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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

Filtering by Category: "Running"

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 prep mind over matter: Train the brain

Marni Sumbal

Well, it's finally official. 
MARNI SUMBAL (30-34 age group): BIB NUMBER 1933

With this week being my last week of Ironman training before an active recovery week followed by race week taper, my body feels amazing. With our approach to Ironman training being enhanced every year, I really feel Karel and I nailed my training for my 7th Ironman and 3rd Ironman World Championship. Every go-around we reflect on what didn't work and then we stretch the boundaries on how much I can get my body to adapt with the least amount of training stress. With this "less is more, train hard, recover harder approach" I have experienced bitter sweet feelings before my last three Ironmans. Absolutely I am ready to taper and rejuvenate from all this Ironman Kona specific training and I am excited to experience the normal "hunger" I experience on race week to get out there and let my body do it's thing. But my body and mind feel healthy. They feel strong and confident and it saddens me that this training is coming to an end. I still do not dread any workout and I continue to look forward to what my body can do with every workout I am given from Karel (and oh boy does he push me!). What's even more amazing is that instead of experiencing burnout (which I never get - ready for the season to end, sure, but never a loss of motivation), I continue to see big performance gains. I have off workouts but not as often as the great workouts. Although I pushed my body to a whole new level to qualify for Kona at 2013 Ironman Lake Placid, I challenged myself to training my brain just as much as training my body - with the help of Gloria, my mental coach (who will also be my roomie in Kona).


One thing I have learned with my journey as an endurance age group athlete, is that the mind must be as strong as the body. You can put in all the hours and miles as you want to make it look good on paper that you did the work but if you want your body to perform, your brain must be tough and ready for the challenge.

Training the brain is not easy. And this is why I rely on Gloria to help me for when I experience doubt, I know she has a toolkit to guide me in the right direction.

For example, whenever you start a training plan, for most people the first 3-4 weeks seem to fly by. Endorphins are flowing, the body feels great and everything goes as planned. But then there are the moments here and there were workouts are challenging and the doubt comes about. Looking ahead 4,8,12 weeks down the road, you think to yourself how will I ever be able to finish the race with my goals accomplished. Then, suddenly, with a balanced approach to training. Everything suddenly comes together. The puzzle pieces make more sense and although it doesn't necessarily get easy, the mind knows that race day is coming. So no more excuses, what if's or doubts but instead, confidence that the body CAN do what it was trained to do. However, for many people, the excuses, doubts and what if's continue until race day and that can be very draining and negative for a body that is primed to perform.

This week has been tough. Putting in those final workouts to my Ironman puzzle has been time-consuming and challenging. But, what's keeping me positive is that my body and mind are strong. I do not doubt my fitness and I feel very confident about my race (3rd time is the charm as they say :) Of course, knowing that I just did an IM about 12 weeks ago, I do not fear the distance and I have trust in myself that I can race smart in Kona with the notorious wind/heat race day conditions (among 1500 of the best IM athletes around the world). More than anything, I am not focusing on getting faster but instead, building confidence for race day. Learning how to overcome obstacles that occur in training is just as important as nailing a fueling plan or having several long workouts in the bank.

This morning I had a tough brick.
First off - 4500 swim.
Then a 6 mile run.

On paper, my physically trained Ironman body was ready for the distance but it was the sets that challenged my mental strength.

4500 swim:
2 x 1700 swim w/ 1:30 rest in between
1100 swim
All Ironman "steady" pace

With the pieces coming together very nicely, this set allowed my mind to wander. I had plenty of time to think about anything and everything but I was forced to stay in the moment. In an Ironman, it's very easy to think about mile 20-26 of the run.....when you are at mile 1 of the swim. But with 140.6 miles to cover, what's the point of thinking ahead when you can stay in the moment. Why direct your thoughts to something that has not happened yet when you can direct all your energy to what's occurring at that moment in time.

Although good on paper, I struggled mentally with this swim because it felt easy....but on my watch it didn't look fast (relative to me). But I felt SO good in the water. It was just a mental mess going on this morning in the pool and only I could figure my way out of it. So I had two choices - be grateful that it feels easy now and it once did not feel easy 8 weeks ago (because I wasn't "trained" yet for this set) OR get frustrated and upset and throw in the towel.

I choose the first option.

I finished the swim feeling happy and confident. Confident that I did the work in the pool, happy that I still love to swim. I will not bash my body for not giving me faster times for I put in the necessary work and this was all that my body could tolerate alongside my bike and run training...and balancing life, sleep, diet, traveling, etc. I am excited to start the Kona swim with a body that loves to swim.

Next up - 6 miles of running.

I remember back in June that my endurance was not where it is today. I was getting my body back into shape after 90 days of no running and running just wasn't fun for me. I was not able to push and let my mind be my only limiter. With an amazing 10 weeks of injury-free training behind me and a great foundation from recovering so well from IM Lake Placid, I have enjoyed every run and I constantly thank my body (and continue to do all my hip/core/back exercises and stretching/foam rolling/110% Play harder icing, epson salt baths, massages 1-2 times a month).

So today, I put another workout in the Kona bank that brings me confidence for my mental tool kit.

6 x 1 miles with 30 sec walk in between.
Odd steady, even "faster" (I don't have a lot of speed in my body so I am not pushing my boundaries with my current lactic threshold).
48:48 time
6.11 miles
Average pace 7:59 (including walks)
Mile 1: 8:17 min/mile, 182 HR (rush of blood)
30 sec walk: 122 HR
Mile 2: 7:25 min/mile, 161 HR
30 sec walk 132 HR
Mile 3: 7:55 min/mile, 141 HR
30 sec walk 131 HR
Mile 4: 7:06 min/mile, 150 HR
30 sec walk, 151 HR (body was speaking to me)
Mile 5: 7:57 min/mile, 146 HR
30 sec walk 143 HR
Mile 6: 7:05 min/mile, 156 HR

What made this so hard? Once again - it all came down to mind over matter. As I ran the first hard interval, my brain instantly thought "There's no way you will be able to run the last one hard." Here I am not even finished with the first interval and despite my legs speaking to me, my mind was already trying to convince me that there was no way I could do 3 sets of these. But after the recovery walk and a steady interval (which was surprisingly "fast" compared to the "fast" interval), I decided to just give it a go and instead of making excuses, just make things happen. After the 2nd interval, viola. Just one more fast to go. Although it did get tough as the lactic acid was accumulating in my oxygen deprived body, never did my body tell me that I couldn't do it.

One thing I have learned with training for sports and racing is that you can never count yourself out OR think you have it in the bag until you cross the finish line (or finish a workout). When it comes to endurance racing, the best way to succeed is to slow down the least amount possible. In other words, you don't have to be fast, you don't have to be the best at everything and you don't have to get upset if things aren't going as planned at a certain moment. What you have to do is stay in the moment. The only way to get yourself to the next interval, mile or set is to be sure your mind is just as strong as your body.

Next time that you doubt yourself, give it a go. Don't fear the hard for it will get easier. And when it does, you will likely find yourself craving another challenge of seeing where you can take your body and mind. For me, I love everything that comes with training for an endurance event for my body doesn't have to let me do what I ask for it to do when I train it. I am so incredibly grateful to my body no matter how the workout unfolds.

Thank you body....and mind.

Ironman Lake Placid RR: 26.2 mile run

Marni Sumbal

I wish there was a way to make the Ironman Lake Placid run course come to life as it was not easy and this profile does not do this course any justice. When a race director tells you that if this was a standard marathon, no one would sign up, you know you are in for a fun day if you signed up for a challenge. Oh - I have an idea. Take a hammer, start banging it on your quads and then when you can't take the pain anymore, keep doing it until you see a finish line in front of you with permission to stop the torture. Now you can feel what this course is like. Only kidding....well, not really. 

There are great runners and then there are great triathletes. To be a great triathlete, you must be able to execute with your swim-bike-run body and have the mental strength to quite the voices in your head that make you think a million things besides the feeling of "easy" on race day. Regardless of your prior fitness as a triathlete, when you plan to complete an Ironman, your body must be trained to go the distance. Your heart has to be strong enough to stay elevated for a certain amount of time and all organs and metabolic processes must be nourished, hydrated and healthy to go that extra mile...or 140.6. But more than anything, you have to want it. You have to know how to manage negative thoughts and bottle the positive ones. You have to answer the many why's that circle through your mind as to what you are choosing to do on this very special day. And most importantly, you have to check your ego at the door for the Ironman cares only about your ability to manage the controllables on race day and how you overcome the uncontrollables on race day. 

With only two "long" runs in my legs (13 and 15 miles off a 2 hour bike) in the past 10 weeks prior to race day due to our 10-day May trip to Czech as well as three months of no running due to my hip/back issues, I was relying on experience for this Ironman. I know I can do the distance and I reminded myself that in training that I can only race with my current level of fitness. I didn't need to prove anything to myself in training but instead, save my best effort for race day. You can only imagine the thoughts in my head as to me thinking I was not ready for this race but as I approached race day, I searched really hard for the one and only reason why it may all work. 


I stuck to my strategy of run/walk, knowing that that was how I trained my body and that is how my body would perform the best on race day. Kendra (2nd amateur) ran past me on River rd and she encouraged me to go with her. She was in my age group and I knew she would run me down and fly right by me but her encouraging words were great but I had to turn down the offer and tell her to run strong without me.

After a PR swim and one of my best executed 112 mile rides on a very challenging course, all I had in front of me was 26.2 miles of running. However, with my quads screaming at me for 25 of those miles, I had over 3.5 hours to remind myself how much I love what my body allows me to do. Not always does my body corporate and I have to accept that. Racing the Ironman distance is a gift and I never take that for granted. I love to push my body but it doesn't always respond the way I imagine and that's just part of the journey. I believe that the Ironman is a special event in that only the athlete can figure out how to get to the finishing line. Fatigue is going to be your #1 enemy on race day but without good mental strength, nutrition and pacing, there can be a lot more problems than your muscles getting tired. 

As I approached the transition tent, I looked around and saw only volunteers. I had the tent to myself and it occurred to me that I was in a great place for a Kona spot. I was aware of some of my competition but of course, I can't predict everyone's race and I can only spend energy on my own. There were very few bikes in the transition area and after an hour of swimming and around 5:45 of was time to execute my plan. 

I thanked the volunteers after I put on clean socks, my Brooks Launch running shoes, my visor and race belt w/ number and grabbed my two handheld flasks, each with ~150 calories in them (+ 3 gels in my pockets). As I left transition, I saw a mass of spectators and my legs knew it was time to run. I felt great!!
My Garmin 910xt continued to run on multisport zone and I switched over the screen to see the same things I see in training:
Current pace
Lap pace
Current HR
Lap time

I don't know why but when I race, I am always keeping an eye on my time...that is for swim and for bike. I always think about the time of the day and do some math in my head throughout the race as to what time of the day it is (it goes by quickly!) but for some reason, in 5 Ironman's, I have never looked at my watch for my total time or run time. 

In my opinion, the marathon run in an ironman is not to be "raced" for most athletes. It is to be paced in a way that your body resists fatigue as much as possible. I always say that IM racing is not about the fastest athlete but who slows down the least. In my case, I knew what my current level of fitness was going in and that I had endurance. What I didn't have was a few 16 milers that I would have liked to have complete in my training (Even with a healthy body, I do not recommend more than 2.5 hours of running in prep for an IM). But the past was gone and all I could do was to pace myself the best possible and rely on experience and what I know about the Ironman. 

What I know is that when you race an Ironman, you are often handicapped by physical limitations. Not so much by lactic acid being produced as very little of the IM is anaerobic (maybe parts of the swim) but instead, your aerobic capacity is limited by your ability (or lack thereof) to fuel and pace yourself in order to maintain good form and focus throughout 140.6 miles. With 5 Ironmans behind me, I know what it feels like to dig.....really really deep. When the body is hurting so bad and the mind says enough is enough. It's a constant arguement in your mind, over and over for the mind to shut-up about the pain, aches and fatigue and to just let the body do its thing. Amazingly, I have learned that I am only limited by my mind on race day and that is why I never push myself with training through an injury. I LOVE having my mind as my only limiter on race day for I know if I can overcome those thoughts, my body can continue to move forward and that's what the IM is all about. Move yourself mile by mile until you cover 140.6 miles and cross a finishing line. 

As for Karel, this was all new territory for him. But, I had so much confidence in him that he could do it. I just couldn't wait to see him on the course to know that we were going to do this together. 

This is what happens when you do your first feel GREAT on the first 6 miles....and think this is going to be a walk in the park...

Oh, hello second loop! Karel told me that all he thought about was wanting the run to be over. 

Digging deep....

I So wish I was there to see Karel cross the finish line...almost breaking 10 hours in his first Ironman!

Congrats Karel!!!!
66th overall
13th age group (35-39)
Swim: 1:10:20
Bike: 5:16:26
Run: 3:26:19 (first marathon!)
Total: 10:03:26

Despite the constant ache in my quads....

The doubts in my head....

And the 26.2 miles ahead of me. 

