Monthly Archives: May 2013

Triathlon Spotlight: Personal Trainer Shares Her First Triathlon Experience and Some Helpful Tips

Orthopedic Institute of NJ

My name is Kara and I am a personal trainer for the Orthopedic Institute 
of New Jersey. As a participant of over 3 dozen triathlons, I wanted to share an experience I had and a wonderful tip to for triathlon athletes, especially those who may be trying their first triathlon.
It was my first triathlon and I was so excited. I had been biking and swimming and running and doing everything possible to prepare myself mentally and physically for the challenge. I was given advice from everyone I talked to. I listened and absorbed all I could before the big day.
The morning of the race, I was ready. With my family cheering me on, off I went into the water. I gave it everything I had. When I made it back to shore I glanced over my shoulder and was thrilled that I was not the last one out of the lake! Off to the bike.  I rode as fast and hard as I could. At the last transition area I threw on my sneakers and off I ran. I had this!  I noticed soon in the run that my legs felt heavy and I was tired. I figured this was just part of what one’s body goes through in such a race. However, I became dizzy and a little bit disoriented.  It began to rain heavily and lightning flashed in the sky. I began to have anxiety and was not myself. I barely made it to the finish line. 
I later learned that I had bonked!
Yep, that is the term: bonking. Simply put, I hit my wall. Bonking is unmistakable; it is something that every athlete will encounter at some 
 point in their triathlon career. Bonking results from low blood sugar. Your body  and brain simply run out of fuel. Everyone needs a continuous supply of glucose to keep their muscles contracting and brain clear. Your body naturally stores glucose in different ways. When you are at rest you have plenty of glucose to keep your body and mind functioning 
properly. But when you begin doing extreme workouts, the glucose stored is burned up quickly. When this happens, you have bonked!
Signs of bonking or hitting the wall are feeling weak and your legs feel heavy. You become tired and may have feelings of extreme hunger. When the brain becomes affected an athlete will feel dizzy or disoriented.

You may have feelings of anxiety and confusion. Don’t panic!


Here are some simple tips to prevent hitting the wall.

Eat! But eat at regular intervals, every 20 minutes. Start with water and fruit, like a banana before the race begins. Have goo packs taped to the handle bars of your bike. As you begin your ride slurp a goo pack down. At the transition station have some pretzels or nuts in your bag and grab a handful!

Avoid the wall, drink lots and track your eating.  If you have any questions as you prepare for this great event, feel free to email us at .   Good luck, have a great race and no bonking!


Growing Good

There’s something that’s just super awesome about things growing out of the earth that you can eat. As a child, my dad often grew a variety of vegetables in our backyard. I loved eating cherry tomatoes off the vine, and will never forget my first harvest: radishes. I don’t even really like the taste of them, but the fact I had planted them as tiny seeds, nourished them with water and weeding, and was then able to put something on the table for our family was such a big deal to me as an eight-year-old. Through the years, we got more adventurous; I am fond of the memory of our tiny corn plot, only about ten feet long by five feet wide, and watching the fronds of the stalks waving outside my bedroom window in summer breezes, and the scary shadows they made on the wall by a full moon’s light. In college summers I planted heritage lettuces, bok choy, and other things that I either loved to eat, or wanted to try my hand at growing. One semester at school, I worked on a living history farm, and even though I missed the summer growing season, I prepped and readied fields for later harvests, helped resurrect a kitchen garden for the historic farmhouse, and made a memorable spring feast of early spinach salad, fresh asparagus, and from-scratch rhubarb pie from the spoils of April harvests. Growing food, for me, has always been a challenging but rewarding adventure.


However, not everyone has a chance to grow things in their backyard. Heck, as an a recent desert-dweller, there was no way I was going to have a garden in the sandy dust that comprised the ground around my house last summer in Arizona…and now, as apartment dweller, I’m growing again, but only in as much cubic yards of dirt as my postage stamp-sized deck, planter pots, and window boxes allow.


Thankfully, the world has gotten wiser to the limited opportunities people have to grow their own food if they are not a homeowner or landowner. Community gardens and community-supported agriculture are great options that towns and cities now offer to help people eat fresh, local food (that doesn’t require refrigeration and shipping from farms far away, and often faces potential spoilage and other obstacles along its journey from its farm of origin until it reaches your fork).


Pass It Along is getting in on the ground floor of this shift towards local eating, and as part of its work against hunger, is helping provide manpower for community garden plots that support local food pantries by supplementing non-perishable goods with fresh, local produce. As fresh produce is often vastly more expensive than canned, it supplements food stamp benefits and offerings from food pantries that families may be receiving to increase the quality of foods provided, and to help the other forms of hunger assistance go further towards meeting a family’s needs. Provision of fresh fruits and veggies also serves as a better source of nutrients and vitamins, while at the same time being lower in salt and sugar content than their canned counterparts. Consumption of fresh produce can combat the issues of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which can occur as a by-product of a highly processed diet—and place additional strains on families already facing a tough time.


Join us in our effort to combat a local problem with a local solution. There are opportunities to serve at both the Hardyston and Andover community gardens this summer, and we will need your help to ensure a healthy harvest for underfed residents of Sussex County. And be sure to check back to the blog for growing season updates! We’ll be posting pictures of the progress as the growing gets going. 

Maren Morsch, AmeriCorps Program Associate

Serve-a-Thon kickoff and CANstruction

This year Pass It Along held yet another great Serve-A-Thon Kickoff celebration.  The event was held on May 10 at the Sussex County Community College Pavilion where volunteers, families, Pass It Along recipients and board members alike enjoyed music, food and the infamous CANstruction competition.  The afternoon started off with CANstruction.  The United Way, Girls on the Run and Pass It Along competed for most original, most creative and crowd favorite. Each group came into the competition with a healthy amount of competitiveness although it was all in good fun.  Girls on the Run won crowd favorite after creating a sneaker with pink laces out of the cans they had collected.  The United Way received most creative with their perfectly built American flag made entirely out of Campbell’s soup and tuna fish cans while Pass It Along took home most original with an Egyptian pyramid and palm trees.  Certificates were given and the evening continued.

girls on the run

It never fails that once the hula hoops are broken out you can expect Diane Taylor, founder and CEO of Pass It Along, to be starting the party.  The Girls on the Run team as well as many of our other younger attendees were spinning and twirling all night to the music provided by BaseLine entertainment.  We had frisbee in the field, dancing under the pavilion and food from Applebees, Quikcheck, Newton Pizza and FU’s Chinese restaurant.  Volunteers and volunteer leaders arrived to celebrate, receive their t-shirts and prepare for the following day of service.  We had service projects all over the county including Knoll View, Knoll Heights, Birth Haven, The Homestead, SCARC residential facilities, Family Promise, Ginnie’s House, DASI and Habitat for Humanity projects, just to name a few. Volunteers were prepared to paint, clean, plant, host tea parties and serve wherever they were needed. What blows me away the most is the enthusiasm of not only the young people, but the adults as well.  I thought I was one of the only crazy ones excited to serve on Serve-A-Thon, turns out I wasn’t alone.

tim n grace

For a list of Food Stock drop off locations please visit

Breathe free… Hug a tree.

