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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: "kona"

Kona RR: 112 miles

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stats from

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

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

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

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

Kona RR: 2.4 mile swim

Marni Sumbal

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

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

IMFL 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

112 mile be continued.

Kona; It's time

Marni Sumbal


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

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

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

But now it is my time. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you again for your support.

See you at the finish line!


Kona ready: prepared for 140.6 miles

Marni Sumbal

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

Triathlon Magazine Undie Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your support. 

A few Trimarni videos for your viewing pleasure: 

Kona bound: ALOHA!

Marni Sumbal

A 3am wake-up call (thank you Karel for taking me to the airport so early..I miss you!), 14.5 hours of traveling and 23 hours awake. But a view like this from my balcony....absolutely worth it!

It's all getting real now and I can't believe that in 5 days I will be joining an amazing group of endurance athletes to race 140.6 miles and cross the most incredible finish line.

I had a bag full of food packed for Kona week with some of my favorite eats that have helped me train for my 7th Ironman.
Chia seeds, whey protein, instant coffee (Hawaiian coffee will be purchased in Kona), cinnamon, granola, red and tri colored quinoa, wild rice, banans and apples (consumed in flight), Trimarni trail mix, Kind bars (emergency bars - I didn't eat anything from a package or buy any food during my travel day - all homemade food from my kitchen including an egg, mushroom and cheese whole wheat pita, greek yogurt, peach, PB&J whole wheat pita, celery, edamame, carrots), figs/nut mix. Happy tummy!

From Jax to Atlanta to Phoenix to Kona......I brought my nutrition, race gear (shoes, outfit, etc.) and gadgets with me on the plane in the case that my luggage would get lost (never has it happened but I like to control my controllables and wouldn't like this week to be the first time my luggage got lost). I also bring an empty water bottle (with filter) with me through security and keep filled with my flights. Also, my CEP compression tights saved the day. Typically I wear compression socks but Karel got me the CEP compression tights and they were amazing! I wore them under my Oakley yoga pants. I am not sure if it was my strategy to eat tummy happy food every few hours or the compression and walking around every 90 minutes - 2 hours on the plane but when I got to Kona, I didn't feel like I traveled 14 hours. 

So you could imagine my excitement when I stepped out of the plane and walked through the small outdoor Kona airport for the 3rd time in the past 7 years. Gloria picked me up in our VW Jetta rental car and I was super excited to see her for the very first time! We've been friends for a few years and she has played an instrumental role in my life with sports and career as my sport psychologist but nothing could describe us meeting face to face for the first time.  

After making our 10 mile drive to the town, it was time for me to finally  be reunited with my tri bike after being without her for the past 10 days. Because Karel is not with me this time, I'm so grateful for Tri Bike Transport for their services. No bike box, no parts removed. All I needed was to head to the expo to meet my bike, the mechanic put on my pedals, pumped my tires and I was good to go. 

A 2.5 mile ride with my bike in my run shoes (and helmet) and I met Gloria at our condo Kai Bali. Since I rented our condo from a personal owner, our key was in the lock box and we were in our condo by 4pm Kona time. 
After enjoying the amazing view and unpacking just a bit, we soaked in our view one last time before heading to the local grocery store. 


A delicious easy-to-digest meal to finish off a long day. Omelet with arugula, cheese and salsa with a side of juicy grapes and toasted fresh baguette. 

Stay tuned for more pics, a few giveaways (WED) from my favorite companies and updates via my facebook page and instagram (Trimarni) and Twitter (@Trimarnicoach)
Also - check out @TriathleteDrG (Gloria's Twitter account)

Kona Ready: who said it would be easy?

Marni Sumbal

In six days I will have the opportunity to challenge myself in one of the hardest endurance events in the world ALONGSIDE the best endurance athletes (age group and professional) in the world. The finish line is the goal, anything else that comes with it (ex. PR on that course) is a bonus. 

For the medal awarded to every athlete that crosses the Ironman World Championship finish line before midnight is the prize that commemorates months and months of hard work, discipline, passion, commitment and a body and mind that was trained to perform. 

Knowing that athletes and fitness enthusiasts, family and friends from around the world will be watching their own favorite athletes as well as the successes of strangers, it is likely that you will be inspired by watching every athlete cross the finish line...from the first professional male and female winner to the last finisher that crosses before midnight. 

While the inspiration will fill your body to the point that you have no choice but to set a goal so big that you can't wait to wake up on Monday morning and start working hard for your goal......

What you can not forget is that the Ironman World Championship does not only award those who set PR's all season, only award those who never got injured, only award those who never got laid off/who never lost a job, only award those who never suffered with cancer (or experienced a family member getting cancer) or only award those who face absolutely no setbacks in life. What's so great about the Ironman, alongside any type of event with a defined start and finish line, is that every athlete has his/her own reason for competing as well as his/her own reasons for not showing up in the first place. 

