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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: "cycling"

Kona RR: 112 miles

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stats from

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

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

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

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

Training the body: thanking the body.

Marni Sumbal

My legs were tired, it was hot and humid, the wind was blowing and I was riding behind Karel on his new Speed Concept.

33 days until Kona and I think I just finished one of my hardest training blocks ever.

Thank you BODY!

-Sunday's workout-

5 hour ride + 15 min run

1 hour warm-up, building to 10 watts below IM pace (legs took a while to warm-up thanks to the stress I placed on my body from Saturday's 3:15 bike + 9.5 mile run).
35 min IM pace w/ 5 min EZ
Main set 3x's:
35 minutes @ Half IM pace (watts) w/ 4 minutes in between (see below of details of this set)
Steady riding upper Z2 until finished
Total hours: 4:58
Miles: 99.3

15 min run off the bike (RPE 75-80%, ended up holding 8-8:15 min/miles)

Since Karel is training for a half IM (Miami 70.3 in the end of October), his training is a bit different than mine right now. He ran 1 hour before the bike and then joined me on my 2nd interval. After I did 35 minutes of riding at my IM pace and then recovered for 5 minutes, Karel joined me and we were ready for the main set.

The duration for the main sets has grown over the past few weeks and no more am I feeling the "low" I use to feel around 2.5 hours during my long rides. While training for IM Lake Placid, I knew that my endurance was going to come slowly after not running for 90 days (Feb - April) due to my chronic hip/back issues. But I continue to focus on the CANs with my exercise/training routine and enjoying everyday with my healthy, pain free body. Now, I feel my endurance is better than ever and since the training is getting very intense and specific, I am super mindful of resting my body before I really need to rest it. I really love the progression that Karel has given me with my training for it was a work in progress. I spent all last year working on my speed as Karel did not want me to do an IM but instead work on the little things that will improve my endurance. Hence, get faster before you go longer.  I remember blogging last year about doing my first Olympic distance tri in 4 years! Oh the nerves!! Then there was The Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater . Then another Olympic distance tri (first time for Karel!). And then I was able to put it all together at Branson 70.3

Anyways, the body is an amazing thing and I don't feel it is always respected. It takes a lot of time to train the body and mind, not only in athletics but with anything in life. You just have to have patience and I think our society loves quick fixes. Our society wants something to happen today just like.

Sometimes we have to shut up the mind to make the body go that extra mile to get stronger but many times, we don't listen to the body when it is speaking.

I feel athletes are no more stubborn than the rest of the population for many people push the body (or don't listen to it) when it needs to rest or slow down. I think for many of us, we just don't want to miss out on life and because of that, this is the reason why we should listen and constantly pay attention to the body and what we choose to feed it, do with it and most importantly, how we speak to it.

On Sunday, my main set was more than just 35 minutes at Half IM pace. It involved no tail wind (thanks to Karel choosing country roads with the long blades of grass blowing right at me or to my side) and very little shade from the heat. It was perfect Kona prep and Karel constantly reminded me what I was about to do with my body in Kona in about 4 weeks for 140.6 miles. "It's not going to be easy Marni. You can never beat the wind."

Riding with Karel is amazing. I can't tell you how much I learn and benefit from him as a cat 1 cyclist for many many years. His knowledge of bikes is one thing as well as his passion for anything on two wheels but it is his attention to details and tactics that really make him so smart as an athlete.

The set was as follows:
10 minutes of me in front riding half IM pace.
Then Karel would go in front and hold a similar pace (he did this workout for me so he obviously wasn't pushing his watts) and I had to stay draft legal (7 meters) behind Karel. He wanted me to pay attention to my speed and watts and to stay draft legal but still be "competitive" with who was in front of me. This is something I have a hard time with as I typically stay a bit too focused on myself and don't take a lot of risks when it comes to being pushed by the other girls who pass me. Karel wanted me to be relentless within my own ability and I felt like this was one of the hardest sets I have ever done and it really pushed my limits (physically and mentally).

I repeat myself quite often but the thought in my mind is that I am always grateful for what my body allows me to do. There have been many times in my life when I have wanted to give up - when things aren't easy, when obstacles arise or when it seems like everyone else has it easier than me. 

For the past few years, I have experienced a lot in life and I owe it all to my body. We go to great lengths to reach goals together and because of it, I have really taken advantage of life. 

You see, success in life- whether sports, career or anything in between - is having a purpose and then thinking in a positive way as to how YOU can go about reaching your goal.

I constantly remind myself that my body does not have to let me do "this". When I train I push my body and challenge myself. I get sore, tired and rely on sport nutrition because I am depleting my body of nutrients, fluids and electrolytes. I see patients in the hospital who are too tired to get out of bed, lay in pain, are unable to think straight and feel miserable - not because they just did a marathon or an IM or biked 100 miles that day but because their body is failing them at that time.

I find so many people are so focused on what everyone else is doing that they forget who they should really be paying attention to on a daily basis - their own body.

This morning I received an email from a Trimarni follower and it 100% sums up everything I believe in. With permission from Sarah S. I wanted to share this note from her which she shares her thoughts after finishing her first Ironman distance triathlon. There's a great lesson in thanking the body. 

I started Ironman Arizona last November but DNF'd due to dehydration about 100 miles into the bike....Rev 3 Cedar Point was my redemption race.

First of all though, you really have changed the way I think about my body and my relationship with food. I don't come from an athletic background at all....I couldn't run over a mile until 2009, never really rode a bike until 2010 and couldn't swim a lap until 2011. So this has been quite the journey! 

I never have had a healthy relationship with food but reading your blog has taught me that as athletes especially food is FUEL and we need to treat our bodies right. Also, thanks to you the whole day yesterday I kept reminding myself to thank my body for being awesome. 

When it got hard (which it did a lot) and I wasn't preforming how I *thought* I should, or going as fast as I had hoped, instead of being angry at my body or dragging myself down, like I used to do, I thanked my body for letting me get through training and for carrying me through this race. 

In the past I would have felt bad for myself and thought "you're so slow, you're near the back, why do you even do this?" but yesterday not a single negative thought entered my mind the whole day. 

I spent hours thanking my legs and my lungs and encouraging my body to keep moving forward. It's still a new way of thinking for me, but I love it!

How did Sarah's race turn out? Here's the end of her race report:

Miles 18-22 were the worst, I just gritted my teeth and used every single ounce of grit and determination and will I could to move one foot in front of the other. With about 4 miles to go I started feeling good again! I actually did a little bit of slow running and let myself get a tiny bit excited about finishing but not too much because I still had over an hour to go at my pace. I could see the lights of cedar point getting closer and soon I could see and hear the finish line. Miraculously once I got in the chute all the pain vanished and I was able to run again. I took it all in…everyone cheering my name like I was a rockstar and the tears started flowing….I did it! A 6:23 marathon isn't what I hoped for (about an hour slower) but it didn't matter, I was so proud of myself. After 15:19 of swim, bike, and run! I am an Ironman! After years of training and a DNF last year, I did it. It was the hardest day of my life and nothing anyone can do or say will prepare you for how deep you have to dig out there. I am just so proud of myself!

Ironman Lake Placid RR: 112 mile bike

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garmin 500 splits 

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

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

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

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

Weekend training recap and my cycling tips

Marni Sumbal

As human beings, we all make mistakes. But there is a big difference in making mistakes but knowing better, making the same mistake over and over and making mistakes to learn. 

I think we could all put ourselves in one of those categories at various times in our life from training/racing with injuries, saying something you regretted/didn't mean, making choices regarding food, etc. But the best thing about making mistakes is knowing that you are trying and that you can make yourself better in the long run. 

I remember a few weeks ago when Karel and I were doing a long brick and after our intervals, we joined our normal Saturday morning ride (which is around 50-70 minutes total depending on when we meet up with the fast group) and Karel was feeling the need for speed so him and a few other cyclists broke away and as the pack chased Karel, he was just ripping the pack apart...he was untouchable and seeing him in the distance, I knew my cyclist of a hubby was loving this suffer fest.....for us chasers. Unfortunately, Karel pushed beyond his IM limits and completely bonked after the ride and wasn't able to run off the bike. He laughed about it afterward and since then, he has stayed within his limits for his IM specific training. Of course, he was smart as to not try to be stubborn and try to run x-miles off the bike and of course, no amount of nutrition is going to help him bike and run at a pace that he didn't train himself to do in training. Just like many athletes, we can swim, bike and run at a certain pace solo but if you are a triathlete, it is knowing how to put the pieces together that really matters. There is something impressive about someone who can individual swim, bike and run fast but that doesn't matter much with endurance triathlon training/racing. Sure, it can impact your fitness but you have to know how to put the pieces together and that is what IM training is all about. Creating new limits but knowing how to stay within them. I take IM training very seriously as there is a lot to learn within the journey. Many athletes get so caught up in the miles and fearing the distance but I believe that we must not rush the journey and recognize how important it is to focus on the key workouts that make up great race day performances. 

On Saturday morning, I joined Karel for our 4.5 hour  brick. 4 hours on the bike and a 30 minute run. Well, that was the plan. 

After I stuck to Karel's wheel for the first hour, we did the most difficult set that my body has ever done....
10 minutes steady, 5 minutes hard....continuous for 1 hour. 

On paper, this doesn't look hard but Karel has been peaking and I knew after seeing my watts for the 10 minutes steady that this was going to be a toughy. However, I made an IM-rookie mistake of pushing beyond my limits in a brick workout but I just couldn't help but be the athlete I am inside....I just wanted to see if I could do it. 

Pushing watts I have not done in training for the past 10 weeks or so, Karel was impressed that I stayed on his wheel for the 1 hour set and by the time we joined the group ride, I knew I overdid it. I managed to stay on for the group ride but when we were heading home in head wind, I had enough. Knowing the physiology of the body, this was not nutrition or motivation related. I just overdid it and now I had to stay with my mistake. So, for about 1 hour of riding in headwind (talk about a hard way to gather your thoughts), I went back and forth in my head as to if I should run off the bike and within 3 miles from home, my "smart" coach thinking won over my "stubborn" athlete thinking and I decided that since that bike had nothing to do with IM training, it would be best to scratch the run off the bike. However, although the mistake was made, I was still able to think of plan B. Water jog. So I hoped in the complex pool for a refreshing 20 minute water jog as it was much kinder on my body than pounding the pavement for 30 minutes. Karel ended up having an amazing workout for both bike and run and when we connected that evening after he got off work, all was good and I was happy I made this mistake. For it was fun while it lasted but Sat. showed me that like many athletes, you have to respect your own fitness level when training for an endurance event. I love training with Karel but with 4 weeks til race day, the training is very specific to both of our bodies. We can continue to share this journey together but at different paces, intensities and volume. 

Thankfully, Sunday I was able to regroup and have an amazing brick workout - 1 hour bike, 13.3 mile run, 2 hour bike. As for Karel, he did his first ever 20 mile run with a 1 hour EZ spin after the run. Success for both of us to wrap up 3 hard, quality weeks of training. Gotta love progress. 

So as I was collecting my thoughts after my suffer-session with Karel, I couldn't help but think about the progress I have made on my bike so I thought I'd share some of my top tips for becoming a better, smarter and stronger cyclist. By no means am I a professional cyclist or cycling coach but having been coached by Karel on the bike since we met in 2006 and Karel riding a bike all his life, I have learned a lot about cycling and how to properly ride/train on a bike as well as being more and more comfortable on the bike (since cycling was very new to me when I started tri's and I was very scared on the bike). Most importantly, you can always get better as a cyclist so don't ever give up. 

-Train with a power meter
-Learn how to change your gears appropriately
-Learn how to switch from big/small ring while drafting 
-Learn how to anticipate changing terrain and adjust gears appropriately
-Be sure your bike is set-up with a hydration system that is easy to access (ex. rear bottle cages) and that all bottles are secure
-Learn what your nutrition needs are for each individual workout
-Learn how to become "one" with your bike
-Learn how to adjust gears before stopping
-Learn how to break properly, especially before stopping or if slowing down in a group
-Relax on the bike
-Maintain good position of your seat bone on the saddle
-Learn how to pedal smoothly
-Learn how to climb based on your size/height (I generally climb in my small chain ring and standing)
-Don't be afraid to ride with others but be sure you are not taking your time away from your own specific training
-Don't ride scared
-Learn how to change a flat tire
-Learn how to anticipate other objects around you, possibly getting in your way (react quickly but smart)
-Learn how to embrace the pain to get stronger (good pain, not injury pain)
-Just ride your bike for fun - get more comfortable on your bike in all types of conditions (be smart)
-Practice scenarios similar to race day - set up your bike, wear clothing, wear HR monitor, stuff jersey pockets, etc. similar to race day to get use to what "it" feels like. 
-Be sure to have a bike that fits you - don't buy a bike and then try to fit it. 
-Trust your mechanic (or be married to him/her :)) and be sure he/she understands your individual needs and goals
-For most triathletes, there is no reason to be "aero" on the bike with a flat back. Avoid an aggressive/aero position on the bike and get a retul fit by a fitter who is qualified to fit you with the Retul system. 
-Know how to dress appropriately on the bike and invest in comfortable shoes and helmet. 
-Use your gadgets appropriately. Use a bike computer, separate from a running garmin so you can fix it to your bike and not on your wrist. Rather than being stuck on speed, consider lap times every 10-20-30 minutes so you can better pace yourself. 
-Create sets that will allow you to progress with fitness and remember that athletes will peak at different times. 
-Do not get frustrated on the bike as cycling is one of the best activities that you can do for a lifetime (like swimming) that is easy on the body. 
-Ride safe, wear a Road ID and have fun!

