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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: "race report"

Karel's Miami 70.3 race report

Marni Sumbal

1.2 mile swim

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

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

35:08, 458th male, 92 age group

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

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

56 mile bike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13.1 mile run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finishing time: 4:33:37

                                                                         Go Caitlin!!!

Finishing strong!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Miami 70.3: Spectator report (and tips) part 1

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Kona RR: 26.2 mile run

Marni Sumbal

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

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

Swim 2.4 miles

Bike 112 miles


And now I get to talk about running a marathon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There it was. The finish line chute.

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

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

My legs did not feel fresh.

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

Doesn't everyone look great crossing that finish line?

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

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



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

31st age group (30-34)


7x Ironman Finisher, 3x Ironman World Championship finisher

Thank you Body. 

Kona RR: 112 miles

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stats from

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

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

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

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

Kona RR: 2.4 mile swim

Marni Sumbal

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

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

IMFL 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

112 mile be continued.

Kona finisher RR: Pre race swim

Marni Sumbal

Why do you sign up for races?

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

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

For the finish line.

(Source: Gloria)

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

(Source: IM Texas)

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

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

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

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

The finish line signifies success.

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

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

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

But, let's be clear. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had the best sherpa!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With little announcement, BOOM!

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

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

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

2.4 mile swim…To be continued.

2013 GoPro Ironman World Championship FINISHER

Marni Sumbal

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow - 10:37:10

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

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

Thank you body for making it happen. 

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

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

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

A first for Karel (literally): HOT race report

Marni Sumbal

I love to dream big. It is exciting when the hard work pays off and dreaming big can be life-changing. For the 7th time in my life, I get to dream big as I take my body on a 140.6 mile journey to cross the most talked about finishing lines on the Ironman race calendar.

For many, dreaming big means accepting disappointment. It may even mean facing failure. A goal typically has an end point but a dream doesn't always come with a specific time-line. And that can be frustrating.

But if dream smart, you will find yourself discovering amazing things about yourself. Perhaps things that you never thought were possible because you stopped expecting failure and disappointment and instead, welcomed change, hard work and commitment to reach goals that you never once thought were possible.

Like many athletes, the body doesn't always respond when you want it to.  The mind is overloaded, the body feels tired and the goal that has driven you to wake up every morning wanting to work hard for your dreams, is now second-guessed based on life happenings. 

Karel decided last minute (about a week ago), to race in the HOT - Hammerhead Olympic. Karel was itching to race before Miami 70.3 at the end of October and with the race being local (about 45 minutes away at Camp Blanding), Karel was looking forward to changing up his weekend routine. 

As for his race day goals, he told me early last week that he wanted to win it. Of course, not knowing the competition that would be at the race, I still supported his goal 100%. As a coach, I never stop my athletes from dreaming big and as you know from my previous blogs, I am very open with my goals and I am not afraid to work hard for them. I always say - dream big and work hard for what you want and then on race day, race with your current level of fitness with a race strategy that allows you to execute for a strong performance. 

For Karel and myself, we don't chase PR's. Sure, they are great when they come but we don't worry about a time on paper but instead, what happens within the race. The harder the race and more challenging of conditions, bring it! We love training our bodies to prepare for race day and then being able to execute with our current level of fitness with a smart race day strategy. 

As age group triathletes, we have a lot on our plates with life and training is our lifestyle. Like many age group athletes, Karel was feeling off the day before the race with a lot on his mind and a body that was not feeling race ready on Saturday. 

Rather than scratching the race or forgetting about his race day goals, I did my best to continue to support Karel's goal of "go big or go home". 

I'm a firm believer that you have no idea what you are capable of until you try. Don't ever give up before you give things a try. 

I can't tell you how many times I have prepped myself for a workout and doubted myself until the workout happened. So much negativity in my mind that I didn't have "it" for the day but there's no way to know if "it" can happen unless I try. Thankfully, I never once let my fear of failure over-ride my ability to succeed with my Kona training and I felt in my heart that Karel was going to have a great race. 

With a 4am wake-up call, we were out the door at 4:45am and Campy was sad he couldn't come to the pet-unfriendly Camp Blanding. But with a long early morning walk, I told Campy we wouldn't be gone long. 

After picking up Karel's packet and doing the normal pre-race routine (set up transition, bathroom stops, putting on the wetsuit for the first-time wet-suit legal swim at this race, swim warm-up), Karel was standing knee high in the water waiting for the first wave of the race to start at 7:30am. 

When it comes to working on athletic weaknesses, Karel knows that doing more doesn't make you a better, stronger or faster athlete. For Karel, he has been working with Coach Mel at UNF on his swimming and instead of swimming more, he is working really hard with his swim drills and form in the water. With less than 1500 yards for a main set each practice three days per week, Karel has found himself swimming faster thanks to working on the little things. A reminder for us all that to be better,you can not rush the journey. 

I couldn't believe that the first swimmer in the 40 and under male age group exited the water in less than 20 minutes! With not a single other swimmer in sight, the first male was out on the bike before any other swimmer even exited the water. Karel finished the swim in 4th place, nearly 8 minutes behind the leader but I was confident that Karel swam strong so that he could also bike strong. 

Karel didn't lose anytime wearing a wetsuit and made a quick transition before getting on his bike. 

Although I know that Karel's legs can bike around 56-57 min for a 40K bike, today's conditions were on the windy side and this two loop course would present obstacles for the athletes who were not racing smart. 

Karel didn't focus on his power on the bike but instead, he only focused on his cadence and went by RPE. He had one opportunity to see the other athletes on the course and by the time he was nearing the end of the first loop, Karel was within 4 minutes of the leader and sitting in 2nd place. 

Guessing the time of the first place male in his wave, I tried to communicate with Karel the best I could to give him the heads up on his competition at the moment. 

Karel was calm and in his zone and I could tell he was really enjoying is day. 

I walked about 1/2 mile or so down the road to catch Karel and before I knew it, Karel was sitting just about a minute behind the leader as they entered transition. 

I wasn't sure if Karel was first or second because I missed the first place male but Karel quickly told me that he was second....although less than 1 minute behind the leader as they started the run. 

Karel made up mega time on the bike which is a good reminder that if you are an athlete in a race - never ever count yourself out. Even if you are not shooting for a podium spot, every athlete is going to have  a low or an off moment in the race. Sometimes it happens at the beginning of a race, sometimes in the middle. But the great part about  racing is knowing that if you keep going, a high will happen. You just have to keep moving forward to experience the highs for if you count yourself out at a low, you will find yourself stuck in a low place. Move forward and you never know what will happen. 

I really had the best time at this race because not only did I receive a major boost of endorphins from watching Karel race but I also got to cheer for a bunch of local triathletes who are inspiring in their own special way. Mom's and dad's, kids, newbies and the experienced....I just love watching people put hard work to the test. I know there were a lot of dreamers out there and I was inspired by so many people and I can't wait to take that positive energy with me to Kona in 7 days. 

Nearing 35 minutes, I guesstimated that Karel would be coming soon. Despite the wind on this semi-comfortable weather day (relative to Florida weather in the summer), this run course had it's challenges with a few hills. Turns out, Karel's Garmin 910XT got turned off in the swim  so he was just running off RPE, not even knowing his time.

Getting close to 36 minutes for the run, I spotted the awesome-looking Trimarni Tri kit on Karel and with no other male in his race in sight, I knew this would be a first for Karel.....

I can't tell you how incredibly happy and proud I am for Karel. He said he felt great the entire race and never red-lined it.

 Just learning how to swim last May (2012) and doing his first triathlon last summer, don't you love it when hard work pays off? No excuses but instead, enjoyment for what the body is capable of doing and not being afraid to test the limits. The desire was always there to be fast, strong and good at triathlons but Karel new it would take a lot of hard work to get to where he wanted to be. Still with dreams on the horizon (like racing in Kona together), I can't wait to share this journey of life together and enjoying it with so many amazing people who also love using their bodies and crossing finishing lines. 

(Karel and our friend, 2nd place finisher Eric)

1st overall
2:09:15 finishing time
1.5K Swim: 27:57 (12th place male)
T1: 53 seconds
40K Bike: 1:02:13 (23.9 mph average, 1st place male)
T2: 38 seconds
10K Run: 38:10 (6:09 min/mile average, 1st place male)

Race Report - 2.5 mile open water swim

Marni Sumbal

4:20am - wake up. 

Well, it was supposed to be 4:30am but two furry cats decided it was breakfast time. 

Karel and Campy "slept in" til 5am and after I had coffee and a pre race snack of shredded wheat cereal + small banana w/ PB and cinnamon + tall glass of water, I was out the door around 5:10am to head to Jacksonville Beach. 

My open water swim race morning started with a 6.5 mile run. Close enough to the ocean to hear the waves yet dark enough to zone out and focus on my form. I couldn't help but think how lucky I am to have a body that loves to do what I make it do every day. MOVE. 

All sweaty and ready to cool off, I met Karel at the lifeguard station/packet pickup at 7am and he had our packets/chips all ready for the event. 

Karel and I grabbed our stuff from our cars across the street and killed some time chatting with our tri friends that we hadn't seen in a few weeks due to our trip to Placid and other things in our life keeping us busy. 

At 7:30am, the 2.5 mile swimmers boarded a bus and the 1.5 mile swimmers boarded a separate bus. This race is very well organized by our Hammerhead Tri club president Susan Wallis who does a phenomenal job raising money for all types of charities and organizations. Today's race entry fees were give to the Lifeguard station to keep our beach safe. 

Karel and I sat in the back of the bus but Karel decided he was too cool to sit with his wife so he sat with his buddies and they talked "guy" stuff for 2.5 miles down the road. Not to worry - I was enjoying my window seat on our yellow school bus, excited for the opportunity to swim 2.5 miles in the ocean in prep for Kona in 8 weeks. 

After we arrived to the start of the race, I knew from experience with this race that it would be a long swim. The water was semi-calm, although a slight current not in our favor. The sky was cloudy with a rain shower in the near future. There was a great turn out so plenty of company for 2.5 miles. But a point to point swim with only 1 buoy in the middle makes for a very long swim and lots of thoughts of "where in the heck am I in the ocean?"

After the race was started, I hit the start button on my Garmin 910XT and casually entered the water as to not get caught up with the crazy start of the race. We made a left turn around a small burnout to start our straight shot swim 2.5 miles away. 

I felt very good in the water and my watched beeped every 440 yards and I found that the first 30 minutes flew by. I was careful to just swim steady so that I wouldn't exhaust myself for the back half of the race.
I didn't find many people around me which worried me that I was off course. I spotted frequently just to check where I was going and at one point, my friend Don P. was near me and he stopped to de-fog his goggles and I asked "are we are course?" and just kept swimming. I think just knowing someone else was around me felt comforting. 

By the way, how is it that in all of the ocean, you can one minute be surrounded by hands and legs within an inch from your face and then the next minute you are all alone in the big blue sea. 

Nearing 40 minutes by looking at my watch, I checked my pace and I was rather pleased. 1:34 per 100 yards. Never able to really feel a good catch in the ocean water, I felt like I was channeling my inner college swimmer arms and really swimming strong. I was constantly thinking about my hand entry, smooth kick and hip roll. I guess with over an hour of swimming, I had to think about something to pass the time. 

Around 50 minutes, I kept trying to look for that  last buoy. I had passed the big red buoy letting me know I was passing the 1.5 starting point but that last little buoy was no where to be seen. 

Rather than feeling frustrated (I figured Karel would have plenty of that), I figured the buoy has to come sometime so long as I keep on swimming.

So, my inner nemo came out and I started to pick up the pace. I saw a few lifeguards on their kayak's and paddle boarders so I figured I was on course but no one was around me. Finally, after several rounds of swimming,spotting, swimming, spotting, I found it!! That little orange buoy was there....yet still so far away.

But, at least I knew I was getting somewhere. Unfortunately, somewhere wasn't coming very quickly.

I looked at my watch again around an hour, I knew I had to be getting closer. With 4200 yards for 2.4 miles (Ironman swim) and my swim likely on and off course, I checked with over 3500 yards or so and figured I was on the home stretch.  

Finally!! That orange buoy was here!! I was so happy to be so close to a buoy that I sprinted around it all by myself and sprinted to the shore. 

I swam until my arms hit the sand and stood up, only to fall back down after a few steps thanks to a shallow part followed by a deep part. Ok, back up again and I ran to the finish line crossing in 1:11:03. 

Here are my splits from my Garmin: 

(for every 440 yards)
6:47 (1:32 per 100 yards)
6:41 (1:31 pace)
7:11 (1:38 pace)
6:53 (1:33 pace)
7:03 (1:36)
6:24 (1:27)
6:45 (1:32)
6:59 (1:35)
6:53 (1:34)
6:16 (1:25)
2:55 (last 204 yards, 1:25 pace)

1st age group (30-34)
4th overall female
21st overall

(Love my new Oakley Women swim suit that I wore under my speed suit)
As for Karel's swim....a big improvement from last year and considering that he just learned to swim last May, I am still so amazed with how hard he works and the progress he makes. He gets frustrated at times that he can't just go faster like he does with cycling and running (push harder, go faster) but he always has a great spirit with his swimming.

When Karel finished the swim today in 1:25, he came up to me and our group of friends to let us know that we shouldn't be worried that he took so long. He decided to visit his parents in Czech to get some cookies and that is why he took so long :) 

One of my favorite parts of life is working hard. I love the feeling of putting in the work and then getting a payoff down the road. I love the idea of having no idea when the payoff will come or what it will feel like when it all comes together. Even though I have been swimming competitively in some way for over 20 years, I love being able to work hard as a triathlete. Learning how to swim strong as I balance bike and run training. For Karel, it's a work in progress but he is not even close to giving up as he is really hooked with his new triathlon lifestyle and he is 100% motivated and excited to see where his body will take him over the next few years. 

Regardless of how the day turns out when you train or race, always appreciate what your body allows you to do and most importantly, have fun. There are many choices in life and there is something beautiful in using a body that was designed to move. 

