Monthly Archives: January 2011

Need a ‘Core’ Speaker at Your Next Event?


Looking for a speaker for your next business meeting or running/triathlon group event? Endurance Sports Florida editor Pete Williams is the co-author of Mark Verstegen‘s best-selling Core Performance fitness books, which have revolutionized the way people train. All five of their books are geared toward helping athletes perform better, move more efficiently and powerfully, and decrease the potential for injury.

The original book, Core Performance, popularized the core training phenomenon

Core Performance Endurance

when it was published in 2004. The third book, Core Performance Endurance, was targeted specifically for the endurance athlete, though all five books are beneficial to anyone looking to improve their times. The most recent book, Core Performance Women, addressed issues specific to women and their training.

Williams has given talks on Core Performance in settings ranging from business events to running group meetings. If he can jump start your next gathering, email him at


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Warrior Dash a Smash

By Pete Williams

Warrior Dash participants at Lake Wales

The Florida debut of the Warrior Dash attracted 12,500 participants to the Triple Canopy Ranch in Lake Wales, according to Wesley Alden of The Orlando Sentinel, who filed a lengthy report on the event.

Obstacle-laden, adventure mud runs have exploded in popularity as we chronicled earlier this week, but still these numbers are staggering. The Triple Canopy Ranch is best known for music festivals, ATV races, and off-road truck events, but we’re guessing the success of the Warrior Dash will attract other endurance sports promoters to the 425-acre property. Thanks to Bob Woerner for the photo.

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Hundreds Take Florida Trail Challenge

By Pete Williams

LITHIA, Fla. – Florida might lack the sort of hills and technical difficulties that trail runners from the West have come to enjoy. But venues such as Alafia River State Park, site of this morning’s Florida Challenge Half Marathon/5K Trail Run, offers some pretty steep terrain.

Endurance Sports Florida was on hand and while we didn’t tackle the half marathon as we did two years ago, we had a blast on the 5K course, which also is the last 5K of the half marathon. Jim Hartnett and the folks at TampaRaces have set the standard for trail running in Florida. They’re hosting three events on the new Florida XTerra Trail Run series. We filed this video report on this morning’s race:

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New Promo Video for ‘Streak the Cove 5K’

By Pete Williams

We’re proud to be organizing the clothing-optional Streak the Cove 5K at the Cypress Cove Resort on Sunday, May 22. You might not think a clothing-optional 5K is for you, but we had terrific response to our inaugural Bare Dare 5K at the Caliente Resort & Spa near Tampa in October. Nearly 200 runners competed and almost 40 percent were female, which is higher than the 35 percent female rate at a typical 5K.

We shot this promo video at Cypress Cove yesterday. You’ll hear from Sabrina Vizzari, who while serving as an activities director for the Lake Como Resort as a college student launched the Dare to Go Bare 5K race, which is still held the first Sunday in May. Whit Lasseter, who like Sabrina serves as a co-host of our Fitness Buff Show, talks about her first nude running experience; she was the first female finisher of the Bare Dare as well as our first Endurance Sports Florida Enduring Athlete of the Month.

For more information on these races, visit

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Standup Paddle – Best Ab Exercise Anywhere?

By Pete Williams

Chase Kosterlitz

When people try stand-up paddle boarding for the first time, they inevitably marvel at what a phenomenal core workout it is.

If you have any doubt, consider the story of Chase Kosterlitz, profiled in today’s St. Petersburg Times. Kosterlitz played college basketball for Loyola University in New Orleans before transferring to Eckerd College in St. Pete. Judging by basketball photos of him from that period on his Facebook page, he was in pretty good shape. These days, he looks like a model. In fact, he was voted “best abs” during on online poll during the Wilhelmina Hot Body Model Search last fall. (The Times story includes a picture of Chase and his eight-pack.)

Not surprisingly, Chase now makes a living at SUP, giving lessons and tours out of his Water Monkey Shop in St. Pete and organizing the Fall Paddle Festival, where I made my SUP race debut in October.

