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Trimarni is place where athletes and fitness enthusiasts receive motivation, inspiration, education, counseling and coaching in the areas of nutrition, fitness, health, sport nutrition, training and life.

We emphasize a real food diet and our coaching philosophy is simple: Train hard, recover harder. No junk miles but instead, respect for your amazing body. Every time you move your body you do so with a purpose. Our services are designed with your goals in mind so that you can live an active and healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Trimarni Blog

A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life

Accepting a failed racing performance

Marni Sumbal

When I met Karel in 2006, I knew him as a corner hoping, crash dodging, race in the hurt-box type of guy. In other words, I feel in love with a cyclist. 

For a little over 6 years, I watched Karel race all over the east coast as a cat 1 cyclist. There were times when he would be on the podium, other times when he would just be happy he hung on to finish the race. There would be times when he missed a break and would have to settle for a sprint in the mid pack and times when he would be stuck behind a crash and his race would be over. No matter how good he felt going into his races, the tactics of cycling can be just as exciting as  they are frustrating. 

Karel's transition to triathlons in the summer of 2012 meant that Karel was embarking on a new challenge. Not only with his fitness but also with learning about the sport of triathlons. 

Karel brings a very interesting thought-process to the sport of triathlons and he owes a lot of it to his 20+ career of racing bikes and following the careers of professional cyclists. 

In cycling, you do not chase a finishing time. You don't need a computer to tell you to go faster. It's good to have gadgets to review training files in order to know how you squared up to the other rides but no one focuses on how fast they rode and in how quick of time. If a race is 60 or 90 minutes, that is how long you ride and you better be on your A game in order to see how long you can survive and still put out a strong sprint at the end for a possible podium finish.

Unlike triathlons, in cycling racing it doesn't matter how fast you are or how quick you can cover x-miles. There are no PR's but instead, races that you finish and races that you don't finish. In cycling racing, your best fitness shape ever may be overshadowed by someone who is just in a little better shape...or perhaps a person who responded to an attack before you or someone else who could stay in the hurt box just a little longer than you.

Karel has taught me well over the years and now that he has transitioned to a triathlete, I really embrace Karel's mentality toward racing.

Although there is nothing wrong with shooting for a PR or qualifying time, it's almost to a fault that an athlete who has a goal time in mind can very well put him/herself at a disadvantage compared to others. For you are chasing a time and others are chasing competition, the playing field becomes more of who's the smartest athlete instead of who's the fittest athlete. Many times, athletes who use competition as a positive, end up pushing their limits naturally...often with a faster time than what was planned for the day.

As I mentioned before, in cycling, there are no guarantees that you will finish a race. You may in the best shape ever and finish 20th and other times, depending on who shows up for the race, you may end up on the podium because of good tactics. In cycling you need skills and a bit of luck on your side.

In triathlons and running races, there's more to a successful racing performance than how fast you have trained to swim, bike or run in x-amount of time coming into the race. Instead of luck, you just need to know how to pace yourself to slow down the least amount possible with whatever is in your way - terrain or weather included.

In the Dec. issue of Runner's World Magazine (be sure to check out pg 44 for a few of my quotes on food pairings), there was an article called "BREAKING BAD RACES". 

 Even though cyclist don't like to fail, it's inevitable that at some time in a racing career, there will be a race that a cyclist does not finish - for whatever reason.  Unlike cycling, failing in triathlons and running races is not as accepted by the athlete her/himself.  I don't think anyone likes to fail but when a race is mostly within your control, it is up to only you to figure out a way to get from the start to finish line. And when you don't chase a time, this effort becomes a lot more manageable depending on how you handle the course, weather and your current level of fitness.

One of the side effects of chasing a PR, specific time or a person in front of you is the risk of not finishing a race or not having the outcome that you worked so hard for and dreamed about for months, if not years.

 Perhaps for many people, the worst outcome is bonking or slowing down but for other athletes, a DNF can be one of the hardest things for an athlete to handle. Even worse for an athlete's ego is finishing a race slower than expected and feeling like he/she let other people down (family, friends, coaches). Oddly enough, I started this blog in 2007 after I DNF my first and only race (Miami Marathon). But, as an athlete and coach, I really enjoy learning from my mistakes.

If you know how to move on, better times are to come.

Here is a little bit from the article (pg 51-52) that I thought would be valuable for any athlete and fitness enthusiast who has struggled in a race, especially when chasing a time or place (or, those who are nervous about their first race or a first-ever distance):

"A bad race is an opportunity to gather information, learn and improve. You need to embrace failure as part of the process." - Ralph Heath

"Turning a negative into a positive may seem impossible, especially when your war wounds still sting. But the sooner you accept the past and learn from it, the faster you can move on to a PR-filed future." - Bob Cooper (author)

"If you're invested in your running and don't get the expected return, these feelings of disappointment are natural and healthy to express. It shows your commitment and passion" - Gloria Balague

"Prolonged grieving lowers self-confidence and motivation. When you are unable to constructively evaluate what happened and point to a solution, it may signal some underlying emotional issues. Pinpoint the source of your anguish. Are you embarrassed by how others view your performance, ashamed that shortcuts in your training caused it or upset with Mother Nature for unleashing a heat wave? Whatever it is, isolating the source will help you work through your feelings and regain your emotional balance." - Balague

"Every race is a learning experience, so whatever happened is really ok. The first step is to separate what you couldn't control (poor weather, illness, a devious pothole) from what you could (uneven pacing, inadequate training, unrealistic goal) and make peace with the first and focus on rectifying the second." - Cory Nyamora

"Writing about the experience in a journal or blog can also be helpful. Your internal thoughts can be overly critical but when you write about an experience, you tend to be less negative and more objective" - Nyamora

"Think of the next race as separate and independent from the first - and not as a "do over". That mindset will make you feel extra pressure at your next event and that could hurt your performance. Space out events, don't rush to race again. You might be eager to redeem yourself, but if your muscles aren't fully recovered, you could be setting yourself up for another bad experience." - Nyamora

"Consider the emotional toll the bad race took on you. If you're feeling desperate to prove something to yourself or others, or you're still angry about the last race, wait. It might be best to take a break from racing until you feel emotionally recovered and really miss it. " - Nyamora

Sometimes the best successes come after initial failures. After you accept your failure, it's time to move on.

See you at the next starting line....

Lately in the off-season - workouts and creations

Marni Sumbal

After a 3-week break from structure and giving my body the rest it needed from triathlon specific training, I am enjoying the transition to structured training. However, there will be no run-blocks in my training, no running races to train for and no extreme changes from "normal" tri training.

I am a triathlete and swim-bike-run is my lifestyle. There's a lot of work to be done this off-season and base period in order to ensure that my body is strong enough to withstand the training and racing load that I choose to put on myself in 2014. This is the time to work on imbalances and weaknesses with the body and to also maintain balance so that I do not peak too early and so I reduce risk for injury and burnout.

In the next week and a half, we will be launching our newest service which is a 5-week Transition Phase triathlon training plan. There will be more on this soon but Karel and I and our athletes will be following a very similar plan to address areas that can make for successful training performances and race day experiences.

The training plan is specific to lung capacity in the pool (and efficiency), power on the bike, form on the run and a heavy emphasis on core/hip/glute work (and plyometrics/cicuit training) as well as flexibility.

Here's a little peak at what my last week consisted of (not including Campy walks) with a few key workouts and yummy creations:

Mon: 6:30-7:45am: 2000 yard swim + 30 min hip/glute/core work
6:30-7:30pm: Yoga at the YMCA with Karel

Tues: 7:15am: 6 mile run (steady with short walking to reduce residual fatigue - first official run since Kona, aside from our run to and from swim start at IMFL. I didn't need to walk but choose to walk). 7:45 min/mile average pace

Wed: 6:30am - 8am - 2500 yard swim + 45 min hip/glute/core and circuit leg/upper body strength
Stretching throughout the day

Thurs: 7:00-8:30am: 1:30 bike (road bike)
Stretching throughout the day

Fri: 6am - 8am - 3000 yard swim + 40 min strength and hip/core work

Sat: 2 hour group ride (on my new Speed Concept)

Sun: 9.2 mile run. 1:11 (8 miles solo, walked every 2 miles to shake out the legs to reduce residual fatigue. The walking wasn't needed but choose to walk. 7:45 min/mile pace. 1 mile with Campy).
Stretching, foam roller, trigger point

Swim main set 2x's:
8 x 50's (25 as few breaths possible, open turn, 25 fast breath as much as you'd like) w/ 30 sec rest
300 steady swim
100 swim w/ pull buoy between ankles to work on core and upper body strength
(1600 main set, warm-up and cool down as needed)

Toasted quinoa and kamut, leftover baked eggplant, zucchini, onion and mushroom, fresh ginger, one scrambled egg, tempeh, spinach, asiago cheese, red pepper flakes and marinara sauce.
-For toasting cooked whole grains, heat skillet to medium heat and drizzle 1-2 tsp olive oil and toast grains until crunchy and golden. It gives them great flavor.
Veggies cooked in oven - 425 degrees for up to 35-45 minutes.
Tempeh - can be cooked in oven or skillet until golden brown

2 hour group ride - have fun and don't worry about numbers

For my 1:30 road bike workout on Thurs:
Main set 2x's:
5 x 1 min FAST cadence w/ 1 min EZ spin
Followed by 5 min steady effort
Recover 5 minutes then repeat
(40 min main set)

Oatmeal creation: raspberries, Bosc pears, chia seeds, raisins, almonds and oats.
-I recommend up to 1/2 cup oats (dry) and if you find that oatmeal does not leave you satisfied after 2-3 hours, add a bit more protein such as protein powder, milk or a side of yogurt.
-I recommend add at least 2-3 fruits to your oatmeal for more vitamins and minerals.
-I always add some kind of fat to my oatmeal to slow down digest. Enjoy any nuts or seeds for a little crunch too. 

Key hip/glute/core exercises:
Hip hikes
Bridge (w/ marching)
Planks on side w/ leg lift
Planks on side w/ hip thrust
V-ups or captain chair
Side crunches standing w/ weight
Bench step-ups

 Chocolate cherry sourdough bread (a gift from one of my nutrition athletes from NC) to compliment my plant strong meal of mixed greens, chives, tomatoes, grapes, avocado, sunflower seeds, raisins and cottage cheese (2% Daisy Brand) sprinkled with Parmesan.

As you probably know, I have a new bike in my life....

And I'm really happy about it!

Later next week I will be talking about the specifics of my new bike as well as an overlooked part of getting a new bike....getting a proper fit by an experienced bike fitter/mechanic.
Karel is the owner of the RETUL system and has over 20 years experience with bikes and in the bike industry. I like to call him the Bike Doctor. He knows his stuff and he has been really busy helping athletes around our area with their bikes so I will be talking about the RETUL technology soon which I highly recommend for any triathlete who is looking to reduce risk for injury, gain more power w/ a more comfortable ride and to help run more efficient off the bike. 

Oh, almost forgot.
My weeks are always filled with Campy love. 

Eat real food - stop the off-limit food list(s)

Marni Sumbal

I eat for fuel and for health. Food also tastes good when I eat it. When I finish a meal, I feel satisfied and even better than when I started the meal feeling hungry.

I do not feel that food controls my life. I can travel, experience good/bad changes in life and keep a smile on my face all because food enhances my lifestyle and keeps me well. 

Bike riding from Znojmo Czech Republic to Retz Austria. 
I didn't develop an appreciation for real food overnight and I also did not develop the ability to plan ahead and be creative in the kitchen overnight. 

The bottom line is that I have goals for my active body and expectations for my healthy body. I can't make memories doing this......

Without making the time and appreciating this....

A visit to the  farmers market in Znojmo, Czech Republic.

Think about the last time you felt stressed, mad or overwhelmed.
How about when your fitness/training routine didn't go as planned.
What about when you compare your body, life, fitness/performance to someone else.
How about the last time you critiqued your body composition or stepped on the scale.

Imagine if you didn't body bash or consider/start extreme styles of eating/exercising every time you felt "off". Or perhaps, when you feel as if someone else has it better, you instantly want to exercise, train or look like someone else.
Consider how many times you have thought about or considered eliminating foods - perhaps even the most nourishing and wholesome foods - the moment you felt frustrated with your body.
Consider how many times you rewarded yourself with food or told yourself you would just be better tomorrow.
Consider how many days are in the year, consider your own goals and consider your own health.

Do you really think that following a diet plan or an off-limit food list will improve your quality of life?

Since when did we combine these foods...

with these foods....


And all of a sudden have a style of eating in which you describe foods that you can't eat, instead of considering all the most wonderful nourishing, energy boosting delicious foods that you can and should eat.


What about traveling, eating around family/friends, attending events/seminars at work and fueling for life. How does your off-limit, bad food list work for some of life's most special and needed events.?
Can your quest for "healthy eating" be enjoyed anytime, anywhere and with anyone?

The bottom line is that you haven't yet recognize how good you can feel with real food. Real food consumed in appropriate portions to fuel your lifestyle. Instead of getting out the pen and paper for a list of foods that you feel you shouldn't eat, just ask yourself how your past eating habits (and exercise routine) was helping you meet your goals. Prior to bashing your body, hating a number on the scale or feeling the need to compare yourself to someone else, work on a few small tweaks that may set yourself up for success rather than feeling the need to be extreme and quick with dietary/exercise changes.

With the holiday season approaching and your 2014 goals on the horizon, take a moment and consider how extreme you may be thinking/acting when it comes to developing a healthy and balanced diet.

If you are swearing off bread, dairy  or any other "bad" food because they are making you feel bloated and unhealthy, I ask you this...
How did you feel the last time you add 1/2 cup cooked Kamut (or any whole grain) to your plant strong meal?
Tell me about the ingredients you used in your homemade bread recipe?
How are you eating dairy - plain yogurt with fruit as a snack or ice cream after a long stressful day of work?
In the past few months, how much of your diet includes foods that you have to unwrap or that include a long ingredient list?
How much of your diet comes from a garden instead of a factory?
Are you letting life get in the way of healthy eating or should you eat healthy for your life?
If you can't seem to make time for your health, are you willing to make time for illness/disease?

There's really not a lot more I can say to help you appreciate real food. There are many options out there and the great thing is that a healthy diet doesn't have to exclude real food options that are naturally wholesome.

I get it. Our society loves extreme. Tell  yourself what not to eat and that is a lot easier to follow than trying to pre-cook whole grains, portion your proteins and healthy fats and eat a lot of fruits and veggies. In other words, being told what not to eat is much easier than being told what you can eat and then having to figure out how to prepare it all in the right portions for your body.

And why do off-limit food lists/fad diets work? Because without them, you have many quick-food options. Because no one likes to cook or wait for food when they are hungry, a bowl of cereal, ice cream, PB&J sandwich or frozen/fast food option is not restricted. But when an off-limit list is made (whether from a nutrition guru or a diet book/website) you are forced to come up with something that is not on your off limit food list and most of the time, it is real food.

It's not that certain foods are good or bad but instead, your lifestyle and thoughts on food have not set you up for success. It's not one food or food group but instead, how you see food and incorporate it in your life.

Arguments can be made, success stories can be told, bloggers can share their experiences to the world.

But as a clinical dietitian, endurance triathlete and lover of life, who never counts calories or uses a scale for validating the health of my body, I encourage you to stop the off-limit food lists, become a great meal planner, appreciate real food consider your own health and fitness goals as the driving forces in your own personalized diet.

Tis the season of inspiring others with how real food enhances your life.

Happy real food eating!

Cottage cheese
Tri colored quinoa
Bed of mixed greens
Bell peppers

Reflect, Rejuvenate, Refuel - it's the off-season!

Marni Sumbal

I'm currently finalizing the last parts of the newest pre-built plan at Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition. The Trimarni 5-week off season transition phase training plan includes 5 weeks of strength training, hip/core work, specific workouts for swim, bike and run to improve form and efficiency as well as 5 weeks of nutrition tips!! This plan has taken a while to put together but I am so excited to offer it to athletes and fitness enthusiasts in the next few weeks to help everyone improve the chance of having a great consistent 2014 season.