I managed to find that painful place where I could just dig deep and zone out. I was receiving cheers from the crowds (Thank you Ange, Mary, Jennifer, Mike, Duran, Laura and anyone else who cheered) as well as the pro and age group girls who were cheering me on during their race,  as I know they knew that I wanted a Kona slot and I was willing to work hard for it. 

Although I respect the distance, I love to race the Ironman. The course was so beautiful that I tried to enjoy it but it was not as enjoyed as pre race thanks to the emotions and fatigue I was feeling throughout the run. With a mix of walking and running (~11 minutes of total walking when I reviewed my Training Peaks file, with no more than on average, about 20-30 seconds at one time and my longest walk being 43 seconds at mile 15 and 3 walks at mile 22 for a total of 1:30 within that mile) I can't really describe what got me through this run aside from trusting my body that it knew what to do on this day. 

I knew I would not be able to run a "fast" marathon so I decided if I wanted to be in the running (literally) for a Kona spot, I had to run on the hills, walk before I really needed to walk and find a very special reason why I wanted this Kona slot and why all this pain would be worth it. 

With a few miles to go, my body was tired. It was empty despite a perfect fueling strategy and no nutrition issues. I had some coke here and there, I only drank water at the aid stations and I received electrolytes and carbs from my sport drinks and gels. 
The first 6 miles were comfortable, I managed to stay steady. Miles 6-10 were hard. My quads starting to hurt badly from the pounding, likely from the downhills that occurred within the first few miles. Then miles 12 and 13 were fun...hard, but fun as I was craving the cheers from the crowds to give me energy that I didn't have. I am not quite sure when I was passed by Megan (3rd place) but it was somewhere in the first loop. Then as I made my way back down the hills to start the 2nd loop, I knew this was going to be a strong race for me...not for the finishing time that I had no idea of, but instead, because I was actually digging deep when I could easily stop, walk and drop.
I managed to break down each mile just like I do in training and I gave myself my opportunities to walk to shake out my legs and take in nutrition. I then looked forward to running again as I was quickly moving closer to completing this Ironman. No mile was easy but some miles came faster than others. The volunteers were great and with more people on the course for the 2nd loop, I was thankful to be around so many other inspiring athletes reaching the same finishing line.
Every time I walked, I looked behind me. Luckily, no one in sight. I remembered getting passed by a few girls but their bib numbers assured me that they were not in my age group. I was looking for the 600-700 bib numbers as those were my competition for the day.
Passing mile 15 was an exciting time as that was my longest run in training. I welcomed mile 20 because that seems to be the point when you can mentally grasp that you only have a 10K to go. Yes, with 120 miles behind you, only running 6 miles is possible yet still a distant thought with what's to come on the course.
I wanted to see mile 22 so badly as I knew I was on the home stretch. Finally off the painful rollers of river road which was often lonely yet peaceful. Nearing town, my body was talking to me yet I felt like I was still running strong or at least, moving forward (same thing, right? I thought to myself).
I shuffled my way up the hill which supposedly had a 16% grade and then made a left turn to shuffle up another hill to see the chute to the finish, only to make an annoying left turn for 2 more miles which in my mind was just evil with less than 2 miles to go. I go!!!
With 1 mile to go, I stopped to walk as my legs had nothing. I stopped right in front of the mile 25 sign and just begged my body to hang in there.  After running back up a series of climbs for the second time to get to mile 25, I felt like I had given everything to hold my 4th place position after the bike (being passed twice on the run). Still not knowing the times of others for when they started in the rolling start, I knew that my 4th place position was likely in jeopardy. Three Kona slots for my age group and Katie already receiving her slot at Eagleman. That means 4th place is the "worst" place I can be in with 1 mile to go. Absolutely NO room for error and certainly my decision to walk at mile 25 was on my mind but I had no other choice. 

I made the turn around just over 25 miles and with less than a mile to go, there they were. Jessica and Lesley. I had never met, seen or heard of these girls til the award ceremony but I knew them well enough at the turnaround that they were coming to get me. 
I knew that with the rolling start I would 100% get to race my own race but I wouldn't know when others started and how their finishing times with affect my times (in other words, would I finish ahead of someone to have them bump me out of my place due to me having a faster swim but not a faster bike or run).
They were running fast, almost effortless and I knew it was time. As much as I wanted to cruise the last mile and enjoy my 6th Ironman finishing line...I sprinted as hard as I could, with everything I didn't have. 

It was time....I switched over my Garmin before entering the oval for the last run to the finish line and my clock read 10:40.....OMG!!!
My legs exploded with energy as if I was starting mile 1 of a 5K. Could this really be true? Am I really going to have an almost 10 minute PR? 

Athletes always say at the finish line that there was no possible way that they could have gone an inch further. I completely collapsed at the finishing line but did not need medical attention. I officially gave my body permission to stop. 100% stop. At mile 25, I stopped but had to move forward. 140.6 miles completed in 10 hours and 43 minutes. 

Swim: 1:01.02 (PR)
Bike: 5:46:11 (strong ride on a tough course)
Run: 3:48:36 (PR)
5th age group (30-35)
179 overall 
12th amateur female

A few more pics from friends...thank you!

Oh, and my competition chasing me down.....

4th place (Jessica): 10:43.08
5th place (me): 10:43.14
6th place (Lesley): 10:43:26

Never think about the reasons why it can't work. There will be a reason why it just have to believe in it...or spend 140.6 miles figuring it out.

Kona bound for the 3rd time. Thank you body.

Run splits for me:
8:43 pace, 3:48:36 finish time
Best 3 hours (including walks): 8:37 min/mile pace (20.88 miles)
Best 2 hours (including walks): 8:28 min/mile pace (14 miles)
Best 90 minutes (including walks): 8:29 min/mile pace
Average HR 147

Mile 1: 7:27
Mile 2: 7:48
Mile 3: 7:43
Mile 4: 8:10
Mile 5: 8:00 (started walking here for 20-30 seconds at a time)
Mile 6: 8:18
Mile 7: 8:38
Mile 8: 8:37
Mile 9: 8:56
Mile 10: 9:12
Mile 11: 8:58
Mile 12: 9:13
Mile 13: 8:22
Mile 14: 8:15
Mile 15: 8:40
Mile 16: 8:21
Mile 17: 8:54
Mile 18: 8:45
Mile 19: 9:20
Mile 20: 9:17
Mile 21: 8:53
Mile 22: 9:27
Mile 23: 9:36
Mile 24: 9:21
Mile 25: 9:45
Mile 26: 8:28

(all splits include walk breaks - I reviewed my Training Peaks file to look at my walk breaks and although I started walking around mile 3 or 4, I ended up walking 25 times and from my math guessing, it was around 11 minutes of total intentional/planned walking. Not to shabby to still end up with my best run off the bike!)

Love it when a plan works. The hard part is trusting yourself that you have the mental strength to execute.
Never stop working hard for your goals and believing in yourself that you can get to where you want to be in life.

Race Ready tips

Marni Sumbal

Our bikes are making their way to Lake Placid, New York for Ironman Lake Placid on July 28th thanks to Tri Bike Transport!

Seeing that my amazing bike mechanic/hubby will be racing in his first Ironman

and not riding on his road bike, giving my parents updates during my race (pic below from Kona 2011), we will be using Tri Bike Transport for my 6th Ironman and not traveling with our bikes on the airplane. What a treat!

Are you race ready?

New shoes, new race wheels, new wetsuit, new outfit.

Athletes are notorious for race week shopping, whether it is online, at local small business stores or at the race expo. I feel there is a nice psychological boost to having new things, so long as they are effective and practical for the race for motivation increases when you have a drive to use something new.

But having new items does not out-weigh the 3 most important tips for being race day ready.

1) Skills

2) Confidence

3) Planning

To briefly break down my 3 most important tips for being race day ready, let's start with skills.

Running requires you to  move one leg in front of each other, quickly. If you don't want to run, you can walk. Although running requires good form, most people can run without having the proper skills to run. When it comes to swimming and cycling, skills are very important. From skills to keep your body safe in the water and on the road to skills to efficiently use your body on the race day course/terrain. I find that many athletes do the work by training hard and putting in the work but the lack of skills in training is overpowered by zone-training, high heart rates and social workouts. Be sure you put just as much time in your racing skills as you do in training your heart, muscles and lungs.

I love training knowing that I am working toward executing my current level of fitness on race day. Although it is completely normal and fine to have race week/day nerves and to fear the upcoming distance or course, you should never let your fears get the best of you. On the flip side, remind yourself the work that you put in to prepare for the race. Many times during a race (and before) you will have doubts, moments of "is this worth is" and even thoughts of "I can't wait til this is over." More often than not, those thoughts are temporary. Keep in mind that every negative thought comes before or after a positive thought. You just have to keep moving forward to catch those positive thoughts and hang on to them. When you finish a race, every negative thought will disappear and suddenly everything will be worth it, you won't believe it is over and you will be so proud that you did it. Don't let negative thoughts or energy fill your head when you can fill your mind with confidence and beliefs that you can race smart no matter what the day has in store for you.

There are many controllables when it comes to racing and lots of uncontrollables. You can't control your competition, you can't control the weather and you can't change the course. But you can control your race by planing your nutrition, your clothing, your pacing plan and your attitude. Consider these four very important components of putting together an effective, smart race day plan for racing is not about showing up to race day and hoping for a great race but instead, considering how you can be in control of your race day execution and knowing how to deal with situations as they come about (which they will).

A few other tips for racing:
-I am not a fan of racing "stimulants" - avoid the chemical boosters (ex. drinks, pills) for energy and do a race warm-up to get the blood flowing and the body ready for the upcoming effort.
-Do not sabotage your race day by worrying about your weight. There is no reason to restrict, control or stress about food, especially if it real food that has fueled your training or can help you properly taper for your race.
-If you are investing in new race day equipment such as cycling wheels, be sure to practice on them prior to the race (at least 2-3 weeks prior). Racing wheels can be difficult to get use to for many athletes and more often than not, they will make you look fast but if you don't have the right skills, they won't work as intended.
-Do not deviate from what has worked in the place. Athletes often second guess themselves on the days before a race, often trying new things, wondering how to fuel for the race, stressing about what others will think of their race day performance. Remember that you are racing with your current level of fitness so your body will perform how you trained it to perform.
-Race your own race. You will find a way to get to the finish line no matter what but to waste your entire race day pacing plan in the first few miles of a race will make for a very long race. There are no certainties with racing but to only trust yourself and staying within your comfort zone of your skills, nutrition strategy and pacing plan.
-Help out others. There is a special power in cheering on others, especially if you need a boost as well. Thank the volunteers, high-five the spectators and smile at the other athletes. Your worst day may be someone else's best day so if you have it in you or not, remember that everyone has their own reason for racing.
-Don't get stuck on time, paces and rankings. The best race day stories are not told by a piece of paper or online but instead, by YOU the athlete. Consider writing a post race blog report or writing about your day to share with others. Do not let your race day goals keep you from inspiring others.
-Have fun! If you don't love what you are doing, why do it? Unless you are a professional, you should be enjoying the journey of challenging yourself, overcoming obstacles and becoming a stronger, smarter and healthier individual. Whatever your sport may be, it is your lifestyle, not your life. Never stop being grateful for what your body allows you to do and thank your body many times during the race.
-Be prepared for race day. Review the course (or try it out), check the weather, consider outside variables that may affect you. Do not worry about doing something that "isn't cool", being different or unique. Be prepared for your day and don't worry about what others think of you as you are racing your own race and only you, your body and your mind can get you to the finish line.

Happy Racing!

Endurnace sports. What's stopping you?

Marni Sumbal

Before every endurance event I do, I like to read my old race reports. I was recently reading my IMWI and IMKY race reports and I just laughed while reading them because I guess two and three years down the road, my mind still wants Ironman racing to be "easy".  I always think about a past race and somehow, my mind tells me it was "easy" back then and now I am really going to hurt. But it's funny that when I read my race reports, it was not easy and it was never easy. I guess the saying is true...

 I guess when it comes to thinking logically, the body and mind do not like to suffer. Not a good combination when it comes to endurance racing. Not sure how many times you look for that "easy" button but if you find it while training for an endurance event or while racing, I am not sure you will want to use it because if "it" was easy, everyone would be doing it.

You see, the great thing about endurance sports is that you get to become someone that you don't believe you can become. You must be patient and respectful of the distance but you must also be willing to work every day to make some kind of progress. You get to experience highs and lows and you get to learn how to work your mind and body in magical ways. You get to inspire and motivate others and you get to join a special group of individuals who seek challenges outside their comfort zone.

I love working with athletes who are new to endurance racing because the human body must be trained and fueled in a way that it resists fatigue and stays energizes and does the minimum amount of work possible to receive huge performance gains. Sharing this journey with Karel has been so much fun because I have seen his body and mind strengthen in many ways and as I share my 6th Ironman with him for his first Ironman, I can't help but think that we will both be going through similar emotions on race day....a lot of why's and hopefully a lot of why nots.

I wanted to repost a blog I did after my 4th Ironman, which meant so much to me because I really pushed hard and received the best prize ever....a rolldown slot to my 2nd Ironman World Championship. Talk about emotions....battling thoughts to get myself on the podium and then being so satisfied with my performance that I went to bed fulfilled only to find out the next day I was going to Kona in 2011.

