Sports Nutrition

Family traditions

Family traditions

By Jennifer Stevens Jones, Moo Squad sponsored athlete Family traditions help shape our memories, and also help shape our futures. People have traditions in their day to day life, but holidays are typically the most memorable traditions. Some holiday traditions continue from generation to generation, but often traditions have to change to fit different phases of life. Our family is currently trying to find the holiday traditions that fit our life right now. With two small children, we are trying to combine family traditions and determine which ones we want to carry on with our girls.  Over the last couple of years, the holidays seem to revolve around family and lots of food. Don’t get me wrong, the food is amazing and the company is great, but I have been trying to find a way to make the holidays include some type of physical activity or time outside together. Last Thanksgiving, my sisters and I started one tradition that I hope to carry on year after year; a Thanksgiving morning 5k.  There is a local 5k, The Greely Hockey 5k in Cumberland, that holds a 5k every year (this was the 9th annual) on Thanksgiving morning.  We held Thanksgiving at our house last year, so we put the turkey in the oven before the race and finished everything else when we got back. We all felt like it was a great start to the morning, and really made us feel better as we prepared to eat more food than we actually needed. This Thanksgiving (last week), we were traveling to our parent’s dairy farm (about a 1 hour – 15 mins away), but I still wanted to keep the tradition going, so Keith, Cami, Lauren, and I all ran the 5k as a family.  We bundled the girls up, but it wasn’t actually that bad out for us.   While Keith doesn’t really enjoy running (i.e. – he hates it), he was a champ, and pushed both girls in the double stroller! Keith finished a couple of minutes ahead of me, so I decided to ‘grab’ the girls have them finish with me.  I tried to get Cami to run the last little bit of the race with me, but she was not impressed with that idea (as you can see in the pictures).   After we finished, we headed north to enjoy the day with our family. I am hoping that we continue to run a 5k on Thanksgiving Day, and with any luck I can get Keith, Cami, or Lauren to join me every year…maybe they will finish with a smile one day too. J...

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A short Talk and lessons learned

A short Talk and lessons learned

After a fast day of racing at Fenway Park, I was drinking my chocolate milk and walking back to my hotel with a teammate Miles, and we were discussing performance and the ups and downs of a season. It was a brief conversation maybe 5-8 minutes. However, Miles said something that I had heard before but somehow forgot.  To paraphrase he said “I started OCR because it was fun and then got good at it.  Then I started to worry about results and not fun. Once I started worrying about fun again my performance improved.” I am not saying I do not enjoy every race and opportunity, because I do. However, results were certainly on my mind more than they needed to be. Results will take care of themselves and are often the result of previous work. So, when you are racing/running enjoy it, take in the moment, be aware of your surroundings and what amazing place you might be in. This, for some reason, stuck with me as I got ready to race again on Sunday. As we started out the 3.5 miles race at a full sprint I was giggling to myself a little thinking, “this is going to hurt a little, but boy is going to be fun”.  Well it was more fun, and I was able to run a full minute faster than the previous day. You may be able to claim this improvement was from knowing the course or many other factors.  I think it is simply that my mind set was on fun and not results. A few other lessons I learned in my 2016 OCR racing season: • Triathlons are fun and made up of a very cool group of people. • The OCR community is amazing and like a family. • I enjoy pushing others to try OCR and succeed just as much if not more than my own races. • Minimizing nights away from the Family is very important to me! • Don’t save energy in a race you don’t what is coming next, just run hard until you can’t. • The benefits and power of chocolate milk is not lost on the world of OCR. • Countless times I witness all levels of athletes go for a Chocolate Milk after a race before anything else. • Cow print pants are a phenomenon! • I had more conversation about Milk and Dairy because random people from Texas to Maine would comment on the pants. • Lastly I would say that traveling across the US and down the East Coast was an amazing opportunity to compete against the best that OCR has to offer.  And yes, a boy from Maine can hold his own just fine. This whirl wind of a year could not have been possible without the support of the Maine Dairy Council; I cannot thank everyone enough. I am excited for a few months away from racing… and already looking at 2017...

