Category Archives: Runing stronger and faster

What the Beets? Why Every Athlete Should Make Beets Part of Their Weekly Menu

When it comes to endurance events, such a running a marathon, biking a century ride, doing an Ironman, and so on, most athletes reach out to energy drinks and caffeine before the start of their events. But what if we can replace the above-mentioned with beet juice instead and boost athletic performance even more?

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Jaclyn Schmidt

My picture during Urban Cow Half marathon on Oct. 1, 2017, where I had a big PR, finishing in 1:43:56 with a 7:56 pace. I felt amazing during the whole time and the Super Beets powder that I mixed in my water and drank it before the race sure kept me steady and strong.

 

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009 found that individuals who drank beet juice experienced up to a 16% increase in endurance compared to those who did not. Also according to Jacqueline Ritz, founder of the Paleo Mama blog, beets fight cancer, lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, increase endurance in athletes, and they are also an aphrodisiac. Being a high nitrate vegetable, beetroot, the red bulbous part, has become the super food for runners, cyclists, and other athletes. What if you don’t like beets and don’t wish to eat it, but still want to reap some benefits in increasing your endurance? There are many products on the market, such as this powder I buy from Wholefoods.

 

I have used this before races and my running felt effortless. I just mix a scoop with water and take it about an hour before the race, or a long run. Love it!

 

How high nitrate foods enhance our performance:

 

Another thing you can do to benefit from high nitrate vegetables is to eat more spinach, arugula, radishes, celery, lettuce, parsley, and rhubarb. Talking about nitrates, Amby Burfoot, the author of In Beet Juice We Believe published in the Runner’s World, explains how our body processes beets and turns them into a superfood. Burfoot points out that beets get their endurance power from helpful mouth bacteria that convert the nitrate in beets to nitric oxide, which appears to be the miracle substance. Nitric oxide can substantially lower blood pressure and somehow extend endurance. I guess we runners should not need too much more convincing regarding beets, which are good sources of folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, since we all try to avoid the famous “wall,” when our body rebels and starts hurting.

 

Ways to eat your beets:

 

  1. My favorite one is borscht.

 

 

Best borscht I have ever had made by my awesome friend and best training partner Andrea Brizendine. She added quinoa,  carrots, potatoes, and onions to it. I gobbled it up with whole grain bread and hummus. Delicious! It also makes me run longer and stronger! Isn’t this what we runners want?

 

To try this recipe and cook the same vegan borscht that my friend Andrea shared with me, please go to https://natashaskitchen.com/2013/05/18/easy-superfood-red-borsch/

So easy to make and so healthy! For a quick glance at the ingredients needed to make this,  see below.

 

Ingredients for Superfood Red Borsch – vegan style:

 

12 cups reduced sodium veggie broth
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, peeled and cut in half (ends removed)
3 medium potatoes, sliced
1/4 cup quinoa
3 medium beets, peeled and grated
2 good handfuls of chopped kale leaves
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash
3 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

 

2. Roasted beets, which I cut up, drizzle with olive oil, wrap them in aluminum foil, and roast them in the oven till they are tender.

 

3. Beet salad, which I used to eat as a child and liked its sweet taste. To make this salad, I cut up the beets and boil them till they are soft and tender. After they cool off, I remove the skin and grate them. I mix them up with a little salt and pepper and drizzle red wine vinegar on top. I keep the beet salad in a glass container in the fridge and eat it with roasted potatoes and other meals that go well together with this salad.

 

Credit recipe goes to my friend Cristina Nagy.

 

How about you? How do you like to eat your beets? Any special recipes you would like to share? No matter how you choose to eat, or drink them, one good thing could happen: you will BEAT your race PR with the mighty BEET!

 

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

 

Swim, Bike, Run – Why Every Runner Should Do a Triathlon!

It’s been more than a month since I have completed my very first triathlon The Women Only TRI put together by Total Body Fitness. To my great delight, I finished third in my age group mainly due to my strong 3-mile run at the end, when I passed more than 20 women. The running was definitely my forte, but I loved the swim and biking, too. The best part about The Granite Beach Triathlon held close to my home was that my body felt stronger and not too tired all throughout the race.

 

Arriving at least an hour early before the triathlon starts gives you a good spot for your bike and plenty of time to prepare.

 

I did not read much about preparing for my first triathlon (read some great tips), but have received free training and amazing advice from Dusty Dustyn, the head coach of Women’s Cycling Program at Total Body Fitness, Bill Driskill , one of the owners and founders of Total Body Fitness, Tiffiny Ferrell, one of the awesome swim coaches , and running coach Henry Hawkins, who gave me the best and hardest track experience that included squats, lunges, push-ups, and dips in between our 400-meter repeats.

 

SWIMMING

 

During my training for the triathlon, I have practiced my swim more than the biking to feel confident in the water and not too slow. Once my swim portion started, the Folsom Lake waves lifted and cradled me against them. My swim turned into a negotiation with the lake and its brownish water. As I chopped the waves next to other triathletes’ arms, legs, and bright swim caps, I realized that less was more, so I relaxed into my strokes. Soon, my elation grew when I realized that the swim felt effortless.

 

Photo credit: Charlie Joyce. My good runner friend and real estate client Christina Joyce  and I right before the start of our swim. She told me that I inspire her and that since I was doing the TRI, she also decided to sign up. Good peer pressure, right?

 

My body turned into a vessel of joy, hope, and determination. My arms were in unison with the underwater world, carving and parting the water, as if slicing a cake in even portions. The waves made by all the women swimming around me turned into my self-propelling device, which made my swimming relaxed and easier than I had expected. My only worry was the second white buoy and the turn towards the shore. After I passed the buoy, I deviated a little, but made my half a mile swim in 24 minutes. I used my slippers to run faster to the shore,  just like Total Body Fitness experienced trainers taught us when we practiced our transitions.  I still could not believe how fast and effortless the swim portion had been. Was my swim a levitating, floating dream, or was I really done? The cheers from the spectators and the calling of my number by volunteers meant that I was done and that it was pedal time!

 

BIKING

 

The transition to biking took a little longer than 2 minutes, because I quickly changed into my running shorts to avoid chaffing. I used the towel as a shield, while avoiding any wardrobe malfunctions. I also put my racing team T-shirt on top of my wet bra after which I quickly put my socks on last – they were already rolled up, which was great advice from one of our Total Body Fitness instructors. I was trying to get out of the transition area as quickly as possible. I still managed to take a bite of my banana that was in my small triathlon bag and grab a fruit bar to eat on the bike . It seemed that everyone around me just hopped on like grasshoppers hunched over the handlebars of time on their super fast bikes. Finally, helmet on, I took off and promised myself to catch some of  these fast transition women on the hills.

I started to pedal and felt the rush of freedom that comes from having a good clip on your bike. The hills showed up fairly quickly. I knew that they would be my friends and that I would pass a few women on  the hills. Although I felt stronger than many women on the hills, I still felt nostalgic thinking of my dear father who bought me the first bike and taught me how to ride it when I was seven years old back in my home country Romania. Soon, I was riding and crying not because of the hills curving and bending in a maddening rhythm that cooler September morning. I was crying when I realized that the gaping hole in my heart was still there along with my longing for my dear dad, who once again was smiling upon me from Heaven. I started to sob when I realized that my father was there with me, guiding me gently upon the hills that seemed to multiply, especially because we had to do the same loop twice. I even worried that I went too many laps, but when I reached the volunteers the second time, they flagged me towards the finish of the bike portion. Yay!

 

RUNNING

 

After I set my bike on the rack, I dumped the clip-on shoes and put on my Nike Wild Horse trail running shoes with elation and renewed energy. I took a quick bite of my banana and ran as quickly as I could. My legs were not tired, or sore, so I knew that I had to catch up with as many women who were already running as possible. One of my friends and volunteers took my picture while speeding towards the trails. I needed to push hard, since the running portion was only three miles. Soon, I heard myself saying: “on your left,” quite frequently. By the time I reached one mile and some hills came up, I had already passed more than 10 women who were ahead of me. I kept going strong and focused on passing as many runners as possible. I felt great and so happy to finally get to my favorite portion of the triathlon. My feet felt the dirt, the earth, the roots, the rocks, and they were happy. By the time I reached the finish line of the run and the triathlon, I knew that I had done fairly well and that I had chances to finish in the top three in my age group.

 

At the end of my triathlon elated and happy that I conquered a new challenge.

 

I was right! I finished third in my age group during my very first triathlon. I knew the run had been my forte, but my swimming and biking have also come together for me. I had conquered a new challenge and discovered a big secret: triathlons are much gentler on the body than racing a half marathon, for instance. The body gets worked differently during the three events. As long as one has enough determination, grit, and positive attitude towards triathlons, there will be a successful and happy ending.

To TRI, or not to TRI, runners? That is the question! You guessed the answer: to TRI for stronger bodies and minds, to live life in a challenging and meaningful way, and to say that you tried the TRI and have succeeded!

 

A collage of joy during my first triathlon. Many thanks, Total Body Fitness for putting together such a great event.

 

 

Veni, vidi, vici, or I came, I saw, I conquered! I was proud of finishing my first triathlon, making new friends, and even placing in my age group.

 

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!