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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

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

Splits:
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 Ironman.com



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).