Benefits of Giving Back

I was blessed during a 2 week period this month to be able to give back a little bit of my time to volunteer as the medical coordinator for 2 local races – 1 running road race and 1 triathlon.  I often feel blessed that God has placed my family in a perfect location for work, worship, friendships and training partners so I like to volunteer to give back a little of my time so others can enjoy the health and rewarding benefits of exercise and healthy competition.  It feels great to help others, and although volunteering at half marathons and Ironmans can be a long and tiring day, the spiritual burst you receive along with a scientifically proven boost in immune function makes every minute helping more valuable.  

The first weekend in June Riverside partnered with Flat Out Events (Newport News) & Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises (DMSE)(Boston, MA – the race team that puts on the Boston marathon every year) to help staff the medical tent at the Run for the Dream 8k and Half Marathon in Williamsburg Va.  This was my 4th year helping with the race, and I truly enjoy my time each year volunteering to help runners enjoy their race and recover post race as needed. I am truly blessed that I work with a very skilled and competent team of emergency room nurses from Riverside’s main hospital in Newport News.  Dr Ron Grossman served as our chief medical doctor and Sadie Thurman was our lead RN. Dr Grossman once served as the head medical physician for the US Olympic team and Sadie is a great leader and her team of nurses are always engaged and willing to help.  I learn quite a bit from them each year as they respond timely to the runners needs and prevent any serious medical conditions.  It may seem easy, but with an early June race in the Williamsburg heat, we often have quite a few runners with extremely high body temps after the race that require immediate and life saving care.  

Run for Dream website:


Med Team 2014 Run for Dream  



Guiding our daughter in her Fun Run



Proud husband after Michelle sets a half marathon PR!

Two weeks after this event I served in the same capacity for the Rev3 Triathlon in Williamsburg. This event consisted of both an Olympic distance triathlon and a half Ironman.  For the second year in a row, I raced in the shorter Olympic distance race, changed quickly and then served as a medical volunteer for the half Ironman athletes.   The medical team was led by Dr Jason Smith, a board certified sports medicine specialist and Dr James McCorry, our lead ER physician at Riverside’s Doctor Hospital in Williamsburg.  To complete our team, Jane Burnette did a great job as lead RN both before and during the race to get her team of volunteers ready.  I love being able to race such a high caliber race in my own backyard, and once again I feel blessed to be a part of Riverside’s awesome medical team helping make sure all the triathletes are safe after a great race.

Rev3 Williamsburg website:    

(Rev3 is awesome – they have prize $$$ for age groupers and help us aging athletes out by offering the same prize money for over 40 as they do for under 40 !!!).




Rev3 Medical Tent staffed by Riverside above and below


I hope you enjoy the pics and maybe they can inspire you to help get involved and give back to sport, charity, church or community to help others fulfill their lives, and make your life just a little bit more  rewarding.  Trust me it sure does feel good.

Stay healthy my friends.

Healthy Eating for Kids

Summer is a great time for kids to be outside and staying active, and this increase in physical activity will be much more enjoyable if our kids have healthy nutrition and eating habits.  We rely heavily on food for both mental and physical energy which is why parents should pay particular attention to the food and drinks their children are consuming.  Since our children’s food habits and bodies are continually developing and growing, there is no better time than the present to help guide them in making healthy food choices.  Below are some key points to help guide you along the way.

1) Choose water over soft drink or fruit juices

– water is the best source (and cheapest!) to keep our kids hydrated in the warm summer months.  Combined with a healthy diet, kids (and adults alike) don’t need to drink anything else to maintain their proper hydration.  Try to avoid all soft drinks and this includes the diet versions.  The sugary soft drinks play havoc with their hormones and energy levels and research shows that the sweeteners used in diet versions do the same thing.  Fruit juices are a very creative marketing tool by the food industry to disguise unhealthy options as healthy because many of these healthy juices contain more sugar per serving than soft drinks!.  Have your child drink plain water and then add a whole piece of fruit for flavor to keep their energy levels high. The whole fruit is the healthier option since it contains natural levels of fiber.

2) Eat plenty of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit

– To get all the vitamins and minerals a growing child needs, please make sure they eat plenty of vegetables.  There should be no restriction on the amount of vegetables our kids eat,  but we should limit too much fruit.  All fruits also contain a healthy amount of sugar and just like in fruit drinks and soft drinks, too much sugar is never a good thing.  If your children are active, allow them to eat fruit prior to or right after exercise and play so they get some energy and then their body can used that energy to make play more enjoyable and fulfilling. 

3) Limit refined sugars and processed foods

– Refined sugars can best be described as toxic to our bodies. Toxic because they are depleted of vitamins and minerals found in whole foods,  and they can actually cause our bodies to deplete our own stored vitamins and minerals to process the sugars.  These sugars also cause a rapid rise in our blood sugar levels and the over consumption can lead our children to the onset of diabetes.  Refined sugars are found in almost all packaged and processed foods so do your best to read labels and avoid giving kids any foods with added sugars.