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

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday's brick - My workout:

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

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

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

Sunday's brick - Karel's workout

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

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

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

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

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

Czech trip Day 6: From Pribor to Znojmo. more cycling, food and beer

Marni Sumbal

After a quick morning run with Karel (around 4 miles) in the misty rain but on a great paved road, we cleaned up, enjoyed another delicious breakfast in Czech of eggs, mixed veggies, fresh yogurt w/ dried apples (homemade) and muesli, and a slice of bread with homemade cheese spread and Karel and I packed up to head back to Znojmo. It was sad to say good bye to his brothers family but we were looking forward to our last week in Znojmo as Karel still had so much more on our unplanned to do list. I can not believe how time is just flying by!

After our 2.5 hour drive (a bit faster than before due to beautiful weather!) we were back in Znojmo and Karel's mom had a delicious meal waiting for us (Slovakian-inspired) along with several desserts (she said she was in a baking mood the night before). All these treats are exciting but Karel and I typically share any treat that we are offered. There are certainly times for occasional treats but each time should be enjoyed and if you treat yourself day after day, it becomes less and less special. Certainly I do not feel like we are restricting ourselves from anything that is special here and can be consumed with enjoyment but we are not eating anything and everything just because we are in Czech. We have turned down a few treats and second helpings only because we are satisfied from a meal and I feel that is the most appropriate time to say no thank you as oppose to fearing food for calories, fat, sugar, salt, etc. I am really enjoying the fact that I can enjoy this city with Karel and we have both kept our great relationship with food here in Czech. We always feel better after we eat, than before. Just like at home in Florida, no low blood sugar levels, stomach issues, hunger pains, intense cravings, headaches or anything else that many people accept as normal when trying to eat "health"...we have lots of energy all day, sleep well, wake up rested and never use the words guilty, off limit, restricted, cleanse, detox, bad or any other popular fad diet word that brings attention to a style of eating that appeals to the masses.

After we rested for an hour, we headed over to Karel's dad's place to get our bikes from his basement and headed out for an awesome ride in Czech. Karel knows these roads like he road them yesterday for each ride we ride somewhere new, see beautiful scenery and Karel tells me stories of when he was racing/training here in Czech. We are not training here in Czech so we have no schedule or specific miles-time that we have to accomplish everyday. We are not exercising to "burn" calories so we can eat pastries or not feel guilty when eating. We are just enjoying our time here being active, which we love to do with our fueled bodies.

This ride was amazing because we rode in straight headwind and sidewind to a castle and well-worth the brutal conditions heading out there. There was a chill in the air so it was rather chilly while descending to the castle so we only went half way because the rain was coming. We took a pic and then, my favorite part - began climbing again to head back home. We had the most helpful tailwind coming back and we were flying! Karel extended our ride a little to show me some special scenery spots and then it was time to head back to his dad's to clean up.

We walked to Karel's first bike shop and first job to meet with his first boss. Since leaving Czech, Karel's boss turned the basement of the bike shop into a wine cellar where he has received many awards for his wines. We tasted a few wines (with white wine being very popular here due to the seasons and the production of white grapes) and then enjoyed the most amazing pizza ever. Karel told me that the pizza in Czech was out of this world and as a big lover of local pizza, I was so excited to try it! On the side, we had pizza dough (cooked) w/ garlic which was amazing as well. Wow - totally in love with the pizza here and after a long day, I was so happy about our early evening eats.

Since Karel hadn't seen all of his friends yet in Znojmo, Karel arranged a get-together at a pub (of course) for his old cycling teammates to get together and catch up. It was a bit overwhelming for Karel for he wasn't able to translate everything to me but that is ok - several of the guys had their dogs there which is a great thing for me as there are doggies everywhere in Czech so I get lots of doggy love (and it doesn't matter what language they speak) :)It has been very hard for Karel but I know he is gaining a lot more brain cells to extend his longevity as his brain is on 100% of the time, translatting for me all day. Sometimes he forgets to switch and talks English to others but overall, he is doing a very great job as my translator.

As Karel enjoyed a glass (or 3) of beer following our wine tasting, we ordered a light "dinner" at the pub since we had just had pizza. I had a delicious salad w/ a baguette and goat cheese with black walnuts (delicious!) and Karel had a steak tatar plate.

It was a late evening but a great one! Afterward, we walked home (a big trend which I am loving here - we walk miles and miles everyday, especially to and from eating) and it was time for a great night of sleep to begin another fun-filled day.

Stay tuned for Day 7: a run around Znojmo, touring a castle and an underground wine cellar, hiking and eating at the vegetarian restaurant.

CzechTrip Day 3: Austria, pastries, coffee and cycling

Marni Sumbal


You know that feeling in a workout when you think to yourself “It can’t get any better than that”, well, I am finding myself “wowing” my way through this trip. I hesitate using the word “vacation” because Karel and I aren’t use to vacationing Sitting around on the beach or being catered to at a resort is not our style....honestly, we'd be bored after a few hours
When we travel, it is typically for an event or race and we don't do well sitting around. Thus, every time we pack our bags for something, it is for a purpose and often includes some type of movement (or is related to our jobs which involve activity/fitness). This trip has many purposes but I am enjoying my time here in Czech making memories but also learning about a new culture that allows me to bring home new ways to live life as well as an appreciation of what I have back at home. With my blog posts and pictures, I only hope that I can inspire others to get comfortable being uncomfortable by trying new things and being open to new opportunities. I realize that traveling abroad is not for everyone and may not be practical for everyone (costs, timing, logistics, etc.) but I feel that many people take for granted the many opportunities they have in their own current life but just feel “stuck” either in a bubble of familiarity and fear change or are scared to make any changes and the “what if’s” keep you bored, stressed and overwhelmed in your current life.
This is my third trip abroad and although my last two trips were a while back in 2004 and 1995 to Philippines and Japan, respectively, I find myself constantly enjoying learning from others...particularly, the lifestyle.

Aside from the 7th day Adventists  and the Mediterranean style diet (which research consistently shows, long term, that both show high rates of quality of life and low risk for disease and improved health status by following a vegetarian or plant based diet), I've learned from those who live a high paced, wealthy lifestyle and from those who take bucket showers and have no electricity and seeing that each country may have staple foods and/or certain thoughts on exercise/fitness/sports, every village, town and city differs in terms of quality of life. Thus, to assume that there is one right way to live is absolutely wrong as it isn't about a right way of being healthy but rather, making sure your lifestyle makes you happy.

So, here is the blog post that was very hard to summarize for there were way too many wow’s and not enough brain power to put it all into words. Again, thank goodness for iPhones and photos to keep memories current and fresh.

Once again, the sun was shining early and I found myself awake at 5:20am thinking it was 9am. I was able to lay back down for a little but then around 6am I woke up to the smell of fresh European coffee.

Karel and I started our morning with a cup of coffee and headed out for a quick 2 mile run on new roads (for me) in Czech. For both Karel and myself, we love to stay active and exercise is a very important to both of us for both physical and mental benefits. But as I have repeated many times in my blog and in articles, you don’t have to be a triathlete or marathon runner to be “healthy”. I am a firm believer that you should get your heart rate up, don’t be afraid to sweat and don’t feel as if you have to conquer x-minutes, x-workouts, x-days a week. Just move whenever you can for however long feels “right.” I absolutely love our morning runs because 20-30 minutes of sight-seeing is the perfect way to start the day as it is only the beginning of a jam-packed day.

Throughout our morning run and breakfast (which was a simple meal of local yogurt, fresh fruit, egg and bread/pastries and water) Karel continued with stories of when he was growing up in Znojmo. I guess you could say that Karel is taking a lot of “runs” down memory lane.

After breakfast Karel and his dad had to run some personal errands so I joined along for the “experience” of living a day-to-day life in Czech.  Since we were in town for the errands, we stayed busy on our feet walking everywhere (which is typical for people in Znojmo as parking is tight, gas is pricey and streets are narrow and it is much easier to just walk/bike everywhere. Plus, since everyone buys local and fresh foods are so popular, most grocery stores are within walking distance so people just shop daily for small items as not many would buy packaged bread here or expect  fresh food to last a week). We visited a beautiful church as well as two of Karel’s old bike shops. It is so great to see people remember Karel as soon as they see him and although I can’t understand anything, I know they ‘re catching up and sharing great stories.

After the bike shop, it was time for a mid morning treat. Seeing that we have not snacked between meals since we have arrived in Czech, I was super excited for this opportunity to have a real espresso in Europe with a real pastry. Because I have relied on Karel to order everything for me (much easier than having him translate everything for me), he ordered me a delicious walnut pastry as well as 3 other pastries for us to share. I laughed at Karel when he told me that he would always pass a bakery on his way home from school when he was young and he would always get pastries before he came home. Now I know why my hubby has such a big sweet tooth! Although it may look like we are “treating” ourselves a lot, we have yet to feel gross or guilty after eating anything and although no scale and we aren’t very concerned with weight gain, neither one of us feel as if we have gained any weight. We do not ever use words like "I'm being bad, I shouldn't be doing this or I feel fat" as I don't believe those are beneficial words in a balanced lifestyle. Of course, we can not bring home this lifestyle to the US because it just wouldn’t work in our sedentary, fast paced society. As hard as I try to help others live a more balanced active and healthy lifestyle (and feel more confident doing so, thanks to this trip), I realize that what works in one country may not be ideal in another. In addition to the food here being prepared with fresh ingredients and not loaded with salt, high fructose corn syrup (Karel says they don't use it in processed food here that he knows of) and sugar, we are extremely active here just moving all the time. Whereas in America, for many of us, we seem to spend most of our day sitting and only get up to go and eat (often eating quickly or continuing our day while eating).
Here in Czeh, it is nice to sit down to eat with family/friends after walking around all day. Also, there is something to be said about the quality of food here. I have yet to put a preservative, food dye or artificial ingredient in my body since arriving to Europe (although I have food with me, I have not had any protein powder, KIND and Hammer bars or other “emergency” food from home for I have not felt like I needed it), food tastes so good that you don’t have to eat a lot of it to be satisfied…much different than in America where you think food tastes good and you can’t stop eating. Here in Europe, it’s hard to overeat for the food is just more delicious and meal time is a slow time. I have yet to see anyone eat in their car or behind a computer screen (although I am sure people do, but unlike America, it is not the norm). It’s really hard to explain the living and eating style here, especially because many people in America have such an unhealthy relationship with food and the body. I have a blog to write in the near future as I talked with Karel's niece about "diets" here in Czech as well as some other questions that I had in terms of the "lifestyle" here and relationship with food and the body and I found it all very interesting. To sum up one of her statements after I asked her what she thought about American culture (relating to food/bodies) after her recent trip to Miami and then a cruise, she said that yes, there are big Americans but also, way too many "skinny" Americans. When I asked her to describe "skinny" she basically described the body that I feel many athletic individuals are trying to achieve - toned, lean and not curvy. To her, it looked unhealthy.
Everything in the US from body image (too big to too small) and diets (from good food to bad/off-limit food) is so extreme and for some reason, we have this perception of what is “healthy” in terms of body image and diet (although the diet component changes daily, it seems) and thus, I feel our society is so far removed from a balanced lifestyle. People want to be healthy but they aren’t happy and their idea of "healthy" is not always a true defnition of health. Although I have been very adventurous in trying new things and being extremely “free” here, I don’t feel as if I am living a different life from what I try to do at home in Florida. I am so happy that I came to Czech with a strong relationship with food and a good one with my body that I am only continuing my balanced lifestyle rather than being shocked at any one thing here. It is a great feeling knowing that I can travel outside of my comfort zone in the US and still maintain my definition of a healthy and active lifestyle.
The only thing that is different here is that it IS the “norm” here to live a life of happiness, love and good, real food. Food is slow cooked, not fast. It is real, not processed. I do miss a few of my staple foods that I feel are healthy in my diet like nuts, seeds, tofu, lentils, peanut butter, beans and whole grains but I am functioning just fine here in Czech while maintaining my meat-free lifestyle (and Karel is enjoying his meat options here and enjoying the lifestyle just as much as me. Well, maybe a bit more since it has been many years for him to have enjoyed his mom's cooking). Sure, Karel and I are athletes and our bodies take care of themselves  because we “train” more than we “exercise” but if I have learned anything in the 3 short days that we have been here, it is that American’s waste so much energy on wanting to change the outcomes of unhealthy lifestyle choices when instead, it is not one food (or food group)  that needs to be eliminated but instead the overall lifestyle is what needs to be addressed. If you don't make time to cook real foods, you are only going to find yourself blaming carbs for weight gain for the rest of your life. It's not carbs, dairy or's the lifestyle and I can attest for that as I have eaten a diet here that tastes great and much of it is not my typical diet....but, I feel great, have not seen any negative change in body composition, both Karel and I have repeatedly said we feel very "clean" inside and we feel energized and satisfied. Let's not forget that a balanced lifestyle includes good sleep, stress management, slowing down to enjoy life, spending time with friends/family (and wanting to take care of others) and of course, real food…not too much, just enough to enjoy it, feel fueled and nourished and feel satisfied. It's not gluten-free, paleo or these others diets that Karel's niece had never heard of, but instead, it's the lifestyle of moving your body and feeling good about the food you put into your body (and not worrying about what others are doing or not doing).

 Sorry - I digress.

After our morning adventure, Karel and I went to his mom’s to change quickly for we were about to take a bike ride to Austria!!!

Karel’s old cycling buddy, Jirka, invited us for a ride on his “lunch break” since many of the business shut down for lunch. Another one of Jirka’s friends joined us and I was thrilled that he could speak a little English.

So excited for a bike ride of a lifetime, we rode ~10K and crossed the Austria border! It was around 12:30pm when we started but I’ve completely lost track of time here in Czech as Karel is keeping me incredibly busy and on my toes (love it!). And I thought Czech was beautiful, the scenery in Austria was gorgeous! I just couldn’t believe my eyes and I couldn’t stop taking pictures while riding. I am happy that my bike handling skills have improved over the years for this ride offered many new experiences for me such as riding through small towns with small roads and cars zipping buy (although they don’t seem to mind cyclists), signs which I couldn’t understand and thus had no idea where we were going, riding on cobblestones and riding on a few rollers (Very smooth roads outside of the towns).

When we arrived to Retz, Austria we took a few pics and then, why not…let’s have a cappuccino! Coffee drinking is much different than in’s not coffee, it’s the culture of drinking coffee. Seeing that I normally have 1-2 cups a day (before and after my morning workout or in the morning), I don’t ever do “energy” drinks or afternoon coffee pick-me-ups. But here, there are no paper cups or weak coffee beans that require loads of sugar and sweeteners to provide flavor. It’s 2-3 ounces of strong coffee that must be consumed slowly and it is hard to not enjoy it. Of course, I am use to this because I have lived with a European in America for the past 6.5 years so it is something that I welcomed but had not yet appreciated until I came to Europe.

After coffee, we headed up a climb on cobblestones (nervous at first but I did just fine thanks to Karel giving me pointers as to not ride slow as I needed to keep my momentum riding up the climb) and then up a windy, smooth road to see a beautiful windmill on the top of a hill which overlooked the city. Talk about a priceless opportunity in life while doing what Karel and I love to do….and how we met, on our bikes!

After a few more pics, we climbed a bit more and then had  a fast, fun descend on a smooth open two lane road back to Retz and then we made our way back to Znojmo. Although the total ride was around 25 miles and the way there was rather casual, the guys picked it up on the way back and with the wind blowing strong in the open fields, I had a nice workout on the way home by drafting with the guys pulling away.

After the ride, it was nearing 2:45pm and we had yet to eat lunch so to no surprise, Karel’s mom had lunch ready for us (from earlier since we missed it)…fried cheese and homemade mashed potatoes! Karel had been telling me about the Smažak for a while and it reminded me of mozzarella sticks…but of course, so much better as it was prepared by Karel’s mom and served in the perfect portion as I could have eaten so much more but Karel and I always eat until we are satisfied (in other words, we could eat a few more bites but we stop before). And here in Czech, Karel keeps reminding me you don’t want to eat until you are full because you never know when someone will have more food for you J What a great thought as many people eat until they have eaten one too many bites and thus, feel uncomfortable and regret that last bite (or 5).

We rested for about an hour and then Karel’s niece (from his sister who passed away in 2001) and her husband came over to take us to a trip to Vienna!!

All new news to me, I was so super excited when she told me where we were going in the car. It was ~80K to Vienna from Karel’s home and when we pulled off the interstate to downtown Vienna, I “wow’d” once again. Oh wow – so beautiful!! You could just feel the history between the buildings and on the streets. Oh and those streets were super bike/runner friendly (and in-line skating). We had coffee at one of the most famous café’s in Vienna called Landtmann along with a pre dinner dessert. The atmosphere was amazing with people just socializing after work, drinking coffee, enjoying a small dessert, reading newspapers and just enjoying talking to one another (minimal cell phone use). After a once in a lifetime experience in Vienna, we drove around the city before heading to another small city about 80K away for dinner. Karel’s niece is a vegetarian as well and she was excited to take me to my first restaurant meal in Czech….well, not exactly a Czech meal.

The restaurant Schickh was in Austria so the menu was in German and the waitress also spoke German (and a little English). Nothing new, I relied on others to choose for me as Karel’s niece Jitka read the German menu, translated Czech to Karel (she also speaks English but it was much easier for Karel to find something for me as he knows what I like to eat and also he knows what I may like to try for something new) who then told me what I would be eating. Talk about a new experience on a whole new level!!

For starters, the beautiful bread basket came and seeing that it was around 8:15pm, we welcomed the variety of fresh bread along with the fresh veggies and chive dip that also came with the bread. We also got a bottle of white wine to share. For appetizers, I had a salad w/ fried goat cheese and Karel had a steak Tatar plate. For our entrée, the chef prepared a vegetarian item just for me which included boiled potatoes w/ parsley (no salt added by the chef, I didn’t even have to worry about salty potatoes as he didn’t even feel the need to salt them) along with a full plate of a variety of roasted veggies tossed in olive oil. Karel said that I never have to feel the need to finish my plate and you don’t ask for a “doggy bag” and it is OK to not finish your meal. I wasn’t able to finish my meal so I ate until I was satisfied and I felt really great after I finished (albeit, very tired from a long, busy day). Karel, no surprise, had Schnitzel with potatoes and he loved every bit of it.

As I mentioned before, it was a wow-type of day. All new to me and lots of memories made in Czech (and Austria). I am learning so much about the culture and I am so grateful that I have Karel as my tour guide and that we are staying with Karel’s family. I feel my life has already been changed from this trip and I can’t wait to get back to “work” (Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition) and to change more lifestyles when I return home from Europe. Although I have never been one to read “diet, fitness and health” books written by guru’s and professionals but instead get my knowledge from research and textbooks, I can honestly say that a lot can be said from the experiences you get by living a lifestyle in another country, learning from the locals and addressing the pros and cons in another country in relation to your own. Sometimes you have to be willing to make a change to feel a change and often, those changes can’t be read in a book but instead, through life experiences.
Stay tuned for pics from Day 3 as well as a recap of Day 4: traveling to Karel's brother's house in Příbor, CZ , checking out Stramberk and eating LOTS of awesome, delicious, fresh food!
Thanks for reading and enjoying the pics on Facebook. I'm happy we can share this journey with everyone in hopes that you can be inspired to live a more balanced healthy and active lifestyle.

Czech trip Day 2: First “official” day in Czech

Marni Sumbal


After one of the best sleeps ever, we both woke up to the sun shining, birds chirping and cars driving (window’s open – no AC, but the most perfect weather!). I figured it had to be well past 9am but Karel told me “it gets bright here early, it’s only 6am”.

Wheww….the day wasn’t wasted!

After we took our time with our morning coffee (always nice to slow down in life), we got ourselves ready for a run around Czech. Well, fast moving feet but a few stops for pictures. Karel shared stories with me here and there and we both enjoyed the ups and downs of running around the town, but primarily on running trails and bike paths. The terrain is absolutely beautiful and the weather was perfect (around 60 degrees). We saw gardens, the hospital and several schools. All bringing back memories for Karel.

After 3.5 miles, we made it back to his mom’s and sure enough, Karel’s mom was already cooking us breakfast.

After showering in the bath tub, I got myself ready and enjoyed another delicious homecooked meal. Scrambled eggs with fresh chives, tomatoes and potatoes, served with a fresh roll and unsalted butter. Oh, and more coffee.

Breakfast hit the spot and I finally started to feel like I was on European time. Afterward, we picked up Karel’s dad (who doesn’t have a car) and with his mom, we all went to two commentary’s so Karel  could see his grandma and sister, who both passed away in the past 13 years while he was in the US and was unable to come back for their funerals. It was a happy but sad time as Karel never thought this day would come he would be back in Czech with his family. He misses the many years that he could have spent with his family but he knows that immigrating to the US was the right thing for him and I feel lucky that I can share all these experiences with him. Life is best enjoyed when it is shared with those who you love.

It was sad for Karel to see his sister’s grave, who passed away in 2001 (one year after Karel came to the US) when she was only 35 years old (a condition/illness that caused her brain to swell) and Karel was 24 years old and he said that he really appreciates the times that he can share with his family now as they are in their 70’s and getting older and he really loves being with them after being away for all these years.


After the cemetery visits, we needed to lighten the mood so it was time for a grocery store trip….MARNI in HAPPY LAND!

I was picture crazy with all the fresh foods and endless amount of beer and bread (two staples here in Czech) but both Karel and I wanted to try everything! He was telling me lots of stories of foods when he was younger “Oh, I use to LOVE this, and that, and that”….and I loved it!

I absolutely love being in a new country and living like a local so although no peanut butter in the Czech grocery stores and plenty of cereals, I refuse to eat “American” food. Although there are many similar items in Czech, I only want fresh, local and/or new foods. I welcome it all!! Well, I will save the meat for Karel as he is loving it all! I can't wait to talk about the European lifestyle in more detail but I will need to save that for another blog when I return.

After our grocery trip, it was nearing 12 pm local time and Karel said that lunch time is the “big” meal of the day where everyone comes together at a certain time to eat together. People don’t just eat when they feel like it but instead, come together at meal time and stop what they are doing. Love it!

Lunch was sautéed spinach with onions and garlic, stuffed inside homemade crepes. The texture of the spinach made me a little concerned but after one bite, I was yumming my way through lunch. Delicious! Dessert was chocolate, a fresh sliced orange and a crepe stuffed with homemade apricot jam. The great thing is that neither Karel and I feel stuffed and we don’t stop moving.

After lunch, we got our stuff ready and we headed over to Karel’s dad’s place for Karel to get our bikes ready for our first bike ride in Czech. Although Karel rode with his dad in 2008 when they came for our wedding, Karel said that his dad has been so excited to ride bikes with Karel here in Czech. Karel’s dad is 73 and doesn’t ride a lot anymore but still loves any opportunity to be on a bike and surrounds himself with cycling friends, likes to still work on bikes and often visits the local bike shop where Karel use to work while growing up. Yep – like father, like son. Karel Sr. showed me some of his trophies and awards from some of his Master’s races in the past few years, just smiling with pride.

Karel had to assemble his bike and “fit” my bike based on my measurements from my road bike at home (what a bonus being married to a bike mechanic, nonetheless, one from Europe) and about an hour later, Karel told me that one of his best childhood friends, Honza, was going to ride with us.

Around 3:30pm we headed out for a very casual ride…..nice and steady for Karel’s dad (who did amazing!), and conversational for Karel and Honza who chatted the entire time. As usual, Karel is most comfortable on or around bikes and I could just tell he was loving riding on his old training routes.

The ride was absolutely beautiful…I just couldn’t help but take pictures the entire way. Goats, horses, green terrain, bumpy roads, small towns….It was absolutely priceless. There were a few small climbs on the rolling terrain but other than that, the windy roads made for the most pleasant 25 mile, 2 hour ride and I just loved that I could share this with Karel, his friend and his dad. Again – super impressed with Karel’s dad…I’m happy that Karel has good riding genes in his family as I hope we can live the active lifestyle that we love so much, when we are in our 70’s and onward.

After a quick shower at Karel’s dad’s place, we headed back to his mom’s place and prepared our own dinner. Because lunch is the main meal of the day (which seems appropriate since we don’t do a lot of activity after dinner and in Czech much of the town “shuts down” around 6-7 for business’s), we decided we would keep dinner a bit simple since Karel’s mom has been cooking for us since we got here (but she loves it and refuses to let us make anything – she is happy when she is cooking and taking care of us). Karel’s mom was actually at her garden down the road when we came home so we decided to do a salad and a variety of bread for dinner w/ fresh cheeses and Karel had a little leftover pork with his dinner.

After dinner, we had a light dessert of fruit and homemade pastry and cookie and then we walked around downtown, historic Czech for around 90 minutes until it was too dark to see anything. I knew Czech was pretty from the pictures on the Internet and in books but I just couldn’t believe my eyes as Karel was taking me on the roads which he walked to school every day and again, sharing lots of stories with me of when he was growing up. To be honest, traveling with Karel has been the best blessing ever because there is something so very special to be with someone who can share memories with you as you both make memories together.

After our walk, I was ready for bed. Nearing 10pm local time, I couldn’t wait to go to bed to see what tomorrow would bring.
Pictures to come soon......


Czech trip Day 3: Cycling, pastries and Austria  

What's it like to ride 100 miles behind Karel?

Marni Sumbal

For the past 5 weeks, I have been focused on periodized training as I train for Ironman Lake Placid. Like every athlete, I have had some obstacles thrown in my way but I just focus on the cans and making progress - for some progress is better than no progress. In other words, making small gains forward and not going backward. With not running for 8 weeks due to my iliopsoas strain/tendonitis issues, I had a lot of ground to make up but I believe in making investments and not withdrawals. I got myself very strong in my glutes/hips/adductors/abductors and although the progression back to running has been slow, I have designed my return to running with a purpose for each run - I must feel stronger and more confident with my running with every workout. I stop before I need to stop, I walk to ensure less residual fatigue and I am focused on form, not speed.

As for swimming - I love to swim and not sure how much I will improve over the next 2 months but for me to get faster, I have to swim a lot and I just don't have all the time in the world so I have specific sets for each workout and that has given me some great key workouts...and some OK workouts where I just enjoy being in the water (after almost 20 years of competitive swimming).

In terms of biking, building endurance for an Ironman is much easier than building speed and I have come very far since first learning to ride a tri bike in 2006. Considering I have done 5 Ironmans and have been with Karel for all of them, you'd think that I'd be knocking out "long" rides every weekends and I'd be super fast on the bike. But it's not that simple to just ride long or hard every weekend/day and ensure the body will be ready for race day. As athletes, we all seem to have a few epic/stellar workouts in our system and at any point in the training plan, we can knock out some long workouts. Perhaps some are spot-on and amazing and others are ehhh, OK and glad to have got that one over with. I don't believe in the later for I want to gain something from every workout and it's very rare that my body will give me an ehhh, sub-par workout with periodized training.

Over the past 5 weeks, I have done 4 "long" rides of ~ 4 hours. Each ride had a purpose, teaching myself to be more efficient, working on nutrition and learning how to properly pace myself at the Ironman zone 3 (power zone) effort along with the rest of my swim-bike-run training.

Before even deciding to do a century this year, I wanted to make sure my mind and body were prepared for 100 miles and I knew if I couldn't pace and fuel myself properly for 4 hours, there's really no point in knocking out a 100 mile ride. Because I always go by time and not distance on the bike for a workout, I wanted to have a strong 100 mile ride and not waste time out there riding "slow" but instead, put my training to good use and to see what I was capable of. I feel this was the best strategy for mental toughness in that if I could be focused and strong for 4 hours, I knew with the right pacing, nutrition and focus, I could have a strong 100 mile ride. I just don't believe in long rides that are slow. I also don't feel that they need to be fast. There needs to be a purpose with every workout if you are sticking to periodized training and it's not about speed or miles but rather what you put into those miles.

So Friday evening I was excited for the century ride that I invited Karel to pace me on but totally exhausted from a long week of working/training. Fri night came around and I was in no mood to cook. BUT, food is fuel and my medicine and it only takes a little creativity and a pre-meal snack to get me excited to fuel my body with yummy nutritious fuel. 

For dinner: 
Grapefruit and strawberry salad w/ dark leafy greens, almonds, farmers cheese and golden raisins.
Pasta and veggie casserole

For the casserole, I boiled some pasta noodles until al dente. While those were cooking I sauteed firm cubed tofu in a little olive oil and seasoned with turmeric (hence the yellow/orange coloring of the tofu). While everything was cooking, I preheated oven to 425 degrees and in a casserole dish I filled it with sliced mushrooms, yellow squash, purple onions and kale. I spooned some marinara sauce on top, placed the cooked noodles on top (drained) to fill the dish (about 2 cups worth) and then topped again with a little marinara and seasonings of oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. I baked for ~25 minutes and then turned off oven, sprinkled with cheddar cheese and then kept in oven for 5 additional minutes. Voila! I super easy dinner with very little cooking.

So, onto the ride. 

5:30 wake up (I do best with at least 60 minutes before I start any workout to get myself moving, to foam roll, walk Campy, eat a pre training snack and get myself ready for the workout)
Pre training snack - 1 Matzah (I prefer flat bread or french/pita bread over whole grain bread, oatmeal or bagel) + small spoonful PB, cinnamon, raisins, honey, sliced bananas, 3 large strawberries and 1 cup milk + coffee/water. around ~65 g or s of carbs and low fiber and fat, energy dense carbs are key (ex. raisins, honey, banana, milk). I also had $5 with me for a gas station stop if needed.
7am - start time!
Nutrition for the ride - 3 bottles with ~250 calories in each bottle (~60g of carbs) + 3 gels + FIZZ (to refill bottle w/ water at stop around 3-3:30 hours). I also had 6 Hammer endurance aminos to take throughout the ride. A total of around 1100 calories. (based on my power meter, I am able to see how many calories I burn in the ride, and I try to replace around 50% which is about how much I can properly digest and absorb. Of course, the higher the intensity, more glycogen use but harder to digest so that is why pacing and nutrition consistency are super important on long training sessions. Be efficient and save your best performance for race day. I don't train to burn calories. I train to perform).

Warm-up (not so much) - once we were a few miles down the road, Karel picked up the pace. I didn't ask any questions about the ride and was thinking the ride would be around 5 hours but within the first hour, my mind was coming up with a million excuses as to why I shouldn't be riding "this fast" and there's no way I can keep this up. I had a mini breakdown around 1:20 into the ride and told Karel the pace was too fast and I probably shouldn't be doing this ride with him. He assured me (like always) that I can do this and to just stay focused. He said based on previous rides, there was nothing holding me back and I should just believe in myself. Seeing that my very first 100 mile ride was with Karel in 2006 and we averaged a blazing 16.5-17 mph (Karel was totally bored on that ride - he joked that he fell asleep a few times) I had to remind myself that I have come a long way on the bike and I had no limiters in my way.

After around 1:30, we joined the group ride in Nocatee which wasn't the normal fast pace because riders were either racing triathlons or in Athens for the Twilight Crit. Although the pace wasn't ridiculously fast, it was a little unorganized and my lack of fast twitch fibers do not do well with random accelerations. This is why I love riding with Karel  - he is so steady with his power meter and he is smart with pacing.

After the group ride, I started to feel better. We headed on A1A toward St. Augustine and the wind was blowing. It was a weird wind (like usual here in Jax - the legs never get to stop moving because it's always windy, hence why we don't "need" hills to learn how to ride strong - although I'd take some hills any day) and it was not easy to draft on Karel's wheel.

Because Karel was riding steady today, I knew my effort was going to be a bit higher because that is how it works with drafting off Karel. A steady ride for him, a challenging ride for me.

So far, the century ride was going better than planned. I had no idea how far we had gone or total time as I left that all up to Karel so I could stay focused. As I mentioned before, I rarely care about speed or miles but instead time and what I do with my time. I kept my power meter on a screen where I saw cadence, HR and lap speed, 3 sec power and normalized lap power. For every interval we did today (which included some recovery between our fast warm-up, group ride and other intervals) I hit the lap button to better analyze my ride. In races, I hit the lap button every hour which helps with pacing for long races as well as reviewing my file.

The A1A section was tough but all I was told to do was to stay focused. 2 x 22-25 minute intervals (to Gate Station and back) w/ a few minutes recovery in between. Karel was strong and I had no choice but to stay focused...or get dropped. Karel was not taking it easy on me and kept reminding me that this would be my best ride ever if I would only stay focused.

After A1A, we headed back to Nocatee, then on to Philips Hwy for another steady state interval. This time right into the wind but luckily, a little tailwind on the way back. But with only 20 miles left to go (told by Karel before that last out and back section), my brain was still focused and body felt good (thus I was doing a great job with fueling) but the legs were really talking to me and wanted to stop a million times in the last 40 miles. But, I had no real reason to stop as the body was still hanging in there and I knew I just had to stay focused.

I think as humans, we often struggle with being uncomfortable, being out of our comfort zone. But I have learned from many successes in the past that it is only when we take a chance to be out of our comfort zone that we realize that we are capable of much more than we thought we were.

Still not knowing our total time, average speed or miles, it was on our road back to our home that Karel finally said - "100 miles!! You did it!"

I switched over my Garmin 500 screen and couldn't believe my eyes.

Although Karel said that he finished the ride and felt like he could have gone 1 hour more (thanks for rubbing it in hubby), I was not as tired as I thought but ready to start the recovery process (epson salt bath, recovery whey protein drink, foam rolling, TP ball, stretching, icing and compression - and a recovery meal and consistent eating of primarily carbohydrates and protein throughout the day, every few hours). Because I was on-call at the hospital, I had to do tube feeding recommendations for two patients after being consulted by the doctors that afternoon so I really gave a big thank you to my body for allowing me to have a great workout and recover quickly. Also, with the right fuel at the right time, I felt like I nailed my nutrition without any worries on "calories" but instead, keeping my brain and muscles fueled.
My recovery partner and favorite 110% Play Harder recovery compression socks.

Here's the details of the ride:

Total time: 4:37
Average speed: 21.7
Variable index 1.02
Distance: 100.44 miles

Warm-up: 1:31 - 30 miles, average speed 20.6
Group ride- 54 minutes, 22 miles, average speed 22.82
Interval 1 on A1A (out)- 23 minutes, 9.3 miles, average speed 24.31
Recovery 2 minute
Interval 2 on AIA (back) - 25 minutes, 9.5 miles, average speed 22.05
Potty stop/refill bottles (~6 minutes)
Interval 3 (nocatee) - 28 minutes, 10 miles, average speed 22.03
Last interval (out and back) - 50 minutes, 18.3 miles, average speed 22.07
Cool down - 3 minutes (13 mph)

Peak 3 hours: 67 miles, average speed 22.34 mph

As you can see, it's OK to take recovery breaks and it's not always about the miles and getting in those "long" rides. It's good to pace yourself and break up the long-ish rides in a periodized training plan with race type intervals to teach the body how to stay steady. Also, it's so important that you practice fueling when it's windy or on bumpy roads for if you don't feel taking in a gel or grabbing a bottle when you are training, you are not only hurting your performance during that training session but you likely won't feel comfortable doing it on race day. I stay fueled every 10 minutes on the bike and then whenever needed from my bottles or gel.

Also, I would like to note that Karel can bike much faster than what he did with me. But even if I was slowing him down a little by making sure I stayed on his wheel, the focus of IM (or endurance) riding is not to prove how fast you can be. When it comes to triathlons, you want to bike steady and run strong. Although we'd all love to show off how strong we are on the bike (or how much time we can "gain" on the bike), it's very important that if you are training for an upcoming race, get us to a Z3 effort (or around 75-83-85% max HR to get yourself more efficient with this uncomfortable, comfortable pace). We do several 20-50 min intervals with 1-2 minute recoveries - not at a leg-burning pace but instead, a steady pace with a smooth cadence and just enough recover to shake out the legs and not fatigue throughout the ride while taking in proper nutrition to maintain a steady pace.

Thanks Karel for the great workout and a BIG thank you to my body for allowing me to have consistent quality workouts. WOW, talk about a lot of progress since 2006! Life's a journey.....


USA crit Speed Week recap (cyclist perspective)

Marni Sumbal

There are cyclists and there are triathletes. Two completely different sports, both using the same piece of equipment. Campy happens to live with one of each.

Speed Week is a cyclists dream..that is, if his/her dream is to suffer at and above his/her max, with over 100 other riders in battle for the best position at each corner, hoping not to crash, be behind a crash or be affected by a crash, only to remind him/herself that after one race is over, he/she gets/has to do it all over again.

According to the website:
"USA CRITS Speed Week is a series of seven criterium races over nine days across three southern states – starting with the Terrapin Twilight in Athens, Georgia and ending in the North Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. Speed Week features the best criterium cyclists in the world racing the downtown streets of seven cities, transforming these areas into international cycling competition arenas. Olympians and world- and nationally-ranked athletes take to the streets to contest the series, as well as to pursue qualifying positions for the USA CRITS Finals. The week of racing will once again offer one of the largest prize purses in North America with $120,000 in prize money for the week."

This is Karel's 4th year participating in Speed Week. Because of his work schedule, it is hard for Karel to take off so many days of work as well as recover and race and finish with the professionals. But, thanks to a supportive boss (who is doing his first IM in 2 weeks!) and a wonderful triathlon/cycling community, Karel is able to squeeze in as many races as he can - all while keeping life balanced.

This year, Karel was able to do Athens, Beaufort, Spartanburg, Anderson and Sandy Springs. 5 races, 5 cities, 2 states, 36 hours driving and over 1700 miles driven. Did I mention that Campy had a blast!?!?

Here's a quick recap of the week:

FINISHED!! 50th place and the title of 2 years in a row "Athens Twilight Finisher". Can't ask for a better feeling to start off Speed Week and the glory of knowing that for 365 days, only one race is on your mind and a finish is the only goal.

I had to miss Beaufort because of work and preparing for my talk at the Trek store on Wed (pics/recp of that will come soon) but Karel said that this 1 hour and 30+ minute crit was harder than he could ever remember. Perhaps having to work all day and then leaving at 1:30 for a 4 hour drive to SC affected his energy but he didn't let that get in the way. Karel refuses to quit or make excuses. The town of Beaufort is beautiful and always brings a nice crowd. The course is very technical and tight. He was suprised he finished 37th and 3 places away from being "in the money" because he said there was at least 5 times during the race that he convinced himself to finish, despite his body nearly quitting over and over again.

After a LONG day of work + my talk on Wed, Karel quickly realized that his body is not recovering like it once did 3-4 years ago. It takes longer for him to recover, despite him feeling like his body is in good shape. Sleep and lots of time with the foam roller, he took it easy on the Lodge group ride on Thurs evening and by Fri, he felt that fire again to push his body (albeit, still tired from the last two crits in the past 6 days). There is only one word to describe Spartanburg - crashes and lots of them.
Luckily, I didn't witness any of the crashes but this dark, fast and challenging course caused so much chaos that they had to stop the race two seperate times because there were more people in the wheel pit for mechanicals and for getting "Free" laps because of being stuck behind the crash, than in the race itself. It was absolutely unbelievable to see so much action on the sidelines...not to mention the rest of the race. But surprisingly, this is Karel's course. Challenging, dodging crashes (yes, he still has the same amount of skin as when he started the race), dark, fast, a huge crowd and lots of aggression from the other riders. Karel has a great finish and was really happy to have finished this race. He said he felt great and that is always something great to say after a tough week of racing.

We made a 1 hour drive to Anderson, SC after the race on Friday evening and stayed at pet-friendly Country Inn and Suites. I enjoyed a "long" run on Sat morning after a restful night of sleep on the rolling hills of SC. My legs were loving the changing terrain but Karel's set for me of 6 x 5 min Z5 w/ 2 min walk recovery really gave me the confident boost I need for my upcoming half in Macon, G on June 2nd. After finishing my "long" run of 11.5 miles (1 hour and 25 minutes), I caught up with my athletes on training peaks and Karel and his teammate Erik watched the Giro (Karel's favorite tour) on the computer.
Around 3:15pm it was time for the start of the Anderson the middle of nowhere. An open field with a road and not a cloud or tree in sight for shade. 100% NOT Karel's course and he knew it. The course was so unsafe that there were several crashes on the same slopping corner after a descend, that was not designed for crit racing. Knowing that pro's know how to handle their bikes, saying that this course was not ideal for a race is speaking loudly for how crazy this course was for the riders (not to mention, tired and glycogen depleted riders). Karel didn't finish the race and after playing out scenarios in his head as well as his future with bike racing, he joined me and Campy and we watched the finish of the race. There was a lot of suffering going on and I think even if Karel finished this race, the heat would have completely drained Karel for weeks to come.

Sandy Springs:
After a wonderful night of rest, I woke up and took Campy on a walk. Campy was quick to go back to bed with Karel and after a morning cup of coffee while on the computer in the lobby of the hotel. I went for a fantastic time-based 45 min run after doing several hip warm-up exercises in the hotel gym.
Around 1pm we headed to hot and hilly Sandy Springs for the 4:15pm start. This is a hard 50K course to finish Speed Week but Karel loves it. Despite being at 4:15pm, Karel really loves the challenge of this race. This race was driven by a lot of strong riders and sticking with the theme of Speed Week, there was a crash around 15 laps within the 50 lap race and Karel was stuck behind the crash. Karel rode to the wheel pit which happened to be in a tough place to join back with the field. As the field rode by, Karel was pushed by a mechanic to join the field, only to pedal quickly up a slight incline and then to approach the "big climb" of this 1K course. Karel said after that climb, he had about 1 lap and couldn't manage to get his legs back to get his mid-field position. Karel got dropped and all he could think about was "I felt great". Sadly, that's bike racing. We watched the end of the race as well as seeing the field dwindle as the race went on and around 6pm, it was time to make our drive home from Georgia and to conclude another Speed Week.

Now what???
Just like you and me, we all love to compete. We all have goals and we have that drive, that fire, that burning itch to succeed. If we didn't, we wouldn't sign up for races and get nervously excited for the big day. Success is different from person to person and that is what makes "sports" so exciting and fun. You see, Karel is no different from me and no different from you. Perhaps from a cycling perspective, Karel and the other riders can suffer a bit more than us, but on race day, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that your ONLY limitor is your mind (hence the importance of training smart, recoverying harder and prioritizing both sport nutrition and the daily diet).

You see, in cycling, you are racing to win. Many of these guys know they will not win and maybe will never win, but perhaps a podium is possible. In triathlons and running races, you are out for a great experience but more often than not, a PR or an age group placing. You know you will finish (well, in an Ironman, I believe a Finish is the ultimate goal) and depending on if you pace your race, a successful finish will come if your body and mind are strong and healthy.

In cycling, there are no finisher t-shirts or medals. If you don't place on the podium or bring home some money, you are just a finisher. Sounds impressive to finish a race but when you are a cyclist, you are constantly experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions and it is never just good enough to finish. For whether you are stuck in a crash, behind a crash or don't have the legs to handle the speed that is driven by the front of the pack, you are wondering to yourself "why do I do this to myself and how can I get faster so it doesn't hurt so bad?"

Karel loves bike racing and he gets it from his dad, who at the age of 73yrs old, still rides his bike in Czech Republic. Often, a Skype session with Karel's dad will involve Karel Sr. telling Karel (in Czech) that he just has to have the latest parts and accessories..why? Because all of his 70+ yr old training partners have them!
Sadly, Karel is realizing that his body is not recovering like it did a few years ago. Karel has significantly changed his diet over the past 6 years of us being together and that has allowed him to gain strength and improve overall health. Additionally, strength training has been a big part in his training routine over the past 3-4 years. Karel is very specific with his training (he coaches himself) and analyzes every workout to allow for consistent performance gains.

Although 40+ hours of working a week, in addition to helping me with my Trimarni Coaching athletes, is not stopping him from loving his bike, he feels he is just not able to respond to the training stress, like he did in past years. In my eyes, we must respect the body. Of course we "ride clean" and performance enhancing drugs would never enter his or my body, but Karel is keeping things real. We both know that dumping a bunch of supplements and stimulants into his system is not the practical approach. If anything, the longterm cardiac and liver consequences are not worth a finish at speed week or reaching higher watts during a group ride.

So, perhaps I should rephrase this - he is continuing to improve his fitness on his own level BUT it is hard to keep up with the other guys. Karel has raced several BIG races this year and has finished many of them. I am so incredibly proud of him and finish or no finish, I love knowing that Karel is able to overcome the emotional side of "sport" as well as the physical and mental side. To me, that is what sports are all about. Growing stronger as a human being and being able to achieve things that you never thought were possible. For you only fail, if you give up. He never stops wanting "it" and refuses to stop competing.

So, what's next. Well, Karel has the Crit State Championship in 2 weeks and then he will be supporting me at the Macon Halfman on June 2nd where I will be racing in the Open/Elite division on a challenging hot and hilly course.

What about triathlons???

Will Karel transition to triathlons (as many people have asked me in the recent past)??? Well, that's something that Karel will need to decide. He is driven by competition but surely, triathlons are very different than cycling. I have never asked Karel to be a triathlete nor put it in his head that he should "try" triathlons. Karel has helped me gain tremendous strength as a triathlete and has helped me (and my athletes) cross many finish lines. He certainly knows the aspect of cycling but he also knows how to train smart and of course....what it feels like to get into the red zone and stay in the hurt box.

I've learned a lot from Karel and one (of many) things that I am so fortunante to have learned from himl is that being physically fit is only the foundation in how we can succeed in sport. Determination will drive you to get out the door every morning and to see what your body is capable of achieving. But you have to want it....bad. For only when you are mentally strong, do you really start to reach your ultimate goals and you find yourself creating a more balanced lifestyle to meet both your lifestyle and athletic goals.

Trainins is never only about the miles. Nutrition is never about being skinny. We must always remember that if you want to succeed, you have to train hard, recover harder and of course, keep your mind strong to be able to overcome any and all obstacles that may come into your way and may possible hinder you from seeing what you are truely capable of achieving in life. Oh and don't forget to have fun.

Here's some pics from the week...

2012 Athens Twilight (spectator) race report - part II

Marni Sumbal

The crowds were 3 rows deep and it was hard to find a spot to watch the action. The local Twilight beer filled the cups of many people around the 1K course and as the women's race came to a close, the music started to increase in volume and you could see the anticipation and adrenaline just firing within the Pro riders.

Not knowing the situation with Karel and his wheel, I finally could breath (albeit, a short and not long-lived relaxing exhale) when I heard Karel's name..and his first ever call-up! (Thanks Sean C. for the video!!)

After 35 VIP riders received their call-ups, the baracades were removed from the other 115 or so riders and the tension started to mount.

Chad does an A-mazing job of announcing, I absolutely LOVE hearing him as a race announcer. As an added treat/bonus to the evening, the course had a jumbo-tron on the other side of the course, as well as another announcer to keep the action exciting for the spectators, no matter where you watched the race.

The clock started and the riders were off.....

As written by David Crowe
"If the racer is still alive at the end of the first lap, and not too far in
arrears, then he must bury his muzzle in the crack in front of him
and hold on for his honey's life. During the first 10 laps, a rider's
pain meter is quivering at the far end of the red zone. He is feeling
the scalding lactic burn in his legs caused by excessive speed. The
fastest riders in the world are uncorking the top-shelf bottles of high-
octane. These merchants of speed know that in the first 10 laps
they can cause an explosion in the field. Over half the field will get
dropped, quit the race or crash in the first five laps. The disco
sprinters want to shred the field and dump as many riders as
possible, now. This leaves fewer to contend with later.
In most criteriums, if a rider survives the first 10 laps, he knows he
will survive until the end. In most criteriums, after the initial frantic,
escape from the Titantic-like frenzied free-for all, there is an ever-
so slight decrease in speed. A small incremental drop in speed can
do wonders for a rider's ability to stuff his lungs back down his
esophagus and recover his runaway breath. But the Twilight is not
like "most" criteriums. In fact, it's most unusual. The speed does
not drop. It is relentless. It is like trying to play chess while your
heart rate is a constant 200 beats per minute. Riders carry out
silent disputations with themselves in the first five laps. See one
grimace; his inner self, the rational one, has just scored with a
cogent point phrased as a question: this is fun?
But these two-wheeled warriors, at least the ones that are left, are
also master magicians, real Svengalis. They've been outwitting
pain for years. Pain, they know, is strong like a bull, but smart like a
tractor. They trick pain; they confuse pain; they endure pain like a
visit from a mother-in-law. They force pain to a back row. And just
when they think everything is under control, the race becomes

A rider is pedaling 37 miles per hour and is struggling to hang on.
He looks up the road and sees a group of four riding away from the
front of the field. He looks down at his speedometer on his
handlebars. He's going 38 now. The four are still riding away. This
can't be possible."

As if the roads of downtown Athens haven't had enough beatings, they were in for a brutal night with 150 riders attacking every inch of this pavement.

The Athens 1K course is a right-turn only criterium with 1 steep climb on the backside of the course, which starts almost immediately after corner #2. I refuse to watch that corner as that is the "hot" corner or AKA "CRASH central". NO THANKS! I like to stand in a crash - free zone (if there is one in crit racing???) for I only want to hear about crashes after Karel finishes a race and is in one piece, safe and sound.

