Monday, June 30, 2014

Healthy Hydration with Zephyrhills

This glimpse at healthy hydration in Florida is sponsored by Zephyrhills.

Last week I was given the great opportunity to learn more about Florida's natural resources and our delicious source of bottled water, Zephyrhills.  If you're a Floridian then you are no doubt familiar with Zephyrhills natural spring water.  It's a regional brand from Nestle, so depending on where you are in the country you may be more familiar with their other regional spring water brands like Poland Springs, Deer Park, or Arrowhead.
I am a big advocate for being hydrated and it's especially important in the hot, humid Florida summers.  I also find that when I have something to drink like water that I'm less likely to mindlessly munch on food.  I never leave the house without my bottled water, so getting a chance to learn where it comes from and how it gets to me sounded like a great time.

 My day started at the Crystal Springs Preserve, which is a 525-acre sanctuary devoted to environment education and preservation.  Each year it educates over 50,000 students and discharges about 30 million gallons of water per day.
We took a beautiful walk through the sanctuary and enjoyed a continental breakfast before our busy day.
We drove just a few minutes from Crystal Springs to the Zephyrhills water processing plant.  In the photo below you can actually see a pipe that transferring the spring water from underground to the plant where's it' s bottled.  Just look closely! :) It looks like a tree reflection, but it's actually the pipe.
Once we got on our safety gear it was time to have a closer look.  We started outside in a secured, locked area where that same pipe above brings the spring water into the plant.  There's numerous layers of security in place to make sure the water safely arrives at the plant.  Once inside, Zephyrhills water is maintained through a 10-step process including being screened for over 200 contaminants and tested for taste.
Another thing I learned?  This plants is so efficient, because they actually shape and create the bottles here then fill and package all in one place.  A small plastic tube about 2 inches actually turns into a full size bottle once it's heated and expanded.
After viewing the plant and watching the bottles of water zoom by we headed back to Crystal Springs Preserve for a little more Florida H2O education.  Recently Zephyrhills and Crystal Springs launched WaterVentures, which is a super cool traveling science center.  In order to protect Crystal Springs it's important to limit visitors, but that doesn't mean education should stop there!  WaterVentures is a 53-foot trailer that brings the education to Floridians especially kids.
We enjoyed a quick tour and a little energy conservation education before a mid-afternoon snack.
Our final activity of the day at Crystal Springs would really immerse us in Florida's nature.  We were going to kayak down the Hillsborough River.
I was originally excited about kayaking and then as I got in my boat and started to drift into the grass on the side of the river and heard, "Watch out for snakes", I was considerably less excited! Yikes!
I spent the first 10 minutes with a laser focus to stay in the middle of the river, but I was eventually able to get better control of my kayak and enjoy the scenery.  There were no actual snake sightings, but we did spot a "small" 4 foot gator and several species of fish including bass and gar.
After a long day of walking, learning, and boating we were all starving and Zephyrhills had a special treat planned for dinner.  We took a quick drive to Two Rivers Ranch, which is owned by the Thomas family who owns the springs.  It's a working cattle ranch and we were invited inside the Bunk House for a "Fresh From Florida" meal created just for us.
 I enjoyed a plate full of grilled vegetables, grouper, gulf shrimp, and some beef tenderloin.  Not to be outdone by a generous helping of strawberry shortcake for dinner.
Thank you again to Nestle Water and Zephyrhills for allowing me to take in the nature of Florida and learn more about where our bottled water comes from.  This post is just covering my experience and I plan to post another to share the things I learned about bottled water (and their new home delivery!), hydration, and the environment.

What's your go-to brand of bottled water?
Anyone else frightened by the thoughts of snakes?  Eek!

Love and good quality H2O,
Carissa & Kyle

Friday, June 27, 2014

Running Inspiration from RunDisney

"I'm a Runner, I'm a Champion".

Yes, yes you are Sarah Kate.
I first introduced you all to Sarah Kate back in February after watching this inspiring, young girl conquer the Princess Weekend Kids Races.

