A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life
Filtering by Category: "travel"
I had a bag full of food packed for Kona week with some of my favorite eats that have helped me train for my 7th Ironman.
Chia seeds, whey protein, instant coffee (Hawaiian coffee will be purchased in Kona), cinnamon, granola, red and tri colored quinoa, wild rice, banans and apples (consumed in flight), Trimarni trail mix, Kind bars (emergency bars - I didn't eat anything from a package or buy any food during my travel day - all homemade food from my kitchen including an egg, mushroom and cheese whole wheat pita, greek yogurt, peach, PB&J whole wheat pita, celery, edamame, carrots), figs/nut mix. Happy tummy!
From Jax to Atlanta to Phoenix to Kona......I brought my nutrition, race gear (shoes, outfit, etc.) and gadgets with me on the plane in the case that my luggage would get lost (never has it happened but I like to control my controllables and wouldn't like this week to be the first time my luggage got lost). I also bring an empty water bottle (with filter) with me through security and keep filled with my flights. Also, my CEP compression tights saved the day. Typically I wear compression socks but Karel got me the CEP compression tights and they were amazing! I wore them under my Oakley yoga pants. I am not sure if it was my strategy to eat tummy happy food every few hours or the compression and walking around every 90 minutes - 2 hours on the plane but when I got to Kona, I didn't feel like I traveled 14 hours.
Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC
Be prepared to race at your best no matter the location. Although there’s no place like home, racing nutrition involves eating a reasonable amount of energy-dense, clean (and safe) food to meet the demands of your upcoming race.
Traveling nutrition tips:
- Stay hydrated: Bring an empty 20-28 ounce water bottle when flying and fill after security. If driving, bring plenty of water for traveling and racing.
- Snack frequently: to control blood sugar and to ensure adequate fuel for race day, stock-up on energy dense foods like trail mix, cereal (ex. granola), bars and raisins along with washed fruits and veggies (chopped/sliced).
- Do your research: Google it! Check out what’s on the road or around your hotel and review online menus for needed dietary needs (Ex. vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.). Consider food options that can be found at gas stations (ex. milk, bananas), CVS (cereal, oatmeal, nuts) and grocery stores (hard boiled eggs, nut butter, bread, yogurt, produce) to help make your stay a little more like home.
- Plan ahead: Bring as much as you can that is familiar to you. If you aren't able to travel with silverware/plates/bowls, the hotel my have options to help with meal prep and eating.
- Amenities: Does your hotel room come with a refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave or a continental breakfast (which may not be open before your race start)? These will help make your stay a little easier as oppose to dining out every meal.
- Egg white sandwich: Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Einstein Bagels, Panera Bread
- Baked potato - Wendy's
- Grilled chicken sandwich: Chick-fil-A (comes with a fruit cup), Carl’s Jr., Wendy’s (hold the BBQ sauce) and McDonald’s (hold the mayo).
- Veggie burger and garden salad - Burger King
- Veggie sandwich and soup – Subway, Panera Bread
- Burrito or burrito salad bowl (vegetarian options available) - Moe's Southwestern Grill
Reheat, repeat: Smart Meals for traveling triathletes
Including two hotel friendly creations - yum!
TRAVEL TO RACE: Nutrition Tips
Pertaining to nutrition, the overall mission of an Iron Girl athlete is to develop a healthy relationship with food. Although body composition goals are often primary reasons for embarking in the Iron Girl lifestyle, longevity, performance gains and a commitment to keeping your body healthy are top priorities when creating lifelong, practical dietary habits. For the nutrients that you put into your body will help fuel your fitness routine as well as reducing the risk for disease or illness.
If you prioritize heart-healthy choices on an everyday basis, you should welcome traveling (or when celebrating a special event) as an opportunity to try new foods and to enjoy a temporary change in routine. While it is advisable to maintain a few healthy habits to control blood sugar levels, maintain energy and limit overindulging, it is important to be "ok" with not abiding to your every-day eating routine. By feeling confident with the foods that you put in your body on a daily basis, you should find yourself at ease when eating on the road.
Regardless if you are traveling for an athletic event, for fun or work, a little creativity will help you apply your personal healthy eating habits while on the road. If you haven't quite figured out how to balance everyday eating with eating on the road, here are a few helpful tips to get you started before creating your own routine for traveling nutrition:
1) Plan ahead to have an idea where and when you will eat. Google the surrounding area to have an idea of your dinning/grocery/food options. Do not go into a meal starving.
2) Bring along single-serving and/or portioned-controlled snacks such as fruit, veggies, yogurt, canned fruit/applesauce, trail mix, cereal, string cheese, nuts, homemade granola bars, sandwiches and water (if traveling for an event, don’t forget to bring water for race day!)
3) Pack your own meals for the road. Make your own wrap, bagel or deli sandwich (purchase a quality cooler and/or insulated lunchbox).
4) Be creative. Gas stations typically have microwaves, fill up on gas and cook your oatmeal, minute rice or heat your potato and choice of protein.. Also grocery stores have many pre-chopped/washed options for easy snacking or meal additions. If your hotel doesn't have a microwave/fridge, think outside of the box. Use your ice bucket to keep small items cool and invest in portable electric water kettle for coffee/oatmeal. Don't forget plates/bowls and silverware.
5) Be frugal. If you are going to spend your money on a healthy meal, it’s suggested to pass on the $8 lettuce and tomato salad. Create a meal that will make you feel most satisfied. Consider a yogurt parfait, a PB&J or egg and veggie sandwich at a bagel shop or mix and match at a local grocery store.
6) Snack on fruits and veggies. It's really easy to have a colorless diet when you travel, not to mention lacking in variety. Ask the locals for the nearest grocery store and pick up a few servings of fruits and veggies for a colorful and fibrous snack.