In the mean time...enjoy my latest article from my monthly column at

Reflect, Rejuvenate, Refuel in the Off-Season
By Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N
Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC

Hard works feels amazing when it pays off. Although training for an event can be hard on the body,  the positive energy that you receive at a finish line is worth all the sacrifices.  

It's important that your off-season compliments your racing season. The key to the off-season is to enjoy a well-needed break from structured activity but to not lose the fitness that you gained throughout last year.

Here are a few tips on how you can feel great about your 4-6 week, planned off-season:

How'd you feel about last season? Did you try a new event or distance or are you still chasing a PR or podium spot? Address any limiters that can be worked on with strength training, flexibility or with a change in your weekly routine. As you plan for next season's races, consider weather, terrain, time of the year and distance to highlight your strengths.

Save your energy for when it counts. You do not need to be "in the best shape possible" 365 days a year. To get faster and stronger, the body needs training stress so the off-season is the perfect time to exercise just for health benefits. Consider trying something new to meet other fitness enthusiasts or, take an active trip. Although strength training, hip and core work is recommend year round, the off-season is the perfect time to reduce risk for injury and improve power with strength training, functional exercises and/or plyometrics.

Refuel  The celebratory post-race foods should only last a few days until your body will request a more balanced, nutrient dense diet. Whereas many athletes fear the off-season for unintentional weight gain due to reduced training volume, I recommend looking forward to the off-season as a time to develop a healthy relationship with food, to discover your culinary creativity and to get to know your body and true hunger signals when you aren't excessively burning calories. Learn to create a more real food diet which is filled with lots of seasonal fruits and veggies and complimented with whole grains and fiber-rich starches, quality protein and heart healthy fats. If you struggled with energy/fatigue, body composition and/or your relationship with food and the body during the past year, consider using this time to work with a dietitian that specializes in sport nutrition.

Triathlon season planning - top 10 tips

Marni Sumbal

I grew up traveling a lot.

 My parents sacrificed a lot for my brother and I to do what we loved with our bodies. Almost every weekend, we would be at a swim meet or gymnastic meet. 

This is a video of my amazing younger brother Aaron (University of Michigan gymnastics team) performing his high bar routine at the 2007 Big Ten Championships in his senior year. After this routine, he became the 2007 Big Ten High Bar Champion. 

What a rock star! Still so proud of him!

Almost 10 years since I graduated from college where I swam competitively all through College, I still enjoy traveling to race....or I guess you could say that I LOVE to race to travel. 

So - for next season, Karel and I have decided on four key races to take our love of traveling to the next level as we use our active bodies to cross finishing lines in new places. 

MAY 4th, 2014 - Me and Karel

June 1st, 2014 - Karel (I will spectate/sherpa)

June 29th, 2014 - Me and Karel

September 7th, 2014 - Me and Karel 

Signing up for races is easy - you must have your credit card handy and hit submit after you fill out your registration. 

I find that many athletes jump the gun when signing up for races and do not consider the time, money and energy that it takes for participating in a race. Not only the effort that is needed to train for the race, but also the mental toughness that is needed for obstacles and setbacks.

But more than anything - you must pick the right races. You may never know if the race is exactly what you plan for it to be on race day but with a little thinking ahead, you can set yourself up for a great racing season to execute on race day and put all that training to good use. 

Here are my top 10 suggestions for picking your races for next year (in no particular order)
1) Decide on 1-2 KEY races within 6 months. It's suggested that these races are around 3-4 months apart so that you can peak appropriately for both of those races and recover properly after the first race.

2) Consider your personal short and long term goals for each race. Are you chasing a time goal or PR, an age group/overall place, a qualification to another race or something personal?

3) Consider anything that may affect your entire racing season (and training) and consider a plan B if something good/bad happens at before or after each race. Consider qualifying for another race (money, travel, time, recovery, etc.), recover/prep for races, work/life, traveling, injury/sickness, etc.

4) Think really hard about why you are registering for a race. DO NOT pick a race just because you are feeling the itch because you just watched an Ironman finish or a marathon on TV or because a race is "open for registration". Have your top 5-10 reasons for why you are picking a race (remember, the money, time and effort that is required to get to the starting line).

5) Save your best performance for your key race. Build a foundation if you choose to race more than your 1-2 KEY races and be patient with your fitness. You do not want to peak in May if your KEY race is in August and you do not have to train 20 hours a week in January because you are excited to train after a 4-8 week off season break.

6) After you have selected your key races, decide how you will best utilize your off season and execute the phases of your periodized training plan. Will you use a coach, a pre-built plan or put together your own plan?

7) Before signing up for any race, be sure you have thought about the support you need from family, the time away from work/family for racing/training as well as anything else that will have a positive (or negative) impact on your race day experience. It takes a team to build an athlete but also a great support system to keep you motivated and excited when times get tough.

8) Pick the right course, with the right weather at the right time of the year. Consider indoor vs outdoor training and make sure you can simulate race day in training (ex. pacing and nutrition) well before your race day. A few things to consider about your race, taking into account your weaknesses and strengths:
Swim - wetsuit legel, non wetsuit legal. Lake, ocean. Water temperature. Mass start. In water start. Beach/land start.
Bike - weather. Rolling hills, climbs, flat. Altitude, sea level.
Run - weather. rolling hills, climbs, flat. Altitude, sea level.

Also consider time needed to travel to your event, acclimating to weather/time change or anything else that may affect executing on race day with your current level of fitness.

9) Think again as to why you signed up for your races and be sure to have specific goals for each race that will keep you motivated to wake up every day to properly prepare your body for that race. Be willing to adjust your race day goals based on weather or any setbacks in fitness/training so that you can maintain good health before, during and after your race. Remember - unless you are a professional, training and racing for triathlons is not your job.
10) Have fun with the races you choose. Do not complain about a race that you signed up for and paid money to participate in. Do not stress about things out of your control. Do your research as to how you will get to the race, where will you stay, how long you will be at the race, the day of the race, possible weather for the race, competition at the race (if applicable) and how you will pay for everything. 

To summarize our season - three of our races are Kona qualifiers. 

It is a dream of Karel and I to be able to race in Kona together. 

We will race every race but we do not expect having the chance to Kona qualify at every race we do this coming season.

I realize that the IM distance is exciting but it does take a toll on the body. As an adult age group athlete, I have learned through experience in the past 7 years of racing in endurance races that longer distance races fit the physiology of my body. 

Karel really enjoys the Half Ironman distance. He is still learning about his body now that he has finished 1 full year of triathlon racing (after over 15 years of racing bikes) and has completed one Ironman (IM Placid in 10:03).
I recognized this year that my body did very well with racing two Ironmans close together (within 14 weeks) as oppose to only 1 Ironman a year. Any closer together would be a major strain on my body at this time in my athletic career. I also know I can not race a lot - my body and mind need breaks and time to recover. I want to execute at every race I do and that is why I do not choose to race a lot.

Because of our train smart philosophy, we hope that next year we will be able to execute at every race and recover quickly and after each race we will gain fitness. We don't believe in B races but instead, having a purpose for every race and taking it very seriously as training and racing is not easy, cheap or kind on the body.

Although all of our races are Kona qualifiers, we picked each race for a specific reason..... in addition to the amazing opportunity to travel somewhere exciting.

St. Croix - This race has been on my bucket list for years. We are finally able to make it happen and I couldn't be more excited to share this challenging/beautiful race with Karel and a few of our friends. This race is known as "beauty and the beast" and with our love for challenging courses, I think we will get our money's worth at this race. Our goal at this race is to race strong and leave it all out on the course. I don't mind hot weather and I love hilly courses.  Karel prefers cooler temps over the heat but also love hilly courses. This race will be challenging for us both and we look forward to sharing stories together after the race is over and enjoying a few days on the island to explore a new place.

Raleigh 70.3- Karel is looking forward to this race because he wants to stay sharp this coming season. With this year (June 2012- Dec 2013) being his first year of triathlons, he did not race a lot and would like to race a bit more next year for a solid block of racing and training. As a cat 1 cyclist turned triathlete and over 20 years cycling experience, Karel knew exactly what worked for him in cycling races and in cycling - your fitness is only as good as your ability to keep up with the person in the front of the race.

He would race almost every weekend with cycling, often 2-3 races in a weekend. Now, he is learning more about his body as a triathlete. Although he understands there will be risks taken in learning more about his body, he also knows when to back off.  We will both utilize our season to get as strong as possible with strength training and work on all the little things that will help us be consistent with training. I will not do this race because I know from experience that after we race hard at St. Croix, I can not recover in 4 weeks and race again. Karel will not race Raleigh all-out but instead, use it as part of training to build fitness since he will also need to recover from St. Croix properly to ensure good build after Raleigh for IM Austria. As always, the key to any racing plan is to reduce training stress and the risk for injury. It's easy to train hard but the focus is recovery. You are only as good in training as your ability to recover properly from races/training. This won't be a B race but instead, part of the big plan. The bike course will fit Karel very well and I have a few athletes racing which will be great to help them out. I love NC and I can't wait to see the city after the race.

Ironman Austria - Our first international race! Although one would think this would be a tough course, this race is fast. Similar to IMFL, this would be a great course for a PR. My goal at this race is to have a strong run off the bike as 6 out of 7 of my IM races have included hilly bikes and/or hilly runs. Both Karel and I will race this race as a KEY race. We also know this race is beautiful and we are excited about our first destination race. Lastly, we choose this race because it is 5 hours away from Karel's family and we secured an apartment already at the race venue for his family to come and watch us race (they have never seen a triathlon/Ironman before). We look forward to heading to Karel's home town in Znojmo, Czech Republic after the race. Also, as a coach, I love new experiences to better help my athletes. I'm really excited to traveling internationally for a triathlon and the stress/excitement that comes with it. I'm so excited to visit this part of Europe and take lots of pictures and see the sights for 140.6 miles. We do not expect to Kona qualify here because of the competition in Europe but we will give our best effort for two strong performances. We don't want to chase Kona at the expense of enjoying every training and racing journey so we will do out best and see what happens.

IMWI - This is the race that the entire season is building for. I raced IMWI in 2011 and absolutely LOVED the course which is very challenging on the bike and on the run. But, the crowd support is amazing!! Karel has ridden the bike course a few times during his travels to Trek headquarters and for Trek World and he also spectated with my parents when I raced so he knows the best places for beer, ice cream and coffee (not all together).
The wetsuit swim is perfect for Karel and the cooler temps are ideal for us both to race really strong and not be compromised by the heat. Also, IM 70.3 World Champs is the same day so we feel that this will not be a race where the the field will be super deep for Kona contenders (ex. like it would be for Eagleman, St. Croix and IMFL). That doesn't mean that the day will not have amazing competition (which we both love to help us discover new limits with our own fitness) but we feel like we will be able to race strong, not for a PR, but instead for a Kona slot. The entire season will have this race as the priority so we will be very careful to not peak too early and to also adapt with the least amount of training stress to ensure healthy bodies and mind all season. We love the town of Madison and can't wait to enjoy it with the 3000+ other athletes and thousands of cheering students and fans...many of which will be consuming beverages with alcohol in them :)
I have never repeated an IM qualifier race before so this will be the first time I have repeated a race. There were many IM's to choose from for next year and I love traveling to new courses but we both discussed our options after IM Placid and after long consideration, we decided that IMWI would be the best place for us to put everything together and race smart. We will race to the best of our fitness ability next Sept for a possible 2015 Kona slot.

There's not magic ball or perfect training plan so as I lay out our season, I can not predict the future. The number one goal is to maintain balance in life. Training is not my life but instead my lifestyle. I have respect for the body, I love dreaming big, I fuel off real food, I enjoy a wholesome diet and I enjoy a balanced training plan.

But....2014 will  be a year to remember not only for us.....

But also for our athletes.

The 2014 Trimarni Roster is almost complete and we have an amazing team with new and old athletes to be inspired by. We are so excited to use our knowledge and experience to help others reach goals and dreams.

We will also have new Trimarni services, camps, clinics and events so stay tuned over the next few months!

3-week off season break - recap

Marni Sumbal

There's nothing more rewarding than resting the body after the hard work is over. When it comes to training the body for a start and finish line, it's important to understand that physiological adaptations are being made through pushing the body. Training is not exercise.

We must all exercise for health benefits and for weight control. That's proven through good research.

We do not have to run marathons, do an Ironman or even run in a 5K to be healthy.

But there's nothing more rewarding than setting a goal, working hard for a goal and then being able to let your mind be the only limiter on race day. Having a healthy and strong body is a gift and often something that is very much appreciated during exercise. Therefore, although we do not have to pay money to participate in an event in order to be healthy, it is a great feeling to finish what you started when you had an idea to accomplish something with an active body. 

The past three weeks were amazing. I did not miss structured training and I did not feel that anything special was missing from my life. I reflected, I thanked body and I continued to nourish myself with real food. I moved my body daily but I did not do the following for 21 days:
-No alarms
-No training gadgets
-No body bashing or weighing on a scale (we haven't had a working scale in our home for a few years)
-No off-food lists or out of control/extreme eating
-No exercise structure or "have to" do a certain workout
-No "have to" workout times/duration
-No running
-No sport nutrition products (aside from Hammer Fizz after Kona)
-No anti-inflammatory pills or any other medications/supplements (aside from Whey protein in my "meal" smoothies)
-No comparing myself to other athletes

I finalized my 2014 racing season, I slept a lot, I stretched, I moved my body daily, I stayed busy with my business coaching athletes and working on nutrition/fueling, I traveled and.....

I got a new bike!

Thank you Karel for my new Speed Concept!
How did I go so long without electronic Di2 shifting? 

Here's a recap of the last 21 days:

October 12th, 2013 - Ironman World Championship - 10:37
October 13th - Walking, playing in the ocean
October 14th-15th - 30 min swim in ocean with friends
October 16th - travel home
October 17th - 18th - short walks with Campy
October 19th - 2 hour road bike spin (socializing) + 15 min walk
October 20th - walk with Campy
October 21st - 30 min swim + light hip work
October 22nd - 30 min elliptical
October 23rd - walk with Campy
October 24th - 30 min elliptical + light hip/core work
October 25th - 45 min elliptical, travel to Miami
October 26th - outdoor 20 min circuit + 15 min walk with Campy
October 27th - spectate Karel at Miami 70.3
October 28th - 45 min elliptical (with intervals) + hip/core work and light strength
October 29th - 20 min elliptical + 20 min treadmill walk on incline + core work
October 30th - walks with Campy
October 31st - 45 min elliptical + 15 min treadmill walk (both with intervals) + light strength, travel to PCB
Nov 1st - 30 min road bike w/ Karel, exploring PCB for IMFL and visiting with athletes/friends
Nov 2nd - 2.5 mile run to swim start for IMFL, 2.5 mile run back to house + 17 hours of spectating at IMFL (alarm set for 5:30am, went to bed at 1am on November 3rd)
Nov 3rd - Traveled home from PCB

November 4th - feeling fresh, motivated, recovered and inspired.

This week is all about getting back into structure, no set workouts but instead, structure for my body and low volume/intensity.

After this week, Karel and I will be doing 5 weeks of "transitioning" focusing on strength training, skills, power and form.

(We have created a 5 week triathlon transition phase training plan focusing on workouts, skills, strength training and nutrition which will be available soon for those who are interested in reducing risk for injury, changing body composition and improving efficiency before beginning structured training or any type of fitness routine). 

As for next's all about hard work, smart training, racing to travel and dreaming big. 

MAY 4th, 2014 - Me and Karel

June 1st, 2014 - Karel (I will spectate/sherpa)

June 29th, 2014 - Me and Karel

September 7th, 2014 - Me and Karel 

Stay tuned for the next blog on tips for planning your racing season. 

IMFL - Proud coach and inspired spectator

Marni Sumbal

We ran 2.5 miles from our homestay to watch the IMFL swim start. 

We couldn't wait to see our friends and athletes start their Ironman day. A day that was months in the making and the culmination of many miles and hours of training. Most people would say that the Ironman distance triathlons is hard.
But getting to the starting line is one of the most rewarding experiences that any athlete can receive. 

