toss in a few items I'd love to have under the Christmas tree waiting for me!

1.  Runner's World Magazine
There is nothing better than opening up my mailbox to find the latest issue of Runner's World magazine all slick and glossy and ready for me to dive into it's pages.  Besides being a great motivator for runners to get out and hit the pavement (especially in the freezing cold winter months), it's super informative and always provides the latest information on training, workouts, stretching and nutrition for the serious or not-so-serious runner in the family.

While there is an option to order a subscription for your iPad or Kindle, I still enjoy flipping through the real live magazine.  Definitely a favorite read for me for at least the past twenty years.






2.  Stance Socks 
A new soft, thick sock is a luxury unlike anything else.  Now add style to that mix and you're obviously talking about Stance Socks.  The reason these socks works for athletes is they are multi-function.  Slip on a pair of knee highs for your mountain bike ride or ski run.  Then grab another pair to wear out to dinner. Just to shake up the matchy-matchy rule, most Stance socks are sold in coordinating yet un-matched pairs.  Many are sold in sets of three.  Bring out the funny, unexpected side of your style.  Get a pair of Stance Socks.  You'll love 'em.  I promise.

3.  The Blendtec
I know, I know, this puppy is expensive.  You'll spend almost $400 on basically, a blender.  But let me tell you, this is money well spent.  I was skeptical when my daughter told me I HAD to have one of these.  I thought my old blender was adequate.  So while visiting her one weekend, I tried it out.

Let me tell you, this bad boy makes smoothies so smooth you can grind up tree bark in one and never even know its in the cup.  When I used to make my nutritious smoothie concoctions, chunks of kale and/or spinach in the mix kept my kiddos at bay.  Day One with the Blendtec and everything was different.  It chops, it blends, it mixes, it smoothes -- all to a consistency only found at high end restaurants.

If your athlete drinks protein shakes, this is a must.  (Athletes need their protein)  My butternut squash soup is to die for when I use the Blendtec.  Everything is better with this little appliance.  Definitely worth the hefty price tag.

4.  Garmin 910xt
I saved the best for last, because I am absolutely in love with this new Garmin 910xt.  It is THE ULTIMATE tool for a triathlete.  It does so many things I can't even begin to list them, but the top two for me:  it counts your laps in a pool, and it accurately measures the distance of your open water swims.  This Garmin revolutionizes triathlon training.  It is so easy to use and keeps a serious triathlete on track with heart rate functions and GPS tracking for routes and distances.

The perfect paring for this watch is a Premium membership at Strava.com.  Your athlete should know what I'm talking about when I say Strava: the fun tool to track your runs, rides and swims and see how you stack up to other athletes around your neighborhood or around the country.  You can track runs with your iPhone, if you want to drain your battery as fast as possible.  The better alternative is the Garmin 910xt.  It's the best training tool you'll find out there today.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dallas's Journey


From the time I stepped onto that plane to head to Tallahassee, Florida weighting in at 283 lbs, I knew I needed to change my diet, and start becoming physically fit. Over the two year time period I served a great mission, gave myself a strict diet plan, and made it a priority to run every morning. In November of 2010 I was serving in Panama City, Florida.  Six other missionaries and myself volunteered at the Ironman Triathlon Competition.

As I was watching the 2,000 Athletes jump into the ocean that morning, I was thinking how painful it would be to finish this 140.6 mile journey. As I watched throughout the day I saw many people crying and grabbing their legs and chest. By the end of the day the other missionaries and I were watching the finishers, and saw much joy and many tears from these people that had pushed their bodies to their limits. I told myself that day before I went to bed that one day I would become an Ironman.

I got home from my mission two months later and went on with life, running marathons and working. I volunteered in Ironman Arizona in 2011 then stood in line the next day and signed up at 5am to race this November. After throwing Down $700 for the race I knew at that point there was no backing down. The past 10 months have been the hardest months of my life training for this event. Everything from waking up at 1am for a 100 mile bike ride to a 20 mile run at 10pm to early morning lake swims... In 15 days I will push my little 165 lb. body to its limits.

This month I will become an Ironman.