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Florida: Marathon Mecca?

By Pete Williams

Races like the Women's Half Marathon in St. Pete have bolstered Florida's status as a marathon destination

With the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon scheduled to welcome a record 21,000 runners this weekend, is it now fair to ask if Florida is the best marathon state in the country?

Sure, the Sunshine State has no single race to rival Boston, New York, Chicago or Washington (Marine Corps). But it has two solid second-tier events in Miami and Disney, which attracted more than 44,000 runners for its marathon and half-marathon three weeks ago.

No state has capitalized on the half-marathon (13.1 mile) craze more so than Florida, which averages at least one half marathon every weekend between Halloween and mid-March.

Florida, of course, is one of few states with a climate conducive to such as schedule. Still, it’s impressive how the state has become a mecca for marathoners – certainly half marathoners. At a time when the tourism-dependent state still is reeling from the economy, the latest running boom has been a godsend.

Florida’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average and even that number is probably low given the number of struggling self-employed people who do not factor into those numbers. If, as many industry observers believe, many of these folks have turned to running as a low-cost outlet for exercise, entertainment, and to work out frustrations, it’s perhaps no surprise that the sport has grown faster in Florida than in many states.

Plenty of blanket coverage about the Miami Marathon in South Florida. The Miami Herald offers a lengthy preview and Herald sports columnist Linda Robertson tells the inspiring story of Dawn Walton, a Largo teacher who is running the race after a three-year transformation in which she went from 404 to 165 pounds. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel details the comeback of Fort Lauderdale resident and onetime Olympic hopeful Stacie Alboucrek.

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A Positive Addiction


By Pete Williams

Whitney Lasseter is a picture of health: an avid runner, fitness model, and healthy lifestyle coach. It’s hard to believe just five years ago her life was spiraling out of control.

She was a party girl, addicted to drugs, a veteran of rehabilitation centers, gaining weight and a smoker before a near-death experience provided a wake-up call.

Running proved to be her salvation. These days, the Palm Harbor resident and single mother of two enters most every race she can find in Central Florida, usually finishing at or near the top of her age group. Lasseter, 31, traveled overseas for the first time in October to compete in the Amsterdam Half Marathon and hopes to continue to pursue her love of travel and running while showing others how to turn their lives around through healthy living and running.

Lasseter, whose Web site is is our inaugural selection for the Endurance Sports Florida Enduring Athlete of the Month.

Q: Why are you so open about your troubled past?

A: I like to show people that you can overcome things. I know a lot people in the Tampa Bay area and they think I’m just happy-go-lucky athlete with no issues whatsoever. I think it’s important for me to share my story to help others.

Q: Where did things go wrong?

A: I was young and pretty and liked to party and I’ve always been sort of an all-or-nothing kind of person, which now is obvious with my training.  Back then I didn’t know how to channel it; I made bad decisions that got me into more trouble. I’ve matured and found a way to use my addictive personality in a positive way.

Q: How did running help?

A: I discovered running while I was still smoking cigarettes and my dad, who has been a runner, said I’d either quit running or quit cigarettes. I quit the cigarettes and at first I’d run a quarter a mile, then a half mile and it just grew until I did a 7-mile loop. Myrna Haag, an elite triathlete mentor of mine, said I needed to compete and I did a 23:20 in my first 5K. Since then I’ve dropped three minutes in two years. My ultimate goal is to beat dad’s 10K time of 38:38 when he was 38.

Q: So you’ve replaced one addiction with a positive one?

A: Exactly. I used to seek that high from outside sources: drugs, alcohol and partying and now I get it from life. And I want other people to realize that’s possible. People are searching for this joy and I’ve learned that it’s all within you.

Q: So your running career is just getting started.