Although choppy waters, the day was absolutely perfect for PR's and great performances. There is no "easy" Ironman course or day so the understanding is that for those who are mentally strong, they are the ones who can take their trained body to the finish line knowing that it won't be easy - BUT it will be worth it. 

With soaked shoes and socks, standing in calf high water, we waited to see our athletes finish the first loop of the two loop swim course. I couldn't believe that Karel could spot so many of our friends and athletes after running a few yards along the sandy beach to re-enter the water. There's nothing better than hearing your name as you are about to swim in the sea, all alone with your thoughts and 3000+ other athletes thinking the same crazy thoughts with you "Why am I doing this?"


We waited in the transition area for 20 minutes to secure the perfect spot to cheer on our friends and athletes as they grabbed their swim-to-bike (Transition 1 bag) after exiting the water and then cheered for them again after changing in the men/women changing tent before running to grab their bike from the racks. I couldn't believe how many people we knew doing this race (over 30 from Jacksonville!) alongside our own coaching and nutrition athletes so it was so great to cheer for those who inspire us.

We drove 30 minutes to see athletes on the out-and-back section of the course, around mile 90-97. Knowing that you have only 20 miles or so to go is a great feeling but from experience, the last 2 hours of the Ironman 112 mile bike ride can be lonely with a lot of lows. 

Out and back sections are one of the best places for athletes...

IMFL 2007 - my first Ironman.
In 2007, Karel (my boyfriend at the time) wanted my parents to head to the course to see me on the bike. My mom was worried they would miss me on the run but Karel insisted that I would enjoy seeing them on the bike as 112 miles is a long way to go when there are not as many spectators as there on the run course.

He was right.

I was so surprised when I saw them and it totally made my day. I was in a low spot and when I saw my family and Karel as I was heading out on the first out and back section, I think I sprinted on my bike because I was just so excited to head back to see them again!

Campy and I and Karel stayed in two separate spots so that our athletes would see Karel first and then Campy could give them a cheer. It worked perfectly and I think I saw a lot of smiles on faces to hear a cheer from Iron Doggy Campy. 

Wheatberry salad from Panera (without Chicken)

After a quick take-out as we headed back to the race venue, we were excited to cheer on our athletes and friends and everyone else to the finish line.

There is something really incredible about the first mile (and last) of the Ironman and the crowd support at PCB did not disappoint.  The music from the Atlanta Tri Club was contagious as it was hard to not want to dance and cheer for every single athlete who was running - from the pros who finished in record time (the sub 8 hours!) to the very last finisher at midnight...and even the handful of athletes still on the course after midnight. What's so amazing about the Ironman is that although you have to finish before midnight, the staff at Ironman will wait til everyone finishes...even if at 12:10pm. And the spectators LOVE the last hour so there are no shortage of cheers past 11pm (after 16 hours of racing).

From 3pm until midnight, we were on the run course. We hung out a bit at our friend's RV but aside from that - Campy, Karel and I cheered on everyone we knew....and even those who were friends by association (in the triathlon world - we are all family).

There were many PR's on this perfect day but there are no guarantees with the Ironman. Just because a day is perfect, fast or the body is trained, you never know what will happen on that day. You may surprise yourself and you may get frustrated. But in the end - you must respect the body. There is nothing easy about not finishing a race so either you keep moving forward, and eventually find yourself at the finish line or find something within you that will light a fire to keep you coming back for more, even if you don't receive a finisher medal.

We had athletes who finished before 5 pm and athletes who finished after 9pm. It made for a long day but just like in an goes by really fast and you have to enjoy every mile (or in our case, every hour).

And I've learned from my expert spectator hubby that ice cream always makes spectating so much better. 

From 6:40am until 12:10am. We ran, we drove, we watched, Karel biked on the run course to cheer, Campy and I walked and we cheered.
 7 years ago, I crossed my very first finish line at IMFL. 

This year I was a spectator - cheering on my athletes and friends.
The energy was the same, the inspiration was there and my love for what the human body is capable of doing continues to grow.

I'm so proud of every athlete who gave the best effort possible at 2013 Ironman Florida - our friends from Jacksonville, the many athletes who let Karel service their bikes before the race, our friends from afar and those who we never met but looked amazing out on the course.

I'd like to take a moment to spotlight the amazing Trimarni athletes who were on the course....

Kerry Mowlam - 2nd age group (40-44), Kona ticket, 9:03 finishing time and 42nd overall (counting pros). We worked on your nutrition with a one-on-one session and tweaked a few things for better absorption of nutrition on the bike, using a gel flask on the run for easier consistent intake and an easier-to-digest pre training/racing snack. I couldn't be more excited for you and your attitude on race day was amazing - you never stopped having fun and it showed! Congrats!

JM Marchand - some people like to say "it wasn't your day". It's not easy when you don't finish a race and devote so much time, money and energy to get to the starting line. But JM - it was your day. Karel had worked with you for many months to lead up to this day and even though the cards (and a 2222 bib number) were not in your favor, this doesn't mean that we didn't gain a lot from this experience. There WILL be another race and I love that you are ready to tweak your nutrition as Karel and I know that your body was trained for this race. We loved seeing you out on the course, racing strong and refusing to give up until the body said enough. Even though you made it to mile 15 or so of the run, consider those extra unfinished miles motivation for next, I heard you have a 5K to run with your 8 year old daughter for Girls on the Run, next weekend so rest up!

Diane Murphy - Thank you for letting me share this IM journey with you by using the Trimarni race week and race day nutrition service. You NAILED your first IM and executed perfectly with a 10:51 finishing time and 11th age group (30-34). I'm so proud of your well-fueled body and for doing what you love for 140.6 miles. Enjoy your finisher medal!

Josh Griffin - When an athlete wants to be coached and has sights on a PR, we always tell our athletes not to chase a PR. But when your only IM was 12:50 with little structured training, we know there's plenty of room for improvement. Talk about sticking to a plan - in training and racing. After a few months of solid training with Karel and letting me formulate a custom INFINIT sport drink, you did exactly what you came to IMFL to do - execute. And your body did not let you down. 9:54:26 finishing time!!! We are so proud of you!

Maggie Crotty - You purchased the Trimarni 12-week Ironman pre built training plan with hopes to maintain balance and finish your first Ironman with quality over quantity training. We worked together with nutrition first, then tweaked training and I reviewed your files with your monthly pre-built plan phone calls and you dug deep on race day (with your boyfriend sharing the journey with you - way to go MATT!). 14:24 for your very first Ironman - WAY TO GO!!! We are so very proud of you and thank you for letting me share this exciting moment with you. 

Stefanie Swanger - This has been years in the making. I always believed in you but you did the work. Working full time, with a 14 month year old and a husband to give you unconditional love and support. You had an amazing team behind you but it was up to you on race day to make it all happen. I could not have been more proud of you for getting to that starting line but after 14 hours and 39 minutes of racing, you beat your goal time by 30 minutes and your body allowed you to do the incredible. 

Stefanie - you are the reason why I love what I get to do. Athletes like you who make no excuses and just do the work with goals in mind. You dream big and I love that. Thank you for letting Karel, Campy and I be part of your life and we are so incredibly proud of you. Keep dreaming big and I can't wait to see what you have in mind next.....

Let's eat! Trimarni sushi, pomegranate banana bread and more!

Marni Sumbal

Pomegranate smoothie
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 large orange (without peel)
1 large celery stick (chopped)
1/2 large banana (very ripe)
1 tsp ginger chopped
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup  milk
1/3 cup greek yogurt (Fage 0% plain)
Small handful spinach
1 tsp cinnamon
~25g protein powder
10 ice cubes
water to meet consistency needs.

1. Blend ingredients for 90 seconds to make a smoothie meal that is thick enough to eat with a spoon. 

Zucchini pomegranate banana bread
2 bananas (very ripe), mashed
1 egg
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup skim milk
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch all spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup zucchini (shredded)
1 cup pomegranate seeds.
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup oat flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8 x 1 1/2 inch pans with non stick spray.
2. Combine all ingredients except flour and mix well.
3. Add the flour until evenly combined.
4. Pour batter in one pan until 3/4th filled. Pour leftover batter in other pan (will make a thinner bread for pan #2).
5. Bake for 45-50 minutes. 

Mixed greens salad w/ fresh fruit and pistachiosMixed greens with pistachios, pomegranate, avocado, raspberries, apples, orange pepper, chives, purple onion, edamame and Parmesan topped with olive oil and a side of bakery fresh bread.

Avocado Sushi
Wild rice (cooked)
Sauteed onions and mushrooms (in oven or skillet - tossed in a little olive oil) or raw
Avocado - chopped

1. Take seaweed "paper" and lay flat on plate.
2. On 1/2 of paper, spread with semi warm rice. Top with onions, avocado and mushrooms.
3. Roll seaweed into roll and enjoy. 

Taco saladMixed greens, avocado, onion, green and red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, salsa, pinto beans and carrots topped with crumbles chips (from Miami 70.3 travel home stop at Moe's) and a side of cottage cheese.

Why I love my real food diet: It is not a mass marketed diet fad, temporary change or extreme approach. It's real food in a balanced way that fuels life and reduces risk for disease....and it tastes great!
Happy eating!

Karel's Miami 70.3 race report

Marni Sumbal

1.2 mile swim

Around 8:40 or so, Karel lined up near the front of his wave just behind the inflatable swim start sign. Karel went into this race with a lot of swim confidence as he has been working really hard with a swim coach/masters team at UNF on his swimming skills. As a cat 1 cyclist turned triathlete and just learning how to swim 15 months ago, Karel has come far in both his endurance and efficiency as a swimmer. But all of triathletes know that to be a great triathlete you need to be able to exit the water relatively fresh - with a body that can bike and then run to the finish line.

The great thing about this specific swim course is that it was designed really nicely for all levels of swimmers. For Karel, the numbered buoys and 3 specific turn buoys allowed him to pace himself but also mentally swim strong throughout the swim. Also, Karel liked starting in the water, after jumping off a dock. Karel has expressed that the mass swim start chaos is not something he looks forward to so the smaller waves alongside smooth water conditions presented the perfect race start for Karel.

35:08, 458th male, 92 age group

Karel exited the water just over 35 minutes which he was really happy about as that was his same time with a wet suit from Branson 70.3 last year. Karel knows that in triathlons, you have to forget the past and be in the moment and every race is different so you can't compare race times. So even if the swim wasn't as good as it was at Miami, he always says "forget about it and move on. Let what happened happen and don't try to make up time on the bike because of a slower swim." When you give your best effort you must always accept it with no regrets or wish-I-would-have's.

The hardest part of the swim was getting out of the water. Karel said they had to climb a few stairs to exit the water and then it was a jog to transition. But other than that - Karel was really excited about his swim time. He also felt much better exiting the water and not exhausted for the bike. Yay progress!

56 mile bike

Amber and I had a little time to kill after our guys were on the bike so I grabbed some food from my bag and cooler and we sat on the ground in Bayside Market Place to enjoy a few snacks. I also charged my phone as it was super active all morning with updates on Facebook and Instagram.

I estimated that Karel would be a few minutes in transition and depending on the wind, I was thinking between 2:20 and 2:25 for his bike. I didn't discuss times with Karel before his race so I used the Ironmanlive tracker for his 28 mile split to guesstimate his return time.

Karel and I spent the night before studying the course map - specifically the first few miles of the bike so that Karel would know exactly how he was leaving transition and what to expect in the first few miles of the race when the body is acclimating from swim position to bike position.

Karel exited the water in 92nd place out of his age group of 524 (35-39) males.

Karel new he would be passing a lot of people since he was in the 22nd wave (out of 26) so the goal of the ride was to race smart for a strong run. Karel has been craving a sub 1:30 run off the bike but he had a lot of work to do on the bike to move forward in his age group placing to be pushed by the other guys in his age group for that strong run.

Karel said that the course was simple - out and back. There was a slight tailwind after the turn around but overall, Karel said it was mostly crosswinds.

Karel was able to maintain a good pace to the turn around and averaged around 24mph for 28 miles (1:09). I wasn't sure how the wind would affect him on the way home but knowing Karel he is not the biker who would overbike the first half of a race. If anything, Karel likes to save his effort and I knew he wouldn't overbike this course so I figured he would be at around the same time -give or take a minute or two- on the way back. The one downside to this course for Karel was that it was pancake flat. Karel and I both prefer rolling courses for it gives us a chance to stretch the legs and change position on the bike. Karel gets really tight in his adductors and hip flexors which is relieved by getting out of the saddle. But on this course - Karel stayed aero, had all his nutrition on the bike and stretched as needed throughout the race.

After passing groups and groups of riders on the way out, Karel was stuck on the way back. With 3133 participants in the race, let's just say that many athletes were enjoying a free ride and according to Karel, it was like a team time trial out there. Karel was unable to pass 4 abreast on the road for then he would be risking a penalty for crossing the middle line. So I guess you could say in this race you are only as fast as the pack in front of you.

Karel has had his time racing bikes for most of his life so it would be easy for him to draft in triathlons for it is normal in cycling races. But the difference between bike racing and triathlons is the individual effort needed in tri's. Although Karel misses being in the hurt box at his crit races, he really enjoys the solo effort and having no one to blame but yourself for how things go on race day. In other words, in cycling races you can have a great day but get dropped from the pack that is having a better day. In triathlons - it's your own effort and either you race smart or suffer.

Karel ended up having a slower ride (relative) on the way back because of the massive groups of riders so he was a bit bothered by the craziness on this course but happy that he was about to wake up his run legs. Even though he wasn't quite sure how his legs were going to enjoy running 13.1 miles at almost noon time and up a bridge four times, the mind knew it was time to run and the body had no choice but to follow.

I was so thankful to my Facebook followers for everyone was helping me keep up with Karel on I managed to catch Karel on the way into transition area and the set-up for the Miami 70.3 course was really great for spectators to see athletes riding into transition area through the middle of downtown.

The course had many road closures in the downtown area which was great for getting around the swim/run course rather easy. Campy was starting to get a little exhausted but he had just enough energy to smile and cheer for all the athletes on the course. He was super excited to finally see his daddy.

2:22:17 (23.61 mph) - 19th age group, 125th male

13.1 mile run

After passing 396 people on the bike course in 56 miles, Karel transitioned in less than 2 minutes and was off for the run. The run course was an out and back course, 2 loops. The course was not forgiving on the legs and running in the middle of the day was also another challenge for the body. 

I stayed near mile 6 so that I could see Karel heading back from his first loop. Thankfully there were a lot of tracking mats on the course to record his chip for frequent updates. A former nutrition athlete of mine, Roger, was a lifesaver for I was able to know about when Karel was coming. Holding Campy and my camera was taking my love for multi-sports to the extreme. BUT, I managed to catch Karel both times.

When I saw Karel he looked great. He had been averaging between 6:23-6:57 min/mile with a few slower segments (relative) on the bridge. Just like on the bike, Karel had all his nutrition with him so he relied on his Nathan fuel belt and then grabbed ice/water at the aid stations for sipping and cooling. Karel usesInfinit Nutrition and a custom formula that I created for him for the bike and run. Karel said that the aid stations were running out of fuel on the run so he was happy he had his own nutrition.

After seeing Karel again, starting loop two, I could tell that he was going to give it his all. That's what I love so much about Karel - absolutely no excuses. It is what it is, all that he has, 100% of the time. I've watched Karel race bikes for 6 years so I have experienced the rush, the highs and the lows that come with bike racing. But I can't help but remember that Karel just started triathlons last year and although a very talented and gifted athlete, he trains really hard using our "train smart" philosophy. 

At around 1 mile, Karel had moved into 17th place. Nearing mile 9, he was in 13th place. I could tell from his splits that he was getting tired and later did I hear that Karel was really suffering on the run in his hip flexors. He said he was super tight and just couldn't get his legs to freshen up. With all things considered, it was just after 1pm and running up and over a bridge four times doesn't make running any easier. But, no giving up for Karel - ever. He will push til he can't push any more. 