I am not putting this message out there to say look at me, look what I can do. I'm putting it out there to let everybody know that anything is possible if you work for it. The body is an amazing thing. You can do a lot more than you think.  Never give up!

This was Dallas's story right before his first Ironman in 2012.  He just completed his second Ironman last weekend in Tempe and came in second in his age group, with a time of 10:00 hours.  I had the pleasure of coaching Dallas in 2012, and this year he and his wife Karina competed using the same program I had developed for him last year.  Karina finished first in her age group and will be competing in Kona in 2014!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eye Opener!

Finally off of diet soda, I recently switched my caffeine fix with what I THOUGHT was a milder form of caffeine: those little powdered packets of Crystal Light Energy.  They kept me drinking more water and gave me a little umph to aid my mid-morning drowsy slump.

But when I looked closer at the packaging, I was surprised to realize Crystal Light Energy not only had more caffeine than a 12-ounce soda, it was actually DOUBLE my usual amounts.  That's because those powdered packets are actually TWO servings per packet.  I was ingesting 120 milligrams of caffeine with each morning bottle.  No wonder I was jittery!

Here's a breakdown of caffeine as reported in the December 2013 issue of Bicycling Magazine.

330 Starbucks Coffee
150 Double Espresso
150 Latte
120 Crystal Light Energy
80 Red Bull
50 Clif Block Cherry Shot Bloks (3 pieces)
40 Gu Espresso Love Gel
30 Coca-Cola 12 oz.

Checking out the serving size on the nutrition information packaging is a HUGE eye opener!  For example, did you know one serving of ice cream is actually half a cup?  Who stops at half a cup when it comes to Haagen Dazs?  And cereal - just one cup!  Some of us are eating two or three servings at one sitting, then wondering why we're not dropping pounds as we train for a marathon.


It's crunch time folks.  We are on the cusp of the holiday season - where overeating becomes part of who we are.  As hard as we try to avoid those indulgent treats, sometimes they get dropped of at our doorsteps by little neighbor elves.  Can YOU resist that homemade fudge or caramel sauce?

If you're interested in joining me on a quest for healthy eating, leave a comment on this blog.  I'm putting together a plan to stay healthy this season.  It's a challenge and a fun way to improve yourself, your nutrition and your health.  More details soon!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Freestyle - Simple Catch Practice

Information abounds about early vertical forearm and the importance of EVF in establishing an efficient pull in freestyle. I've even posted several articles on my club website about EVF. But I've noticed a funny thing with my swimmers: It can be a tough concept for them to consistently display EVF in their stroke. It’s one thing for our brains to grasp the notion, and quite a different beast to truly incorporate EVF into our freestyle on a regular basis. It took me months to begin seeing this in my own freestyle, and I still have to concentrate on it, especially when I’m tired.


We know that it is the act of pushing water backwards that propels us forward. When we press down on the water with a straight arm, we impede the ability to gain traction early in the stroke and push that water back. But, let's admit it—the action of EVF really is a bit awkward requiring a delicate balance between strength and flexibility. Anchor your hand, internally rotate your shoulder ever-so-slightly (without changing the pitch of your hand), let the elbow externally rotate out, and get those fingertips pointing downward without breaking at the wrist. Huh? Even some pretty high-level swimmers and athletes who have an amazing mind-body connection still struggle to adapt to and adopt EVF. But it is not a lost cause, and it is a cause definitely worth pursuing. I’ve recently found three tools that seem to help. One is a physical tool and two are visual aids.

The Foam Roller
For the physical tool, a foam roller just might do the trick. The fatter the foam roll, the better. Have your swimmers stand in shallow water, floating the foam roller horizontally in front of them on the top of the water. Have them place their fingertips (straight out from their shoulder) on the roller and slowly and gently slide their fingertips, wrist, and forearm over the roller and then straight down (not out). Have them stop this slide after their elbow crests over the top of the roller.

Cool things happen! Their shoulders should internally rotate while their elbows externally rotate. As this happens, their fingertips begin their point downward toward the pool bottom. Let them do this several times, one arm at a time.

The Barrel
BarrelNow take it a step farther. We want a bigger object than a foam roller for their mind to wrap around. Let's go for the concept of a wine casket or small barrel.

