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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: "ironman"

2013 GoPro Ironman World Championship FINISHER

Marni Sumbal


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

                            

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



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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Wow - 10:37:10

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

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

Thank you body for making it happen. 

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





















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


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



Kona ready: prepared for 140.6 miles

Marni Sumbal

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

Triathlon Magazine Undie Run

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

Thank you for your support. 

A few Trimarni videos for your viewing pleasure: 






















Kona Ready: who said it would be easy?

Marni Sumbal

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


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


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




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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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




Weekend recap - physiology of the heart by training in the heat

Marni Sumbal



Some people have no trouble training in the heat whereas others think it is just brutal and not welcomed. I'd like to think that most athletes prefer the ideal temperature of 50-65 degrees for running and around 70-75 degrees for triathlons but everyone has their preferences....just like their style of training.
As I prep for Kona which is 6 weeks away, I am not training in the hottest part of the day for I feel there is no need to lose form or risk dehydration/exhaustion from the heat. Instead, I will train when I feel the best and that is in the morning but of course, it is to be expected that as my training volume progresses, I will be training in the heat whether I like it or not. Gotta love living in Florida for it is a sweat fest everyday.....and I love it!
For this weekend's training, I'd like to explain a little about my workouts and to also explain a little about the physiology of the body (the heart) in the heat to better help with your training/working out.
For my cycling, I go by power which measures my watts on the bike. My zones are determined from a max sustainable power test but I also with all my interval training and past Ironman, I have a very good idea as to what I can sustain (watts) for different intervals. I love training with my power meter because it takes the guessing away from training and also allows me to run stronger off the bike because I can pace myself on the run. I do believe in perceived exertion and keeping a steady cadence but I do not get hung up on speed...but it is nice to see that since IM Lake Placid I am riding much faster and stronger than before.
For my runs, I have to be smart with my running, not only for my past history with hip/back issues but to maintain consistency with my  training and now, Kona prep. I do not do long hours of working out each day but instead, I do  a lot of intervals at various paces. This allows me to recover better from working out because although I stress my body everytime I train (thus why I value recovery days off from structured training), I do not risk the gradual fatigue that occurs due to running out of oxygen or not getting enough nutrients to support metabolism during training by training high volumes (relative to many athletes in my sport of choice).
For my run off the bike on Saturday, I choose to go by RPE and only monitor my HR as I feel the HR should be focused on but it is not the best way to train 100% of the time. I am more of a RPE and pace kinda of endurance athlete and I feel that by understanding the physiology of the body, it is easier to get in a quality workout when you are not 100% focused on the HR, especially in the heat. However, you must always be smart with training and listen to the body - whether it is speaking to you with pain or it is showing you something unhealthy with your training data on your Garmin.
On Saturday, knowing it was 11am and 95 degrees out, my body was limited by my core temperature increasing and thus my HR increasing and not because of lactic acid buildup. Because running will naturally cause an increase in HR over the course of the run due to "cardiac drift", the smartest strategy for me was to walk each mile in order to help control my HR. As you can see from mile 5-6, my body was compromised by the heat as my HR was elevated but I was running much slower and perceived effort felt the same. I always run with sport nutrition but also water for cooling my body. Anytime you workout, your cardiovascular system is stressed. This is why I am not a fan of long workouts for Ironman training because this also dampens the immune system. I realize you must properly prep for the distance ahead but I believe it can be done by getting faster before you go longer and then adapting with the least amount of training stress. 

The heart is a powerful muscle and not always appreciated. Not only does it need to deliver oxygen to the working muscles but it also needs to help transport heat to the skin and to help ensure that the GI system is working to digest and absorb nutrients to fuel the body/brain during exercise. The stroke volume of the heart (volume of blood delivered by each beat of the heart) increases when you exercise to help circulate blood to your metabolic systems so that you can continue to have a great workout.
Eventually when you workout, there is going to be a plateau in stroke volume. Unlike anaerobic exercise which is limited by your ability to tolerate and flush lactic acid due to lack of oxygen (thus the need to slow down when you can't breath anymore and your legs are burning), we all have a limit as to how much blood our body can pump during exercise and eventually you are going to notice that your HR will not increase and your body will not go any faster. 
As you train, remember that working out and getting faster/stronger is not just about motivation. You have to be smart with your training in order for your body to actually respond favorably to training stress. Secondly, your main limiters with longer distance exercise is lack of oxygen and nutrients. If you are pushing too hard without adequate recovery and/or not supplying your body with nutrients (ex. fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates) to support the metabolic demands of your body (or not able to properly digest and absorb those nutrients), you are sabotaging yourself for performance gains. Many athletes feel frustrated when the workout doesn't go as planned and then blame the body for having a bad day. With smart, quality training, you should find yourself consistently improving, recovering well from working out and having your mind as the only limiter and constantly thanking your body. This equation is not always perfect so keep in mind, you must NEVER give up by finding the perfect balanced training plan to help you move closer to your racing goals.
Saturday: 
3:45 bike + 50 minute run
Time started: 7:45am