When you watch the spectacle that is the IM World Championship, you see athletes who are refusing to give up. As a three time Kona qualifier and two time Kona finisher, I know that this is one tough race with dozens of obstacles to face on race day. But when "we" the athletes are out on the course, trying to battle every obstacle in our way, you anxiously await "our" finish. And when we finish, you see success - no matter what time is on paper, there is a finish line that is now behind each and every one of us and that is what inspires you to work hard for what you want in life. No matter what is thrown in your way, you can not reach that finish line, no matter how difficult you think life is, if you give up or hope that things would be easy. 

Every athlete has his/own struggles in life. Not always do you have to share those struggles with others or vocalize them as an excuse to the world. But what is required of you as an athlete, is to finish what you started. 

If you signed up for a race, put in the time to train for the event that you paid for. 
If you start a race, race your own race and execute as you put your training to the test. 
If you find yourself with a setback with training, don't focus on the CAN'Ts, focus on the CANs. 
If you find yourself feeling great during a race, expect a low to come. 
If you find yourself feeling low during a race, keep on moving forward to reach your greatness. 
Thank your body and respect your body. 

And most of all, have fun. Set goals that are meaningful, practical and realistic for YOU and only you as you will likely inspire others along the way. 

Are you planning on racing anytime soon? Check out my recent article with a week worth of to do's for race week: 

To follow me during Kona week and on 10/12/13 (race day): 
FACEBOOK Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition  (LIKE page for quicker updates)
Twitter: @trimarnicoach
Instagram: Trimarni (also check out #Trimarnikona and my roomie and sport psychologist TRIATHLETEDRG) - BIB 1933 (MARNI SUMBAL, Female 30-34 age group)
Thank you for your support, encouragement and inspiration. 

Kona training update + Karel's weekend workouts

Marni Sumbal

8.5 quality, "train smarter to train harder" hours of Ironman World Championship training this weekend. My whole wheat pita bread pizza topped with marinara, cheese, BRAGG powder and oregano and olive oil, stir fried veggies (mushrooms, mixed frozen veggies, red and yellow sweet peper, garlic) with tempeh hit the spot tonight. Body and mind are feeling strong, healthy and happy.

Another week of training is behind me and I am excited to recover tomorrow. I am always amazed that with one recovery day per week (sometimes two) that my body can recover from 6 previous days of training and be strong for 6 more days of training and keep this cycle going for x-weeks. One thing that really helps me stay balanced is constantly changing up my routine and only limiting my "key race training" to around 10-12 weeks at a time. When I started endurance sports, I was like many athletes and had a specific schedule Mon - Sun and would repeat that same routine week after week, month after month. Over the past few years, Karel always changes up my workouts, often with Thurs - Sun being the key workouts and then using Mon - Wed as active recovery. I love how my body is always getting use to something new and I think that is why I don't get burnt out from training. There is a lot of flexibility and challenge so I never get bored and my body never feels run down (tired and sore at times but nothing I can't recover from). After my two week recovery from IM Placid, the first few weeks of my IM training for Kona had a routine of an intense brick or interval run on Tues but now I know that my body can't take the added stress after the weekend training with my training on the weekend being much more intense and specific to the IM (now that the building is overwith). As an athlete, it is always important to weigh the pros and cons with training. Ask yourself what you can accomplish each day and week to move closer to your goals for you don't want to have 3 weeks of great workouts and then find yourself 4,6,8 weeks away from race day feeling tired, on the verge of injury or burnout. Keep it fun and never lose sight of your goals and dreams. 

Self doubt can be a challenge for an athlete, let alone any individual trying to reach goals. My belief is how do you know you can't do it unless you try and give your best effort?
This morning I woke up excited to train but the typical thoughts of "can I do this?" were on my mind as I drove 6 miles down the road to Nocatee to train. I never let my mind win when it comes to controlling my body but I do have to use my mental skills to hush up those thoughts. I never want to miss an opportunity to give a good effort just because I think I don't have "it" for the day. Of course, this is not an appropriate thought for an athlete who is sick or injured and that is why I always focus on training smart for I respect my body too much to push it went it can not adapt to training stress. My ultimate goal is to always have my mind as my only limiter when I train and race. BTW - I can't tell you how excited I am to have my personal sport psychologist and friend Gloria with me in Kona from Oct 7th - Oct 15th.

Sunday training:
After a 1 hour warm-up on the bike (18 miles and oh did my body really benefit from that) I started my long run:
First 8 miles steady @ IM Pace w/ 30 sec walk in between
2-3 min break - bathroom/refill flasks w/ sport drink
Main set:
5 x 1 miles Descending from IM pace to whatever my body would give w/ 30 sec walk in between
Last mile cool down
1 hour EZ spin active recovery (16 miles - oh this felt sooooo good to loosen the legs and sip on Hammer FIZZ - so refreshing to replace electrolytes as it was a major sweat fest this morning running from 8:30-10:30am in the Florida heat). 