Ask them to envision rolling their fingertips, wrist, forearm, and elbow over the barrel each time they insert their arms into the water. Start with some one-arm swimming (where the other arm is resting out in front). Give them a chance to do this on both sides. After a few rounds of that, have them swim a lap of freestyle to see if they can emulate the feel. If not, start back at square one with the foam roller. You can also try the one-arm drill, but this time, have the non-stroking arm down by their side. This adds the element of needing to rotate from the hips and engaging the core.

The Ice Block
Ice blockNow, for another visual aid, think of an ice block. I got this idea from Coach Stu Kahn of Davis Aquatic Masters (2012 USMS Coach of The Year) who wrote about it here. Once your swimmers have the beginning part of EVF established, they need to continue into a late vertical forearm or LVF. This is where the ice block comes in. The ice block concept really helps reinforce the point that we must push water backwards to go forwards.

Picture yourself grabbing onto a large block of ice in front where you make your initial anchor and catch. You pull the ice block (cresting over the top like the barrel) until you go from EVF to LVF, which is at that 90-degree mark where your fingers, wrist, and forearm are pointing down to the pool bottom. From that point, you push the ice block back, hence the need for the palm pushing back to your hip. Once your hand has reached your hip, you release the block and enter into the recovery phase.

Of course, there is so much more to mastering EVF than just these three tools. Having good extension, good rotation, and proper alignment are also factors that set up for an effective EVF-based pull. There are two videos I find very helpful from Glenn Mills at GoSwim. “Freestyle–Inner Elbow Extension” and “Freestyle – Simple Catch Practice.” Each is terrific for setting up the proper position for the anchor and getting the most out of the catch.

Cokie is head coach and founder of Swymnut Masters, and previous founder and head coach of Marin Pirates Masters. A recipient of the 2010 USMS Kerry O’Brien award and the Pacific Masters Coach of The Year award in 2011, Cokie is a regular contributor to SWIMMER magazine STREAMLINES e-newsletters. She is the author of the eBook, “There’s A Drill for That.” Cokie is Coaches Chair for Pacific Masters Swimming, serves on the USMS Coaches Committee, and was selected to represent USMS swimmers at the 2010 Fina World Masters Championship in Sweden.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Seven High-Protein Breakfast Ideas

I am experimenting with my diet and how to be accountable for what I eat.  Exciting things are coming soon.  But for now, I really enjoyed this article by Melinda Johnson for U.S. News.  I'm going to try some of these breakfast ideas this week. 


Protein tends to be misunderstood. At times, it's flying high on a fad-diet craze, when it seems that half of our population is shunning carbs in favor of a high-protein diet. At other times, protein is forgotten completely, as people order salads with low-fat dressing in an effort to fit into their skinny jeans. While a high-protein, low-carb diet is overkill, there is good evidence that a moderate-protein diet may be the way to go.

One reason is that we need enough protein, in combination with exercise, to build muscle or even hold onto what muscle we have. We tend to lose muscle mass as we age, and this makes our metabolism go down. In fact, one of the biggest culprits of middle-aged weight creep is due to loss of muscle mass. Muscles also become critical for quality of life as we age -- once an elderly person loses enough muscle mass, things like balance or the ability to get up out of a chair are compromised. In fact, studies have shown that many elderly people do not consume enough protein, and when this is combined with being bedridden or sedentary, their ability to be independent can decline very rapidly due to losing muscle mass.

Protein also plays a role in ensuring that we don't feel hungry too soon after a meal, making it a helpful partner in a weight-loss plan. A higher-protein breakfast, in particular, has been shown to help people feel less hungry during the day and eat fewer overall calories. However, research indicates that most Americans eat the bulk of their protein later in the day, at dinner and lunch, with less protein at breakfast and in snacks. This may also be problematic for the elderly or those trying to build muscle -- recent studies suggest that spacing protein throughout the day, rather than bulking up on protein at later meals, is more helpful for maintaining or building muscle in people who exercise.

A rule of thumb for most people is to get 20 to 30 grams of protein at a meal. This can be particularly difficult during breakfast. To get started, here are seven examples of higher protein breakfasts:

Day One
Toast with nut butter: Two slices of whole-wheat bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on each, topped with sliced banana. One cup of skim milk to drink. Total: 22 grams of protein.