7) Don't forget about protein. It’s really easy to indulge in carbs while on the road (especially if you choose to not eat meat, or a varied diet). Mom-and-pop restaurants (or diners) often cook-to-order. Cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, skim milk, tofu, veggie burger and egg whites are great sources of protein to add to your meal.
Karel and I absolutely love seeing new places and making memories together. Since we both live a very active lifestyle, the combination of traveling and racing works very nicely for us for it allows us to see new sights in a very active way.
Lake Placid was a race that we decided to do last year around June. Karel was seeking a new challenge after spending most of his teenage - adult life training and racing cycling, with the past few years as a cat 1 cyclist. Karel jumped in the water last May for his first swim "workout" and after working hard in the water for a few weeks, he was ready for his first ever triathlon in mid July. Never did I ask Karel to do a triathlon, let alone an Ironman for I believe that with two active individuals being married, they don't have to have similar passions but instead, excitement for similar lifestyles. But one day, Karel said he wanted to train for an Ironman and knowing that it would take a while, he set his eyes on a June/July race for the following year ('13) so that he could train for an entire year, primarily learning the skills of triathlon. After tossing around a few ideas, we narrowed down our choices based on logistics, timing, weather and terrain and Ironman Lake Placid was on the top of our list. We both seek challenging, hilly courses and IM Lake Placid was not going to disappoint us based on what we new about the race. Additionally, we really enjoy visiting places where the town comes together to support the Ironman. Knowing that not every town is in favor of having 2500+ athletes take-over 140.6 miles, it is very special to be in a place that thrives off the Ironman weekend.
Lake Placid it was........our first Ironman together.
It was a long day of traveling, starting with a 3:45am wake-up call to drive 2 hours to Orlando (much cheaper flights in Orlando vs Jax). Before we even left Orlando to head to La Guardia, I received a message on my phone from Delta that we would have a delay in NY before heading to Vermont. So our 5 total hours of getting from Orlando to Vermont turned into 7.5 hours. Then, we had to take a ferry from Vermont to New York and I choose the longest ferry which took an hour. But we just missed the 4:10pm ferry so we had to wait until 5:30pm - which was the last one! We killed time by heading to the local grocery store for some groceries for the morning and before we knew it we were driving on board the ferry for a very beautiful trip to NY. I enjoyed a salad from Moe's which made my tummy happy. After arriving to NY, we traveling about 1 hour and 10 minutes to Lake Placid which put us to our rental cottage around 8pm. But despite all the delays and mistakes with my travel arrangements, it was an absolutely beautiful welcome to get to Lake Placid and we purposely drove on the bike course to our cottage (3 miles from the race venue on River Drive) to check out the course. Beautiful, challenging, tough.
We went to bed just before 9pm as we were both exhausted from the day. But up early without an alarm at 6am to get the coffee going w/ a small snack before we met Trimarni Coaching athlete Laura G and her bf Duran for a swim at mirror lake.
Karel and I didn't have our wetsuits because they were packed with our gear bag with Tri Bike Transport and I was really worried that the 43 morning temps would freeze me from a morning swim. Laura let me borrow her speed suit and Karel wore a tri suit and actually, the swim felt great (albeit a tiny bit chilly but nothing that would keep me from swimming 1.2 miles in mirror lake). It was really nice to get the blood flowing as I am itching to push hard and release my contained energy but doing nothing will only get me tight and unfocused.
After warming up back in the cottage, it was time for a real meal, followed by check-in, expo exploring and grocery shopping. So grateful for Laura being a local (grew up playing hockey around Placid but now lives in NC) as she was an excellent tour guide, driving us around and explaining the course to us (which was an added bonus since I have been reviewing her training files on training peaks for the past 2 weeks since she has been staying up here with her family).
After a light lunch, we picked up our bikes at Tri Bike Transport and Karel put on our pedals and we were ready for a ride with Laura as our tour guide.
Karel and I needed to do a little climbing to wake up our legs as it is always a shock for the body to climb, especially when you don't do it for a while (or regularly). We rode the last part of the course by heading down the last climb to Wilmington to then head back up as if we were actually on the course (2 loop course). We rode from Wilmington towards whiteface mountain on Route 86 for around 11 miles of climbing, a few rollers and not a lot of flat. This course is extremely challenging and race day calls for a big chance for rain so this course certainly requires a lot of patience and love for mother nature. All-in-all, I love this course already!
After the ride, it was nearing 5:30 pm by the time we cleaned up so Karel and I each made some dinner and the rest of the evening was relaxing.
We are looking forward to a very easy workout in the morning with a very short swim in the lake at 7:30am followed by a 45ish minute "flat" ride on river road (well- as flat as you can get around here with a few rollers).
The pictures speak louder than words and I hope you can enjoy Lake Placid via my photos for we are absolutely loving it here!
Here is the text message that he sent me this morning after his workout.
After Karel got off work on Thursday evening, we headed up to Macon, Georgia (4 hour drive) with Campy. With this being my 4th year doing this event (2009, 2010, 2012) but first time doing the aquabike, I was super excited to swim and bike and save my running legs for the next 8 weeks of IM specific training. Karel has always been a spectator for this race (an amazing one!) so it was finally his turn to truly experience this race course - on his tri bike and running legs.
As an athlete, I realize that we all can choose races that give us "fast" results on paper. Although we can't compare race to race, year to year, there's something to be said about comparing race times and deciding what is "fast" and what is "slow". In the past 5 years, I have gravitated toward challenging bike and run courses as I feel it fits me as an athlete. I love being smart on hard courses and having to rely on my mind to be strong on race day. I personally prefer and love the challenge of a hilly and hot course and I don't mind the outcome of a "slow" time on paper if it means I can use my knowledge of the physiology of the body to race a smart race and pace my own race. Again - it's not for everyone but it is important that whenever you select a race, you are familiar with the course and you race with your current level of fitness and you execute a smart race to give you a successful performance. Don't show off your best performance in a training session....save it for race day. Remember, the best race performances are not told by a finishing place or a time but instead, by the athlete him/herself and what she/he overcame to get to the starting line and what she/he battled with on race day (highs and lows) to get to the finishing line.