Yay! - another picture of Campy sleeping. What a precious furry ball of cuteness. 

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.

Ironman Lake Placid RR: 112 mile bike

Marni Sumbal

There's really no way to know what to expect during the bike portion of a race, until you are actually on the course...on race day. Karel and I always do our homework before races so we watched lots of Youtube videos and read other links describing the Lake Placid course to better understand how to properly train and race in Lake Placid. Of course, every individual has their own opinion of a course as those of us from Florida will describe the mountains much differently than a local. Many people have asked me how we train for hilly courses since we live in flat Florida and my first response is always that we love to climb. If you don't love climbing, there is no need to seek out challenging, hilly courses for the mind is not going to be on the bodies side during the race when the legs are burning and the mind says "why are you doing this?" But what we do have is wind...lots of it. For every ride that we do, our legs never stop unless we stop the bike and put our foot on the ground. Sure, we can coast but what we do not get are descends or rollers. We have no opportunities for free speed for even if we get tailwind, the body is still working to produce power to move us forward. Gravity is not on our side unless we are on a bridge and we'd rather do intervals which simulate race day conditions instead of doing a bunch of bridge repeaters on the bike. 

I always enjoy seeing my Training Peaks file after a race. I choose to hide the other variables that I review on my file so I could show the similarities to the race profile compared to my training file. To the eye, the two course profiles make you believe that are only a few challenging sections of the course (2 loop course) but despite a view like this.....

This course requires more than just a strong heart, muscles and mind. You better have the right climbing cassette, know how to change your gears properly, check your ego at the door to properly pace yourself, have a great fueling strategy (and be comfortable grabbing your nutrition on climbs, descends and bumpy roads) and you have to constantly remind yourself that you have to run a crazy hard marathon after riding 112 miles in the Adirondack mountains.  

Here's my condensed version of the course.
You leave the transition area and go down a little hill veering left a little and then make a right turn down a steep hill which you can hardly see the bottom of the hill from the top. You then ignore the hay barrels in front of you which are there for those who overshoot the turn and make a sharp left turn after coming down a steep, short hill. You then go up a little, ride along the streets of down town placid toward the ski jumps and you finally approach mile 1.
You then go down another hill which is the same hill you run up twice across from the ski jumps and then do a little climbing, up and down and anticipate the long descent into Keene which covers a few miles at flying speeds...all before mile 15. You know you are approaching the descend because before you reach the Cascade Mountain trailhead and see the Cascade Lakes you  are forced to see a bright colored signs that warns you that the descend is steep enough for trucks to flip. For those of us who would rather be a chicken than a dead duck, you do not have to squeeze on your breaks as the road does level itself out but if you have the need for speed and forget that you are in an Ironman but instead, a competition to clock the fastest time, you can be like Karel down the descend at 49 mph. Karel said he could have gone faster but it was wet out.
After the first 15 miles or so, if you still have all your bottles from the roads that take a beating from the NY winters, you welcome a nice long section of rollers through Keene and Upper Jay/Jay on Route 9N. This is a nice place to wake up your legs but you have to be patient for you are approaching the climbs in less than 20 miles. 
The out and back section through Ausable Forks breaks up the course and continues to follow the trend of beautiful sights and views. This section is about 5.6 miles each way so it gives athletes a chance to see competition ahead and behind but also to ease up and gain any free speed if the wind is on your side. 
Nearing Route 86 in Jay, your legs wake up by climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing until you reach the top of this never-ending climb. It's not long, just annoying if you don't love to climb.
There are a few more rollers and then you reach Haselton road which is a nice 1 mile out and back to again scope out the competition or take a few breathers before the hard part of the if the course wasn't challenging enough already.
You see a few flags and they are blowing toward you which is not the way that you you'd like it if you could use your magic and control the weather. But, it is what it is and off you go in Wilmington towards Whiteface Mountain.
12 miles of rollers, false flats, climbs and the notorious baby, mama and papa bear climbs. Nothing on this course is impossible, unless your body and mind think otherwise. Despite fabulous signs, spectator/volunteer support and beautiful views, this course presents difficulty between every mile marker and before you know it, you are back at the transition do it all over again.

Karel and I both loved this course. Here are a few of my favorite things from my race.
-My body and mind enjoyed this course so much that by the end of the first loop, I felt like I had only just warmed up for my main set. I choose to purposely take the first loop comfortable, focusing on my IM power zones (upper Z2-low Z3) which I had done many times in training for our intervals and sitting on Karel's wheel. I focused on areas when I would get free speed and I didn't try to beat the wind (I've never won before in training and I didn't want to try again during an IM). My nutrition was spot on, my mind never wandered and my body never hurt.
-My body did fine on the descend but I purposely planned to save my energy for the climbs since I knew that I would be able to use my strength of climbing (primarily out of the saddle).
-There weren't animals on the course for me to say hi to like IMKY and IMWI but the views were amazing....despite the rainy weather on the first loop.
-My favorite sign read "I bet you wish you were off your bike right now" on one of the last climbs of the loop. I then saw another sign on the run with the same handwriting and graphics "I bet you wish you had your bike back right now". I couldn't stop laughing.
-I saw an elderly man around the Keene area sitting in a lawchair ringing a bell for both loops (over 3 hours of me riding). As the Ironman athletes were trying to speed up the day and go as fast as possible to get to the finish line, this man was perfectly content doing nothing and letting minutes turn into hours. It reminded me to really enjoy the day and by the 2nd loop, I didn't want to get off my bike, I was having so much fun.
-Not being passed by Karel until I headed toward Whiteface mountain. I saw Karel on two out and backs and as much as I wanted him to catch me so I could talk to him, I also wanted to show him that all that bike training had paid off thanks to his help. Of course, aafter we exchanged some words about our swim times, I yelled to him "I Love you" as any wife would do while racing 140.6 miles...and off he went with a few guys trying to stay on his wheel...good luck with that.
-I stayed within my own race day box. I remembered Gloria telling me that when she did IMTexas (her first IM) she told herself that if an athlete passed her she would only think positive thoughts that that athlete at that moment was having a good moment. It didn't mean she wasn't having a good moment and it didn't mean that the athlete (or her) wouldn't have a better moment in 5 miles but she told me to just focus on myself and to not waste energy on things out of my control, such as others being faster than me at certain points of the course. I really trusted myself and my skills on the bike and I feel I raced this bike course the best I could have raced (and have ever raced) by finishing the bike feeling hungry to run and so happy with how I felt (mentally and physically).
-I loved seeing my competition on the course as well as other athletes. I receive so much energy when I cheer for others and the same is true when others cheer for me. It is this never-ending wave of energy that comes when you help to pick up others and others do the same for you. I gave a thumbs up and some cheers to my competition infront (Katie T. ) and behind me (Kendra) as well as to the pro women who were looking super strong as well. Despite racing for a Kona slot, I felt like all the ladies in the course around me were loving the day just as much as me and I didn't want to wish a bad race on anyone for at the end of the day, if the girls who are better than me don't have good days, then I am not pushed to a higher limit.
-Both Karel and myself made sure we soaked up this opportunity to ride in the mountains. Because we both love to travel to race and race to travel, we picked this race because of the challenges and being so close to nature. Karel was having so much fun that he contributed to the wheelie count on one of the bear climbs had a group of guys with a sign checking off how many people could/would do a wheelie while climbing. OK, not a Sagan type of wheelie but nonetheless, it counted :) 
Here are a few bike stats from the race as well as what my computer looks like when I ride intervals or in races. You can see from my Garmin 500 stats, how I lapped the course, although on the 2nd loop I didn't lap at the exact same points because I forgot. I tried to fuel every 8-12 minutes from my drink, consuming a 350 calorie bottle within the first 75-80 min of each loop and the rest from a 300 calorie bottle + 300 calorie gel flask. I only grabbed water from aid stations for sipping and cooling. I also included Karel's stats from 

Bike stats:
Marni: 5:45.11 (average 19.41 mph), 3rd division after bike, 184 overall, 17th female
Splits from
distance 30 miles 1:21.5 (22 mph)
distance 26 miles 1:25 (18.17mph)
distance 30 miles 1:23 (21.41 mph)
distance 26 miles 1:34 (16.52 mph)

Garmin 500 splits 

Lap 1:
40 minutes (14.5 miles): Power 152W, HR 137, cadence 81, 21.46mph
1:05 minutes (22.29 miles): Power 149W, HR 135, cadence 81, 20.45mph
16 minutes (5.4 miles): Power 156W, HR 137, cadence 80, 19.61mph
46 minutes (13.75 miles): Power 177W, HR 144, cadence 80, speed 17.63mph

Lap 2:
41 minutes (14.1 miles): Power 149W, HR 132, cadence 74, speed 20.39mph
1:24 (27.7 miles): Power 151W, HR 136, cadence 79, speed 19.75mph
50 min (13.38 miles): Power 160W, HR 140, cadence 78, speed 15.87mph
(max speed 38mph)

Karel: 5:16.26 (average 21.24 mph), 21st division, 91 overall,  85th male
distance 30 miles 1:13.48 (24.39 mph)
distance 26 miles 1:18.53 (19.78mph)
distance 30 miles 1:16.09 (23.64 mph)
distance 26 miles 1:27.36 (17.81 mph)
(max speed 49mph)

And after riding 112 miles, we "get" to run a marathon! As an athlete who has raced 5 Ironman's, I know the hurt, the mental battles and what it feels like to finish an Ironman by running 26.2 miles after swimming 2.4 and biking 112 miles. For most of us, the IM run has nothing to do with how fast you can run a standard marathon or how many miles you ran in your longest run in training (or how fast) but instead, how much you can suffer, dig and want it when the body and mind tell you to stop, sit down and just call it a day, it's not worth it. For myself, I wanted to dig, suffer and show myself that I could do this for the 6th time but for my hubby, this was a new territory for not only was this his first IM but his first marathon and after dismounting the bike, this was the longest he had ever used his body.

Ironman Lake Placid RR: 2.4 mile swim

Marni Sumbal

2.4 mile swim

Back in Feb 2013, I traveled to Utah with Oakley Women for a product testing trip on the beautiful snowy mountains at Snowbird resort. 

As a swimmer all my life, I would consider myself more of a fish than a snow bunny but I am all about trying new things. I have had the opportunity to snowboard several times in my life and I always love the challenge of strapping in my feet and gliding down a mountain. But if I were to race in snowboarding, I wouldn't do very well and probably would be too scared to start. I could probably improve my skills if I snowboarded more often, worked with an experienced instructor and developed a passion for snow more than water, but I will be honest and say that I am not a great snowboarder and I am just happy with my ability to have fun and get down a mountain in one piece (although sometimes with a sore butt afterwards). 

In life, we have many opportunities to step outside of our comfort zone but like most people, we often get really comfortable in our comfort zone. Sometimes we have no choice but to step outside of our normal but I am sure that most would agree that doing something that you don't normally do is not the best feeling in the least when you do it for the first time and aren't very good at it. 

As most people know, my husband Karel decided to move from Cat 1 cyclist to triathlete this past June (2012). 

Karel loves to push like most competitive athletes and for him, running came naturally. Suffering in cycling races transferred really well to running....push hard and suffer and run faster. 

But for Karel, he was often very frustrated by swimming. He found it so discouraging that he couldn't just push in the water. He could push on the bike, push on the run but in the water, pushing meant gasping for air, feeling like he was getting no where in the water and experiencing extreme fatigue. 

Even if something is hard, uncomfortable, scary or new, the most important thing is that you recognize that everything that you are feeling is normal. For if you only did things in life that were easy, simple and effortless, you likely wouldn't get anywhere in life. You have likely achieved things in life because you were willing to step beyond what is comfortable and embrace something that is not easy. But the defining point is knowing that you are not going to give up until you get to where you want to be. Perhaps you can't define where it is that you want to be and when but the most important thing is making sure that you are having fun along the way and seeing yourself grow. You are moving forward for you and for no one else. If you don't like something at first, don't give up. But you have to have the right motivation, passion and commitment ensure that you are doing things for the right reason. 

Every athlete has a a weakness. You can't be good at everything if you want to get better at what you do. There is always a way and reason to be better than you were yesterday but you have to really want it and the work that comes when you get there. 

I don't think I'm ever going to race in a snowboarding event but I know that I will never stop the opportunity to snowboard. I will always be a little scared but I will figure out a way to get to the bottom and get back up again when I fall. For now, I will continue to work hard for my triathlon goals and enjoy every journey that my body and mind gives to me during training and racing. I am willing to be patient as I better understand endurance triathlons and the skills required to race strong and consistent and I will always be sure to have fun along the way. 

Once I entered the water, I felt good. I felt comfortable, smooth and confident. This was my comfort zone and I knew what I wanted......
1:07, 1:06, 1:04, 1:02, 1:08....I've been chasing that 1 hour swim time for 2.4 miles for the past 8 years. It's something that drives me to push in the pool, even though I have been pushing in the water since I started swimming around the age of 11. I love dreaming big and having goals helps me jump out of bed, get out the door and see what I am capable of achieving for the day. 

As I made my way to the outside of the crowd of swimmers in Mirror Lake, I found myself with clean water. Knowing that the cable running under the water (visible to the eye) is directing the fastest swimmers (all trying to swim like Andy Potts) on a straight course, I was still spotting the 1-9 numbered buoys ahead of me but really focusing on my catch in the water.

As I neared buoy #4, I felt good. My plan for the two loop swim was to swim the first loop feeling "good". I never wanted to feel exhausted in the first loop and depending on my perceived effort in relation to my time after 1.2 miles, I would decide if I could take a risk or two in loop two. Realizing that swimming is a strength of mine, I always give myself the opportunity to deviate from my race day plan just a tiny bit if I am feeling good in the water. There's something about chasing a time that excites me and at the end of the day, I am 100% responsible for my actions when I race. I can blame nobody but myself and I am willing for the consequences if I let my ego + dreams get the best to me. But then again, how do I ever know if my thoughts will fail me if I don't give things a risky try. 