So I wanted to share my post with everyone (again) as to why I love endurance racing and that I hope this post inspires you to do something that challenges you. Get started with something now without thinking about where you are now and where you need/want to be in the future. The part of working hard for your goals is reaching your end point and being able to look back as to where you were when you started.


This part of the report means so much to me. Not only because I finished my fourth IM since 2006 but I get to write MY report on behalf of all of the triathletes out there, who aspire to one-day sign-up and finish an Ironman. And even if you don't aspire to do a triathlon or an Ironman, or you have done an IM, this is for all of the people out there who have set a challenging, and perhaps, unthinkable, goal.

It is hard to describe the feelings that come with finishing an Ironman. For many of us, we devote a good 6-12 months of training to one event. That's right, an entire year dedicated to one event! And to make things even more nerve-racking, you pay a lump sum of money for the event.... 365 days before the race! For myself, this race was 4 years in the making and I sacrificed many other local races (and wants) to offset the expenses for this event.

For many of you, you are forced to put the hurdles and obstacles that you experience day in and day out, behind you, in an effort to train on most days of the week. On some days, your training may last most of the day. On other days, you may be up at 4:30am just to be finished before the sun comes up. But at the end of the day, you know your priorities and you quickly realize that only in your dreams would you train like a professional. That's right, no scheduled massages, no sponsorships, no free race entries, no purse prize. You have a family alongside work responsibilities and somehow, you are happy just make it all work. Why? Because you have goals. For many of you, perhaps your love for living a healthy life was taken to the next level and somehow, your goals became a lifestyle.
For myself, it was my choice to balance a dietetic internship and training. Just like you, I had ups and downs with my training and the rest of my life and just like you, I didn't always think it was possible to achieve long-term goal(s). You developed a support team and perhaps, there were some people on your team that bailed on you. However, by staying in the positive, you surrounded yourself with people who gave you energy, rather than take it away from you. Without a doubt, with IM training you are always searching for extra natural energy!!!

When I crossed the finish line, I was satisfied. I had given everything I had during the race and I couldn't have asked for anything better. For in an Ironman, every person who crosses the finish line is a winner. Everyone gets a medal, everyone gets a finisher t-shirt and every person becomes a member of a select group of people. Even for those who don't reach the finish line during an IM, they are still in a select club...for only a small part of the population even considers signing up for an IM. Reaching the starting line of an IM is one of the biggest accomplishments you can ask for. Finishing an Ironman is just the icing on the "healthy" cake.

Ironman training is tough. However, through following a periodized training plan, you should find yourself improving on a weekly basis. By allowing your body to recover through active recovery, weekly planned rest days and planned recovery weeks you should find yourself enjoying your IM training and enjoying the journey.
Ironman training is 10x harder than the Ironman event. In an effort to get to the starting line of an IM, you must train your body to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Because you have 365 days to train for a 140.6 mile event, most athletes arrive to the starting line trained and ready to go. Sadly, many people arrive to the race overtrained and/or injured, so certainly, balance and a smart mind (and coach) may be necessary when planning for your IM journey.

It's hard to describe the emotions and feelings that flood your body at the IM finish line. Perhaps you want to envision yourself crossing the IM finish line but you may be asking yourself....will my body ever let me do an Ironman??

For those who like to swim bike and runANYONE can do an Ironman.

Here's how I can describe the Ironman journey.
Remember, it's a LONG journey with a one-day finish line.

Imagine yourself driving 140.6 miles on a daily basis. For the first few weeks, it probably seems really boring and you ask yourself "can I really continue doing this every day?"
After a few weeks, the drive gets easier and you become content with the drive. Maybe you even look forward to the drive because you are alone with yourself, your thoughts and feelings. Maybe you come up with new ideas and thoughts during your drive and feel inspired to change something in your life.
Certainly, some days do feel longer than others but overall, you are happy with your decision to do the drive.
Eventually, a group of your close friends tell you that they are going to ride with you during your drive to keep you company. The drive becomes much more enjoyable because you can laugh, smile and share stories with your friends during the long ride.
Down the road, you notice that thousands of other people are doing the same drive as you. Although they are in different cars (some nicer and more expensive than others) and drive at different speeds, they are all going to the same place as you. Some how, you look forward to the drive even more and you almost don't want the drive experience to end.
One day, you notice that there are lots of people on the road wanting to help you. They want to make sure your car is fueled, it is in excellent working condition and that you have everything you need to feel happy during your drive. It's amazing how special you feel during your drive and you feel compelled to tell your friends about the drive, almost as if you are motivating others to do the drive with you.
On your last drive, you notice that your closest friends and family are on the road waving at you. You couldn't be more excited to see them and they bring tears to your eyes because they are supporting your decision to drive 140.6 miles. They think you are crazy for doing it but they love you anyways and they want to see you finish the drive.
When you get to the finish of your last drive, you notice that there are thousands of people cheering you on. You tell yourself "but it's only 140.6 miles" but you know that not many people would make the decision to do this drive. A drive that you once thought was never possible and you finally made it to the finish line. Happy that you don't have to do the drive anymore, you are kinda sad and are ready to sign up for another 140.6 mile drive.

But because there are so many other people out there with you, wanting to reach the same finish line, you feel the need to help the people behind you, reach the same finish line.

When I reached the finish line, I was ready to see all of the future "IMWI" athletes cross the finish line. A line that once seemed impossible, was in close reality.

2% of athletes qualified for Kona at IMWI. That statistic is pretty consistent at most IM events. I'm guessing that around 8% of athletes are shooting for a Kona slot.
An amazing 98% of athletes at an Ironman are there to finish. 98%!!! If you feel as if you can't do an IM, you have absolutely no idea of what you are capable of doing. The body is truly amazing. Although many components play a role in finishing an Ironman, the Ironman event is very mental. With all of the training behind you, you are simply putting your training to the test and enjoying the day with 2500-3000 of your closest friends... a day that you have dreamed about for x-year(s).
If anyone has ever told you that you were "slow" for finishing an Ironman above the average IM finishing time of 13-14 hours or questioned why it took you 14,15,16 or 16 hrs and 57 minutes (that was the last finisher at IMWI 2010) to complete an Ironman....I give you permission to stare that person in the face and tell them "I am an Ironman and no one can take that away from me!"

"I just swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles.....what did you do today???"

Adapt to the least amount of training stress: the "long" run

Marni Sumbal

When you mention the word endurance athlete, I think most people would instantly think "long" workouts. As that would be expected if you are training for a "long" event. In my multisport world, Ironman and Marathon are the two big endurance events but I would also like to include anything over 2 hours, such as a half marathon or olympic distance triathlon for many.

When it comes to building endurance, there are many approaches as to the best way to improve the cardio, muscular and respiratory systems as well as building confidence for the big, long day. But before we jump ahead as to the best way to build endurance, I think I must point out the best way to train for any event.....

Forget about what your training partners are doing, what you read in a magazine or what a friend of a friend told you to do to improve fitness. The general and most basic approach to training involves periodization. If you do the same thing over and over, expect the same result. However, infrequent workouts bring infrequent results. Consistency is key as you continually stress the body.
That is, the most appropriate way for you to appropriately adapt to a sequence of training is in a way in which your body is overloaded to adapt to training stress but not at the cost of injury, burnout and fatigue. In order for this periodization principle to be executed properly, athletes must recognize that there must be a healthy balance between training and recovery so that you peak at the right time and training intensity/volume is specific to training and racing goals. In other words - there is no "best" way to train but instead the right way for your body to consistently (key word) progress with training....and still function as a normal human-being in life.

Structurally, your body must be flexible, strong and biomechanically "healthy" to move with proper form and skill and metabolically, your body must be able to provide energy to meet the demands of training.

For many athletes, the motivation is there but the body doesn't always perform. For others, the mind and body struggle to maintain energy as training progresses. I find that most athletes have about 3-4 "great" weeks in their system when they start a new training plan or start training for a race. Thus, this is where many adaptations quickly take place. However, athletes are known to be a bit inpatient and instead of progress continuing to be made after 3-4 weeks, athletes begin to plateau with fitness (and often, struggle with body composition issues) and recovery is delayed, motivation dwindles and goals are forgotten (or the opposite - the athlete continues to push with a body that is not responding appropriately to training stress).

In order to maintain optimal health as you see/feel yourself progress with your athletic training, it is important that you recognize that the best performances by athletes are done with individualized training. Therefore, how your body responds to training stress may be different from your training buddies. You can follow a similar training plan but your approach - the duration, frequency and intensity - may be different. Thus, it is important to recognize that throughout many cycles of "epic workouts" and finishing workouts you never thought you could start along with resting and recovering the body when it needed to rejuvenate, this is where the magic happens. It is not one or two great long workouts (or "yay, glad that is over") but instead, many orchestrated workouts that allow you to recover and then peak at the right time and eventually, race at your full potential on race day.

When it comes to endurance training, there are many approaches to improve running endurance.
For example, I have many of my athletes doing different styles of run training depending on how they adapt to training stress as well as their primary goals for race day.

A few different strategies for improving running endurance:
-mid week "long" runs
-long runs off a short bike warm-up
-mile repeaters during a long run
-fast intervals, a few times per week
-two a day runs, once or twice a week instead of a long run
-run/walk workouts
-plyometrics/hip strength
-cross training
-track workouts
-group runs
-hill workouts

As you can see, there is no right or best way to improve running endurance and despite what your training buddies may tell you, those long runs, weekend after weekend can be very damaging and non-productive.

Rather than blogging about the physiology of the body (I sure do love that stuff!) , I will keep things simple so that you can have a few take aways from this blog to figure out the best way to improve our running endurance.
- The primary prescription for building endurance is based on training frequency, training duration and training intensity.
-Research has shown that running twice per week may produce similar changes in VO2 max as training 5 days per week. However, if training intensity is low, you will need more frequent workouts to increase aerobic capacity.
-Depending on your workout intensity, this will determine your workout duration. If your intensity is above lactic threshold, the duration should be kept short due to fatigue.
-Although an increase in intensity will likely shorten the duration of activity, keep in mind that if training intensity is kept low, a greater frequency of training may be needed to elicit the desired physiological adaptations to enhance endurance performance.


To maximize aerobic capacity, whatever workout you are doing should create an overload on the physiological processes of the body in order to result in adaptation. This is where it is up to you, as the athlete, to consider the risk-to-benefit relationship that exists when training for an endurance event. Increasing the duration of training too quickly may increase risk for overtraining and injury. Increasing the intensity too quickly or too hard, may cause premature fatigue. Not increasing the duration or intensity may have you wondering why you aren't making progress with your fitness.

When an athlete builds endurance, several things are taking place in the body to adapt to stress:
-Increase in cardiac output
-Increase in stroke volume
-Increase in blood volume and hemoglobin concentration
-Increase in blood flow to exercising muscles
-Decrease in resting heart rate and blood pressure
-Increase in mitochondrial size and number
-Increase in oxidative enzymes
-Increase in capillary density
-Increase in reliance on stored fat as an energy source
-Possible increase in myoglobin content
-Increase in VO2 max
-Rise in toleration of lactic threshold
-Improved ratings of perceived exertion
-Improve metabolic efficiency
-Improved mental strength

Out of all those adaptations that take place as we work on building endurance, there is no guarantee that running 20+ mile runs before a marathon will help you out on race day or running 3 hours as you train for IM will ensure that you will have a strong run off the bike.

It is without saying that you body must learn to tolerate stress if you are training for a long distance event and you have a lot to work on when it comes to training your body and mind but it important to consider the many types of workouts (ex. intervals,repeaters, tempo runs, hills, fartleks, short/easy runs, cross training, longer runs, brick workouts) that contribute to an increase in endurance. Many times, athletes forget that each workout stacks on the other to build endurance.

And most importantly, if your body is not physically ready to adapt to stress, it is important that you strengthen your body prior to pushing your body. Weak muscles do not respond well to weight-bearing activity for weak muscles bring poor form. The same is true with slacking on nutrition and how it affects your form, mind and recovery during a long run.... trying to progress too quickly with an endurance running routine will only bring haphazard results.

As I continue to blog about my 6th Ironman journey, I enjoy sharing my workouts with others but also with the hopes that I can inspire you to train in a way that allows for consistent success as you have fun with your training. Yes - there are hard workouts and the body will not like you at times but never should you feel as if training takes over your life and never should you stop liking training, especially when you paid money to train for an event.

Sunday's brick - My workout:

2 hour bike + 2 hour run
2 hour bike - 1st hour warm-up (as I progress with IM training, I often need longer warm-ups to get my body excited to train). 2nd hour w/ Karel on his wheel - nice and steady at a little faster than my IM pace (power).

2 hour run - solo
Run 1 mile, walk 10-12 seconds in between each mile. Per my mental coach Gloria, I am only allowed to focus on one thing at a time. When I am biking, I can not think about the run off the bike. When I am running, I can't think about how many miles I have left. It's amazing how much I can think about within a mile - it is a great way for me to stay focused and in the moment.