She's an amazing girl and her Mom is a hero too.  Bob from RunDisney did a great job putting together this video and blog post on the Disney Parks Blog to tell you more about Sarah Kate.  Please take a moment to watch it and share.  If anything deserves to go viral it's feel-good stories like this.
I talked to Sarah Kate's Mom via Twitter last week and she told me that Sarah Kate is in rehab following surgery, but her goal for rehab is to be back at the Wine and Dine Kids Races.

I can't wait to see you girl!

Love and goosebumps,
Carissa & Kyle

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A New Reason You Should Buy Organic

The organic vs. non-organic debate is a hot one and if you ask most dietitians, I think I can say that a strong 70% of them will say this (I'm totally making that stat up):

- Eat more produce regardless of organic or conventional
- If your budget allows pick organic especially the Dirty Dozen
What do you guys think?  One of my personal goals for 2014 was to bite the $$ bullet and buy spinach and apples organically.  In reading research articles I came upon some interesting facts on a few organic foods that I wanted to pass along.

New research is showing that certain produce actually has higher levels of nutrients when grown organically.

Here’s why – Without chemicals to ward off pests, organic produce produces extra antioxidants to defend themselves against environmental stresses, insects, etc… So when we eat these super strong foods, we get the benefits too.

·      Organic Blueberries
o   60% more anti-inflammatory anthocyanin
o   2 times the antioxidants
·      Organic Tomatoes
o   Twice the vitamin C
·      Organic Bell Peppers
o   Almost 80% more carotenoids, which are key for eye health
·      Organic Spinach
o   60% more flavonoids, which can help improve memory

o   25% more Vitamin C

What do you think?
Does this sway you to buy more organic?

Love and clean soil,
Carissa & Kyle

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Treadmill Hill Interval Workout for Runners

Running hills can be one of the healthiest, strength-specific workouts a runner can do.  It builds leg strength, cardio endurance, improves running form, and even strengthens tendons and ligaments.
Yes, it's ironic that the person who died in a hilly half marathon after refusing to train hills is now preaching about them, but I'm nothing if not willing to admit my mistakes.
Runners should run hills.

I'm definitely not a hill expert, but I'm learning.  When going uphill try to shorten your stride and maintain the same effort, but not the same pace (yup, I made that mistake).  When you go downhill don't try to sprint, but also don't fight the pull of gravity.  Aim for quicker turnover rather than longer strides.
Since I'm not technically training for a race right now I decided to incorpate some hill intervals into my Wednesday speed workout on the treadmill.  I like doing speed work on the treadmill, so I can stay consistent and avoid the Orlando heat.  This workout is inspired by a Runner's World article on treadmill hill workouts.
  • Warm-up - 1 mile easy increasing speed to marathon pace
  • 1 minute each at 4%, 5%, 6% grade at marathon pace (all intervals at Marathon pace)
  • Recover 3 minutes flat jog
  • 1 minute each at 5%, 6%, 7%
  • Recover 3 minutes flat jog
  • 1 minute each 7%, 6%, 5% 
  • Recover 3 minutes flat jog
  • 1 minute each at 6%, 5%, 4%
  • Recovery jog 5 minutes
My total workout took 35 minutes and my pace was around 9:30 per mile, which is ideally the pace I would LOVE to run a marathon at.  
One interesting note is that during this workout I was sweating more than usual, but I wasn't as out of breath as when I do sprints.  I mean sweat was flinging onto my treadmill. At one point I was like, "Why is my phone wet?"  It was that bad y'all.  Another point worth noting is that I was afraid my legs would be super sore for my strength training the next morning, but they actually felt fresher than normal.  Ponder that...

Moving forward I'm going to alternate my Wednesday workouts between hills, speed, and tempo runs and hope for a better outcome next time I see a hill on a race course.

