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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: "Triathlon"

Triathlon season planning - top 10 tips

Marni Sumbal

I grew up traveling a lot.

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

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

What a rock star! Still so proud of him!

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

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

MAY 4th, 2014 - Me and Karel

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

June 29th, 2014 - Me and Karel

September 7th, 2014 - Me and Karel 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But also for our athletes.

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

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

Kona; It's time

Marni Sumbal


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

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

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

But now it is my time. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you again for your support.

See you at the finish line!


Race Ready tips

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

Are you race ready?

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

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

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

1) Skills

2) Confidence

3) Planning

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Racing!

Endurnace sports. What's stopping you?

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect on triathlon race day - course check

Marni Sumbal

This coming weekend is the Ocala HITS triathlon - a distance for everyone from sprint to Ironman. I was scheduled to do this race but with my previous hip issues and the opportunity to speak at an upcoming Oakley Women event, the cards were not in my favor for the race but certainly, the cards didn't mean I wasn't going to come out a winner.

Next weekend I will be able to watch 4 of my 6 athletes who are racing in the HITS Olympic distance triathlon and I am super excited to be there to cheer for everyone. Karel and my other athlete Chris will be racing the half IM on Saturday and although I will be super sad not to be there to support them, I will be flying home from San Diego after my quick 2-day trip to the west coast.

I can't complain about my life when I am in control of my attitude. There are many times in life when we have a choice to say "why now?" or "that's ok". I prefer the later as my worst day may be someones best day. There are so many opportunities in life and I think many times, we get stuck in the moment and forget to be grateful for future opportunities. I am really grateful to be asked by Oakley Women and Shape Magazine to give a nutrition workshop at the upcoming VIP Oakley Progression Sessions in San Diego (this Fri), Denver and Texas (May). Lucky for me, there will be more triathlons.

On Saturday morning, Karel and I made a 2-hour drive to Ocala (leaving at 6:15am) to check out the race course. Karel did his last hard brick on Wednesday (his day off from work this week, along with Saturday) so the race course ride was just steady. Knowing that we would be checking out the course for my athletes as well, there was no planned workout for the day. However, Karel is tapering, is in phenomenal shape and is mentally my bike ride was challenging...56 miles, sitting on Karel's fast wheel. OUCH!

After the ride, Karel ran one loop (~3 miles) of the run course and took a dip in the water. Throughout the morning, I took a lot of mental notes of the course to give a run-down of the course for my athletes. I typed up a full page of tips from everything I could remember about the course (swim, bike and run).

This got me thinking about how athletes approach race day for as we all know, racing is more than just putting a trained body on a course. There are so many uncontrollables and controllables on race day so it is up to you where you direct your energy. Not everyone has the opportunity to ride/run a course before race day, let alone drive it. Therefore, there are a few things you may want to consider before doing a race so here are my top tips for what to expect on triathlon race day.

-Race venue: parking, distance from transition to race start, bathroom location, layout of transition area.
-Swim: in the water or land start, quality/color of water, weather on race day morning, opportunity for warm-up in the water, location of sun rise (proper goggle lens), swim course, swim exit.
-Bike: condition of roads, elevation, location of aid stations, fuel at aid stations, closed or open course (Safety), wind direction, weather forecast.
-Run: terrain of course, location of aid stations, fuel at aid stations, shade or no shade.

Of course - from start to finish, make sure you have all your necessary gear, gadgets and clothing. Better to have the "just in case" items instead of wishing you had them for the duration of your race. 

Many athletes check out the course ahead of time and stress out. Why freak out when the course is out of your control? If you are worried about running in the sand, cold water, bumpy or hills roads, perhaps it is best to consider a different race? If you have a coach, discuss these concerns so that you can plan the proper race schedule to meet your needs. Better yet, plan for the course by preparing yourself on similar conditions. If you never learn to be comfortable riding "fast/hard" on bumpy roads and trying to drink from your water bottle on your down tube of your bike (let alone switch bottles from rear cage to top tube), how do you expect to stay fueled and confident on race day? If you never wear a wetsuit until race day, how do you plan on swimming efficiently and comfortably if you feel restricted? If you never practice running and drinking, how do you think you will fuel on race day?

A few things I noticed in Ocala (not as detailed as my notes to my athletes);
-The course is bumpy - rough roads. The course is not exciting but not boring. It is not technical, a few false flats and gentle rollers. The course can make it easy to forget to drink/stay fueled and because of the out and back course (which is not a straight shot), it can be easy to feel frustrated for 56 miles if you do not pace yourself properly. If your water bottles are not secured, you will lose them. As in any race, if you don't like what is on the course, bring your own fuel. Lucky for HITS athletes, Hammer Nutrition is on the course.
-The first part of the half IM (and entire Olympic course) is on the sand. Not beachy white sand but dark, trail sand. Some of it is packed, some is loose. My thinking is be prepared, don't stress. Consider wearing socks to avoid sand being caked in the shoes w/ water from the aid stations for cooling. There is little shade on the course, stay cooled with water and ice. This should make it easy to not go out too fast but on the bike, better stretch your hips and not stay aero the entire bike course. You will need your hip flexors to be strong and not fatigued on a changing terrain course.
-For the swim, the morning will be cool. Getting in the water for a warm-up is always a good thing for a nervous swimmer with a wetsuit but I recommend jog/walk warm-up first before getting in the water for the water start.

As you read the athlete guide before your race, check out the course or talk to other athletes (read forums), remind yourself that everyone races on the same course and is trained differently. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. As you know, I LOVE hilly, hard courses. I will take any obstacle that comes my way so I can be smart on race day...not always the "fastest" athlete. 

You have a choice to be the smarter athlete on race day or be the one that wastes energy on things out of your control. Your choice.
Race strong, stick to your plan and  remember, even if the cards are not in your favor, you can still come out a winner by being grateful for the opportunities ahead of you.

Happy Racing!

This is why I do Triathlons

Marni Sumbal

As a coach and an athlete, I feel inspired by others on a daily basis. I try to do my best on a daily basis to inspire others by encouraging others to focus on personal goals and dreams. My friend and fellow Oakley Women Ambassador Fitz is an amazing woman and she has accomplished so much when it comes to inspiring others (specifically children) to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Fitz is using her social media platform and credentials/education as a way to inspire others and it was a great pleasure of mine to fill out her questionnaire as to "THIS IS MY WHY" in relation to my sport of choice. 

The questions she asked made me think but they also made me recognize why I love to get up every morning to push my body, train smart, fuel well and to live an active lifestyle. If you know me well, you know that my life is not perfect and I have dealt with injuries with my hip and back for over 6 years.I have had setbacks due to my educational career as well as plenty of obstacles. Yet I still continue to believe that I can improve and so I keep working hard with whatever I can and whatever is given to me for that day.