Day Two
Strawberry smoothie: Blend together 1/2 cup of strawberries, 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup of uncooked oatmeal, a drizzle of honey (as needed) and 1/2 cup of skim milk or soy milk. Total: 21 grams of protein.

Day Three
Mediterranean sandwich: Whole-wheat pita with 4 tablespoons of hummus, tomato slices, 1 ounce of goat cheese and 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. Have a café latte to drink, made with 1/2 cup of steamed skim milk. Total: 22 grams of protein.

Day Four
Melon bowl: Half of a cantaloupe (using the center as a bowl), filled with 1 cup of cottage cheese. Total: 25 grams of protein.

Day Five 
Breakfast burrito: Corn tortilla filled with two scrambled eggs, sautéed onions, 1/4 cup of black beans and pico de gallo. Total: 25 grams of protein.

Day Six
Apple walnut oatmeal: Cook 3/4 cups of dry oatmeal with 1 and 1/4 cup of skim milk, and add 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, plus 1 chopped apple. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey. Total: 24 grams of protein.

Day Seven
Salad for breakfast: Toss together 1/2 cup of shelled soybeans, 1/2 cup of chopped tomato and 1 ounce of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and serve a whole-wheat breadstick on the side. Total: 25 grams of protein.

Melinda Johnson, MS, RD, is the Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and lecturer for the Nutrition Program at Arizona State University, and a Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Follow her on Twitter @MelindaRD.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Concrete Jungle And The Best Marathon In The World


As I stood at the start line at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and heard the cannon boom to announce Orange Wave 3, I realized that my marathon story was just one of 50 thousand runners - each with a different journey and path but a similar goal and ending.

Mine started when I saw photos of a cousin complete his NY marathon many years ago.  He had his family with him in Central Park and he was wrapped in the Mylar blanket smiling away.  Then for my 40th birthday I traveled to NYC with friends and saw the street light banners advertising the marathon was coming the following week.  "Someday I'm gonna run that race," I thought to myself.

But someday turned in to a long wait.  I applied for the race in 2010.  New York Road Runners selects their entrants via lottery.  What did I have to lose?  But I did lose, again and again and again yearly.  Fortunately the marathon has a "three strikes you're in" policy, so I was automatically entered on my fourth attempt...2013. This year happened to also be the LOTOJA 200-mile remembrance ride for Rob Verhaaren.  My training days were rides, not runs.  And with just eight weeks between races, I geared up for the run and did my best.


Day of race temperatures were cold and windy.  But that didn't deter the runners as we slowly started our journey across the longest suspension bridge in the world.  Our view of the New York skyline stood squarely in front of us.  "I can't believe I am here" is all I thought.  Several of the runners stopped to snap a photo.  Simply breathtaking.


The next 26 miles did not disappoint.  Each borough we ran through greeted us loudly with cheers and screams and signs and music.  Brooklyn first, with high school bands, blues ensembles, heart pounding stereo systems -- I heard different music each mile.  There was no need to turn on my ipod, the sounds, the encouragement, and the human parade we had become left me with a smile on my face and a pep in my step.  I ran with Kyle, a friend from college, and Lori, a Mesa friend. Kyle and I chatted for the next 20 miles and caught up on family and lives all to the beat of each borough's heart and soul.


Every turn in the road provided new entertainment to keep the aches and pains from entering our minds.  The gospel choirs were one of my favorites.  Beautiful music streaming from the steps of the open-door churches.  What a boost of energy!  Then onto another street where Lady Marmalade played from the windows of a brownstone stereo.  I thought the Boston crowds were crazy - but the flavor of each neighborhood and the anticipation for what was next was like nothing I've ever experienced.

Besides the peaceful moments on the bridges, the only time I could hear silence was in the Jewish neighborhoods, where everyone was a bit more somber.  The men were dressed in typical Hasidic clothing with tall hats, prayer shawls, and long wring lets and beards.  It seemed to me that they were trying to pretend there wasn't a marathon caravaning through their streets at all -- just business as usual.  But those quiet minutes soon ended as mile 16 approached -- 10 more miles to go with an even larger gathering of spectators.  I recharged my energy here with high fives from the crowd.  An another much needed boost of rejuvenation.