After the run I had a banana and went to the car wash...then it rained 3 minutes after I left the car wash.  Brilliant!  At home I whipped up a quick dinner of turkey meatballs, sweet potato, roasted asparagus from the night before, and spinach.  Yummy!
I bought new running shoes for my summer training session.  I went with my classic Asics Nimbus 15's.  I am an Asics runner and no matter how many times I'm professionally fitted for shoes, it's recommended that I buy Asics.  What makes me sad is that some shoe brands like Brooks and New Balance and so blogger and social media friendly and Asics just isn't!  Hey Asics - why don't you spread some blogger love????
Do you run hills?
Have a favorite hill workout you want to share?
What kind of shoes do you run in?

Love and bringing those hills to life,
Carissa & Kyle

Monday, June 9, 2014

Valedictorian Speech

The future is so bright, I have to wear shades....
Yes, I'm feeling that cheesy today!  Even though I gradated with my BS in Nutrition and Dietetics in August of 2013, my school didn't have it's official graduation ceremony until last Friday.  I finished with a 4.0 GPA and was honored to be selected as Valedictorian.  Before I could give myself a fist pump I remembered that I would have to give a speech.  I don't mind public speaking, but creating a speech to inspire others takes some thought.  I wanted to be inspirational, personal, and entertaining.
I think the speech went well on Friday night and I had fun giving it.  Since there's no video to be had and several of you asked what I said I thought I would just share it here.  No edits, this is what I said with a few ad libs.
"I’m standing here in front you today, because life doesn’t always go the way we think it will.  My time at Keiser and every wonderful opportunity that has come from it were never things I dreamed for myself.  It was never the career that I had planned.

 It’s not that I didn’t ever want to be a dietitian, but that wasn’t a word in my childhood vocabulary.  You can ask my Mom the list of things I wanted to be as a child – a princess, an actress, a garbage man.  But not a dietitian.  As I entered high school my dreams changed and I wanted to be a sportscaster. So I did everything I could to chase that dream and once I arrived, I realized that it wasn’t what I was looking for.   Plan A (well plan B if count the garbage man) didn’t quite work out. 

Somewhere along plans D – G I learned about Keiser University.  I loved food and fitness and thought it would be great to be a dietitian and be able to help people eat better and feel better too.  But as all too many of you in this audience know there’s not really a place in Central Florida to learn about dietetics.  Until Keiser.

My first class at Keiser was chemistry.  The class I literally spent 4 years of high school and 4.5 years of my first degree avoiding.  So there I was in my “business casual”, scared to death, and I took my seat in Dr. Raja Abu Samn’s chemistry class.  The teacher walked in and we immediately got to business reading the book.  The book! I was so scared of chemistry that I totally forgot that when you take a college course it’s typically customary to actually buy the book and bring it with you. Lesson learned.

Somehow we survived not just chemistry, but chemistry 2 and biochemistry.  And as that happened I started to learn that things that may seem scary at first are really quite manageable once you break them into smaller parts.  One month, one class, one step closer. 

As you all know, month-by-month we got closer.  And it wasn’t always easy.  You family members and spouses can attest to that. 

But we got through.  And thank you to the family members, spouses, and significant others who helped us get there.

I think many of you are here, because like me, you at your core want to help people.  Whether through dietetics and nutritious, nurturing food, or caring for them as a nurse or therapy assistant, or whatever your passion is that brought you to Keiser.  The core of that was helping other people.

As the months went on and the classes got more involved and more specific to your core learning I think we all started to get excited.  Now we were learning what we wanted. We could visualize ourselves actually doing this.  We were really going to finish, there’s really going to be a day were ‘god bless them’ I can leave my apple green scrubs in the closet.
Today is that day. All that hard work.  All those months.  This is the finish line, but it’s also the start. 

Whether it was plan A, B, and plan W, the day you started at Keiser you made a courageous decision. As you set off on your career as a graduate don’t forget how courageous, how smart, and how valuable you are. 

All those days that you might have sat in class and thought, “When I graduate I’m going to…” or “When I’m done with school I will finally”.