Stats from my run:
2:08 hours
Average pace 8:37 min/mile (including walking and cool down, not including break)
Total miles: 14.93 miles
Average HR 140 bpm
Mile 1: 8:27, 120 HR
30 sec walk: 112 HR
Mile 2: 8:18, 126 HR
30 sec walk: 120 HR
Mile 3: 8:22, 131 HR
30 sec walk: 125 HR
Mile 4: 8:29 (incline), 139 HR
30 sec walk: 135 HR
Mile 5: 8:23, 140 HR
30 sec walk: 133 HR
Mile 6: 8:30, 140 HR
30 sec walk: 134 HR
Mile 7: 8:35, 142 HR
30 sec walk: 140 HR
Mile 8: 8:28, 143 HR
Mile 9: 8:20, 141 HR
30 sec walk: 139 HR
Mile 10: 8:12, 147 HR
30 sec walk: 141 HR
Mile 11: 8:10, 145 HR
30 sec walk: 141 HR
Mile 12: 8:10, 143 HR
30 sec walk: 153 HR (body was getting hot - look how my HR went up during the walk to try to cool my body)
Mile 13: 7:56, 153 HR (but I had just enough mental strength to convince my body that I could do this! And fueling was perfect so had plenty of energy for this run)
30 sec walk: 153 HR
Mile 14: 8:26, 150 (steady effort before cool down)
.57 miles: 9:07, 141 HR

Karel is currently training for the Miami 70.3 so his training is a lot more intense. It took him a few weeks to recover fully from Placid and a few more weeks to get his snap back into his legs. Here's his weekend training:

Saturday: 2 hour bike + 30 min run
Bike - first hour warm-up until steady "fast" pace (draft legal behind two of our athletes JM and Josh)
Main set: 10 x 6 minutes @ Z4 watts w/ 1 min recovery in between (about 1 hour of hard efforts)
Run off the bike: 30 min negative split run - 6:50, 6:40, 6:30, 6:13

Sunday: 13.1 mile run (1:30, 6:52 min/mile including walk breaks) + 1 hour social spin (active recovery)
2.5 miles - warm-up (7:17, 7:00)
Stopped and stretched for a few minutes
Main set 3x's:
3 miles descending w/ 1 min walk in between  (start at 6:50 min/miles and descend 10 sec each mile)
6:49, 6:39, 6:29
6:47, 6:39, 6:29
6:48, 6:40, 6:15 (with strong finish)
Walked 1 minute
Jogged cool down 1.4 miles - 6:50 min/mile

We train smarter to train harder and in order to do so, we recover even harder. 

The patient and mentally strong athlete - revisited

Marni Sumbal

Do you want the perfect life? 

Life is not perfect. Healthy individuals get cancer, cyclists are an annoyance to drivers, employees who work less get paid more than you and when everything seems to be running smoothly, life happens and you feel unbalanced. 

So what you can desire in life, is the ability to want the most out of your life. You can define your own definition of the perfect life by one that is consistent and involves a lot of hard work, growth and reflection. 

Today I officially registered for the 2013 Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii. This will be my 3rd experience on the big island, racing amongst the best (and most inspiring) age group and professional triathletes in the world. I will be arriving October 7th and departing October 15th. All the logistics of traveling are settled and all I have left to do is prepare my body and mind for my 7th Ironman. Nine weeks of another Ironman journey.

Thank you body.

One of my favorite parts of sharing my journey of life with others via my blog and facebook page is being able to revisit a few blog posts that describe my thoughts and philosophy of training and living a great life.
I feel we must all be patient in life, no matter what our fitness level.
We must always be mentally strong (and stable) to accept the demands, the outcome and the process in between.
And lastly, there are inspiring people all over this world. Although it is very important that we take care of ourselves in order to be able to take care of others, recognize that there are many people out there who don't get your good days and maybe even wish for your "bad" days. We all experience life differently and at the end of the day, we can only go to sleep wanting  more out of life yet willing to make the changes to make those things happen.

Patient athlete

mental training

Inspired by Kona

For your viewing pleasure (and happiness): (thanks Courtney W for the link)-
Dan Gilbert: the surprising science of happiness

Ironman Lake Placid RR - never give up

Marni Sumbal

It seems logical to write a race report starting with the beginning of the race and then progress to the finish. But I want to do things a little bit different this time around for my 6th Ironman. One thing I have learned throughout the past 7 years since starting endurance racing, is that patience, hard work and commitment can bring an athlete very far in his/her fitness, let alone with reaching personal goals. It doesn't matter if you are an athlete racing for a finishing line or a fitness enthusiast that wants to workout for health and fitness, if you want something in life you have to work for it but most importantly, you can't give up when things get tough. Life is not easy and as an athlete for most of my life, I often use similar tools for getting through life and sports as life brings obstacles, just like sports and if you don't have the right mindset, you get yourself no where. 

I am sore, exhausted and drained. But it was all worth it. Yes, in some crazy type of way, we pay money to do this and then walk extremely funny the next day as we remember the highs and lows of race day. This time around, I am able to share stories with my Trimarni Coaching athlete Laura G who placed 6th age group (25-29) in her first IM (11:02) as well as with Karel (hubby) who placed 13th age group (35-39) in his first IM (10:03) and I can't stop thinking about all the amazing athletes, volunteers and spectators who encouraged each other to move forward to get to the finishing line and I am so grateful that we choose this Ironman for Lake Placid became a village of Ironman athletes and the community was extremely supportive. 