I knew I was getting close to the finish as the golden leaves from the trees in Central Park started peeking through the skyline above me.  The beautiful reds, oranges, yellows and browns reminded me of the beauty the most famous park in the world.  Central Park was packed with spectators.  And what a spectacular contrast to the concrete jungle we had weaved through for 23 miles.  My family was screaming and yelling for me at Mile 25.  One more mile and I.  Was.  Finished.  Wow.


Medal, recovery food, Mylar blanket and hooded cape.  I walked another 40 blocks to finally meet up with friends.  Boston 2013 has changed the world and security was tight -- Counter terrorism officers, bomb sniffing dogs, and metal detector wands were all part of the scene.  But the experience for me was beyond anything I have ever done in my life.




New York did me right.  The culture, the shows, the food, (oh the food!), along with the BEST marathon I've ever been a part of, all meshed into one great highlight in my life.  I'm not sure what would top this weekend - except coming back as a spectator to watch my kids run the race.  But for now, I'm walking like a zombie, starting a load of laundry, and reality is setting in - after I look at these photos for just a few more minutes...




Monday, October 28, 2013

Best Lulu Purchase Yet


I received the Vinyasa wrap from my dear friend Amy for my birthday.  So excited to take this baby to New York with me, just in time for the marathon!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Six Weeks No Soda


For a variety of reasons, I decided to end my love affair with diet soda on September 8, 2013.  Six weeks later I'm doing okay.  I know it may sound silly that I am going cold turkey off soda pop.  But I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could leave this chemical syrupy substance behind.  I have a friend who is also battling an addiction of his own.  And the only way I felt I could support him was to give up something I loved -- a demon of my own.

My diet soda love began in college when my roommates and I would drive to Hart's convenience store and fill our 32-ounce plastic refill cups with Diet Coke for just .26 cents.  We'd supplement our soda beverage with penny candies, which tempted us in the aisles where we made our purchases. Then we would try and subsist on saltine crackers and Top Ramen for the rest of the week.  Such glowing examples of healthy eating....

Diet soda became a deep addiction.  I have given it up before.  There was a four-year stint where I did not drink it.  And then, I thought, I could maybe just have a soda on weekends, or when I went to a movie, or when I went on a road trip, out for Mexican food, or pizza.  You can't eat pizza with WATER, can you? My freebies turned into dailies, which turned into an 8a.m. run to Sonic for a 44-ouncer after my carpool dropoff.


So as an addict says: I am taking it one day at a time.  I can tell you that Crystal Light powders, which add flavor to water, are helping me out.  Hint Water is another favorite.  I still get cravings for that dark brown beverage, especially when I walk by a freshly poured Coke Zero bubbling over pebble ice in a 32-ounce cup.  And I still can't bring myself to say I will NEVER have one again.  But putting it out there for the public to read is one step closer to ridding myself of this nasty habit.

I need your help.  Tell me how you have overcome an addiction.  What works?  How did you stay the course?  How did you stop your cravings?  And when can you say you are done with it?  For me, I'm one day at at time.  But hopefully those days will turn into forever.


Marathon Race-Day Tips from the Pros

We caught up with adidas athletes Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce and Rene Kalmer, as they were preparing to run the 117th Boston Marathon, the first time for each at Boston. Turns out the two 2:29 marathoners get race day jitters and love cheering crowds – they’re just like the rest of us, only faster! Read on for their down-to-earth advice.

What do you eat for your pre-race dinner?

Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce (SR-B) – I recommend everyone eat what they usually do before a big run. For me that means rice, some sweet potato and meat. I focus on healthy fats and carbs.

Rene Kalmer (RK) – I go pretty light with rice, vegetables and a little bit of meat.

Do you have a particular pre-race ritual?

SR-B – I watch Rocky movies – the inspirational quotes keep me going!

RK – I’m not superstitious, but I also don’t do anything new before a race. I keep it just like at home.

Do you get pre-race jitters and, if so, what do you do about them?