Now is that day.  This is that time to finally be all those things you dreamed of.

So before we all take our victory lap on the stage, I have 4 pieces of wisdom to leave you with.
1.   Eat Breakfast. Everyday.
·      What I’m a dietitian?  But that’s sound advice.
2.   Don’t be afraid to stretch out of your comfort zone.
·      Take on a new task, open a business, challenge yourself, remember when you break some unimaginable task up into small parts it really looks quite different.
3.   Commit to keep learning.
·      Ernest Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
4.   Be resilient.
·      If plan A doesn’t work out don’t worry.  The alphabet has 25 more letters.  And we always need garbage men.

Give yourself a big round of applause.  WE did it!"

Do you remember the speeches at your commencement ceremony?
What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Love and garbage"women",
Carissa & Kyle

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sweat for Summer Interval Sprints

If you would have seen my red face this afternoon when I finished my run then you would know...SUMMER IS HERE Y'ALL! I mean if you want to get all meteorological on me, then no summer is not here, but ask my sneakers.  They feel like they are melting into the road when I run.  Summer is here.
Yesterday was National Running Day, so I wanted to experience running the way I fell in love with it.  Outside.  Yes it was hot, but the good news is that in "summer" I'm not in training mode, so my runs can be shorter.

The even better news is that these shorter runs can burn more calories than longer runs if I do them smartly.  That means utilizing sprint intervals to up my oxygen consumption during exercise, increase my aerobic capacity, and burn additional calories for up to 48 hours after I stop exercising.
Sure exercising outside in the summer takes courage and extra hydration, but isn't being ready for swimsuit season worth it?

Next time you want to run outside and focus on calorie burn over pace per mile then try this "Sweat for Summer Interval Workout".  Don't let the pretty flowers fool you.  By interval 7 you won't love me.  And I can deal.
Does your mode of cardio change with the season?
How's the temperature where you live?

Love and watching the clock,
Carissa & Kyle

Related Post - The 411 on High Intensity Interval Sprints

Monday, June 2, 2014

Vermont KeyBank Half Marathon Recap

Disclaimer: My trip was paid for by Cabot, all opinions and cheese love are my own.
This is how I felt before the Keybank Vermont City 2-person marathon relay.
And then this is what I thought after...
Guys, running up hill is hard. Running up hill(s) plural is brutal.  You should train for them.  But that would be let's take the long road to an understanding of hills via my race recap for my 13th half marathon.

Thank you so much to Cabot for bringing me on this amazing journey to Vermont.  I had such a wonderful time meeting the other bloggers, enjoy the scenery, and eating all the cheese.  I hope to do it again sometime...preferably in a totally flat place.

As I mentioned before the Cabot Fit team was assembled and ready to aun the Vermont Keybank City Marathon and Relay.  We had a choice of the full marathon, 2-person relay (half marathon), or the 5 person team where distances ranged from 3.1 to over 6 miles).  I opted for the half marathon and was on a team with JoAnne from JoAnne Eats Well with Others.
JoAnne and I post race
I had really great thoughts going into this race.  My speed work had been awesome and I had "kinda" gotten in all my long runs.  My last 10 miler before the race was the week before, which I usually don't do, but again I thought I was just so darn strong from my speed work that I could do anything.  So I thought.....

Our hotel was a 2 minute walk from the start, so I got up around 615am and had coffee, Belvita, and peanut butter.  Then I met the Cabot Fit Team in the lobby for a pre-run pep talk and team photo.
I also went to the bathroom approximately 12 times.  TMI but that's all part of the race recap.
I headed to the start with Kelly.  She was doing the full marathon and aiming for her first sub-4 hour marathon finish.  I made her wait in the port-o-potty line with me and then we settled in with the 4 hour pace group.  My pre-race goal was a 1:58 - 1:55 and I figured I would hang with the pace group until about 6/7 miles and negative split from there. (haha - this is my laughing in my head now about that idea!)
The race started right on time and I was overwhelmed with the awesome crowds that were out.  The bells in a church tower were chiming and the streets were full of spectators.  I love that!  Lots of cow bells! What I didn't love was a very crowded start. All the races I've done recently had been small, so I wasn't used to having to weave and fight to stay with the pacer.