I was also so happy that I spotted Trimarni athlete Caitlin on the run course who later finished her first Half IM in just over 7 hours! She looked amazing the entire run and I was just so happy for her!
I made my way to the finish line because I didn't want to miss Karel's finish. Of course...I missed his finish after waiting over 20 minutes in the most perfect spot to see him coming and then move over to the barricades to video his finish. I have no idea how I missed him but when the announcer said his name I was so sad that I missed his finish!

The finish line was in the park area so it was really easy to find athletes after they finished.
I walked with Campy to the area where athletes were exiting the finish line chute and waited, and waited and waited.
I wasn't sure where he was and I was concerned that I wouldn't find him and it would be really hard to find him with so many athletes and spectators around if he was in the park area. I knew he wouldn't go far as we planned to meet at the finish line area but I waiting and waiting and no Karel.  I knew the medical tent was near by and I couldn't see Karel in there so I figured he had just collapsed somewhere to rest his aching legs. 

My friend Amber and her hubby Tommy (who did AMAZING in 4:40!) spotted Karel and I was very relieved.

After Karel and I made our way to an empty grass area, Karel told me that he ended up in medical because he was on the verge of blacking out at the finish. Medical iced him down and after a few minutes he was ok to walk alone. Neither Karel or myself have ever received an IV after a race.

After Karel rested a bit and received some happy celebratory kisses from Campy, we walked (as Karel hobbled) to the parking garage so that Karel could get his backpack with his change of clothes. Karel went to our friend's hotel to shower since he had his room key and I hung out at the market place for another 30 minutes so that I could see Caitlin one more time on her way back to finish her race. I also cheered for the other athletes and spotted my friend Dee Dee who also finished her first half IM.

After Karel showered, he grabbed his bike and gear from transition and met me back at the car. Not surprising, Karel started to feel the normal waves of "I feel OK" to "I think I am going to die" so he just sat outside the car on a curb in the parking garage for a good 15 minutes. I put an ice pack on his neck from the cooler and went to the market to find him something that would help him feel better.

A fruit smoothie did the trick and Karel was feeling a bit better after a few sips. He also had a little bit of milk and some grapes post race, along with a Coke and Water (and a few electrolyte tablets).

Nearing 3pm, we were ready to hit the road for our 5 hour trip home. Karel rested, Campy was passed out in his bed and I drove home.

To recap Karel's race - he finished strong and gave everything he had for that day. 7:01 min/mile pace for 13.1 miles = 1:32:08 finishing time (including walks at aid stations).
Karel finished 14th age group with some crazy tough competition out there.
His run was 104th overall and 94th male.

Finishing time: 4:33:37

                                                                         Go Caitlin!!!

Finishing strong!!!

Well Miami - thanks for the memories. Miami 70.3 is complete. 

Another race in the books and another chance to thank the body for what it allows us to do. Crossing finishing lines is great and it makes for great stories when we walk funny after the race. But the best part of our life is being able to live every day to the fullest. We love to use our body and racing gives us a means to release all that energy. We love to travel and racing gives us the excuse to see new sights.

We love setting goals and working hard for them. Sometimes we don't reach goals on race day but it doesn't stop us from enjoying the journey to get to another starting line and remembering where we were when we started the goal setting process.

Racing has no guarantees. There is no magic trick to ensure a great race day performance or even a finish at all. But racing is more than just getting a medal and a t shirt. It tests you when you are weak and vulnerable, it makes you discover a lot about yourself and it forces you to return to your "normal" life as a stronger and more grateful human being.

No matter how a race starts or how a race finishes, what counts is your gratitude for what your body was able to let you do on that very day. So long as you keep yourself nourished and well,  hopefully there will always be another race.

Miami 70.3: Spectator report (and tips) part 1

Marni Sumbal

I've been a participating athlete at races more than I've been a spectator since I started being a competitive triathlete in 2005. But, that doesn't mean I don't know a thing or two about spectating.

Lucky for me, I've learned from the best...thanks mom, dad and Karel for being the best cheerleaders out there!

But to be a great spectator you have to do your homework and some experience goes a long way. You also need to have some patience and plenty of snacks..... compression socks help too. But most of all, you have to be supportive.

Having goal times and meeting them has been proven to be very helpful to my parents and Karel as spectators but of course, they've done their share of worrying when I don't hit my goal times. That's the wild thing about sports - you never know what will happen on race day and the ultimate goal is to get to the finish line as your biggest fans will be excited for you no matter what the day brings.

Now that Karel is sharing this multisport lifestyle with me, I have really enjoyed being his number one fan at his races. Of course, it is great sharing the course with him but I absolutely love being his sherpa before and during the race. It's not about me or us but instead, it's all about him on race day and I love that he can count on me to make his race experience as simple and easy as possible.

After our 5 hour drive down south to Maimi, we headed straight to the race venue for Karel to pick up his packet. We opted to stay a bit outside of Miami at an Extended Stay hotel which works very well for us when we travel thanks to the affordable rate, pet-friendly accommodations and full kitchen. The parking in downtown Miami was a bit more than my frugal mind can handle but after dropping Karel off to get his packet, I drove around and found street parking with $1.50 per hour.

Spectator tips: Be prepared to drop your athlete off, wait around, walk a lot and find/pay for parking. Your athlete will likely be on a time schedule and perhaps a little ancy and anxious if things aren't going "as planned". Try to make it easy on your athlete by getting him/her where they need to be on time and avoid stressing out if there is traffic (that's the last thing an athlete needs is to sit in traffic when they think they need to be somewhere 5 minutes ago). Review directions to avoid getting lost and always plan for extra time (at least 15 minutes). Be sure to read the athlete guide before arriving at the race as well as any last minute details on the race website. There may be parking specials in certain areas, schedule changes as well as road closures before and during the race. Lastly, if your athlete is racing a very important race (ex. A race of the season, qualifier race, etc.) be accommodating to their requests to stay within walking distance of the race venue, but likely paying a more expensive price for the hotel room. Staying near the race venue saves a bit of time and hassle. However, the downside is often no free WiFi, paying for food (coffee/meals) and perhaps paying for overnight parking (sometimes). This isn't always the case for staying close to the race but do your homework - always review your lodging accommodations especially if you need a microwave/fridge, wifi, etc. Weigh your options before booking a hotel room for sometimes it pays to be close whereas sometimes you may be fine staying up to 10 miles away from the race venue. I recommend no more than 20 minutes away due to the already early wake up call on race day. 

After walking around the expo area and checking on the transition area, we headed a few blocks to the car and drove to our hotel. Of course, being 5:30pm on a Friday night in Miami meant enjoying a little traffic for our planned 7 mile commute. Finally, around 6:30pm we checked into our hotel and made ourselves at home for the next two nights. I planned extra food in the cooler in the case we would not get to the grocery store on Friday evening which worked perfect for us both so that we could make dinner and Karel could relax.

Spectator tip: Always bring extra food with you and plan ahead. If your athlete wants to be in control of food choices, whether eating in the hotel room or at a certain restaurant, let him/her make that call. The only body that is racing on race day is the athlete and he/she will likely know what foods work the best pre race. Not every athlete is the same so this may be something worth communicating with your athlete in the case that you would like to eat out but your athlete wants to eat in. Typical foods I travel with include: cereal, nuts, bread, PB, veggies, fruit, pretzels and KIND bars. If I have a cooler, I can bring other items like sandwich items, eggs, milk and yogurt. I recommend searching ahead of time for the nearest grocery store and also consider places like gas stations, CVS, Target and farmers markets for other food finds. Also, don't hesitate to go out for little trips for certain food items if your athlete is requesting a certain food item but if you can, try to plan ahead. Here's an article I did on eating while traveling: Reheat, Repeat: Smart meals for traveling triathletes and another one on traveling tips.  

 After a great 10 hour night of rest we both woke up without an alarm and it was time to start the day. Of course, Campy was the last to get out of bed.  We were on a bit of a schedule because the athlete meeting was at 11am and Karel needed to do his race warm-up (about an hour bike with a few pick ups) and eat. After I got some coffee from downstairs in the continental breakfast, Karel joined Campy and I for our morning walk which made for a lot of fun as we explored the back of our hotel - which happened to be a golf course, run/bike path and an outdoor "gym". I did a 20 min circuit outside and then walked Campy for about 15 minutes and then headed back to the hotel to make Karel some breakfast and then myself some yummy food.
After I showered, Karel had returned from his bike and around 10:15am we were out the door. After the athlete meeting, athletes could check in their bikes at noon so Karel brought his bike (stickers attached) to check-in in the secured transition area.

Spectator tip: you may feel a little rushed the day before the race so be aware of changing plans. On the flip side, your athlete may have a schedule but may be a bit behind what he/she needs to get done for the day. The best suggestion is to have an itinerary and between the athlete and spectator - try to make it all work out in the easiest way possible..teamwork. Try to minimize driving back and forth if there are two transition areas, if you have to attend athlete meeting before the race (I highly recommend) or anything else at the race venue. A must for many athletes is coffee pre race. A few suggestions depending on your lodging: by instant coffee and mix with hot water, buy Starbucks Via packets to mix in hot water, buy coffee the day before and heat the next morning or use coffee maker. Be aware many coffee places may not be open before you need to be at the race and expect long lines if getting coffee after your athlete exits the swim and you wait along with a thousand other spectators near the closest coffee shop. Be sure your athlete eats and rests. 

After attending the athlete meeting, we headed to the car for Karel to get his bike and then we walked over to the transition area. Since only athletes are allowed in transition area with their wrist band, Campy and I stayed outside the transition area. Nearing 1pm, we headed back to the hotel and although we needed a few groceries for Karel's dinner, we had enough for lunch in the room. The morning had been rushed and it was nice to relax in the room. We both had some things to do on the computer so with our spacey room, we each worked for a few hours while Campy watched for birds out the window.

Around 4pm, we headed to Publix (1.5 miles down the road) for a few groceries and around $40 later we had our first food purchase since leaving on Friday morning. Karel and I both don't watch the clock when it comes to eating on a daily basis but for races, we both like to eat early. Around 5pm, Karel fixed his dinner which is his typical pre race meal of chicken, rice and veggies (in this case - soup).

We looked for a movie on TV but didn't find much so we reviewed the race course in full detail (athlete guide + mapquest) for turn by turn directions. Nearing 8pm, we got ready for bed and enjoyed a few episodes of Modern Family before lights were out around 9:30pm. Again, Campy was the first to bed.

Spectator tip: Plan for an early dinner the night before the race as well as early to bed. It's recommend to discuss sleeping arrangements with your athlete for many spectators will not be able to go to bed at 8:30/9pm. Expect an early wakeup so it's recommend to have everything packed and ready to go and to save time, load up the car as much as possible if checking out on race day morning to save time. Again, allow extra time (15 minutes) in the morning. Every athlete is different with his/her typical pre race routine so discuss this with your athlete. Some athletes like to get in the zone (peace and quite) whereas others are very social and energetic. Nerves are not isolated to newbies so even if an athlete is experienced, avoid questions like "are you ready" and "are you nervous" and instead, keep the questions minimal if possible. To avoid an athlete freak-out, do NOT complain about the weather (cold/hot/windy) in front of your athlete. It's recommend to review the course map and have an idea of when your athlete will finish the race as well as predicted range of swim, bike, run times. This will help for cheering and a better spectating experience. Not every race is spectator friendly so it may be helpful to reach online forums for spectating advice at your specific race venue. 

Around 4:15am, the first of many alarms went off and Karel was up to start the coffee. Campy was not liking this early wake-up call but just to be sure we didn't leave him he slept with one eye open in the morning.

Karel made himself oatmeal and breakfast bread with jam and PB and had a few sips of his yogurt drink. I had a snack of scrambled egg + 2 WASA crackers and PB and had the cooler ready for the day, as well as a few snacks for my backpack (PB sandwich, nuts/cereal, peach, banana, KIND bar, yogurt) which I made the night before.

After I walked Campy and loaded up the car, we were out the door around 5:30am. Because Karel's wave wasn't until 8:45am we were not in a big rush to get to the race venue except for Karel to set-up his stuff by 7am (transition closing).

We parked at the race venue parking lot (parking garage) for $5 and I grabbed the pump as Karel grabbed his transition bag of his race gear.

We walked about 5 minutes or so to the transition area and I stood on the outside of the fenced-in area as Karel got body marked and then set up his spot with his gear. About 20 minutes later, Karel gave me back the pump and I had my friend Amber there with me (watching her hubby Tommy) to walk back to the car with me to return the pump. Karel hung out with his friend Elias in his hotel room across the street which worked perfect for Karel to rest for the 2 hours before his wave start.

The race officially started at 7:25am so Amber and I hung out at the swim start to watch the 25+ waves go off, one after another for all 2500+ athletes to start the race by 9am. The time went by really fast and before I knew it, Karel was texting me that he was walking to the swim start and for me to take his backpack from him.


I helped him put on his speed suit and sprayed body glide all over him along with sunscreen. A kiss for luck and speedy vibes and he entered transition area with his wave. Around 8:45am, Karel's wave (35-39 males, last of four of his age group waves) entered the dock and jumped off into the water. Karel mentioned the water was really warm and at 8:45am, that was to be expected in Miami.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from Karel as he wasn't going for a WC 70.3 spot because we are doing IMWI that day with our #1 goal to both try to qualify for Kona. So instead, Karel was there to chase the competition. Karel is not a time-goal chaser so he never thinks about a time on paper but instead, whatever the day will bring he will race with his fitness and execute in the best way possible. Karel is still very new to triathlons with this being his 5th Half Ironman but only learning how to swim last June before his first ever triathlon in July 2012. Karel really enjoys triathlons and also enjoys the tactics involves of racing in a three sport event. I really love this about Karel because he doesn't go into races with the pressure of expectations. Sure he has goals for himself which drive him to push his limits and to discover his potential but he doesn't let his ego take away from the race day experience. After 7.5 years together, there is one thing I know about Karel....he is not an excuse type of guy. When it comes to racing, he will give it his best effort and make no excuses as to how the day turns out. And Miami 70.3 for Karel was a true testimonial of what racing is all about....finish what you started.

Spectator tip: have a meeting spot for post race in case you don't see your athlete again after you drop him/her off at transition area. Also, keep a positive attitude the entire race as your athlete has a three sports to finish and the race is never over til he/she crosses the finishing line. If watching a newer athlete compete, the goal may be just to finish. For other athletes, there may be high expectations on his/her plate. Whatever the case may be - the best results are told by the athlete him/herself and not by a time on paper. Cheer your athlete on from start to finish. Be sure to coordinate with your athlete about pre race gear that he/she may want to give you before the race as well as any last minute requests/words of advice. Your athlete may need to warm-up so plan to be at the race venue at least 90 minutes before his/her wave to allow enough time for everything. 

Part II....1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.....To Be Continued....

Make these 3 changes now before 1/1/14

Marni Sumbal

65 days until January 1st, 2014!!!! 

Where are my goal setters at? I know you are dreaming big right now just like me!

Even if 2014 will be an exciting year to conquer challenges and reach new goals, are you going to put off making small daily changes for the next 2 months when you could be working your way to developing better, stronger and smart skills for 2014? Do you really want one day, on Jan 1st, to be the day when you feel pressure to make extreme, unrealistic, temporary changes in the areas of diet, exercise and lifestyle when you can spend 65 days making small changes?


Don't wait for the perfect time - there will never be one. Create one small change today that will set you up for a better tomorrow in the areas of diet, exercise and life.


Three changes I suggest:
-Diet: Eat a satisfying breakfast and continue to tweak it so that you can stay satisfied for 3-4 hours (ex. add a bit more pro/fat to your carb selection and stick with real foods).

Try this: Nutty Pear Oatmeal

1/2 cup oats (dry)
1 tbsp raisins
1/8 cup seeds + chopped nuts (mixed)
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 large pear (sliced - save the other half for snack + 20 pistachios)
~15g of protein powder (whey, soy or vegan - different products may cook differently, mix together before cooking and stir at 45 seconds)
Water/milk to meet consistency needs
(if you don't want to add protein powder, you could mix it or have a side of 4-6 ounces greek yogurt plain (0%).
1 tbsp chia seeds OR 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
-Cook for 60-90 seconds and add more water/milk to meet consistency needs. 