I was very tempted to look at my Garmin 910XT (outside of my wetsuit) before the right hand turn at buoy #9 but I didn't. I saved that surprise for when I made a slight turn to the right on this very narrow out and back rectangle loop. I took a look at my watch as I started heading back to the start/finish and it said something around 14 minutes. I am pretty sure I smiled in the water not only because I was really excited about my 6th Ironman in Lake Placid (especially since I went from extremely nervous to very calm and relaxed) but I felt like this was the day I could release my inner nemo. 

As I swam back to shore I was careful to not go too hard. The water was smooth and I continued to stay to the outside of the buoys to get cleaner water. I still wanted to draft off other swimmers but I was careful to not get too close to the cable under water as I knew that battling flying arms would only get me out of my rhythm with my stroke. 

The buoys were going by really quickly and all I could remember was the breakthrough big swim set I did in prep for the IM, alongside putting all those individual workouts together for this one very special day. #4, #5, #6....the first loop was almost complete and as I spotted ahead of me, I could see spectators and the dock. #7, #8....I was so tempted to look at my watch and I gave myself permission after #9.....

But I resisted. Just stay steady, I kept thinking to myself. 

I made my way out of the water and ran onto the shore as I cleared my goggles with my fingers. It felt really great to stand up and get some air into my lungs and when I saw 29 minutes on my watch, I got super excited. So excited that I sprinted through the start banner and dove into the water for my 2nd loop. 

Did I really just swim 1.2 miles in 29 minutes and I made it feel easy? 

The 2nd loop was a bit more congested compared to the first due to the seeded start but I didn't let it get to me because I knew I could still have a good swim to start my journey of 140.6 miles. As much as I wanted to pick up the pace, I kept reminding myself that this was a very long day and I can't win anything in the swim. 

I found several pink caps around me which was comforting knowing that I was swimming strong and around similar fitness abilities. As I neared buoy #9, I couldn't believe that I was making my last two right hand turns to finish my 6th IM swim!

I looked at my watch again and I think it was around 46 minutes. I was starting to battle swimmers who were on their first lap but I didn't get frustrated. I coach newbie triathletes, my hubby is competing in his first tri and I know I was not always a great cyclist when I started. We must always respect those who are learning new skills for we have all been there, done that in some way or another.

As I found a few open patches, I looked at my watch one last time. I can't remember what buoy I was at but my watch said 56 minutes. I didn't get frustrated but instead, I gave myself permission to go for it. I picked up the pace, careful to not waste any energy in my legs that I needed for 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running but I found myself catching the water a little stronger and really focusing on getting to where I wanted to fast as possible.

I started swimming toward the shore and I tried to stand up when I saw others standing....ok, 5 feet tall Marni has a ways to go. I kept on swimming and looked at my watch as I tried to stand again.

1 hour. 

YIPPEE!! But of course, there was a few steps to the arch to stop my timing chip and my final time read 1:01:02. 

Oh well. I'll take it as I felt amazing and I was super excited to get on my bike and anxiously await Karel zooming past me somewhere on the bike to tell him about my swim and to hear about his swim. 

As I ran toward the strippers, I took my arm sleeve over my Garmin and then unzipped my wetsuit and removed the sleeves and pulled it down to my waist. I had my Trimarni kit (cycling shorts and zipper jersey), HR monitor and CEP calf sleeves under my wetsuit and slathered in body glide spray and my timer chip on my ankle (with a safety pin to secure), my body marked body was revealed as I laid on the ground with my feet up for the strippers to pull off my wetsuit. 

I said thank you to the volunteers and ran down a long carpeted chute to the transition didn't seem very long because the spectators were lined along the chute and cheering loudly for all of us swimmers. 

I noticed that many people had rain coats on and all of a sudden it occurred to me that it was raining! Oh boy, this is going to be an interesting start to the race....just stay calm and focused. 

I ran toward the transition bags and grabbed my T1 bag w/ my cycling gear. 
-helmet (not aero helmet but my regular training helmet which I love)
-Oakley Commit sunglasses
-Pill container (back up pills, electrolytes, endurance aminos, tums)
-Pill packets (electrolytes and aminos) in a baggie
-Gel flask (300 calories of Hammer heed espresso)
-Cycling shoes

As I ran to the transition area, there were a few women in the tent (age groupers and pros) and two volunteers dumped out my bag which included separate large zip lock bags for my gear items. As usual, the volunteers were amazing and as I put on  my socks and shoes, one volunteer put my nutrition in my pockets (gel flask in right pocket and pills in left - I asked her to do this and she did it perfectly) and the other put my helmet on my head. Done! What a quick transition and it was exactly as I had visualized. 

I said thank you and ran out of the tent to the end of the transition area and to my bike. 
Transition time: 4:36

A volunteer handed me my bike, I said thank you and powered my Garmin 500 (turned it on) and ran toward the mount line.

I couldn't believe that I was mounting my bike with two professional women around me but I bottled in those thoughts as I felt like this day was going so great....I hadn't even raced more than 2.4 miles and with 112+ 26.2 miles to go, I really didn't want the day to end. As I always say, all that training just for a one day event.

My bike was wet but that was fine. Karel put great bar tape on my bike which made me feel good considering the technical descends and turns heading out of transition. 

And before I knew it, I was on my bike and excited to see if all that bike training, sitting on Karel's wheel, had paid off......

112 I come!

A little about Karel's race, he felt really good and had no major issues in the first loop. He found the 2nd loop to be a bit busy for him but he stayed calm. Karel said his biggest mistake was having trouble getting off his wetsuit, especially the arms over his Garmin. He said he was really frustrated by the wetsuit but he was able to move on quickly and remind himself that his major goal during the swim was to just swim efficient so he could get on the bike and have 5+ hours to be in his comfort zone. Karel's transition was 6:59 due to the added time from the strippers and him struggling with his wetsuit so although a rookie mistake, Karel still had a great swim considering that he just learned to train for swimming just 13 months ago.
Karel ended up swimming 1:10.20 which I find so funny considering that I swam 1:01.02!! Crazy to just move around the numbers and we swam the same time!!

Here is a great video of the swim start that I found on the internet:

Ironman Lake Placid RR: IM Prep and pre-race

Marni Sumbal

Ironman prep
(If you do not want to read my recap of our Ironman prep, scroll down to the bottom for pre-race)

If you could work less hours and get all your tasks completed in less time and still get paid the same amount, would you?

If you took a road trip and could drive an easier route to your final destination, instead of one that was of more difficulty, but still arrive to the same place at the same time, would you?

If you could study for an exam a little every day for a few months and get a B+, instead of cramming it all in over 2 weeks and get a B-, would you?

As athletes, I find we think differently than many people. For when you finish a race and your garmin lets you know that the race course was shorter than advertised, you are quick to let others know, almost as if you are disappointed that you didn’t go the full distance (albeit, likely it was a matter of tenths but still it matters). But when a race course is long, it’s easy to complain and let others know that the finish time is not accurate, feeling frustrated that your time is not comparable to similar distances and past results.

But when it comes to training, it seems as if many athletes do more than necessary often spending more time doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Often taking the longer route and feeling impatient by the journey ahead.

In preparation for Ironman Lake Placid, Karel and I gave ourselves a 10-week training plan to specifically focus on the Ironman. 1 week being taper followed by 1 week of active recovery and 8 weeks of solid Ironman training. Not too much, but just enough of quality training to prepare our body and mind for race day without compromising the many other areas in our life that require focus, energy and commitment.
In those 8 weeks, we never found ourselves not making progress. Maybe the workout didn’t go as planned due to variables out of our control, it had to be shortened for time constraints or we played it smart by modifying the planned workout in order to keep consistent with training. What I love so much about endurance training is that the body adapts over time, not in just one workout.  

We spent the first 3 weeks of our IM prep building our endurance with speed work and no long bike ride over 4 hours (or brick more than 4.5 hours). Every workout had a purpose and of course, with Karel being a rookie triathlete (just starting to train for triathlons last June) and me coming off my on/off hip/back/glute issues, it was important to not do too much too soon. I find every athlete has 4-5 great consistent weeks of training when they start a training plan. Often times, this comes in the early part of the season (often 16-20 weeks before the race) when training is not as race specific but athletes feel too good to do less. 

Additionally, many athletes go into training for a race with the intention of improving health and body composition, which is great. But the idea of the perfect body image or even worse, the pressure of being a certain weight by race day and consequently putting more pressure on the diet and body than the training itself. One of the worst mistakes that an athlete can make is wanting to restrict nutrition around workouts when the body is under the most intentional physiological stress and then “rewarding” the body with food that does not enhance performance later in the day. I see it a lot with athletes that there is this constant pressure to train for a number on a scale rather than for performance. In other words, athletes are not fueling according to their assigned workout at hand and refueling based on the workout accomplished but instead the workout is reflective of past eating habits or a desire for calories burned. Thus, rather than fueling in a way that allows the body to get stronger, faster and healthier, nutrients are restricted and training load becomes too heavy and athletes find themselves entering a dangerous area of overtraining/under-eating.

 I love helping athletes with their nutrition for endurance events because I want athletes to find balance with endurance training, to stay healthy and to reach personal goals. I love doing the same for fitness enthusiasts to see the diet as a way to reduce risk for disease and to maintain a great life with good health. Getting injured, burnout, sick or feeling isolated from friends and family or feeling extreme pressure for your body to adapt  just as fast as your training partners are not normal parts of training for an endurance event. Remember, your body does not have to allow you to do what it does when you train for an event and you can’t expect your body to adapt at the same rate as others. You must be respectful of your body and how it adapts to training stress and realize that you have to be just as dedicated and committed to your training plan as you are to other areas of your life. Never let your race day goal get in the way of you enjoying your journey to get to the starting line.

So after the first block of our training, we then spent another 5 weeks of periodized quality training with Monday being an easy swim or full recovery day and a bit more time on the weekends for the longer brick (long bike + short run). Nearing the end of our training, we were careful to not go too hard during the week, Tues – Sun knowing that the key workouts occurred early and late week (weekend). We never felt burnt out, fatigued or questioned the “whys” as to why we are doing this while rolling out the door by 7am most weekends.  Every workout for bike and run was based on time (not distance) and the swims were based on distance (not time).

We only did 2 rides longer than 100 miles, one being mileage focused (112 miles + 1 mile run off the bike) and the other based on time (5 hours + 2 mile run off the bike). Sitting on Karel’s wheel allowed me to cover more distance in the same amount of time that I could do alone but every workout included intervals where I was training myself to become more efficient in my Ironman zone. Without looking at my Training Peaks files, I have absolutely no idea how many miles I did within each bike workout or how fast I went. On average, we trained around 14-15 hours a week with typically only one workout a day in the morning. Nearing the last 3-4 weeks of peak training, the weekly hours increased to about 18-20 hours due to the longer bricks on the weekends as our training progressed.When we did Branson 70.3 in 2011 where I won as overall amateur female and Karel placed 5th age group in his first half IM (3rd triathlon) Karel trained only 10 hours a week and I trained about 12 hours (a bit more strength training and swimming and I often warm-up a bit longer than Karel).

Just like with our half IM training, we did a lot of brick workouts and speed work during the week for bike, swim and run which was totally doable because we were not burning ourselves in the ground during the weekend training.   I walked during every run that I did to simulate aid stations. Karel’s longest run was 20 miles but most of his long runs of 14-16 miles included a bike in between two morning runs (ex. 10 mile run + 2-3 hour bike + 4 mile run). I did 2 long runs, 13 miles and 15 miles as I do not believe in running more than 2.5 hours for Ironman prep. For IMWI (which I qualified for Kona by placing 4th and receiving a roll down slot), I only did 2 long runs of 16 miles. Also, my long runs occur after a 1-2 hour ride. I strength train year round, however, with IM training, it rarely included lifting any weights. More functional strength exercises than anything, specifically core work and hip focused strength. Sleep and nutrition were priorities as there is no way to be consistent with training if we do not prioritize nutrition on a daily basis to keep our bodies healthy and there is no way to recover and maintain a healthy attitude and mood if we are not able to sleep restful at night. We did not let training get in the way of life and we did not let life affect our ability to enjoy our time training.

I’ve certainly learned a lot since 2006 when I trained for my first IM. I was new to the sport at the age of 24 and worried about the distance, I started with a more is better approach. But now I have my own business where I can help others reach goals and find balance in life with eating and training/exercising.  By applying my background in exercise physiology and being less stubborn and more open-minded to my hubby’s thoughts (cat 1 cyclist as an “outsider looking in” approach) I’ve gradually learned that less is more and I’ve been able to execute in racing with this approach to training. Could I do more and take a risk? Sure, but that would mean that I am focusing more on what others are doing instead of thinking about myself and what I can balance in my own personal life, with my own personal goals.

Ironman training involves so much more than just putting in the miles in training. I find that many athletes waste their best performance in training by doing too much too soo. Training becomes monotonous and lack-luster. It starts as something that you want to do and turns into something you have to do, often at the expense of family/friend-time. The excitement dwindles and all of a sudden, the athlete who had high goals and expectations becomes brainwashed by his/her own thoughts to think that more is better. Never doubt the progress you have made with your fitness, which can potentially bring you to a great race day performance if you keep on doing what is working. If it isn’t working, adjust something but don’t just hope for different results or to be better tomorrow.

There are so many ways to train for an Ironman and that is why I feel so strongly that Ironman athletes should have an experienced coach to guide them along through this amazing journey. Anytime you ask your body to perform during endurance training/racing, it is important to recognize that your race day performance does not just depend on how many miles you covered in training or how much a scale says in your bathroom. Unfortunately not ever body is designed to do endurance racing but also, not ever body has to do endurance racing. Find something that challenges you but also makes you happy to make time for it. Never put so much pressure on yourself that you don’t enjoy your me-time.

We don’t own a scale in our home. We don’t force our bodies to get to a race weight, it happens naturally through training the body to perform. We do not detox, cleans, go gluten-free, paleo or follow any other extreme dietary pattern/fad that is advocated by the masses to change body composition and improve health (although I feel strongly that mass marketed diets are more focused on body image than health). We do not have an off limit food list posted on our ‘fridge and we never feel guilty around food. I am a 20-year vegetarian for animal reasons, Karel is not. We eat real food most of the time which leaves little room for the other stuff the rest of the time. There’s still room for it but it is consumed in a way that is enjoyed and appreciated.