Many times in my racing career I am plagued with a chronic injury that keeps me from running for 8-12 weeks at a time. I have seen many doctors, had tests and I am thankful to my PTs and massage therapists who help me stay injury free when I can put all the pieces together correctly. Although I see this often as a limiter in my training and racing, oh what I would give to just have my mind as my only limiter, I have never let it define me or what I am capable of achieving. I know I can only race and train injury free so since I get hickups along the way when I train for races, I find myself forced with three decisions.
1) give up
2) be stubborn
3) focus on the can's and never give up 

I always choose #3 and this time around, it is important to me that I share with everyone that I often a get the flare-ups in my hips/glutes/back and I absolutely want to quit triathlons when that happens. Yes, I want to quite something that I love so much in life. I tell Karel how much pain I am in and that it is not worth it for I don't want to be disrespectful to my body. I have never had a stress fracture or broken bone and I hope to leave this earth with the same body parts that I entered it with. Therefore, I am often stuck with the decision of #1 and #3 which leads me to my message at the beginning of this blog. 

Life requires hard work, patience and commitment. I gave myself a goal when I signed up for Lake Placid Ironman to try to qualify for Kona. I didn't care about times or places but instead, to race to my full potential and to leave nothing out on the course. There are very few athletes out there who can "race" an Ironman and I acknowledge that I am one of a small group that chooses to put a lot on the line to compete for 140.6 miles instead of just hoping for a finish (which I always remember is the ultimate goal). This group, however, still goes into the race with the same dedication, passion and commitment as those who finish in the top 50% of their age group and as those who finish within the 17 hour time limit. Even though some of us use our bodies to race the Ironman, we are all there to endure the physical feat that is the Ironman. 

Through the highs and lows of life that I encountered throughout my Ironman-in-training journey, I reminded myself that the only thing I can do on race day is to race with my current level of fitness. There is absolutely no reason to dwell on the past that can not be changed, unless it is for a reason that was within your control to bring you to a better tomorrow. Therefore, I wanted to make sure I did not give myself any reasons to wish I would have done things differently. 

I feel the Ironman teaches athletes a lot of lessons. Many times, athletes are numb to these lessons and think beyond what is within their control. I like to have control over situations and I feel this is something that has been learned through my history of endurance racing. I like to know what the course looks like, what type of competition is on the course, what the weather will be like, where the wind is coming from, what paces are reflective of my current level of fitness and most of all, that at the end of the day (on race day), my mind is my most powerful weapon. If I don't stay positive, stay in the moment and love what I am doing (have fun and smile!), I accomplish nothing on race day that I trained myself to do in training. You can give yourself a thousand reasons why something won't work but if you can think of the one reason why it will work, you will find yourself doing what the mind believes...and the body will follow. 


On July 28th, 2013, I gave my best effort in an Ironman. I raced smart, paced myself well and never stopped believing in myself. I had many opportunities to think it wasn't possible to achieve what I wanted to achieve back in July 2012 considering the setbacks I was given this year. But I know better than to think like that. 

We are often limited in life by thinking of our past instead of staying in the moment. For in the Ironman, we do the opposite as well - we think about what we didn't accomplish that may have made a positive impact on race day and we can easily think about what's to come and worrying how we will deal with it. I admit I did a little of both while I was racing but Gloria (my mental coach/sport psychologist) always reminds me to stay in the moment so I had to constantly get myself to that place over and over for 140.6 miles. 

As athletes, we often compare ourselves to others, wishing for better, more or something different. I did not do that this time around for this Ironman. I knew what I wanted to achieve on race day and I kept within my own box but with a peephole to keep an eye on what others were doing on race day. I did not deviate from my plan or worry about something that was not happening at that point. Why worry about what's to come if you have to be in control of the present moment? 

My 6th Ironman performance landed me in 5th place. Only three Kona Ironman world championship spots were available for my age group (30-34) and I knew I had stiff competition - but amazing, nice and supportive athletes. 

(first and second amateur females which also happened to be in my age group. Katie and Kendra - amazing people and fast, strong, talented athletes!)

But as usual, I strive to better myself as an athlete and the only way I can do that is by being pushed by those who are better than me. I do not wish to be at the front more than once for then I stop growing as an athlete. I am constantly seeking ways to challenge myself as an athlete and I find I do that best on hard, difficult courses with strong competition.

Before the award ceremony today, I heard there was a chance that there would be a rolldown slot for Kona. That means the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place girls would receive spots because the 1st place girl (Katie T.) already qualified for Kona by winning her age group at Eagleman. But if there was another person to not take her slot, that would mean the slot would roll down to me. Roll downs do not happen that often but that is why you should never give up or count yourself out. 

As always, I did not celebrate until the time would come that I was actually hear my name from Mike Riley, telling me that the slot rolled down to me. 

After waiting and waiting, 11:05am came and it was time for roll down. 

I chatted with Karel about me qualifying for Kona and he was supportive of the decision that if I qualified, he would want me to go as we make all our athletic decisions together for the IM is no easy distance to train and prepare for, not to mention my second Ironman within 3 months and I have a busy August with speaking engagements. 