13.15 miles
Total time: 1:52
Average pace (including walk breaks) 8:32
(I refilled my bottles at mile 7 and mile 10, 2 minute break each time. Goal was to hold around 8:20 pace)
Mile 1: 8:19
Mile 2: 8:23
Mile 3: 8:17
Mile 4: 8:21
Mile 5: 8:19
Mile 6: 8:17
Mile 7: 8:13
Mile 8: 8:23
Mile 9: 8:28
Mile 10: 8:31
Mile 11: 8:21
Mile 12: 8:19 (I cut a deal with myself as miles 10-12 were getting really hard - it was very hot and I was running into the wind and my body was tired but still I was holding good form. The deal was if I could run sub 8:20 on mile 12, I could go "easy" on the last mile...done!)
Mile 13: 9:02
(my walk breaks ended up ranging from 10-22 seconds which I walked every mile from 1-13, from my Garmin which still gave me a consistent 8:32 pace and a body that recovers quickly so that I can have another consistent week of quality training)

Sunday's brick - Karel's workout

10 mile group run + 3 hour bike + 6 mile run

Another style of training based on Karel's goals and his fitness and how he adapts to training. The first 10 miles were a comfortable pace for Karel, between 7-7:30 min/miles for most of it (don't hold me to that though :) which he did with a group of runners at 6:30am at the beach. He then went for a 3 hour ride (I sat on his wheel for 1 hour of it) which was a nice steady ride at his IM pace. The 6 miles off the bike were by feel and Karel said he ended up feeling better on the 2nd run than the first run.

Two different approaches to the "long" run and both of us finished our 2nd big week of IM training. We are both feeling great and we have been recovering really well from our workouts..just enough stress to adapt but not too much that we feel lingering fatigue or injuries.

Of course, having good nutrition during the day and proper sport nutrition helps but we can't blame everything on nutrition. Train smart, train hard and recover harder.

6 more weeks.....thumbs up for fun, consistent training :)

110% Kick Back Quad Sleeve - product review

Marni Sumbal

Oh, do I LOVE compression. You will see me in my CEP compression socks, calf sleeves, tights or 110% Play harder gear before, during and after all my training sessions and races. I am a firm believer that it works for me but compression is not going to make you race fast if you don't put in the work in training.

A while back I wrote an article about compression when compression started to be "hot" and since then, more and more companies have come out with compression-related gear. I have used 110% Play Harder since they first came out on the market since it is a Jacksonville -based company and prior to that, I was wearing compression shorts "back in" 2010 while running as I decided to ditch the running shorts to offer my legs a bit more support while running.  I just love compression and the 110% products are perfect...... and the team is fantastic!  I just love being an ambassador for fun, energetic, sport-minded individuals.

The quad sleeves have been making my body very happy with my Ironman Lake Placid prep work. I wear them with and without ice as I just love compression on my quads. I love these quad sleeves because you can put the ice anywhere around your upper leg and my adductors, abductors, ITB and hamstrings love the cold after a hot, hard workout.

From the 110% Play Harder website:
Kick Back Quad Sleeves combine the benefits of compression and the power of an ice bath in one incredibly convenient piece of gear. With 360° pockets, reusable ice inserts, and a thermal carrying bag they transition from high performance compression gear to a simple active recovery system in one simple step.

If you have any questions about 110% Play Harder gear, just send me an email so I can help you find the right product to fit your injury/healing/compression needs.

My other favorite product is the flat out sox which I love to wear after my long workouts and when I travel.

Happy National Running Day!!

Czech trip Day 7 and 8: Happy vegetarian athlete - running, castles, hiking, wine, food, cycling, shopping

Marni Sumbal

I love waking up in the morning, excited to start the day. I find myself this way every day but in Czech, it is an adventure everyday!

The sun rises rather early in Czech and with no AC in the flat, we often wake up to the birds chirping outside of the open windows and the sun as our alarm clock. Regardless if we sleep to 8 or 5am, it all looks the same. We woke up around 6am which was usual for us and after our morning cup of fabulous coffee, along with some trigger point therapy (rolling on the ball) and active stretching/dynamic warming up, we were off for a 6-mile tour around Znojmo. I guess this was a workout as we were running but with Karel as my amazing tour guide, it was hard to think of this as a workout but instead, the best way to sight-see in a new country. Despite doing a morning run of around 2-4 miles every day since arriving to Czech, we had yet to cover the same route twice in Znojmo. Similar paths but always something new to see. I just couldn't take my eyes off the sights as Karel had me running on a trail, in a forest, on paths, by gardens, on cobblestones. Each place was familiar to Karel, new to me. 6 miles later, we were back at home for a yummy breakfast and then we got ourselves ready to officially start the day.

The day prior we had biked to see a castle that Karel was taken me to the next day. Well, today was the day and we were so happy that both Karel's mom and dad would be joining us.

After a 20 minute or so drive down the road, we parked at a parking lot and made a steep walk (about 1/2 mile) to the top of the hill to visit Vranov nad Dyjí which is a chateaux in the South Moravian region of Czech Republic,which lies on the Dyje (Thaya) river, 3 km north from the Austrian border close to Hardegg. We took a tour of the castle and Karel was my translator for the tour. The rooms were magnificent and so much beauty within each part of the castle. We had to put on slippers over our shoes and you could just smell the history.

After our tour, we hiked back down the steep road to the car and then headed back to Karel's mom's house (after dropping off his dad at his home a mile from his mom's) for lunch. A delicious lunch as usual.

After resting for an hour or so, we got ourselves ready to  meet with Karel's best friend and his girlfriend and their doggy (YIPPE) to tour an underground wine cellar and taste award winning wines. This was an amazing experience for me and although it was cold underground with mold everywhere (perfect humidity for wine), the tasting room was cozy and the wine was amazing! Although I do not drink very much (only wine as beer is not to my liking), I really enjoyed sampling all the white wines which were fantastic.

After our tour, we left with a few bottles of wine that were given to us and headed down the road for a hike with an amazing look-out point. One thing I must add is that this trip has been very special for me but it makes things so much better to have locals (including Karel) as my tour guides. Everything has run so smoothly and I feel like I am at home in another country.

The hike was amazing, with vineyards everywhere and a look out point that takes your breath away. Life just gets really good when I am outside as I just love connecting with nature.

After our hike, we had worked up an appetite as it was nearing 6:30pm (sun still shinning). We went back to Karel's mom's house to clean up and then we all met down the road to walk to the restaurant. Not a new trend as all we did in town was walk which was fantastic seeing that we love to use our bodies as much as possible.

As much as I was loving all the new foods that were served to me in Czech, Karel and I both thought it would be fun to check out something special in Czech that would make me extra happy - a vegetarian restaurant! I found Na Věčnosti online from which is a great website to locate vegetarian/vegan/healthy places to eat while traveling. I absolutely love trying new foods and when I have over a dozen selections to choose from on a menu, I am one happy plant strong athlete :)

Karel was also excited as he loves trying new things and will eat anything so it was nice to have some company with Karel's best friend and Girlfriend to join us for a very new experience. You can read more about our vegetarian dining experience with this link: Na Věčnosti.

After dinner, we chatted a bit more and walked around town and nearing 9:45pm, we made our way back to Karel's mom's house for a good night of rest.

The next morning we had a bike ride on the schedule but that was all! We laughed on Day 7 that for Wednesday, it would be our first unplanned, planned day. Every day was filled with something to do so we decided that for our last full day in Znojmo before heading to Prague, we would enjoy ourselves with a bike ride and then shopping around town to buy gifts for our friends and family and of course, lots of chocolate and coffee for us.

We woke up around 7am and although our first day of not running since arriving to Czech, we were both excited to just ride this day. We had a light breakfast to hold us over for our morning ride and then walked a mile to Karel's dad's house to get our bikes. No need to drive when the roads are made for walking.

We got our bikes and biked a mile or so down the road to the bike shop and picked up Karel's friend's who were joining us for a fun ride in Austria. Little did I know, my skills would be tested again on cobblestones in the town and then descending on switchbacks in Austria. Climbing is no thing for me - I just wish I never had to descend! But thankfully, Karel always gives me pointers and he knows my saying "I'd rather be a chicken than a dead duck." He knows I take my time and although hot brakes at times, I am getting much better at my descending with switchbacks. Karel makes it look so easy just flying down the hills/mountains but then again, after riding in his home, I see why he is so good at cycling. When you grow up in Europe, you have no choice but to learn good cycling skills.

Our bike ride was fantastic today. We left around 9:45 from the bike shop and although only around 35 miles, our 2.5 hours of riding and a few short picture stops was amazing. I am just having so much fun on my bike here in Czech - I fell in love with Karel on our bikes and now I am falling in love with another country on my bike. So many priceless memories.

After riding some long climbs and riding in Austria, crossing over to Czech, seeing the Iron Curtain (which brought back a lot of memories for Karel - he recalls when he was first allowed in Austria, he and his buddies couldn't wait to cycle on different roads) and riding in very gusty winds all the way back to town.

After our ride, it was early afternoon so we showered up at his dad's and then grabbed a coffee and a pastry for refueling, stopped by the bike shop to say good bye to his friend and left with more wine and a new local jersey for myself. People are so generous in Czech - we left with way too much alcohol (Karel says that's not a bad thing and thankfully - nothing broke on the way home).

We finally had some lunch and then rested about 45 minutes before heading out to see more sights (walking) and to shop around for some gifts for us and our family/friends. We finished the evening with a delicious meal and then Karel joined a few of his friends for one last beer at the pub. I decided to stay in as I wanted to give Karel a break from translating so he could just enjoy his time with his friends and just speak Czech. I caught up with my mom and Campy on Skype which was a nice way for me to end my evening.

I stayed up until Karel came home around 9pm and then we were off to bed soon after for we were excited and sad to pack up and head to Prague for day 9 and 10. Wow - I can't believe how time flies....only two more days until we have to return to the USA. Thankfully - I get to bring home lots of memories, pictures and an appreciation for a lifestyle that I have grown to love and hope to continue inspire others to live back in the states.

Is your body ready for a running race?

Marni Sumbal


Running is a gift. Despite growing up as a swimmer (loving water activities more than on land), I really enjoyed the freedom that running gave me when I started and perhaps that is why I have grown into a triathlete. 

But it is true that running is a gift and it isn't for everyone. Some don't enjoy it, some can't do it. For myself, running has been taken away from me many times since I started running and that is why I feel that I am more of a triathlete, than a runner. I love to run, but I rather do it after a swim and a bike. I was born with a body that was not designed to be a "runner" and I'm cool with that. It's not about finishing times, but the lifestyle. I like to be active and triathlon's give me challenges and happiness and I never take a workout for granted. 

I am so excited to announce that the first race of the 2013 Athleta Iron Girl event series is on April 14th!
I won't be attending this year but I suppose nothing can top last year as it was my first time winning a running race (with my triathlete body)  and what better than at my favorite all-women's racing series!

I absolutely loved writing my race report - appropriately titled "The race report I never imagined I would get to write.".

Knowing that running is a lot of fun when you are healthy, I guess I have a different outlook on run-training in terms of not taking any "workout" for granted. To help out those of you who are interested in running/walking in a running race, wanting to step up your running training or struggle with injuries/overtraining/burnout, I hope you enjoy my latest article from my monthly Iron Girl column.

Happy Running!

Is Your Body Ready for a Running Race? By Marni Sumbal
Running can great for the body and mind. However, a weak, poorly nourished, sick or injured body can leave you questioning your ability to get to a running starting line. In contrast, a well-trained, fueled and motivated body is an amazing piece of work, designed to reach goals and to live a healthy, quality life. Here are a few suggestions to make for a fun and active running season.
Quality training – have a plan
A training plan will not only improve your fitness but will keep you on a schedule that focuses on quality training, thus eliminating the junk miles (which leading to injuries, burn-out and overtraining).

Build slowly
Allow ~4 weeks to gradually adapt to running. Focus on running drills, cross training (ex. elliptical, swimming, cycling, yoga, anti-gravity treadmill) and functional strength training. Don’t forget to stretch your hip flexors regularly and warm-up before starting your workouts

Extra tips
- Don’t hesitate to include a walk/run strategy into your training/racing strategy to reduce residual fatigue and to enhance recovery.
-Avoid being strict on miles, time, heart rate or pace. Perceived exertion can be a helpful training “tool”.
-Even if you desire a change in body composition, do not fear sport nutrition to assist in quality training, before, during and after activity.
-Invest in quality training/recovery tools, such as a GPS-enabled heart rate device, massages and compression gear.
-Can you comfortably run (or run/walk) 45 minutes? Consider adding a mix of intervals (ex. track), tempo workouts (maximal sustainable pace) and long runs (group runs are encouraged) to boost aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
-Don’t rush the “intro” phase to help prepare the mind and body for the upcoming training plan. Also, don’t overlook the importance of rest and active recovery.
-Give yourself at least 3 months of periodized (base, build, peak, taper) training to prepare for your upcoming race. The more time you have to gradually progress with training, the fitter, faster, healthier and stronger you will be on race day.
- It is easy to overlook your current health status when you have ambitious and exciting fitness goals. Be sure to consult with your physician prior to starting a new physical challenge.
-The ultimate goal is to train consistently well, with a trained body and to have the mind as the only limiter on race day. Good luck and have fun!!

