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As a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, I thoroughly enjoy helping others achieve optimal health and peak fitness performance through creation of custom menu plans and personalized nutrition coaching with my company Fuel Factor as well as creation of custom sports drinks with Infinit Nutrition, I company I partially own and serve as Chief Formulation Specialist for. As a long-time athlete, having competed at the ITU, 70.3, and Ironman World Championships, I use my own practical experiences on the ‘field’ as well as the latest research in nutritional science as means to establish daily training and race/game day nutritional strategies for my clients. I am also currently working putting the wraps on research for my book, Performance Ingredients and Supplements for the Athlete, with a hopeful release by my publisher Human Kinetics late in spring 2013. I am currently expecting my first little speedster due to arrive in May of 2013. After she is born, I will be striving to knock 9 minutes off my current marathon PR of 2:52 to secure a spot at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Reflections of 2011

WINTER:  The year kicked off on an adventurous note with my first trip up to Big Bear with my bro Kevin who treated me to a day of skiing (my first time on the downhill front in 10 years). With temperatures in the 50s (gotta love California for that), the powder wasn’t great but nonetheless, we had a blast.  The following weekend, I took a scenic coastal train ride up to Santa Barbara for a fun weekend with friends. Cool little seaside town, will definitely be back.

Skiing at Big Bear Mountain
Train Ride to Santa Barbara with friends

SPRING: The start of spring coincided with the kickoff to my 2011 racing season at NYC Half Marathon, my second consecutive trip back to Manhattan for this gorgeous 13.1 mile tour of Central Park, Times Square, and an eventual finish at Battery Park.  For all the runners out there, I highly recommend this race.  Pre-race, I had the honor of joining Olympian Meb Keflezighi and my friends from Infinite Running (a coaching company I serve as nutritionist for and with whom graciously supports my running goals) for dinner in Manhattan. Race day this year was a cold one though and my San Diego blood wasn’t quite ready for the sub-freezing temperature and winds at the start.  Nonetheless, it was exciting to brush shoulders with some of the fastest runners in the world (everyone LOVES racing in NYC) and as the gun went off, I quickly forgot about the cold, cruising toward a new 13.1 PR of 1:22:20.

Pre-race dinner with friends

A few weeks later, I returned to Vancouver to race the Vancouver Marathon (I’ll be back in Vancouver this upcoming May) and while I wasn’t able to secure the time I wanted, I moved up a place in the standings, placing 3rd overall for women

and breaking 3 hours for my second time (2:59).  While accepting my award, I got to meet running legend Kathryn Switzer (pictured to the right of me) which was a huge honor and inspiring. I had a blast meeting new athletes from all over the world, hanging with some of my San Diego running family, and visiting my friend Greg who graciously offered a place for me to stay post-race as well as gave me the inside tour of the city, which included a nice dinner at the English Boathouse with fellow podium runners from the half and full marathon.
Beautiful Vancouver
Receiving my 3rd OA award from women's running icon Kathryn Switzer
Dinner at English Boathouse post-race
With 2011 marking the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, a dismal day in history, it was nice to see some justice finally being served with the take down of Bin Laden one day post-race. I am forever grateful for our soldiers who bravely and selflessly fight for our freedom. 2011 has been a particularly hard one for many, including myself. For the first time, the war on terrorism hit way too close to home as one of my friends, a decorated Navy Seal these past 17 years, was KIA along with 30 others while on a mission in Afghanistan.  I just don’t understand where the hatred of a terrorist originates.  Sad (and scary) to think that there are many more like Bin Laden being bred with the same disgusting mindset. 
Justice is served
I ended spring on a happy note with a fun trip out to Charlotte, NC for my long-time friend Sue’s bridal and bachelorette party, which turned out to be a nice mix of Southern hospitality at Duke Mansion (pictured through the trees), bubbly (lots of it), race cars (Charlotte is home to Nascar), and VIP clubbin’.  Beyond the excitement of getting married, Sue & her hubby Ben also purchased a beautiful new home, which no doubt will generate a lifetime of sweet memories. So pumped for them and can’t wait to come back to visit in 2012.