I couldn't help but think about the possibility of qualifying for Kona for it was something that motivated me every day when I trained and kept me balanced when I questioned if I should do more with training or rush the journey. But then I thought about race day which I will explain more in my race report. I thought about how hard I dug during the race and battled every demon in my body that wanted to give up. All that training, focus, time, money and prep to make excuses and give up? Absolutely not. I raced injury free, with a clear mind and with my hubby for the first time. Nothing was in my way on race day and all I needed was patience, commitment and hard work and I was willing to execute on race day in the same way that I do in training. Have fun and don't give up out until the body gives every reason possible to give up.

What if I would have counted myself out in Feb, in March and in April. Seriously - 3 months of no running and I expect myself to run a marathon after biking 112 miles, let alone race against athletes who have no limiters with their body? 

On July 28th, 2013, I earned my Kona slot which I received July 29th via roll down. I will be heading to Hawaii for the 2013 Ironman World Championships, which will be my 3rd time racing in Kona. Luck was not needed for a Kona slot. On race day I didn't need luck on my side. The answer was simple for Placid. I didn't give up for the past 12 months, I never counted myself out. Believe me - this is never easy, especially when you can't step without pain or you wish things would be different in that moment. But there is always something inside me that believes I can get myself to a place that I feel is not possible at the present moment. Sometimes it doesn't work as planned but I try to do everything within my capability to dream big and work hard for my goals.  

I did all I could on race day and if I would not have given everything I had on that course, I would not have gotten the opportunity for the slot to roll down to me. The entire race came together with my best Ironman racing performance and Kona is just the icing on the cake. Race results are not told by a piece of paper or on the internet but by the athlete herself for what she had to overcome before and during race day.

As I finish the beginning of a series of race reports, I hope today's blog post always motivates you to never give up, to never count yourself out and to always work hard for what you want in life. 

And onto even more exciting things.....YAY - real food from the Lake Placid brewery!!!! Veggie burger for me, real burger and local IPA beer for Karel. We both joined the clean plates club after today's lunch. Looking forward to recovering from this Ironman for the next two weeks and thanking my body for all it went through on race day. Race reports to come.......

Inspired by Kona

Marni Sumbal

Likely, the most sedentary day of the past year, after a 45 min run + 2 hour group ride, I was glued to my computer from noon until 10pm. Then, I woke up at 4:10am to head to Amelia Island to support Karel (who was working pre-race bike support for Trek jax) and I was stuck to my iphone to watch the final finishers.
Karel saved the day for many triathletes this morning at the DRC Atlantic Coast Triathlon. Flat tires, cassette issues, brake issues, saddle issues, etc. You name it, Karel was there to solve the problem and relieve the worries from many newbie triathletes.

Someone was a bit tired due to missing his morning nap. He struggled to keep his eyes open but made sure to give a few barks to cheer for the athletes.
We had a big crew from Jacksonville, FL participating in the Ironman World Championships yesterday and everyone finished! Watching and cheering for friends (many who I have never met) from around the globe was so motivating and inspiring. I had chills when the gun went off for the age group mass start, I had tears in my eyes for almost every Kona Inspired story, I was celebrating with Pete Jacobs as soaked up his first place finish for over 2 miles (loved his post race speech about "love") and I was on the edge of my seat, rooting for Leanda Cave as she was relentless out on the course - focused and determined. She is the first female to win the 70.3 and 140.6 Ironman World Championships in the same year and she gave a dramatic effort out on the run course.
From the young to the old, to the nail-biting performances and to those who made it look easy. I have watched this race year after year and I have been given the opportunity to cross two World Championship finishing lines, alongside 3 other Ironman finishing lines. Amazingly, I am still having so much fun as a triathlete - learning more about the sport and learning more about myself. I continue to dream big and I absolutely love the journey that I get to go on with my body and mind as I prepare for the bigday.
The Ironman is a distance is far from normal. Ironically, those who choose to race/participate in an Ironman consider it a lifestyle. Work, sleep, eat.....140.6 miles in less than 17 hours - all for a medal and t-shirt. For the majority of us, we choose to do this voluntarily and we pay a lot of money to do the race and prepare for the race.....long before we actually get to the starting line. But with that confirmation of registering for an Ironman, your life suddenly changes. You start the process of building endurance, mental strength and of course, overcoming obstacles as they pop up and interfere with the commitment to train for an Ironman.
From my first IM finish in 2006 at Ironman Florida, to my last Ironman finish in Kona in 2011, I can't stop smiling when I race in triathlons.

I can't stress the importance of balance when it comes to training for a long distance event. It's not about the miles, being lean or bragging about past performances.
What does it take to feel successful (regardless of finishing time) as an endurance athlete?