SR-B – Oh, yes I get nervous before races! I cut back on my caffeine so I’m not too jazzed. I then remind myself that I chose to do this and try to focus on the opportunity not my nervousness.

RK – Of course, but I remind myself of all the hard work I put into my training runs and try not to think too much. There is so much positive energy around an event — I soak it all up for the race

Do you come prepared with a race-day strategy?

SR-B – I think about strategy a lot and have five different ones for every race. As the race unfolds, I’ll make game-time decisions and decide which one to use.

RK – I think it’s good to have a strategy, but also the confidence to change it depending upon the race.

How do you run through the tough parts of a race?

SR-B – I definitely suffer during a marathon. I feel like it goes in cycles, and I never invest too much in how I’m feeling, good or bad, I just ride the wave and stay in control. For the last two miles, I just pull from somewhere else. We put in too much training to let pain stop us.

RK – I focus on what I can control and feed off the energy of the crowd and enjoy the scenery to help through the tough parts.

After a big race, both athletes take a least a week, sometimes two, with no running. And for fun, Kalmer likes to mix in some retail therapy during her downtime!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Girona On A Bike

My husband recently returned from a cycling trip to Girona, Spain.  He went with three others friends on a "mancation" to ride bikes, sight see and enjoy the Mediterranean coast.  The boys were part of a Marty Jemison tour.  Marty is a former pro cyclists who rode with Lance Armstrong during those famous winning (and performance enhanced) years of glory.  Marty and his wife give public and private tours in Girona, the famous cycling town and throughout Europe.  You can find out more information here.  

If you ever want to enjoy Europe close up, a bike tour is the BEST way to travel.  The riding is usually between 30-70 miles per day, the accommodations are five star, and the food -- ah, the food is ridiculously amazing.  Plus, you can enjoy that food and have a second helping because you've already burned hundreds of calories on your morning ride!  Who's ready to go with me?

The charm of the European cobblestone streets is constant

Breathtaking Coastline

This is the entrance to Lance Armstrong's former home in Girona.

Riding a bike make you happy!

Such beautiful homes on such tiny streets

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Let's Get Real

photo credit 

I rarely discuss my family life or my children on this blog.  My goal with this forum is to discuss "dreaming big" -- specifically inspired as I crossed the finish line of my first Ironman.  I had chosen a goal, followed through with my plan, and obtained my dream -- doing something bigger than I ever though possible as a not-so-competitive adult athlete.  It changed my life as  I then became a USAT Certified Triathlon coach, helping others achieve the same dream I had.  And I hoped that through my writing and coaching, I could help and inspire others to reach for something beyond their comfort zone and dream big, as well.  
But my dreams  don't always involve athletic pursuits.  Today my dreams are specifically for my children.  You see, my three girls (I also have a son) look at blogs of seemingly perfect model types who dress in ridiculously expensive clothes, with never a long, flowing hair out of place.  They browse through blogs with "candid photos" of  women strolling through of exotic locations wearing designer shoes and carrying pricey handbags.  The post photos are of "what they want", and "what they've already got."  In a word, my kids are bombarded by snapshots of a perfect world which is completely unattainable.  The shoot location is dreamy, the girl and her boyfriend are smiling, and the image is completely .... unreal.  
I dream for my kids is to live life constantly pursuing a better self.  I want them to strive to improve physically, spiritually, mentally, academically.   I want my girls to have a strong and confident body image without showing it off through immodest clothing.  I want them to take care of their outward appearance without breaking the bank on a out-of-their price range ensemble.





In the seemingly perfect world of these famous bloggers, one never reads about how they afford to wear what they wear, or who is financing their wordly travels, or who on earth is taking their "selfies" as they look away from the camera in a perfect pose through immaculate light.  Is anyone ever without makeup?  Girls ...  all girls,  comparison is the thief of joy!


I GET it.  These bloggers do what they do to get advertisers.  And wear what they wear because they are "sponsored".  Which begs the question: what is reality?  And why are you choosing to believe this is THEIR reality?