Duke Mansion through the trees

VIP treatment for the bride at Butter Nightclub, Charlotte
SUMMER: To kick-off summer, I headed back to the Midwest for Sue & Ben’s wedding at Gun Lake in Michigan. I thankfully didn’t have any encounters with guns while running the country roads that circled the massive lake but did enjoy jumping in it post-run.  Wedding festivities were a blast; can’t get much better than 80 degree sunshine in the best of company on a summer evening in the Midwest.  Even the sunset was spectacular with the entire wedding party taking a boat onto the lake to witness the gorgeous display of colors. 
The happy couple on Gun Lake at sunset
Sue & Ben’s wedding was definitely the highlight of the summer but I did manage to get out to a few shows (still a lover of live music). My fav was Independence Jam held in Oceanside (yep, you guessed it, an oceanside concert venue) where Cold War Kids brilliantly performed their new album. Outside of that, the bulk of summer was spent working on my book, Functional Ingredients and Supplements for the Athlete. Submission to my publisher, Human Kinetics, is in March, hopeful release by year’s end 2012 or early 2013. It has definitely proven to be a challenge balancing deadlines with full time duties heading up my business and chasing after my running dreams. 

Independence Jam, Oceanside (California)
Towards the end of summer, I was finishing up a workout with Coach Kevin McCarey (a great coach here in San Diego) when I received the horrific news that my friend JT, a total bad arse athlete and long-time Navy Seal, was in a helicopter that had been shot down by enemy fire just hours earlier in Afghanistan.  It is hard to describe the emotions that entered me that morning but let’s just say they were running at lightning fast speed bringing all sorts of weather that made it really hard to focus on anything for some time.  A week after this occurred, I flew out to Chicago to run Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half as part of my training for my Fall Marathon.  I decided to dedicate my race to JT and all his fallen comrades of 8-6-11.  It was the least I could do and also served as my way of coping with the loss.  I don’t think I have ever sat on the starting line of a race with tears in my eyes but I didn’t’ care.  The tragic events of 8-6-11 serve as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice our soldiers make day in day out to serve our country proud.  Thanks to all of you who have served or continue to serve; you will forever have my utmost respect. JT’s energy from above no doubt helped me that morning as, despite windy conditions, I broke another personal 13.1 record, dropping my time down to 1:21 and finishing 5th overall in stacked competition.

Never forget 8-6-11

Running in honor of JT and our fallen brave

With my dad post-race
Fall: Fall kicked off with a couple cross-country running races in San Diego followed by my “A” race of the year, Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis.  I entered the race in honestly the best shape of my life, running faster than I have ever run so I was extremely excited to lay it all out on the line, to chase after the Olympic Trial Qualifying standard.  Unfortunately, some things are out of my control and on this particular day, my asthma bore its ugly head and I knew after posting nearly 20 miles on pace, my shallow breathing/wheezing was doing some damage as I couldn’t inhale a full breath and when I tried, my abdominal wall went into spasm state.  Long story short, I did finish, but had to walk/jog the final 10k.  End Time: 2:57.  I was extremely let down that my hard work didn’t culminate to what I had envisioned but sometimes as an athlete, it are these tough moments that pave the way to better things.  After the race, I had a blast catching up with a couple of my college running teammates from Illinois State…thanks again Jenny and Heather for coming out to cheer me on!  Love you gals!

With my former Redbird XC teammates Heather & Jenny at the finishline.
One week after Twin Cities, I had the honor of returning to Chicago to run Chicago Marathon as part of a charity relay with Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, and Alex Morgan of the US Women’s Soccer Team on behalf of JT and Got Your Back Network (GYBN), a charity organization dedicated to helping families of fallen soldiers like JT’s.  This opportunity came about when I submitted an essay about JT that was chosen by Bank of America as a winner, which allowed me to join 11 others in honoring our respective charities and raise $5000 for GYBN , all of which was donated to JT’s memorial fund that will help build a memorial statue honoring the fallen soldiers of 8-6-11 as well as launch an annual road race to raise money for other families of fallen soldiers.  It was an experience I will never forget.

Running with US Women's Soccer Star Alex Morgan on behalf of Got Your Back Network in honor of JT

Bank of America's Let's Run Together Charity Relay Runners

Honoring JT with US Women's Soccer rockstars Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, and Alex Morgan
This Fall, I also enjoyed serving as an assistant coach for Biships High School in La Jolla.  Both teams won the conference title this year and the boy’s posted the highest finish for a Bishops XC team ever when the clinched 8th OA at a stacked state championship meet.  The weekend of the state championship meet, one of the gals on the team came up to me and told me that she was most thankful for me this holiday season; the comment just about melted my heart and really solidified why I love coaching especially at this age.  Being able to share my knowledge of nutrition and fitness and experience in sport with these kids is a pure joy.

