Friday, November 29, 2013

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

DREAM BIG presents

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  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 account.  After payment is made, send an email with your personal goals for this competition to -- 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  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, 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, 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.

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  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...

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

Dreams That Have Come True