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

Marni works as a Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC and provides one-on-one consulting in the Jacksonville, FL area. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a Level-1 USAT Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marni is a 110% play harder, Hammer Nutrition, Brooks ID running and Oakley Women brand ambassador. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Fitness Magazine, Women's Running, Men's Journal, Bicycling Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes to, USAT multisport zone and Lava online.


Discover your (natural) talent

Marni Sumbal

From cyclist....

To triathlete.....

To runner.....

I can't help but smile when people ask me if I get jealous or upset about Karel's "natural" talent to go from 20+ years as a competitive cyclist to a triathlete who can run crazy fast. Karel and I both grew up as "athletes" so we both understand what it means to work hard for results. Of course, 6.5 years ago, when I met Karel on the bike, I never thought that I would now be married to a triathlete.

It's often said that cyclists can run.....but I would have to disagree that just because a cyclist is fit on the bike, it doesn't mean that fitness will transfer over to a weight bearing activity like running. Karel found running uncomfortable and often unbearable during the off-season in years past but then again, he only liked to run for beer and he never "trained" for running races, just used it as "exercise".

Since starting a new multisport lifestyle in June of 2012, Karel has mastered his running form and has found great enjoyment of running. With no injuries, he has had some incredible racing performances....
11/17: Native Sun 10K: 36:39 (5:53 min/mile)
12/16: Jax bank half marathon: 1:22 (6:17 min/mile)
2/16/13: Donna half marathon: 1:21 (6:14 min/mile)
3/9/13: Gate river run 15K: 55:35 (5:59 min/mile)

Although I love my husband very much and believe he is naturally talented, I will confess one thing about Karel....he trains harder than anyone I know....and he trains smart.

Karel does not mess around with training. There is no junk mileage- just one workout a day for 1-2 hours during the week and no more than 5-5.5 hours of training on the weekend (for half IM training). For a whopping total of around 10-12 hours of quality training, Karel trains hard in both body and mind. Training is consistent, it is balanced and it doesn't consume his life. As his wife and "Sumbal" teammate, I love his approach to training as it is something he has enforced with me over the past few years.

So enough about my fabulous husband, let's talk about natural talent.

Do you have it?

Natural talent is often used when describing an athlete who succeeds at his/her first try. But aren't we all talented in our own way by starting something that perhaps others feel is impossible?

Maybe you don't run sub 6:30 min miles like Karel (only in our dreams, right?) but perhaps your 10-13 min/miles is enough to carry you through a marathon or half ironman and that is enough to say you are extremely talented to be able to train for a race and finish what you started.

We all have talent in some extent. Although the beginning may be the hard part, you have the ability to get started and that is what makes you talented and from there, you grow confidence, skills and fitness and then your talent turns into a lifestyle. Talent doesn't have one definition - whether you run a 14 min/mile, bike 25 miles per hour or have the capability of run/walking a marathon. Perhaps you may not have been born with the physiology to run, swim or bike "fast", but that is all relative to who you are comparing yourself to. You get up every day, wanting to make yourself better than yesterday, even though  no one is paying you to workout or to train for a competitive sport. Sometimes you train alone, for an audience of one and when no one is watching you push yourself to the limits, drenched in sweat and satisfied with your effort.
So maybe you feel you weren't born with natural talent but your talent for something has made you interested in the possibility that you can improve and succeed.

Natural talent may be a term that you use for those who make it seem easy but you only get one shot at showing off your natural talent. Second, third, fourth time have to work forbetter results. Therefore, if you don't work hard, you don't build your skills. Secondly, if you don't want it, don't expect to keep improving. Anything is learn-able if the want, desire and motivation is there.

Not to take the attention away from people who may appear "gifted" but never lose sight of your own personal goals. It's up to you to create a routine that is balanced, practical and realistic so that you move forward with your own talented body - the body that gets you up in the morning whereas others sleep in and lack the energy to get in a 1-2 hour morning workout. The body that may get sick at times but not sick to the point that you can't recover on your own, without the help of a hospital. The body that can consistently train for 8,12, 4 months at a time, day after day, letting you do what you love to do and rarely will it fail you.

There are many people in this world who lack natural talent but love what they are given in life. Some have more natural ability than others in a certain areas. But no matter your skill set in an area, if you never take that chance to test out your talent, you will never discover your true abilities.

Maybe you aren't heading to the Olympics or even to a World Championship but maybe down the road you will win your age group. The bottom line is that we all take risks to try something new and the reason why we have stuck with it is because we want to grow our talents.

As a society, we like to judge the end result. The race performance time or the age group or overall result reflects past training so if the end result isn't good, the effort of preparation was a failure.

Sadly, this is why athletes get way too wrapped up in mileage and junky training because the thinking is that it's much better to fail when you have overtrained than to enter a race slightly undertrained yet question your ability to have done more.

We tend to focus on final outcome instead of thinking about the process and the journey. Perhaps your drive for your career gave you the skills needed to succeed in sports, later in the life. As for many athletes, perhaps it was a passion for fitness that paid off in a huge way at your first running, cycling or triathlon race. Regardless of natural talent, if you are lazy or unmotivated, you can't get anywhere in life. Talent can only take you so far until the non-"gifted" athlete outrains you or finds a way to outsmart you in his/her race week/day approach.

Not everyone is willing to work hard for a goal and often the fear of the end result expectations is so great that athletes start to doubt the process, try to rush the journey or stop having fun. Not everyone is capable of designing a consistent training plan that keeps life balanced. Sure, it's easy to judge talent by a race results but behind closed doors, tenacity and patience is a gift that not everyone has and often has nothing to do with natural talent.

I qualified for the Boston Marathon after my first marathon. I qualified for the Ironman World Championships after my first IM. I never took for granted the work that was required to have a strong race at my first marathon and my first IM and I never stop appreciating the opportunities I have had to compete in two of the most desired races in the world by athletes. Races in which many people train their entire life to "qualify" for but never get the opportunity. I may not have natural talent but just like you, I have a gift to wake up every day with a body that allows me to push hard and to test my limits. 

It's interesting thinking about sports and the lessons they teach you in life. I know for Karel and myself, it's hard to imagine our life in any other way for the skills we use in sport (mental toughness, hard work ethic, flexible, determined, etc.) we also use on a daily basis with our careers.

As I mentioned before, some things come easy for some and challenging for others. Regardless of the athlete, if you want it, you have to get after it in the most practical way possible, at this point in your life. Never lose sight on your goals, whether they happen now or 10 years down the road.

Consider yourself talented. If you want something out of your life (and for many, it involves a finishing line or body composition goal), consider the natural gift that you have in front of you to work hard for something that you are passionate about. As long as you don't give up and enjoy the journey along the way, you too will find success.

Native Sun 10K Race Report

Marni Sumbal

The greatest challenge with every race is being able to walk away satisfied, knowing that you gave it your best effort. With a season of PR's, I've been able to write many race reports thanking my body for how well it performs on race day.

Yesterday (11/18/12), Karel and I joined hundreds of other cyclists in Clermont, Florida for the Horrible Hundred.  Not as horrible as it sounds, it is a very challenging event that we have enjoyed for the past 4 or 5 years. This was the first year that both of us did the event on our tri bikes and I'm really glad with our decision to not ride our road bikes as we haven't been on our road bikes very much over the past year. I also felt really strong on the climbs with muscles that have been trained on my tri-bike all season long. The last 100 mile ride that we did was a year ago at this event and with very little riding in the past few weeks, I'm happy with how things went yesterday at this fun event.

We finished with 95 miles in about 5 hours. As usual, Karel "races" with the front pack and I hang on with any group that is riding a pace that allows me to ride steady. I was able to draft really well and this year was a huge improvement for me because I didn't get dropped by the group I was with (around 35-45 riders, 2 girls and me and the rest guys) until around mile 60 as I managed to hang with them since the beginning. The day was super windy and although it started out cool, I ditched the arm warmers into my pockets after 15 minutes as I warmed up very quickly by riding on Karel's wheel to "warm-up". After I got dropped, I managed to catch another small group of around 10 riders for the next 10 miles until we stopped at a aid station stop. Even though my legs were a little sore from the 10K race on Saturday, I gave my best effort to draft (for if I got dropped, it would have been much more work for me and my tired legs).
Every year, Karel waits for me at this aid station stop and we do the last 30 miles together. This year he only had to wait about 15-20 minutes because I was able to ride much stronger than years past. The last 30 miles are the hardest in that they have the hardest climbs of the event, including the famous sugarloaf "mountain":

  With a 5 hours in the saddle to think about my 10K race on Saturday (11/17/12), here's my race report......

Native Sun 10K

With the race a few miles down the road in the beautiful area of Mandarin, we woke up around 5am for the 8am start and brewed the coffee before we digested a pre-race "meal". I first walked Campy around the block as he was super excited to get up knowing that with two small bags packed for the race (change of clothes), we may be traveling and he wanted to make sure we didn't forget him.
The morning was cool out and a bit windy so I stayed warm in the morning before I removed some articles of clothing before the start of the running race.

Race day gear:
For my race outfit I wore my Louis Garneau Corsa cycling shorts (more like tri shorts as they have a comfortable yet non bulky padding), my Oakley Women Convert Tank, Oakley Align Bra top, CEP compression socks, Brooks Launch running shoes and Oakley headband (originally had my visor but it was becoming more windy throughout the morning hours so I opted no visor) and my new Oakley Commit SQ Commit (breast cancer awareness edition).
I had my normal shredded wheat with a few raisins and milk and a spoonful of PB. I also sipped on a sport bottle of water to help with digestion and a cup of coffee.

Karel and I drove two separate cars to the race because he had to be at work at Trek Jax at 10am. We didn't end up meeting up until right before the start because we left a few minutes apart from our place and as soon as I arrived to the race, I did a long warm-up. I've learned that the shorter the race, the longer the warm-up to get the blood flowing and to create a little lactic acid for the upcoming high intensity effort.

I did about 2 miles of run, walk, sprint, jog, dynamic stretching, including running the first 1/2 mile of the course so I could know exactly where I was going.

Around 7:50am, the 5K started and it was time for the 10K runners to get ready for the start. A few minutes before the start, I spotted Karel, gave him a kiss and wished him a safe race and just around 8am, the announcer started the 20 seconds countdown.

With my Garmin 910XT screen set on lap pace, current distance and lap time, I was ready to press start when the gun went off for the start. 3, 2, 1...go!

In warming up for this race, I felt good. All has been going great with my running and so incredibly thankful for a strong, injury-free body, I was really excited to see what I was capable of running for a short race. With a body that is made for endurance events, the "sprint" training and racing is only helping me long-distance steady efforts. Rather than training more volume, I just train harder and it has been paying off. Although painful in my legs at times, it is a nice change of pace to step outside my comfort zone and run along "runners" with my triathlon-trained body. To be honest with myself, I knew that breaking 40 minutes was only possible if I had the perfect race. Although this is a time that I want to break as a goal of mine, I am not one to get stuck on times when it comes to races  - especially triathlons. I rarely care about times when it comes to tri's because you can't compare race to race and every day brings something unique to a swim, bike and run performance. As I always say - it's not about the time on paper but rather the behind the scenes that makes for a great race day effort. I believed that breaking 40 minutes was within my capability so long as I was able to draft well off other runners and stay consistent and strong. I knew it would be a major undertaking for my mind and body because I am not a sub-6 minute runner. To average ~6:25 min/mile for 6 miles would be one of the hardest things of my life for I have only been training consistently with my run for the past 2 years. But never have I been able to run this "fast" and running under 7 min/miles has been a major achievement for my slow-twitch body, who loves challenging courses that require strength...not speed.

The first mile was tolerable. I focused on my breathing and form and managed to stay around a group of guys who were running a similar pace. I tried to not go out too fast so I just stayed as consistent as possible. Karel was near the front and I never saw him again until the finish. I kept my eyes on a friend of mine, JC Pinto who is an extremely talented runner and triathlete. I know she has been racing a lot this year with a half marathon recently and Kona in Oct so I tried to keep her in my sights as motivation to suffer.

By mile 2 on this fairly flat, loop course, I was starting to feel "it". I hoped to make it to mile 4 but I could tell that the effort was a bit fast for me. I tried to slow down a bit before mile 3 but the race just seemed to get longer and longer and the miles just didn't seem to come fast enough. Around mile 3, I was with a group of guys and suddenly, 3 of them had a burst of speed and dropped me. Ugghhh, the wind was strong and I was struggling. I really needed them because I knew I couldn't do this effort on my own and I started to give up in my mind. All those thoughts that we all think when the going gets tough. I almost convinced myself that I couldn't do it and I was on the verge of walking because my body was really suffering with 2.5 miles to go. I saw a guy walking about 1/2 mile ahead of me and envious of his decision to walk (as that looked like so much fun compared to my decision to keep on suffering), it took everything I had to not walk. So, I just slowed down. Breathing was getting heavy and not worrying about my heart rate (as I knew it would be high), I just tried to get my body and mind to become friends again.