-Exercise: Don't think big, even a 20 minute workout or movement will burn calories. Try to aim for 30-60 minutes of movement daily. Try to walk more.

Try this: Fitness magazine walk workout (perfect for lunch break or before/after work)

-Lifestyle: Try to go to bed earlier to get a restful night of sleep. Consider evening habits that may be keeping you from getting a good night of sleep (Eating dinner too late, snacking too much in the evening, staying on the computer too late, watching TV, bringing stressful thoughts or a big work to-do list with you too bed, too much afternoon/evening caffeine).

Try this: Read an old blog post I did on sleep (it does a body good!)


So, are you ready to make the changes now in order to receive the results on January 1st? 

You are in control of your choices - don't wait, act now. Making small tweaks to set yourself up for a better tomorrow. 

2 weeks post IM KONA (recipes and pics)

Marni Sumbal

Wow - I can't believe it's been two weeks since IM KONA.

After a few days, the aches, burns and chaffing subsided and that was a sign that I was officially in my off-season...and  I'm totally enjoying every day of it! Three full weeks of no weight bearing activity (ex. no running, plyometrics, etc.), no workout structure and no alarms. There's plenty of time to catch up on house chores, be super creative in the kitchen, take longer walks with Campy and just give a little TLC for my awesome body for what it allowed me to do this summer. And to rest up for a very exciting season of destination races: St. Croix 70.3 (May), IM Austria (June), IMWI (July). There's a lot of work to do in the off season after my recovery period and I am really excited to set new goals and to enjoy another exciting year with my healthy body.

Just to recap the past few weeks, there have been no post-race blues, no guilty feelings about no structured activity (typically 30-60 min of working out a day - swim, elliptical, walking, core/hip work. I've only biked once on my road bike) and a lot of transitions with Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition. There will be many exciting announcements to come but in the mean time I have been working on new services, camps/clinics, discussing coaching with potential athletes (love working with athletes who love hard work and dreaming big!) and Karel now offering Retul fitting and his pre-race "valet" bike tune-up service (IMFL is around the corner and there are many bikes in Jax that are now faster thanks to Karel working his magic on them).

And to summarize the past two weeks in pictures, I must say that my life post Triathlon season doesn't look much different than the training for two Ironmans over the past 22 weeks. Triathlons are my lifestyle, not my life. I will never stop eating for health as I know the same foods that help reduce risk for disease also help to fuel my active lifestyle. 

Can't beat this fall weather! I love my Campy walks!

What a stud - IRON DOGGY!

Sauteed kale with olive oil, tossed in a skillet with a stir fry of corn, cooked quinoa, mushrooms and onions - topped with asiago cheese. Side of cottage cheese (Daisy Brand 2%) and pineapples.

Road bike spin followed by a shop at the farmers market. Not a bad problem to have a bag overflowing with seasonal fruits and veggies. 

Putting my farmers market finds to good use - rye bread with scrambled eggs and fresh strawberries and a side of sauteed kale, onions, garlic, red peppers. 

Thin roasted, crunchy potatoes (425 degrees, slice thin and toss in olive oil and season with salt/pepper and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown) and a stir fry of quinoa, peas, tofu, tomatoes, chickpeas and mushrooms. 

Working at Baptist Medical Center South - I always leave with a better appreciation of my health and feeling so incredibly thankful that my body allows me to do what I choose to do with it. I also learn something new every time I see patient. Luckily, the day I worked last week wasn't filled with Cancer patients. Those days are always hard on my heart. 

Trimarni stew - broccoli, chickpeas, black beans, tofuy, garlic, onions, peppers, quinoa (or brown rice) + marinara sauce (about 1/2 - 1 cup) + water to meet consistency needs. Cook covered on low heat for 1 hour and plan for leftovers (they will taste great the next day).

Karel's Czech inspired egg salad - dill pickles, tomatoes, leeks, green pepper, eggs (hardboiled) and greek yogurt (0% Fage) on a bed of mixed greens. 

I spoke at 1st Place Sports as part of a panel of experts to a group of half marathon and marathon runners. My talk was on pre and during sport nutrition for training and racing. I gave away a lot of my special tips and suggestions and had lots of props. 

What a perfect combo for a snack (or pre dinner munchies) - cucumbers and feta cheese

Oh - SURPRISE! I got a new bike - thank you Karel!! 

.......Which means Trimarni and her one of a kind, custom paint job, is for sale! Email me if you are interested in the price and specs on the bike (Karel has kept this bike maintained since I got her with tune-ups at least every 2 weeks). 

And now - happy times are ahead. This weekend - Campy is taking his first trip to Miarmi for Miami 70.3 to watch Karel race and to cheer on all the amazing athletes (like Trimarni athlete Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point) who is doing her first ever half Ironman!

After 12 weeks of working together - coach and athlete are reunited at last!

That bike (and the legs behind it) have the need for speed! 

I love making memories with these two!

Happy 5 year anniversary (10/26/08) Karel!! I can't wait to keep making memories with you (and Campy)

What a lucky doggy!

Great times in Miami! Can't wait for race day tomorrow! 

Pomegranate, apple and hazelnut pancakes and ginger strawberry smoothie

Marni Sumbal

In the Trimarni house, we eat for fuel and for health. And most of all, eating is a happy time so we also eat for pleasure.

The same foods that fuel our active lifestyle, also keep our immune system healthy. Most of all, they are mostly whole and are found in a farm/garden so they also reduce our risk for disease.

There are no bad, off limit or temporary foods. We don't diet, cleanse, fast or do anything extreme wit the diet.

The only thing extreme about us is that we enjoy racing for 140.6 miles and Campy gets waaaaay too much love (but that will never stop).

We love whole foods that offer the nutrients that we need to support our healthy and active lifestyle.

We don't count calories, we count training hours. We enjoy the rewards of what a well-fueled, healthy and strong body allows us to do - year round - whether we are training for starting lines or moving for health gains.

We don't have a working scale. We eat for fuel, health and pleasure and after a few years of understanding our individual needs and best style of eating, we've discovered that it is possible for the body to take care of itself.

We don't believe in restricting food (especially whole foods) but instead, move the body more (ex. walking).

Whether we are enjoying the off-season, peaking for an Ironman or traveling the world, food enhances our life and doesn't control our life.

Why do you eat what you choose to eat? 

Ginger Strawberry Smoothie "meal"
10 ice cubes
30g protein powder (I used Solgar Whey To Go)
Dash of cinnamon
1 celery stick (chopped)
1/2 ripe banana
1 tsp fresh ginger (chopped or grated)
4 strawberries (stems removed)
10 baby carrots (mini)
1/2 cup Kale (Washed, chopped)
1/2 square 90% Dark chocolate
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup water

1. Blend ingredients in 6 cup blender for 90 seconds (this will make more volume and a more frothy smoothie.
I use the Oster Fusion blender. 
2. Pour 2.5 cups in large cup and enjoy.

Makes 2 servings (5 cups total)

Pomegranate, apple and hazelnut pancakes

1/2 cup apple (shredded) - I used gala
1/2 cup rye flour (you can use any flour)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (I slice in half and then soak each half under cold water for a few minutes and then use a knife to cut pomegranate into segments and then pop out seeds with my hands into a bowl).
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 egg
1 tbsp hazelnuts
1 tbsp honey
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup 0% Fage Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Skim Milk
1/2 cup oats
2 tsp oil (for pan)

1. Heat large skillet to medium heat. Drizzle 1/2 - 1 tsp oil and spread around pan for even coating.
2. Mix ingredients in large bowl and stir until evenly combined.
3. Use 1/4 cup and pour batter onto heated pan and press down to make flat pancake.
4. Cook 4-5 minutes on one side (or until golden brown) and flip and cook other side for 3 minutes.

Makes 7 servings

I have not had time to figure out calories as I like to do for some of my creations where I actually measure ingredients for cooking purposes. I will notify everyone when I put nutrition facts on this blog. For now - enjoy mindful eating as I always do. 

Kona RR: 26.2 mile run

Marni Sumbal

So, just to recap where I left off....

I woke up at 3:30am so that I could voluntarily use my body to:

Swim 2.4 miles

Bike 112 miles


And now I get to talk about running a marathon.

And because I do not call myself a runner, but instead, a triathlete, I am ending my Ironmand World Championship by running 26.2 miles.

As if running a marathon wasn't hard enough, I choose to run 26.2 miles after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles. A marathon is certainly never under-valued for the every-day running enthusiast who strives to be a marathon finisher and I can't say it enough that I am so incredibly grateful for what my body allows me to do for a total of 140.6 miles. I realize that I could choose just to be only a swimmer and "only" swim 2.4 miles in the ocean. I could also be only a cyclist and "only" bike 112 miles. Or, I could only be a runner and  "only" run a marathon.

But as a competitive athlete, my mind demands more to prove my toughness. I have chosen a multi-sport lifestyle because it not only challenges my body but also my mind. Seven Ironman finish lines ago, I decided I didn't want to settle for single-sport finishing lines. Absolutely nothing wrong with each sport performed alone but I have dedicated year after year to become the best multi-sport athlete I can be.

As an endurance triathlete, I realize that I have a lot on my plate. Oh yes, life is hard enough to manage but on top of that - nutrition, sport nutrition, stretching, strength training, training, racing, sleep. It's a lot to be an athlete, let alone an endurance athlete.

I take my sport, which is a voluntary sport, very seriously.

And what keeps me smiling throughout every race is knowing that I have trained myself to handle the mental demands of race day.

It's easy to sign up for an Ironman but you must have the motivation to train. Your inner drive keeps you going because of a meaningful goal that keeps you moving forward through soreness, bad workouts, injuries and stressful days.

The Ironman demands taking risks and learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And success as an Ironman athlete doesn't mean that you have the perfect pacing and nutrition plan but instead, that you are able to stretch your physical and emotional limits. When the body and mind want to give up, shower and lay down on the couch - you have to find a way to silence the screaming in your body so that you can finish what you started.
The Ironman requires that you handle competitive pressure in a good way so that you do not throw away hard work, good coaching and proper planning because you are nervous to see what the body will actually do when you put months of training together, of three sports, only for a one day event.
The Ironman requires that you believe in yourself for no one can move your body for 140.6 miles except for your own mind that controls the body to want it more than it has ever wanted it before.
The Ironman requires you to be an amazing person when it comes to adversity. The Ironman tests you when you are most vulnerable - like three weeks out from a race and you get sick or injured or during a race and you lose your fuel, get a flat tire or your GPS malfunctions. The Ironman tests you when the forecast isn't in your favor. When you feel scared or intimated by things out of your control, the Ironman wants to see how you use experience to adapt to the adversity. The Ironman wants to know if you can avoid making the same mistake twice (i.e. overtraining, poor pacing, etc.) and if you are strong enough to actually accept your mistakes in the first place instead of blaming your own mistakes on the weather or the course.

The Ironman is nothing more than a metaphor of life...although, when you cover 140.6 miles in an Ironman event, you get a big shiny medal and a t-shirt.

What I love about the Ironman, but most importantly as an endurance triathlete, is that I can develop skills during training that I never knew were possible. I can focus on what is important at that moment in time and set goals for myself for the future to keep me waking up every morning to see what I am capable of achieving for that day.
Lastly, the Ironman teaches me the skill of patience. Knowing that you can not cover 140.6 miles by training for a few weeks, the lesson I have learned the most with the Ironman is that hard work feels great. It's not easy and it's not quick and it requires more than just putting in the miles.

The Ironman is a lifestyle and that is what keeps me craving more, year after year. Every time I start a race, I look forward to the opportunity to be with myself all day and to cross the Ironman finishing line knowing that with every race, I am becoming a stronger human being.

After 112 miles, I was excited to step foot on the ground for the first time in 5 hours and 30 minutes. I stopped my computer on my bike and hit lap on my Garmin 910. I handed my bike to a volunteer and bent over to remove my shoes. I carried my shoes with me through transition which was a long run all the way around the entire pier.

I finally reached my T2 gear bag which contained two gel flasks, my 110% Visor, a clean pair of socks, my bib number + race belt (with safety pins attached), my Brooks Launch running shoes (with lace locks) and a small hand towel and then headed inside the Women's changing tent.

I was very unsuccessful at emptying my bladder fully on the bike so as soon as I put on my shoes, clean socks (kept my compression CEP calf sleeves on) and visor (with the help of a volunteer giving my ice cold water), I went straight to the port-o-potty in the Women's changing tent.

One of my rules with needing to go to the bathroom during races is go the first moment you feel the urge. Do not wait until it gets too late and the transition area is a great place to go as there is a better chance you will find more potties than on the course with athletes.

Completely relieved after I went to the bathroom (I made us of my time by putting on my bib number belt), I stretched out my legs and walked until I left the changing tent until it felt "right" to run. I was in no immediate rush as I knew all was going well - no GI distress, great pacing and if all goes well, a very exciting PR.

After leaving transition area, I was mobbed by spectators. Of course, everyone was behind the barricades but they gave me so much amazing energy. I saw a few friends in the crowd (Lane Vogel and Lacey - thank you!) and made my way a bit up Palani, to the right and then down Hualani to veer left on to the notorious Alli drive.

I had mentally and physically prepared myself for this run. I completed the 3 x 2 hour runs which were all off the bike (1-2 hour bikes) and felt much stronger than in Placid 14 weeks ago. Also, I was reminded by a good friend of mine and a phenomenal top triathlete that when you become stronger on the bike, running is much easier off the bike. My power had improved 10 watts in 14 weeks which for me, is huge on the bike but most of all, my body was healthy and 90 days of no running meant lots of hip work to bring me to Kona with a strong body.

The run course is exciting and beautiful....until you step foot on the Queen K hwy around mile 10.

So to soak up all the excitement, I could not wait to see Gloria outside of our condo, just 2.7 miles down the road. It was the highlight of my day as I knew she would be cheering for me and I just hoped she had a message for me from Karel and my parents.

I'm not going to sugar-coat the run but the first few miles took a while to pass. I was feeling good in my body but it was just an overwhelming amount of energy to hold on to that I struggled to get my rhythm. I needed to go to the bathroom (nothing was distressing my GI system, I just needed to go and the body was telling me to do so) so I went to a potty and it was being occupied. This was just after I saw Gloria so I am thinking around mile 4 or so, just about 1.5 miles before the turn around. I stood outside the potty for what felt like forever but it was only about 30 sec or so until I decided to continue on to the next potty. Ah - relief.

I stuck with my plan of mostly going by RPE with a goal pace of around 8:30, if I ran faster, I would walk until I reached my goal pace. If I was slowing down a bit on the inclines, I would accept that time as I knew a decline was coming and I would still walk 20-30 seconds. I started walking at mile 2 and mentally stimulating, the mile markers were not at each aid station! This made things feel so much better as I walked the aid stations which meant I was walking just after each mile marker. It's odd but when you are running a marathon, something has to keep the mind occupied and I like to do math.

I was monitoring my current pace and average pace for the entire run. This was very helpful for me because I noticed that even with the walking (just like in training) I was not losing a lot of time all at once. I would gradually see my average pace go down but I was hoping for a 3:40-3:50 marathon and I had plenty of room to achieve that. I trusted myself and nutrition with my flasks and occasion coke + ice from the volunteers when needed. I had paced myself on the bike and as long as I was keeping myself cool with ice cold sponges and ice down my bra top, all would be in my favor. Just one step at a time.

After the turn around, I felt accomplished. I mentally broke down this run into sections.

Get to first turn around. Get to Palani. Climb Palani. Run the 4 miles on Queen K hwy to energy lab. Run the 2 miles to turn around in energy lab. Run 2 miles back up the false flat in energy lab. Reach mile 20 on Queen K Hwy. Reach mile 24 and know you only have 2 more miles to go. If Campy can run 2 miles, you can run two miles. Reach mile 25 knowing you are almost home. Soak in the last 1 mile - you do it! 

The way back on Alli drive felt harder than the beginning but it was nothing that I couldn't handle. I just couldn't find my groove and with my experience in IM racing, I knew it would come.