A: It really is. I was talking to a guy I run with, a 54-year-old who starting running when he was 44. Now he’s doing

three-hour marathons and all of his PRs have come after the age of 50. It doesn’t matter when you start. We have unlimited potential and it’s all in your head. That’s why I’ve gotten into healthy lifestyle coaching because I know what it’s like to be in a bad place and to be overweight. Anything is possible and people can reach that full potential if they have someone to point them in the right direction. If I can do it anyone can.

Q: You recently completed the Amsterdam Half Marathon (in a PR time of 1:34:51). What made you choose that event?

A: I had been thinking, “Where in the world would I like to go?” I met a new friend, a non-runner, and suggested the race in Amsterdam. I trained him and he did a 5K, 10k, and half marathon. We just went for the weekend and it was such a great experience. I was the first U.S. woman to finish and I was the 43rd woman overall. I have not done a marathon at this point but the sky is the limit. The Ironman definitely sparks an interest as well.

Q: You were the first female finisher at the clothing-optional Caliente Bare Dare 5K in October. What was that like?

A: It was my first nude running experience and I kind of eased my way into it in the hour leading up to the race. I’m not a nudist, so it was kind of nerve racking to disrobe in front of all my running friends but it was fine after I got over the initial discomfort of it.

Q: What makes you an enduring athlete?

A: Whenever I see people in pain pushing themselves, that inspires me to do better. If they can do that 18-minute 5K, then why can’t I? We all have the same potential.

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Still want to be an Ironman?

By Pete Williams

This video has been circulating for a few weeks and summarizes why many people, even avid triathletes, have no interest in doing an Ironman triathlon. The entire video is dead-on and hilarious but the portion about the expenses is especially pointed. We’re guessing the legal eagles at the Tampa international headquarters of the World Triathlon Corporation must not be pleased.

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Florida Athletes Get Dirty

Warrior Dash participants celebrate victory

By Pete Williams

If it seems like no Florida running event is complete without mud, fire pits, and crazy obstacles, that’s because the genre has mushroomed in the Sunshine State for 2011.

Organizers of the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash runs have expanded to Florida. The Florida Dirty Duo has branched out from its Sarasota roots, hosting an event near Tampa last weekend and adding a Miami date (May 8 ) to go with its annual Sarasota event (May 22).

Muddy Buddy expanded to Miami in November with its first-ever race at Zoo Miami to go with the annual spring event at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports near Orlando, which moves this year from Mother’s Day weekend to April 9. The second-annual Miami Muddy Buddy will be Nov. 20 and Competitor Group, owner of the series, reportedly is scouting for a third Florida location.

The proliferation of down-and-dirty adventure runs is a reflection of the overall running boom but also the desire on the part of many athletes to run off-road in less-competitive events that bring back the joy and silliness of childhood.

Such races typically combine 5K trail runs with Survivor-style obstacles, including at least one where getting muddy is inevitable. Such events are perfect for newcomers to running as well as hard-core endurance athletes looking for a diversion from heavy training.

“When you’re a kid your parents always told you to stay out of the mud,” says Thierry Rouillard, whose TNT Sports Marketing puts on the Florida Dirty Duo. “With these events it’s encouraged.”

Indeed, silliness is mandatory. At the Warrior Dash, which makes its debut this weekend in Lake Wales, participants receive a fuzzy warrior helmet for finishing a 5K course that includes a dozen obstacles, including navigating under barbed wire and leaping over fire. The series, which began in the Midwest in 2009, attracts more than 10,000 per event, some no doubt inspired by the one free post-race beer per person.

“The camaraderie and spirit is unlike anything I’ve ever seen at a race,” says Alex Yount, race director for the Warrior Dash. “At the same time, there are some obstacles that are extremely demanding.”

Tough Mudder, billed as “Burning Man meets Ironman” is the longest mud event at 7 miles and 18 obstacles, including several involving fire. Tough Mudder had not announced a specific Florida date, but organizers have committed to the Sunshine State for late 2011 or early 2012.!

The Spartan Race is a scaled-down version of the legendary Death Race, the annual Vermont event considered the toughest endurance sport in the industry outside of the Tour de France.