Nearing mile 4, I changed my mind. "I DO want this!" I convinced myself that I didn't train this hard to just give up and I started to perceive a faster effort than the mile prior. I had my gel flask filled with 1 huckleberry gel (Hammer) w/ water and I sipped it at every mile (starting around mile 2 and a swig before the race start as I also sipped on water and 1/2 gel as I was warming up) so I didn't need anything at the aid stations (mile 2.5 and 4.5 I think). The miles were marked well and with running time at each mile marker, I did what I normally do when I run....MATH.

I figured it was going to be close. It's just too bad that I wasn't able to have that magic effort a mile earlier for my margin of error in the 10K was very small. I was dealing with seconds compared to minutes in a long-distance triathlon race.

Giving it everything I had, I picked up the pace like I was running one of my intervals that my body knows all too well. So many half and mile repeaters in training for more speed in my endurance body and with 1 mile to go, I knew I wasn't going to make my goal time of sub 40 minutes.
(Thank you Kathleen Kaye and First Place Sports for the picture)

I crossed the line in 41:11.
Mile 1: 6:20 (heart rate 149)
Mile 2: 6:22 (heart rate 163)
Mile 3: 6:33 (heart rate 167)
Mile 4: 6:49 (heart rate 165)
Mile 5: 6:51 (heart rate 166)
Mile 6: 6:42 (heart rate 169)
Mile .2: 6:29 (heart rate 171)

1st age group, 6th female

Karel was waiting for me at the finish and he could tell that I was disappointed but that moment passed very quickly. The first time in several years that I was able to run a race without my leg going weak (previous piriformis/hip injury by doing Kona in 2007, injured), I found this race as a huge confidence builder. My goal over the past two years is to always be able to train consistently hard, race strong and smart, stay balanced and be healthy. Mission accomplished at the Native Sun 10K.

After the race, we chatted with a few friends and met a few new ones (thanks Jen Vogel and Anthony Duran for saying hello) and enjoyed the yummy food from Native Sun. Karel had to leave before the awards due to work so after we bundled up in warm clothes, Karel left as I stayed for the award ceremony.

It's amazing that at every race, I learn something about myself. I realized that my body is designed for long distance racing. With success in longer distance triathlons, my main focus moving forward is to continue to step outside my comfort zone, work on my weaknesses and to continue to work hard for my goals. Realizing that as a triathlete, I am going to be pushed by racing amongst runners, I do not need to prove anything at a running race. I am out there to better myself as a triathlete and at the end of the day, I know that a healthy and strong body is going to be able to race for a lifetime. Every race is a different experience. The weather, the terrain, the competition, the time of the year. As I mentioned in my previous blog on pre-race nerves, we must be content with our expectations as to what the body is capable on race day. I do not feel as if I exaggerated my potential to run sub 40 minutes. I also don't feel as if I need to change my goal of running sub 1:30 at the upcoming half marathon (Jax Bank Half Marathon) on December 16th.

As athletes, we all have our own goals and reasons for achieving them. I do not feel that sports should come with risks such as stress fractures and overtraining in order to reach them. I firmly believe that we can live a balanced lifestyle and still work hard for our goals. Secondly, do not let your goals be mixed-up with another athlete's goals. Live your life within your own capabilities so you do not overlook your own successes. A few years ago I would have only dreamed about running under 7 min/miles for a 10K. As athletes, we can not feel defeated by our own performances only to hear about others who are faster than us. I feel one of the hardest things for athletes is reading a race report where someone is honest about feeling defeated in their effort and feeling like they didn't live up to their potential, knowing that someone slower would give anything just to have your "bad day". Keeping in mind that your worst day may be someones best day, do not let your own goals be confused with the performances of others.

Karel had a 3 minute PR without training for this race. I trained my butt off - literally.
Averaging 5:54 min/miles, Karel placed 2nd age group and crossed the line in 36.4 minutes. If you can't believe it...neither can Karel. I'm not surprised - Karel can suffer more than anyone I know.

I am so proud of Karel for enjoying his new multisport lifestyle and enjoying the process of testing himself as an athlete. My job is to keep Karel well-fueled, as well as staying on him about his stretching so he can remain injury-free as he gears up for his first Ironman in July as we share our first Ironman together (my 6th). Karel's performance made it so easy for me to remind myself how grateful I am to share these experiences together. It's hard work to get to the starting line at races and it's hard work to execute a realistic and practical race day plan. The easy part is having fun, enjoying the journey and making memories along the way.
As I rest my tired and exhausted body, I may not have a PR in the record books for my 10K but once again, I get to write another race report, thanking my body for not failing on me and for helping me live a fun, active lifestyle.
Thanks for reading.

Making every minute count

Marni Sumbal

 Everyone talks about the lifestyle component of healthy living. Certainly, it's easier said than done.

In looking back at my life over the past 6 years, I have stayed extremely active with  my triathlon lifestyle but I have also created some awesome habits that keep me happy, consistent and healthy.

It isn't rocket science to create this lifestyle habits but it's so hard at times because of all the chatter out there as to the right, wrong ways of doing things. It's like everyone is an expert out there as to how you should live but obviously, they don't walk in your shoes.

I think one of the hardest parts of training for sports or appreciating a more balanced diet is the trust factor. It's almost as if athlets fail at their continual attempts to live a healthier lifestyle by losing trust in their own actions as soon as someone starts talking about a better, newer, faster or easier way to do things. One thing I've learned over the years is to focus on myself. Sounds sellfish but hey, it's my life and I have a lot of responsibilities in my life.

As a professional, my knowledge comes from textbooks, journals and scientific research. I will occasionally read the outrageous blog posts, articles and facebooks posts from people talking about x-diet or training advice...but I always go back to applying scientific evidence to real world settings. I just don't have time to waste energy on people screamng to others to DO THIS AND DON'T DO THAT!!! Yes - that is how people talk on the web...why do people sound so angry all the time when their intent is to convince you to change something in your life to "be heathier"?

Again- I just don't have the energy to focus on what I am not suppose to do....I suppose that is because I am doing too much of the right things in life, that make me feel good.

Tuesday morning was an early workout on the track. What a great feeling to be excited to train with others - running in circles at 6:30am. I joined Karel and Jeff for the same workout as last week - 3 x 1 miles w/ 400 meters jog/walk in between.
6:12, 6:08, 6:07 per mile.
Thank you legs for that one!

I wasn't able to bike with the guys for I had to work at Baptist South. I suppose I could have made the time to bike but it's all about balance.
Recovery drink
Shower/change/get ready

For me, the extra time spent on recovery is more worthwhile than an hour on the bike for with proper recovery, I train more consistently and I don't have to worry about getting injured or gettng sick.

Around 5:15pm, it was time for workout #2.
1 hour bike + 2 mile run
It was a quicky but a goodie.
Main set on bike: 5 x 4 min upper/mid Z4 w/ 2 min EZ
Run off the bike - 1 mile "hard", 1 mile cool down.

Every workout has a purpose and this was a great finish to the day.

But, my day wasn't over at 6:45pm.

I had a few more priorities to keep my consistent with my "balanced lifestyle"
-Run 1/2 mile with Campy around the block
-Make dinner - quick!
-Make breakfast for Wed (due to going straight to work after swim/weights)
-Make lunch for Wed

As soon as I finished my run with Campy, I turned on the oven and a pan on the stove (to medium heat).
I ran upstairs for a quick shower, then back downstairs to prep dinner.

I chopped eggplant, washed mushrooms, chopped onions, steamed corn and broccoli and sliced tomatoes.

I put 3 tilapia in the oven (marinated with dressing) for Karel (dinner and lunch the next day) and cooked my veggies on the stove in olive oil.
As the veggies were cooking, I scrambled 2 egg whites + 1 whole egg in the microwave for my protein the next day.

As I was cooking dinner, I had a glass of milk + handful of shredded wheat cereal and a few strawberries.

And just in time - Karel came home around 7:20pm from work and dinner was ready....
And so was breakfast, snacks and lunch for the next day.

Breakfast - leftover smoothie from Tues morning, consumed after swimming on Wed w/ banana and PB.
Mid morning snack - non fat dannon yogurt + nuts/seeds + blueberries, cinnamon, cheerios and pecans (more like breakfast #2 during my break teaching the Diabetes Class at Baptist Beaches) pictured below....bed of dark greens, w/ leftover veggies, scrambled eggs, leftover Basmati rice and topped w/ mozzarella cheese, drizzled with sunflower oil and for crunch, some pistachios on the side.

My lifestyle works for me. I think ahead, plan ahead and work ahead. The other day I received an email from a Trimarni Nutrition athlete who told me at 9pm she decided to bake some veggies in the oven for lunch the next day - for she was busy around the house so she thought she may as well make lunch the next day. Funny thing is that she said that that idea would have never occured to her before we started working together. I guess a few years ago, it didn't occur to me either but I desired more consistency in my life and I discovered better use of my time.

It's moment like those that make me really happy that I can inspire others to live a healthier lifestyle. I suppose I could rejoice with you that chocolate is now "approved" to be "healthy" (According to this study) OR you can just eat dark chocolate because you like it. In our household, dark chocoalte is a daily thing (1 ounce for me). But believe it or not, I don't eat chocolate just because a research study tells me it is healthy. I enjoy it, I savour it and it works for me.

Even for myself, it is difficult to put all your trust into research, articles and the media. Because food is such a sensitive topic for many, the best advice I can give in this blog is to make every minute count. Take that advice as you wish but perhaps next time you are eating because you are bored, trying to put off something that you don't want to do, emotional, stressed or sure to let food enhance your lifestyle, not control your life. You can't live your life fearing cancer and at the same time, you aren't living life if you are constantly obsessing about your body. Let your choices in life, work in your favor and before you know it, you will be living the life you never could have imagined....and yes, it feels that  good to live a balanced lifestyle.

Disclaimer: I have to admit that this little guy make me feel so lucky to be alive and healthy. I just love making memories for him in his short little life.

Anti-gravity treadmill and running advice from an Olympian

Marni Sumbal

Anti-gravity treadmill

I briefly learned about the Anti Gravity Treadmill from Paul McRae, with Personal Running Solutions a few months ago. With great feedback from previously injured runners, I was looking forward to the Hammerhead Triathlon club  last night to see this treadmill in action.

According to Wikipedia:
"An Anti-Gravity Treadmill is a rehabilitation device that utilizes adjustable weight-bearing technology on a standard treadmill used primarily for rehabilitation of lower extremity injuries and athletic training. The machine functions by controlling air pressure in a chamber to gently lift the user. Current models allow for precise unweighting from 100% - 20% body weight in 1% increments. The Anti-Gravity Treadmill can accommodate users weighing 85 lbs-400 lbs and heights 4'6-6'8. In addition, the treadmill can be used by people of all ages."

I haven't had the chance to try the treadmill yet but I am super excited because as of last night, I heard the news that the treadmills will be moving in the same shopping center as the Trek Store (on San Jose), just a few doors down! I will be sure to provide a full review after I try them out but I wanted to give my observational feedback...

-Many athletes struggle with injuries either from poor biomechanics, weak muscles, overtraining or genetics. For whatever reason, I find so many athletes struggling with consistency, specifically with fitness, when an injury (or extreme pain) comes about. For this treadmill may help with reducing risk for injury when it is included in a balanced training plan but I find it most beneficial for the athlete that refuses to focus on the other things he/she CAN do to rehab from injury.
I firmly believe in the elliptical, strength training, swimming, water jogging, walking and biking, particularly for the runner/triathlete who can't run - pending the injury and how extreme it may be. You may have an injury in your lower body but your heart is still working.
Many athletes would rather take an all-or nothing approach to training and if they can't run, they just throw in the towel and stop all activity to "rest".... sadly, I see way too many athletes constantly getting out of shape because of too much time off from all activity in order to "recover". Additionally, there are the athletes who constantly try to "test" the injury every other day because they fear losing fitness or gaining weight.
 One thing I have learned is that the heart and brain can be strong when something is "off". Therefore, in addition to focusing on strength training (often the simple answer for preventing injuries), this treadmill can be utilized by both the runner who needs a break from pounding on the hard surfaces or is rehabing from injury.

-I think this treadmill is great for keeping the cadence and working on running form. There is a video behind the treadmill that you can see in the screne in front of you so it is great for working on your stride and cadence, no matter what stage of training you are in. I'm all about working on the little things such as running form, rather than just expecting to be a "better" runner by running more.

-I think this treadmill is a great idea for the individual who would like to run but is just getting into a running program. Whether there is too much body weight on a person or a person is not of optimal fitness, I believe this treadmill is ideal for the person who needs assistance with running in order reduce the pressure on the body (ex. joints). Running can be a very stress-free experience to release endorphins and to raise HR to reduce body weight but if you are in pain and trying to "get through" a workout, I would highly recommend this treadmill.


After a brief talk on the treadmill, the main speaker was introduced. I briefly heard Keith Brantly speak earlier this year when I was asked to be part of "Ask the Expert Coaching" night at my favorite running store - Jacksonville Running Company. Keith's resume is exceptional, as a talented athlete who has broken the 4-minute mile AND has qualified for the Olympics (1996) in the marathon. Keith certainly knows a thing or two about running particularly since he has worked with a span of coaches and professional athletes to truely understand the, his wife Kim is an exceptional runner herself!!

