Yelling About Nutrition with Cait, DD

Do I have a nutritional degree? No. Do I have enough initials to make it sound like I do? YOU BET!

Every year TNT invites famed nutritionist and peanut butter evangelist Nancy Clark (MS, RD, CSSD) to come drop some dietary knowledge on us. Her spiel – including such timeless classics as “the pizza principle” and “the crescendo diet” – is well-known and loved by the TNT vets, and at this point I think I can probably recite it by heart.


I can’t recommend Nance’s non-nonsense approach to nutrition enough, but as it turns out I ALSO have some strong opinions about food and running.

Like many women I know, I used to have a pretty unhealthy relationship with food. I counted calories, I felt terrible when I ate something I thought I shouldn’t, and I thought I had to exercise to earn or make up for what I ate. It was not a super fun way to be, especially since it meant – EARMUFFS, NANCY – that I didn’t eat peanut butter for the better part a decade.

Running helped me look at food and my body in a much healthier way. And so while I do encourage you to follow Nancy’s directives to the letter, I thought I’d throw out a few of my own lessons learned in case anyone out there is struggling with the same ish.

Counting Calories is Bad and Pointless

There are some obvious exceptions here – if it is medically necessary for you to reach a certain weight, quantifying your intake can be helpful. And if you truly have no idea whether something is a calorie-dense food, look it up! (Once, and then promptly forget it. Movie theater popcorn is a gift from God we should accept gratefully and without question). But it is my strong opinion that for your average lay-runner, tracking your food on the reg is a terrible idea.


First, despite what a raft of internet calculators would have you believe, figuring out how many calories to put in your face each day is not an exact science. Those calculators don’t know you! They don’t know your life! They certainly don’t know how to account for the

Measuring guacamole by the teaspoon how DARE you

day-to-day variations of your activity level (mine range from “15 mile run” to “levering slowly to 45 degrees from horizontal”). And god forbid you try to get guidance from women’s magazines, which have convinced scores of college-aged girls that 1500 is a reasonable amount of calories for an adult human. (Fact check: it is barely enough to feed a toddler.) No matter what number you land on, it’s likely to be wrong most days.


Okay, so that’s why counting calories is pointless. But why is it bad? Well, because if you are anything like me you will not be very good at adjusting your calorie intake goals based on what your body is telling you. After all, it is a NUMBER and your body is just…an incredibly complex and sophisticated organism finely honed over millennia of evolution. So you will be hungry and grumpy or eat more than you think you should and feel terrible about it. Not to mention, adding up all those calories every day takes a lot of time. There are so many THINGS I could have done with that time! (Learned that 3 is not the right number of deductions to claim on my W-4, for instance).

Food is Morally Neutral

One unpleasant side effect of tracking everything I ate is that I started to think about food as good or bad based on how much of my calorie budget it took up. Kale made me feel like a yoga model drinking green tea while gazing peacefully out a window. Cupcakes or even – I SAID EARMUFFS, NANCY – peanut butter sat cackling malevolently in my stomach demanding that I EARN IT. (Let me tell you what, if the Catholic church ever wants to bring back the practice of indulgences, college girls are RIPE FOR IT.)

Yep, seems right. All they’re missing are the Uggs.

I know I had a particularly bad case of the food personifications, but if the office holiday parties I’ve attended over the years are any indication this is an issue for a LOT of people.  How many times have you heard someone say they’re “being bad” by eating a slice of birthday cake? I find it deeply upsetting. Save your regrets for the important stuff, like having paid insufficient attention to Beyonce’s maternity photoshoot or not having THREE slices of cake.

Training for a marathon helped me shake the idea of food as good or bad, because after a 15 mile run there is no TIME to consider the moral weight of whatever I’m ingesting. It’s food, and I need it in my face as fast as possible. And once I stopped avoiding the food I used to think of as bad, something magical happened. Nothing! I did not triple in size, I am still a good person, and as a bonus, I eat a lot more mac n cheese these days.

Your Weight is Morally Neutral

This is a tough one. Look, we as a society tend to think that thin is good and thinner is better. We as runners tend to think that fast is good and faster is better. Add in the fact that sheer physics would seem to suggest the less weight you’re hauling around in your skin-bag the faster you’ll be, and runners can end up feeling a lot of pressure to lose weight. Luckily, I have 12 years’ evidence to the contrary!