I'd love for my children to prepare meals that are colorful on their plate and help fuel their body so they are energetic!  I'd love my children to be able to run in a charity race or get their namaste on at yoga, or tackle a challenging Crossfit class.  I want them to be confident in their beauty and rock a Target sweater and drugstore makeup.  I want them to be well read, enjoy a beautiful piece of music, and get mesmerized by a masterpiece of art.    I want them to travel when they can afford to travel.  And to be good people -- who know who they are and where they came from.  

And from my book of life:

Show Up
Be A Good Friend
Find Courage
Pray
Smile
Take Chances
Remember Your Worth
and of course, always
Dream Big


Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Right Bra, Bro

Workout clothes, don't always have to be expensive.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good Lulu purchase when I am in need of a motivational boost or reward from a race well done.  But I haven't found anything quite as comfy and inexpensive as the Champion Seamless Racer Bra at Target.

I am pretty picky when it comes to holding in/up the ladies.  I don't like too many buckles, or adjustable straps or uncomfortable seams.  This bra has solved all those issues.  It's seamless, supportive and even comes in cute colors.  Target knocks a buck or two off the price when you buy two.  So I'm stocking up.

Take it from me, I've done extensive sports bra research.  I've tried the hoity toity Lulu bras thinking they HAD to be worth the price.  But I turned right around and drove to Target after trying all the expensive bras on for size.   I'm sticking with Champion.  Good price.  Comfy for the gals.  And something that keeps me motivated to run for less than a $20 sticker price.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Shifting 101, Thank you Bicycling Magazine

The Basics of Bike Shifting

With a little practice, changing gears can be as intuitive as pedaling. Here are six things to remember.
ByNeil Bezdek (1)
1. The Gears
Most bikes have two or three chainrings in the front and anywhere from 7 to 11 gears, or cogs, in the back. Moving the chain from the smallest rear cog to the largest eases your pedaling effort incrementally. Moving it between the chainrings in the front results in a more noticeable change—pedaling feels easier in a smaller chainring and harder in a bigger one. 

2. Shifter Savvy
The left-hand shifter changes the front gears; the one on the right controls gears in back. If you get flustered on the fly, remember: RIGHT = REAR.

3. It's Okay To...
• Use only the rear cogs and the small or middle front chainring when you’re just getting comfortable on a bike.
• look down to see what gear you’re in.
• shift whenever a more experienced rider does.

4. When to Shift
The reason bikes have gears is so you can pedal (relatively) comfortably no matter what the terrain. Shift to an easier gear on climbs or when you’re riding into the wind. Use a harder gear on flats or if the wind is blowing from behind. When in doubt, shift before the terrain changes. When you shift, ease up on the pedals, especially on hills; if you’re pushing hard, the chain may skip or fall off.

5. Avoid Cross-Chaining 
That means the chain is at an extreme slant, either in the big ring up front and the biggest cog in back, or the small ring up front and the small cog in back. This not only stresses the hardware, but it also limits your options if you need to shift again. 

6. Cheat Sheet
For: Uphills and headwinds 
Use: Small or middle front chainring + bigger rear cogs

For: Downhills
Use: Large front chainring + a range of rear cogs

For: Flat terrain
Use: Small or middle front chainring + ­smaller rear cogs




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Well, Crap


Nine Surprising Foods With More Sugar Than a Krispy Kreme Doughnut

A new report finds that some supposedly healthy foods are actually laden with sugar.
By Dana Liebelson on Fri. September 13, 2013 9:41 AM PDT

It's Friday! After a long week of work, you're probably ready to curl up on the couch with a big box of doughnuts. But having read Gary Taubes' expose in Mother Jones on the sugar industry's terrifying campaign to convince the American public that sugar won't kill you, maybe you'll reach for a "healthier" option instead—like a green Odwalla "Super Food" smoothie.