If you’re inspired by the tale of King Leonidas and the brave 300, the 5K Spartan Race is for you. Designed to “test your resilience, strength, stamina and ability to laugh in the face of adversity,” it will debut in Florida in Miami on April 23.

“We knew people would talk about the Death Race but few would participate,” says Joe DeSena, who created both events. “The Spartan Race was meant to pull the rest of the world off the couch and get them dirty and living life.”

DeSena, a successful Wall Street trader who now operates several successful businesses in Vermont, launched the event in part to help fight the obesity epidemic.

“Look at the history of the Spartans,” he says. “They weren’t enamored with money, possessions, and lavish displays of food. They were very fit and we’d like to wake people up and return to that.”

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Does Your Healthy Diet Promote Kidney Stones?

By Pete Williams

Kidney stone diet: protein powder, berries, chocolate

If you’re a nutrition-conscious, water-chugging, avid recreational athlete, you probably think you’re immune from kidney stones.

So did I, at least until I was brought to my knees New Year’s Day by the worst pain of my life – a kidney stone that turned out to be 1 cm in diameter – about the size of a 3D dime.

After three weeks and two surgeries, I’m stone free. Like any stone sufferer, I’m willing to do anything to avoid another stone, especially considering 50 percent of us will have another stone within five to 10 years.

Dietary changes are a must, though there’s no one-size-fits-all game plan. Some people, regardless of genetics, are more prone to becoming “stone formers.”

“You and I can follow the same diet and you’ll develop stones and I won’t,” says James Borin, a urologist at the University of Maryland medical center in Baltimore.

More than a half million people annually are hospitalized annually with kidney stones, a pain often compared to childbirth. The number of kidney stone episodes is on the rise. Male victims once outnumbered women 3-to-1, but now the ratio has closed to almost 50/50.

Kidney stones form when there is not enough fluid in the body to flush out waste. Your kidneys, along with the ureters and bladder, serve as your body’s plumbing. When there’s too much waste and not enough fluid, it’s as if hair is clogging the drain. Some stones pass on their own, but for others it takes a plumber – a urologist – to remove the stone.

More than three-quarters of kidney stones are calcium oxalate. Oxalate, a waste product of metabolism, combines with the calcium you eat to make the crystals that form the stone.

You might think high-oxalate foods would be things that are bad for you anyway, but that’s hardly the case. The bad list includes chocolate and cola drinks, but also spinach, nuts, sweet potatoes, and most berries.

Do you like salty foods? Those too are dangerous.  “We’re salt-loving creatures,” Borin says. “The kidneys will suck that sodium up and exchange it for calcium, which gets into the urine.”

Calcium is the most debated area of kidney stone research since it’s believed that both too much and too little calcium can contribute to stone formation.

At least there’s protein, right? Nope. Protein is a hot spot for kidney stones since animal protein, whether from red meat, chicken, fish, or elsewhere, is metabolized to oxalate. A high-protein diet, therefore, increases risk for stones.

Like to drink? Alcohol itself does not contribute to stone formation. But it makes you pass more urine and lead to dehydration.

The more I read about kidney stones, it seems the only way to prevent them is to become a vegan – a vegan who does not eat nuts and is allowed only a few fruits and vegetables.

“Fluid intake is critical,” says David Goldfarb, a New York nephrologist and member of the American Society of Nephrology. “If you ate a lot of spinach and drank a lot of water, the fluid trumps everything else.”

Unlike urologists, whose specialty includes the surgical removal of kidney stones, nephrologists are kidney specialists who typically stay out of the operating room. A urologist gets rid of the stone, but a nephrologist shows the patient how to avoid becoming a urologist’s repeat customer.

It starts with the patient filling a jug with urine for 24 hours. A Chicago company provides a kit, including a special FedEx package. From there, the nephrologist can perform a urinalysis and determine what dietary changes should be made.