I’ve run a 4 hour marathon 15 pounds lighter than I am right now and a 3:30 marathon 5 pounds heavier. There is SO MUCH that goes into speed besides your weight – things like sleeping, or stretching, or not drinking Bud Light til 2am on weeknights! Feeling good about your body is hard enough in this world, there’s no need to lob anxiety about athletic performance on top of it.

It is also worth saying that how much you weigh or how fast you run has absolutely zero to do with the light you shine on the world. And to that point, although it is entirely unrelated to running, I would like to share the best advice I’ve ever gotten on the matter.

A few years ago I was getting ready to go out for a friend’s birthday party and I was in a STATE. Everything fit wrong, nothing looked right, I didn’t want to leave the house – but when I grumbled as much to my friend Meredith, she just said: “Girl, I don’t even notice what you’re wearing. When I think about you I just see your smile and the expressions on your face when you tell me a story. That’s who you are to me!”

She’s right. I don’t remember what my friends’ bodies look like. If pressed, I could probably tell you that they are in possession of both arms and legs, but that’s not what I really notice about them. It’s their smiles, or the expressions on their faces when something funny catches them off-guard, or the way they look when they see someone they love.


  • Never open a women’s magazine
  • Eat food that makes you feel good, physically AND emotionally
  • Remember that you are a glowing smile and a warm hug, not an uncomfortable assemblage of paunches and chins



100 Friends, 100 Hours, 100 Bidens

I mean, I can’t promise there are 100 pictures of Joe Biden eating ice cream out there, but there’s gotta be at least 80.

I usually try to keep my emailing to once a month, but I wanted to let y’all know about this fundraising contest our team is running! Here’s the deal: if I can get 100 friends to donate any amount by 9pm on Sunday, January 22nd, I have a chance to net an extra $250 from LLS. Free money????


Want to know what’s even better? If I can get 100 donations from 100 people totaling at least $500 I *WILL* get a $1,000 donation from a mysterious benefactor. I’ve already got 4 donations totaling $130, so we are well on our way!
So, where does Biden come into all of this? Well, regardless of where you fall in our deeply divided political landscape, I think we can all agree that there’s something delightful about watching this nation’s septuagenarian sexpot in chief enjoy the heck outta an ice cream cone. If you are so inclined, join the Facebook event, where I’ll be bombarding your newsfeed with gifs, Onion articles, and homemade Biden memes every time I get a donation.
Okay let’s wrap this up and get to gif-in! REEEEEEEECAP!
  1. I need 100 unique donors by 9:00pm Sunday, January 22nd (no peeling that $25 donation off in ones, unfortch, I already checked)
  2. Donations can be any amount (guys, I mean ANY)
  3. Donations will be met with a hailstorm of Bidens
  4. If I get to 100 donors/$500, I’ll have another grand in the cancer-curing bank
Alright everyone, START YOUR ENGINES….

SPORTS! Marathon Block Pool

As you may remember, I dedicated the fall of 2013 to learning about SPORTS – specifically football – so I could do something during my bro-friends’ conversations about fantasy leagues besides stare into the middle distance pondering ways to dismantle the patriarchy. While I would not consider it an UNQUALIFIED success, I did pick up on this whole  “block pool” idea, and decided to apply  it to a sport I actually understand!

Here’s how this is going to work (shoutout to Zac for SPORTS-related mentoring!)


We’ve got a 10×10 grid with each block costing $10. The blocks will be broken into ranges for half and full marathon times, based on my most recent races.

  • Half-marathon time: 1:40:00-1:54:59, with each row assigned a 90 second interval
  • Marathon time: 3:26:00-3:55:59, with each column assigned a 180 second interval

Marathon Block Pool


  • $500 of the proceeds go to the LLS, $500 will go to the winners.
  • There will be 19 total winners.
  • 18 winners receive $20 each
    • The entire row of the correct half marathon time range will win $20 each ($200 total)
    • The entire column of the correct full marathon time range will win $20 each ($200 total)
  • The block that contains the winning range for the both the full and half times will win the final $100 ($140 total)


  • Zac’s going to administer this whole process so I can’t play favorites and screw with the results (if you think I’m capable of speeding up/slowing down/simple arithmetic while running, you have more faith in me than I do, but we’ll do this to be safe)
  • In the event that I finish before the low time, the lowest time range will win (and I will be ONE HAPPY CAMPER)
  • In the event that I finish after the high time, the highest time range will win (and I’ll have just had that much more time to appreciate every inch of the course)

HOOOOOOO BOY you guys that was a lot more logistics than I typically like to include in my lunch hour. But it’s all for a good cause! If you’d like to buy squares, you can PayPal me ( or give me straight cash money the next time you see me. Since this is for the marathon, deadline is obviously pre-April 21st. Let’s get to SPORTIN’!

Photoshopping for Fun and Profit

As previously documented, I have a LOT of time on my hands in taper. So what better to spend it on than creating absurd fundraising incentives designed to appeal to – at most – 5 of my friends and loved ones!

For any donation received now through April 21st, I will Photoshop (okay okay okay, MS Paint copy and paste) a picture of you with songbird, national anthem aspirant, and Italian Hero Sandwich of Love Robert Kelly!


How many questions could there possibly be about photoshopping me and R Kelly together? 

More than you’d imagine. READ ON, FRIEND.

What if I already donated? 

Donate again! I will do this for literally one dollar. Clumsy MS Paint hackjobs are one of my greatest joys.

How will you get a picture of me? 

My ability to Facebook creep far exceeds my Photoshop skills. It’s about time I put it to good use!

Can I choose my R Kelly picture? 

If you have one in mind, absolutely! However, I just started following R on Instagram and I would STRONGLY recommend you allowing me to select from that absurdly-hatted goldmine.

Do I really want to donate for this?

Well, take a look at the ever-growing gallery below and YOU tell ME:

What do the NCAA and I have in common?

A) A warehouse full of giant foam “WE’RE NUMBER ONE” fingers

B) An affinity for montages

C) My mother’s undying affection

D) A lot of people throwing money at us in MarchYou'd better believe it

ANSWER: Working on A, definitely B, C only if you answer to Geno Auriemma, and giant foam fingers crossed for D!

I’ve got $1,500 to go before the marathon. My goal is to raise $1,000 in March (I figure I can panhandle the rest – I’ve been working on a softshoe routine to a medley of Kelly Clarkson songs that’ll KILL at South Station).

I only need to raise $33 a day to make it, which is like two sports venue beers and a soft pretzel. I’m already $125 of the the way there! Can you help?



Was It Hot Out There Or Was It Me?

It’s the first Saturday without a training run. I’m writing this from Austin – where, for the record, it is 1,700 miles further south and STILL 15 degrees cooler than it was on Monday. Over the past week my sunburn has faded, my quads have recovered, and my meals have stopped being mistaken for footage from a Discovery Channel documentary on Predators of the Sahara. The enormous gratitude that kept me going for 26.2 sweltering miles, however, hasn’t faded a bit.

Monday was brutal. We were ready for freak blizzards, not 88 degree heatwaves. Starting last Friday, race officials sent out a series of increasingly alarming emails advising anyone without a Kenyan birth certificate to defer to next year. My mom spent most of Sunday night quizzing me on the signs of heatstroke.

But despite all that, the mood at the start Monday morning was surprisingly festive. One of the many benefits of being a TEAM runner is that so much of why we run has nothing to do with time. If something happens to slow us down or even stop us, that doesn’t do a thing to change the miles we’ve already run, the friends we’ve made, the money we’ve raised, or the lives we are honoring. I, for one, was really looking forward to throwing qualifying to the winds and seeing instead how many unwitting spectators I could hug.

Surprisingly festive!

26 miles is a lot (“Yeah, no kidding” – Everyone), so I won’t drag you through EVERY mile. But I do want to give you a sense of what it was like, so you understand that it’s only because of you that this miserable heat bath of a day was actually my favorite marathon yet.

Mile 1 – I was overheating just walking to the start, so I set my goal pace at 10 minute miles. And run an 8:45 instead. Sarad’s going to kill me.

Mile 2 – 8:45 again, and it felt EASY. Shoot, am I going to have to try to go fast after all?

Mile 3 – HA. NOPE. Back to Plan A: Operation Gross Hugs.

Mile 4 – Are those chills the first signs of heatstroke that Mom warned me about? Or is that just the first time I see another purple singlet? I scream Paul Joyce’s name loud enough to startle spectators.

Mile 10 – I dart across 8 lanes of runner traffic when I see Ed and Resa Scherr, TNT volunteers and American Heroes. They gave me sponges and a frozen water bottle from their cooler of magic and my core body temperature immediately dropped 10 degrees. I seriously don’t think I would have made it to the finish if it weren’t for them.