-Sport nutrition - understanding individual needs before, during and post training
-Daily diet  - learning how to eat for fuel and for health, throughout the year.
-Off-season - importance of resting the mind and body
-Periodized training - understanding the importance of long "steady" miles in the base phase and building in order to peak at the right time
-Mental training - learning how to stay focused,be confident and to trust yourself
-Sleep and stress management
-Recovery - train hard, recover harder
-Training smart - knowing when to push and when to back off and how to train for quality
-Strength and skill training - year round training (specifically in the off season) to work on  weaknesses and to build off strengths
-Massage, stretching - keeping the body in an anti-inflammatory, relaxed state as much as possible
I could go on and on but my focus for this blog is to remind you that "fitness" (however you choose to do it - at the gym or training for a race), should be fun. Sure, there will be downs but you will remember those downs on race day....and how you pushed your way through those walls. But above all, do not feel pressue when it comes to training or living like others, who also do endurance events. There are no pre reqs as to how long it takes to reach your starting line and surely there is no age for retirement. Whether you are hoping to do an endurance event or feel inspired to jog your first 5K or join a gym, never stop having fun and DON'T rush the journey. Be patient. Sure, you may want to "get healthy", change body composition or improve risk for disease. Those things will likely happen so long as you are consistent and you are respecting your body. Consistency is your best friend when you are training for a long distance event but more important than putting in the work, you have to love what you are doing, know where you are going, be kind to your body and reflect along the way.


Dream big, success will follow

Marni Sumbal

In less than 24 hours, athletes from around the globe will be anticipating the start of the 34th Ironman World Championships. And then there are the athletes who are actually competing in the 2012 Ironman World Championships. Every athlete who has earned his/her place to be at the starting line  will discover his/her inner strength as the Big Island will likely not hold back with fierce winds and heat for 140.6 miles of swim,bike and run.

For the athletes experiencing their first Kona, this will be an unbelievable experience. Nothing can describe what it feels likes to be at the center stage of Ironman. For many, October 13th 2012 is a day that many have dreamed of for 5, 10, 15+ years....finally earning a spot to race amongst the best in the world.

For the athletes who are veterans to the Ironman World Championships, it is the positive energy that radiates from every person on the island, that keeps athletes inspired and determined to return, year after year.

I wasn't able to come up with an inspiring blog post or provide words of advice for the athletes who are racing tomorrow at the Ironman World Championships. I didn't feel like putting together a list of last minute nutrition to-do's or pacing suggestions.

I think we can all assume that the athletes who are approaching their last sleep before the biggest Ironman event of their career/year, are excited for the big day.

But believe it or not, negative thoughts, comparing yourself to others, lack of confidence, fear or feeling unprepared, can ruin great performances..... no matter how lean you are, how many miles you swam/biked/ran or how many past races you have won. Regardless if you are walking your first 5K or participating in the Olympics (or anything in between), the person who dreams big will find success no matter the day, so long a positive attitude, a strong mind and a trained (yet rested and well-fueled fueled) is part of the equation.

After I train in the am, I will be glued to the computer from 12:45pm EST until my eyes can no longer stay open. I will wake up early enough to see the last hour of finishers cross the finishing line from 6-7am EST. I know I am not alone when I say that watching the Ironman World Championships on NBC for the very first time, sparked a fire that made me dream big. I believe that no matter who is reading this blog right now, success is within your reach.

Dream big and get excited for the success that will follow.

As I reflect, here's a little from my Kona 26.2 run recap:

"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."

As a coach, exercise physiologist, dietitian, 5x Ironman finisher and 2x Ironman world championship finisher, I respect the human body for all that it allows me to do on a daily basis. Throughout this Ironman journey, I have developed a deep relationship with my body and with the right balance of my lifestyle of triathlon with my passion for living my life to the fullest and helping others, I feel I was able to enter this Ironman in the best mental and physical shape of my life.
What I find so amazing about the body is that for many of us, we have a gift. Regardless of finishing time, those of us who reach an Ironman starting line have a gift, comprised of mostly perseverance. This is a gift that many people don't recognize and for others, that many people would love to have, but lack the desire, motivation or means of wanting to train for a 140.6 mile event.

For most of us, we are age-groupers. The Ironman event series gives us a challenge, a way to feel successful and a way to see the body become something that we never thought was possible. We surround ourselves with people who support us, believe in us and are inspired by our decision to sign-up, train and compete in an Ironman but then there are those who are in our lives, that call us "crazy" for putting our body through such pain and torture. When it comes to race day, our reasons for getting to the finishing line include a raffle of thoughts and ideas. While we shoot for personal bests and an inner strength to dig deep, we also consider the time, money and personal and emotional investment that we contributed to the last x-months in training for this Ironman event.

Although I feel the 140.6 mile Ironman distance fits my body and personality the best, out of the many available triathlon distances, I do not take for granted that anything can happen on race day. Sure, anything is possible on race day, but I see my body as this amazing machine that should be taken care of as if it was glass.

This Ironman journey included much more than "training hard and long". Actually, I feel as if the training was beyond hard because it forced me to break down the sport and focus on the little things that would make for a great race day performance. With only 1 ride over 100 miles and my longest run of 16 miles off the bike, my goal with my training was to develop the confidence that I needed to believe in myself that I could put my training to the test.