Keith gave a very motivational talk about being a runner as triathlete and I took away a few key points that I wanted to share with everyone on this blog about how to better improve their run training and racing.

1) Pacing - certainly a topic I have learned to appreciate in my racing career. Last night I had a few people come up to me and congratulate me on my past few races. I suppose I have had a great season but I have to be frank and say it is nice to train and race injury free. The first year I dove into endurance sports, I qualified for the IM world Championships (2007) and Boston Marathon (2006), after my first IM and marathon attempts) and despite having 4 years of obstacles in my racing carrer, I still have the competitive drive to race and to see what I am capable of doing when I set a goal.
Now, I am not without an ache here or there so I have to keep up with my stretching, rolling, massages, epson salt baths, strength training and cross training in order to maintain a body in good health.
However, on paper, I am not that fast compared to some of the girls that are out there in our sport. I strive to get faster and stronger and that is what training is all about, to me. I don't see a deadline in my triathlon and running career and my driving force is to set goals to see what I can accomplish. But with my races, I pick races that I can pace myself efficently and be smart with my race day effort. Keith really stressed the importance of pacing and gave a few stories of how he has failed (ex. Boston Marathon) with pacing, particularly when running downhills or in windy conditions. My take away from this topic was that we should not only know what our pace should be on race day (in addition to HR) but we should also be training our body and mind with every training session so that even without gadgets, you know exactly what the body is capable of, how to adjust on race day depending on the conditions and/or course and what is most practical for maintaining that effort.

2. Intervals and tempo - Another topic that I believe in no matter what distance you are training for in running or triathlons - intervals. There was a recent article in Competitor Magazine that talked about intervals as well. Keith brought up the example of doing an interval within an interval such as doing 6 x 1 mile repeaters on the track (he believes in track workouts)  and doing 1/2 mile @ race pace, 1/4 mile at slighter faster race pace, then 1/4 mile recovery...then stop to officially recover by walking 2-3 minutes. This reminds me of the over/under intervals that I have learned to love/hate thanks to Karel.
You pick a power number (watts) and then do a long-ish repeating set with recovery (such as 8-20 minutes for the set) where you are going above and below that power so you aren't really recovering when you drop below but you aren't holding that above wattage for too long when you push hard. For example, let's say your threshold was 150 watts, you could do 1 min @ 155-160 watts and 2 minutes at 140-145 watts and keep repeating that for 9 minutes and then recover. I really believe in intervals and they also make for great quality training. As for tempo, that is simply picking a pace around 75-85% max HR and holding it for a certain amount of time. Even for tempo, I do believe in "recovery" and not trying to go "race pace" for more than 20 minutes if training for a long distance event, without adequate recovery.

3. Drafting - "You don't owe anything to the person you are running with. The only time you should be in the lead is at the finish line." Well said Keith. Keith talked about the importance of drafting on the run which is something that isn't talked about a lot, especially compared to biking. Even for swimming, if you have ever swam behind someone or slightly to the right or left of them in open water (depending on where the current is going) you can instantly feel that reduction in effort to make your swim more efficient. Certainly, there is a reason why drafting is illegal in triathlons on the bike but it will make you faster in training if you are being pushed when drafting (once again, a love/hate workout when riding with Karel and trying to stay on his wheel).
Keith explained that in a race, do not run side-by-side with someone if they are keeping the same pace as you or if you are holding the pace of someone else. Find where the wind is coming from and draft to reduce your effort. Then when you are nearing the line, do your thing to put that reduction in effort to the test. Some may say this is unsportmanlike but hey, it's sports and certainly considering this unethical would be silly compared to some of the other things that people have done in sports to gain the competitive edge. On the flip side, I can't tell you how many people I have thanked at the finish line (or have thanked me) for being pushed.  Karel has always told me to try to get behind someone and stay with them during the run but...that is really hard when they are running faster than you...but if you are being pushed within your limits, the person ahead of you  may beat you to the line but you may find yourself with a PR or an age group ranking all because you had that other person to kindly show you what you are made of.

4. Long runs - I really like Keith's approach to long-runs but as someone who does encourage intervals within long runs, I can see a lot of flexibility in his approach and I am very interested in trying this out with me and my athletes. Keith explains a stair step approach to long runs, similar to what we are all use to with building up in long run mileage. However, Keith explains that he likes to back down every other week as someone is increase mileage, from what they consider their "long" run. For example....
Week 1: Longest run is 10 miles.
Week 2: Next week is 8 miles but last 2 miles are harder (certainly, I don't believe a person can be running race pace so early in training but this pace should be harder than the first 6 miles).
Week 3: Long run bumps to 12 miles.
Week 4: Long run goes down to 10 miles but last 2 miles are harder.

Keith didn't mention anything about a "recovery" week, which I believe should come ever 2-3 weeks, depending on the time of the year and the fitness of the athlete. But, I'm sure he does one for his athletes, but every coach is different.
What Keith mentioned was that once a person can comfortably run 16 miles, he doesn't back down in mileage for those off weeks but rather, stretches out the harder efforts every other week. For example, once a person hits 16 weeks, the next workout may be 18 miles for the long run and then the following week, 16 miles are run but with the last 4 miles hard.

I really like this approach for the person who is trying to build a base but I find it important to always work back in miles from your race day so that you aren't trying to do too much too soon. I recommend 3-4 months of "race" prep gearing up for a race, with 1-2 months of building a base with an emphasis on strength and form prior to that build. I also recommend no more than 16 weeks of "training" without a 1-2 week break from structured exercise for we all need a physical and emotional break (whether you think you do or not - you do).

5. The 4 year plan - I really, really REALLY liked this part. Keith talked about his coach developing a 4 (or perhaps a 16 year) plan for him to reach his goals. If you think of an Olympian, certainly they have trials to qualify for the Olympics but they also have up to 3 years to train for that big day. Could you imagine if you had 3 years to train for an Ironman or marathon??? I believe there would be much less stress to "fit it all in" for many athletes try to bump up miles too quickly and often overlook the little things that help put the pieces together for a great consistent training plan and a great racing experience. I believe everyone who is committed to a healthy lifestyle should do this...for we all like to live in the now (as we should) but wrongfully, want quick results.
Breaks, off-season training, strength training, sleep, diet, vacations, peak training....there are so many components that make up a successful racing season yet athletes put so much pressure in the 16 weeks before race day to accomplish everything - mostly with an over-emphasis on miles.
If you have kept up with my blog for the past few years, you may know that I don't spend more than 12 weeks training specifically for an IM with the rest of the season devoted to getting me to where I need to be to Start my IM specific training. For my half IM, my long rides were 2.5-3.5 hours with no ride over 4 hours. Not sure of my miles...never looked at them because I was always doing intervals within the workout. As for my runs, my longest run was 12 miles (which included 6 x 1 mile repeaters faster than race pace) which I did 3 weekends before race day but I can only count a total of 4 runs between 9-12 miles that I did since April (including the Iron Girl half marathon race) in gearing up for the half Ironman. In an Ironman, I only do 2 long rides over 100 miles (100 miles and 112 miles) and the rest of my rides are around 5 - 5.5 hours (not worrying about distance) and I don't believe in running more than 2.5 hours or more than 18-20 miles before an IM for a long run.
  Of course, I also have a lot of fun with my training and it is also exercise for me so I really don't find myself getting burnt out from what I love to do. It is a hard balance to find and to keep but it is worth developing the mental strength to be ok with having both short and long term goals and not trying to rush the process.
 At the same time, with a 4-year plan, it is also important that you don't procrastinate. Especially for individuals who have weight to lose in order to be at a healthier weight, want to get stronger or need to get faster (who doesn't want to get faster??), it is better to devote a few months to your overall health goals while maintaining a healthy exercise routine, rather than trying to multi-task in an already busy and overwhelming lifestyle. For anyone who is new to the sport or has short and long term goals from being a veteran in the sport, I ask you to think about where you are now, where you want to be at the end of 4 years and then, work your way backward with the steps you will take to get you to where you want to be in a few years.

For with this long-term planning, you should see yourself always progressing and with that, comes a fire that keeps you excited to maintain a lifestyle that keeps you waking up everyday, wondering what you are capable of accomplishing for that day.

Find your strong!

Marni Sumbal

In 2006, I was a newbie. A newbie running the Boston Marathon. I didn't know much then about training or sport nutrition but I was passionate. Passionate to set goals and to give no excuses as to how I would accomplish them.

This race was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and certainly something that I am so proud to check off my bucket list.

As you know, I am a fan of quotes, motivational saying and anything inspiration. I believe my every-day life IS the Oakley women campaign of "Perform Beautifully". I suppose I need inspiration on a daily basis for if I am not inspired by others, it is often difficult to find motivation within myself. Every athlete or fitness enthusiast must be strong-minded just as he/she is humble. For we can only talk ourselves up to a limit before we increase the risk of burnt-out. Therefore, I find it important to always seek out something, every day, that will get you out the door to become something that you never thought that you would be in life.

I was contacted by Saucony to share the mesaage of "finding your strong".

My strong is to always focus on what I CAN do and not on what I CAN NOT do.

From Saucony:
"Ask the 30,000 Boston Marathon runners about their race goals and you’re bound to hear just as many responses. And while they each have their own individual motivations, they remain passionately united, together on a journey to find the ultimate reward—strong.

On the eve of the Boston Marathon, Saucony is both igniting and uniting the running community with the launch of the
Find your strong project.

This socially-driven initiative invites runners to share their personal strong story --mental, physical, spiritual and emotional -- while connecting with others who share the similar passion of running.

Saucony’s latest initiative, an evolution of the Find Your Strong campaign that launched a year ago, is a collaboration between the brand and the consumer that focuses the community around a purpose: that runners want to contribute to and be involved with finding their strong through running.

The hub of the project is an innovative micro site, that is as much about building relationships as it is about sharing content. With this project, Saucony is taking a long term approach that will enable the brand to tap into and share in the journey of strong in a way that inspires runners of all types.

The Find Your Strong Project’s digital platform delivers the following elements:

• A 12 week period of community challenges where runners are invited to share their strong through words, images and videos, creating a digital mosaic of inspiration.

• A series of micro documentaries featuring inspiring runners and everyday athletes, including: Dorothy Beal, a mother of three and a 19-time marathoner; Gary Muhrcke, the first New York City Marathon winner and a legendary running store owner; and Mark Herzlich, 2012 NFL Super Bowl Champion and cancer survivor.

• The Find Your Strong Speaker Series kicks off over Boston Marathon weekend on Friday, April 13, with Mark Herzlich, Bill Rodgers and Karen Smyers.

So, I ask you this......
What is YOUR strong?

26.2 with Donna - 13.1 race report

Marni Sumbal

"It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts. " - Robert H. Schuller

For most of us, we will never set a world record, receive an award for acting or singing, change laws or make a discovery that will change the world. For most of us, we are just living life to the best of our ability, trying to manage life, work, environment and training.

Knowing that most of us will never be "famous" for our passionate pursuits, it's an individual effort to do things that you will want to remember. Knowing that you have control over your life, are you living your life to the fulleset?

When laying in bed on Saturday evening, I heard the news about Whitney Houston. As an amazingly accomplished singer, what affected me the most was her age. 48 yrs young. As I turned off the TV and thought about my upcoming race, I once again thought to myself how lucky I am to have a tomorrow.

As an athlete, it goes without saying that I love training and I love healthy competition. More than anything, I love competing against myself...thoughts in my head that ask me to stop, muscles that scream for me to rest and the many "what if's" when trying to execute a race day plan.

In my own journey of life, I've learned to embrace competition with a healthy mind. As much as I am willing to take chances and put it all out on the course, I also realize that there will always be another race. My ability to create a great memory of my race day performance has nothing to do with achieving a PR or winning my age group. I want to get more out of a race than what I put in...and often, that can be tough when you are competitive within yourself and among others.

Far too many athletes put so much pressure on themselves to perform perfectly on race day. Pressure is simply a perceived expectation of the want to perform well- often placing in age group, receiving an award, qualifying for another event or reaching a personal best time. In other words, all that time training for one day (not to mention money) and when race day comes, we (as athletes) put so much pressure on ourselves to perform at our best.

But when you think about it, when the race is over, the pressure comes off and you get yourself ready (and recovered) for tomorrow. For with every race the best thing you can do for yourself is reflect and get excited for tomorrow. Another day to move closer to another goal. Successful performances are created from consistent actions. For on race day, we don't remember all the missed or bad workouts but the awesome, amazing and ground-breaking training sessions that give us the confidence (and data) to execute a fantastic race day performance.

Even though most of us will never set a world record or break any record times, we all aspire to be our best, do our best and most of all, create memories for a quality life. Successful race performance are far beyond finish times, places or comparing yourself to others. The beauty in racing is that we all have our own ways of defining success and that is what is worth remembering. For your worst day may be someone's best day.

13.1 mile race report - 26.2 with Donna

My alarm went off at 4:05am on Sunday morning and I was quick to get out of bed, put on my race day outfit (CEP compression tri shorts, CEP Pink compression socks and my Oakley long-sleeve top). After I put on my race day outfit, I put on a few more layers to brave the fridged temps as I walked Campy (and his best friend Bman who was staying with me over the weekend). Karel raced near my parents this weekend for the San Antonio Road Race on Sat and the Dade City Crit on Sunday.