Bike:
1 hour warm-up (building to upper Z2)
Main set:
20 min Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
25 min Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
30 min Z3 w/ 4 min EZ
3 x 10 min low Z4 w/ 4 min EZ
Steady upper Z2 until time is complete. 

Run (off the bike):
Mile 1: steady, perceived effort 7/10, walk 1 minute
Mile 2- 4: steady 90% effort, walk 1 minute in between
Mile 5-6: Comfortable (get it done)

Garmin 910XT data:
54 minutes (6.12 miles)
Average pace 8:49 min/mile (with walking)
Average HR: 152
Mile 1: 8:07 min/mile, 136 HR
30 sec walk: 137 HR
Mile 2: 7:56, 150 HR
30 sec walk, 147 HR
Mile 3: 8:03, 154 HR
30 sec walk, 150 HR
Mile 4: 8:02, 159 HR
30 sec walk 155 HR
Mile 5: 8:50, 155 HR
30 sec walk, 150 HR
Mile 6: 8:35, 157 HR

Sunday: 2 hour run (or 15 miles) - whichever feels "right"
Time started: 8am

Total time: 2:10
Distance: 15.11
Average pace 8:38 min/mile (including walk breaks, not including a 3 minute stop for bathroom at mile 10 and to refill handheld flask bottles w/ nutrition)
HR 142 average

Set for today: hold around 8:15 min/mile (give or take 5-10 sec) which is my "ideal" run off the Ironman bike in a marathon but haven't yet accomplished that...but I still have it as my goal with training to see where I can take my body overtime and I am not afraid to work hard for it. I typically go by RPE on the marathon run in an IM based on my current level of fitness and bank these great workouts for mental strength on race day. Especially when my body is hating me around mile 20 of a 140.6 mile race.
My plan was to walk 30 sec after each mile and every 40 minutes to walk 1 full minute to help postpone fatigue. I have to be very careful of my body to not overdo it and since my longest run before Placid was 15 miles, I was using this as a confidence builder but also to assess my endurance and fitness. Let's just say I was very impressed with my body and thanked it about 15 times this morning. 
I have my watch set on auto lap each mile and then I hit lap to start a new interval.
I monitor lap time, current HR, lap pace and current pace.

Mile 1: 8:48 min/mile, HR 126 (warm-up)
30 sec walk: HR 116
Mile 2: 8:16 min/mile, HR 131
30 sec walk: HR 123
Mile 3: 8:10 min/mile, HR 137
30 sec walk: 125 HR
Mile 4: 8:07 min/mile, HR 141 + 5 minutes at 8:19 min/mile, HR 144
1 min walk, 124 HR
Mile 5.5 (ish): 8:13 min/mile, HR 143
30 sec walk: 133 HR
Mile 6.5: 8:15 min/mile, HR 143
30 sec walk: 129 HR
Mile 7.5: 8:14 min/mile, HR 146
30 sec walk: 138 HR
Mile 8.5: 8:10 min/mile, HR 149
30 sec walk, HR 142
Mile 9.5: 8:11 min/mile, HR 150 + 2 min walk 8:30 min/mile, 150 HR
3 min break
3.5 minute ease back into running, 8:38 min/mile, HR 134
Mile 10.5 (ish) - 8:17 min/mile, HR 146
30 sec walk, HR 142
Mile 11.5 - 8:14 min/mile, HR 148
30 sec walk, HR 143
Mile 12.5 - 8:13 min/mile, HR 148
30 sec walk, HR 143
Mile 13.5: 8:16 min/mile, HR 148
30 sec walk, HR 147
Last 5 minutes with Campy - 8:45 min/mile (he wanted to go faster...I didn't), HR 138





Ironman Lake Placid RR: 140.6 miles post race

Marni Sumbal

(Photo from Megan Wiseman - 3rd place)

It's been two weeks since Ironman Lake Placid and thankfully, the body remembers nothing of the race. 
                       