4) Make sure to include healthy fats in their diet

– As a nation, we have a fat phobia when it comes to food but you can tell from above our real problem is sugar.  Children need healthy fats in their diet so their brains can develop.  A diet high in healthy Omega 3 fatty acids is crucial for proper brain function and development.  Nuts and seeds (especially walnuts) are a great and portable snack for kids and they are high in the healthy fats our children need.  Avocado is also a great addition to any meal that is healthy and high in healthy fats to keep our kids full of energy for lots of play.

Help your kids make the right choice when it comes to food and drink and you will see an increased level of play, happiness and enjoyment to make this their best summer ever.

10 Ways IRONMAN Prepares you for Parenthood

Could not have summarized this any better myself !!

Swim Bike Run

If you think all those hours of training are only preparing you for one thing, think again.

Ironman parenthood


If you think all those hours of training are only preparing you for one thing, think again.

by Lisa Barnes

The decision to start a family tends to put personal goals like finishing an endurance event on the backburner. Time and money get reallocated to everything that welcoming a new life brings. It’s easy to cast an IRONMAN race into the “someday” pile when it comes to priorities, but the experience of training for a 140.6-mile race can actually give you a leg up as a parent. 

How? After having been through both myself, and talking to others who have as well—including pros and new parents Jesse Thomas and Michael Lovato—here is a list of ways IRONMAN helped prepare me for parenthood, using my own “little man” as an example.  


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Challenge All Assumptions

I attended a great medical conference last week and the keynote speaker talked about the title of this post extensively.  He was talking on health and wellness and how we should all challenge any assumptions we have surrounding our beliefs in this area.  I was fascinated by his theory and believe him 100%.  We all can tend to get set in our ways and be fearful of change.  The biggest area we could all challenge our beliefs is the American diet.

I often find humor in the fact that we don’t trust or rely on the government with many things but we take their “food plate” or “food pyramid” as gospel.  For over 20 years we have been following the recommended low fat diet and all it has done is make our nation much fatter.  Saturated fat has and continues to be vilified in both media and the medical community with very little evidence that it is DIRECTLY linked to heart disease, weight gain ect.  I suggest you do your own research  and see for yourself.  Fat should be a very important part of everyone’s diet.  It is satiating and makes food taste so much better.  This would include the good fats found in olive oils, avocados and nuts and seeds, and it also includes saturated fat in moderation.

The real culprit in our nations weight gain is sugar!  Sugar causes our insulin levels to spike up and then down as we eat and digest more sugary and processed foods.  Insulin is our fat storage hormone and if we eat to regulate our insulin response, we will find our weight stabilize and our hunger cravings will disappear. But don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself and do some research and see what you can find out to challenge your assumptions.

Stay healthy my friends.  

5k by the Bay and Benchmark Testing

Last week my wife and I both participated in Riverside’s annual “5k by the Bay” benefiting the Riverside Rehabilitation Institute’s – Make a Difference Fund which helps patients that need assistance with their medical care. It was a perfect opportunity to race as a family, and do a little to give back to those in need by supporting a race that benefits others. For those of you considering a great 5k, put this race on your to-do list. The course is flat and fast, and has arguably the best view of any 5k in our area as the majority of the course runs right along a closed Chesapeake Avenue that happens to overlook the intersection of the James River with the Chesapeake Bay. I also found the race to be a perfect opportunity for me to do some benchmark testing as I head into my training block for the Ironman in 20 weeks.

Alivia pointing at Mommy & Daddy racing together & getting their benchmark test done!

Bench-marking is important for everyone, and not just people training for triathlon. A benchmark gives you a baseline to start from when you begin a new exercise program, and as you progress you can determine if your program is working. This can be done to document and track improved fitness, or maybe it can help you make changes to your plan for better results. Most people start with weight, as an example of a benchmark, but fitness testing is also important. I use the 5k for my run tests, a 20min bike power test, and a 1k swim test. These baseline results then help me to set my training targets and intensities as I progress through my training program. I won’t dwell on the details, but for those that are interested, here is a great link where you can enter your most recent 5k times to help you determine your various paces for each type of run you may want to try. Enjoy!

Best of luck and let me know if you have any questions. Give benchmark testing a try, and then progress through your exercise program. Make sure you follow up with more testing in 6-8 weeks to make sure you are on target to meet all your goals. It not only makes your goals easier to achieve, it keeps you accountable along the way.

Stay healthy my friends!

photo 1
The Race family after a great day of family fun! (Note the RiverPride tees and visors!!)

On a Mission

Welcome to my blog about my journey with fundraising for people with cancer in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. I plan to use the blog to give people updates on my fundraising, training and activities I will be doing to help raise money and awareness for those afflicted with cancer.  I have partnered with Riverside Health System and their Tree of Life Cancer fund for my fundraising efforts as I train for Ironman Chattanooga on September 28, 2014.  100% of all funds raised go directly to the recipients of cancer care. Find out more here and please follow my journey, comment as able, and help me reach my goal of providing funds for cancer care.