A Walk on Water

Meg Comer | June 14, 2019

Photos By: Ben Thomson + Adam Roth

A Walk on Water, or AWOW, is a non-profit organization that affords children and young adults with different abilities the opportunity to go surfing. What is perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of this program, is that athlete’s siblings are taken out surfing right alongside them. There are many programs that exist that provide adaptive services, however there are few opportunities available where a differently abled child is able to engage in an activity at the same level their typically developing sibling does. The ocean does not care who you are, or where you come from, it provides equal opportunity for all. This enables AWOW the ability to provide this equalizing opportunity for siblings. 

For anyone who has never witnessed an AWOW event, let me paint you a picture. 

Athletes arrive on the beach and are immediately greeted by dedicated and passionate volunteers, ensuring every person that sets foot at the event feels warm and welcomed. Experienced volunteers assist athletes and their families in putting on wetsuits and protective life jackets. Each athlete is then expertly paired with a highly-skilled, welcoming surf instructor, ensuring a trusting connection is established right at the start. After some introductions, practice and high fives, beach and water safety escort the teams of two out to the lineup, where they await for that perfect wave to roll in. 

What happens next is the most enchanting part. 

Instructors paddle themselves and their athlete into a wave, and no matter who the athlete is, within seconds of feeling the rush of the waves energy, every single athlete has an electrifying smile on their face. Parents, siblings, friends and volunteers look on, watching an athlete who began their journey to the line up crying, yelling, clutching their instructor close out of apprehension; to one that is pumping the air with their fists in victory, begging their instructor to hurry up and catch another wave. 

Last year, I was at an event in Virginia Beach, the first ever event held there. I remember being paired with a 3 year old boy, Nicholas, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder and was nonverbal. As we paddled out into the lineup, he was clutching me tight, rocking back and forth with his eyes closed. As I reassured him he was safe, I spotted a wave, spun around and began to paddle into the wave. The next thing I know, I’m standing riding the wave, and I feel Nicholas climb to his feet, waving his hands in the air with joy. We rode that wave all the way in to shore, and as we began to paddle out for another, I clear as day recall hearing him say the word “more”. 

We receive countless reports from parents of athlete’s speaking first words after a session, that an athlete slept through the night for the first time in years; that for weeks their child was happier. AWOW means celebration, empowerment, community; family. It is a privilege to have these athletes let you into their world, to play even a small role in their transformative experience with AWOW; showing them that they are loved for exactly who they were born to be.

About Meg: A resident of Manasquan, NJ, Meg has been 

volunteering with AWOW for a year and a half. 


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Topping off the Runner's Tank

Amanda Marino | April 3, 2019

We all know that guy who approaches the finish line of a local 5k as if he’s being pulled backward by a fishing rod. His pupils are rolling into his head, protecting his mind from seeing the swaying limbs of the caricature he has become. His saliva becomes a sudsy solution, slowly bubbling at the corners of his mouth. His feet slam to the ground, the strength of their impact conveying the opposite message of his snail-like pace. The best part-- he’s the same guy who told everyone it’s perfectly fine to run a 5k without training.

This scenario is what makes running an island in the land of sports. It’s precise. If you practice running a specific pace in your training, you can be fairly confident in your ability to maintain that pace during a race. If you say you’re going to be fine running a 5k even though you’ve done everything except run in the past 6 months, you will be that guyFollowing this logic, if you’re signed up for a race that requires an intake of fluid and calories, you must ingest fluid and calories during your training. Practicing this element is as crucial as practicing the act of running.

My experience For this post, I am sharing my experience with managing nutrition while running. While there is plenty of research on this subject, I have found the most significant issue to tackle is balancing calories ingested with digestive tolerance. I believe each individual needs to use trial-and-error in order to create his or her ultimate race nutrition plan.

Shorter Training Sessions and Races For every training session that lasts 60 minutes or less but is more than just an easy run, I drink a 50/50 diluted sports drink throughout. For example, if I have a track workout that consists of 10 x 400m, I’ll sip the drink on my way to the track, after the warm up, in between repeats (as needed), and afterward. The drink is never fancy-- usually something that can be purchased in bulk at the grocery store, which is made up of simple sugars and contains 50-60 calories per 8 ounces. After I prepare the 50/50 water/sports drink mix, I add a dash of salt for electrolytes. The small blood-sugar boost helps my mental psyche and makes me feel ready to run fast. In addition, the fact that it’s not plain water helps me stay hydrated without feeling waterlogged. For these reasons, I also consume this drink surrounding shorter races-- anything from a 5k to a race that last 60 minutes or less. For competition beyond this duration, I become more strategic about my nutrition.

Before I continue, I must emphasize that race nutrition is more dependent on time spent running rather than total distance. The longer you take to complete a long-distance race, the more you’re going to need to ingest. Below, I’ve broken down my race nutrition experiences based on duration, and I hope this makes it easier for you to gauge your own needs.

Training Sessions and Races Lasting 60-90 minutes During training sessions or races lasting 60-90 minutes, I stick with 50/50 diluted sports drink before and during, and I usually add in one sports gel about 2⁄3 of the way through. For example, during a half marathon, I will use 1-3 fluid stations depending on the level of heat/humidity. Over time, I have found the best plan for me is to grab a cup of sports drink first, sip as much as I can, then grab a cup of water farther down the fluid station and sip the sweet taste away. If I happen to be in a race where the fluid station is not set up to make two drinks possible, I will opt for only the sports drink (every time I have consumed plain water while racing, I have gotten a side stitch). Around mile 9, I usually consume a sports gel that contains ~100 calories and a relatively high sodium content (125-200mg). Although I’m fine with getting sports gel down, some of my competitors opt for sports chews or “beans.” Again, this is something you must experiment with during training.

Training sessions 90 minutes or longer For all of my long training runs leading up to the 2018 Chicago Marathon, I consistently practiced the following: Every ~30 minutes, I slowly sipped 8-10 ounces of my 50/50 diluted sports drink while running (I kept a bunch of bottles on top of my car, ran by, grabbed one, and drank while maintaining pace). This meant for a 2.5 hour run, I drank 32-40 ounces throughout. In addition, I consumed a sports gel every 45-60 minutes.

Races 90 minutes or longer On race day, it's not easy to replicate EXACTLY how you fueled in training. However, if you have consistently exposed your digestive system to fueling while running, you should be fine with anything that's in the ballpark. The following worked for me at the Chicago Marathon: a swig of Gatorade AND a swig of water at just about every fluid stop (there were at least 20) and four gels total, at approximately miles 8, 13, 18, and 21. If I would have changed anything, I would have added another gel earlier in the race and spaced the rest out to allow my last one at mile 23. In my earlier marathons, I drastically under-fueled for fear of having an upset stomach, which often left me feeling sluggish and weak after mile 20. Over the course of the 7 I have completed, I have become more confident in my ability to fuel effectively. Thus, the most important point I can emphasize is to practice, practice, practice! See what works (and what doesn’t!). Fueling yourself properly will raise your chances of crossing the finish line strong, in control, and ready to celebrate.

Happy training and fueling to those of you running the Novo Nordisk NJ Marathon & Half Marathon on April 28th!

About Amanda: A resident of Asbury Park, NJ, Amanda Marino competed collegiately at Villanova University, where she helped the Wildcats claim 2 NCAA titles in cross country and earned 6x All-American status individually. She currently competes at a high level in the marathon and has a personal best of 2:38:04. She recently qualified for her 3rd straight USA Olympic Trials Marathon, which will be held in Atlanta, GA in February 2020.


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Learn to Breathe



Red Sullivan  |  Feb 22, 2019

I’m constantly asked questions like…


“What’s the best workout?”

“What’s the best piece of equipment in the gym?”, or

“What are the 5 most important exercises?”


Unfortunately, there aren’t easy answers to questions like these because truthfully, the answer to all of them is, “it depends”.  It depends on the person doing the workout and their goals. It depends on the person using the equipment and their goals, and (you guessed it), it depends on the person doing the exercise and their goals.   So, whenever I’m asked questions like these, I respond with,


“It depends… BUT if you want something that doesn’t ‘depend’, I’ve got ‘5 Ways to Instantly Improve Health’, and the best part is all 5 are free.”



In this blog post, the first of a 5 part series, we will discuss the first way to instantly improve your health & fitness:


“Shut Your Mouth, and Breathe”

Red Sullivan with Jonesbar doing breathe work

Whether in the gym, on the field, or in the mountains, the things we do most often impact us the most, and breathing is no different.  The average person takes about 23,000 breaths per day. That’s a lot of hot air. Simply based on volume, any dysfunction in that breathing has the power to completely ruin your health, wellness, and happiness.  Poor breathing patterns will raise your stress levels, attack your immune system, and even destroy the quality of your sleep. The most common form of dysfunctional breathing is over-breathing. In fancy terms, over-breathing means taking in too little oxygen (shallow inhale), and dumping too much carbon-dioxide (large exhale). In less fancy terms, over-breathing means, breathing through your mouth too much. Lucky for you, there is another alternative: The nose. The nose is a perfectly designed mechanism for the job. First, the nose filters air, eliminating anything that may attack the immune system. Breathing through your nose also activates your diaphragm, which is a muscle in your abdomen that creates space for your lungs to expand as they fill with air. The increased real-estate in your core allows the lungs to make the best of the air you’ve brought into town via your nose. Lastly, the nose limits the amount of Carbon-Dioxide (waste) we expel when we’re done with our breath of air. Limiting the amount of CO2 that we burn off with each exhale helps keep us relaxed, as it sends a “Diaphragm and Chill” message to the brain. Thus, better management of CO2 burn-off will improve your resting heart rate by keeping you in an efficient and calm state, both physically and mentally.


Basically, the nose is the safest, and MOST efficient way to breathe, so start letting it do its job, and shut your mouth and BREATHE!


Next time around, we’re going to talk about the second way to instantly improve your health: “Mind Your Posture”. In the meantime, here is a simple down-regulation protocol that you can use for any of the following:

Calm yourself when you are feeling stressedKick-start your recovery after a hard workoutPrepare your body and mind for sleep



Set a timer for 5-10min.

All breathing will be done through the nose.

Each breath will have 3 components as follows:

- Inhale on a 4-5 second count

- Hold, with air in lungs for 4-5 seconds

- Exhale on a 8-10 second count


Enjoy the Zen & Stay Human




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