But because there has been minimal working out and no structured training for the past 14 days, there hasn't been a chance for the body to notify me of any residual micro tears in my muscles and fibers that would cause me to experience lingering fatigue, soreness, burnout and aches post Ironman. Now I will say, 6th time around, I am very in-tune with my body after racing for 140.6 miles and knowing what to do post race is just as important as considering what not to do post race.
Here is how the exercise routine looked for the past two weeks, with no structure or alarms to tell me that I had to do something. Everything felt good when I did it and I stopped when I wanted to stop.
Mon - Wed post race: nothing
Tues post race: Walking around on Whiteface mountain for an hour
Thurs - 45 min swim
Fri - 45 min Swim
Sat and Sun - 2 hour road bike, EZ spin
Mon - 45 min swim + light core/hip work
Tues - 1:45 road bike, EZ spin
Wed - 45 min swim + hip work
Thurs - 45 min run (5 min walk on incline 5% @3.5mph, 5 min running @ 6.5 mph (ran by feel) w/ no incline. Repeated this 4 times for a total of 20 minutes of running + 5 min walk cool down. 3.5 miles total, no soreness, fatigue or issues before, during or after the run or the next day. 
Fri - 20 min swim
Sat - 2.5 hour social ride w/ my friend Heidi
Sun (today) - plan is 1.5 hour bike + 30 min run (1 mile run + 1-2 min walk). Not a "brick" but just using the bike to warm-up my legs
Mon - back to training, easing in slowly with 9 weeks until the 2013 Ironman World Championship.


After I crossed the finish line and fell into the arms of two amazing volunteers (who were strong enough to catch me and my jello legs), and they asked me if I needed medical.
My reply in a joking manner "No, I'm ok. I'm just tired because I did an Ironman!"

They laughed and asked me what I wanted/needed. 
My reply "I need to find my husband, he just did his first Ironman."
And there he was, right in front of me. With his Mylar blanket keeping his body temperature warm after taking a dip in Mirror Lake to rinse off all the gels, sport drinks and sweat from his first-timer Ironman body, Karel gave me a big hug and said "WOW - you did awesome babe!" 

The first thing I asked him was "How was your race?"
Such a funny question since we were both on the course together and saw each other several times on the bike and the run, but never did I guess, think or wonder what Karel's finishing time would be. 

He replied "10:03"

I couldn't believe it. I kept telling him that was so amazing and he told me he was really happy and proud. The best part of it all was when Karel was running down the finishing chute and heard Mike R. call his name as a first timer from Jacksonville, Florida, Karel said he got emotional as he has been anticipating this day without knowing how the day would ever turn out. I was so happy that he experienced that finishing line to the fullest because that is what the Ironman is all about. 140.6 miles and no matter how the race goes, it is all turned around in those last few tenths of a mile as you approach the finishing line as a member of a special group of individuals who can officially call themselves "Ironman finisher". 

As I hobbled my way with the volunteers to some chairs, I noticed there were a lot of guys around me and many who were making their way to the medical tent. I couldn't take in any solid food as usual, only water. 
After Karel told me about his race, I managed to look at Garmin for the first time in the history file and after switching over from swim, to bike, to run, I told Karel that I ran a 3:48 marathon! I couldn't believe it! Of course, this is after I told him that it was the hardest run of my life, I had to sprint to the finishing line and I am not sure if I am 4th of 5th (if I will get a Kona slot but I may have a chance), my quads were burning the entire race and I really dug deep to finish strong.  I kept looking at my watch as I read 

"10:43, 140.6 miles."

It's funny that in an Ironman, you can go into the race with your current level of fitness and anticipate a finishing time. But the only thing that is certain is how many miles you have to cover until you get your finisher medal, hat and t-shirt. Never can you chase a time for 140.6 miles is a long way to go.

For Karel, his two goals were to qualify for Kona and to break 10 hours. Of course, big goals for your first Ironman. Karel and myself are motivated by our goals and we love to put in the work for them in a balanced way so that are action plan has results. I would never tell Karel or any of my athletes to not dream big, even if the goal is not possible at this point in time. The key is making sure that your goal/dream motivates you but does not distract you from enjoying the journey. Karel never put too much pressure on himself that he would need to compare himself to the crazy fast guys in his 35-39 age group (with only 6 Kona slots) who can swim, bike and run their way to a sub 9:30 Ironman or that he would hate his training because he can't get faster quick enough. What Karel experienced with the Ironman journey is that his body only let him do so much throughout training and he was only allowed to accept his current level of fitness within 24 hours of the race and what he could do to execute a strong, well-paced race. He did just that and without taking too many risks, he is motivated to improve his swim and to learn to be a faster triathlete.
Never would I want anyone to not dream big but at the end of the day, your race day performance is not titled good or bad just because of a finishing time. After sitting around in the finisher area for a good 15 minutes until my body felt semi-OK to take a picture ...