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Living a healthy and active lifestyle on the road

Living a healthy and active lifestyle on the road

Often times, a job description will include the line “other duties as required”, and we are faced with tasks and assignments that differ from our daily work. In my role as the Marketing Specialist for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, my work involves program development, conferences/trainings, and grant and contract writing. In addition, I had the opportunity to manage the Maine Building at the Big E in West Springfield, Mass., last month. While not a typical assignment, I was anxious and excited for the challenge as I have attended the Big E for the past 26 of the last 27 years! (The Big E is also known as Eastern States Exposition.)   In preparing for my 22 days at “New England’s Largest Fair,” I packed several snack items, including fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, milk, juice, protein powders and bars, and yogurt. I also planned to make trips to the grocery store during my stay to replenish my fresh produce supply. I checked out the fitness center on the hotel website before I left and found they had a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, and weight training equipment…everything I would need to start my day with a good sweat session! Food purchased, gym and work clothes packed, and my itinerary finalized, I loaded up my car and made the trip south to my favorite fair. After four days of set-up before the fair opened, I realized that good walking shoes, plenty of water, and Vitamin C would be part of my survival pack. With most days numbering 12+ hours and several interactions with vendors, customers, and fair staff, my immune system started revolting against me after the first two weeks. By week three, I had a cold and felt run down, but I continued with my normal schedule. Early bedtimes, lots of fruit, juice and Vitamin C, and a few rest days from hitting the hotel gym, I was back and feeling healthy within a few days. I didn’t want my Big E experience to end on a low note, so taking care of myself and my health were at the top of my priorities. If I had been living on fair food the whole time, it might have been a different ending to my trip. With many people now having jobs that require significant travel time, there’s always a way to find healthier eating options and 30 minutes of exercise. Pack a lunch and snacks, stop at the grocery store and stock your hotel fridge for extended stays, walk in the morning or at night, do body weight exercises in your hotel room if no gym is available, and get plenty of sleep. Not only will your body thank you for treating it well, but your customers/clients, employer, and family and friends will also be thankful that you are feeling at the top of your game. The biggest takeaway from my time at the Big E is that putting your health first should always be most important. I worked throughout the fair to eat a balanced diet (a lot of small meals or snacks for energy) and to continually incorporate exercise into my days. I would often walk 3-4 miles a day at the fair, after my 30-40 minutes of morning exercise. I had the occasional fair food (kettle korn being my favorite treat) and took rest days when I felt like my body needed them. By the end, I felt rested, relaxed, and back to being 100percent.  It was an incredible learning experience and resulted in many new friendships, management training, and a lifetime of memories!...

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Milk, Melanoma and Miles

Milk, Melanoma and Miles

Being a runner means so much to me! Being proud of all of my accomplishments, staying healthy and fit, training and putting in the miles, and taking in good nutrition like my favorite post run drink – chocolate milk! This blog is going to to focus on prevention and a risk as a runner. There’s a hundred risks we take everyday that we don’t even think about that could be potentially bad or harmful for health. One of mine was my skin. Going for runs with a tank top and shorts at around 9:30 a.m. and getting back around 10:15 a.m. That can’t be a risk. Yes, it is. That is when the sun is at its peak of UV rays. From 10-4 is when the sun is at its highest UV rays, which increases your risk of cancer. Another bad habit I had was not always applying sunscreen. Always use a sun screen! Add it to your daily routine (just like brushing your teeth). And sunscreen with zinc holds up better to sweat. And last but not least – a hat! A simple hat could protect you scalp from a burn (which could increase your risk of skin cancer). Why am I talking about all this prevention and sun? What does that have to do with drinking chocolate milk and the Moo Squad?! Well, I was all ready and trained up to be a part of the yearly Somerset Sports and Fitness – Lake George Sprint Triathlon with all my Moo Squad teammates and spread the word about the benefits of recovering with chocolate milk. This didn’t get to happen. Shortly before the race, I got a call from the dermatologist to tell me the moles I had on my back were melanoma! I had found a few months ago after coming in from a run. Melanoma!!? The skin cancer that people my age die from? What?! She wanted me to get in as soon as possible for surgery. So I did, and I couldn’t get my incisions wet for two weeks. So, I missed my triathlon. More than anything, I still had unanswered questions. Had it spread to my lymph system? Would I have to have chemotherapy or treatments? Surgery went great. Every doctor commented on how healthy I was as far as my lungs and heart and weight. After surgery I had to go to many different doctors – eye doctor, women’s health doctor (gynecologist), cancer doctor. The cancer didn’t spread to my lymph system! It was a stage 1! All I have to do now is follow up with a dermatologist every 3 months for skin checks and use sunscreen and all my sun protection clothing when I am outside! And sunglasses! This all started with ME and a run and finding a new mole. Check yourself and be smart about your...