Our paces varied from 9:10 - 8:50 in the first 3 miles.  Around mile 3 the crowds thinned out and we hit a big downhill section.  Then we went back through the heart of Downtown Burlington where some drag queens handed me water.  Keeping it interesting. I like it.

After we crossed the start area again we headed out onto the Beltway that's only closed once a year for this race.  The first part of the Beltway is downhill...meaning I could see the runners and chair athletes coming back and up the hill.  And they were working hard.  I tried to focus on the mile I was on, breathe, and enjoy the downhill.
Happy runner.
Kelly and I were still together around mile 6, but I noticed that my breathing was getting labored and louder.  I stopped at a water stop to walk and drink and lost Kelly.  That girl was on a mission.  So was I.  Just keep moving I told myself.

I crossed the 10k mark at 54 minutes exactly, which is a 9:00 minute per mile pace.  This is where it got real.  Our 1 mile+ climb started and it was hard.  My legs held on for a while, but eventually my quads and lungs were burning, but I didn't want to give up. I stopped to walk and drink at the next water stop and saw the 4 hour pace group coming.  Crap.  I did not want to get behind the pace group, so I told myself to just stay with them up the mountain (yes, I refer to it as a "mountain").  I kept my head down, ignored the fatigue setting in, and got up the dang hill.  I told myself that once I was over the hill that it would get easier, my breathing would return, and I could pick up the pace.  I was committed.
I reached the top of the hill a little behind the pace group and knew there was a water stop about 1/2 mile away.  No walking until the water stop.  I pushed on.

I was so thankful to finally get to the water stop.  I grabbed a Gatorade since I was sweating a lot, took a sip.....and proceeded to vomit pretty much on some poor volunteers shoes.  I'm really sorry whomever you are!  I have never had a "protein spill" during a race and didn't know what to do.  I walked for about 30 seconds and started running again.  Having never encountered this during a race I wasn't quite sure what to do.  I tried to give myself a little break to slow down and recover and then I was going to pick it up again.  Guys, I never picked it up again.  I felt dizzy and nauseous the next very long 3 miles.  There were more rolling hills and all I could do was walk up them and force myself to run when it was flat or downhills.
Race elevation chart.  Can you spot where I died????
Have you ever totally bonked in the middle of a race?  It stinks.  It really stinks, because you still have to finish the race at a pace that feels painfully slow thinking all the while about how terrible of a runner you are.  Definitely not my finest 30 minutes of "positive self talk".
After 1/2 a banana, 2 orange slices, and 3 11-minute miles, I reached the exchange point.  I have no recollection of seeing JoAnne or giving her the baton.  I was just so happy to be done.

Half Marathon #13 - unofficially 2:08
After some time to recover and a quick check by the medical staff I headed to the bus and then to meet the rest of the Cabot Fit team to cheer in our runners.  I was starving by this time so I picked up a chicken burrito and chips for a Moe's in the finish area.  That was delicious.
Obviously it was not the race I wanted.  I did not train for or respect the hills.  Respect the hills yo.  After the race Kyle said to me very casually, "You know our treadmill goes up to a 15 incline."  Yes, yes I do and you can bet that the next race I do I'll use that incline.  At least up to 4.5.
There were some great highlights at the race however:

  • The awesome crowd support in Burlington
  • Beautiful sunny day
  • Seeing Kelly crush a 3:49 marathon
  • Watching Larry run his 1,300th marathon!
Running isn't always about the finish time.  It's a continual journey and I'm so glad that I got the chance to run with Cabot in Vermont.
Do you run hills?
Big crowded race with great support or little race with a boring course?

Love and the hills WERE alive,
Carissa & Kyle