After corner #3, there is a gradual decline to give the legs a few seconds of recovery (and to try to exhale as much CO2 as possible to reduce that oh-so-painful burn from sprinting out of every corner)
 and before you know it, the riders are turning at corner #4 for a gradual climb (not as steep as the backside) to the start and finish.

The first few laps were exciting (like always) as riders are trying to break away, ride solo for some glory (and fame) and to rev up the crowd. Prems were being given away left and right in order to shake up the pack and to make the race interesting for us spectators (Prems are money given to the first rider to cross the line, either in a break or the field and in a race like Twilight, prems range from $100-$500 as an example).

Karel was sitting nicely in the middle of the pack and although he had a nice draft on the wheel in front of him, speeds of 27-30+ mph on a tight 1K course (with 4 corners for every lap) make it incredibly hard to draft "easily". I am always amazed when seeing Karel's power file after these big races - so colorful with so many spikes from his heart rate and power.

Karel told me that around 12 minutes into the race, he made the mistake of looking at the clock. What a depressing moment in such an exciting race when you know that you are racing at your max, your legs are already burning with pain and you have to convince yourself "OK, only 90 more minutes to go."

Karel said that he didn't look at the lap counter until around 46 laps to go.
I remember Chad saying "Alright riders, only 6 laps to go...until you are half way!"

The action was getting fierce by the riders when a 2 man breakaway started to look as if it would stick for the remainder of the race. But, it's Athens and as a 4-time spectator, I know that teams will do everything possible to not let a break stay away - especially if the sprinter on that team in the chase field is not in the break.

Karel was still riding strong, as were Ryan and Eric (Gearlink cat 1 teammates), all staying around mid pack with Karel staying just a few riders in front of Eric and Ryan. Karel was looking really good and with a group of college girls around me, cheering for Karel (made some friends as I was explaining the sport of cycling and crit racing to them) I was feeling really good about Karel making it a 2/2 - finishing Twilight for the 2nd year in a row after 5 total years of racing in this invite-only event.

With around 20 or 30 laps to go (I forgot), I noticed that the chase group was small. Immediately, I knew there was a crash.

I see a dozen or two riders heading to the wheel pit and without seeing Karel, my stomach dropped to my feet. Karel is an exceptional bike handler and although only luck is on your side when it comes to crit racing, I was happy to see Karel in one piece, slowly pedaling along the far side of the race course, stretching his back with his butt out of the saddle.

Karel made his way to the wheel pit and waited til he could join the crowd. Because you can get a free lap for a mechanical, flat tire or crash up until 8 laps to go, I wasn't worried about Karel at this moment but rather just loosing his rhythm, perhaps having his body seize up from go, go, go to nothing and of course, having to dodge any more crashes with only 20 or so minutes left to go.

Karel managed to get back in as he got a big push-off (along with a dozen or so other riders in the pit) from the mechanics. As the field is cruising over 30mph, you can imagine how hard it is going from a crash, to soft pedaling, to stopping, to waiting, to going 30+ mph just to be able to find a wheel before corner #1.

But 4 corners later, I saw Karel - back where he was before the crash, sitting nicely in the middle.

With 8 laps to go, the tension was riding. A lot was on the line for the pro's who were racing for the big win but for me, the wife of a talented and hard working individual who just wants the glory of finishing this notorious crit, I was just counting down the laps and keeping a close eye on Karel.

As written by David Crowe:

"If a rider can hang on and hold out for half the race, something
happens. The demon of self-doubt is put to sleep. Confidence
begins its slow drip into the veins. You don't need to see a rider's
face to know: look at the way he handles his bike. A rider with
confidence does not ride with his fingers over the brake levers; he's
down in the drops, gripping the bars. He's sailing through turn one
in a perfect arc, coming out of the corner in front of the Georgia
Theatre cruising comfortably two inches from the curb, intentionally
coming within centimeters of the heads of the habitués that are
stretched out over the barricade. (No one's ever been beheaded.)
He's smiling. He's entered the Zen-zone. This is special.
If a rider makes it to the end, there is another factor to consider.
Pro teams are expected to win. This is no longer about
sportsmanship and fair play, if it ever was. Riders bump and grind
and jostle for position. Various invectives are hurled. Psychological
tactics are employed. The best sprinters in the world play a
terrifying game of chicken: hit the brakes or hit the fence, take your
pick. Back off Jack! Riders may be at The 283 Bar afterwards
downing a cold beer, but at this point in the race, this is a job. This
is a paycheck. This is thousands in prize money. This is winning.
These boys are living.
The last two or three laps of this race are spectacular. The big
teams are amping up the speed as high as it can be humanly
maintained. The reason: it's impossible for a rider to move up if
he's 20 back and already pedaling at his limit. The disco sprinter on
the team - the one expected to win - is sitting forth, fifth or sixth
wheel. Out of the last corner, the sprinters have moved up and are
now second, third or fourth wheel. These are the spots the winner
will come from. The last 200 meters is simply a stripped-bare
example of sheer speed. Racers look as if they are trying to tear
their bikes apart at the seams as they pull and jerk and twist and
pedal in a violent display of inner angst. They cross the line. It's all
over. All smiles. That was the greatest race they've ever done.
They can't wait to do it again.
Have you ever watched film of mountaineers climbing Everest?
They're miserable. Their teeth chatter like a jackhammer. Have you
heard them speak of their experiences after they return? They can't
wait to go back. They're sick, the whole lot of them!"
7 laps, 6 laps, 5 laps, 3 laps.

At this point, the pace was picking up. Teams were getting organized and the sprinters were bitting their teeth for the moment they have been waiting for, for the past 364 days.

With 2 laps to go, the field was all together and I knew this would be an exciting finish.
A gambler prem was tossed out for the person who wanted the "Dough for the show" and knew if he sprinted for the gambler prem, he would certainly have nothing in the tank for the final sprint. At this point, it's all about the win and tactics for the bigger teams.

With 1 lap to go...the music was pumping as the crowd was screaming. I watched Karel cross over the finish with 1 lap to go and I finally could relax. YIPPEE - I knew Karel was going to be so happy. Exhausted, but happy.

The finish was amazing. Words can't describe what these riders go through but they love it. They breath, eat and sleep this crazy self-inflicting torture and despite being totally exhausted at the finish, most of them have 6 more races to go, with a total of 7 races in 9 days for USA crit speed week...all starting with Athens Twilight. They love this stuff and for me as a spectator - I LOVE watching it!

Thanks Sean C. for capturing this great video of the finish (from a different angle) and for spotting Karel as he rolled over the line.

After the finish, Karel did his victory lap. Beers were being handed out to the riders by the crowd and high fives were being handed out as if the Athens Twilight finishers had each just won the olympic gold medal. Each finisher is treated like a God by the crowd and believe it or not, these riders soak in their accomplishment but still, expect more out of themselves. I suppose the athlete mentality of always wanting more out of yourself is true, no matter the sport, no matter the fitness level.

Karel hydrated with a coke which was given to him by one of his friends and with his head still spinning from doing 320 right hand turns in 1 hour and 42 minutes, I couldn't wait to give him a big hug and kiss.

As I mentioned before, you are instantly "famous" once you finish the Athens twilight crit....Karel gave his autograph to a fan and I just had to snap a pic.

So proud of Karel!! He wanted this so bad and despite being really nervous (as would be expected by any rider doing this race) he pulled himself together and suffered in both mind and body. 

Our friends (and Trimarni coaching athletes) Kenny, Stefanie (and baby on the way) joined Karel and me, as well as my Trimarni nutrition athlete Katie and her hubby Carlos.

Talk about a fan club....Karel's Waycross, GA customers even made the trip to Athens, GA to watch Karel. What a super nice, fun and supportive group!! That's right - Karel has Jacksonville Trek store customers who live in GA..I suppose if you love your bike, you only bring it to the best mechanic in Florida (ok - a bit biased but he is that good).

Talk about the best feeling in the world. Everything riding (literally) up to this main event and by 11pm, FINISHER can be written on the athletic resume.
 Karel had a great race, a great finish but of course, a restless night of sleep.

We always joke the morning after a crit race "I didn't sleep well" says Karel "I kept making turn after turn in my sleep".

Here's a recap and results from the race: (Karel was 50th!!!!)

*A quick update on today's race in Beaufort (after working the morning at the Trek store) - Karel finished 37th out of 82 finishers!

2012 Athens Twilight (spectator) race report - part 1

Marni Sumbal

What It’s Like To Be On A Bike In The Twilight
"The Athens Twilight Criterium is, by consensus, the fastest one-
hour of bicycle racing on this planet. The speed is insane. The
maniacal speed is a direct result of the course - it's a one-kilometer
rectangle that riders can whip around without braking, even through
the corners. If a rider even feathers the brakes, he's (she's) losing
The Twilight is an opportunity for a rider to slap his chain onto the
big ring, open the throttle and flat-out haul arse. The insane speed
is also a direct result of the racers.
These are the adrenaline junkies, the ones with the need for speed,
the fastest guys and gals in the world over short distances. These
lunatics can lean their bikes, and their bodies, around this one-
kilometer rectangle at precarious angles and ludicrous speeds that
defy Sir Isaac's general principles, and maybe one or two of Moses'
ten tenets. Going this fast must be a sin. But if you think this race is
all fun and games, think again."
-Author: David Crowe (article from Athens Magazine regarding the "old" 60K, 1 hour Athens Twilight - passed on to us by our friend James Sweeney)

As a four-year spectator of the Athens Twilight crit, it's hard for words to describe this race.....
So, I'll let a video give you a visual from the action on Saturday evening: Friday:
After our 6 hour drive on Friday, we checked in to our nice hotel (Comfort Inn) and quickly unpacked everything from the car. Campy and I got situated in the room while Karel warmed up on the trainer for the compu trainer grid qualifier. Although there's no easy way to ride 6 loops of the Athens Twilight course on a computrainer (exactly simulates the Athens course includes climbs and descends), Karel purposely did not waste his energy in his computrainer heat. Still finishing with a flush of lactic acid in his legs, he gave a nice effort - just enough to wake up the legs for the real lactic-acid burn on Saturday evening.

After Karel got cleaned up at the hotel, we headed back 1 mile down the road to downtown Athens for dinner - at our favorite Italian restaurant (with outdoor seating for Campy) at De Palma's. Pizza for me and pasta for Karel.

Around 8:45pm, we watched the final heat of 8 riders on the Computrainer  - already the madness was beginning.
Saturday AM:

After a good night of rest, I woke up around 6:15am and headed to breakfast downstairs to grab a coffee and pre-training snack. Legs are finally walking normally after Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon and I couldn't wait to let my bike take me for a ride on a beautiful country roads of Athens Georgia. But just one problem for this Florida girl (who does love to ride hills).....

Where are my flat roads to warm-up??

Well, around 10 miles into my 100K ride, I was reminded of the roads at IMWI that I fell in love with and I was totally in my element. A fun ride for distance and not my typical "ride for time" as I was riding the Gambler Athens bike ride course that was planning to start later that morning. The roads were well-marked and loved every single mile and riding by sites like this (Bridge built in 1885 - I rode through it). 

A few hours later, my legs were happily satisfied and I found Karel warming up with his friends Sean and Rad down by the Amateur course, just a few blocks away from downtown. Have I mentioned that I LOVE ATHENS!!! I also enjoyed trying out my new Radar Edge Oakley Women sunglasses which are MUCH lighter than my last pair of Radar's and fit nicely with my helmet. 

The rest of Saturday was spent in the hotel room (for the most part) except for a few trips downtown to see our friends (Stefanie, Kenny and on Friday, Katie A.) and for Karel to pick up his bib number.

Karel and Campy did their share of napping while I worked ahead for my athletes on Training Peaks and answered emails.

Around 5:30pm, we got the live stream of Athens up and running on our computers and enjoyed watching the action from our hotel room just a mile down the road.

Over the next hour, the nerves were building for Karel as well as for myself. It is amazing the adrenaline and nervousness that one can feel....when you aren't racing!! I could barely stomach anything and was keeping my best poker face on to keep Karel calm, excited and confident.

Earlier that day, Karel found out that he was going to get his first ever call - up. Imagine being seated for a race in the top 100 and then being called to the very front of the crowd, standing right next to the professionals. Athens Twilight is the superbowl of cycling races or for better understanding for my multisport readers, the "Kona" of triathlons. You know you are "that good" just to be one of 150 riders to start the invitation-only Pro race but to be called up to the line.....well, thanks to Karel's teammates for all doing the computrainer finals, Karel was able to get a call-up for having 3 teammates in the race.

A call-up will certainly help one out for starting near the front but then again, you first have to overcome nerves to stand amongst the "real deal" professionals. Only 35 riders received an invitation to the VIP tent and for the first time, Karel, from Jacksonville Florida, riding for Gearlink, was going to be given that honor of starting in the front. In cycling - this is a HUGE deal not only for ego's but for good positioning throughout the beginning laps of a criterium.

Around 6:45pm, the hours were ticking away and only 120 minutes left before the start of the main event. Karel was ready to warm-up on the trainer when I heard exactly what you never want to hear before or during a race....

"I have a flat tire!"

Sure, change it if it is a clincher but Karel (and myself) ride with tubulars which are tires that are glued on to the wheel. Karel, being the professional "mechanic" that he is, got out his blue work gloves and glued on another tire, hoping it would be good for the race. You see, changing a tubular is quick and easy and I LOVE having tubulars on my wheelsm. However, changing a flat tubular and putting on another one with a little glue remaining on the rim is just fine to get you through a race. But in a criterium where you are making 90 degree turns with the inside bike pedal nearly touching the ground with every turn, that's a whole other story for wanting well-glued-on tires before a criterium.

Without panicking (again - poker face, I'm sure my heart rate was nearing Z4 just standing there!) I suggested to call our friend Sean who had raced the amateur race earlier that morning. His hotel was on the opposite side of the Twilight course and I knew traffic would be horrible but luckily, I feel like a local and I took a few side streets and 15 minutes later I arrived at his hotel.

Time clicking away, it was close to 7:45pm when I returned to the room. Karel was on the trainer with a spare clinicher wheel (why didn't he use that? Riding a different wheel - not your race wheel - in a race is a completely different feeling for Karel. It's like riding a bike for the first time and being expected to race on it right away) and immediately he got off to swap cassettes and try out Sean's wheel.

At this moment, I was going crazy inside. However, Karel always seems to find a way. I left Campy in the room (earlier decision to not bring Campy to the madness downtown as the 2012 Athens Twilight event was expecting record-breaking crowds...last year 10,000+ people was too much for Campy to handle) and made my 15 minute walk downtown.

I made a few phone calls to remove my mind from this prior situation, hoping that I would just see Karel at the starting line and all would be ok and I could relax...well, relax until the official start of the race.

I squeezed my way through drunk college kids, obsessed cycling fans and wide-eyed kids who envy every athlete on a bike. Karel wanted me to get to the startling line (or as close as possible) to see his call-up and never seeing the start (or finish) of Athens, I managed to get to the very front of the barricades.

After watching the finish of the Pro Women race, my heart started pounding, hoping and praying that there were no more mishaps and I would hear Karel's name - and see him on his bike...with two, safe and glued-on racing wheels.....

More from David Crowe's article (reporting on the old 60K event - still on the same 1K downtown course):
"You see them before the race - glabrous and glistening, heavily
oiled, gliding philosophically on their bikes through the parking lot.
They're wearing a tan fit for a bejeweled and bedaubed country
club wife with a heavily insured husband.
They look cool; they look calm - like an unprepared, but veteran
trial attorney. But look closely: inside they're falling to pieces;
they're coming undone. If you took their shirts off, you'd see: their
brittle torsos are as white as cotton. The tan's a façade. They may
even be smiling now, but as Conway and Loretta would say, "It's
only make believe."
The Twilight averages over 30 miles-per-hour for one solid hour.
This is no joking matter. Does a condemned man rejoice in the
moments before placing his back to the wall and his chest towards
the muzzles of a dozen pointing rifles? It's absurd to think so.
These aren't nihilists. These are disco sprinters (vainglorious fools)
who think getting dropped in this race, in front of everyone, is a fate
worse than death.
These moments of dread and despair before the race feel like a
hundred little rats chewing on the inside of your stomach. In these
worrisome moments, many riders realize that they, like Henry
Fleming, might fling the rifle and head for the hills in a moment of
impending catastrophe - their red badge of courage a poop stain in
their pants.
When a racer is standing at the starting line, he does his best
impression of a relaxed rider. But relaxing when thousands are
staring laser-guided missiles through you ain't easy. And, it's too
noisy to concentrate - this Rabelaisian crowd is cackling like a
henhouse full of lusty roosters. The pretend-unperturbed rider's
heart is actually beating against his chest like a sledgehammer
pounding on a thin tin roof.
Mad Dash
A couple hundred corralled cyclists are bobbing and bouncing like
a field full of insaniatics, waiting for the gate to fall so they can
escape from the asylum. The riders on the front row don't dare look
back; they don't want the riders behind to see the terror raging in
their eyes. Their common consideration? They might be trampled
to death in the very near future.
When the gun finally fires to start the race, a rider sprints to the first
corner as if his life depends on it. It might. It's the maddest dash of
the entire race - the dash to the first turn. If a rider makes it to the
turn first, or near the front, he can hit the throttle and floor it out of
the corner and accelerate down the road with no obstructions.
Clear sailing. If he gets to that first corner too late, its like a bucket
of sand poured into a small funnel; it just takes a little time to get all
of it through. The point: in the Twilight, if a racer comes out of the
first turn too far back, his race is over and it's only 10 seconds old.
Finis. Finito. The End. Good Night, Irene!"

to be continued......

The time has arrived!!!

Marni Sumbal

It's Athens Twilight weekend!!!

"Founded in 1980 by Gene Dixon, the Athens Twilight Criterium was the first nighttime race in the United States in over 60 years. What began as one race with 40 competitors has since grown to offer eight separate race classes and 150 cyclists competing in the main event, the men's criterium, an 80K race around downtown Athens."

The action starts tomorrow where the Pro riders will have the chance to participate in the Grid Qualifiers in order to be seated for the Sat evening race. The top 8 riders in the 3K Grid qualifiers will "race" Friday evening on the same course that they will be racing on for Saturday evening. Did I mention the "race" is on Computrainers????!!! Karel will be "participating" in the grid qualifier event considering that he never rides the trainer and is simply doing this to get seated near the mid front for the Sat evening event.

Finals of Grid qualifiers - Pro
(by: carolina cycling news)

For the 150ish riders who will be racing in the Pro race on Sat evening, the nerves, adrenaline, excitement, fears....will build and build and build and build. For the main event starts at 9pm!

"With $120,000 in prize money on the line for the USA CRITS Championship Series, the Terrapin Twilight Criterium has been dubbed the most insane criterium in the world"

Here's a preview from 2011 (3rd time was the charm - Karel finished!)

Pro race

(by: edthejellowjacket)

I'm not sure how much I will be updating my blog over the weekend but be sure to head over to the Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition facebook page to keep up with all the action! And believe me...there will be LOTS of action over the weekend!

Campy and I are super excited to watch Karel race his 4th Athens Twilight Criterium.
Here's a pic from last year

(Pic by Dean Warren photography)
You can click this link for Live stream to watch the race on Saturday evening. Of course, if you are racing on Sunday, you are excused to go to bed early. However, for everyone else - get ready to stay up late and watch one of the most exciting criteriums you will EVER witness. I am not sure if the live stream will do the race any justice compared to in-person but it is certainly worth watching.

Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium - "race" report

Marni Sumbal

Karel knew it wouldn't be easy. But he didn't let it get to him. After he picked up his number, we headed back to the house where we were staying and Karel did a bit of resting for the rest of the afternoon. I prepared him a yummy lunch, almost identical to what he had before the Tampa Twilight Crit.

I made us mixed rice, eggs (Karel had two sunny side up, I had scrambled) topped with cheese, broccoli (cooked in olive oil on a skillet) and orange slices. It hit the right spot for Karel before he rested on the couch.

I caught up on emails for most of the afternoon and Campy did his share of napping with Karel.

Around 5:30pm, we headed to the race venue in downtown Charlotte. As Karel was getting the trainer ready for him to warm-up in a parking lot, Campy and I headed down the street to watch the women's race. Wow - they are fast!

The spectators were starting to line the streets so I made my way back to Karel to pin his number on his jersey and to wish him the best of luck.

Karel did not appear nervous but I know to just leave him alone so that he can get into his zone. Around 7:10pm, Karel headed to the corral to get staged...

Something new for Karel - as this was a BIG race with a BIG $50,000 purse prize, Karle had to sign-in on a big board before starting the race.

As all the teams started to crowd into the starting area, the call-ups started...

".... stage winner of Giro d'Italia"
".... stage winner of the Tour de California"
".... multiple USA crit winner"

The list just went on and on. Karel follows a lot of these guys via websites as these are some of the top cyclists from around the world.

For Karel, this is fun. Suffering may not be that much fun but he really loves riding his bike. This certainly takes him WAY out of his comfort zone but he only has three options...
1) Race local Florida races with guys at his level
2) Race as a Master's rider, among guys at a similar level
3) Race in the Pro category, among some of the best athletes in the world.

What would you choose?
One thing that Karel has taught me (and I have learned to embrace), is competition. A true athlete is not afraid to be beat but that doesn't mean he/she is not afraid to give it his/her all.
I read a quote once that said something along the lines of "train as if you are the worst, race as if you are the best".

Life is too short to always stay in your comfort zone for when you do the same thing all the time, you get the same results. Karel knew this race was far beyond his level as there is no way that he can train (and recover) like guys who do this for a full-time job. Karel works 45+ hours a week as the GM of the Trek Bicycle store in Jax 5-7 days a week. Karel's competition - they ride their bikes for a job.

Knowing that there was some heavy duty money on the line, these guys were not holding back.

The course was really technical and one of the hardest I have ever seen. A typical criterium is 4 corners around a block, typically less than 1K. In this race, each "lap" was 1.2 miles, with two "blocks" at each side of a long straight away (essentially the street was divided into two sections - out and back between each corner section).
You can see the course here:

Karel told me they were going 35-37mph on the straight section (with a slight grade that was noticeable on the bike) and because of the narrow corners, there was at least 1 crash at every end of the course for the first few laps. Lucky, Karel was not affected.

The problem with this course, was that with 140 starters, the line was spread out far around the corners that when the guys were slowing from the fast straight away, the front guys were accelerating back to fast speeds.

It was a constant struggle for Karel to move up because despite feeling really good during the race, guys in front where just giving up. Karel refuses to give up even when his body is screaming NO.

Around 40 minutes into the race, the field started to break into three sections and sadly, Karel was just behind the mid section. He sprinted to try to get up to the middle pack but the wheels he was drafting off of, started to drift back. Eventually, the guys gave up and with Karel giving everything he had to get back to the group, he exhausted all his extra efforts.

I finally found Karel outside the course and he was disappointed. I felt sad for him cause I know how hard he tries to finish these races. I tried to convince him that he did finish the last two crits but we both knew that this race was likely the hardest race he has ever done - all because of the course and the caliber of athletes. Even though I was so incredibly proud of him for lasting 40 minutes (considering that guys were getting dropped in the first 10 minutes and only 80 guys finished), it's hard to be an outsider (as an athlete myself) because I know when you want something so bad and it is not always within your control.

You see, that's cycling. It really makes me appreciate the sport of running and triathlon because so much of it (more like all of it except for weather and terrain) is within our control. Cycling is far from controllable circumstances. For you can be having a great day and someone is just having a better day. Watching Karel really makes me value my sport, my body and what I have within my control which is the ability to control my attitude, nutrition and pacing. For training is far beyond just putting in the miles but rather just giving your best effort on race day which is solely reflected on how you trained. It's not about training "hard" but rather, training "smart".

In cycling, you have to be strong, fast and smart. You have to be lucky and you have to have guts. Karel trains his body just as hard as he trains his mind and without giving excuses for the situation (we don't do excuses in the Sumbal household), I know Karel is in the best shape of his life. Fueled by plants and still, at the age of 35 yrs, he loves riding his bike.

After Karel changed his clothes and texted some of his close racing buddies, we all went back to the course, enjoyed some local pizza (yum for local late-night eats) and watched the end of the race.
Due to the dark, I wasn't able to take very good pics so here is a video I found on YouTube from herrjohn.

Karel slept in on Sunday and we both enjoyed the morning, sipping coffee and enjoying a few last hours in the beautiful city of Charlotte, NC.
A much easier drive home, it was nice for Karel to reflect on the race and re-charge before Gearlink Cycling Classic this weekend (I'll be running the Iron Girl Half Marathon the same day, earlier that morning on Sunday) and then the BIG race of the year - Athens Twilight to kick-off USA crit Speed Week!

Thanks for reading and for all your support via facebook.

Hello...from Charlotte!

Marni Sumbal

Caption contest....
"Campy, did you do this?"

Right now we are in beautiful Charlotte, NC - one of my most favorite places!
In just a few hours, Karel will be racing with the BIG BOYS at the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium. For those who ride their bikes for a day-job, they will be racing for a HUGE prize purse of $50,000! Karel is hoping for a finish after 50-miles of crit racing in downtown Charlotte tonight at 7:30pm. Two-hours of suffering on a crazy tough course. If Karel wins some gas money, that's would be icing on the cake but I know he will take a finish as this race has been on his bucket list for the past few years.

After a 6-hour drive (I mean 9 hours all thanks to sprink breaker traffic congestion, errr) we arrived to our good friend's house (Christi) who will be participating in her 8th Boston marathon on Monday! She has raced every year since excited for her streak! Campy played with her dog Milo (more like Campy running circles around Milo) and we eventually made our way to bed.

Sleeping in felt wonderful. I took my time with a large list of emails that I didn't get to on Fri thanks to a busy day at Baptist South, followed by our trip. Around 9am, I headed out for a "bonus" run on the trails by Christi's house. I finished all my workouts for the week on Tues, Wed, Thurs and Fri (including two longish bricks on Wed/Thurs) because I wanted to leave this weekend FREE of any "structured training". I use to be the type who had to stick to my schedule wherever I went but now, I don't really enjoy "training" while traveling - unless it is the purpose of my trip. I find that when I travel, I really enjoy taking a break from structure. Certainly, I love exercising and seeing new sights but I'd rather go for a bonus run because it feels great rather than abiding my specific zones or intervals or feeling the need to travel with my bike or find a pool. Even if I didn't have the flexibility this week to change up my routine, I still wanted to enjoy myself this weekend and I certainly know that missing 2 "long" workouts would not affect my fitness. If anything, it is always nice to take a break and rest the body when it doesn't expect it.

I ran 6.5 easy miles on the trail (average pace 7:43 min/mile) and it felt amazing. I felt so free and despite having my music (radio on my nano), I made sure to listen to the sounds of nature. I love hearing my feet on gravel and on the paved is so peaceful to just move the body and feel so free.

After my effortless run (yes - it was just one of those runs...totally could have kept going but didn't need to prove anything to myself) I got Campy back at the house and he took me on 1.5 miles (about) with a few walk breakfs in between. I suppsoe the hills here in NC pooped out my little man....

After a refreshing smoothie and my ritual butt-rolling (piriformis) with my Trigger point ball on the wall (much better than on the floor), Karel came back from his warm-up ride and we headed downtown Charlotte (about 9 miles away) to pick up his number and check out the course.

This place is amazingly beautiful...can't wait until tonight!

*A big congrats to the Gearlink Cycling Team on some great performances at St. Augustine VeloFest!

Don't want to wait for my race report on Karel's crit??? Be sure to LIKE trimarni coaching and nutrition on facebook for quick results after his race!

What an EVENT at Trek Bicycle Store of Jacksonville!!

Marni Sumbal

Free samples, free food, free "secret" tips from Pro triathlete Dirk Bockel (4th at the 2011 Ironman World Championship), free fun and the kick off to the Trek Nationwide Trek Sale! (April 12-16).

Dirk lives in St. Augustine when he and his wife are not traveling the world as he trains and races as a professional athlete. Dirk is a respectable, down-to-earth guy who is honest, funny and incredibly talented. Dirk answered lots of questions, from everything to his race tactics at the Ironman World Championships, his plan of action (and thoughts) of Lance Armstrong racing as a professional triathlete in 70.3 and Ironman distances, his structure with training, his typical pre race foods and the biggest take-home message....the best advice he was ever given....
(to the best of my memory as stated by Dirk)

"Always have fun. If I was just in it for the money, I wouldn't last long in this sport. This is my profession but I turned my hobby into a job. I still struggle with motivation and getting out the door sometimes, just like everyone else. That is why I find it important to train with others and to change up the routine like traveling or going to training camps. I can train at 9am but for most people, this is your hobby. You get up at 4:30, work 8 or 10 hours a day and still squeeze in another workout and time with family. You have to always have fun."

Totally agree, Dirk! Focus on the now, don't compare yourself to what you were in years past or how you use to train. Make the most of your life now, find the balance and the fun will come and drive you to reach your goals.

Karel stayed busy in the late afternoon, prior to the event, as he has a new job....

....make sure Dirk's bike is always safe and tuned-up when he is in Jacksonville and of course, race-ready when he is about leave for a race. Just like many of you all, Dirk may likely need Karel's number on speed-dial as we all love our bike mechanics, especially for a last-minute question or tune-up.
Although I may be a bit biased, Dirk picked the BEST bike mechanic in Florida to work on this bike!

No pressure, Karel!

Tampa Twilight Criterium Cycling Festival - recap

Marni Sumbal

What a fabulous weekend. Training, racing and spending time with friends and family. Karel, like many of his friends, training partners and teammates, are not "real pro's". They work real jobs (weekends included) and then squeeze in training with the rest of life. Karel likes to challenge himself and race at a higher level and I think that is admirable and something we should all strive for in life....always trying to be better and to not be afraid to get out of our comfort zone.
Karel and his boss Jeff make the time to train (Jeff is training for his first Ironman, IM Texas). For training/exercise is part of being in good health and when you are in good health, you are more happy, productive and overall, in better spirits. It's all about how you balance it all to maintain a sense of consistency in your life.

After working at the hospital on Fri, I picked up Karel at work at the Trek Store and we hit the road to my parents down in New Port Richey.

Saturday morning came quick but due to a few nights of not sleeping well (we watched my parents cats last week at our place) I had direct orders from coach/hubby that I needed to sleep in. Orders obeyed.

I was on my bike at 8am and it was time for a challenging bike... kudos to Karel I have no idea where he comes up with my workouts but they sure do work!
The wind was blowing and riding on the suncoast trail required that I had both mental and physical strength for this workout.

2 x 8 min w/ 2 min EZ
15 min w/ 2 min EZ
20 min w/ 2 min EZ
2 x 25 min w/ 4 min EZ

I had specific power zones for each part of this workout and the total ride was around 3hrs and 45 minutes. Miles were uploaded but I don't really focus on my distance. I download my data onto a free software program called Goldencheetah and then upload data onto Training Peaks for me and Karel to analyze.

After the bike came a 30 minute run. It was hot but my legs felt great. Sure, a bit wobbly during the first 4-5 minutes but it always gets better. Finished my run with a walk with Karel and Campy...sweaty, hot and ready for my Hammer FIZZ in water, a dip in the pool and a recovery meal w/ milk + whey protein.

During the day, Karel rested after his bike warm-up. I try to not talk to him much when he races the bigger races (On the National Racing Calendar - NRC) as he likes to get into his zone, but I'm always around if he needs anything. I'm the opposite at my Ironman races - I love to socialize, laugh, smile and be around lots of positive energy.

I have really worked with Karel on his race day nutrition for the evening crits so that he is comfortable racing for a long duration at such a high intensity, so late in the evening. He knows what works best for him but it is still all about experimentation based on the race course, time of the race, time of the year/weather and race distance.

For this race, Karel had as his "main" meals:
Breakfast post warm-up - milk + bagel + whipped chive cream cheese + eggs
Lunch - Brown rice + beans and tuna

A little bit of snacking but that's it..and it worked fantastic this time around. Karel does not like to have much food in his system before a crit but he does sip on sport drinks throughout the day and chooses more "sport" products in the 1-3 hours before the crit. Again, it's what works best for him and we've tried a lot of different things...I always make mental notes. I always make sure that he eats well on the days leading up to the race as I know that on race day, he will not be eating a lot of food, however his system is full of "fuel".

I was so excited to go to the race as it was the first year it was on the NRC list. The venue was packed with people and booths and I was so happy that several of my athletes (Gary, James, Jennifer, Stefanie) came to support Karel. I spotted several of our Gearlink friends and some other familiar faces in the crowd.

Karel drove seperately from me and my parents so that he could get his number and start getting ready. We arrived around 6pm and by that time, Karel was getting ready to get on his trainer to start flushing some lactic acid to get his legs ready for the race.

By 7:25pm...they were off!

This race was a bit shorter than other races but no less fast. 4 corners and several crashes but luckily, Karel dodged them all. Karel had a few Gearlink cat 1 riders on his team in this race and they all rode really well together. Knowing that the Gearlinkers are riding amongst a totally different caliber of riders, it was great to see them all out there, riding strong and confident.

I felt good about this race for Karel all day long and sometimes, I can just sense that he will do well. You never know in bike racing what the day will bring but I had a feeling this would be a great race for Karel.

Karel stayed near mid pack during the entire race and with over 90 starters, the field was getting smaller and smaller with every loop of the 80 minute race.
The field ended up getting lapped by 2 riders near the middle of the race but the entire race was filled with excitement. I absolutely love watching cycling as there are so many tactics involved between the different teams. My favorite announcer Chad with USA crits always explains the race very well so if you are ever able to watch a USA crit race, I recommend attending.

I was really excited to see Karel sprint for the finish as that is his speciality. He loves to sprint, unlike me who loves a steady effort..not too slow, not too fast. I suppose by now, Karel is teaching me how to suffer...

Karel had a great sprint and placed 28th with one of his teammates Eric S., placing 30th. Both guys earned a nice paycheck since the event payed 30 deep, which they then shared among the team for all the guys who finished.

Karel told me that he could have had a better finish but another rider got in his way and he wasn't able to move up much more during the sprint. Regardless, Karel was really pleased with the race and finished the race, craving for more.

Well, 2 more weeks and we are off to North Carolina for the Charlotte Twilight downtown Crit and then it all leads up to the notorious Athens Twilight Criterium in downtown Athens Georgia. Then...a break for Karel and it is time for me to race some Tri's!

We will both be back in the Clearwater area on April 22nd as I will be racing in the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater, Florida and later that afternoon, Karel will be racing a Florida Series race in downtown New Port Richey.

Life is good...can't complain. I do enjoy resting as much as I enjoy this on-the-go lifestyle. It's all about balance...and lots of restful sleep!

On sunday morning as Karel was watching the Tour de Flanders, I had a 1 hour easy spin followed by my 1 hour and 45 min long run. I warmed up for 4 miles and then it was time for the main set:
4 x 12 min (7:32 min/mile pace, 7:26 min/mile pace, 7:25 min/mile pace, 7:32 min/mile pace) w/ 2 min EZ jog/walk.

Talk abou a main set! But good thing I had a lot of motivation, adrenaline and positivity after seeing Karel suffer for 80 minutes on Saturday evening. I always seem to have amazing workouts when Karel races.

Do you ever get inspired by watching other people race?

Performing beautifully, wearing my Oakley Women Overtime shades, Fly fleece hoodie and convert tank. No outfit is complete without Campy at my side.

Karel looking strong...

...fueled by plants!

Tampa Twilight Criterium Race and lunch wrap

Marni Sumbal

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. A fantastic close to a productive, busy and fun week of working at Baptist Medical Center South, consulting at SpaMe, sharing my yummy creations and info at Winn Dixie (tonight) and my favorite, helping my Trimarni coaching and nutrition athletes get one step closer to their short and long term goals.

If you are near, in or around the Tampa Bay area this weekend, I HIGHLY suggest coming to the Cigar City Criterium and Festival on Saturday. There will be events happening all day so if you like beer and cycling, you will have a lot of fun.
Karel and his category 1 teammates will be racing in the Profesional Criterium Race which starts at 7:25pm. This will be the event to watch if you want to see how the professional riders ride their bikes. Karel and Rad raced in the last USA crit race in Delray and it was exciting and fast...I'm sure in downtown Tampa, this event will not disapoint!

2012 Cigar City Brewing Criterium from Tampa Downtown Partnership on Vimeo.

Hope to see you out there...just listen for Campy, he cheers really loud!

What's for lunch today?
How about a crunchy wrap to go along with your favorite colorful salad?
You can only stuff so much in a wrap (or between two slices of bread) so make the meal more filling by having the wrap as a "side" to your beautifully made salad (or veggie stir fry or fruit salad).

How to choose the best wrap?
-Read the ingredient list, if it is too long for your liking, put back and choose another option. Avoid food colorings or brightly colored wraps that are not made from real food (ex. green food dye wrap vs spinach wrap)
-Don't be pulled in by fancy packaging but narrow down your options with options like whole grain or for some individuals, fortified. The more "whole" the food, the more bang for your buck (and nutritional value).
-Make the best selection based on calories (<180 per wrap), fiber (>3g), sodium (<200mg) and protein (>2g) as generally recommendations.

Enjoy my newest creation - Crunchy pecan and artichoke wrap
1 wrap
1 spoonful hummus
1 large artichoke (canned, rinsed) - sliced
Handful broccoli slaw (or handful dark greens)
5-6 pecans (chopped)
Farmers cheese (about an ounce)