There is no bad body image/food talk, there is no need to compare ourselves to how others train and there is a lot of emphasis on fueling before every workout, during every workout and after every workout. There is a lot of attention to each of our strengths and weaknesses as individuals in all areas of our life, as well as flexibility in our training plan as to keeping things balanced between triathlons and life. We stay active year-round but training is periodized to allow us to peak at the right time, without us burning out at any time. There is a lot of growth, confidence building and fun with every part of our training. There are highs and lows but never do we let training define us or affect how we live. We love what we choose to do for a hobby as it is our lifestyle, not our life.

The week before the race was our official “taper” – super light, exploring the course, soaking in the Placid community feel and keeping the body fresh for race day. The two weeks before the race included less volume than 3 weeks out but it maintained the same intensity. As the body recovered from the past few weeks of training, it never felt heavy, lethargic, sleepy or bloated. Nutrition didn’t change on a daily basis, only how we fueled around our workouts to support the current training load. We stuck with a schedule of 1 day easy, 2 days “training” during the two weeks out from race day until we arrived to Placid last wed to ensure that as the body started to peak for the race, we wouldn’t waste our best performance during taper as we were holding in all our energy for the race.
Wed – travel day to Placid
Thurs – lake swim (1.2 miles) + afternoon bike on climbs (rode down the last 12 miles or so of the course and then back up the climbs)
Fri – lake swim (15 minutes) to get comfortable in wetsuits (which we didn’t get until Thurs as they were with our bikes at Tri Bike Transport) followed by a 35 minute EZ spin (hard to find easy roads in Placid so we rode the run course on River Road).
Sat – race warm-up which included a 1 hour bike + 10-15 min run w/ a few “fast” efforts of 1-2 minutes on the bike (on the climbs in a high cadence) w/ 3-4 min recovery and a few 30-45 sec pick-ups on the run w/ walking in between. We also drove the descend of the bike course so that by race day we had seen all of the bike course except the two out and back sections.
Sun – 140.6 miles!

With 6 Ironman finishes behind my name and helping dozens of athletes cross endurance finishing lines, one thing I have learned with Ironman racing is that it’s not about preventing nutrition related problems  but knowing how to deal with them when they come about. There is no perfect nutrition plan even if you don’t suffer from nutrition related problems at one race because every race is different and the body is always getting more efficient. Nerves, excitement, swallowing water during the swim, pushing too hard, weather, concentrated drinks at aid stations, daily diet, food choices, not sticking to your plan – there are so many factors that can affect your race day nutrition that I find that the best thing you can do is to trust that what worked in training will work on race day and remembering that your race day performance is not a long training day. On race day, you are using the body that you trained for weeks and months. In other words, your body must be fueled during training in order to execute on race day. You don’t have to train on Power bar perform and coke just because it is on the course. Can you use what is on the course on race day if tolerated? Sure, but perhaps a better fueling regime will help you become more efficient, faster and stronger by race day.

You should know exactly what worked in training with your nutrition to have confidence on race day that you have a plan that should work but keep in mind that it may need to be adjusted based on many factors and sometimes by things out of your control. This is why I feel strongly that athletes need to have a nutrition coach to also help with training for I feel many training sessions are not appropriate for race day and do not allow the body to get familiar with race day situations and fueling. I am not a fan of Ironman “day” of training as I don’t feel athletes need to bike more than 112 miles in training (or 6.5 hours – whichever comes first as I tell my athletes), run more than 2.5 hours (or 20 miles – whichever comes first) or do a brick that is more than 6.5 hours (ideally, a 100 mile ride + 2 mile run or 4 hour ride + 1 hour run or a 2 hour ride + 2 hour run are perfect race simulation workouts that you can do near the end of your IM training plan). I am a big fan of bricks as well understanding your zones for IM racing. But when it comes to daily nutrition, I do not change my diet from what has fueled my training for months at a time. Karel and I don’t believe in using the off season to get lazy but also the body and mind need a break from structure. So really, we are always maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle without the pressure to ever be x-weight, to train x-hours a week or to “allow” ourselves to lose fitness. There is absolutely no pressure with the diet and training throughout the year for us to feel any pressure on the week leading up to the race in terms of how we eat or perceive our body to look. We don’t train for fitness pageants to stand on a stage and model our bodies. We are athletes who use our bodies to cross finishing lines and we can only do that if we stay injury free and nourished. I shared almost all my meals leading up to the race on my Facebook page but my main focus for nutrition fueling on race week included:
-Water (coffee is fine too)
-No energy drinks, new supplements/pills that are promoted as ergogenic aids (performance boosters) or other medications/supplements/pills
-Prioritizing food that is made from mother nature, not in a factory.
-Wholesome food prepared by me (or Karel) as much as possible (for Placid, we didn’t eat out at all before the race and saved that for post race. I controlled the ingredients for every food item that we put into our bodies.)
-Feel confident with food choices –every food should make us feel good after we eat it
-Small meals, eating every 2-3 hours. No big meals but breakfast was typically a very satisfying meal, daily.
-At least 20-25g carbs from a sport drink (ex. Hammer heed) or electrolytes (Hammer Fizz) on race week anytime we used our bodies for training purposes.
-Electrolytes as needed (Fizz or pills) as a back-up for electrolytes
-Lots of fresh produce (fruits and veggies that are well tolerated) for vitamins and minerals
-Low fiber and fat on the 3-4 days leading up to the race. Moderate protein and high emphasis on carbohydrates that make our bellies feel good (fresh local bread, potatoes, rice, granola, honey, raisins, etc.)
-Eat when we are hungry, no clock watching. We ate on our own schedule whenever we wanted knowing that we may be married but we each have different nutritional/fueling needs. For the most part, we ate at the same time but often different food choices.

I always write out an itinerary as to what needs to get done and when, before a big race as it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the race alongside getting yourself ready and the time just rushes by. On Friday after we rode our bikes and before dinner and the mandatory athlete meeting, we spent the late afternoon preparing our transition bags which saved a lot of stress and time for Saturday. We prepared our bike bottles and run flasks with powder only, for easy filling with water on Sunday morning. We put all our individual items into separate zipper bags inside the transition bags in the case of rain (which it did on race day) as well as to ensure that when the volunteer empties out the bag in the changing tent, nothing gets lost or forgotten. I tied a bright red ribbon on my bags for easy spotting in transition. I believe in planning for every situation with transition bags for an IM but trusting myself as to what I used in training will work on race day.

On Saturday, after we did our race warm-up, we ate a filling carb-rich French toast + fruit and eggs breakfast, re-packed our transition bags, did a double check of everything and then racked our bikes a bit before 12 (I think) and hung our transition bags, then headed back to the cottage for a light lunch. We rested in the afternoon and then around 3 we headed out for one last drive of the bike course, especially the bumpy descend, except the out and back sections (which included about 13-14 miles I think). We arrived back to the condo on sat evening and for our pre race dinner around 5pm, Karel had soup and rice (pasta and chicken and a small salad on Fri) and I had ½ large sweet potato, asparagus, rice, egg and a small salad (pizza and salad on Fri). We were both a bit nervous on Saturday evening and decided it would be best to sleep in separate rooms for a good night of sleep. We reviewed the course maps and we each had our own ways to relax. Karel listened to Czech music that his dad use to listen to when he grew up and after I face-timed with my parents, I watched YouTube videos of Lake Placid Ironman from years past to get me excited about race day.
We both slept very well and went to bed around 8:30pm and woke up with multiple alarms at 3:15am.

Race day
I couldn’t believe how nervous I was! I don’t think I have ever been this nervous for a race but luckily, I have Gloria. I found myself letting a lot of things out of my control get to me which I discussed with Gloria on the phone on Friday. The weather was constantly changing (temps and rain) so although I couldn’t change it, I was concerned how to prepare for it with my clothing. This was a challenging course so of course, I was trying to stay confident with my race day plan. Then there was the unknown of how my body will perform and as any athlete knows, the mind does some crazy things before a race but seems to settle out when you are on the course. My body had been playing a lot of games with me the day before the race which was new to me and very weird. Actually, both Karel and myself. We would have waves of feeling great to feeling like we had the flu.  I continued to trust my plan but I had to welcome a lot of crazy things before a race alongside thinking about my hubby and athlete Laura, both doing their first Ironman. With the coach inside of me, I felt more relaxed helping them than thinking about myself. I joked with them on race day morning as we were walking to the transition area that even with 5 Ironman’s behind me, it never gets easier to feel total calmness before a race.

My pre race meal sat perfectly as I knew it would because of how many times I did similar foods before training. I had 4 rye Wasa crackers with peanut butter, honey and raisins and ½ large banana w/ cinnamon and a few almonds. With training I have milk with my 2 wasa crackers, honey, PB and raisins and banana slices but before races in the morning, my tummy doesn’t like milk. I guesstimated this to be around 450-500 calories but did not measure. I gave my athlete Laura exact amounts of her pre race meal because I didn’t want her to doubt herself with her pre race nutrition. I did not lecture Karel at all about his pre-race meal as I know he eats according to what works in training and neither of us have nutrition/food related issues with training or racing.

Karel started his morning with oatmeal and berries and then had a waffle sandwich with peanut butter and jelly (we choose natural peanut butter and 100% fruit and sugar, no HFCS or “diet” options for jelly). He also sipped on a Bolthouse yogurt based drink (espresso/coffee I think) which has worked well for him in his past few races. We took our time in the morning with our food, coffee and water and kept the morning positive with our thoughts. Karel listened to his Czech music and I read quotes on the internet as we were waiting for our food to digest.

At 4:20am we grabbed our morning clothes bag from home and our prepared bottles (4 bottles for me, 2 with 350 calories for the first 75-90 minutes of each loop since the course consisted of only a few climbs but mostly descending and gentle rollers so I knew this would be the ideal time to take in more calories with a lower HR to ensure proper digestion and absorption and 2 bottles with 300 calories for the back half of each loop. Karel had 3 bottles with him of his custom-made Infinit formula that I created for him which was around 350 calories (around 300 calories per 2 scoops). We each had packets of pills that we made in saran wrap which included 2 Hammer endurance aminos and 1 electrolyte tablet and taped together for easy consumption by just popping in our mouth and biting off the tape. I’m a firm believer in prioritizing liquid calories as much as possible as I find too many athletes having too difficult of a race day fueling plan which requires a lot of time with a hand off the bike to eat, drink, snack, etc. and not enough time to actually digest what is being consumed. I don’t take in any solid food during training or racing but Karel had a sport bar (from Czech when we traveled there in May) for the bike. Since we both planned to use water at aid stations, we both had a gel flask in our pockets (300 calories worth of Hammer Espresso gel for me).

We also had our gadgets (Garmin 500 for me, Garmin 810 for Karel and our 910XTs), a bottle for sipping fluids in transition, sun screen, body glide, wetsuits (Xterra for me and speed suits just in case), change of clothes for post race, shopping/grocery bag (to help Karel put on his TYR wetsuit), goggles (+ backup goggles), swim cap, chip w/ safety pin to secure and bike pump. We both did not have a special needs bag for the bike and run because we both have spare tubs and CO2 on our bikes (I have two of each and the aid stations also had extras as notified in the athlete briefing). I took an electrolyte tablet and 2 endurance aminos before the race while I was eating.
We drove to Laura’s house down the road (1.5 miles, our cottage was on the run course, about 3.5 miles or so away from the race venue) and parked and finally, we both felt at ease with everything. Finally, all the training was about to be executed and the day was finally here that Karel and I had patiently waiting for. The day that he would cross his first Ironman finishing line and race for the longest he had ever raced before.  I was super excited to share the day with Karel, Laura, my nutrition athletes (Fran, Maria, Stephanie) and the other 2500 athletes and as well.

We walked with Laura’s parents and boyfriend Duran to the race venue (about 15 minute walk or so) and I finally felt like I was in a good place. Everything was now out of my control. I made a few swaps with clothing for the race (jersey and arm warmers and gloves were in a backup baggie now since the weather warmed up a tiny bit and went with my Trimarni cycling shorts, tri jersey and CEP compression calf sleeves to wear under my wetsuit), I put my bottles and computer on my bike, Karel pumped up my tires and checked out my bike after he did his and it was time to make a few more stops at the potty and make our way to the swim start after body marking.
Taking a few deep breaths while walking to the swim start helped me feel more relaxed. Also, I bumped into a few people that I knew, one being a social media/twitter friend that I have never met, Kendra, who is a phenomenal athlete and person, also in my age group. Karel, Laura and I made the long walk from transition area to the swim start (on carpet) and put on our wetsuits on the beach area of Mirror Lake around 5:45am. Although we arrive to transition around 5am with the race starting around 6:32am with the new rolling age group swim start, the morning didn’t feel rushed or like we were waiting very long. Bags were racked, the bike was ready and all we needed to do was to trust the training and to let things happen as they happened.
At 6am, the new swim start was in effect as the race director let athletes swim in the side of the lake which was great to get the wetsuit adjusted and comfortable. Karel and I swam a little and I finally felt much more relaxed and ready to go. The energy was about to be released and I was reminding myself that I don’t want this day to be over. I always tell my athletes that in an Ironman, it’s a lot of training for just a one-day event and it will be over before you know it and life will be normal again the next day.

A few other things that made me smile on race day, 2 Chihuahuas that made me miss Campy. They were as loud as could be, barking at two bigger doggies. I couldn’t help but laugh because Campy has small dog syndrome as well. Also, as we were swimming warm-up in the lake, 5-6 ducks were swimming in a line through a massive amount of people in their lake. They were awfully mad, quaking at us but didn’t let a bunch of swimmers get in their way as they somehow managed to find clean water to get to the shore side of the lake.