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Swim, Bike, Run and Baby

Swim, Bike, Run and Baby

On September 11th, I completed the Lake George-Somerset Sports & Fitness Sprint Triathlon for the third time (2013, 2015, and 2016).  At the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do this triathlon, but the MooSquad wanted to try to get the entire team to participate.  I waited 8 weeks after having Lauren to make sure that I was physically able to complete, and then I signed up for the Tri.  Knowing that I didn’t want to let down the Moo Squad, I used my team as motivation to train.  I was lucky to have support from the Maine Dairy Promotion and others too.   On race morning, we headed to Lake George nice and early. The weather was predicted to be rainy, but the radar was showing it wouldn’t arrive for a couple more hours. When we got there, I checked my bike tire pressure and got transition set up (switching from swimming to biking to running).  I made sure I left enough time to nurse Lauren and then pump so Keith would have some extra milk for Lauren during the race.  That was certainly a first for me!  While waiting for the race to start, I kept calm by chatting with fellow Moo Squad members Jim and Emilee.  Going into the race, I gave myself a goal of finishing and finishing under 2 hours. I knew that I was certainly not getting a PR, but I did want to give myself a little bit of a goal. After the mandatory race meeting and a nice tribute to remember the September 11th anniversary, it was time to start the race. SWIM: I was in the second wave for the swim, so I got to watch the first group take off before making my way into the water (which actually wasn’t too cold). There weren’t a ton of people in my wave, but there was someone directly beside me at the start.  For the first couple minutes of the swim I felt like I couldn’t get away from them, but eventually we separated.  I hadn’t done any swim training since having Lauren, so I just went at a pace I knew I could maintain. The swim felt like it was taking a long time, and I was very excited to see the last buoy signaling to make the left turn to the swim exit.  I swam as long as I could and didn’t stand up until my hands hit the bottom of the lake. I ran out of the water to transition and got ready to get onto the bike. BIKE: When I got onto my bike I just wanted to get to transition before the rain moved in.  The bike course is a nice route along the Kenenbec River that is relatively flat with a long hill to the transition at the SSF location in Skowhegan.  The first 8 miles went by, and I was still feeling pretty good and excited that the rain hadn’t arrived yet.  Once I started the long slow hill climb I started to slow a bit.  I had only done four 12-mile training rides, so I knew my legs were not in condition to really crank up the last hill.  I kept hoping to finish the bike portion before the rain started.  With about 2 miles left, the winds picked up and I knew the rain wasn’t far behind.  Sure enough, with about 1 mile left, the rain started to come down, and it was coming down pretty hard by the time I got off my...

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Those “crazy” people

Those “crazy” people

By Jim Delorie – sponsored Moo Squad athlete Ever run a 5k or 10k, seen those crazy people on TV running through mud, jumping over walls and jumping in ice cold water?  Maybe someone in the office or a friend has a medal, shirt, or head band from a race they did.  Many of these people have more in common with you then you can imagine, they once could not run a 5k, they once thought about running a “crazy” race. Now they can run, they can jump over walls, climbs cargo nets and finish a “crazy” race. The difference is they tried, and 95% who try succeed at “crazy” races or obstacle course races. I am not going to tell you they are easy; it is the opposite. Actually, they are difficult, but they are also fun and run by the most excepting, supportive people you will meet. Random people will offer a helping hand over a wall or cheer louder then you have ever heard when you complete an obstacle or ring a bell.  And at the end of it all, an amazing volunteer will give you a medal, headband, or T-shirt and you will be overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment. If this has peaked your interest at all and you start looking around, you will see that races are expensive and mostly outside, in a field or on a mountain.  If you are not ready for that yet but still want to try there is an option for you.  Recently, my Cow Pants and I flew down to Philadelphia and ran a Spartan Stadium Race inside Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies play.  There was no mud, no hills, and only 3 miles – the perfect race to start with; plus you get to explore the park in ways you never would have otherwise.  I ran on the field, did pushups in a locker room, swung on monkey bars on the side walk and ran up a few (many) flights of stairs.  It was a great fun, more fun than I have had at a race in a while. Next is the cost aspect of racing and here is a not so well kept secret…… YOU CAN RACE FOR FREE!  Spartan and others have a great program where you volunteer for the event and get to be on the course, hand out medals, or swag, give instructions at an obstacle, or work at the kids race.  Do this and you get a free T-shirt, Free Race, Free Parking, Free Bag Check, Free Lunch, and can race the same day. All in all one awesome day. So I encourage everyone to take advantage of this.  Race locations are unique. In November, the Stadium Race is at Fenway.  Imagine running on the warning track, sitting in the home dug out for a photo, carrying a sandbag on the green monster.  For a Red Sox fan, there is no cooler venue in the world.  Other Stadium races coming up in 2017 are Lambeau Field (cheese head country), Dallas Stadium, Citi Field, Giants stadium.  If you decide to go to any of these events look for the cow print pants and you will likely find me drinking my post-race chocolate milk (always do this, research show the benefits are enormous) and stop me and say...

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