(My amazing hubby breaking away from the Pro 1,2 field in lap 3 of the crit)

After walking the doggies, I sipped on my coffee w/ milk and warmed up oatmeal w/ sunflower seeds and peanut butter. By 4:45am I was out the door and drove to UNF to wait for the shuttle.

Keeping a positive attitude, I covered my ears and grabbed my gloves and waited in line for about 20 minutes (outside) with the wind blowing hard, right to my bones. With the wind chill around 20 degrees, I started to shiver. I could not control my shaking and I tried to hide my face in my Louis Garneau cycling jacket as well as keeping my fingers warm with two pairs of gloves. Some people were wrapped in blankets (what a great idea) whereas others were relying on body warmth and were in tight circles with their friends.

Finally, the line moved close enough to raise my confidence that I would get on the next bus. Around 5:35am, I moved my cold toes inches foward and finally stepped on a semi-warm school bus...this was one of those times when I actually wanted to stay on the bus and I didn't really care how long it took to get there.

After the quick 10 minute drive to the Mayo Clinic, I sipped on 1 scoop Hammer Heed in a sport bottle as I made my way (still shivering) to the bag drop. I removed one pair of gloves and my jacket, as well as my sweat pants. I took one last gulp of my sport drink and kept on my ear warmer, gloves and long sleeve Oakley shirt. I put on my Oakley Commit sunglasses on my head and grabbed my gel flask filled with 1/2 hammer vanilla gel and 1/4 water.

I tried to jog to the port-o-potty but my feet were not cooperating. Now dressed in less layers than before, my shaking was uncontrollable but I had convinced myself early this morning that I was determined to keep a positive attitude. It only took a few looks up at the Mayo Clinic hospital for me to be reminded how lucky I am to have a choice to be outside and run this event.

As I was waiting in line for one last potty stop, you could hear voices of others talking about how cold it was. But not once did I hear anyone complain. Sure, perhaps some of the comments could have been classified as complaining but I constantly heard positive comments such as "you will warm up, it could be worse if it was raining, this is a great cause, look at all the pink on the guys, etc".

It was nearing the start of the race and I was cutting it close to getting to the finish on time. Luckily, at 6:25am after I left the port-o-potty, the announcer mentioned about delaying the start to 6:40am rather than 6:30am due to a few late buses.

Never doing this race before, I wasn't quite sure where to go for the start so I started jogging among the masses. I weaved my way through the crowds and ended up in the front corral for the race. With marathoners and half marathoners combined at the race start, I positioned myself around the 3 hour and 3:20 marathon pacers and continued to think positive thoughts.

Without a doubt, I am most vulnerable when I am cold. Without Karel by my side and a crowd of strangers around me, I really had no choice but to remain positive - for no person is going to want to hear me complain, especially when they are likely thinking the same thing.

As my feet began to go numb, I completely broke down with tears in my eyes. Perhaps this was because I was so cold but I just had no idea how I was going to be able to run 13.1 miles in these conditions. Certainly my coldest race of my life, I started talking with the lady next to me who had a wonderful smile on her face. We started laughing about the weather and that it was going to be an interesting day for racing and I asked her "are your feet frozen like mine?" She said "Oh yes! But don't worry, they will thaw out around mile 2." It was at that point that I was ready to get the race started and oddly enough, I believed this stranger. Funny thing, when you are at races, strangers suddenly become your friend for you can be having a bad moment or the worst race of your life and someone can say something to unexpected that it can lift you up to the most positive place. I swear that I have wanted to quit almost every race that I have done in my life but somewhere in every race, I am convinced that quitting is never the answer to anything.

I wished the lady good luck and off we went!

Up the bridge, right from the gun. 2 long miles up and down the bridge and sure enough, my feet got warm around mile 2.5. Sadly, however, my gel flask that I sipped on at the start of the race (10 min before the start) didn't close and ended up pouring all over my gloves. I knew the weather was cold but I couldn't figure out why my hands were stone cold. I couldn't move my fingers or even feel them and around mile 2 when I tried to grab some water, I realized that my gel flask was empty and my gloves were pretty much like ice.

Off went the gloves and I tossed the gel flask and rather than looking at my garmin to pace myself, my race strategy changed and my new plan was "the quicker I run, the quicker I finish". It was going to be a gatorade type of day with sport drinks every 3 miles and water stops every mile. I covered my hands in the sleeves of my shirt and just kept on running.

It was around mile 3 when I saw Karel's boss Jeff Kopp and our friend Sean C. and when they said hello, I was stunned to find my mouth completely numb. I wasn't sure if I was smiling or not but I think I was able to mumble "Oh my, it's cold!" as I ran on by. I also tried to give them a thumbs up but not sure as to which finger I was able to get up at that time. Hopefully they got a good laugh out of it as I couldn't help but laugh at the cold temps in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

I was finally able to get into a groove around mile 4 and with the beach section approaching, I was constantly being lifted up by the crowds. Yes - the crowds in these CRAZY cold temps were amazing! Signs for "FREE MAMOGRAMS" by guys dressed in bras and more pink than I could ever imagine. There were dogs, young kids and lots of volunteers, all cheering loud and making us feel like we were the coolest runners (no pun intended) in the world.

When entering the beach, I was instantly hit by a forceful headwind. It was like I was running up a steep hill but rather on flat sand with the wind howling at my face. The ocean looked pretty and I couldn't help but think about the beauty in running on the beach. Painful conditions - sure. But the beauty was not taken away from this race day.

At the turn around on the beach, I counted the women ahead of me and surprised myself that I was in the top 20 of the women. I believe that within every race, no matter how the race day plan is being executed, you have to find reasons to remain competitive. I believe we all have a fire inside of us that wants us to compete against ourselves but there's nothing wrong with competition and often it allows us to achieve things that we never once thought were possible.

Running back towards the bridge, I was excited to run back up the bridge. With my run/walk strategy out the window and no idea as to my overall pace or HR, I was simply running this race by feel....something I haven't done in several years. I can't say that it was a bad thing for this race day (and perhaps a good thing considering the conditions) but I'm the type of athlete who likes to execute my race day plan.

Kinda bummed that the day was not turning out like I had planned, I approached mile 9 without any walk breaks and knew that even though bridges/hills are my strength, the anticipated thought of head wind and my body finally feeling a little warmer (although mouth was still numb) made me a bit concerned about these last 4 miles. I knew I could do it but still feeling competitive, I needed to find something inside of myself to keep me digging deep.

4 miles. On Tuesday morning I did my last "long" run of 9 miles (with intervals) and started the workout off the bike, with 4 miles with Campy. I told myself "If Campy can do 4 miles, I can do 4 miles!"

Then, I thought about my 13.1 dedications. All the people who were cheering for me and the runners ahead of me, telling us how great we looked. When running up the bridge, I saw my friend Jo Shoot as she was running with a girl a minute or two in front of me. I was so excited to reach the top of the bridge and reach the Lululemon crowd. Hoping that JO would turn around at the top of the bridge, she did just that I spotted me in the crowd. Thankful that she found me, this was just the last "lift" that I needed to finish strong to the finish. Remembering all of my dedications as well as hearing the positive words from the crowd, I was running with another girl in the last mile and we both said to each other "Cold day...but so grateful to be running".

Running off the bridge, I made a turn to the finish line. Once again, that crazy wind made it feel like I was running up another bridge. With a smooth stride and feeling a major sense of accomplishment for one of my hardest racing conditions of my life, I crossed the line in 1:35. A few minutes off my best, but hey - this was a race to be remembered and I am proud that I didn't count myself out before the race had started.

Truth be told...I wanted really badly to just stay in my car when I was about to stand in line for the bus. I never imagined it would be so cold and what I would have to do to make my mind and legs work together with these tough "Florida" racing conditions. But thankfully, knowing that we can't control the weather but we can control our attitude and racing plan, I feel as if this was one of the best racing experiences. Hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I'm lucky I survived :)

After crossing the line, I grabbed a water as I knew I didn't drink as much I needed to during the race. I made my way to the 110% gear recovery tent and couldn't wait to put on my 110% Clutch Tights....without the ice as my body was still trying to get warm even after 13.1 miles. The sun was finally shinning and I called Karel to tell him about the race as I was hidding under a heat lamp in the tent. The 110% tent was amazing with blow-up chairs, free compression and ice calf sleeves for the runners to wear for a few minutes after the race and plenty of food to snack on after the race.

“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.” -Orison Swett Marden

I was quickly reminded by Karel that this is the beginning of my tri-season and despite not breaking my best time of 1:31 (which I did in Nov), training is built on many training sessions. For if we all peaked right before every race or in the early parts of our season, it would be likely that we would be burnt out before that big key race. Knowing what the day brought to all the runners, I felt accomplished that I was able to share this experience with survivors and passionate individuals, who all had something in common.....
We all like to finish what we start and regardless of excuses, the mind is a powerful thing if you know how to use it correctly.

Finishing time 1:35.3
Pace: 7:18 min/mile
Average HR 149 beats
20th overall female
5th age group (25-29)
60th overall athlete

Mile 1: 7:42 (134 HR)
Mile 2: 7:02 (140 HR)
Mile 3: 7:16 (144 HR)
Mile 4: 6:59 (144 HR)
Mile 5: 7:03 (150 HR)
Mile 6: 7:22 (155 HR)
Mile 7: 7:25 (154 HR)
Mile 8: 7:08 (153 HR)
Mile 9: 7:11 (154 HR)
Mile 10: 7:13 (156 HR)
Mile 11: 7:24 (156 HR)
Mile 12: 7:37 (155 HR)
Mile 13: 7:18 (154 HR)

(wow - those splits were all over the place! Looking forward to going back to my run/walk strategy in my future races...with hopefully warmer weather :)

Miami Marathon Recap - 1/28/07

Marni Sumbal

Well, that's right-no finish time for the miami marathon. I never thought it would happen to me....

For the first time ever, I got injured during a race. Even worse, first time I have been injured since I started training for triathlons/marathons. What a Bummer! The marathon, all together, wasn't the best for me. Started out really rough, standing for over 30 min before the start in the pouring rain, only to start the race with soaking wet shoes and the rain to finally stop. Next part of the the race, which went bad, was when I ran up the first huge causeway and my shins and calves starting killing me. QUads hurt, everything hurt really...well, except my heart. HEart rate was fine and I wasn't showing any signs of fatigue, besides in my legs. However, I ran through it, stopped in 3 port o potties, then at mile 11, I felt like i Had just started running! I was a brand new women. I guess that is why I love endurance events. Nothing like a 11 mile warm-up!
From miles 11-19 I was just dropping pace (if you saw in my 10K splits) from over an 8:30 pace to almost 5 consecutive miles of sub 7:50 pace. And even better, I was seeing a sub 3:35 finish, when at first I didn't see anything less than 4 hours! However, at mile 19.5 my achilles just throbbed with pain. I was wondering what was going on...I've never been injured during a race before! I Didn't know how i Could run anymore, but still tried. It was like a poor ironman shuffle. However at mile 20 had to walk. I knew the shuffle run wasn't normal marni running style and i felt tired cause I was using muscles that weren't designed for running a marathon. I Tried to run, stretch, whatever just to keep going and it wasn't until mile 22 that I couldn't make it anymore. 4 more miles of walking in pain or just stop. Although it was at mile 22 that I debated about stopping, it was at mile 20 then I started the self talk about my reasons for going or reasons for stopping. The tears were being held back by my pride that I still have many more races. However, when you hear a person in the crowd yelling "you can do it, just 4 more miles" all I could do was tilt my head down to the ground and keep walking. Why why why I asked, but sometimes there isn't always a Because. It just happened and it is overwith.
What a bummer and it just sucks! No other words around it, but I'm thankful there is no tear or sprain, just some tendonitis or inflammation. But to be so passionate about running and see people running right by me, it was sad for me cause I just love that feeling of running. The energy, the endorphins, the feeling of moving forward and being so easy. This was not the way I would have choosen the outcome to be for that race, especially after my horrible first half of the race. I even debated about stopping at the half and just finishing without a medal, but my Marni spirit took over and I just wanted to keep running. It took a lot for me to stop and I am glad that I did. The foot is getting better and I am anxious to move on and look forward to my upcoming race season. And the worst was that I didn't feel in the mood for my celebratory pancakes!!!! Now that is the most shocking part of it all. but i did eat my ice cream in the afternoon....of course!
this just shows me that I even more appreciate what I do, ever morning, of every day. waking up, excited to train, not worrying about anything hurting me or feeling weak and just loving every minute of my life, regardless if I'm swimming, biking or running. I'm read to train hard and work even harder for the upcoming season,
I am very thankful that I have a strong heart and a positive mentality when it comes to racing and training. If it wasn't for many friends, who support me tremendously, I wouldn't be able to be so serious about my triathlon racing career. Thank you for being so understanding!
And most of all, Thanks for your support. There's always another race, and as far as I'm concerned...I'm a triathlete/Ironman now and the marathons will have to wait until mile 114.4 of the Ironman in Kona! ;) haha.