Around 6:15am, Mike Riley told the swimmers to exit the water and to seed ourselves in our respected anticipated swim times. Rather than a mass starts that I have done in all my Ironman events, I was really looking forward to this new swim start which took place for the first time at IMCDA in June. I feel this is a much better way to start and a lot safer than a mass start and I really looked forward to it as oppose to getting beat up by a bunch of guys trying to swim over me and my pink cap.

I found Karel seeded in the 1:01-1:10 area and gave him a big hug and kiss and wished him a great race and I told him I can’t wait to see him at the finish line waiting for me.  I then seeded myself in the very back of the 60 minutes or less area. With my past 5 IM swim times being 1:08, 1:07, 1:04, 1:02, 1:08 (Kona – choppy!) and feeling confident with my swim training, I decided to challenge myself with the 60 min swimmers since many of the ladies around me said that they anticipate swimming around 60 minutes. Although the swim seeding works like a running race in that you don’t want to put yourself around individuals much faster than you, I knew that with my comfort in the water, it was better for me to get swum over than to try to fight my way through people in the first 100-200 meters of the race.

I couldn’t help but look behind me a few times at Karel, nervous for him as his first time swimming 2.4 miles in open water and starting his first ever Ironman. Laura seeded herself in 1:11-1:20 and I also tried to send positive vibes to her as well knowing that the swim leg is often a scary part of triathlons for many people and often the reason why many people do not sign up for triathlons in the first place. I was so proud of these two, along with so many other athletes for moving beyond their comfort zone by training for Ironman Lake Placid.
After the pro’s went off, we all walked a little closer to the starting banner on the sand for a walking start where our chip would start when we crossed the line on the sand. Around 6:32am, Mike Riley was pumping us up along with the crowds cheering and the techno music playing loudly.
Mike Riley said something along the lines of “have a great day athletes and I can’t wait to call you an Ironman at the finishing line.”

All of a sudden, body marked bodies and wrapped in wetsuits with bright colored caps moved quickly in front of me and I started my 910 on multisport zone and thought to myself….there’s no turning back now!!!
My feet touched the water and I skipped my way to deeper water as I looked ahead at 9 numbered buoys ahead of me. I dived into the water, started swimming and all of a sudden I was in my happy place for the first of 2 loops of this 2.4 mile swim.

2013 Ironman Lake Placid FINISHERS!

Marni Sumbal

You know the saying that sometimes words can't describe what you are feeling. This is not that time. But just in case, I have videos to help.

My quads are killing me, I am in love with the Ironman Lake Placid bike and swim course, the spectators, volunteers and athletes were amazing, I absolutely love what I can make my body do when I train it to perform, I never realize how strong my mind can be until I need it to be strong, I love creating memories with Karel and sharing experiences with other athletes, my quads are killing me (oh - I already said that), I am so grateful to have another IM finish to my name, I never thought I could dig so deep before, cheers from the crowd can be so energy-giving, my husband is amazing.

Sunday was a great day for both Karel and myself. Sure, we trained hard for this day but the day was all about execution, perseverance, determination, confidence and the understanding that we choose to do this and we can do this with our body. There was rain, wind and plenty of difficulty on this incredible course but it was just as beautiful as it was challenging. Never would I think that an Ironman run course could be so hard but Placid didn't let us down as we knew what we wanted in our first Ironman together. Easy is boring, we love a challenge! With plenty of hills, climbs and rollers from the moment we exited the swim, until we finished the run, we certainly got what we paid for...and a finisher medal to show for it.

140.6 miles - 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, 26.2 miles running.

Karel is now a member of a very exclusive club that is not easy to get in to. He has earned his Ironman finisher medal, t-shirt and medal and no one can ever take that away from him. He overcame obstacles on race day and as a rookie, he was still very impressive. Sharing this course with Karel made me so happy as I always need him to keep me going when I race an Ironman but when I could see him pushing hard, I ignored the many voices in my head that tried to convince me to give up, slow down or stop.

We would like to thank all those who cheered for us from afar and on the course, sent us text messages, emails and facebook posts. We are completely amazed by the support of our friends and followers and we are extremely grateful for your support. I only hope that our performance inspires you to set a goal, work hard for it and enjoy the journey along the way.

The race report will come soon as I need to gather some thoughts in my head when they fresh in my exhausted body and mind but for now, a few quick stats:

Marni  race results  - IM #6
5th overall age group (30-34)
21st overall female (including pros)
12th amateur female

Karel's race results - IM #1!!!
  13th age group (35-39)
66th male (including pros)


Team Sumbal race reports - Rock n' Rollman Halfman and Aquabike

Marni Sumbal


After Karel got off work on Thursday evening, we headed up to Macon, Georgia (4 hour drive) with Campy. With this being my 4th year doing this event (2009, 2010, 2012) but first time doing the aquabike, I was super excited to swim and bike and save my running legs for the next 8 weeks of IM specific training. Karel has always been a spectator for this race (an amazing one!) so it was finally his turn to truly experience this race course - on his tri bike and running legs.

As an athlete, I realize that we all can choose races that give us "fast" results on paper. Although we can't compare race to race, year to year, there's something to be said about comparing race times and deciding what is "fast" and what is "slow". In the past 5 years, I have gravitated toward challenging bike and run courses as I feel it fits me as an athlete. I love being smart on hard courses and having to rely on my mind to be strong on race day. I personally prefer and love the challenge of a hilly and hot course and I don't mind the outcome of a "slow" time on paper if it means I can use my knowledge of the physiology of the body to race a smart race and pace my own race. Again - it's not for everyone but it is important that whenever you select a race, you are familiar with the course and you race with your current level of fitness and you execute a smart race to give you a successful performance. Don't show off your best performance in a training it for race day. Remember, the best race performances are not told by a finishing place or a time but instead, by the athlete him/herself and what she/he overcame to get to the starting line and what she/he battled with on race day (highs and lows) to get to the finishing line.

We arrived to the Swangers around 10:30 and by 11pm, we were all off to bed. Waking up without an alarm on Friday was beautiful and our bodies were rested.

Stefanie (my athlete) was already on the trainer in her room bright and early and it was a big motivator to get the day going (I could hear her watching Kona IM on her iPad).

Pre race/my birthday!
Karel and I both made our own oatmeal creations to start the day, along with a nice cup of coffee and glass of water. The key for today was to focus on hydration and fueling every few hours with easy to digest foods. We both know what works for each of us so the day before a race is never a stressful or overwhelming time in terms of eating. Transition packing - well, that's a different story as it always feels like you are forgetting something.

After a Campy walk and kisses, we said good bye to Campy and then Stefanie as she headed off to work and then we headed 20 miles to the race venue.

Seeing that Karel and I had a wonderful vacation two weeks ago for 10 days, we have really pushed hard with training for the past two weeks. With a fresh mind and body since returning from Czech, this race was all part of our "plan". Although I don't always recommend "training races" for athletes, I think it is important to recognize the state of the body upon arriving to a "training" race. Certainly, if you are going to miss training to race but not "race the race", your body can not be completely destroyed, fatigued and sore going into the race. The entire purpose of training is to train the body but to also practice nutrition, strengthen the mind and get use to scenarios that are similar to race day (including making sure your bike is set-up in a way that works for you, your gadgets work, your clothing is comfortable, etc. all those little things). Whether you are training or racing, the idea of pushing your body (with or without a medal at the end) is to make performance gains or test your fitness and training. Karel and I (as well our athletes) do not do high volume training. It may look high compared to the exerciser but we are very focused on quality - no junk miles. Our weekly training hours are less than 13 on most weeks and every day we wake up energized and ready to give 100%. Rarely do we feel "off" but it does come with the territory of pushing our bodies so we just adjust to still make progress. Training is not our life, but our lifestyle.

The focus of our pre-race ride on Friday was to ride the course - 56 miles.

Since I have ridden this course 3 times, I am very familiar with the ~3000 feet of total climbing on this course. There is a lot of changing wind, steady climbs, descends, turns and lots and lots of gear changing. You have to have good cycling skills and with my progress with cycling over the past 2 years, I couldn't wait to race this course on Saturday. However, despite riding the entire course the day before, Karel made sure that I didn't overdo it. I drafted off his wheel for most of the ride and we rode steady. For the climbs - I didn't do anything crazy and I let Karel drop me and he would wait for me down the road. I guess our 3 hour ride was slow for Karel because of a few missed turns and waiting for me but all in all, I was so happy to be on my bike on my 31st birthday, sharing the day with Karel. And I must say - riding this course gave me a lot of confidence and excitement and I couldn't wait to do it again on Saturday.

We finished our ride around 1:20pm and it was hot. My Garmin 500 said it was 93 degrees and you could feel it without any breeze and on the black asphalt. We removed some of our  cycling gear and rode our bikes to the water and took a dip in the bath-like water of the lake. Yep - no wetsuit needed for race day.

After we cleaned up a little, we registered for the race (aquabike for me, half IM for Karel) and picked up some swag (yay for Hammer being a sponsor) and racked our bikes. How cool...the first time we racked our bikes next to each other!! Of course, this was only our 3rd triathlon race together so that made me even more excited to share this with Karel.

We stayed hydrated with Hammer FIZZ to stay up with electrolytes and we also made sure we got in plenty of our sport drink on the bike. I also used cold water to cool my body on the bike to dissipate the heat the best I could.

(I saw so many females wearing the Oakley Women Commit sunglasses out on the course! I just love mine - so comfortable and light)



Feeling really good after our morning adventure, it was around 2:30 and we needed something to eat. Karel found Chick-fil-A and as I went over the athlete guide with Karel, he enjoyed a sandwich and I enjoyed a yogurt parfait and fruit and some of his waffle fries.

When we got back to the Swangers, we cleaned up and I let Campy run like crazy in the fenced back yard (chasing birds in the sky) and I played with baby Colton who just loved campy! Then I had some of a fresh baguette with a little PB and Jelly and sliced banana and a glass of milk.

A few hours later, it was time for our pre-race meal which was prepared by Chef Kenny (stefanie's hubby - who is an awesome cook!). So delicious and of course, Stefanie knows me really well so they knew exactly what fuels Karel and myself before our races.

This race was no different than any other training day. Real food that made me feel good and a mind that was excited to swim and bike. No need to do anything different with my training gear (except for a nice bike clean-up from my cute bike mechanic/hubby).

Is it bed time yet?

It was bedtime around 9:30am and Karel and I both had a so-so night of rest, before our 4am wake up call. Of course, Campy slept like a baby.


Both Karel and I like to take our time in the morning. I don't like to be rushed as it can really take a number on the body in terms of nerves affecting digestion. I always try to keep myself in a happy place, around positive thoughts and people. I try to stay in the moment and think about my current level of fitness - not the would have's, should have's or could have's. It's all about the present moment and let me tell ya, both Karel and I were ready to Rock n' Roll!!

After walking Campy, I had a cup of coffee, along with a full glass of water. I had filled my bottles with powder the night before (~250 calories each per bottle of heed, + 1 bottle of 1 scoop heed for sipping with Espresso gel) so all I had to do on race day morning was fill with cold water. Karel freezed his fuel belt flasks the night before (he used 1 FIZZ for the two flasks as he knew based on past experience, he wouldn't be able to tolerate much nutrition in the heat and he knew he would drink coke so I made sure he had electrolytes as that would be the game-changer for the run. you need electrolytes for muscles and tissues along with replenishing what is lost in sweat. There are many ways to get electrolytes from sport nutrition so just find what works best for you). For Karel's bottles, he used his Infinit custom made formula that I created for him which has worked really well for him.
After oatmeal mixed with a little milk, banana slices, sliced almonds and a little ground flax, we were ready to head to the race site by 5am.

Again - nothing different today for me. Same fueling strategy as training and no nerves that would cause any GI upset with my normal foods.

This race is relatively small and I love that! The energy is so positive and everyone is really nice. I love the smaller races because often, they are very safe and fair. There is no drafting when you race against a few hundred people and the support from the community is really positive. There were tons of volunteers and for my 4th time, this race makes me so happy. It was great to be back in the race scene since I haven't done a tri since Branson 70.3 in Sept 2012.

I saw a few friends (Dee and Wes) and my athlete Roger and my friend from Jax, Brian and it was great to see familiar faces.

After we set up transition, it was time to head to the swim start for the 7am start for Karel (7:03am for me).

Thanks Colton for getting your parents up early to watch the triathlon!

The water felt great and Karel and I both swam a little to get started. We wore our speed suits and both had our Garmin 910's set on multisport zone. I took a full gel around 10 minutes before the start and that sat very well. I was ready to go and I gave Karel a go-get-em kiss and hug and we both went our separate ways.

Karel started with the 39 and under males at 7am. It took Karel a while to get his rhythm as swimming in open water is still very new for him. But progress is still being made.

The aquabike, duathlon and 40+ males started at 7:03am and without a nerve being scared in my body, I couldn't wait to get in the water.

When the gun went off - I started off strong. Knowing that this swim is known for being "slow" in terms of time, I didn't get stressed with my time as my Garmin buzzed every 400 meters for me to see how I was doing and how far I had gone.

The course is a large triangle and after the first buoy, I had really found my rhythm.

I couldn't believe it...nearing buoy two, there was Karel!! I was hoping he would see my pink compression socks which I wore in the water (approved by the race official) but he said he didn't see me. In my head, I was cheering for Karel hoping he would hear me.

I carried on swimming and spotting and felt like my swim was going really well. I was staying on course really well and after I made my way back to shore, I noticed I wasn't tired and felt abnormally strong and smooth in the water. I really focused on catching the water and reaching and rolling.

Exiting the water, I was the first female out of the water (the half Ironman females started at 7:06am) and from that point, I lead the race.

From the swim exit, you head up a steep hill which officially stops your swim time. Into transition, I put on my pink helmet (decided to not use my Giro Aero helmet as I am very comfortable in my regular helmet and with the hot course, wind and up and downs of the hills, I felt like my regular helmet would suit me better. Karel went with his aero helmet), cycling shoes and socks and turned on my garmin 500. My Garmin 910 was set on multisport so I just hit lap when i get into transition and exit so it will be ready for the bike. This helps me in case my power meter doesn't work as well as for analyzing my race.