Bishops XC Knights run their way to a Conference Title, I'm a proud coach!
While the kids season winded down, I was enjoying focusing on shorter, faster stuff in preparation for the USATF Club XC Nationals Championships with which I was joining my San Diego Track Club teammates for in Seattle.  It is always fun visiting new cities during the holidays as everything is generally all decked out pretty.  Seattle was no different with a spectacle of lights in the city although it was the library of all places that moved us most.  It was like one big art exhibit in city center.  The race, despite the chilly damp air and slippery terrain, went extremely well.  I ended up running 20 seconds faster than last year on a slower course, clinching a spot in the top 15 nationally for woman 30+.  It was a nice way to end a year of racing that included many compromises as
 I chased after dreams.  After the race, we had fun celebrating and exploring the beautiful trails of Discovery Park before returning to San Diego.

Starting line, USATF Club XC Champs (I'm on the far end with the hat on)

San Diego Track Club at Club XC Nationals in Seattle

San Diego Track Clubbers at dinner

Enjoyed beautiful vistas during a trail run at Discover Park, Seattle
This holiday season, I feel really blessed to have my health and my happiness in the company of my amazing friends and family and am looking forward to the many adventures that lay ahead in 2012.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with peace, love, and happiness.
Love always,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Honoring Jon "JT" Tumilson & America's Bravest, Part II

Prior to heading out to Chicago for Bank of America's Let's Run Together charity relay, I was proud to have the opportunity to speak with Brad Perry of KUSI about JT, Got Your Back Network, and the experience I was about to embark on. Brad Perry was a lot of fun to work with. While I have a ton of experience speaking to large groups, I don't have much experience speaking with a video camera zoomed in on me. Sharing some Chi-town stories with Brad prior to being faced with the camera really helped to break the ice and allow me to feel more at ease. Would love to do it again!

The next day, I was flown out to Chicago where I was greeted by my good friend Vicki who accompanied me into the city for a fun day on the town complete with my fav: Gino's East famous Chicago-style stuffed spinach pizza.  Yum!  Vicki also used Chicago Marathon to raise funds for charity, specifically For the Love of McKenna, which helps provide care for 4 year old McKenna Tyszkiewicz, who was born with an extremely rare chromosome disorder that leaves her medically challenged but not without heart.

After having some fun in the city, it was back to my digs for the next several nights at the Chicago Hilton, the host hotel of the Chicago Marathon. I had a pretty sweet view of Chicago's famous skyscraper Willis, formerly known as "Sears", Tower, which was illuminated in pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

As I went to bed that night, I could hardly contain my excitement about the press conference that lay ahead and more importantly, the opportunity to share JT's story as well as meet the other charity runners including Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, and Hope Solo of the US Women's soccer team.

The Press Conference

After taking advantage of a nice swim at the Hilton gym, it was off to press conference where the charity relay was officially introduced to the media by Bank of America Illinois State President, Tim Maloney, as well as given props by Chicago Marathon RD, Carey Pinkowski and the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel pictured below with Abby Wambach.

A great shot of my fellow charity runners at the press conference can be seen in the following album posted on the Bank of America Chicago Marathon website: 

Among the inspiring people I got to meet include (please check out the websites for information on how to help):

Pat Arbor of Chicago, IL representing Mercy Home for Boys & Girls

Hailey Danisewicz of Evanston, IL representing Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association

Chad Doellinger of Oak Brook, IL representing Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation

Wayne Drash of Atlanta, GA representing the American Cancer Society

Christie Galvin of Orlanda, FL representing American Cancer Society Relay for Life

Scott Herrick of Gurnee, IL representing the Greater Chicago Food Depository

Joe Jasnosz of Yorkville, IL representing the Kendall County Triad

Dylan Kwait of Brooklyn, NY representing the Chicago Diabetes Project

Dori Luke of Matthews, NC representing Girls on the Run, Inc.

Danielle Maglinte of Evanston, IL representing American Heart Association

Susan Taylor of Spring Grove, IL representing UPS for DownS

James Tiller of Mooresville, NC representing the Childrens Miracle Network

The press conference served as a great opportunity to share JT's story as well as educate others about Got Your Back Network with several members of the media.  