Not so fast. According to a new report by Credit Suisse, you might be better off eating a doughnut than some of the stuff marketed as healthy. Here are nine surprising foods that have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut, which, at 10 grams, seems saintly in comparison:

1. LUNA BAR: 11 GRAMS


2. GRANDE STARBUCKS LATTE: 17 GRAMS


3. SUBWAY 6" SWEET ONION TERIYAKI CHICKEN SANDWICH: 17 GRAMS


4. 8 OZ TROPICANA 100% ORANGE JUICE: 22 GRAMS



5. YOPLAIT ORIGINAL YOGURT: 27 GRAMS


6. 20 OZ VITAMIN WATER: 33 GRAMS


7. SPRINKLES RED VELVET CUPCAKE: 45 GRAMS


8. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN THAI CHICKEN SALAD: 45 GRAMS


9. ODWALLA SUPER FOOD SMOOTHIE (12 OZ): 50 GRAMS

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Ride To Remember

LOTOJA 2013 was one for the record books -- a remarkably beautiful day, light winds, light rain, two full rainbows and a group of friends who accomplished what they had set out to do: 206 miles, three states, in one day.

Rather than give you a blow by blow of my day, I'm going to pass along what I've learned and what helped me through a sunrise to sunset journey on the bike.  Our merry band of six clocked in at 12 hours of ride time and 13 hours of actual race time.  It was a LONG day.  But we accomplished our goal, riding as a group,  and finishing together.

Nerves kicked in for me the evening prior to the ride.  And the morning wake up call proved that the anxiety had followed me into the morning hours.  I was about to attempt something I had never done. My longest training ride had been 125 miles.  Now I was going for 206.  Could I do it?  Could I hang with the pack?  Would I slow the group down?  Was I going to be the weak link?  Here is what I learned:


1.  Preparation Works!  Every Saturday morning from April to September I put in 80-125 mile rides, along with three mid-week training rides.  I created and followed a training plan allowing for builds, tapers, and recovery.  I brought my bike on vacation with me and rode with my husband.  When I was not with him or other friends, I rode alone.  But I was consistent.  I never missed a LONG Saturday ride.  I tested the food I would eat on race day.  I tested the shorts and DZNuts that I would use.  I allowed for recovery rides and sprint and interval days.  I came to the start line fully prepared for any type of weather, mechanical problem and even had my headlight charged in case I needed it.  Call me a Boy Scout, whatever you like, but I was prepared to face the day.  I rode into Jackson Hole strong and smiling!


2.  Riding with a Group is Good.  We had a group of six that vowed to stay together on race day.  While there were a few hiccups on the route, for the most part, we kept a pace line and stayed together for the entire 206 miles.  Several of us, at different points along the ride, felt sick or uncomfortable or even wanted to stop.  But the camaraderie of friends kept spirits uplifted.  We coaxed each other on and it made the mental game so much easier to handle.  Riding together is a good way to tackle your virgin LOTOJA experience.


3.  I Rode with a Camelback.  Now this is not for everyone, but I chose to ride with a backpack hydration system allowing me to take quick sips of fluid while I rode.  It also kept me hands free while I was in a pace line or racing downhill.  This was a lifesaver when we rode next to the rumble strips where I wanted both hands on my handlebars.  I never ran out of water or had to conserve my liquids between aid stations.  I didn't want to bonk and  the Camelback was my security blanket.


4.  Keep Your Stops Quick!  We spent a little too much time at each aid station.  My legs got cold and it became harder to start pedaling once it was time to go.  Communicate with your team that your stops should be about a minute or two.  A bite to eat, a potty break and then take off!  When our group splintered, some of those stops took up to 20 to 30 minutes long -- not an effective way to race or ride.

Two of our SAG crew at the starting line
5. Choose An Amazing SAG Crew!  I will always be indebted to the family and friends who helped us cross the finish line this year.  You cannot do this race alone.  Your SAG crew is there to cheer you on when you come around the corner.  They give you positive words of encouragement.  They refill your bottles and hand you nutrition and place cold towels around your neck.  Thank you, my dear SAG Crew.  You made LOTOJA 2013 a perfectly amazing day.





6.  Enjoy The View.  Lift your eyes, look around, marvel at where you are riding because it is perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the world.  The flat farmlands, the rolling hills, the dramatic Snake River Canyon and the majestic Tetons -- it's majestic and overwhelmingly dramatic.  We were blessed with a light rain storm and two amazing full rainbows that greeted us at the spot where our dear friend had passed away just one year prior.  Thank you, Rob, for that heavenly display of love.  We know you were watching over your wife and family and our crew that day.

Lorie


Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True