I believe that anyone who sets out to do an Ironman, needs a solid base. Once that endurance base is built, he/she must focus on quality training, in addition to focusing on a goal with the right attitude. I believe that Ironman training should be fun, but it isn't without its up and down moments. Because we often question the reason for participating in the most self-fulfilling, one day endurance triathlon event, we must have a goal. This goal allows us to be consistent with training, to rest when the body can no longer perform at an optimal level and to go into the race with a practical plan.
With every training session in my 14-weeks B4KONA training plan, I saw myself in the Kona race...I could see myself crossing the finish line with a specific time and every interval in Jacksonville took place - in my mind - in Kona, on the Ironman course. I was not afraid to "RACE" Kona because I had believed in myself that I could race my plan. I recognized that obstacles would be thrown my way on the amazing BIG ISLAND of Kona but I always plan to race within my stretchable limits.

The Ironman is an indescribable accomplishment because it is more than just a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Because we can't compare race to race, season to season, event to event, you are always forced to put your current training to the test and be one with your mind and body on that given day. The deciding factor on race day isn't how far you swam, biked or ran or how much money you spent on gear or how much body fat you have on race day. When it comes to racing or participating in an Ironman, you have to want it....bad Although many people want that finish or best time...."PR or ER" as some may say, I believe that the Ironman should explore our boundaries of what we are capable of achieving.

One thing I have learned in my triathlon and Ironman career is that athletes are not made in season, nor are they defined by one race. Many people look at results, rather than what happened within the race.

On October 8th, 2011, I did not have the race that I dreamed of having. On paper, my time did not reflect what I had trained my body to do. But after relishing in my accomplishment of finishing another Ironman over the past few days, I have done plenty of reflecting to decide that this was the best race of my life. This was a true test of my ability to overcome obstacles and this is what will drive me, motivate me and will allow me to succeed in the future. This race forced me to use the most significant training tool that I had included in my 14-week training journey. For if it wasn't for my mind and ability to listen to so many conversations in my head, I would have left KONA as a DNF athlete.

"Determination, patience and courage are the only things needed to improve any situation."

Does your daily plate fuel you?

Marni Sumbal

I can't believe one year ago, I was checking myself in at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Hopefully one day I will earn my way back to the Big Island for Kona #3.
Karel enjoyed his vacation by exploring on his bike, finding the steepest mountains on the island. Perhaps one day he will be racing in Kona on a tri bike?

Last year, I had the opportunity to write a piece for LAVA online, taking your plate to the big island.

I asked my editor if I could take a break from my monthly Plate Not Pills Column and dedicate an article specifically to fueling the body for an Ironman. But, my intent was not to write an article specifically for Ironman athletes.
I hope you enjoy my article that will inspire and motivate you to create a plate (3 a day) that will fuel your lifestyle. Keeping in mind that it is the synergy of nutrients that helps improve overall health and provide fuel to the body, never overlook the importance of emphasizing a real food diet.

Eat smart now for your best day on the Big Island

The 34th IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, this Saturday will be an exciting day for athletes around the world. As the top age group, professional, and lottery athletes put their arduous training to the ultimate test, envious triathletes from near and far will have the opportunity to volunteer and spectate on the big island of Kona or watch the race on IronmanLIVE on
Over the past few decades, very little has changed in the world of sport nutrition before, during and after competition. Consistent intake, nutrient timing and experience are the keys that unlock great performances. There’s no novelty in the importance of a well-planned approach to fueling our races. Fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates and calories should never be overlooked by the athlete who wants to perform well race day. We all know that having a well-planned sport nutrition plan is a critical component to racing strong.
To execute our most solid performances, however, our daily diets also ensure that we’re receiving the right amounts and types of macro and micronutrients to support the metabolic processes that get us to the start line healthy. Not specific to the injured, over trained or burnt-out athletes, the daily diet is the cement and the core of consistent training. In between obsessing about the miles accomplished in training, don’t forget to pay a little respect to the body with real food, thanking it for what it allows you to do on a daily basis.
Training for an IRONMAN is no joke. Excessive oxidative stress, a weakened immune system, a foggy brain, lethargic muscles and frail bones can often trump the positives of a stronger cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular system. Over the next few days, choose to fuel your body not only for race day’s unique demands, but for longevity and overall health.

Foods to fuel a … 2.4 mile swim

As soon as you enter the water at Dig Me Beach your well-fueled body will experience a quick jump in heart rate. Blood vessels will begin to dilate and your body will flood with emotions. Body marked and lathered in sunscreen, your previously calm belly may become unsettled as your legs tremble down the stairs to enter the water.
For the next 2.4 miles, swimmers quickly realize how much they value oxygen and the freedom to breathe for the next 138.2 miles. Because muscular strength and respiratory endurance are required to overcome the resistance in the water, every swim training session starts to pay off. Consider including the following swim-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the race:
Nitrates – to dilate blood vessels choose arugula, choose beets, spinach, rhubarb, and dark chocolate
L-arginine – to improve blood vessel functioning, choose watermelon, beans, and tuna
Probiotics – to aid in a healthy gut, choose plain low-fat yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea
B12 – to help with the production of red blood cells choose oysters, chuck steak, and swiss cheese
Fiber – to help with digestion choose lentils, bran, and pears
Chromium – to help maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels choose bulgur, oatmeal, brewer’s yeast, and potatoes
Water – despite being surrounded by it, swimming causes your body to perspire. To also help with digestion before a race, be sure to focus on a healthy hydration strategy on the days leading up to a race