Nearing mile 8, I started to feel really good. Perhaps because I was approaching town and the cheers were coming or maybe it was because I had passed Gloria again and received instant energy from her. Whatever it was, as I made my two climbs out of town and toward the Queen K (I couldn't WAIT to walk at the aid station on Palani but it was near the top and seemed to take forever as I shuffled my way up), I really looked forward to the Queen K hwy.

With 2007 being injured in Kona, 2011 having GI issues...2013 Kona was the year that I would run happy.
There were only two spectator-allowed areas on the Queen K hwy and they both occurred within the first 2 miles on Queen K hwy. So beyond mile 12 or so, it was quite - aside from the occasion athlete throwing up, peeing/pooping in the pushes and what looked to be many cramping and bonking bodies struggling between each aid station.

But, then there were the success stories. Seeing the pros, my friends (go KATIE  THOMAS!) and so many other athletes who were racing in the Kona for the first time. My own nutrition athletes (Christine, Fran and Nicole) and many friends who I have met along the way.

I tried to get my mind to a happy place - like I was running in my neighborhood, on a Sunday with pancakes waiting for me at home. I kept trying over and over to "feel" like that but I couldn't get myself there. My mind new I was in did my body. I was hot, getting tired and using all my strength to get to each aid station. My goal was to slow down the least amount possible and I knew those last 3 miles would make or break my race. I did not walk between any aid station (aside from two potty stops on the course + transition. No GI issues, just nature calling and a sign that my body was functioning beyond normal for an Ironman) and unlike my past 6 Ironmans, I consciously paid attention to my overall time.

As I was nearing the energy lab, I was not scared. I knew what to expect. Never on the course did I feel overheated and I used the energy lab as a place to relax - as much as possible. I was not concerned with my pace from miles 16-20 and I just kept telling myself "keep moving forward. You will get there. You will get there." Sometimes I said it out loud "You are going to get there and you will PR."

I even told other people I was going to PR. I needed to verbally say it out loud as I knew I could easily surrender to the voices, the pain and the fatigue at any moment. I new my aid station stops were getting longer but between them I was running strong 8:05-8:30 min/miles. I knew I could keep this up, I just needed help to get there. I saw a friend that I met in Kona, Sherry Anne and she offered great help. She looked strong running and as we walked through the aid stations together, we exchanged supportive words. I watched her running form and tried to emulate it - that really helped.

A girl from Australia who was playing cat and mouse on the bike, run up to me on the run. Kristy helped me have the race of my life.

Mile 22 of an Ironman is an odd place. Feeling so close yet 30+ minutes of running feels like forever.
Kristy and I chatted, talked about how many IM's we have done, what we do, where we are from. I wasn't able to chat in full sentences but enough to make mile 22 go by as quick as to be expected in an Ironman. I asked Kristy about her day and she asked about mine. I told her I was going to have a big PR today as long as I keep moving forward.

I asked her to help me get to mile 24. She pushed me like I've never been pushed. It wasn't the type of lactic acid push as if I was running a 5K but instead, making me run a pace that felt uncomfortable and it was risky. But it worked. I was picking up the pace, even if I didn't have to but it was enough to give me confidence that I could finish this race stronger than I have ever raced before.

I told Kristy at mile 24 that I needed to hold back a bit but thanked her for the push. She ran ahead but I ended up catching back up at the last aid station on Palani. I no longer walked but instead sprinted down Palani. I told her I needed to go under 10:40 because that was my goal. She cheered for me. I saw my friend and pro triathlete Haley Chura, she cheered for me.

It was all becoming real. All I needed was mile marker 24 as confirmation that I was finishing this race in a PR. Checking my watch, my initial goal of 10:35 was slightly out of sight so sub 10:40 was driving me for the last 25 miles.

My cheeks hurt so bad because I was smiling so big. It felt much better to hurt in my face than in my aching quads.

But all around - I felt good. I never felt a low and I reminded myself of that. I tried to reflect as much as possible in 1 mile as I could - on the past two IM finishes in Kona, the past 6 Ironman finishes, going into IM Lake Placid (with what I felt was unpredictable run fitness to say the least) with Karel about to do his first IM and then me shockingly Kona qualifying and having a 10 min PR. I thought about the obstacles that I have faced in the past year, the struggles in life and a few happy moments that came to mind. I was so lucky to have Gloria there with me and so many fans cheering from afar. I missed my parents and wished they could have been there but I knew they were watching me all day. I thought about Campy who always thinks I am a winner and I thought about Karel who believed that I could have the day I was having.

I had so much support on the course from Gloria, friends and friends from afar and then came the finish line.

There it was. The finish line chute.

The shortest part of the race that is looked forward to the most.

I was beyond excited about how the day went but one thing I didn't expect was happening...

My legs did not feel fresh.

Aren't legs suppose to all of a sudden feel fresh in the finishing line chute?

Doesn't everyone look great crossing that finish line?

Oh, with every stroke, pedal and foot strike. It was time.

I ran up the finishing line and my body was officially done.



6 minute PR from IM Lake Placid.
PR Kona Swim
PR Kona Bike
PR Kona Run: 3:51:14 (8:49 min/mile - with planned walking miles 2-24)

31st age group (30-34)


7x Ironman Finisher, 3x Ironman World Championship finisher

Thank you Body. 

Kona RR: 112 miles

Marni Sumbal

It takes a long time to bike 112 miles, so I will make this relatively short. I will also conclude this blog with a few tips on how to be a better endurance rider. 

The Ironman World Championship bike course is relatively boring. Although you have an ocean view for almost the entire 112 mile bike ride, you are surrounded with desolate roads in the company of lava fields. The most interaction you will get, aside from packs of cyclists trying to abide by the “no drafting” rules for 112 miles on rolling hot asphalt, are the cheers from amazing volunteers every  10 miles or so and the occasional group of spectators standing outside their nearby resort.

The first section of the Ironman World Championship bike course stays under the radar when it comes to the notorious Queen K hwy and climb to Hawi but it is far from unexciting.

After leaving transition area, we make a left turn and then take a climb past a shopping center to meet Queen K hwy. We then head south and continue to climb until we reach Palani. The same course that we “get to” run up, is the same course that we fly down on our bikes….only 6+ hours earler and likely 10-15 degrees cooler (It was ~82 degrees per Garmin 500 when we started the bike). Although it is great to soak-in the 2-3 row deep of spectators, you have to be very careful not to enjoy the scene as you are forced to make a sharp left turn onto Kuakini hwy. This section is only a few miles long each way but it is a nice time to get into the zone. Knowing that the race is not made in the first 20 miles of the race, I choose to take this section easy and to enjoy the free speed heading back into town after the first turn around at the top of the steady climb on Kuakini hwy. I was also greeted by my cheering roomie along the road which just made my day since I hadn’t seen her since 5:30am.

After climbing back up Palani road, it was time to enjoy the view on Queen K hwy (19) for the next 32-35 miles until we make a left turn onto 270. 

The Kona bike course is not technically challenging but it does require the ability to be smart. Having two world champ bike rides behind me, I discussed with Karel as to how I would “race” the bike as we both knew my fitness was there for a PR bike. With IM Lake Placid behind me, I had the endurance so Karel just focused on getting me faster…it worked. My power improved without the fatigue from long miles. What a great feeling to go into this bike and trust my current level of fitness and ability to execute on this course.
My plan, just like in training, was to break the race into intervals. With my Garmin 500 screen showing me normalized power, average lap power, average speed, lap speed, current cadence, lap time (I choose not to wear a HR monitor during the race because my HR rarely changes with endurance training and I know enough about my body that I was not going to be limited by my HR on race day). At every specific point on the course that would signify a change, I would hit the lap button. I hit start when I started the bike and hit lap when I started on queen K. I then hit lap about every 20 minutes on the queen K hwy and at every aid station, I would also shake my legs out and sit up as I grabbed water to cool my body and to rinse my mouth. I made sure that at every single aid station I grabbed cold water to pour inside my Lazer helium helmet and on my body. I choose to not wear an aero helmet (just like in Placid) because I don’t feel comfortable with them on my head (practiced with them and they give me a headache), also, I get out of my saddle especially on rollers or climbing so it doesn’t benefit me for my up and down motion and lastly, I feel much cooler with a regular helmet with ventilation.

I had 4 bottles with me on the bike (1300 calories) and 1 gel flask (250 calories) for a total of 1550 calories. I felt energized the entire bike but I also have to thank Karel for giving me a great training plan to prepare for this race as well as a great racing strategy.

Nearing 270, I felt great. I had checked the weather the morning of the race and took out my course map to draw arrows as to which way the wind direction was going throughout the morning. The weather showed SSE until 10am and the SSW until 1pm and then S. I knew that we would get some strong side winds heading back and Karel told me ahead of time to ride “strong” the last 25 miles. In other words “Do not overbike the first 60 miles of the bike to Hawi”.

I took this amazing weather forecast as “free speed” and not as an "easy" day. There's nothing easy about an Ironman and absolutely nothing easy about running a marathon after biking 112 miles in Kona, Hawaii. 

 I conserved my effort but I also knew that just because we had some help with the wind at our back to Hawi (and shockingly calm conditions for the 6 mile climb to Hawi) this was not the course to take a lot of risks for any athlete who enjoys the tail winds too much will pay on the way home. I knew what to expect coming back North on Queen K and I didn’t let my mind jump ahead as to what that would feel like. I trusted Karel’s plan to stick to my own watts and to be sure I had energy on the last 30 miles of the bike for rollers in tailwinds are great but rollers in cross winds feel 10x worse.

Once you make the turn on 270, there are rollers and it is a windy section to the slight turn to Hawi. The climb is not steep like Placid climbing but it is enough to cause conversations in your mind as to how you will feel after you reach the turn around at mile 60 and then ride back home in crosswinds…only to finish the day with a marathon on a very hot, rolling course.

The turn around at Hawi was very welcomed and I really stayed in the moment on this day to keep focused on myself (nutrition, mind, body) but also the honor to race with the top athletes in the world. Watching the pros ride in the opposite direction was surreal – where else do age group athletes get to race next to and at the same time, on the same course as the professionals?

I stayed up with my nutrition every 10 minutes and made sure to conserve my effort back to Queen K hwy. 270 is a very hot stretch of road and for about 90 minutes, my garmin data showed an average of 95 degrees and I could feel that! I was glad I used cold water at the beginning for keeping my core temp controlled was critical for good muscle contractions for running off the bike.

There’s no way around it but the ride home was challenging. It was really windy. However, I felt strong. Despite 1 hour of riding at 16.67 mph, I felt good and knew that I didn’t have to question my speed for my overall pace and time reflected that I was having the bike ride of a lifetime and with a little math being calculated in my head, I was on the way to a PR day and three PR’s for my 3rd Kona. Holding back in the swim was the best thing I could have done for I had the energy on the bike when I knew I could take a few little risks and get myself ahead. I felt strong enough that I was able to pass people and that validated my pacing strategy that it was all paying off by being patient for 80 miles.

The last 25 minutes were great, nearing town it was a relief that it was time to run. All those bricks for the past 22 weeks were ready to come into play for my body was actually hungry to run. For the first time, I wasn’t ready to get off the bike and I also wasn’t dreading the run. It was one of those moments where mentally and physically I was in a great place.

Checking my garmin overall time, I was shocked and the first person I wanted to hear his reaction was Karel. I could just hear him as I was dismounting my bike “wow!” Karel knows that cycling has been a big work in progress but he has never given up on me and I have never given up on myself. It took a lot of smart training and a lot of patience but on October 12th, 2013, every solo workout, hip exercise, bike fit and suffering behind Karel’s wheel was lumped together for a 10 minute PR since 2011 IM World Championship. Because my last three IM qualifiers have been on hilly courses (IMKY, IMWI, IM Placid) it’s hard to compare times but after Placid, I had improved my IM Pace by 10 watts and knew I was going into Kona as a stronger, faster and smarter cyclist.

Stats from my garmin:
5:29:13 for 111.98 miles
2832 KJ
Power average 148
Cadence 81
Average speed 20.41mph
Average temperature – 90 degrees

23 minutes: 157 W, 20.54mph
20 minutes:  144 W, 24.07mph
21 minutes:  158 W, 23.94mph
20 minutes  152 W, 24.55mph
1 hour: 150 W, 21.2mph
16 minutes: 161 W, 17.09mph
54 minutes: 146 W, 20.97mph
20 minutes: 148 W, 20.95mph
1:04 minutes: 148 W, 16.67mph
26 minutes: 125 W, 19.11mph

Stats from

Ok – so now that you anxiously await the 26.2 mile run that helped me experience a 6 minute PR since Lake Placid, I want to talk about a few key things that are important when it comes to riding strong for 112 miles.

-On the days leading up to the race, I heard many people talk about the winds in Hawi. Word got out from those who had “tested” the winds during taper week that the winds were so strong that it was hard to stay upright, it was almost scary. I choose to ignore those comments. Thankfully I also had Gloria with me to ease any worries in my mind. Not only did I feel it was energy costing to do a race warm-up in the Hawi winds but also, there was nothing to prove that we would have those winds on race day. Although it is always good to be prepared for the worst and enjoy anything better than what you expected, it is also important to not waste energy on things out of your control. You can’t control the weather but you can physically and mentally prepare for it. As Karel says “you can never beat the wind – don’t try”.

-I have been very open about my “train smart and hard, recover harder” training philosophy which includes low volume, relative to many Ironman distance training plans or philosophy’s of coaches. This is a challenging topic for as athletes, we are always on the verge of injury and burnout for if we are not teetering on the edge, we may be limiting our potential. However, the key to not falling off the edge is to train with the least amount of training stress, in order to receive the most physiological training adaptations.
Since the 10 weeks prior to IM Lake Placid on June 28th and until October 12th, 2013, my “long rides” were no more than 112 miles…and I only did that once at the end of June. 99% of my bike rides were time based and I only did 4 x 5 hour rides. 99% of the time, I had a planned run off a long bike, anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on when the workout fell with my periodized training plan. Most of my long rides for IM training were between 3 and 4 hours. Yep, that’s it. I never did a single brick (or workout) over 6 hours.
Now you may say that with (now) 7 Ironman’s behind me, I have endurance. However, our other philosophy is “get faster, before you go longer”. Training harder works both the aerobic and anaerobic system for intervals start at above IM pace and then as the intervals get longer and the body gets faster (and covers more distance in a certain period of time), the perceived effort is easier and less energy is expended. Higher intensity efforts are done in our workouts (not super leg burning but just harder than what you would be able to sustain for 112 miles. Also, keeping in mind that the goal is to get faster with endurance training without the residual fatigue for there’s no point to train for 112 miles and race with the same fitness level for 12-16 weeks because the body is too tired to get any faster). This allows the body to use energy stored in muscles (glycogen) and to teach the body to shuttle lactic acid but without risking quick fatigue. Thus, in practice, the lactate and aerobic threshold is raised for a more efficient athlete. Also, with a train harder approach, the other positive outcome aside from getting faster is the increase in cardiovascular efficiency (VO2 max increasing) and improvement in endurance. Lastly, what every athlete hopes for is consistent workouts. A long workout increases the risk for fatigue and overuse injuries because the body is tired and poor form results  - likely at the result of lack of available fuel. With the right workouts (And I blogged many of them with my training over the past 6 months) you will find yourself getting faster and improving endurance at the same time.

-One very important rule for triathletes is to check your ego at the door and forget what happened when it happens. Don’t compare yourself to other athletes, don’t get upset if you can’t perform like you’d like to perform at the specific moment in time and most of all, don’t try to make up time. When you finish the swim – it’s over, forget about it and don’t try to make up time on the bike. When you are on the bike – this is where you can set yourself up for a strong or suffering run. Many times, it’s much better to hold back a bit on the bike in order to run steady and strong on the run. Remember, as a triathlete, it’s not about finishing a race and bragging about your bike split from miles 1-56 of the bike or perhaps the entire bike ride. As a triathlete, you don’t have to be a great cyclist but instead a good swimmer, cyclist and runner. Knowing that a great race day performance is about executing, stay within your own fitness abilities and have a race plan that allows you to execute with your current level of fitness with the conditions you are given on race day (terrain and weather). 