Swim times:
ME: 34:38, fastest female swim of the day
KAREL: 40:26, 33rd male

I didn't have a lot to do in transition because I swam with the gel in my back pocket of my Trimarni kit so my transition was really smooth, quick and easy so all I had to do was put on my socks and shoes and helmet and go. I wore my Align sport bra by Oakley Women which fits really well over my heart rate strap (no tightness Ladies).

I exited transition and had a few people yell at me that I was the first female. This made me smile and my competitive side started to itch and I couldn't wait to see what my trained cycling legs could do.

The first 2 miles of the bike include some steady rollers - they aren't kind to the body and Karel and I knew you can't gain anything in 5 minutes from transition. We both took it really easy until the first right hand turn and boy, did it pay off. Legs felt fresh and although the course was not easy and it was hot and windy, I was feeling so amazing.

It was around 40-45 minutes into the race that Karel wizzed by me. He told me "great job!" and later told me that he saw me and couldn't believe how strong I was riding. As mentioned before, this race is challenging and fair. You are alone, maybe with 2-3 other people in sight, playing cat and mouse but other than that, it is you against the elements.

After that first section, I hit my power meter to lap every 20 minutes. This would help me pace myself so that I could focus on my 3second power but also my normalized power. I really felt strong and all that hip work was paying off. Although I have been pushed by Karel for the past few weeks on the bike, I know I couldn't do this pace last year and it isn't just pushing hard in training that has made me stronger. It's a lot of off-the bike work and finally - I was able to have the race I have dreamed off. Even if I wasn't doing the run, I still wanted to bike strong for 56 miles and pace myself for a well executed race.

With Karel out of sight, he was still in mind. I remembered the pointers he told me on Friday about sections on the course and I stuck to my plan. Although I love to climb, I pushed just enough with a steady cadence to stay strong on the descends. There was a lot of wind but I did really well staying fueled every 8-10 minutes with sips of my drink, using cold water from aid stations to cool my body and properly changing my gears as needed, along with getting out of the saddle to stretch my hips.

Around mile 30, I checked my power and all was in check. I noticed that my average speed was better than ever but I was more focused on having a strong back half of the race. I wanted to prove to myself that I can ride strong from start to finish and not suffer or fatigue at any point. Even though I was passing several guys and enjoying my TT effort, my biggest focus on this course was to race smart. 

I kept reminding myself of all the bike rides with Karel - steady intervals on his wheel. 5 x 20 minute intervals w/ 2 min recovery came to mind as that was a recent bike workout that we need a week ago. I remembered the 5 x 3 minutes that I did on his wheel at a fast pace on Thursday and I knew I could do this. 

With 26 miles to go - I stayed smart but also reminded myself that I would not surrender until my body gave up. Amazingly - my body only wanted more and more and I was happy to give it everything it wanted to have a PR race. 

Nearing the last 6 miles, I knew this would make or break me. Windy, tough climbs (although it doesn't seem that way on the elevation chart) and 6 miles that feel like forever...but on this day, I didn't want those miles to end. Nutrition went well and I was riding in a race, as if I was training. I was so focused on how strong I felt that I just wanted to keep proving to myself that I could do this. Nearing 2 miles to go, I realized I was going to win the aquabike and that I was going to have one of my best bike rides ever. I think it was smart that I did the aquabike because I needed this performance as a confidence builder...especially with all the obstacles I have had to overcome with my hip/back/spine issues in the past few months. Sure, I can run but there's no need to make withdrawals with performance when you can make investments. 
My stats from the ride:
56 miles: 2:42.31 (average pace 20.64 mph, average power 158, average HR 143, average cadence 85)
Lap 1: 7:23 min 17.94 mph, 174 watts, cadence 80, 141 HR
Lap 2 - 7 - 20 minutes each
Lap 2: 21.33mph, 163 watts, 88 cadence, 143 HR
Lap 3: 18.86mph, 174 watts, 86 cadence, 145 HR
Lap 4: 20.60 mph, 156watts, 84 cadence, 141 HR
Lap 5: 21.34 mph, 124 watts, 83 cadence, 138 HR
Lap 6: 21.71mph, 146 watts, 87 cadence, 143 HR
Lap 7: 21.08 mph, 162 watts, 85 cadence, 145 HR
Lap 8 (29 minutes): 20.8mph, 168 watts, 84 cadence, 147 HR
2nd fastest female bike split
Karel's stats:
2:32 bike (22:02mph), 5th fastest male bike split
Arriving into transition, my chip stopped my time and I could hear the announcer say that I was first female. After returning my chip and finding Stefanie and Kenny, I got this amazing rush of energy in my body that I really really really wanted to run! Again - the cheers and excitement really made me happy but according to my it for the big day in  8 weeks. 

Kenny told me that Karel was out on the run course and in 6th place. WHAT!!!! AMAZING!!

He said that he had been out there for around 15 minutes so I did a little math and I figured I would be able to catch up at one of the intersections with this clover-like course with three out and backs.
This is a very challenging run course - no flats, all up and down and as the race goes on, it feels like the downs just disappear. 

This elevation chart doesn't give justice to this course. It looks like the last few miles are downhill - not so much. I guess only the athletes can say how hard a course is based on their own experience. 
I ran 2 miles down the road and I was cheering for athletes when I saw 3 males run by. 2 more guys ran by and there was Karel. He looked, um, not so good after climbing for around 4 miles but I gave him a cheer and told him to hang in there. Nearing mile 6, I knew this race was a toughy but if he was smart, he could have a great race. 
I ran another mile or so to another intersection and all of a sudden, there was Karel in 4th place. BOOM - passed two people just like that. If you know Karel, you know he can suffer due to years of cycling on the rivet. He has a big hurt box and he loves to fill it up during races so I knew, race or training race, he was going to give a good fight. But, still sticking with the plan - race smart and be patient. In endurance racing, you can still bike strong within your appropriate zones but you have to hold back on the bike just enough to have a good run from miles 7-13. 

After cheering for Karel, my friend Dan A and Bethany and a few other lead girls that looked awesome, I started to run back to the start. Although I only had 2 miles left to run, I never imagined what I would see......

With 1.5 miles left, I see Karel's bright green Brooks Pure running shoes and his Trimarni kit. OMG - 3rd place!!! 



Karel was passing people like crazy - I suppose just checking them off his list. He raced a very smart race and I knew he had to have held back a bit on the bike and the first few miles of the run to run this strong. He was walking 5-10 seconds each aid station to cool his body (from what he told me ) and fueling off coke and his FIZZ in his fuel belt. 

Sadly - I wasn't fast enough to get back to the finish but I cheered for Karel and called Kenny to cheer him on at the finishing chute. 

After my 6.5 miles of running, my legs were sprinting to the finish to give Karel the biggest hug. Later did we find out, 2nd place was a duathlete...Karel finished 2nd overall male!!!

Wow! What a great race for Karel. I couldn't believe it.....and neither could Karel.


Karel went from 33rd on the swim, 6th off the bike and 2nd overall finisher. Not to mention...the FASTEST run split of the day in a quad-burning 1:33.03.

Total time: 4:48.13
The time may look slow but that's how you execute a smart race on a challenging course. 

After pizza, cheeze-its, pretzels and watermelon (my plate is the picture - Karel had a regular coke as that was all he could stomach), we both cooled off in the shade and I couldn't wait to share the news with Karel that I had a BIG PR on the bike and won the aquabike division (male and female) and had the fastest female swim of the day and 2nd fastest bike. 

We drove back to the house to shower up and I couldn't wait to share the news with Campy. Of course, he always thinks we are winners and he was just happy that we didn't leave him in Macon. I refueled with a delicious glass of milk and nibbled on some more pizza and a banana. 

Around 3pm, we arrived back at the venue for the awards and it was exciting for us both to get our  top awards...and very cool awards too!!!

I want to send a big thank you to the companies which I love to support. They don't pay me to say nice things. I am a brand ambassador because I love quality gear that helps me reach my goals and live an active and healthy lifestyle.  
Thank you....
And a big thank you to Georgia Multisports Productions for putting on a great 10th anniversary race!

(guess who got to sleep all the way home)

It was a great day for both of us but I have to say, it was a lot of fun. So much positive energy and support, it really got me even more pumped up for Ironman Lake Placid in 8 weeks.

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.

Rev3 Half Iron Race report (spectator version) - part II

Marni Sumbal

While waiting for Karel to finish the windy 56 mile bike portion, my parents, Campy and I walked around and ate breakfast under a pavilion. It was a nice morning picnic (with a great view) as I enjoyed a PB and J sandwich and a banana.

The tracking for Rev3 was excellent. A bit confusing at first because it is different than Ironman Live tracking but it is extremely advanced. The coolest part about the expo was having two huge TV's hooked up to the Internet, which allowed the spectators to track on a big screen (vs our iphones). The tracking included things like splits and paces but took it one step further by not only telling where the markers were for splits but also what time the athletes arrived to the check point and how far behind the leader in their age group. I found this very useful because I was able to guess when Karel would be back at the transition area and to tell how he was doing in the race. Karel had been dealing with hamstring soreness all week due to working on our new 90-gallon fish tank. More like doing an hour of dead lifts trying to clean and prep our new tank (can't wait to share pics). Karel wanted to take a few risks during this race but with the questionable hamstring ache, Karel knew he would need to play it smart if he wanted to finish.
One of the greatest outcomes of being an experienced athlete is learning from mistakes. I fully believe that as athletes, we are all going to make mistakes and wish we could have a do-over. I remember a few years ago when I was not training smart and not wanting to taper for a 10K, I continued lifting on race week in addition to not tapering because I didn't want to lose fitness. After struggling with super tight hamstrings all race week, I realized that this interfered with not only my physical performance on race day but also my mindset leading up to the race. Rather than keeping my energy bottled for race day, I was spending all my energy worrying about my hamstrings and telling myself that I really regretted by decision to not taper for a race. Since then, I learned and no matter what race, I respect my body before and after races. Karel comes from a different background and with cycling, he is use to racing weekend after weekend so he is looking forward to learning as he goes.....Of course, we are a team and he asks for advice but sometimes we can't plan for everything. Thankfully, a massage, epson salt bath, stretching and a few non weight bearing workouts on race week helped him feel a bit more normal by race day.

(wearing my Oakley shorts and shine support top)
After Karel finished the bike, he quickly transitioned to the run. Again, still learning, Karel forgot that he can run with his hat and race belt and put it on as he is running. Looking back, he was frustrated that he had a slow transition by putting on everything in front of his bike instead of grabbing and going. Live and learn.

With only tailwind for the first 16 miles, Karel battled with inner thigh (adductor) cramps on one leg for the last third of the bike. He even joked that he got "chicked" because he was trying to stretch at an aid station. Oh, but don't worry - he made sure to tell me that he passed the female pro a little later in the bike portion. Karel always has the best play-by-plays post-race.

What I love the most about Karel as an athlete is that he is competitive and smart as an athlete. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to race this race like he wanted because his leg was screaming at him during the last 3rd of the bike. He was really looking forward to putting his cycling skills to the test by riding in the wind but despite trying to keep his competition in his sights, he wasn't able to respond with the other guys. We aren't excuses type of athletes so Karel is thankful for finishing the ride but is anxious to figure out his long-term race-day only cramping issue (since he was a young kid and racing as a cyclist) so that it isn't a limiter in triathlons.

Many would blame sodium but I rarely address "sodium" with my athletes (or Karel) when someone tells me they cramp. I have worked with many athletes who suffer from cramping and before I make recommendations, I make sure I understand the athletes training plan, racing plan, diet and sport nutrition regime. Then I ask the two most common questions "Do you stretch enough and do you strength train?

Other focal points for dealing with cramping:
-not enough magnesium in the diet, too much calcium in the diet
-not warming up enough or actively/cooling down before training/racing
-nutrient timing for the daily diet
-nutrient timing for sport nutrition (before and after training) or lack of sport nutrition during training
-type of sport nutrition
-training periodization, taper and race day pacing (intensity)
-strength training
-recovery nutrition
-too much processed food, not enough real food
-epson salt baths and flex power cream/massage/physical therapy
-muscular or nerve related?
Amazingly, Karel finished the bike in 2:21 with the following splits:
Split 1: 16.8 miles - average 27.39 mph
Split 2: 19.2 miles - average 25.27 mph
Split 3: 20 miles - average 20.66 mph

Karel looked strong when I saw him but he told me he was cramping really bad. I got a little nervous because Karel has dealt with cramping in cycling races and when he cramps, he can't dig deep. Karel loves to dig deep and suffer so I knew this run may not be really pretty. In cycling races, if you can't keep up, your day is done and you don't finish. In triathlons, certainly it is an individualized sport so we all have the opportunity to get our own body to the finish line. Having only quit one race in my life (Miami marathon in 2008) due to extreme heel pain (which started during the race which was odd, but it was pouring rain before and during the race so maybe I did something too it - I guess I need to re-read my race report) I just hoped Karel would find a way to finish (albeit slower than he would like) and would walk/run if needed to not make things worse or he would have the strength to stop and DNF so that he wouldn't hurt himself long-term. Either way, I wanted Karel to race smart.
The first time when I saw Karel he was less than 1/2 mile away from transition and just starting the run. My dad took this picture about a mile or so into the race and my dad said that he looked strong. Looking at the pics that my dad took as Karel continued running, I thought the same....but still worried about (that's what wife's are for, right??)
I checked, re-checked and kept checking the results and nothing was coming up for Karel, despite the results coming in for the top guys in Karel's age group. Karel was sitting in 4th place for his age group (35-39) and with some tough competition ahead of him, I started to get worried....he quit. I would never be made at him for quitting but just more concerned as to what was going on in his body. I think more than anything, Karel is so new to the sport that he is going to need many more races under his belt to learn how to mentally get over obstacles during races. Because I work with all levels of athletes (both with coaching and nutrition), Karel is certainly an anomaly in that he knows how to suffer. But what I often remind my athletes is that we are all out to race our own race and we can't expect things to be easy. There are going to be moments that you are forced to make a decision that can either positively or negatively affect the rest of the race. These moments occur over and over again but as athletes, we love to take chances. However, you can take smart risks and I hoped Karel was doing just that.
I texted Karel's boss Jeff K. (also a triathlete) that Karel was cramping. He texted back, "he can't be hurting that bad for running sub 7 min/miles!"