Foods to fuel a … 112 mile bike

As swimmers exit the water to prepare for one of the most physically and mentally draining, yet beautiful rides of their life, it’s time to focus on the next leg of this exciting journey.
Enter the lava fields and the out-and-back bike route becomes anything but boring. You’ll battle the blazing heat, the legendary taxing climb to Hawi, and the persistent cross winds. For many, this is the most overlooked energy-costing portion of the race. At no other time in your cycling career will you be forced to show off your exceptional bike handling skills and never will your body beg for so many fluids, electrolytes and energy-boosting carbs as it will here. Consider including the following bike-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the race:
Chromium – plays a key role in neurotransmitters involved in memory and muscle function; choose eggs, chicken, dried parsley, Brussels sprouts, skim milk, flax seeds
Folic acid – to help with red blood cell creation, DNA synthesis and repair, prevention of anemia and cellular growth; choose spinach, asparagus, papaya, pinto beans, avocado
Magnesium –to help with heart rhythm, muscle and nerve functioning and bone strength; choose brazil nuts (1 per day), quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black beans
Potassium – playing a role in fluid balance, blood pressure and cardiac functioning choose bananas, sweet potatoes, crimini mushrooms, prunes, milk, salmon
Sodium – important for fluid balance; visit your favorite Big Island pizza or pasta restaurant for a delicious sodium-rich pre race meal
Vitamin A – needed for optimal vision, healthy skin and to boost the immune system; choose paprika, carrots, kale, dried basil, butternut squash
B1 – to help the body metabolize carbohydrates and for a better mood; choose wheat germ, lean pork, pecans, brown rice, tuna
Vitamin C – to protect cells from oxidative stress and help the body form collagen; choose yellow bell peppers, thyme, broccoli, kiwi, oranges, strawberries
Water – to help regulate temperature, loosen joints, transport nutrients, help with digestion and move waste throughout the body, water is the essential component of the foundation of fueling (fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates, calories)

Foods to fuel a … 26.2 mile run

So you thought electrolytes were important on the bike? It isn’t until you step onto the hot pavement on Ali’i drive that you are thankful that you have fueled consistently. All the liquid calories will have helped with hydration status and blood pH to support nerve, cardiac and muscular functioning. With the volunteers and spectators giving you more energy than can be found in a cup of cola, you find yourself buzzing with emotion on this, the final leg of your 140.6 mile journey. As you shuffle your way up Palani Road, the rolling hills on the Queen K appear much longer and taller than they did on the bike. Questioning your energy with each step, you finally make a left turn toward the Energy Lab, which sucks the energy from even the well-fueled athletes. Not once in training has your body had to battle central and peripheral fatigue like it will for the last six miles of the marathon. Overcome with mixed feelings, your body is screaming as you make your way back to town. Nevertheless, the amazing volunteers keep you going, despite every muscle group wanting to surrender.
With less than two miles to go, the crowds are two and three rows deep and Mike Reilly is waiting for you on that notorious white line. Suddenly, your weak body perceives an unfamiliar amount of energy and you sprint (so you think) the last 100 meters in the finishing chute.
As you high-five the children who aspire to be you one day, you raise your hands in the air to signify that you are now an Ironman World Championship finisher!
Two volunteers support your sweat, gel and sport drink-covered body to the massage and food tent and, with a well-earned medal around your neck, you thank your body for taking you on this indescribable journey.
After the pain fades, you are asking yourself “what is next?” As you set your sights on another thrilling race season, never forget that a diet filled with energy producing, immune-system boosting and important vitamins and minerals will allow your body to maintain this life-changing lifestyle for the rest of your life. Consider including the following run-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the race:
Iron – a key component of red blood cells and energy production; choose sardines, lean meat, pumpkin seeds, tofu, baked potato, and molasses
Calcium – essential for bone growth, muscle contraction and transmission of nerve signals; choose soy milk, hard cheeses, yogurt, almonds, and figs
Copper – important for the metabolism of iron, reduce oxidative stress and help with bone and connective tissue production; choose cocoa powder, tahini paste, sundried tomatoes, marjoram, barley
Phosphorus – to help regulate calcium and for making ATP (energy); choose rice bran, edamame, pine nuts, halibut, mozzarella cheese, wheat and rice bran
Niacin (and tryptophan) – to assist in the conversion of foods to energy choose turkey, spelt, peanuts, and soybeans
Zinc – playing a role in digestion, energy metabolism, eye health, insulin sensitivity, wound healing and appetite,a choose beef chuck or shank, oatmeal, chickpeas, and sesame seeds
Water – making up about 60 percent of your body weight, every system of your body requires water; never overlook the importance of liquid calories during training and racing
Marni Sumbal is a clinical dietitian, writer, and public speaker who specializes in sport nutrition. She is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC, a five-time IRONMAN finisher, and a two-time IRONMAN World Championship finisher. Earlier this year, she won the amateur race at Branson 70.3 and the Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon. Enjoying an active and healthful lifestyle, she enjoys vegetarian cooking and running with her furry best friend, Campy.

Read more: Fueling Kona: Your Daily Plate : LAVA Magazine
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