Mile 11 – Are those chills heatstroke, or is it the row of Army guys walking the course in uniform and a full pack refusing the water bottle I offered…and instead giving ME ice? (Straight down the bra, thank you soldier).

Mile 13 – Mo’s blond ponytail bops up beside me and just like that, I have my running buddy for the rest of the race.

Mile 15 – Are those chills heatstroke, or my first glimpse of the crowd of TNT supporters at the Community Center? I pause to let Coach Kelly admire my visor/sponge combo, and Operation Gross Hugs claims its first two victims. John and Laurie, I’m sorry (I’m not sorry).

Mile 20 – I’m still running up every hill but my walks are getting longer and more frequent. Luckily, TNT has a station at the bottom of Heartbreak ready with ice, water and an assist up the hill from Dan. Who patiently stands by as I take down hug victims 4-7.

Mile 22 – There is a LOT of puking going on here. I scuttle by and then slow to a leisurely stroll. If I’m not qualifying, I’m sure as hell not throwing up.

Mile 25 – Mo and I have been pacing each other since Cleveland Circle, walking when we need to and catching up when one of us darts off course for hugs or ice. My legs are pretty beat. But at Mile 25, I think of the names on my singlet and and decide to try running it in. I see Dave Tierney in his customary spot on Hereford and go full telenovela on him: “DAVE I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU THIS ICE IS LIKE ANGEL WINGS BRUSHING MY TEMPLES.”

And then, for the first time ever, I actually enjoy running down Boylston.

Thank you. Thank you for letting me be a part of this team, for giving me reasons to run that go beyond my own personal ones, and for turning this potentially miserable experience into a 4 hour and 8 minute long celebration instead. Because of you, our team has raised ONE MILLION DOLLARS. We did it! I’ll be running a marathon in May to try to qualify but no matter what, I’ll be coming back to Team in Training. After all, I’ve had the title for next year’s first fundraising email set since 2009.

Was my nearly mile-by-mile recap not NEARLY enough Boston 2012 action for you? Check these out:

TEAMmate and Herald reporter Chris:

Runner’s World reporter Amby Burfoot:


Love and a fistful of ice in the bra,


Spongehead Marathonpants, at your service


Take a knee.

As you may have heard, Monday is the marathon. (It is also projected to be somewhere in the 80s BUT THAT IS NEITHER HERE NOR THERE, WEATHERMAN-SADIST PETE BOUCHARD). The past few days, our TEAM Facebook page has been lighting up every three seconds as people share conflicting forecasts, spectating tips, and the best place to apply BodyGlide (PRO TIP: everywhere. Yes, even there). It’s funny – its the first time all season that we’re going to be running on our own, but I’ve never felt so much like I’m part of a team.

My BodyGlide strategy, in essence

Marathoning may seem like the quintessential lone wolf sport, but not the way we do it. Which is great because whatever the opposite of a lone wolf is? That’s me. I’m more like a border collie, running around frantically herding everyone into one big circle.

My natural inclination towards group activities can sometimes go a bit overboard – see: my attempt to cram everyone into the same compartment of a revolving door – but honestly, there’s


no better way to experience the marathon. If I forget for a second just how freaking cool it is to be running THE Boston marathon, all I have to do is talk to my teammates who are doing it for the first time. if I plunge into misanthropy and despair after being offered a Solo cup of lukewarm High Life at BC, all I have to do is think of the cold drafts and war stories waiting at the team victory party Tuesday. And if the worst happens and I totally bonk in a 90 degree heatwave? Well, first I will curse the name of Pete Bouchard. And then I will think about the names on my singlet, and on my teammates’ singlets, and remember that no matter how slowly I’m running, I’m running with them.

And you! Even if I’m not suffering heatstroke-induced hallucinations in which you actually appear, you’ll all be with me as I run. I am so grateful for the donations that allow me to be a part of this team. I hope you feel a part of it too (if you don’t, I’m happy to call you up and discuss hydration strategy until you do).

Okay, one last pitch. We are SO CLOSE to the $1 million goal. Would you deprive Sarad and Kelly of the chance to take it out in a million $1 bills and make it rain in Natick? No, of course you wouldn’t. You know what to do:

If you’d like to track me on Monday, here are the deets! I’m number 14335, starting at 10:20. Im not even going to venture a guess as to my pace, but you can track me on the Boston Marathon website, which will miraculously transform in to a Caitlin Finding Machine on April 16th. If you’re on the course, look for purple and give a holler!