Every year I get a "flare-up" which can last from 4 weeks to 10 weeks with my hip. Not going into too much detail as it can become quite lengthy but in relation to a long-history of back issues from swimming competitively, to poor posture, sitting too much, leg weakness, anterior pelvic tilt that feels so normal to me but is a pain in the butt (Literally) and glute weakness due to glutes not firing despite working them in the weight room. Right now I am on 4.5 weeks of no running due to a "flare-up" of my iliopsoas tendon but all is good. I guess after 6 years of dealing with hip issues, I have learned resting is not necessary and only makes things worse for me. Sitting is the crime for my body and I do it too often. Cycling is my best friend and swimming, as much as I love it, can be hard on my back but I can't stay out of the water so I just have to hold back at times. Running has been up and down -  I love it but my body doesn't always love it and I refuse to race and train with a pain so that is why running is always the first to go.

 I have a great team behind me of PTs, MDs, Chiropracter and of course my hubby. I don't like to talk about it too much (although I have in years past on my blog) but rather, discuss how grateful I am when I can perform without pain and without limitations. I suppose "my why" of doing triathlons came at a great time when Fitz contacted me for every year I question my desire to continue competitive sports (running, swimming, biking) that are not in agreement with my body at times. I love to exercise, but I love to train.

So as an athlete, I am dedicated, passionate and determined (not stubborn) and I will focus on the CANs and take life day by day, hoping that not a day is lost that I am not enjoying life to the fullest. Last year I was "out" from running for 5 weeks (Dec - Jan) and had the best season of my life from Feb - Dec. The year prior I was "out" for 3 months from running (Feb - May) and trained for Kona in 16 weeks (without running for over 10 weeks) and raced strong (picture above) with a huge bike PR. The year prior to that, 4 weeks out from running (July) and a 10:53 PR at IMKY just 20 or so days after not running for 30 days prior. It all started in 2007 with a hip injury that caused me to be stubborn and not respectful to my body just 30 days before my first IM world Championship in 2007 (aka Racing injured which I will NEVER do again - nor even "test" an injury more than 5 minutes) and I still pay for that mistake today. 

So I guess my "Why" is more than just a finishing line, award or medal but rather the ability to do what I love on a daily basis, share that experience with others, and to always feel great with what I can do on any given day. My body does not have to let me do triathlons and sometimes I am frustrated with that fact. But at the end of the day,  my body is amazing in that it can heal itself without extreme medical interventions, it has never had a stress fracture or broken bone and I haven't been sick in over 6 years. So despite lack of running here or there every year and the pain that keeps me from running, I'd say my body is pretty special and I'll take a great race and training session, whenever my body is ready for it.

Marni Sumbal, 30, Clinical RD, triathlon coach, business owner, writer, speaker, Jacksonville, Florida

Why do you take part in triathlons?? I love the lifestyle of swim-bike-run and the enjoyment I feel (in both mind and body) when I finish a workout. I love training for a race and overcoming obstacles and setbacks along the way.
How long have you been taking part in triathlons? ~7 years competitively
Tell us about that. Not only do I coach others to reach personal fitness goals in the sport of triathlon and running, but I am also a competitive triathlete who enjoys racing in long-distance triathlons. I typically race 4-5 times a year (in both triathlon and running events) and since 2006, I have finished 5 Ironman triathlons.
Most challenging aspect of triathlons: Teetering on the edge of being injured as I like to push my body to see what I am capable of – in both mind and body. Also, knowing when to hold back in order to focus on quality workouts. I enjoy training smarter to train harder.
Most fun aspect of triathlons: Being able to “train” with other adults who “get it”.
Most rewarding aspect of triathlons: Knowing that my body is capable of racing for 140.6 miles in one day…and thanking it before, during and after every race.
Who/what inspires you when you’re feeling weak? My athletes as well as those who are unable to exercise due to medical/health reasons, but would give anything to be outside and to voluntarily move the body.
Advice for others who’d like to get started: Think small and work on weaknesses and strength training prior to starting a structured training plan. Determine how many hours a week/day you can realistically devote to “training” the body after you factor in sleep, work, family time, meal planning, eating, commuting, etc. There are no rules as to how many miles/hours you have to train per week, focus on your own individual goals and consistency will allow you to make progress.
Your must-have equipment for completing triathlons: I love my gear! Trek Bicycle (pink of course), 910XT Garmin, Nootca swim cap, Oakley Women Commit shades, Road ID, my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition triathlon kit, Pink laser helmet, Speedo vanquisher pink swim goggles, Brooks Launch running shoes, Louis Garneau triathlon shoes, Garmin 500 Edge bike computer.
Favorite training song: Any kind! I love to listen to the radio when I train (iheartradio).
Favorite healthy food: Hard to pick just one, but I love nuts, seeds and veggies.
Favorite not-so-healthy food: Banana bread (not the healthy kind).
Funniest /weirdest/most awkward experience participating in triathlons: During my first Ironman, my boyfriend (at the time), Karel was watching me race. We had been dating for six months and as I was finishing the 26.2 mile run at the end of the race, he shouted to me that I was in the lead for my age group and I was “going to Kona” (IM World Championships). I yelled back “I love you!” – it was the first time I ever told him I loved him. Now we are happily married.

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

Team Sumbal - our first ever race report

Marni Sumbal

Mind and body. I've said it in many times in the past but it is a remarkable thing when both are performing beautifully - together.

As an athlete, I strive off competition. I like to make my body perform. But in order to perform on race day, I have to train. Just like many of you, it doesn't come easy for me. I've learned from past learning "lessons" (err... mistakes) that it takes much more than putting in the miles in order to achieve success on race day.

Always enjoying the journey and putting in the necessary quality work, I have kept a common motto for my race day performances over the past 6 years of racing endurance/multisport events
......"my mind will be my only limiter on race day".

This is something that I strive for in every race and I remind myself this with every training session. Whether it is sport nutrition, sleep, attitude, stretching or strength training -  I am always thinking about what I can do to set myself up for success on race day. This may seem extreme but there's nothing "normal" about turning a single sport event into a multisport event - and racing it, or in covering a specific distance for over 30 minutes....only for a tshirt and maybe a medal.

Confidence can bring a person far but there are many pieces in the performnce puzzle that must stay together as an athlete preps for an important race. As someone who doesn't belive in "B" races - my goal is to always put my training to the test....and let my mind be my only limiter on race day.

But then comes the bigger obstacle. Competition. This is an area in which I once feared and now I embrace. With a body that loves to perform, I love racing others and this often brings out the greatness in myself. I crave to see athletes who are faster than me - in order to push me to my limits. For even as I race my own race, I need others to remind myself that it is possible....especially when the mind and body start their common love-hate relationship at least once during a race. But then, I also need the newbies - out there questioning their own capabilities and wondering if it is really possible. I need to stay humble to remind myself that as we all reach the same finishing line, we all go throug the same emotions, excitement, nerves and questions on race day.

Triathlons are an amazing lifestyle. I can't even start a proper sentence when I begin to think about how tri's have changed my life. I'm filled with so many emotions and the biggest life change, besides creating a passion for helping others through my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition business, was meeting Karel just a week after I did my first half ironman and 1 month after finishing the 2006 Boston Marathon. Six months prior to my first Ironman, Karel has embraced and supported my lifetyle and has really shown me what it takes to compete at a level beyond what one believes is possible.

And after 6 years, we finally shared the same course for our first-ever triathlon race together.

After work around 4pm at the hospital on Friday and then picking up my packet at the JRC, I came home rather hungry (I blame not having PB for 24 hours and not getting to the grocery store). Prior to packing my transition bag, I had a hearty salad w/ fruit and veggies to hold me over until dinner was ready and sipped on 1 Hammer FIZZ.

I grabbed my Iron Girl transition bag and Campy helped me pack as he was super excited - thinking he was going for a trip. Poor little guy :(

Triathlon Olympic check list:
Pre race outfit - socks, old but good Brooks running shoes (launch), hammer jacket
Race day outfit - Asics sport bra, louis garneau bike shorts, CEP calf sleeves (approved by race director to wear in swim)

TYR Torque speed suit
Vanquisher Speedo goggles
Body glide
Swim cap (from packet pick-up)
COOLA spray sunscreen
Garmin 500 -bike computer (restarted to zero the screen)
Garmin 910xt - (will write a review about this - LOVE IT!)
Water bottle - water (pre race)
Water bottle - 1 scoop heed (pre race)
Water bottle - 2 scoops heed (for bike) - mixed on race day morning
Gel flask - 2 gels + water (for run)
Race belt + number (+ safety pins as I always pull my number off the belt when I put it on)
Brooks Launch running shoes
Louis Garneau cycling shoes
Giro aero helmet
Radar Edge Oakley women sunglasses
Extra chip strap + safety pins
Hammer visor
Oakley Women towel (for transition) + extra towel for post-race
Grocery bags (for wet/dirty post race clothes)

Post race - skirt, tank top (with built-in bra), sandals

Dinner was the typical - same staples for almost every race for the past 6 years:
Sweet potato, rice (or bread), veggies (smaller portion since I had my salad an hour prior), scrambled eggs (2 whites + 1 whole) and cheese.

I like to keep it super simple as I know every time I eat during the day, I am refueling. Since my pre-race warm-up at 6am (1:15 bike + 2 mile run w/ race pace short intervals), I made sure to not let my blood sugar drop and to eat and drink regularly and to honor my hunger.
Karel had a similar dish but I prepard him a bowl of rice and a hearty salad w/ sardines.

Race day morning
At 4am the alarm went off and we started the coffee and packed up the bikes into the car. Campy was excited for his early morning walk but sadly, we had to tell him he had to stay home until the neighbor let him out later in the morning. Sad face for Campy ;(

Karel and I had a similar breakfast but in different quantities. He knows what works for him and I know what works for me.
I had coffee and sipped on my water and on the drive (as Karel was driving), I had cooked oats, banana slices, PB (stirred in) and a few raisins. Just enough for me to finish it satisfied and not stuffed. It sat very nicely and I was super excited for Karel's first Olympic distance triathlon.

We arrived an hour and 10 minutes later in Fernandina Beach, and a little after 6am, I could tell Karel was getting a bit nervous. It's hard to say the right thing to someone who is nervous for a race - for Karel wasn't nervous about the bike and the run but certainly, swimming a mile for the first time in the ocean - with a mass start - in your 2nd ever triathlon can present an anxious feeling. I tried to say the right thing as I was feeling super excited, without a nerve in my body. I suppose just having Karel with me made me super calm but on the flip side, he was anxious for what was to come.

After body marking and getting our chips, we went our seperate ways to set up in transition.
DRC puts on excellent races and the morning went by really smoothly. I loved being so close to home and seeing so many familiar faces.

After a few bathroom stops, Karel and I went for a little 10 min jog in our "old" shoes w/ a few pick ups to get the body going. Lesson learned from a few shorter races - I need a long warm-up for the short distance races.

After getting our swim stuff together, we mentally rehearsed transition area (swim enter, bike exit, bike enter, run exit, finish) and walked to the ocean to scope out the scene.

We did a few minutes of swimming and then a few faster efforts. Karel felt comfortable in his tri-suit but I could tell he was gettin more nervous for this swim.
Feeling great during my warm-up - I was about to burst with energy. I was so confident knowing that my best friend was out there with me.

After the pre race talk, we made a 3/10th mile walk to the swim start for the Olympic mass start, whereas the sprint distance started closer to the swim exit (5 minutes behind us).

I kissed Karel and wished him good luck and told him to have fun. I check out the waves and paid attention to the top female competitors (Shiver sisters and local speedster JC - who just qualified for her 2nd Kona at IMCDA) . With swimming as my background, I wanted to stick with a group to keep me steady in the water.

3...2...1.. GO!

Swim - 23:21
The swim was great. I have really been working on my stroke in the water and certainly, the Olympic swimming events have helped me with my enjoyment for wanting to be a better swimmer...even after 20 years of competitive swimming.
Rather than focusing on the yards in the pool - needing to get to 3500 or 4000 yards, I have dedicated the past few months to working on my catch in the water as well as my body position. With this being the main focus for Karel's swim training since he started 2 months ago, I'm really enjoying the minor improvements that we are both making, which make for a great efficient swim on race day.
I swam and exited the water with a group of guys. I ran quickly to transition had our friend Jerry (who works at Trek) ran to the side of transition to cheer for me. That really helped me get excited for the bike, along with all the spectators cheering that I was one of the top females out of the water. I knew I wasn't in the lead but I couldn't wait to put my bike training to the test and my new pacing strategy.

Bike - 1:04 (YIPPEE!!)
The strategy that Karel gave me was to take it easy the first 3 miles on this out and back course. With tail wind on our way out, I went by perceived exertion and held back to prevent my legs from locking up. I sipped on my bottle every 3-5 minutes as I did intervals (yes intervals) after my first 3 miles of "comfortable" riding.
I broke up the bike into intervals and kept in mind that I was racing an Olympic - not an Ironman. Time to see some different power numbers - more like upper Z3, low Z4 - NOT Z2 or low Z3. A constant reminder for someone like myself who loves to push hard on the bike when I draft behind Karel but a constant struggle in racing to be smart with my bike race.
The strategy was 3 minutes "race pace", 30 sec ease up. I was minding my own business, in my own zone - looking at my screen which was showing me my 3second power, normalized power, lap power, current cadence, lap heart race and lap speed. Typically, I don't train w/ speed on this specific screen but I added it for the race. I also hit the lap button every 3:30 (or when I remembered as sometimes it was more like 7 minutes or 8) so I was constantly seeing a lap that would represent that moment in time, not an average over the entire race. For I knew I would approaching the head wind and I didn't want to overcook myself on the way out and not have enough in the tank on the way back. I made sure to stay well fueled and when I got to the turn around, I saw Karel in flying in the other well as my closest competitor, JC.
Karel passed me and he said "good job babe".
I suppose with Karel having a swim of around 31 minutes he had a lot of ground to make up to "be in the race".
But not to worry - Karel average 26 mph on the bike.
Shortly after, JC passed me. She is a strong cyclist (and runner) so I didn't try to pace her race but I did try to keep her in sight...but with around 4 miles to go, I had to settle down a bit as my power and HR were increasing and I wasn't racing my plan.

Still feeling great - my legs were ready to run. Mind and body were functioning the best ever and I had a bank of track workouts to keep me motivated for the upcoming 10K run.

At the dismount line, I got off my bike and ran to rack my bike. I quickly transitioned to the run with my visor, race belt and gel flask.  Jerry told me Karel was a few minutes ahead of me and I smiled big as I ran to start the run.

Run - 43.44
First mile went smooth. Just like I practice off almost every bike ride, a short stride/shuffle with a relaxed upper body. The pace and HR was just where I wanted it and another confidence boost that I was executing a great race.
The run was beautiful. Most of the run was in a park where there was a bit of shade. Thankfully, there was water at each mile for it was still really hot.
I kept a steady pace for the first 3 miles and tried to pace myself so I could have a strong last 3 miles. I couldn't wait to see Karel as he was running back home as I knew that would give me some instant energy. With 3 girls ahead of me, I confirmed my 4th place overall finish when I didn't see another girl behind me for over a mile.
I sipped my gel flask before every aid station (2 gels + water) and sipped water at the aid station and used water for cooling. After my 3, I found myself getting a little tired in the legs but nothing that the mind couldn't change with a helpful reminder from a guy who was pacing me during the run. He laughed that I called some guy "babe' as I cheered for Karel "go babe" so I told him "keep up the great pace - babe". He laughed and so did I.
I received a few cheers from friends running in the opposite direction and with 2 miles to go, I took a brief look at my Garmin after switching the screens to the overall running time of the race (instead of seeing my lap pace, lap HR, distance and running time).
With a goal of sub 2:20 for this flat Olympic distance course (best time 2:24 in hilly Clermont, FL), I noticed I was putting together a race that by my standards - is super duber fast for an endurance athlete.
With 1 mile left - I decided to go for it. Just like on the track on Tues mornings when I train with Karel and Jeff (his boss), I constantly battle with myself "don't give up until the body gives up!"
I picked up the pace with whatever I had left and crossed the line with a HUGE personal best.

Dropping to my knees, my friend Owen (who won the race) as well as Karel came over to me and poured cold water on my head. It took me a few minutes to process it all - as I felt fantastic from start to finish. But oh my - what a different hurt compared to an Ironman.

Stats from the race (from my Garmin 910xt):
Swim: 23:21
Bike: 1:04 (22.1 mph average)
Run: 43:44 (6:56, 7:06, 7:04, 7:18, 7:19, 7:14)
Total time: 2:15.21 !!!!
4th overall femal
1st age group

Stats from Karel's race:
Swim~31 min
Bike: 55.30 (~26mph average)
Run: ~41
Total time: 2:11.27
5th overall male
2nd age group

Results (splits should be up soon)
Results here

Words can't describe this experience. With Karel saying that he wanted to quite the swim at 250 meters and me having the race of my life, I really cheerish moments like this that prove that the mind can be stronger than the body.
Karel fought the demons in his head that were telling him to quit and he didn't count himself out - after blazzing the bike and really pushing it on the run.
I needed the fast girls out there to beat me - for if they weren't out there, I don't know if I would have executed my smart race day plan.
And of course, with Karel being out there - I couldn't hold anything back - or else he would know :)
A big congrats to all the newbies and veterans out on the course - it was wonderful to share such a great race with so many inspiring individuals.

And with data analyzed and a lot of reflection - I can't wait to get back to enjoying our triathlon lifestyle.....48 days til Branson 70.3!!

Race report - Karel's first triathlon!

Marni Sumbal

I think we can all relate to the unknown that comes with doing something for the first time. Uncomfortable, exciting, weird, awkard,'s hard to describe what it feels like to do something new because well, it is unfamiliar to your everyday living.

I remember when I was less than 24 hours away from my first Ironman - IMFL in 2006. I was so freakin' excited yet a little scared of riding my bike for 112 miles. However, I could hardly contain myself. The only thing that really scared me was my heart and that it would have to beat for over 11 hours for a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. But thankfully, it did just fine since I trained it well and it worked great for 11 hours and 47 seconds.

Since I've known Karel, this has been his comfort zone. A frame and two wheels and handlebars for steering. Karel has been racing bikes since a very young age but a few months ago, he was ready for a change. He craved something unknown, new and challenging.

So, he turned to triathlons. Without a doubt, there's something magical yet intense when describing a sport that requires an athlete to be physically fit and mentally strong in three seperate disciplines.

After dinner on Friday evening, I helped Karel pack his transition bag for his first ever triathlon - the 2012 Montoya BFAST Sprint series #3.
Race belt, glasses, hat, water bottles, towel, computer, cycling shoes, running shoes, chip strap, body glide, goggles, aero helmet.
Just a bit more than packing for a cycling race :)

It's likely that any newbie would be nervous and overwhelmed for his/her first triathlon. For Karel, his nerves grew as the week went on although he has been training really smart over the past 6 weeks. Focusing more on the skills with swimming and learning how to pace better in his "tri-specific" zones (established from power tests on the bike and HR test on the run) he was capable of doing the distance of a 400 meter swim, 13 mile bike and 5K run but like any newbie - it's all about learning how to put those puzzle pieces together to make for a great race day experience. Funny thing - this is something that never goes away. I still find myself addressing my pre, during and post training/racing nutrition, pacing, zones, training, recovery, strength training, etc. to become stronger, faster and smarter in the sport.
Particularly throughout his work day on Friday, he got a bit more nervous than the days prior. Why was he nervous? Because it is absolutely natural and normal to question the unknown that comes with a new experience in life.

As a good wife sherpa, I was up with Karel at 4:30am and we were out the door at 5:20am for our 20 minute drive to the beach. I suppose my desire to not feel rushed at races transfered to Karel for we arrived in plenty of time to avoid the crowd at packet pickup. However, like every triathlete knows all too well - time rushes by before a race and it's better to arrive early than to be just a little late and feel stressed.
Karel set up his transition area and I walked him through the transition layout as to where to bike out, bike in, run out and run in. Karel officially felt like a triathlete when he was body marked and received his first ever triathlon's the little things that still excite me as a triathlete and I think Karel enjoyed these little things as well - for it was all new to him.

Our friend Courtney (who ended up winning the race for women), Karel and myself went for a warm-up jog around 6:30am and did a few dynamic drills to open up the hips. Karel wasn't saying a lot but I know him all too well so I just let him stay in his zone. It was hard for me to keep quite for I kept wanting to give him little pointers like where to put on the body glide, where to line up for the swim and where to mount and dismount on his bike.

Karel listened very well but he had this look like "there's way too much to think about at once." 

Karel's boss Jeff (pictured on the right above, Jerry - Trek employee on left) was racing for the first time since IM Texas and I think Karel was excited to have Jeff there with him to experience his first tri. Jeff and Karel are close friends and Jeff and his family are all great people to be around. By the way- Jeff ended up winning his age group! Congrats Jeff!

Karel warmed up - kinda - in the water. The last two races were duathlons because of the ocean waves and this time was a full tri despite the waves being super choppy. I knew Karel would have a tough time for his first time racing in the ocean (second time swimming in the ocean) so I did my best to give him some suggestions as to how the current was going, where to swim to and of course, to just stay calm and to not fight the waves.

Around 7am, it was time for the first wave - men 39 and under. Karel raced in the 35-39 age group (he will be 36 in Sept) and lined up in the middle of the group. Without a word by the announcer, the group was off. Karel still had his goggles on his head and quickly put them on as he was running (which caused a little water to get in his goggles) and he didn't get  a chance to start his Garmin 910XT.

Karel said the swim was bruttal and the waves made it incredibly hard to swim "normally" - which he has been working so hard on in the pool. He said it was hard to turn around buoys and got stuck in the ropes by the buoy because of the waves. Because of the conditions, the swim course was likely not the full 400 meters but it was the same course for everyone so it is what it is. So long as everyone is safe  - it's all about moving the body forward. Karel did a great job getting to the first buoy but we still have work to do with his skills in open water, especially spotting, breathing and reaching and rolling.

I was super happy to finally see Karel, near the end of the mid pack. Although Karel is super competitive, I know that this race was simply to see what it feels like to put all the sports together - in racing mode. For our big race is Branson 70.3 in late Sept. However, this is a new lifestyle for Karel and there is no reason to rush this journey. One step at a time.

I sprinted from the water to the bike-out and cheered for Karel as he "paced" his first sprint triathlon bike ride.

Well, despite Karel telling me that he held back just a little on the bike for the unknown of the final leg of the triathlon, I wasn't surprised to see him in 7th place after the bike. And to the surprise to many, I was excited to see what Karel  was going to do on the run for his running has really progressed over the past 2 months. Karel likes to run..and not just for the beer at the end (referencing to his "off-season" training and his occasional Trek Store beer runs)

Karel had a nice kick in his step when he started the out and back run and before I knew it, he was rounding the courner.... 5th place!!!

It doesn't surprise me that as Karel was running, his inner cyclist came out and he was likely pacing, drafting and passing people all by tolerating the lactic acid that comes with a long history of criterium racing.

Karel told me that he never thought it would be that hard and he said he had a really fun time....."after the swim."

Karel was greeted by many of his friends and customers from the Trek store - all congratulating him for his first ever triathlon finish. Our friend Owen (above) is a ridiculously talented athlete and won the race today with a blazing bike and run.

Jeff is now even more happy that Karel liked his first triathlon experience and that he know has a permanent triathlon training partner, early in the morning before the Trek Beach store opens.

It was so great to share this experience with Karel and to see him compete, do something new and enjoy every mile of it. I firmly believe that we should always have fun with what we are doing in life (specifically if it is voluntary and not mandatory)  but when it comes using our body for sports, it's important to understand that a lifestyle can be created from training the body on a daily basis. I see way too many athletes become overly obessed, overwhelmed and consumed with training and it begins to interfer with other areas of life. I believe in balance when it comes to doing something that you love - especially with triathlons. There's nothing wrong with being competitive and if anything, I invite more people to welcome competiton in order to be more confident with your strengths and to build off your weaknesses. But at the end of the day, triathlon training (or whatever activity you choose to keep you fit) should be an enhancer to life. Never stop thanking your body for what it allows you to do on a daily basis and more than anything, never stop having fun and enjoying moving and using your body.....and crossing finish lines.

Stats from Karel's race:
(Results found HERE)
Swim: 6:22
T1: 2:39
Bike: 30.08 (average 25.8mph, average HR 177)
T2: 58
Run: 20.06 (mile splits: 6:17, 6:20, 6:05 - average 6:14 min/mile)
Total: 1:00.11
5th place overall male
1st age group

Now that Karel got his first race out of his system, we will be doing our first race together (his first Olympic) on August 4th in Fernandina Beach, FL for the Jax Tri Olympic.

Great Clermont Olympic Triathlon race report

Marni Sumbal

First off, a big CONGRATS to the Category 1,2 Gearlink Team for exceptional teamwork at the Winter Garden Crit on Saturday evening. Karel's teammate Eric managed to get into the break and the team worked really well together in the last 2 loops, driving the speed and giving Karel a great lead out for a field sprint first place and 10th overall. I am SO excited for next weekend to head down to Tampa for the USA Crit Tampa Twilight! If you live in or near the area, I highly suggest coming to watch the Pro/Cat 1 race!

Campy and I enjoyed ourself by resting our legs and enjoying a yummy TriMarni creation....

In the delray crit two weeks ago, Karel mentioned that he wanted something "light" but filling before his crits. Nothing too heavy that would make him feel stuffed (he eats his last meal 3 hours before a crit race) but he wanted something easy to digest. I made for both of us a yummy pre-race meal with all the right flavors to enjoy it until the last bite.
Pre-race meal:
Bulgur combined with cooked (frozen) veggie medley with fresh chopped celery, sweet peppers and onions, mixed in olive oil on stove. Added scrambled eggs, marinara and farmers cheese.

(Be sure to refrigerate/keep cool when traveling due to eggs, or your choice of protein. Always keep in mind, food safety!)

After Karel's race, I said good bye to my favorite two guys and headed to Clermont (20 miles down the road) to stay the night before my triathlon.
Karel and Campy joined our friend Rad for pizza in the cute downtown of Winter Garden and headed home soon after.

Throughout the race I wore my Celliant socks, which have been a new addition to my recovery/daily routine. I recommend checking them out, I can't say that I feel they will work for everyone but I am always seeking a comfortable sock and I really enjoy the feel of these socks. Karel and I both have a pair.

I was quick to bed at 9:30pm...looking forward to good sleep before a 4:45am wake-up call.

It's been a LONG time since I have done an Olympic distance triathlon. With nerves, setting up in transition, getting on (and off) a wetsuit after a 20 minute swim and a high intensity racing effort on my mind, I was very careful with my nutrition on the days leading up to the race.
Knowing it would be fairly warm and that my muscles would need to be in top shape for contracting and relaxing, I took 1 FIZZ (Hammer) on the 2 days leading up to the race (mixed in 24 ounces of water), after my warm-up on Sat (Fri was a day off so I sipped in a bottle throughout the morning). Considering that my high heart rate would possibly compromise my nutrition on race day, I kept in mind that stable blood sugar levels on the days leading up to the race would give me the best competitive edge, over any supplement or race day fueling strategy.
The only supplement in my current diet since Kona 2011 is whey protein, which is a must-have in my training/recovery routine. In training for an Ironman, I realize that is far from "normal exercise" and that I must respect my body by focusing on what it isn't getting or what it may be needing. Tissue rejuvinator, a multivitamin, endurance aminos and anti fatigue (from hammer) are part of my "Ironman" supplement regime. But that's's not too crazy because I really like to focus on a more natural way of training, recovering and fueling my body. It doesn't work for everyone, but I find it works for me.
I focused on my foods on the days leading up to a race, not getting overconsumed with "carbs" or "sodium" but rather just eating normally but listening to my body. When my body was hungry, I fed it. When it told me I was satisfied, I stopped eating. Lots of fruits and veggies for electrolytes, vitamins and minerals and an extra emphasis on wholegrains - like bulgur, brown rice and whole grain bread, alongside fat and protein. I find no difficulty "craving" a balanced diet but with a race in sight, it's easy to lose sight of "normal" behaviors so I kept with my normal diet but was sure to assess my body and appetite during each eating opportunity.
Feeling great (albeit a bit nerves for what was to come with a 4-year hiatus from "short course" triathlon racing), I had 1 slice whole grain cinnamon toast bread with Smuckers Natural Peanut butter and banana slices. Knowing that my hotel room did not have a coffee maker or microwave, I planned ahead and didn't freak out that I wouldn't have my typical morning cup of Joe. No worries, a good warm-up would give me the "boost" to get my system going.
I also had around 12ish ounces of water with breakfast, knowing that the more fluid in my stomach, the easier it would be to empty the sport drink from my stomach, into my small intestines for optimal absorption....tip for you athletes who feel bloated before training/racing. 8-16 ounces of fluid in the 2 hours before training/racing, recommended a cup or two of coffee and water.

I made my drink for the race, which was 2 scoops (200 calories) Strawberry Heed as I knew that would be the best source of fuel to minimize any GI upset in a quick race as well as ensure that there would be no swings in blood sugar. I also mixed my gel flask which is becoming a must-have for my athletes during any run off the bike. I mixed 2 huckleberry gels (Hammer) with 3/4 full of water in my gel flask. Shook it up and it was ready to go.

I arrived to the race site at 5:30am to pick up my packet and to set up transition area. I am the type that will arrive to the airport well-ahead of departing time...triathlons are no different. I'd rather set up my stuff and relax rather than feeling rushed. Knowing that anxiety and stress reduces gastric emptying and can create side effects such as bloated stomach and/or diarrhea, I set up my transition area, relaxed in the car for around 30 minutes (called Karel for a quick pep-talk), warmed up with a jog and then relaxed some more in the car until 7:15am.

I made sure to bring two pairs of running shoes (Same pair, just an older pair...Brooks Launch) so I could warm up before the race.
My transition area included:
Swim (which I had on me) - cap, goggles, body glide, wetsuit
Bike - aero helmet, power tap (on bike), water bottle (on bike), Oakley commit sunglasses, socks, LG tri shoes, towel to wipe feet, garmin (not waterproof, I put it on for the bike and start when I am finishing the bike)
Run - 110% visor, race belt (pink Zoot, clipped in for easy sliding on), gel flask

The race was wetsuit legal (74 degree water per race director) and despite not wanting to wear my wetsuit as I am not a wetsuit swimmer, I decided I would put myself at a disadvantage if I didn't. I put on my Xterra full sleeve wetsuit and headed to the water for a quick dip in the lake.

The race was collegiate regional championships so the men and women college kiddos started in the first two waves. All the women started just a bit later, together at 7:47am..3,2,1...

A few quick high-knee runs into the water, a few dolphin dives and the lactic acid hit my body in full force.

Oh my, what did I get myself into!

Nearing the first corner of the triangle course, I finally felt like I was getting into a rhythm. I made sure I kept my mouth SHUT during the swim as I made the mistake to swallow the Pacific ocean during the World Championships in October. I'll tell ya, there's always something to think about with swimming!

I was trying to stay with a pack of purple caps, trying to draft to the best of my ability. We were nearing the last buoy and I was careful to spot on the way back to shore, trying to give a straight shot to the swim exit.

I let the wet suit stripper pull off my wetsuit. I safety-pinned my chip so it wouldn't come off and also had on my CEP calf sleeves under my wetsuit. I wore my Hammer sport bra and 110% tri shorts and felt comfortable knowing that the day was going to get a bit warmer.

I made my way to transition area after the 1.5K swim...quickly running to make sure I didn't slow down. In an oympic distance tri, transitions are quick. In an Ironman, it's more about being smart than being fast. Today I tried to be quick and smart.

I never put my shoes on my bike, I feel it saves me no time as I can quickly put on my cycling shoes in transition area and quickly mount my bike.

The bike course started with a few climbs in the neighborhood and then became flat as we rode around Lake Minneola. What a beautiful ride as we turned away from the lake and welcomed the rolling hills of Clermont.

There was a lot of changing of the gears, from bing to small ring. Trying to keep a steady cadence, I loved every minute of climbing despite the wind starting to pick up. I guess when you are climbing, you don't really feel the wind until it is at your face or pushing you to the side.

I felt strong on the bike and kept a careful eye on my power. I knew Karel wanted me to push hard during the entire race, I watched my speed as I tried to hold around 150-160 watts when I felt like my speed was dropping but I was still pushing. This allowed me to not burn myself out but rather, be steady with the challenging course.

I absolutely loved the feeling of pushing hard on the bike for this 40K ride. In 2006, Karel and I were dating and he watched me do this race as a 24 year old. At that time, I was scared of hills, climbing and descending and didn't feel as if I was "one" with my bike. Fast forward to 2012, racing as a 30 year old with my b-day this May, I feel confident, strong and "one" with my bike...all thanks to Karel not only pushing me but giving me all the tips I could ask for...even when I am not asking for them :)

I can't tell you how many times Karel has told me to "stay on my wheel!". OK babe, if I could, I WOULD!

Gotta love him.....he is an exceptional coach, rider and husband. I know he cares and likes to see me suffer :)

I was most nervous about this run. Always running off the bike in training, I just didn't know how it would feel to "race" a 10K off the bike. I kept my mind thinking positive thoughts, thinking about Karel telling me about how much he "hurts" in some of his BIG cycling races, thinking about my athletes who are so driven by their individual goals and of course, thinking about my body. Thankful for a body that doesn't get sick and doesn't feel like it is aging, I took this 10K as an opportunity to just give it my all..whatever that may be for the day.

After dismounting my bike, I ran to my bike rack and quickly transitioned for the 10K run.

I started my garmin and off I went. I ran mostly by feel and boy, did I feel good! I questionned how long that feeling would last so I just broke down the course to keep my mind focused and happy.

1 mile out to turn around.
1 mile back to transition.
Then 2 miles until the "last" turnaround.
Once I get to mile 5, I only have 1.2 miles to go.

Sometimes it is the little things that keep you going.

I sipped on my gel flask ever mile while drinking water. Absolutely no GI upset and my brain stayed focused with no drops in blood sugar. My body felt great and I couldn't help but feel some power with my run. Of course, "power" that is relative to my love for endurance racing but nonetheless, I focused on my own race and own effort and cheered for the other athletes along the way.

I spotted my friend Kim and Kevin Grogan near the 5 mile mark and enjoyed a little boost as Kevin had a hose with nice cold water and cheered me (and the other athletes) along.

I picked up the pace for the last mile and finished strong to the finish line.


A PR, 1st age group (30-34) and 8th overall female.

I could not have asked for a better race and exactly what I needed to get me excited for the upcoming season.

Considering that the past 3 years have included 3 Ironman's and a stressful dietetic educational program, it was nice to have the past behind me and feel some excitement for racing.

But, truth be told, my heart still remains in Ironman and Half Ironman racing. I love the journey, the process and the outcomes. It is so much more than just a distance...I absolutely LOVE the challenge and memories that come with distance racing.

Thanks for all the wonderful cheers from afar for this race. We should never take our body for granted. You don't have to do a world championship or place in your age group to feel successful....don't compare races or yourself to others. Enjoy YOUR journey and keep making memories.

"The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give." -Howard Cosell

Before every race and many training sessions, I try to find motivation or inspiration to keep me going when the going gets tough. It always gets tough, that's competition....and that's what we crave when we aren't training. Whether it is in racing or when you are alone, competition is something that should be welcomed and not feared. But it is only with the right attitude that you will you be able to excuse the excuses and move forward in order to make for a better tomorrow and a better you.

I found my motivation while reading the Feb 2012 issue of Competitor magazine. Pg 30, an article written by John Bingham (aka The Penguin) on the Lessons Only a Race can Teach You.
There's something about pinning on a race number that changes everything. It's not just that you've made a commitment to yourself; you've also decided to go public with the results. To succeed wildly or fail miserably in a crowd is both exhilarating and humbling.
A race doesn't allow you to hide from the challenges of the event or from your own limitations. You can lie all you want before the race but when the gun goes off, the truth comes out and you can't be anything other than what you are.
As you look ahead to your 2012 schedule, make sure to sign up for some races. I promise you that there are lessons that can only be learned between the start and finish lines.

(Results can be found here when they are posted:

To-do's on triathlon/running race week

Marni Sumbal

First off...if you are in the Palm Harbor, Clearwater or Tampa area, you are invited to my talk this evening at the Palm Harbor YMCA.

Did you know that the more volume in the stomach, the faster rate of emptying of sport drinks from the stomach to the intestines for absorption? On the flip side, high intense exercise, high calorie/carb drink and stress/anxiety will slow emptying and may increase GI distress. Want to learn more???...come to my talk tonight at the Palm Harbor YMCA at 7pm. Also a Trimarni creation, Hammer freebies, 110% Play harder discounts will be provided! Email me with any questions.
(Thanks to the Palm Harbor Tri Warriors Triathlon club for letting me speak tonight!)

It's Spring!! Which means for many, it's the start of Triathlon Season!

(1 day before my first Ironman, IMFL in 2006)

(morning of my first Ironman! Can you tell I am excited about the Ironman??)

It still feels like yesterday when I was counting down the days, sleeps, hours and minutes until my very first 140.6 mile event. The memories will stay with me forever but luckily, 6 years and 4 Ironman's later, I still get excited to put my training to the test.

But no Ironman for me this year.

However, that same fire for training and competition burns inside of me and with the triathlon season quickly approaching, I decided to step WAY outside my comfort zone..let me repeat...WAY WAY WAY outside my comfort zone and do an Olympic distance triathlon.

My last Olympic distance was in 2008. Excited for this relatively "Short course" triathlon, I am looking forward to setting up a transition area, feeling my heart beat outside my chest, being around athletes of all different fitness levels but with the same finish line to cross and of course, being finished with a triathlon race in less than 2 1/2 hours.

Karel will be racing a crit in downtown Winter Haven on Sat evening at 6:15pm so after I watchin him race, I will head 20 minutes away to Clermont (as Karel and Campy head home) to stay the night and race the Clermont Triathlon on March 25th.

Here are a few to-do's for race week that I feel are very important for athletes, no matter what race you are participating in and the racing distance:

*5-6 days out - review your training schedule and maintain a very good relationship with food and body. It's better to go into a race feeling slightly overtrained than to try to squeeze in 2-3 more hard workouts that may limit your performance on race day. Focus on consistent eating, combining carbohydrates with protein and fat and staying hydrated. Limit simple sugars and focus on recovery nutrition (even if you are tapering all week). Do not try to "drop" pounds on race day. Give your body a big thank you for allowing you to get to race week, feeling confident and strong to put the training to the test.
*4 days out - Review past training logs. Have an idea of your paces for your upcoming sport, with an idea of pace, perceived exertion and heart rate and/or power for different distances and intensities. Keep in mind that racing isn't about the fastest person but who slows down the least. Regardless of what you feel you want to do on race day, your race day plan is 100% dependent on your current fitness level, which relfects previous training.
*3 days out - go over your packing list. don't wait until the last minute to tune-up your bike and make sure that your race day outfit is washed. Check and re-check everything you need for your race race, today, knowing that in the case of an emergency, you still have 2 more days to get last minute items. Don't let stress wear you down on race week. use today to plan ahead so you can sleep restful and relax on the days leading up to the race.
*2 days out - Take the day off from exercise/training and if you need to move, go for a leisurely walk. Do yoga to stretch the body and a light massage (not deep tissue) along with epson salt bath is encouraged. Review all course maps (ex. expo, transition area) as well as the race schedule. Mapquest all directions so you know exactly where you are going and double check any reservations. Write down your schedule/plan so you know exactly what you will be doing, eating and going from the time you leave your house, until the time you cross the finish line. Not a planner? Start now.
*1 day out - after a quick warm-up for the race (as early as possible, not sacrificing sleep but not wasting the day away) and a filling breakfast, spend 30 minutes reflecting on the past few weeks and visualize yourself in the race. Keep in mind that races rely on mental and physical strength but in more cases than not, it's your attitude and mentality that will allow you to feel confident no matter what the day brings. Review the weather so you can be prepared for any condition. You can only control the controllables..don't waste your energy on things that are out of your control.
*Race day - Have fun, enjoy getting out of your comfort zone and don't be afraid to push your limits. You signed up for the race and you did the training. Don't compare yourself to anyone. This race is all about you! Don't forget to thank the volunteers.

Athleta Iron Girl training guide

Marni Sumbal

Late this afternoon I made a quick trip to the Beach Trek Store to drop off some equipment to Karel, for Retul fits. We had a 110% Play Harder event to attend later that evening, where we celebrated raising over $110,000 for breast cancer research! Thanks again to all who donated...there's still time if you wish to donate to 26.2 with Donna.

I am loving my Oakley Women Overtime glasses which fit perfectly on my small face. Sometimes I feel silly in large glasses, despite them being "in". The Overtime is the right size for my face and I still feel sporty, with just enough style :)

I also can't get enough of my Oakley Women's Fly Fleece Short sleeve Dolman, which is a great relaxed hoodie to sport any time of the day.

Now that we are getting closer to racing season, I'm sure many of you all are setting your eyes on a few upcoming races in order to test out your training or to enjoy all the fun that comes with pushing your body and testing your limits.

If you are looking for a FREE training guide to help you get ready for an Athleta Iron Girl Event or need a little motivation, inspiration and education to jump start your fitness routine....I've got just the thing!

For over 6 years, I have been working with Iron Girl. I have been given so many amazing opportunities to speak and write for Iron Girl but my most amazing memories and experiences have come during the races. As a female, you will never experience anything like an Iron Girl event...I highly recommend signing up for one, TODAY!

You can join me in Clearwater for the Iron Girl Half marathon if you want a beautiful challenge? Or check out the other Iron Girl races at Iron
I am so happy that I had the opportunity to collaborate with Athleta, on behalf of Iron Girl, to help create an easy-to-follow training guide for 5K, 10K and half marathons, along with sprint and intermediate distance triathlons. You can visit any Athleta store to pick up this free guide or you can download a soft copy at

Athleta Iron Girl Training guide

Subaru Women's Triathlon Race re-cap

Marni Sumbal

Woke up around 5:40am. For the sake of daylight savings and a dark march morning, today was sleeping-in for a race day wake up call! The transition bag was packed (sprint races are so easy to pack for!) and the coffee was brewing. I warmed up my normal race-day morning (and training) breakfast of 1/2 banana, a few raisins and half a cup of oatmeal. Once the coffee and oatmeal was in me, I was ready to head out the door. Normal race day music is rock and alternative. The drive took me about 45 minutes so I had plenty of time to sing in the car and fill myself with excitement all the way to ft.desoto. Although I kinda new where I was going, triathlon races are easy to find. Just follow the bike racks and USAT stickers! IT works every time!
Coincidentally I ran into Sarah (the girl I coach) and we chatted in the bathrooms before we headed to transition. Because I was a little late arriving to transition, the racks were packed and I was a little overwhelmed with all the bikes. In the case of a race like Subaru, not all bikes are Tri-bikes. Therefore, you have hybrids, mountain bikes and very creative looking bikes on the racks to take up space. And because there were over 300 athletes, it was a little congested in the transition area. Nevertheless, Seduza was racked. I was happy to see Blair Lahaye and we chatted a bit as I put on my wetsuit, ever so gracefully. hehe. I headed to the water and I couldn't have been more excited to get in the water. Suprisingly, the water wasn't that cold and I would have rather not worn the wetsuit, but i did anyways. I was in wave 3, so after 6 minutes behind the first wave a quick picture from my dad, I was off for the 750 meter swim. The swim was great and I felt strong in the water. I knew i needed to swim hard in order to gain some time on the girls who were strong sprinting cyclists and runners. I managed to stay right behind the top 3 girls in my wave and we all exited the water together. T1 was a bit slow (due to the stupid wetsuit on my ankles) but i managed to get out and on my bike. I must admit that this was the first time that I wanted to power it out on the bike, rather than my old self who always wanted to get the bike overwith. We started out in head wind but that is nothing knew for me. I held around 18-19 mph but i was still getting use to the bike after the swim. So I was passed by 2 girls, but no worries cause in the tailwind I held 26 mph and almost caught up to the pack. I was impressed with my cycling skills and seduza didn't let me down. We felt fast today for a PR bike split. T2 was quick and I was running before i knew it. Although I didn't get warmed up until around mile 2 of my 5K run, I was pretty happy with my 21:48 5K run. Not so shabby with only running 3 days a week (<20 miles) for the past 4 weeks. I know I can be a stronger runner (with hopes of running sub 20 min/5K soon) but for now I am happy. The overall results were 1st age group and 12th overall. So even though I am in a new age group (25-29) I managed an age group win (well, the girl who beat me in my age group placed for an overall award, so lucky for me!). I had a great time today and I'm happy to start off the season with a great feeling that this is going to be an awesome season! More to come....Iron Girl 10K on April 1st!
Subaru Results at