I told Karel, just like I did at IMWI when I crossed the line in 4th place, 90 seconds behind 3rd place and only 3 Kona slots again, that I was so happy with my performance that I wouldn't care about not getting a Kona slot. I did exactly what I trained myself to do and that was to race a strong race. You never know how the cards will be dealt on race day and when things are going well, I recognize them and don't expect things to go even better. Sure, I got ran down by many girls but I was racing a strong race for me and my body and that was worth celebrating.

Toughness comes from overcoming personal limits, obstacles and doubts. You have to argue against the internal voices in your head that scream at you to slow down. Your body gives you feedback that you are not able to maintain this effort to the finish line and that your energy levels are falling. No one but yourself can experience these feelings and no one but you can overcome them.....unless you choose to give in to the pain.

No matter the distance of your upcoming race, how you choose to execute the race or your finishing time, you are a tough, strong athlete because you have prevented barriers which would have stopped you from reaching the finish line and have shut-up the thoughts that tell you it is not possible.




After grabbing our phones from our transition bags and getting our bikes, I checked my phone in my pre race gear bag and was overwhelmed by the messages from our friends and family. Absolutely shocked is a better way to put it as I couldn't believe how many people tracked us throughout the day. Deep inside, I think I heard everyone so we thank you!!

We got on our bikes and painfully (ouch!) rode our bikes 3 miles down the road to our cottage while cheering for the athletes on the course. And this is why I love the Ironman...athletes still with over 13 miles to go on the run and they are congratulating us for our accomplishment. Just amazing!

When we arrived home, we both collapsed on separate beds and chatting with our families. Karel's family in Czech were tracking us all day and you could only believe how excited his parents were since all they knew of Karel was him as a cyclist. 

I took a cold epson salt bath and spent some time dealing with my tummy post race (nothing abnormal) and finally managed to get in some nutrition - pretzels, fruit, glass of milk, leftover small slice of pizza.

I packed some pringles, tums and saltines for later as well as 1 FIZZ in my water to replenish electrolytes. 

Nearing 10:30pm and completely exhausted, sore and aching all over, it was time to head back to the race to cheer on the last hour of finishers. 

It was dark on River Road and on our bikes, pedaling super duper slowly, we cheered for the athletes and told them we expect to see them at the finish line when we get there. Volunteers still on the course, it was all becoming so real that we really just did an Ironman together!

We met Laura and her boyfriend and family at her place and I could finally congratulate her for her amazing first timer 6th place age group finish and we all walked to the finish line for my favorite part of the Ironman..the last hour. 

Thank you again for all your support, cheers and kind words over the past two weeks.

I look forward to sharing my 7th Ironman journey with everyone.....starting tomorrow!



Ironman Lake Placid RR: 26.2 mile run

Marni Sumbal

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




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

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

Patience. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

Digging deep....

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

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


Despite the constant ache in my quads....


The doubts in my head....


And the 26.2 miles ahead of me. 




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



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

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


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




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

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


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


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




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











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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The patient and mentally strong athlete - revisited

Marni Sumbal

Do you want the perfect life? 

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

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

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

Thank you body.

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

Patient athlete

mental training

Inspired by Kona

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



Ironman Lake Placid RR: 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 Ironman.com 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 course....as 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 area....to 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 Ironman.com 


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


Garmin 500 splits 

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

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

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


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

Ironman Lake Placid RR: 2.4 mile swim

Marni Sumbal

2.4 mile swim



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


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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 hour. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

112 miles...here I come!



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

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




Ironman Lake Placid RR - never give up

Marni Sumbal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  

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

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

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

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

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


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


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




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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Ironman Placid tracking, thank you's and photos

Marni Sumbal

2013 Ironman Lake Placid


140.6 miles. 

It doesn't matter what the course looks like on paper, 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running is a test of mental strength, endurance and nutrition. There is no "easy" Ironman. Perhaps a course may favor your strengths or just magnify your weaknesses but at the end of the day, every athlete out on the course is committed to the task at hand and recognizes that you become strong when you are forced to be strong. 