I have yet to undergo this process. But I’ve spent a lot of time pondering what aspects of my diet could have caused the stone.

At first I was puzzled. I don’t drink coffee, tea, or soda, nothing but water and an occasional glass of wine. I have no family history of stones, and eat a balanced diet of lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. My dairy/calcium consumption, if anything, is low.

What could go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out, and I have lined up some suspects:

SPINACH: I eat a lot of spinach. I use it as the base of my salad and saute it in olive oil several nights a week to go with chicken or fish. Have I amped up my consumption of spinach over the last year or two? I’m not sure that I have.

NUTS: I once ate unsalted nuts like candy, figuring they were a healthy snack. But several years ago I shifted to snacking more on fruit. That rules out nuts. But fruit?

BERRIES: As with spinach, I didn’t realize there was a downside to eating berries. I eat a lot of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. I also consume a fair amount of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt. Like spinach, berries are high in oxalate. Over the last year, I’ve gotten into the habit of purchasing frozen berries and substituting them for desserts. So it looks like berries were a contributing factor to my stone.

WATER: When you drink only water, you must drink enough, right? Not necessarily. The guideline is that you must drink enough to produce at least 2,000 ml of water a day – enough to fill a two-liter bottle. Of course, drinking that much does not mean you produce that much urine, especially if you’re a Florida-based triathlete who sweats out a lot of water.

Goldfarb recommends drinking three liters of water a day, which should produce two and a half liters of urine. (He has patients use plastic urinal bottles to keep track.)

“It’s easy to say, ‘drink more water,’ but that doesn’t mean anything,” he says. “You have to be quantitative about it, not every day, but on a regular basis.”

One way to determine if you’re drinking enough water is to examine the color of your urine. It should be clear.

Bottom line: I’m not drinking enough water.

CHOCOLATE: Time to come clean. Chocolate is my Kryptonite. And I’ve been known on occasion to raid my wife’s baking cabinet, where she keeps the chocolate chips. I do so at night, compounding the problem.

ENERGY BARS: What’s wrong with energy bars? Nothing other than the chocolate, nuts, and high-protein content. I average two a day, at least one too many.

PROTEIN: The U.S. recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. As a 167-pound endurance athlete, I can bump that to 1.2 grams per kilo or 91 grams of protein per day.

For years, I drank meal replacement powder shakes after workouts. They tend to be fairly balanced between carbs and proteins, containing roughly 30 grams of protein. I probably managed to stay under 91 grams of protein daily, even with my regular consumption of fish and chicken for lunch and dinner.

Midway through 2009, I stopped buying meal replacement powders and began purchasing various whey protein products, chocolate-flavored, of course. To get the same amount of powder in my shakes as an MRP packet, I dumped in four scoops of whey, which comes to 108 grams. Even worse, I threw a fifth scoop into my breakfast oatmeal.

Even though I knew that probably was too much, I didn’t realize the danger of excess protein. That, combined with increased consumption of berries, an existing diet high in spinach and chocolate, and inadequate water formed the perform storm – or stone.

“It could be something as simple as your body was able to keep up with this for some time but something changed and it pushed you over the edge,” Borin said. “The good news is that some behavioral modification goes a long way.”

Fortunately there are plenty of healthy foods that don’t promote kidney stones. They include lettuce, mushrooms, onions, avocado, cauliflower, oil and vinegar dressing, citrus fruit, watermelon, small deck-of-cards size portions of chicken and fish, peas, wild rice, and tomatoes (but not tomato sauce).

According to the book No More Kidney Stones, the definitive resource on the topic, there are plenty of foods that are not nutritious but at least they have low oxalate content. These include white flour items such as bagels, English muffins and rolls; syrup, pancakes, waffles and French toast.

I think I’ll stick with oatmeal, which thankfully makes the cut.

My upcoming tests with the nephrologist will paint a clearer picture of what I need to change. For now, I know that what I thought was a healthy diet was almost tailor made for kidney stones.


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