Kona RR: 2.4 mile swim

Marni Sumbal

I found from a very young age that I was born to be a swimmer. Chlorine and a bathing suit were my two best friends, alongside goggles and a cap to match. I loved to swim…and the cute boys in speedo’s were an added bonus.  In high school and college, I specialized in 200 butterfly, 200 IM and 100 breakstroke but never really enjoyed “distance” swimming.

Who would have thought that in 2006, I would be standing at my first Ironman start line in Panama City Beach, about to swim 2.4 miles in the ocean and commence on the longest day of my life. A day that made me excited because it was finally here and I could put months of training to the test, but also a day that made me nervous for the unknown is a scary thing.  The Ironman race day was overwhelming before it even started because I was asking a lot from my 24 year old body to prepare for the event and to arrive to the starting line healthy and injury free and after we succeed in that task, I then had to ask my body to work for 140.6 miles, hopefully without fail so that I could finish what I started and earn my well-deserved medal and t-shirt.

IMFL 2006

Very new to the sport, I kept focused only on myself. I didn’t know the other 10 girls in my 18-24 age group or what it would feel like to cross the finish line so I figured the only thing within my control was how I planned to execute on race day. Someone it all worked out because I had a dream. To be an Ironman. A dream that woke me up every morning to discover the impossible and to challenge my “I can’t do this” thoughts. One day, that dream turned into a reality and after swimming 2.4 miles, riding 112 miles and running 26.2 miles, my swimmer turned triathlete body was nearing the finish line of my first Ironman. And even more exciting, I was won my age group by 50 minutes and secured the only slot in my age group to race in the Ironman World Championship the next year.

It’s easy to describe the beautiful ocean in Kona, Hawaii. It’s like swimming in a fish tank with sea turtles and brightly colored fish all around you.

There are dolphins playing in the distance and a garden of coral under your feet. It is truly paradise and makes even the most inexperienced swimmer feel comfortable in the big blue sea.

But the Ironman World Championship swim is hard to describe. The fishies and sea turtles are still there but they know better than to be around 2000+ athletes fighting for pockets of clean water.

 The garden of coral is hidden due to choppy water and the dolphins are likely laughing at us from afar, as our swimming has nothing to do with efficiency and we are far from swimming beautifully in the water.

The start of an Ironman swim is chaotic and so is the rest of it.

 In my last two Ironman articles, I discussed smart swimming and mastering the mass start. The IM World Championship is an entirely different beast for instead of 100ish Kona contenders in the water at a respective Ironman event, the playing field is even. Certainly, there are different calibers of swimming ability but every athlete has earned his/her spot to race in Kona because they are a fast and smart all-around Ironman athlete.
The Ironman World Championship swim course is an out and back course with a right hand turn around the Body Glove boat.

Typically, the swim out to the boat is congested, especially at the beginning. After floating in the water for 15 minutes, the feeling is extreme when 2000+ carbo-loaded (and likely caffeinated) bodies, that are anxious to explode with movement, all are set free by a cannon explosion.  Despite the Ironman being all about pacing and endurance, the beginning of the Kona swim is fast…and involves very few swimming strokes. It’s survival to the first buoy and the hope that there is clean water to at least put all that pool work to good use.
Having experience at Kona allowed me to PR my overall time, as well as setting a swim, bike and run PR for my 3rd Ironman World Championship.

Knowing how exhausting it can be to swim in Kona among so many talented athletes, I decided to be smart on the swim. There's a saying that you can't win the race in the swim. Well, you can absolutely exit the water feeling exhausted and question how the rest of the day will go. If you don't pace your race, all those long training hours on the weekends will be of waste.

I trained hard for Kona so I trusted my swim ability entering the race. But, my goal at Kona was to race as smart as possible. So, instead of fighting for a faster time, I choose to let others do the work and I would just swim steady. I did not try to fight, I did not get aggressive and I was not worried about my time. I had a goal of 1:03-1:05 for the swim (my PR swim is 1:01.10 – with wetsuit at IM Lake Placid) here in Kona but even if I was over that, I was not going to let it run or ruin my day. My #1 goal for the swim was to exit the water feeling fresh and energized to bike for 112 miles (also knowing that a 26.2 mile run in the heat was going to end my day).

I found a few pockets of clean water which made me smile, until those pockets were filled with faster athletes behind me and us catching up with slower athletes. This boxing-like atmosphere continued for the entire swim, although there were moments when the fight was not as aggressive. Like in any race, every high has a low to follow and every low will reach a high. The goal for the IM swim is to just keep moving. No matter your fitness ability, just stay calm and know that you have the entire day ahead.

As I neared the Body Glove boat, I checked my 910XT watch (set on multisport zone) and it read 30 minutes – wow! So impressed with this time, I was really happy that I was able to swim smoothly in the water (haha – ok, relatively smooth despite a few smacks on my body). But, I didn’t let it get to my head. I kept with the same effort as I found myself in a group of blue (male) caps and figured it would be good to draft with them as oppose to looking for clean water and risk a faster/slower time with more energy expenditure.

I stuck with this group in the choppy water, which always feels a bit worse on the way home. I didn’t sight very much as I knew we were all heading in the same direction and I managed to stay rather close to the buoys to know I was on course with my other dozens of new swimming buddies.

The pier seemed to be non-existent. I didn’t want to look at my watch too much to get disappointed but I checked the yards and it read 3400 (4200 yards in the IM 2.4 mile swim). Whewww, almost there. Now where is the pier? Finally, I lifted my head up and I could see the transition area and people alongside the water’s edge.

The water became very choppy and very congested all at once. I seemed to be stuck in a crowd with no where to go so as I glanced at my watch, clicking past 1:05, I knew I was going to be a bit over my goal pace but there was nothing I could do about it. I somehow made my way through the mess of athletes and once my 5 foot body could touch the ocean floor, I unzipped my speed suit – oh wait, never mind – I didn’t have one!

So, with one less thing to worry about as I was running out of the water, I found a spot on the staircase to carefully run up and I removed my cap and goggles and I ran through the hoses to rinse off. Oh – so refreshing after swimming in salt water for 1 hour and 7 minutes.

I ran toward the transition bags and grabbed my swim to bike bag (socks, compression calf sleeves, Commit Oakley Women glasses, endurance aminos in coin purse, tums/salt tabs in pill container, gel flask and towel) and ran into the women’s changing tent. The tent was rather full with women but a volunteer ran over to me and helped me out with my gear.

Karel instructed me to grab what I could and to get out of transition ASAP. I did as I was told by coach Karel and once I put on my socks, compression calf sleeves and Bontrager Hilo Tri shoes (the volunteer helped me as needed) I grabbed my glasses and pocket stuff and headed out of transition.  I had a bit of a run to my bike and helmet so I put the loose items in my pockets and put on my shades.

I found my bike in transition – in front of a light pole which was easy to spot. I spotted my helmet (required on the bike) and started my Garmin 500 in transition (turned on) so it would pick up satellite. My Lazer helmet has a magnet buckle so that was really  quick to put on - no time wasted there. My Garmin 910 on my wrist was on T1 lap time and I  hit lap once again I got on the bike.
I was smiling ear to ear as I was running with my bike for now it was the time I had been waiting for for a very long time.

The next 112 miles were years in the making. From a swimmer turned triathlete who was scared to clip in, use my aero bars and often to get out of the saddle.  It was time to show myself, and only myself (ok – Coach/hubby Karel as well as he can take a lot of credit for my body adapting to cycling training stress alongside better skills/confidence on the bike since we met May 2006) that I could bike 112 miles in record time. I had worked very hard for this bike ride and I was not going to let a 2.4 mile swim, a tad over my “goal” time, keep me from doing the possible.

I hit start on my Garmin 500 after I clipped in and off I went….PR bike, here I come…..

112 mile be continued.

Kona finisher RR: Pre race swim

Marni Sumbal

Why do you sign up for races?

In my opinion, there are many reasons for why an age group athlete would voluntarily spend money to sweat, stress the heart, experience muscle pains and mentally prepare for an event all to cross a finish line.
-Because your friends, family or co-workers talked you into it.
-Because you feel pressure from others to follow the crowd.
-Because it seems like the next logical step to discover new limits with your body and mind.
-Because you are already exercising, you may as well train for a race.
-Because you want the t-shirt and the medal.

Whatever the reason may be, I believe that there is one precise reason why athletes and fitness enthusiasts decide to register for a race.

For the finish line.

(Source: Gloria)

It’s kinda funny to think about racing for a finish line. A banner or inflatable sign signifies the start. 

(Source: IM Texas)

This spot may also be the finish but the race director has to change the words on the sign. 
Then your body goes around in a straight line, out and back, in loops or in some other odd arrangement in order to cover a certain distance as you try to cover that distance as fast as possible. 

The end result – another inflatable sign, banner or other crafted marker to signify the finish. You probably wouldn’t be able to see the finish line 1 week out from race day but with less than 24 hours before the race, you have a clear idea of where you have to take your body to call yourself a finisher. 

Now that I am a few days out from crossing my 7th Ironman finishing line, I struggle with gathering the right words to describe my 3rd Ironman World Championship which resulted in a 6 minute PR from 14 weeks ago (at IM Lake Placid with Karel) and a 25 minute PR from 2011.

As an athlete, I don’t sign up for races because I want to see how quickly I can overcome injuries, how much money I can spend on gear or how I can dedicate a big part of my life for a one day event (which may last 1 hour or up to 11).

The finish line signifies success.

No matter how fast or slow it takes you to get there, the first step across the finish line immediately means that you finished what you started. No matter what obstacles you had to overcome on race day, you did it. And that is why, I feel, it is so important to enjoy the journey of training for a race and having a race day plan that allows you to execute on race day. There's nothing more gratifying than finishing a race strong and knowing that you prepared yourself and raced your race to the best of your ability on that day. 

The soreness is gone in my legs although I know better than to test myself with structured workouts and intensity for the next 2-3 weeks. I am sleep deprived, covered in funny tan lines and still have a few chaffed areas (aka battle wounds). 

But all I can remember is the last ½ mile on Alli drive, running into the finish line chute. All I want to talk and write about is how amazing it felt to cross that finish line knowing that I stuck to my plan and left everything out on the course in Kona, Hawaii.

But, let's be clear. 

I had to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. My body had to cover 140.6 miles all before crossing that finish line….so here I go to share how it all went down at the 2013 GoPro Ironman World Championship.

Pre race
My taper had been going really well in Kona. Monday involved 15 hours of traveling, 24-hours awake and rolling on foam roller + stretching for the workout of the day. Tuesday I went for a swim + 2 hour bike with my friend Jennifer (w/ a few intervals). Wednesday was a swim and Thursday was the undie run/jog followed by a 45 min spin on the town section of the run course. Friday was my official race-warm-up and I choose not to swim so that I could get my warm-up over and done without any distractions. 

I had my transition bags all laid out on Thurs so that I wouldn't feel too rushed on Friday with checking in my bike/bags, eating, resting and getting a good night of sleep. 

My race warm-up was 1:45 on the bike with 30 min warm-up and then 4 x 2 min “fast” high cadence w/ 5 min EZ. After 2 of them, I did 10 min total EZ spinning and then finished the last 2. I did this on the Queen K and followed that with a 2 mile run w/ Gloria. We did 1 mile comfortable, then walked to stretch out the legs and then did 3 x 20-30 sec “fast” pick-ups w/ 1-2 min jog (all by feel). I felt so good all week and I felt really good about my fitness. I had my normal pre training snack of coffee, water, rye WASA cracker w/ smear of PB + drizzle of honey and banana slices. I’ve trained my gut for 22 weeks for this pre training creation and it works like a charm.

After my warm-up from 7-9am, I cleaned up, put on CEP compression tights and had a delicious breakfast of toast w/ PB and honey, eggs, veggies and fruit for a very filling meal to continue my fueling regime for race day. 

I did some stuff on the computer for a bit and then around 11am I started to officially pack up my transition bags for T1 (swim to bike) and T2 (bike to run) and finalize my race day plan for Gloria (which I typically provide for my parents and Karel who spectate all day).

I had a light lunch of yogurt, fruit and granola because it felt “right” and water and sipped on 1 FIZZ throughout the day for electrolytes (Grape is my fav flavor). At 2:30pm, bib numbers 1000+ could check in bikes so that means me!

Around 2pm Gloria and I headed down to the tow via car and then walked to the pier. 

I had the best sherpa!

Prior to that, I had a nice Facetime with my bike mechanic (hubby) to run over everything with my bike. I let him watch the ocean as I lubed my chain. Breaks weren’t rubbing, no slits in my new tires and all was good for race day. I left my bottles for my bike at home and brought my filled flasks for the bike (1) and run (2) to sit overnight as one less thing to worry about race morning.

At 2:30pm I got in a long line that moved quickly and enjoyed the “counting” that occurs every year to see what bike parts are most popular as well as the most popular bike brands. I really enjoy this part of checking in the bike because unlike other Ironman races, spectators actually come to watch athletes check in their bike and just hang out as the finish line area is being set-up. It’s a big spectacle which is nothing abnormal during IM race week.

The volunteers are absolutely amazing in Kona. I had a local walking my bike through transition area which always feel overwhelming no matter how many times you do it. I pay attention to every little detail in the transition area (ex. port a potties, racks for bags, bike location, in and out, changing tent, etc.) because it can get a bit overwhelming when you have just swam 2.4 miles and there are drenched athletes all around you.
After racking my bike, we walked to the swim to run and bike to run bag locations (blue and red bags). I had a perfect spot on the racks – outside, a few spots from the end. AWESOME! I tied red ribbons on my bags as it is easy to spot that way and one less thing to stress about if I can’t find my bag because it looks like 2000 other bags.

We checked out the Women’s changing tent layout and then ended up under the water hoses to rinse off post swim. Since we walked backward through the transition area, I did one mental walk through from the swim exit, through the transition area. Every athlete has to run the same distance through transition area.
After racking my bike and hanging my bags – the rest of my day involved eating and resting. Gloria had an event to go to so I went back to the condo and although only 3:30pm, I prepared my simple pre race dinner of edamame, sweet potato, quinoa and bread so that it would be ready when I was ready to eat it. I snacked as I relaxed a bit and around 4:45pm I was ready for dinner. It was just enough to leave me satisfied but not stuffed for my next meal was to be consumed around 3:30am the next morning.

Gloria met with an athlete outside the patio to discuss mental training and I just chilled inside and watched TV. It may seem strange but I have no trouble sleeping well the night before an Ironman, so I went to bed around 9pm and had the best night of sleep all week. I guess I was just ready for this party to start and I worked really hard with Gloria all week to clear my mind to ensure positive thoughts for race day. My only stressor is the alarm not going off for it hasn’t happened before but I still worry. I had 5 alarms set and my sport psychologist said that’s ok J She set two as extra backups.

Race day
3:30am I was up and feeling great. I felt calm but felt waves of nervousness. My biggest anxiety was the waiting that I have to do after the pros start and then just treading water for a good 15 minutes. I tried to get away from those thoughts but that made me a bit uneasy to think about that.

After eating around 500 calories of 4 Wasa crackers (60 calories each) + Nut butter + honey + raisins + granola + banana (all energy dense foods, not volume dense which helps with digestion) and having a cup of coffee and water (along with 2 hammer endurance aminos and electrolytes), it was time to say good bye to the condo for I wouldn’t be back until later that evening.

Gloria dropped me off and parked the car about 1.5 miles away. Her Sherpa duties were phenomenal all week and I was just so lucky to be around such positive energy all week.

After walking behind the host hotel, I stood in a line for body marking. For the first time, instead of stamps we all receive stick-on tattoos. Again, the volunteers were amazing. The process to get into transition area takes a bit of time at the World Championship for after body marking, you have to check your chip, then get weighed and then go through 3-4 “security” points to show your wrist band.