We arrived to the Swangers around 10:30 and by 11pm, we were all off to bed. Waking up without an alarm on Friday was beautiful and our bodies were rested.
Stefanie (my athlete) was already on the trainer in her room bright and early and it was a big motivator to get the day going (I could hear her watching Kona IM on her iPad).
Pre race/my birthday!
Karel and I both made our own oatmeal creations to start the day, along with a nice cup of coffee and glass of water. The key for today was to focus on hydration and fueling every few hours with easy to digest foods. We both know what works for each of us so the day before a race is never a stressful or overwhelming time in terms of eating. Transition packing - well, that's a different story as it always feels like you are forgetting something.
After a Campy walk and kisses, we said good bye to Campy and then Stefanie as she headed off to work and then we headed 20 miles to the race venue.
Seeing that Karel and I had a wonderful vacation two weeks ago for 10 days, we have really pushed hard with training for the past two weeks. With a fresh mind and body since returning from Czech, this race was all part of our "plan". Although I don't always recommend "training races" for athletes, I think it is important to recognize the state of the body upon arriving to a "training" race. Certainly, if you are going to miss training to race but not "race the race", your body can not be completely destroyed, fatigued and sore going into the race. The entire purpose of training is to train the body but to also practice nutrition, strengthen the mind and get use to scenarios that are similar to race day (including making sure your bike is set-up in a way that works for you, your gadgets work, your clothing is comfortable, etc. all those little things). Whether you are training or racing, the idea of pushing your body (with or without a medal at the end) is to make performance gains or test your fitness and training. Karel and I (as well our athletes) do not do high volume training. It may look high compared to the exerciser but we are very focused on quality - no junk miles. Our weekly training hours are less than 13 on most weeks and every day we wake up energized and ready to give 100%. Rarely do we feel "off" but it does come with the territory of pushing our bodies so we just adjust to still make progress. Training is not our life, but our lifestyle.
The focus of our pre-race ride on Friday was to ride the course - 56 miles.
Since I have ridden this course 3 times, I am very familiar with the ~3000 feet of total climbing on this course. There is a lot of changing wind, steady climbs, descends, turns and lots and lots of gear changing. You have to have good cycling skills and with my progress with cycling over the past 2 years, I couldn't wait to race this course on Saturday. However, despite riding the entire course the day before, Karel made sure that I didn't overdo it. I drafted off his wheel for most of the ride and we rode steady. For the climbs - I didn't do anything crazy and I let Karel drop me and he would wait for me down the road. I guess our 3 hour ride was slow for Karel because of a few missed turns and waiting for me but all in all, I was so happy to be on my bike on my 31st birthday, sharing the day with Karel. And I must say - riding this course gave me a lot of confidence and excitement and I couldn't wait to do it again on Saturday.
We finished our ride around 1:20pm and it was hot. My Garmin 500 said it was 93 degrees and you could feel it without any breeze and on the black asphalt. We removed some of our cycling gear and rode our bikes to the water and took a dip in the bath-like water of the lake. Yep - no wetsuit needed for race day.
After we cleaned up a little, we registered for the race (aquabike for me, half IM for Karel) and picked up some swag (yay for Hammer being a sponsor) and racked our bikes. How cool...the first time we racked our bikes next to each other!! Of course, this was only our 3rd triathlon race together so that made me even more excited to share this with Karel.
We stayed hydrated with Hammer FIZZ to stay up with electrolytes and we also made sure we got in plenty of our sport drink on the bike. I also used cold water to cool my body on the bike to dissipate the heat the best I could.
Feeling really good after our morning adventure, it was around 2:30 and we needed something to eat. Karel found Chick-fil-A and as I went over the athlete guide with Karel, he enjoyed a sandwich and I enjoyed a yogurt parfait and fruit and some of his waffle fries.
When we got back to the Swangers, we cleaned up and I let Campy run like crazy in the fenced back yard (chasing birds in the sky) and I played with baby Colton who just loved campy! Then I had some of a fresh baguette with a little PB and Jelly and sliced banana and a glass of milk.
A few hours later, it was time for our pre-race meal which was prepared by Chef Kenny (stefanie's hubby - who is an awesome cook!). So delicious and of course, Stefanie knows me really well so they knew exactly what fuels Karel and myself before our races.
It was bedtime around 9:30am and Karel and I both had a so-so night of rest, before our 4am wake up call. Of course, Campy slept like a baby.
Both Karel and I like to take our time in the morning. I don't like to be rushed as it can really take a number on the body in terms of nerves affecting digestion. I always try to keep myself in a happy place, around positive thoughts and people. I try to stay in the moment and think about my current level of fitness - not the would have's, should have's or could have's. It's all about the present moment and let me tell ya, both Karel and I were ready to Rock n' Roll!!
After walking Campy, I had a cup of coffee, along with a full glass of water. I had filled my bottles with powder the night before (~250 calories each per bottle of heed, + 1 bottle of 1 scoop heed for sipping with Espresso gel) so all I had to do on race day morning was fill with cold water. Karel freezed his fuel belt flasks the night before (he used 1 FIZZ for the two flasks as he knew based on past experience, he wouldn't be able to tolerate much nutrition in the heat and he knew he would drink coke so I made sure he had electrolytes as that would be the game-changer for the run. you need electrolytes for muscles and tissues along with replenishing what is lost in sweat. There are many ways to get electrolytes from sport nutrition so just find what works best for you). For Karel's bottles, he used his Infinit custom made formula that I created for him which has worked really well for him.
After oatmeal mixed with a little milk, banana slices, sliced almonds and a little ground flax, we were ready to head to the race site by 5am.
Again - nothing different today for me. Same fueling strategy as training and no nerves that would cause any GI upset with my normal foods.
This race is relatively small and I love that! The energy is so positive and everyone is really nice. I love the smaller races because often, they are very safe and fair. There is no drafting when you race against a few hundred people and the support from the community is really positive. There were tons of volunteers and for my 4th time, this race makes me so happy. It was great to be back in the race scene since I haven't done a tri since Branson 70.3 in Sept 2012.
I saw a few friends (Dee and Wes) and my athlete Roger and my friend from Jax, Brian and it was great to see familiar faces.
After we set up transition, it was time to head to the swim start for the 7am start for Karel (7:03am for me).
The water felt great and Karel and I both swam a little to get started. We wore our speed suits and both had our Garmin 910's set on multisport zone. I took a full gel around 10 minutes before the start and that sat very well. I was ready to go and I gave Karel a go-get-em kiss and hug and we both went our separate ways.
Karel started with the 39 and under males at 7am. It took Karel a while to get his rhythm as swimming in open water is still very new for him. But progress is still being made.
The aquabike, duathlon and 40+ males started at 7:03am and without a nerve being scared in my body, I couldn't wait to get in the water.
When the gun went off - I started off strong. Knowing that this swim is known for being "slow" in terms of time, I didn't get stressed with my time as my Garmin buzzed every 400 meters for me to see how I was doing and how far I had gone.
The course is a large triangle and after the first buoy, I had really found my rhythm.
I couldn't believe it...nearing buoy two, there was Karel!! I was hoping he would see my pink compression socks which I wore in the water (approved by the race official) but he said he didn't see me. In my head, I was cheering for Karel hoping he would hear me.
I carried on swimming and spotting and felt like my swim was going really well. I was staying on course really well and after I made my way back to shore, I noticed I wasn't tired and felt abnormally strong and smooth in the water. I really focused on catching the water and reaching and rolling.
Exiting the water, I was the first female out of the water (the half Ironman females started at 7:06am) and from that point, I lead the race.
From the swim exit, you head up a steep hill which officially stops your swim time. Into transition, I put on my pink helmet (decided to not use my Giro Aero helmet as I am very comfortable in my regular helmet and with the hot course, wind and up and downs of the hills, I felt like my regular helmet would suit me better. Karel went with his aero helmet), cycling shoes and socks and turned on my garmin 500. My Garmin 910 was set on multisport so I just hit lap when i get into transition and exit so it will be ready for the bike. This helps me in case my power meter doesn't work as well as for analyzing my race.
ME: 34:38, fastest female swim of the day
KAREL: 40:26, 33rd male
I didn't have a lot to do in transition because I swam with the gel in my back pocket of my Trimarni kit so my transition was really smooth, quick and easy so all I had to do was put on my socks and shoes and helmet and go. I wore my Align sport bra by Oakley Women which fits really well over my heart rate strap (no tightness Ladies).
I exited transition and had a few people yell at me that I was the first female. This made me smile and my competitive side started to itch and I couldn't wait to see what my trained cycling legs could do.
The first 2 miles of the bike include some steady rollers - they aren't kind to the body and Karel and I knew you can't gain anything in 5 minutes from transition. We both took it really easy until the first right hand turn and boy, did it pay off. Legs felt fresh and although the course was not easy and it was hot and windy, I was feeling so amazing.
It was around 40-45 minutes into the race that Karel wizzed by me. He told me "great job!" and later told me that he saw me and couldn't believe how strong I was riding. As mentioned before, this race is challenging and fair. You are alone, maybe with 2-3 other people in sight, playing cat and mouse but other than that, it is you against the elements.
After that first section, I hit my power meter to lap every 20 minutes. This would help me pace myself so that I could focus on my 3second power but also my normalized power. I really felt strong and all that hip work was paying off. Although I have been pushed by Karel for the past few weeks on the bike, I know I couldn't do this pace last year and it isn't just pushing hard in training that has made me stronger. It's a lot of off-the bike work and finally - I was able to have the race I have dreamed off. Even if I wasn't doing the run, I still wanted to bike strong for 56 miles and pace myself for a well executed race.
With Karel out of sight, he was still in mind. I remembered the pointers he told me on Friday about sections on the course and I stuck to my plan. Although I love to climb, I pushed just enough with a steady cadence to stay strong on the descends. There was a lot of wind but I did really well staying fueled every 8-10 minutes with sips of my drink, using cold water from aid stations to cool my body and properly changing my gears as needed, along with getting out of the saddle to stretch my hips.
56 miles: 2:42.31 (average pace 20.64 mph, average power 158, average HR 143, average cadence 85)
Lap 1: 7:23 min 17.94 mph, 174 watts, cadence 80, 141 HR
Lap 2 - 7 - 20 minutes each
Lap 2: 21.33mph, 163 watts, 88 cadence, 143 HR
Lap 3: 18.86mph, 174 watts, 86 cadence, 145 HR
Lap 4: 20.60 mph, 156watts, 84 cadence, 141 HR
Lap 5: 21.34 mph, 124 watts, 83 cadence, 138 HR
Lap 6: 21.71mph, 146 watts, 87 cadence, 143 HR
Lap 7: 21.08 mph, 162 watts, 85 cadence, 145 HR
Lap 8 (29 minutes): 20.8mph, 168 watts, 84 cadence, 147 HR
2nd fastest female bike split
2:32 bike (22:02mph), 5th fastest male bike split
He said that he had been out there for around 15 minutes so I did a little math and I figured I would be able to catch up at one of the intersections with this clover-like course with three out and backs.
Total time: 4:48.13
It was a great day for both of us but I have to say, it was a lot of fun. So much positive energy and support, it really got me even more pumped up for Ironman Lake Placid in 8 weeks.
(FYI - I always try to have yogurt on a daily basis, about 4-6 ounces a day, in addition to up to 1 cup skim milk. When I travel, I try to bring yogurt with me and I have never had trouble with security and having it in my carry-on. Just a FYI in case you are interested in traveling with yogurt. Just don't forget to get a spoon!)
Soon enough, it was time to head to downtown Fort Worth to eat at a touristy restaurant with a group of 18 (Shape Magazine, Oakley Women and ambassadors). The restaurant was a steakhouse and I was hoping for some corn on the cob, brown rice and sweet potato but no options available and no vegetarian chef-inspired options. No worries - I enjoyed a delicious airy bread roll and then enjoyed a large filling salad and the most delicious baked potato with toppings on the side. I left the restaurant very satisfied and was excited to wake up in the morning for a 6.5 mile interval run on the treadmill and then a full day on my feet outside, speaking to 200 amazing ladies.
The event included yoga with Lacey, my nutrition workshop, social media learning, lunch from a food truck (YUM!) and interviews to be the next Oakley Women ambassador. The event kick-started with a tough bootcamp with Carrie and Cari. My friends Michelle Lovitt and Sarah Dussault were also attending the event to help others better understand fitness and social media.
Congrats to Laila for being the next Oakley Women ambassador!!!
After our 2.5 hour drive (a bit faster than before due to beautiful weather!) we were back in Znojmo and Karel's mom had a delicious meal waiting for us (Slovakian-inspired) along with several desserts (she said she was in a baking mood the night before). All these treats are exciting but Karel and I typically share any treat that we are offered. There are certainly times for occasional treats but each time should be enjoyed and if you treat yourself day after day, it becomes less and less special. Certainly I do not feel like we are restricting ourselves from anything that is special here and can be consumed with enjoyment but we are not eating anything and everything just because we are in Czech. We have turned down a few treats and second helpings only because we are satisfied from a meal and I feel that is the most appropriate time to say no thank you as oppose to fearing food for calories, fat, sugar, salt, etc. I am really enjoying the fact that I can enjoy this city with Karel and we have both kept our great relationship with food here in Czech. We always feel better after we eat, than before. Just like at home in Florida, no low blood sugar levels, stomach issues, hunger pains, intense cravings, headaches or anything else that many people accept as normal when trying to eat "health"...we have lots of energy all day, sleep well, wake up rested and never use the words guilty, off limit, restricted, cleanse, detox, bad or any other popular fad diet word that brings attention to a style of eating that appeals to the masses.
After we rested for an hour, we headed over to Karel's dad's place to get our bikes from his basement and headed out for an awesome ride in Czech. Karel knows these roads like he road them yesterday for each ride we ride somewhere new, see beautiful scenery and Karel tells me stories of when he was racing/training here in Czech. We are not training here in Czech so we have no schedule or specific miles-time that we have to accomplish everyday. We are not exercising to "burn" calories so we can eat pastries or not feel guilty when eating. We are just enjoying our time here being active, which we love to do with our fueled bodies.
This ride was amazing because we rode in straight headwind and sidewind to a castle and well-worth the brutal conditions heading out there. There was a chill in the air so it was rather chilly while descending to the castle so we only went half way because the rain was coming. We took a pic and then, my favorite part - began climbing again to head back home. We had the most helpful tailwind coming back and we were flying! Karel extended our ride a little to show me some special scenery spots and then it was time to head back to his dad's to clean up.
As Karel enjoyed a glass (or 3) of beer following our wine tasting, we ordered a light "dinner" at the pub since we had just had pizza. I had a delicious salad w/ a baguette and goat cheese with black walnuts (delicious!) and Karel had a steak tatar plate.
It was a late evening but a great one! Afterward, we walked home (a big trend which I am loving here - we walk miles and miles everyday, especially to and from eating) and it was time for a great night of sleep to begin another fun-filled day.
When I came home from this trip, I really started to think about my own life. I remember crying when I went to a restaurant on our way home (in route home at Cheesecake factory in the airport) and saw so much food being wasted by people who were served large portions + a bread basket and were unable to finish a meal but yet, still had room for dessert. Thinking about how I would give anything to be able to properly nourish the children and individuals who appear to live such a happy and grateful life for what they have and what they are use to. I suppose that trip changed me because I do not feel comfortable with others serving me for I am not comfortable wasting food. I’d rather eat a little less than have too much food on my plate and have it thrown away. Karel knows this and he also knows my portions as I feel many of my food behaviors were first learned from observing others who have very little rather than from a dietetic textbook encouraging “calorie” control.
After a delicious lunch of homemade broccoli soup and vegetable patties we headed to Štramberk which is a small town near Pribor, next to Kopřivnice. It was a long hike to the top of the hill where there was a cute festival going on and I couldn’t believe my eyes – I felt like I was in Disney World with all the cute timbered houses and cobblestone roads. The top of the hill is dominated by the Trúba castle tower. Stramberk is known for their “ears” which are from a tale that Barberians would eat the ears of others, thus Stramberk’s ears everywhere. I must say – as a 20-year vegetarian, those gingerbread like ears were the most delicious “body parts” I have ever eaten J Nearby there is the Šipka Cave where Neanderthal child bone remnants were found.
On Sunday, Karel, his brother and nephew and I went for a rainy yet beautiful 3.75 mile run on the most amazing paved trails which Karel’s brother bikes on to and from work. It was great to get the blood flowing and to have some company for our morning run.
After a delicious breakfast, we stayed inside for the morning until the rain stopped and then had the most delicious lunch of tofu, rice and veggies prepared by Karel’s nice (who also enjoys tofu – actually 4 of us had the tofu creation and 4 others had goulash) and then we headed to a car museum all about Tetra - Tetra company
We sat around, enjoyed a few small treats for dessert and it was such a great weekend with the family that we were sad to go to bed on Sun evening to head back to Znojmo on Monday.
I forgot to add, on our way to Karel’s brothers, we made a “fast food” stop at McDonald’s because Karel needed to prove to me that this wasn’t your normal McDonald’s….
When we travel, it is typically for an event or race and we don't do well sitting around. Thus, every time we pack our bags for something, it is for a purpose and often includes some type of movement (or is related to our jobs which involve activity/fitness). This trip has many purposes but I am enjoying my time here in Czech making memories but also learning about a new culture that allows me to bring home new ways to live life as well as an appreciation of what I have back at home. With my blog posts and pictures, I only hope that I can inspire others to get comfortable being uncomfortable by trying new things and being open to new opportunities. I realize that traveling abroad is not for everyone and may not be practical for everyone (costs, timing, logistics, etc.) but I feel that many people take for granted the many opportunities they have in their own current life but just feel “stuck” either in a bubble of familiarity and fear change or are scared to make any changes and the “what if’s” keep you bored, stressed and overwhelmed in your current life.
Aside from the 7th day Adventists and the Mediterranean style diet (which research consistently shows, long term, that both show high rates of quality of life and low risk for disease and improved health status by following a vegetarian or plant based diet), I've learned from those who live a high paced, wealthy lifestyle and from those who take bucket showers and have no electricity and seeing that each country may have staple foods and/or certain thoughts on exercise/fitness/sports, every village, town and city differs in terms of quality of life. Thus, to assume that there is one right way to live is absolutely wrong as it isn't about a right way of being healthy but rather, making sure your lifestyle makes you happy.
Once again, the sun was shining early and I found myself awake at 5:20am thinking it was 9am. I was able to lay back down for a little but then around 6am I woke up to the smell of fresh European coffee.
Karel and I started our morning with a cup of coffee and headed out for a quick 2 mile run on new roads (for me) in Czech. For both Karel and myself, we love to stay active and exercise is a very important to both of us for both physical and mental benefits. But as I have repeated many times in my blog and in articles, you don’t have to be a triathlete or marathon runner to be “healthy”. I am a firm believer that you should get your heart rate up, don’t be afraid to sweat and don’t feel as if you have to conquer x-minutes, x-workouts, x-days a week. Just move whenever you can for however long feels “right.” I absolutely love our morning runs because 20-30 minutes of sight-seeing is the perfect way to start the day as it is only the beginning of a jam-packed day.
Sorry - I digress.
Karel’s old cycling buddy, Jirka, invited us for a ride on his “lunch break” since many of the business shut down for lunch. Another one of Jirka’s friends joined us and I was thrilled that he could speak a little English.
So excited for a bike ride of a lifetime, we rode ~10K and crossed the Austria border! It was around 12:30pm when we started but I’ve completely lost track of time here in Czech as Karel is keeping me incredibly busy and on my toes (love it!). And I thought Czech was beautiful, the scenery in Austria was gorgeous! I just couldn’t believe my eyes and I couldn’t stop taking pictures while riding. I am happy that my bike handling skills have improved over the years for this ride offered many new experiences for me such as riding through small towns with small roads and cars zipping buy (although they don’t seem to mind cyclists), signs which I couldn’t understand and thus had no idea where we were going, riding on cobblestones and riding on a few rollers (Very smooth roads outside of the towns).
When we arrived to Retz, Austria we took a few pics and then, why not…let’s have a cappuccino! Coffee drinking is much different than in America..it’s not coffee, it’s the culture of drinking coffee. Seeing that I normally have 1-2 cups a day (before and after my morning workout or in the morning), I don’t ever do “energy” drinks or afternoon coffee pick-me-ups. But here, there are no paper cups or weak coffee beans that require loads of sugar and sweeteners to provide flavor. It’s 2-3 ounces of strong coffee that must be consumed slowly and it is hard to not enjoy it. Of course, I am use to this because I have lived with a European in America for the past 6.5 years so it is something that I welcomed but had not yet appreciated until I came to Europe.
After coffee, we headed up a climb on cobblestones (nervous at first but I did just fine thanks to Karel giving me pointers as to not ride slow as I needed to keep my momentum riding up the climb) and then up a windy, smooth road to see a beautiful windmill on the top of a hill which overlooked the city. Talk about a priceless opportunity in life while doing what Karel and I love to do….and how we met, on our bikes!
After a few more pics, we climbed a bit more and then had a fast, fun descend on a smooth open two lane road back to Retz and then we made our way back to Znojmo. Although the total ride was around 25 miles and the way there was rather casual, the guys picked it up on the way back and with the wind blowing strong in the open fields, I had a nice workout on the way home by drafting with the guys pulling away.
All new news to me, I was so super excited when she told me where we were going in the car. It was ~80K to Vienna from Karel’s home and when we pulled off the interstate to downtown Vienna, I “wow’d” once again. Oh wow – so beautiful!! You could just feel the history between the buildings and on the streets. Oh and those streets were super bike/runner friendly (and in-line skating). We had coffee at one of the most famous café’s in Vienna called Landtmann along with a pre dinner dessert. The atmosphere was amazing with people just socializing after work, drinking coffee, enjoying a small dessert, reading newspapers and just enjoying talking to one another (minimal cell phone use). After a once in a lifetime experience in Vienna, we drove around the city before heading to another small city about 80K away for dinner. Karel’s niece is a vegetarian as well and she was excited to take me to my first restaurant meal in Czech….well, not exactly a Czech meal.
As I mentioned before, it was a wow-type of day. All new to me and lots of memories made in Czech (and Austria). I am learning so much about the culture and I am so grateful that I have Karel as my tour guide and that we are staying with Karel’s family. I feel my life has already been changed from this trip and I can’t wait to get back to “work” (Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition) and to change more lifestyles when I return home from Europe. Although I have never been one to read “diet, fitness and health” books written by guru’s and professionals but instead get my knowledge from research and textbooks, I can honestly say that a lot can be said from the experiences you get by living a lifestyle in another country, learning from the locals and addressing the pros and cons in another country in relation to your own. Sometimes you have to be willing to make a change to feel a change and often, those changes can’t be read in a book but instead, through life experiences.
Wheww….the day wasn’t wasted!
After we took our time with our morning coffee (always nice to slow down in life), we got ourselves ready for a run around Czech. Well, fast moving feet but a few stops for pictures. Karel shared stories with me here and there and we both enjoyed the ups and downs of running around the town, but primarily on running trails and bike paths. The terrain is absolutely beautiful and the weather was perfect (around 60 degrees). We saw gardens, the hospital and several schools. All bringing back memories for Karel.
After showering in the bath tub, I got myself ready and enjoyed another delicious homecooked meal. Scrambled eggs with fresh chives, tomatoes and potatoes, served with a fresh roll and unsalted butter. Oh, and more coffee.
Breakfast hit the spot and I finally started to feel like I was on European time. Afterward, we picked up Karel’s dad (who doesn’t have a car) and with his mom, we all went to two commentary’s so Karel could see his grandma and sister, who both passed away in the past 13 years while he was in the US and was unable to come back for their funerals. It was a happy but sad time as Karel never thought this day would come he would be back in Czech with his family. He misses the many years that he could have spent with his family but he knows that immigrating to the US was the right thing for him and I feel lucky that I can share all these experiences with him. Life is best enjoyed when it is shared with those who you love.
I was picture crazy with all the fresh foods and endless amount of beer and bread (two staples here in Czech) but both Karel and I wanted to try everything! He was telling me lots of stories of foods when he was younger “Oh, I use to LOVE this, and that, and that”….and I loved it!
I absolutely love being in a new country and living like a local so although no peanut butter in the Czech grocery stores and plenty of cereals, I refuse to eat “American” food. Although there are many similar items in Czech, I only want fresh, local and/or new foods. I welcome it all!! Well, I will save the meat for Karel as he is loving it all! I can't wait to talk about the European lifestyle in more detail but I will need to save that for another blog when I return.
Lunch was sautéed spinach with onions and garlic, stuffed inside homemade crepes. The texture of the spinach made me a little concerned but after one bite, I was yumming my way through lunch. Delicious! Dessert was chocolate, a fresh sliced orange and a crepe stuffed with homemade apricot jam. The great thing is that neither Karel and I feel stuffed and we don’t stop moving.
Around 3:30pm we headed out for a very casual ride…..nice and steady for Karel’s dad (who did amazing!), and conversational for Karel and Honza who chatted the entire time. As usual, Karel is most comfortable on or around bikes and I could just tell he was loving riding on his old training routes.
The ride was absolutely beautiful…I just couldn’t help but take pictures the entire way. Goats, horses, green terrain, bumpy roads, small towns….It was absolutely priceless. There were a few small climbs on the rolling terrain but other than that, the windy roads made for the most pleasant 25 mile, 2 hour ride and I just loved that I could share this with Karel, his friend and his dad. Again – super impressed with Karel’s dad…I’m happy that Karel has good riding genes in his family as I hope we can live the active lifestyle that we love so much, when we are in our 70’s and onward.
After dinner, we had a light dessert of fruit and homemade pastry and cookie and then we walked around downtown, historic Czech for around 90 minutes until it was too dark to see anything. I knew Czech was pretty from the pictures on the Internet and in books but I just couldn’t believe my eyes as Karel was taking me on the roads which he walked to school every day and again, sharing lots of stories with me of when he was growing up. To be honest, traveling with Karel has been the best blessing ever because there is something so very special to be with someone who can share memories with you as you both make memories together.
After our walk, I was ready for bed. Nearing 10pm local time, I couldn’t wait to go to bed to see what tomorrow would bring.
Czech trip Day 3: Cycling, pastries and Austria
Although it didn’t feel real that we were traveling to Europe as we were driving to the airport with my mom, once we pulled out our passports, checked our bags and made it through security, we finally realized we were heading overseas. What an amazing feeling to know that 13 years ago, Karel landed in the U.S. with only a back pack and now I get to travel to Czech with Karel, to reunite with his family and hometown for the first time in over a decade!
Dessert was a carrot cake cobbler which was delicious (if you know me – you know I LOVE carrot cake!). We had plenty of snacks with us but with traveling through the night, we tried to catch a few hours of sleep (3-4) instead of keeping ourselves awake by snacking...but before we knew it, we woke up by another meal of yogurt, a muffin and orange juice. The yogurt was welcomed as I know our tummies do best with 1 serving of yogurt daily (probiotics) but we were a bit “off” seeing that we left NY at 6pm and after 6.5 hours of traveling, it was around 7am “local time” when we landed.
Surprisingly, we felt good but Starbucks coffee in Netherlands helped us out (our first Euro purchase – seeing that we used our credit card, I think that was the most expensive venti coffee we have ever shared). Finding our way through the Netherlands airport was fun and thankfully we were able to get on free Wifi to connect with our family.
After a 70 minute flight, we were both getting really excited and all of a sudden, touchdown in Prague!!
Although Vienna is a bit closer to Karel’s hometown of Znojmo, Karel wanted to fly in an out of Prague so that we could enjoy the drive to his town as see some smaller villages and sights and also spend our last 2 days in Prague. This trip is all about Karel spending time with his family so the focus wasn’t on touring around Europe so we will save that for another trip J
After getting our luggage, getting the rental car and changing our money into Czech Crowns, we headed toward Znojmo for the next 3 hours.
Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy all of it because my body was shutting down so I took a few naps as I was struggling to keep my eyes open and my brain was ready to shut off. I guess after traveling for 16 hours and only getting around 3-4 hours of on and off sleep (airplane sleep, that is), my body was pretty confused.
When we saw the sign for Znojmo, Karel started telling me stories of when he was biking there as a kid and teenager and everything started to come back. No maps, just a memory like it was yesterday that he was in Czech.
The fresh food was waiting and after cleaning up and letting my family know we had arrived, it was time for a meal. Not sure what time zone my body was on but I welcomed a delicious vegetarian meal of sautéed cauliflower, onions and eggs with boiled potatoes. Karel had pork with dumplings and gravy. We were both in Czech heaven and our bellies were happy for this “real” meal. We also enjoyed fresh pastries and a homemade dumpling stuffed with red currants and topped with melted farmers cheese and toasted bread crumbs and we knew this was the perfect start of a great 10 days in Czech.
Around 6:30pm local time, we walked over to Karel’s dad’s flat – about 1 mile away. Karel took me the long way so he could see some familiar sights. Once again, Karel was thrilled to see Karel Sr. (his dad) and so was I. Like father, like son. It didn’t take long for the bike talk to start and for Karel Sr. to show us his “bike room” (in the basement of the apartment building). Karel's friend in Czech got us road bikes from the local bike shop that Karel use to work out and Karel's dad had his Cervelo, which Karel gave to his dad (and shipped it) a few years ago. Karel's dad is 73 and raced until he was around 71. He still rides his bike but not competitively anymore.
Once again, we were entertained with stories and good food, with plenty of Marni-friendly appetizers and some good meats for Karel. We all enjoyed wine and then took an evening walk around 8pm around the town and visited his dad's gym....properly located next to one of the many pub's in Czech.
By 9:30, we were on the verge of exhaustion so we got ourselves ready for bed at his mom’s place (bunk beds – in Karel’s old room) and we were out!
That was easy....TRAIL MIX!!!
Although I put a little thought into every meal and then snack with a purpose, I know I can always count on trail mix to keep me energized, satisfied and happy. And all those things are important on a daily basis but very important while traveling. With delays and a schedule that is off from the normal routine, I always rely on homemade trail mix to keep me fueled while traveling.
The good thing is that on Tues, we are leaving around noon from Tampa International and will be flying through the night when we land in Prague on Wednesday around lunchtime. We have a stop at JFK (3 hour layover) first and then our long flight to the Netherlands to connect. However, I know that even with the best intentions to sleep on the plane, it won't be easy and likely our body will be off and we will need some snacks to help control blood sugar in between meals.
I put together this delicious trail mix and portioned out to 8 bags. Four for the flight to Czech and four for traveling home (or to munch on in Czech - unlikely seeing that we are staying with Karel's family so we won't be without food but instead, filled with lots of yummy Czech food). I divided my creation into 1 cup servings to make it easy to snack but to not overdo-it on calories as trail mix can be very calorie dense and I want to leave room for meals and for snacks like fruit and PB mini sandwiches.
Trail mix (raisins, M&Ms, cashews, almonds, peanuts) - 3 cups
Sunflower seeds (unsalted) - 1 cup
Coconut Flakes (unsweetened) - 1 cup
Trail mix (soy nuts, pumpkin seeds, dates, cranberries) - 1 bag
Cinnamon - 1 tbsp
I did not figure out calories and only estimated on measurements.
If you are interested in calories for your own homemade trail mix, I recommend to make the trail mix "cereal" dense but using more cereal than nuts/raisins for more volume, less energy density. Keep in mind, many cereals are fortified (like Cheerios) to provide the body with vitamins and minerals which may be lacking while traveling or eating on the road (in other words, a yummy multi-vitamin). Combine your calories (total) from your cereal of choice with the total calories of each of your "additions" based on the serving size of the label on your bags. If using raw nuts/raisins/dates/cranberries from a bin at the store, you can look up nutrition facts online and portion control.
After an early morning swim and bike, I had just enough time to get to a few emails and I was off to the airport for my trip to Denver.
8 miles on the treadmill while practicing my talk in my head. Couldn't ask for a better way to start the day...although I am not sure if I gained any red blood cells, I sure do love the change in air/pressure that comes with training at altitude. Boulder is about 5430 feet from sea level and I live at sea level so here's to hoping I brought home a few more red blood cells. A girl can dream, right? Live high, train low is the way to go.
The event included the Oakley Women pop-up-shop, a media station, a t-shirt making station, a yoga station, a mass bootcamp with Carrie and Cari from Bombshell Bootcamp and my nutrition workshop station with my Trimarni balls! (recipe can be found here).
And a big congrats to Lindsay Gonzalez for being selected as the next Oakley Women brand ambassador from Colorado!!!
Can't wait for Dallas in a few weeks!!!
Campy knows something is up and sadly, he is trying everything possible to make sure he is not forgotten.
I won't be blogging while I am in Czech (perhaps the occasional blog if I have time) but I will be keeping a journal of each day of our travel. I am so excited to share this experience with everyone, especially from the perspective of a health conscious athlete who loves making memories and experiencing life. Of course - there will be lots of food pics!
To keep up with our travel, the best way to see pics and to receive updates is via my Facebook page. Feel free to LIKE Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition to stay current on all the happenings in Czech Republic. From runs to bike rides, to touring Znojmo and Prague and Karel catching up with his friends and family.....this is going to be a trip we both won't ever forget and I am excited to share it with everyone.