Not too long later, I see Karel and I was relieved. Still looking great, I could tell he was hurting. Since we have all "been there", I could only cheer him on and be his #1 fan. I wanted him to know I believed in him so that hopefully, he could believe in himself. Let's not forget that despite Karel being a phenomenal cyclist, this is his 4th ever triathlon, 2nd half IM (modified) and only 4th time "racing" a run off the bike. 13.1 miles is a looooong way to go.

Finally, Karel's splits came up.
Split 1: .8 miles - 6:27 min/mile pace
Split 2: 2.95 miles - 6:59 min/mile pace
Split 3: 3.28 miles - 6:50 min/mile pace
Campy was a trooper all day - talk about an Ironman doggy day! But we still had cheering to do!

Around 7 miles, we saw Karel and Campy gave his biggest bark to cheer for his daddy.

Looking strong and focused, it would be another 40 or so minutes (give or talk a few aid station walk breaks - which Karel said he walked every aid station) before we saw Karel at the finish.

Waiting anxiously, we saw a few friends to keep us busy......

I spotted my nutrition athlete and friend Katie A. in the medical tent, hearing that she collided with a motorized wheelchair crossing the street. She was flying (literally) at 27 mph when she hit the wheelchair and her bike did not survive....luckily, she did. A sad way to end her season as she was beyond ready for a strong performance but thankfully, she will live to race again.
Truly digging deep, Karel ran down the finish chute and I could tell he was so happy to be finished. The finishing line was amazing and there was a big jumbo tron behind the finish line with each athletes picture. Rev3 did an amazing job with the volunteers, support and professionalism of this race - I highly recommend Rev3triathlons!

I don't know how he did it, but Karel managed to run 1:31!!!
His last two splits:
3 miles - 6:58 min/mile
3 miles - 7:14 min/mile
Total for 56 mile bike + 13.1 mile run = 3:53
RESULTS: 5th age group (out of 45). 16th male (out of 305)

Karel was too sore for a massage and didn't want an IV so he just suffered in a chair for a few minutes and was then able to shuffle his way to me to take a picture.

Karel is really happy with his performances this season with 4 top 5 age group finishes. He has had time to reflect and he knows he has a lot of work to do before Lake Placid next year. We both love to work hard so I'm really excited to see what lies ahead in 2013. Also - the fish tank is finally set up!!! Karel is fully enjoying his off season and is looking forward to stretching more and building strength in his adductors. Also, a big congrats to Trimarni Nutrition athlete Chris D. who race strong with the race day conditions. Chris worked really hard on her sport nutrition and I'm excited to see what she can do with all 3 sports put together.

I recently read my friend (and mental coach) Gloria's race report from Austin 70.3. She (and her hubby) had their own obstacles overcome in the race so I wanted to share a very strong quote that she posted in her blog:

"My, the amazing wonders of the body and mind! The mind always wants to protect the body and will diminish pain perception so that it can continue to function in the manner that it needs.NEEDS, however, is subjective because we triathletes choose to put our bodies under such stress. At the same time, we live and learn, and then move on to try to be better versions of ourselves each day, each race, and hopefully each living moment. Sometimes we don't know how far we are willing to go until we are pushed to our limits...."

Rev3tri Half Iron Race Report (spectator version) - pre race

Marni Sumbal

Off to Venice Beach Florida for the Rev3tri! Campy and I were excited for our spectator responsibilities but first, a quick stop to see my parents in New Port Richey, Florida.
Campy loves the resort-style living at my parent's house. Lots of love from his grandparents and plenty of room to run off a leash and chase the birds in the sky.

Saturday was a beautiful morning. Albeit, a bit windy, I was looking forward to running on the Starkey trail near my parent's house. I left around 6:30am and with no specific intervals or zones, I enjoyed moving my body through the dark outdoors until the sun came up. It was one of those runs where I could have ran forever. Eight miles later I got on my bike for an easy spin - fast in the tailwind, steady in the headwind. Karel tested out his disc and decided for the front wheel to go with the 60 mm vs to 90 mm due to the anticipated winds for Sunday. Karel felt better holding a straight line in the slighter "calmer" winds on Saturday with his 60mm. Even from an aerodynamic POV he knew with stronger winds the front wheel would be more wobbly so he decided to go for a smaller dish for his wheel in the front.  Around 10:30am, we headed to Venice Beach Florida and around 12:30pm we arrived to the race venue.
The race venue was outstanding. Very well organized until the end of the race and the volunteers were incredible (and so many of them!). I met up with a few friends as well as Trimarni nutrition athletes so that was fun to see some familiar faces. I said hi to Tracey (Campy's #1 fan), Chloe, Katie, Chris D. and looked for Kim S. but didn't end up seeing her until Sunday. After the athlete meeting (which I believe should always be mandatory for athletes) and picking up Karel's packet/bag (which included a new pair of Blue Seventy goggles) we found out that because of the gusty winds at Venice Beach (much more forceful at 25-35pmh compared to a bit north at my parents) there would be no bike check in on Saturday and the swim would likely be cancelled. Although Karel is not the strongest swimmer, he has worked really hard on his swim and he really looked forward to the ocean swim for more practice before IM Lake Placid next year. I think the most stressful part was mentally not knowing if there would be a swim so we prepared as if there wouldn't be a swim.

After picking up some eats at Publix grocery store around 2:30pm (similar to Branson for Karel - chicken, yogurt, rice, fruit and for me, he got me salad, hardboiled egg, a veggie sub and for both of us, Starbucks instant coffee packets for the morning. We forgot to get milk but we survived). Our hotel was super cute!! We stayed for one night at the Island Breeze Inn and it was just like we were in Key West or on an island. Campy loves traveling with us and for a $10 pet fee, this place met all our travel needs thanks to a 'fridge, microwave, sink, kitchen supplies and plenty of room to make this our home for 1 night.
After a yummy lunch (which included some of my foods from home in my bag of goodies), I spent just a little time answering emails before it was time for the Ironman broadcast on NBC. What a great way to finish the day!

After a lighter "dinner" around 6:30pm, it was time for Karel to pack his transition bags, prep his bottles (Hammer Sustained Energy mixed w/ gu roctane powder - 1 scoop each + EFS gel flask with 400 calories) and put in fridge (1 in freezer for last hour of bike, 1 bottle to pour into aero bottle), review course maps and do a little last minute stretching and foam rolling. Our little one was exhausted but never complained. We finished the evening watching the cutest show on the Animal Planet about kitties and it made our hearts melt. A perfect calm way to end the day at 9:30pm before a 4:30am wake up call.
Good Morning!! Campy loves his roaching position - perfect for belly rubs and stretching.
Karel started his morning with coffee, followed by Oatmeal, a Bolthouse protein drink (just like in Branson 70.3), a little banana and then sipped on Ultragen (1 scoop) pre race w/ a stinger waffle. Karel and I have different pre race foods but with this being Karel's 4th triathlon, he is still learning what works best for him before a triathlon compared to his long history of cycling races. Karel knows his body better than me and he always communicates with me as to what works/doesn't work so that as I prepare for our race day, I can stock-up on our pre race foods.

On the plus side, the weather was perfect. Slightly cool despite gusty and forceful winds - only to get stronger as the day went on. We found out via Twitter feed from Rev3tri (which was great for instant communication about the race) that the swim was cancelled for the everyone. The pro's would do a 1.5K run before the 56 mile bike + 13.1 mile run and the age groupers would line up by number (essentially age group) and run "Lemond style" from the swim enter with no gear, just like exiting the water. Athletes could wear socks and sunglasses but no shoes or helmets. The race was also pushed back from 8am start to around 8:25am which is why Karel had the stinger waffle due to a possible push-back in start time. After setting up his transition in the very cool bike racks, we rested in the car until around 7:45am when I met up with my parents who drove very early that morning to watch the race.

It was time for Karel to line up for the start so I gave him a kiss and good luck wishes and told him to just enjoy the day. There was nothing easy about this race due to the winds so I knew for his 4th triathlon, there would be a lot of risks and guessing on his effort on his bike and mental strength for the run. Karel transitioned quickly to get his bike and put on his shoes and helmet and he was off for a very challenging flat 56 mile bike ride.......

2011-2012 season recap: no easy way to success

Marni Sumbal

Around the beginning of October, 2007, I came to the conclusion that my body had enough of triathlons. All because I raced the Ironman World Championships w/ an undiagnosed muscular injury in my right hip that left me on crutches after the race and the inability to bear weight on my leg for almost 2 months. I've had many MRI's, x-rays and doctor visits over the past 5 years and thankfully no stress fractures in my lifetime (or broken bones) but a lot of wasted time and money that came from a poor decision that showed that I did not respect my body.

The pain I went through to finish the race is something that I never want to relive again. It was a hard decision to compete in the race and a big part of me wishes that I could have a do-over moment to approach the situation differently. With a flawless season leading up to my first Ironman (IMFL 2006), I figured if it worked the first time around, I don't need to change anything but instead, do more to be more competitive.

A lesson learned the hard way.

I guess at the age of 24, when you win your age group at your first Ironman by 50 minutes and nearly break 11 hours, life seems perfect.

Over the past 5 years I have had a chronic lingering injury that constantly reminds me of my inability to address my weaknesses and to learn from my mistakes. To make matters worse, despite finishing 2 more Ironman's and several running races and triathlons since then, my body gave me one more wake up call in Feb 2011, just 8 months before I was to head on a plane for Hawaii, for my 5th Ironman, the Ironman World Championships. Three months of absolutely no running, thanks to a body that could not manage training, a dietetic internship and lots of stress.

I am reflecting on all of this because I have learned a lot in my racing career as a triathlete. At the young age of 30, I have put my body through a lot and I want to ensure 50+ more years of crossing finishing line. I love having goals and having my only limiter in a race, be my mind. I hate being in pain and wasting my days on earth when I am injured, thinking to myself "if only I would have....."

This year there was not one "would have".

There were also no: I shouldn't, this is bad/not good, oops or this sucks.

This was the year of training smarter to train harder. I picked my races very carefully so that I could taper and recover properly in order to race strong and keep my body healthy for consistent training. I did not take chances with my training, if it didn't feel right, I didn't do it. And because of all this, I trained super hard but knew that with the right structure and emphasis on recovery, I could handle it.

This was the year to show Karel that I can race stronger, smarter and faster than the athlete who was neive at 24, who thought that training for endurance races meant lots of weekly miles and that triathlons was my life, the only reason why I was put on this earth.

This was the year to show others that quality training works when you dedicate your energy to other areas in your life (daily diet, sleep, sport nutrition, stretching, massage, strength training, recovery methods, positive attitude, mental strength) besides just focusing on the miles.

This was the year to give my body a break from the Ironman distance and to focus on my weaknesses and build off my strengths. Above all, I wanted to prove to myself that I can balance triathlons with life and find success, positivity and life lessons after every training session and after every race.

This was a great year. Thanks Body. It wasn't easy and it required a lot of patience, time and trust but I really enjoyed the journey.

2013 Ironman Lake Placid.

I can't wait until next year.

Personal Best Times and accomplishments:
5K: Spa Me 5K, St. Johns County, FL 19:52 (2012) - Overall female winner
10K: Rotary 10K, Trinity, FL 40.09 (2011), Overall female winner
15K: Gate River Run, Jacksonville, FL 1:05.2 (2010)
Half marathon: Subaru Half, Jacksonville, FL 1:31.51 (2011)
Half marathon: Iron Girl Clearwater 1:33.25 (2012) - Overall winner
Marathon: Miami Marathon, Miami, FL 3:38.28 (2005)*, first marathon
Olympic Distance: Jacksonville Tri Series #3, Fernandina Beach, FL 2:15.21 (2012)
Half Ironman: Rock n' Rollman Macon, GA 5:04.56 (2010)
Half Ironman: Branson 70.3: 5:19.02 (2012)***, Overall amateur female winner, age group course record.
Ironman #1 (IMFL): 11:00.47 (2006) **, 1st age group, first Ironman
Ironman #2 (Ironman World Championships): 12.26.58 (2007)
Ironman #3 (IMKY): 10:54.45 (2009), 7th age group
Ironman #4 (Wisconsin): 10:57.53 (2010)**, 4th age group
Ironman #5 (Ironman World Championships): 11:02.14 (2011)

2011-2012 Race Results10/11 Ironman World Championships, Kona Hawaii – 11:02.14
Race Report

Lessons learned: Do not swallow ocean water, keep your mouth closed. Get to the outside of a mass swim start. Prepare your mind for the "what if" moments, don't go out too hard on the bike, IM medals aren't just given away, you earn it.


11/11 Rotary 10K, Trinity, Florida – 40.09, overall female winner PR
Race Report
Lessons learned: 10Ks hurt really, especially around mile 4, you can use your fitness from recovering from a long distance race and not worry about training in the 3 weeks after an IM, a 10K race is a great accomplishment, especially if at one time you would give anything to run 1 mile.