Finally, once I was in transition area, I was so happy to see my bike. I didn’t bring a bike pump but in Kona, everyone shares everything. I had been using pumps all week from others in the condo or at the expo and on race morning, there were volunteers everywhere with pumps which was so amazing to just be able to be by your bike and pump up your tires. I rechecked my bike brakes, put on my 4 x bottles, checked my Garmin 500 (reset), made sure my bike was in a good gear for exiting transition and double checked my helmet to make sure no loose ends that would risk DQ. I said hi to a few athletes and stood in line for the potty for about 15 minutes. It was around 6am and my tummy was feeling really good which was a great sign. Seeing that this is the only IM that I have ever repeated, I think knowing the course and what the day could bring was comforting for me.

I made my way to the swim bag drop off which included my sandals, sunscreen and consumed water bottle (with FIZZ in it) and grabbed my Sayonara TYR speed suit, cap and goggles after covering myself in body glide. There is sunscreen, water and everything you need near the race start which makes the vibe really good in case you forgot something.

The crowd was building by the entrance to the swim start inflatable by the edge of the pier so I waited until we were allowed to enter the water. I took in a gel and with just a few minutes until we walked into the water, a volunteer stepped over to me and asked if she could speak to me.

After just zipping up my speed suit and putting on my cap and goggles and feeling ready for this crazy swim start, the volunteer nicely told me that “I think your speed suit is illegal.”
3,2,1..mental breakdown, where is Gloria!

She told me that my speed suit is not allowed in WTC racing because it is not the right material. I did not purposely buy this speedsuit because it was illegal but instead, we bought this one because it was on sale. I knew there were regulations about speedsuits but with my suit being "old" I questioned her as I didn't think about this specific suit because I had seen many people wearing it at other WTC races. I know about wetsuit regulations with thickness but apparently with speedsuits, the Torque is allowed, not the Sayonara.

I feel that my almost very costly mistake can be a lesson to others. Note to ALL athletes, there are some rules that are very well known (ex. no disc wheels in Kona, no fins in the swim, no handing off bottles to athletes on the course/outside support) and are very visable to the eye. However, when it comes to wetsuits and speedsuits, check the regulations of WTC events. Here is a helpful link: Ironman swimwear

I will say, however, that my "illegal" speedsuit has not given me any competitive advantage of helping me swim any faster than my own abilities without it, in non wetsuit swims.I thought about not including this in my race report as I am still a bit frustrated at the situation of me not considering this important fact of race day gear but my focus of my racing is to be able to help others and hopefully you will not have to experience a similar situation or worse, a DQ.

I was not on the verge of tears and I was not freaking out, I was just caught off guard and not what I expected to deal with before the start. I guess I was just upset that I didn't think about my speedsuit not being allowed because I don't race a lot and since I have had it for a few years (and hasn't really helped me in speed suit allowed swims), it just wasn't something that I thought about for race week. 

But, I’ve learned in life that things happen for a reason.

So, even if others were wearing illegal speed suits, I thank this volunteer so much for letting me know. She told me I could wear it but it may risk DQ if an official saw me and I told her “no way” so I took it off quickly and she put it in my swim to bike bag so it wouldn’t get lost.

A bit frustrated as I was walking into the water, tucking my tri top into my cycling shorts, I had to get my mind back to a good place as this wasn’t going to affect my whole day unless I let it. As I was walking into the water, I spotted a sea turtle right in front of me that I almost stepped on. I smiled and then thought to myself “well, one less thing I have to take off in transition area” and I swam comfortably to the middle and to the left of the pier to position myself for the swim. 

Treading water for 15 minutes allowed for a lot of time to be with my thoughts.  
(Source: My article on Master the Kona Mass Start)

There was not a lot of talking among athletes and Mike Riley was keeping us all motivated and excited. The crowds were rows deep and lined up all along the water’s edge for a good mile. It was just as remarkable to see the spectators as it was, I am sure, for them to see us in the water.

With little announcement, BOOM!

At 7am, all 2000+ of us were off!

I started my Garmin 910 on multisport and the ocean boxing match began with a big kick right into my left eye and my goggles pressed so hard into my eye I could barely see.

All of a sudden it all became real….racing for a finish line is not easy but even more difficult, is getting to the start line. Just like in life, training involves many ups and downs. As athletes, we face hardships, struggles and sucky moments. Times when life just doesn't seem fair and we have to live with our mistakes. About to embark on a race of a lifetime, it finally hit me (literally) that wow - what an honor it is to race in the 35th Anniversary of the Ironman World Championship. A race where athletes from around the world would give anything to be in my place, with or without a speedsuit…..

2.4 mile swim…To be continued.

2013 GoPro Ironman World Championship FINISHER

Marni Sumbal

“Athletics brings out a side of you that is wonderful. It brings out so many good attributes like competing, intensity and playing at the highest level.” 
— Julie Foudy, Olympic gold medalist and former Women’s Sports Foundation president


“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
-Wilma Rudolph, Winner of 3 Gold Medals at 1960 Rome Olympic Games

“The medals don’t mean anything and the glory doesn’t last. It’s all about your happiness. The rewards are going to come, but my happiness is just loving the sport and having fun performing.”

“Being your best is not so much about overcoming the barriers other people place in front of you as it is about overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves. It has nothing to do with how many times you win or lose. It has no relation to where you finish in a race or whether you break world records. But it does have everything to do with having the vision to dream, the courage to recover from adversity and the determination never to be shifted from your goals.”

On October 12th, 2013 at 5:37 pm (Hawaii time), I crossed my 7th Ironman finish line. 
I swam 2.4 miles in the ocean in 1:07:16.
In one of the most brutal swims a triathlete can ever experience. Let;s just call it an open water boxing match. But, I stuck to my racing plan (given to me by coach/hubby Karel) and exited the water feeling hungry to bike. A PR swim in Kona.
I biked 112 miles in 5:30:10. 
The winds were relatively calm until the last 30 miles which then we faced very challenging side winds. But, I stuck to my racing plan and ended up riding strong and shocking myself (and Karel) with a 10 min PR in Kona. 
I ran 26.2 miles 3:51:14
There's nothing easy about the Ironman World Championship but this run will make you or break you. But, I stuck to my racing plan, ran from one aid station to another and walked through each aid station from mile 2-24. I really dug deep at the end after leaving the energy lab and finished with a PR run in Kona. 

Experience came in handy on race day. With 2 previous Ironman World Championships in my career highlight record books, I knew what to expect and how to race this race. But most of all, I went into this race with a goal. PR in Kona. With IM Lake Placid being 14 weeks ago, I knew I had better fitness than when I raced for a 10 minute PR in Placid and punched my Kona ticket. 
I trained smart with the help of Karel and only did 1 x 100 mile ride and 3 x 15 mile runs between IM Lake Placid and Kona. For 22 weeks, I trained smart in order to execute on race day. 
Within 14 weeks, my body did something incredible. I dropped 16 minutes in two incredibly challenging courses. 
My performance in Kona not only validates my train smart, recover harder approach to training but also that any athlete or fitness enthusiast out there must dream big if you want to do something incredible. 
10:35 was the goal for race day and I adjusted my plan on the run just to ensure I would PR. The new goal became 10:40 but all throughout the day, I reminded myself that I don't have to be fast on race day, just slow down the least amount possible. 
I raced my own race, I stayed confident and I embraced the pain. I overcame low moments, times of self doubt and bottled up the cheers (thanks GLORIA, mom, dad, aaron and Karel from afar and everyone else out there...I virtually heard you!). I took risks, I was proactive and I stuck to my plan. 

The most amazing accomplishment for my body is knowing that I have finished every Ironman that I have started. I continue to find myself learning so much about my body with every Ironman journey. 

I am sore, I am chaffed and I am sunburn. 

But, every pain that I feel now is a result of the day I had yesterday. 
Words can not describe how grateful I am to everyone who followed my journey, not only on race day but also for the past 22 weeks in order to get to the IM World Championship starting line. 

Wow - 10:37:10

What I love so much about sports, but specifically my passion for endurance triathlons, is that you never know how incredible your body can be until you make it do the impossible. 

Dreams are easy to talk about but making them happen is the tough part. 

Thank you body for making it happen. 

Marni Sumbal
7x Ironman Finisher, 3x Ironman World Championship finisher

Thank you Gloria for your cheers and support yesterday and for capturing this amazing moments.
Thank you everyone for your support on social media and for tracking myself along with all the other inspiring athletes.
Thank you to my mom, dad and Aaron (and extended family) for supporting my dreams and most of all, letting me dream big.
And lastly - Karel (and Campy). I just can't explain how much this race meant to me for I never thought I was capable of the race I had yesterday. I stuck to the plan which was created based on weeks, months and years of hard work. I am so excited to see what the future brings for I never want to stop dreaming big and testing my limits alongside so many amazing, inspiring, motivating athletes of all levels.

Now it's your turn...... how will you dream big with your body?

Kona; It's time

Marni Sumbal


This will be my 3rd Ironman World Championship and my 7th Ironman starting line. 
The excitement is there, just like it was for my very first Ironman in 2006. 

My body has taken me to many places and some of the most amazing times involved sweat, obstacles, a fast beating heart, self-doubt and burning quads. 

I have enjoyed sharing this journey with everyone - ever since I openly discussed my goal of wanting to qualify for the 2013 Ironman World Championship at Ironman Lake Placid. I have savored this trip with many pictures and videos and I have enjoyed giving everyone a special pass to what it feels like to be at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. 

But now it is my time. 

Tomorrow morning requires that my mind and my body work together. I will channel the cheers from afar as well as smile at the ones I hear on the race course, but it is up to only me to find a way to cover 140.6 miles for the 7th time. There are no guarantees as to what the day will bring for each athlete on the course and I only hope that every athlete races his/her own race based on his/her own fitness level but welcomes the opportunity to discover greatness by being around so many inspiring athletes. 

I hope that every athlete is safe and smart for 140.6 miles. Remember that your dream helped you train hard to qualify for Kona and now it is time to enjoy the most amazing day of your life. 

And most of all, I want to thank my team - Gloria, the most amazing sherpa who gives me the best words of advice for any and all situations. A wonderful friend and person and I am so lucky that our paths crossed via the internet two years ago. Mom, dad, aaron and dana (and extended family) - words can't describe how much I love you all and how lucky I feel that you all  support my crazy love for endurance sports. Karel - you are my best friend and you make my life complete. You challenge me in life but in the best way possible. I will dedicate many miles to you on race day for it was your plan that got me here and your support that keeps me loving the Ironman distance. I can't wait to grow Trimarni with you by my side and I look forward to making memories with you for a lifetime.....and one day racing in Kona together.  Campy - you are the best furry child I could ever ask for! You never complain and have a smile for every situation in life. And most of all, you show me how important it is to love life and to never waste a day on earth. To the companies who keep me fueled, safe and happy - Oakley Women, 110% play harder, Brooks Running and Hammer Nutrition - thank you!
And lastly - to all the Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition athletes, fans, followers and supporters. It is because of each and every one of you all that I wake up every morning excited to see what the day will bring for me. You give me a reason to motivate, educate and inspire others to live a more balanced active and healthy lifestyle. 

Oh - and to my body. Thank you, thank you, thank you. After not running for 90 days in Feb - April, you did not have to let me race Ironman Lake Placid and experience what it feels like to "race" and have a 10 minute PR. You didn't have to let me qualify for Kona, recover so well in just two weeks and train flawlessly for Ironman #7. Body - you are amazing and I can't wait to share this journey with you tomorrow. You are going to hurt, complain and be super duper sore on Sunday but body, it's all going to be worth it for we become better at handling life because of what we are able to accomplish together. 

As Gloria discussed in her most recent blog post on it's time to go inward, this time next week, we will all be Ironman World Championship finishers. It's time to put the hard work to play and to savor every mile because months and months of training will all be for a one-day, 17 hour or else event.

For instant updates and live feed:
Bib Number 1933
Race start: 6:30am (professionals), 7am (age groupers)

And because I know that everyone will be motivated and inspired to train and workout this weekend (and after this weekend), don't forget about my Kona inspired contest.

Thank you again for your support.

See you at the finish line!


Kona ready: prepared for 140.6 miles

Marni Sumbal

Ever since a young age, my parents always enforced "fun" when it came to sports. I'm lucky that in 20 years of competitive sports, I have experienced very little burnout and a lot of happy smiles along the way. Here in Kona for the 2013 Ironman World Championship, I am less than 48 hours from my 7th Ironman and my 3rd Ironman World Championship. 

Triathlon Magazine Undie Run

I came to this island with the same joy as years past but with a bit more confidence in my ability to race in this specific 140.6 mile event. Unlike other years, this year has been very special for me is being able to share this experience with Gloria, as well as with so many people following my journey on social media.

I feel Gloria said it the best in her most recent blog about owning what you signed up for. 

"You signed up because it is a challenge. You signed up to push and overcome your limits. You signed up because deep down in your soul you need to unleash your greatness. You signed up because you need it to feel alive. You signed up because you have proven to yourself once before that there are NO LIMITS TO YOUR GREATNESS.
You also signed up for the pain, the hard, the sweat, the tears, the solitude, and the adversity. When YOU signed up YOU accepted the challenge of the unknown. You ACCEPTED the opportunity to dive into that water and fight it out to the end with your body and mind. When you signed up you KNEW that there is NOTHING EASY about IRONMAN. So stop mentally trying to find the “easy way” around the day. Stop right now and let go of any ego, resistance, and anxiety."

So, beyond having a trained, fueled body that is absolutely incredible for what it is able to do for 140.6 miles, I believe that the key to  happiness when taking part in an endurance event is never forgetting that the "big day" should be fun and the days leading up to that day should also be filled with positive energy.

In the words of Gloria "Never leave a negative statement go unchallenged."

Preparing for a 140.6 mile event is time-consuming. Often times, the athlete-in-training trains alone to prepare his/her body and mind for his/her special day. The reason why I smile so much when I am at an Ironman is because I am happy to be around so many talented individuals who can help me discover my limits. 

I smile because I love my body and I am so very proud of my body.

And lastly, I smile because I get to help other athletes and fitness enthusiasts dream big and to not be afraid of the time it will take to reach a goal but instead, enjoy every day of the process of reaching a goal.

On Saturday October 12th, 2013 at 7am Hawaii time, Ironman Live will be watched by people all over the world. 1500+ human bodies will battle the Kona sea, the Kona winds and the Kona heat to cover 140.6 miles in order to earn the coveted Ironman World Championship finisher medal. No one said it was going to be easy, so easy is not what I am hoping for on race day. 

It's finally time to put the training to the test and to pull out every item in my Ironman tool-kit to execute to my best on race day. I have confidence in my body and mind that I can get through any and all situations in order to cross the finishing line but I do not take my body or this distance for granted. I don't race for a time on paper but instead, for the opportunity to discover my greatness as an endurance athlete. 

140.6 miles is a long way to go and I can't describe the excitement I have to race with all the athletes on race day and to be cheered-on by so many strangers, friends and supporters from afar, who treat every single athlete as a rock star. In Kona, you don't hear athletes and fans asking "are you ready?" It's strange to not hear that but on that flip side, it's nice to have everyone around you - near and far - confident that you will finish the race because you trained so hard for the day (not just once but also to get a ticket to Kona).

I wish the best for every athlete to have a fun, safe race and to be mindful that 140.6 miles takes a major toll on the human body. There's will be many times when we doubt our potential, our ability to overcome the odds or the desire to dig deep. 

Sure, this may be the Ironman World Championship and the endurance event of the year but it is also the day that most of us have all dreamed of for a long time, as we trained our body to qualify for Kona. The work was done to qualify for Kona, now is the time to enjoy the payoff of hard work. 
For each one of us who qualified for Kona, there was one person behind us who didn't get the slot. There was also a handful of athletes who worked just as hard to race in Kona but the odds were not in their favor. Then there were hundreds who may never get the chance to race in the IM World Championship but still participate in an Ironman as if that day was their Kona day. 

Saturday is a very special day for me because I get to do what I love..... I get to use my body, challenge my mind and discover my deepest capabilities. I have no magic ball to know what the day will bring for me so all I can be confident about is the fact that my body is healthy, injury free and trained. Going into this race with my current level of fitness, I look forward to being smart and smiling as I cross my 7th Ironman finishing line. 

Thank you for your support. 

A few Trimarni videos for your viewing pleasure: