New Socks & A New Salad! Thanks Dustin!

For the past six months I've spent the cool early mornings getting stronger via Dustin Maher's Fit Fun Bootcamp program. I'm lighter, stronger and more fit -- but I expected those things to happen!
Some surprises:
- How light I feel emotionally! A new friend called me ditsy this winter during class, totally cracking me up. Most people would NOT associate me with ditsy, but I can't help being happy when I'm working out with friends. And sometimes when I'm a little tired, and have sleepy mommy brain, funny mixed-up words tumble out!

- Awesome new socks! One of my new bootcamp friends named Trish brought me knee-high socks with cool dots on them! I ♥ getting presents - what a fun & supportive community! Trish has lost 68 pounds and eight inches off her waist! And she does amazing one-armed pushups even in formal wear! Learn more about Trish & Dustin in this news clip.

- I'm doing better with sugar! I stopped buying soda. I drink it occasionally at others' homes, but avoid it most of the week. I'm weaning myself slowly off intense sugar, though I think I'll always ♥ buttercream frosting on birthday cakes!

- I'm enjoying new food. I love trying new things! I've recently made my own Lara-like fruit bars, discovered what Quinoa is thanks to Jessi Stensland & today I made this great crunchy yummy salad after seeing Dustin Maher's blog post. *I used olive oil & vinegar. Check his post out for more great recipes!!

Thanks Dustin & fellow bootcampers! I love these surprises & positive changes. I can't wait to see what's next!

Questions for You:
- What's surprised you recently?
- Do you have cool socks?
- What recipe should I know about?

pictures by me

Athlete Profile: Jenn Sommermann 50-50-50

On race morning other athletes often stare wondering who this woman with the teal bike and custom tri jersey is?
- Is she an elite?
- Is she a local personality?
- Why are camera crews following her?

Triathlete Jenn Sommermann gets noticed--which is a good thing--she's hoping to draw attention to a cause she is passionate about (finding early detection methods for ovarian cancer) via a sport she credits with saving her life--triathlon!

Sommermann discovered triathlon with thanks to her best friend Ann who said they needed to do a tri to celebrate turning 4o. They selected the Danskin Triathlon Series in Seattle, a large women's only tri with 5,000 athletes.

"I was hooked right away," says Sommermann. "I've obsessed about it ever since and made it my life’s passion. We are still best friends. I am forever grateful because if I had not discovered triathlon, I might not be alive. I credit the sport with saving my life."

She says her finetuned body awareness due to tri training helped her notice and listen to slight changes in her body. Sommermann gained five pounds--a red flag for her, but easy to ignore for some.

Symptoms and warning signs of Ovarian Cancer are covert, especially for women over 40, says Sommermann. Therefore OC is usually detected in late stages (III and IV) and is difficult to cure at that stage, but not impossible, look at me! she says.

"However, if detected early (stages I and II), it is 92% curable," she says.
OC Symptoms include:
fatigue, weight gain, bloating, cramping, frequency of urination and indigestion.
"Isn’t that vague? Currently there is no method of early detection, like a pap smear that can detect cervical cancer," she says. "If one can be developed, every woman would get the test at the annual GYN appointment and thousands of lives could be saved. Especially exciting is that this year, three new biomarkers were discovered that link to ovarian cancer and early detection. That means we are closer than ever to developing this test."

"The sport saved my life," says Sommermann. "It makes sense to give back to it [triathlon] and use it to combat the disease that almost took my life away. It feels good to use my healthy body for good and to race for women who have lost their battle with ovarian cancer, for those currently in treatment and for those women yet to be diagnosed.

With this in mind Sommermann is on a mission to complete 50 triathlons in 50 states before her 50th birthday while raising $100,000 for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. She's on track to complete her 19th state this year.

She trains with Team Total Training of Long Island, N.Y. She found TTT by accident. Sommermann was in a bike store and another person asked who she played with? Since joining TTT her swimming has completely changed and she credits her podium finishes to the training. "I'm pushed a lot further with the team than I can do on my own," she says. "Today's swim was a brutal 4,000m. I would NEVER have done that solo. I also find that I'm faster and more fit for hanging around and training with folks who are stronger and more fit than me. I’m a little competitive… did I say that?"

Sommermann's 50-50-50 Mission:

Q - Where does the $ come from to compete in and travel to these events?
A - Sommermann is completely self-funded. Each year she scours web sites and maps out the upcoming season. Her husband Don, mom and friends and family help with logistics and PR.
Contribute to Sommermann via OCRF here . Cheer for her in person at a race in your state or offer to host her for an event. More info on Sommermann's race planning process here.

Q - I'd like to donate, but wonder if the amount is too small to matter?
A - "No donation is too small," says Sommermann. "People think if they can’t give $20, it isn’t worth it. That’s not true.

"I've had too many friends die this year," she says. "It breaks my heart and I don’t want to say goodbye to friends anymore…. Not when all we need is a method of early detection."

Q - How does she share her message?
A - "Basically I talk to everyone I can," she says. "Lots of folks just look at me and don’t ask questions. I think they think I am a pro so I just strike up a conversation."

At a past race a TV crew followed Sommermann around. A women near her asked what was going on and Sommermann had the opportunity to talk about OC and its symptoms.

"Within five minutes I had 50 women listening," she says. Sommermann asked those women to go home and call five friends. "This is a grass roots thing and I get goose bumps thinking I may have helped to save 250 lives that day."

Q - What's your connection with QVC?
A - QVC hosts a fundraiser called Super Saturday Live benefiting OCRF. This year they wanted to spotlight a survivor and they chose me, she says. The camera crew shot about six hours of footage to make the feature. Checkout a preview of Sommermann's experience in her blog post.

Q - What's triathlon's fourth discipline?
A - Driving! says Sommermann after this past weekend's 25 hours spent in the car completing two races in three days! The triathlons went well. She placed first in her agegroup in New Jersey and fourth in her agegroup in Maryland. Congratulations Jenn!!!

More info:
- Jenn's blog
- Support Sommermann's 50 - 50 -50 mission by donating here.
- A short video interview with Sommermann via the OCRF facebook page.
- OCRF facts & statistics.
- The Hope Line, 1-877-OV-HOPE ( 877-684-6731 877-684-6731), is a free telephone counseling and referral service that helps patients and families cope with the challenges of an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

photos: of Jenn taken by her friends and family.

Questions for You:
- Did you know teal was the official color of Ovarian Cancer?
- How do you plan your race season?

DIY: Lara-like Bars

I love creating & trying new things!

When I found this DIY Lara-type bar recipe from Enlightened Cooking I had to investigate! More on official Lara bars here including a FAQ section.

Please visit EC's
blog post for excellent preparation details, better photos and nutritional information. You'll find additional flavor combinations, Cliff-like bars and no-bake oatmeal bars as well. Tons of ideas here.

Here's what my Lara-like experiment looked like:
1. Gather and measure:
- 1/4 C Dried Cherry Berry Mix from Cherryland's Best
- 1/4 C chopped whole dates (I used pre-chopped, next time I'll do differently.)
- 1/3 C almonds
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
*I added a little more cherries.

2. Prepare plastic wrap pieces before my sticky hands make this step impossible.

3. Pulse cherries and dates into a paste. Transfer to another bowl. *She notes here not to clean the cherry mix from the processor - great suggestion.

4. Put almonds in processor & chop finely.
5. Add chopped almonds and cinnamon to the cherry paste & use your fingers to squish it all together.

6. Place 1/2 of the final mix on the plastic wrap & wrap tightly pressing into a bar-like shape or shape of your choice while removing air bubbles. Store in the fridge.

photos: by me
Must try this next! Fruit, Seed & Nut Energy bar
Cherryland's Best Cherry Berry Mix $10.48/32 oz., $5.24/lb, $0.33/oz
Almonds $11.78/48oz., $3.93/lb, $0.25/oz
Dates $3.29/lb, $0.21/oz
More about equivalents & measures!
- How many dry ounces in a cup? It depends.
- Liquid and dry measurements.
Questions for You:
What bar-type food do you like most?
What flavor needs to be invented?
Would you or have you tried making your own energy bar?

Athlete Profile: Brian Zobel from Sprint to IM + a Pre-race Crash

"You do triathlons?" another cyclist asked Brian Zobel during a training ride for the MS 150 City to Shore bike tour. "My answer was 'NO I can't swim to save my life!'" recalls Zobel.

But sometimes that's all it takes, a simple question from the right person when the window of opportunity is flung open and waiting. Zobel agreed to do that first triathlon only because he knew he could touch bottom in most parts of the lake! Even though the swim is the shortest segment of triathlon, an open-water swim is often the most intimidating piece for new and experienced triathletes.

Fast forward a few seasons of successful sprint-distance triathlons and Zobel would soon be swimming farther and in bigger bodies of water along with thousands of athletes thanks again to encouragement from the same cyclist (Darren Pedersen) from the MS 150.

In 2007 Zobel and Pedersen registered for the August 2008 Ironman Louisville (Ironman-brand series require registration a year out and often sell out in minutes!) After registering Zobel took off racing up triathlon's ladder completing Sprint to Ironman events in one season!

Zobel credits his family, training partner Pedersen and his local New Jersey tri club Team TRIumph for supporting him and preparing him for his first Ironman. Between May and July 2008 Zobel raced several sprint to half-iron triathlons while improving his swim, getting comfortable in a wetsuit and refining his nutrition. He had several top five age-group finishes while embracing turning 50!

In your pre-race taper you want to avoid getting sick or injured, unfortunately Zobel hit some tough luck. It happened on his last training ride, the day before he was to drop off his bike to be transported to Louisville.

"I was struck broadside by a motorist crossing both lanes of traffic to turn into her drive," says Zobel. "In true cyclist manner once I saw it was only blood on my arm and the bones seemed intact, I immediately thought of my bike! Is the frame bent .. it's got to go to Kentucky tomorrow!" Zobel dropped his bike at the shop on his way to the ER.

After cleaning Zobel's road rash and taking x-rays, the ER doctor had bad news--bone chips in Zobel's left hip. Zobel got a funny look for asking if he could race that Sunday. "I got a look like I had two heads!" he recalls. Zobel did get good news the next day from the Orthopedic doctor. After a MRI, Zobel learned the hip wasn't fractured, there'd be no permanent damage if he ran on it.

To race or not, he had four days to decide, Ironman doesn't allow refunds or deferrals. Some events give partial refunds within a set timeframe. Zobel decided to fly out and either try the race or cheer for his teammates. His bad luck persisted --after several delays his plane touched down close to the 5 p.m. athlete check-in deadline, but with some creativity and a little speed, he made it.

Zobel tested his road rash and hip mobility in the water on Saturday the day before the race, still not sure what to do on Sunday. Race morning arrived and Zobel decided to give it his best. His goal pre-injury was to finish the swim under two hours. Post-injury, he hoped to finish under the time limit of 2:30. Even with zig-zagging down the river Zobel finished the 2.4-mile swim in 1:53!

Thrilled to be back on dry land, Zobel took 10:22 in Transition 1 preparing for the 112-mile bike course. The early miles of the bike course were challenging as his road rash would stick and then tear open each time he went over a bump or changed position from his gooey aero bars. Later on
he wrapped his forearm with an ace bandage which helped and then wrapped up the beautiful hilly course in 7:26, 15 mph average, last segment 17+ mph.

"I took all the time in the world" in Transition 2, says Zobel, taking time to dry his feet, fill his fuel belts and get everything right before the marathon. His post-accident marathon goal was to finish before the 17-hour cutoff but he hadn't tested out his hip with a run since the accident.

But it went well. "The support along the run course was awesome," says Zobel. On his second half of the marathon Zobel did the math and figured if he could stay on pace he had a chance to meet his original pre-accident goal time. After a hot and humid run Zobel made his best-day goal becoming an Ironman in 15:42. Well done!

Zobel followed up his IMKY experience with a trip to Panama City Beach for Ironman Florida 2009. He dedicated IMFL to friends with MS "which only added to the awesome journey," he says. He cut over two hours off, finishing IMFL in 13:26:41. Again, well done!

Zobel's enjoyed volunteering with his tri club and helping new cyclists via MS 150 City to Shore, but he was looking for another way to give back and connect with other triathletes.

"When I volunteer at a triathlon finish line it's such a great feeling seeing the faces of finishers as they reach and cross the finish line," he says. "Some are in tears as you place the medal around their necks telling them how awesome they did."

It doesn't matter where in the pack athletes finished. It was the act of finishing--the Victory is Finishing--says Zobel. He's found later finishers experience the "Victory if Finishing!" sensation most!

The finish-line sensation pushed Zobel to create Victory is Finishing , a motivational resource for triathletes. He hopes triathletes of all experience levels will share personal stories, motivational quotes or training tips via the site. E-mail with the subject line "Share with ViF".

After doing two Ironman events back to back, this year Zobel's main event is Ironman 70.3 Syracuse along with many running and shorter triathlons throughout the season as well as time together with his family. His son and daughter surprised him with an awesome welcome home IronDad yard display after his first IM finish and both his kids have done the MS City to Shore ride with him. Currently Zobel and his daughter are training together for her first 5K. I hope it went well!

Zobel's Race Memories:
Ironman Florida I TRI to end MS
MS City to Shore Bike Tour 2007 Team Tania - Riding toward a cure for MS
Team Tania - the largest friends and family team on the tour. This is Zobel's 8th year riding the tour. He rides in support of a dear friend named Kim who lives with MS. It was on a MS training ride that Zobel was introduced to triathlon.

Zobel's had no post-accident stress or trauma while cycling. "And as they say sometimes good can come from bad," he says. "Looking back on it I think being hit and going into race day just hoping for the best, removed a lot of the pressure on finishing my first Ironman."

Questions for You:
- What quote or tip can you share with Zobel?
- Have you dedicated an event to a person, cause or charity? If so, what?

photos submitted by Zobel's family and friends.