11/11: Subaru Half Marathon – 1:31.51 – 4th 25-29 age group PRRace Report
Lessons learned: hold back the first 3 miles and don't go out too fast, don't overlook the importance of consistent fuel in a long distance running race,  race warm-ups are essential, local races are a lot of fun, Karel is not normal

2/12: Donna 26.2 Half Marathon – 1:35.22 – 5th 25-29 age group
Race Report
Lessons learned: make sure your gel flask is closed at all times, be grateful for every finish and run for those who can't, to avoid making excuses or complaining about race day conditions, race alone, your worst day may be someone's best day

3/12: Clermont Triathlon – 2:24.56 – 1st 30-34 age group, 8th female overall
Race Report
Lessonds learned: it's good to step outside the comfort zone, don't race an olympic tri w/ the same power as an Ironman, always warm upbefore a triathlon, no matter how many times you set up a transition area, it takes so long and you always feel like you forget something

4/12: Iron Girl Half Marathon – 1:33.25 – Overall finisher
Race Report
Lessons learned: the mind can be stronger than the body, running behind the lead vehicle doesn't make the effort any easier, being chased is scary, crossing the line in first doesn't hit you until the pain goes away, running races take the body a while to recover from compared to triathlons
5/12 Spa Me 5K - 19:52, 1st overall female, 4th overall
Lessons learned: 5Ks hurt, you don't need to "train" after a race, for short distance races be sure to stretch more, speed work pays off with endurance training, do a long warm-up for a running race

5/12: Coliseum Rock n’ Rollman – 5:08, 5th overall female, 4thElite female
Race Report

Lessons learned: no matter how many times you do a course it never gets easier, it's not about the race times but what happens within a race, never stop working on your mental strength, speed work helps w/ endurance training, cold water on your head while running is the best feeling in the world, it's so much fun to have friends cheering for you on  a course

8/12: Jax Tri Series #3: 2:15.21- 1st 30-34 age group, 4th overall female PR
Lessons learned: Training w/ someone faster than you makes you push harder,running strong off the bike is a great feeling but it still hurts around mile 4, don't be afraid to take risks when racing, Karel is not normal
8/12: Hammerhead 2.5 mile Open water swim - 1:13 - 1st age group 30-34
Lessons learned: put a lot of bag blam on your neck or you will hurt BAD after a race w/ a speed suit/wetsuit, 2.5 miles in the ocean is a long way to go, every experience gives you confidence

9/12: Branson 70.3: 5:19.02- 1st overall amateur female, 1st 30-34 age group, course record

Lessons learned: the mind and body can be trained to be strong, racing a half ironman comes down to the run, hold back on the bike, stay positive, mantra's work, fuel consistently, recovering two weeks before a race makes the body feel "off" but it works, massage on the Tues before a race is a blessing, don't be afraid to step outside the comfort zone, hard work pays off, Annie Anne's Pretzels taste great after a half ironman, dreams do come true

Branson 70.3 RR - 13.1 mile run

Marni Sumbal

It takes time to build strength, speed and endurance. Months at the minimum but likely, years for the body to grow.
The beauty of sports is knowing that you have time. This active lifestyle that we all enjoy (or are learning to enjoy) does not require a finish line to feel accomplished. It is only with goal setting, the fruits of your labor are often most celebrated when you finally cross that "finish line", knowing that you did everything possible to prepare the body and mind for the adventure ahead. For athletes, ultimately, your longevity in a sport is increased by following a realistic, balanced and quality-structured training plan and reduced if you expect to progress too quickly and overlook the significant variables that contribute to successful performances. Goal setting can be useful but it can also be abused. Nothing great is ever accomplished quickly.
For the past three months, Branson 70.3 was always on my mind. During every hard workout, every sport nutrition fueling plan, every good night sleep, every Campy walk and every massage, I thought about my Branson 70.3 race day. A distance that I remember well back in May at the Rock n' Rollman. but long enough to forget the aches that come with racing the 70.3 mile distance. Above all, my training was enhanced knowing that for the first time ever, I would be able to share this exciting opportunity with Karel. 

I'm a firm believer in goal setting for it keeps me on track. Thankfully, my path was very straight in my training for this event and was filled with lots of fun, progress, learning and memories. Sure, a few bumps along the way but no u-turns or wrong turns.
The thoughts that filled my head during the past 3 months were years in the making. Funny thing is that the goals that I had set 3 months ago, were reached beyond my imagination on race day. In reflecting deeply about my race day performance on Sunday, I now realize that sometimes dreams can come true. Thoughts that had only occurred in deep sleep (thus far from reality) and were unimaginable "goals" back in 2006.....6 Half Ironman's ago and 2 weeks before I met Karel.
The mind is an amazing thing. It can play games with you if you feel you are "doing good" but someone puts thoughts inside your head to question whether or not you are "doing the right thing." I ignored the outside chatter as to anything "best, only or can't/shouldn't" in terms of diet, sport nutrition and/or training. It's hard to tune it all out but I realized that success is reached in many forms. What's the best form? The one that works for you and allows for consistency, good health and progress.
I've had my share of downs with racing, specifically in terms of racing with a undiagnosed hip injury (likely piriformis syndrome that I still have to monitor, hence the extra emphasis on hip strength, massage, tennis ball rolling on my butt and quality training) at Kona 2007. Without a single "injury" setback this year (although a few modifications for preventative measures), I quickly recognized that my successful race season was always plagued with one constant limiter.....MY MIND.
Nevertheless,  my amazing friend Gloria along with my "think outside the box" husband, have given me the strength to reach higher limits in my racing (and training) this year.
Recognizing that my only limiter for every race this year was my mind, I embraced the scary thought that I could actually race strong at Branson 70.3. Thankfully, the body and mind did not disappoint.
One of the several reasons why we picked this race, was for the 3-loop run course. I absolutely love loop courses and seem to run the best when I have opportunities to revisit the same parts of the course, receive energy from the crowds and see competition.

After leaving transition, we ran through a little of the Belk parking lot and up a ramp (over the grass) to the Landing. Talk about a fun, spectator-friendly race!
The cobblestones were not comfortable for running so with the course closed to athletes in the street, I opted to run on the outside of the cobblestones to avoid possibly landing on the wrong spot on a cobblestone.
As I was running, I stuck within my uncomfortable comfort level and reminded myself that I had trained hard for a 1:40 run. With a PR recently in May (on a much hillier run course) of 1:42, I realized that being more conservative on the bike would make for a stronger run. And I've realized that no matter how strong of a cyclist or runner you are, you can not bank time (or go for a mph time goal) on the bike and expect a strong run. There has to be some kind of compromise, perhaps to bike a few minutes slower in order to avoid a 10+ min slower run/jog/shuffle/walk.
I forgot to put on my HR monitor but with the cooler 60-70 degree temps for the run, I was confident that my fatigue would not be related to the heat. In training, I have used perceived exertion, heart rate and pace for my sets (track, long/group runs, brick runs) so despite only running between 20-25 average miles a week, I felt confident going into this run for a strong race.
I noticed that the first 2 miles came quickly. Likely because I had no idea where the route was going (aside from reviewing course maps) so this was a welcomed surprise to run a semi-technical course with several turns, one or two short punchy hills (super short), a loop around a park and an out and back in another park. It was a great, non boring run and I loved every mile of least for the first loop.
I was running strong and saw Karel as I was nearing mile 3. I gave him a big smile and he smiled back. Instant boost for the legs!
 found myself running with mostly guys in the 70.3 race and confusion as to my place with the other shorter races going on. I passed 2-3 women in the first 3 miles of the course, that I remembered on the bike. After making my way back to the town, I once again enjoyed the unknown as to where I was running to. On the way back from the first loop, we ran on the outside of the million dollar show fountain, close to the water. I loved this little bridge that gave a little spring with each step.
After passing the fountain, it was time to run into a small park for the final turn around before starting loop #2. At this point, I think I passed another female but still had not seen the girls who were leading my age group.
I remember seeing a girl in black and yellow on the bike and with her bike racked near me, I figured she was in my age group since we both exited the water close together.
There was another female, #20 that I kept spotting on the run course but I wasn't sure if she was an age grouper (with a low number) or pro because I was getting closer and closer to her within each loop.
When I started the second loop, the mind games began. Some people sing songs in their head, others think positive thoughts.....what do I do?
I do math.
It is the oddest thing but in every training session and every race, I find myself adding, subtracting, multiplying and doing equations. I am not a math guru but for some reason this helps me pass the time by and makes me forget about any fatigue in my body. I was trying to figure out how long each section was on the bike, what mile I would see Karel again, how long until x-spot on the course, what pace I would average if I slowed down to x-pace.....seriously, I do every type of math problem possible, even trying to figure out paces that I am not running. But it works and I free my brain to this tactic that seems to help me out.
Throughout the run I sipped on my 300 calorie huckleberry gel flask at every mile w/ water at aid station and sipped as needed between the miles. I felt alert and well fueled with absolutely no stomach discomfort, cramping or abnormal fatigue. I found myself getting warm on the run so I also used water to cool my body temperature. I walked as needed when I found myself not being able to keep good form, so I think at 3 or 4 aid stations, I moved through with a quick needed walk. Since I walk in almost every run training session, this was nothing new for me and very welcomed. Karel on the other hand told me he was really struggling with this new feeling of running 13 miles off the bike so he was scared to stop for the worry of not being able to run again.
With the mind games continuing, I told myself that after my 2nd lap, I had 1 to go. Such a novel thought to keep myself focused.
I noticed that the girl in black and yellow was slightly slowing down when I saw her on opposite parts of the course. Still running strong, she started the run (after looking at results), almost a mile (or 6ish minutes) ahead of me and I just couldn't seem to catch her.
The crowds were amazing and I heard lots of "go pink" which made me smile and give a big thumbs up. I also noticed my friend Jenny Fletcher, Oakley Women Pro triathlete, who ended up winning her first Pro race! After seeing Karel for the 2nd time and realizing that I was still running strong (according to perceived exertion for my pace was slowing), I decided that I was not going to give up until my body gave up.
Having an incredible race thus far, I was not going to let my body win over my mind. I really had to dig deep on the 3rd lap. Thinking about that 12 mile marker on the way other side of the course, I figured "hey, Campy can run 4 miles, so can I!"
I remembered the same feeling at the 2012 Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon when my body wanted Soooooo badly to stop but I was not going to surrender and risk not winning my first ever running race. I remember reading Bree Wee's blog at IMKY this year, nearly being caught by Jackie Arendt in one of the most exciting female races I have watched on
I also remembered the many athletes (including my own) who may not ever have the chance to win a race or an age group award but still push to their limits because they want "it." It was with this determination and refusal to come all this way to not see what I am capable of achieving, that I decided I would go for it.
Mile 10. I could see her.
Mile 10.5. She was getting closer. Either I was getting faster or she was slowing down but it  was happening.
Mile 11. I was running behind the girl in black and yellow. The girl that I assumed was winning the amateur/age group race. As my body was hurting beyond belief from the effort I was running, my body went numb with excitement.
Mile 11.2. Footsteps behind her, I was scared. "What if she had another gear?" I asked myself. For I had used mine all up. I was on cruise control with an exhausted tank. My mind was still strong and I felt fueled but as you can imagine, there comes a point when the body will scream and beg to stop.
Mile 11.3. I did it. To the left of her, I ran by her and didn't look back. OMG. "Did I just pass the first place female for age groupers?"
I kept on running and saw Karel for the last time. Neither of us had much of a smile on our face but I think we both felt each other's pain.
I have to share a funny story, real quick. I ran over the last timing mat after I passed the girl and I was SO excited for all our fans (thank you!) to see that I had passed her. Ughh, the tracking didn't work on the run (later did I find out) and that was the main thing that kept me running thank you Trimarni fans for keeping me going even though you had no idea what was going on.
On the way back from the loop in the park, I saw the girl who I passed but didn't allow that to slow me down. As I passed mile 12, I had no idea if I was really in first place for everything seem to hit me hard.
I walked through mile 12 aid station but didn't look back. It was a quick stop and I resumed running to great Karel at the finish line.
The longest mile of my life never ended........
Thankfully, the cheers became loud, the volunteers were fantastic and I was finally out of my gel flask. It was officially time to finish this race.
I ran to the far left to signify my finish of this race and I entered the finishing chute, all alone.
I ran across the line, only to hear the announcer say "I think this is the 2nd amateur female finisher, Marni Sumbal from Jacksonville, FL"
I fell to my knees and was asked by a volunteer if I needed medical. I politely said "no" and used his help to shuffle me to get my medal and hat. Karel was waiting for me and gave me the biggest hug. I told him that I thought I was first but we both said that 2nd was still a phenomenal finish.
Later did we find out (about 3 hours later at awards) that #20 (Joanna Anddler) was listed as an age grouper but was racing as a professional.

Results found HERE 
So, the most exciting news was finding out that not only did I place as the first female finisher across the line but I also had the fastest age group run (which was a 6 min PR for me), I set a course record for my age group (30-34) AND Karel was listed as 6th place (45 seconds away from 5th) only to also find out at awards that the 5th place guy was listed in the wrong age group! Talk about a bunch of fantastic surprises!! Karel said he gave everything he could in the race and felt extremely accomplished when it was over. He said it was the hardest thing ever and he has never been more excited about his 5th place award. Karel ended up running 1:33!

My splits for the run:
Mile 1: 7:12
Mile 2: 7:10
Mile 3: 7:12
Mile 4: 7:13
Mile 5: 7:16
Mile 6: 7:16
Mile 7: 7:25
Mile 8: 7:37
Mile 9: 7:28
Mile 10: 7:36
Mile 11: 7:33
Mile 12: 7:45
Mile 13: 7:38

Complete RESULTS:

We both ended up receiving slots to Vegas for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships but we had decided pre-Branson 70.3 that we would not take them. With Karel's first IM next year in Lake Placid and my 6th Ironman and an unknown of how the day will turn out next year, I am willing to take a chance on a possibility to qualify for Kona Also, the turn around from IM Lake Placid in July and the 70.3 WC in Sept, is not something that I want to put my body through. Realizing that if I were to qualify for Kona next year (always a goal), I will need to ensure a proper recovery to do two Ironman's within a 4 month window.

But it made me super happy to let the 3rd place girl in my age group know that I would not take the slot. I remember when I received a roll down at IMWI in 2010 and it was the coolest feeling in the world. It was a nice feeling to return the favor and to share the excitement with all the 70.3 WC qualifiers.
Words can not describe how much is means to me and Karel that we can inspire others to set goals and work hard for them. Fitness status (or weight) has nothing to do with goal setting. If you want something in life, go for it and never let excuses get in your way. A strong heart, mind and body is all you need to succeed in life. Enjoy life to the fullest.