After the press conference, I caught up with Wendy Shulik of Wendy City Productions, who interviewed me about my experiences running down my dream of qualifying for the Marathon Olympic Trials.  There are a handful of females in the same boat as me, trying to qualify while juggling other obligations whether it be a full time job, motherhood, or a combination of the two.  Miles and Trials is a story about these women.  Check out the sweet footage that Wendy has shot to date and shall you like to be a part of the project, please contact her. The interview with Wendy was a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

Before I knew it, the day was coming to a close but the night was bound to be a fun mother-daughter adventure in the city complete with good eats and enjoying Chi-town's amazing architecture.

After a fun night on the town, it was off to check out the scenes of the Chicago Marathon expo with both my mom and my friend Vicki.  Marathon expos are essentially all the same but now that I've been active in the sport for a good 20 years, it is a fun venture because I inevitably bump into a bunch of people I know as well as make a few new friends.  Thanks to my friends at Sweaty Bands with setting me up with a sweet lineup of bands for my weekend adventure in Chicago!!!

Later, it was off to meet my friends Amy & Ben who flew out from Virginia Beach with their cutie Lulu in Greek town.  Ben is a Seal brother of JT, another bad ass valiantly serving for the better of our country, and Amy was like a sister to JT, someone I met through common friends and a mutual love for the game of soccer.  Love them both.  Also joining us were Ben & Amy's friends Sergio and Danny, Wendy, and her friends Aaron & Justin. Food was outstanding but sharing stories and raising the toast to JT in the presence of great friends was priceless.  Never will forget it.

Saturday included some down time to explore the gorgeous city (may be a bit impartial but check out the lakefront view and I dare you to disagree!) as well as get the pre-race briefing as a charity runner and take advantage of my VIP status at the tasty carb-lovers buffet at the Hilton with my friend Lisa, who, just 4 weeks post Ironman, was taking on 26.2.  Total studette!

Since the charity crew had a mandatory 4:30am pre-race meeting, checking out the Sat night scene was out of the question.  Just can't function in a sleep deprived state anymore and I wanted to soak in every moment of this experience.  To bed I went and that alarm clock, not surprisingly, caught me a bit off guard.  As soon as I remembered what day it was, I had no problem bolting up and joining the crew in the Hilton lobby for some caffeine and pre-event excitement.

And then we were off to meet up with Abby, Alex, and Hope and prepare ourselves for more media frenzy before we joined our handlers (the awesome volunteers who helped us out) on a trek to our respective relay leg locations.

My handler, Jeff, and I headed off to mile 10 where we later met up with Alex Morgan who was running my 2 mile leg with me.  Jeff was a blast to hang out with as we watched the elite runners go by while waiting for our relay runner to tag me.  He is planning a "Million Dollar Marathon" where he is striving to gather a million dollars that he'll use to fundraise for a variety of different charities.  So cool and can't wait to support his awesome adventure next year.   

Before I knew it, Alex and I were joining hands for a 2 mile leg, which I ended up extending another 14.2 miles.  Yeah, I'm crazy but as a marathoner, you already know that. Lol.  I thought it would be more fun being out in the midst of other racers and chatting with my fellow charity runners than waiting at home base, aka, the finishline.  

In case you are wondering, yes, I carried my camera for 16.2 miles but it was worth it.  As the group convened at mile 26 miles to run the last 0.2 miles in as a team, the race announcer called out all of our names.  The moment we all crossed the finish line, I looked up to the blue skies and knew JT and his fallen brothers were smiling from above.  

And the race wouldn't be complete with a JT$ shot with Alex, Abby, Hope, Ben, & Amy. 

As I said my goodbyes to my fellow charity runners and new friends, I was able to catch the champions of the day, new course record holder, Moses Mosop and World Major Champ, Liliya Shobukhova, who ran 2:05 and 2:18 respectively on a beautiful, yet warm, Chicago Fall day.

And to close off the perfect weekend, I joined hands with friends and family of JT to share more stories and raise another worthy toast in his honor.  

On behalf of Got Your Back Network, a charity designated to helping families of fallen soldiers through special events and organizations, I am proud to present $5,000 to JT's Frogman238 Memorial Fund. If you'd like to help JT's family build a memorial statue in his honor as well as start up an annual JT$ road race in his hometown of Rockford, Iowa, please visit  Never forget 8-6-11.

Thank you Bank of America for this amazing opportunity!!!