Global Youth Service is an international day of service and Pass It Along served in full force this year. With our beach clean-up trip as well as the tree planting opportunity at Hawthorne Hawks Healthy Farm in Newark, we were prepared to serve.
After months of partnering with the South 17th Street School in Newark an opportunity was offered to us and we thought of no better group to involve then those students.  Mitch Morrison of Sparta, NJ was bringing 1200 trees of all species to be planted in an empty plot that will soon become the Hawthorne Hawks Healthy Farm. The farm will include hundreds of trees and a community garden.
We met at the site at 9 a.m. where the students from the Sigma Beta club and their mentors were waiting for us, playing and taking pictures. It was nice to see these boys, who we are used to seeing as tough guys, playing and joking around outside.  We took pictures together and said our hellos before Terrance, from the Greater Newark Conservancy, gave us our demonstration.  The project was simple; take the tree sprouts, center them in the bucket and fill the bucket with dirt past the roots.  Now, do this 1200 times.
The students, their male mentors and Pass It Along staff were equipped with gloves and began the process.  It was fascinating to watch these students get excited over finding worms.  It only took a few minutes before Diane, Pass It Along CEO/founder, began naming trees which turned into the norm.  I’m happy to say there is a white spruce in Newark named after me!  The names started to get fancy; Starlight, Kennedy, Lil’ Wayne, Drake and Lafonda.  Twyla, our partner and the Communities in Schools site coordinator created a team and an assembly line, challenging every student to plant 2 trees a minute!  The kids smiled, laughed and were enthusiastically active all day.  What a difference from their normal day to day.  Darren Potts, the lead mentor for the group of boys from the Sigma Beta club was overwhelmed with how well his students worked together.  The Sigma Beta club is a group at South 17th Street School run by brothers from the Rutgers fraternity, Sigma Beta.  The Sigma Beta club provides an opportunity for young boys to be mentored by successful men of color in their community.  We at Pass It Along are so honored to be working with this group.
The day went perfectly, in fact we worked so fast that Terrance had to leave the site to get us more buckets to plant in. We played with worms, got our hands dirty and most importantly gave students of Newark an opportunity to give back to their community.  We couldn’t ask for anything more.  We said our goodbyes, took pictures with the trees named after ourselves and felt proud of the work we did.  I said goodbye saying my usual Earth Day saying,  “Breathe free…hug a tree!”
Alyssa Ciesla, AmeriCorps Program Associate

Surf's Up: Global Youth Service Day

Global Youth Service Day 2013 dawned bright and early. Well, perhaps a bit earlier for me than for others; I had to get a few things ready for the trip before I headed to the carpool lot where the rest of the shore clean up group was assembling. To give you an idea of just how early it was when I started my day, the bagels I picked up for participants were still warm from the oven when I put them in the trunk of my car. Yeah…that kind of early.
But the day was sunny, cool to start up here in the mountainous area of the state, and virtually cloudless. I had roped a couple of unsuspecting friends to come out with me for our project; more than a dozen high school students had pre-registered for the event; and Kailey, another AmeriCorps member at Pass It Along, committed to helping out too. It was shaping up to be a great morning.
I made it to the Park and Ride in Augusta sometime around 7:30, which was fortunate, as our transportation for the day showed up shortly thereafter. Standing in the parking lot, our group began to slowly assemble, and the bus driver welcomed us to get settled on the bus. While everyone signed themselves in, I checked the time: 8 am. Time to roll out.
The trip down was just long enough for us to be thankful that we didn’t need to be on the school bus any longer; at the risk of dating myself, several of my contemporaries and I conversed about just how long it had been since last we had been a passenger on a school bus (It had been just a few years shy of a decade, in most cases.)  When we made it to Aberdeen, we had a rousing welcome by Clean Ocean Action Beach Captain Frank Huza, split into teams, and with a few specific instructions, headed out to get to work.
Of course, New Jersey being such a populated area (not to mention downstream from New York City), there is always a plethora of interesting things to be found on our coastal shores, but since Sandy, the range and variety of things that have made their way onto beaches certainly have changed in scope and in number. We became quite familiar with several of the most popular types of shoreline trash, as we hash marked for each piece of recycling or trash under the appropriate category while sweeping. Among the biggest offenders: Beverage straws, unidentified plastic objects (UPOs, if you will), plus the ever-environmentally-unpopular single-use beverage bottles/caps, and those ubiquitously turtle-killing plastic bags. Also notable were the tens of metal street sign poles, the marina bumper, and boat seat that were unearthed during the group’s efforts.
With wonderful weather boosting beach morale and an on-shore breeze in our hair, the group worked together for several hours in this way, calling out types of trash to the designated recorder while the others picked and poked (and occasionally, dug) the trash out of its hiding places and into appropriate receptacles of trash or recycling. After many, many trips to and from the trash truck, there was quite a showing of stuff to behold. So we did what any hard-working group would do—we took a picture with the heap of stuff we collected, and loaded back on to the bus to carry on with our respective weekends.
What a way to spend a Saturday. If you missed it this time, we will likely be doing similar work in the coming months, so do yourself (and the environment that sustains you) a favor, and support future projects like this one…especially if they mean that you get to be outside, at the beach, on such a beautiful day as the one we enjoyed.