The choice to do an Ironman is simply that. A choice. You may feel pressure as a newbie or veteran runner or triathlete to do a longer-distance event and feel as if the Ironman gives you the ultimate bragging right to show how fit you are (or can become). Perhaps the Ironman is the only road you will ever take to become a world championship finisher which is a major accomplishment in and of itself. For others, the Ironman is a way to fund raise, to give back or to race for those who can't. But whatever your choice may be for signing up for an Ironman, it is the commitment you make to yourself to prepare for the event and then execute in a way that moves you forward throughout the day in order to finish in 17 hours. You swim, you bike, you run for 140.6 miles and never forget that race day is the day you dreamed of for 3,6,12 months and when the time finally comes, the only thing you can do is let the day happen as it is meant to happen. 

I feel strongly in thanking my body before every Ironman as I know my body does not have to let me do this type of endurance event. It requires a lot of training and every year, my body gives me a little wake up call that it is a gift to race injury-free. For much of this year, I have battled with my ongoing hip issues and I feel that for this very special Ironman, I have so much to be thankful for. 3 months without running from Feb - April and then on-and-off issues alongside PT until the last few weeks of training. But I never let myself lose focus of my goals, my dreams and what I love to do. The only thing I could do is to find a way to move myself forward. Never thinking about the past but instead, where I want to be on race day. I could have easily complained and tried to do more than my body was capable of doing but then I wouldn't be standing here today, less than 24 hours to race day, with my hubby as he does his first Ironman with me. I am incredibly grateful to my body for letting me train in a way that I can confidently stand at the starting line with my current level of fitness and trust that my body not only knows how to race the Ironman but that it also loves to finish an Ironman. Rather than writing my body a thank you letter this time around, I feel I will be thanking my body repeatedly during the race tomorrow and owe it to my body to give it a big thank you when I cross the finish line and write my post-race race report. 

Knowing that we are expecting rain and wind tomorrow, I am hoping that every athlete will be safe on this very challenging course. A message to all Ironman athlete, race within your own capabilities. Be confident in what you are able to do with your skills and fitness and be inspired by those around you as you like-wise are an inspiration to others. Every athlete will have highs and lows but in order to get to a high, you have to get through a low. I believe that an Ironman forces you to be smart and to be patient and I wish that every athlete has his/her own personal best day no matter what the time or finishing pace. The best race results are not told on paper but instead, by the athlete him/herself after the journey is complete. 

This has been a great past few days in Placid and I look forward to a 3:30am wake-up call to finally release some energy. I want to wish Trimarni Coaching athlete Laura G. a very special Good Luck tomorrow as she races in her first ever Ironman and I can't wait to share this course with her as I have loved guiding her along in this journey. I also want to wish my Trimarni nutrition athletes a great race day as I know each of my athletes have worked hard on their nutrition and even if you can't prevent nutrition-related issues, you have the ability to deal with them when the arise.
And lastly, to my hubby who has been at the sidelines for 4 of my 5 past Ironmans. Thank you for always being there and for supporting me, believing in me and challenging me to move outside my comfort zone. Thank you for letting me know that all I need to do is to just stay on your wheel to get faster, yet my legs screamed to you that I can't. Thank you for letting me share this journey with you as 12 months ago you were a new swimmer who struggled to swim 500 yards and I have enjoyed seeing you improve so much in the water. And lastly, thank you for encouraging me to never give up as I have questioned many many times in the past few years that triathlon's and running was not a sport for my body. But you never let me quit and you always found a way to let me train and to heal my body at the same time. I know you will have moments in your first IM when it will seem tough and not possible as I have them too. The mind will question your sanity and there will be many why's as to the purpose of racing for 140.6 miles. Just think about all the training you did for a one-day event for on Monday, it will all be over. You can wear your medal, your finisher t-shirt and you can walk like you were hit by a bus and think about Sunday as if it was the best day of your life.
Karel, we are a team and I know we will help each other out like we always do, even if we are different parts of the course. I look forward to seeing you wizz by me on the bike, doing what you were born to do. 5+ hours of total enjoyment as I know this bike course is made for you.
And at the end of our day, if I can't give you the energy you need to dig deep because I am working on my own race day issues, I know there will be thousands of athletes, spectators and volunteers that will give you energy that you don't have in order to pull you to the finish line.

GOOD LUCK IRONMAN LAKE PLACID ATHLETES and THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS AND SPECTATORS!!!

A few pics from today and yesterday. 


Trimarni Nutrition athlete Fran (best of luck!!!)

Mirror lake - swim start

Morning swim at mirror lake

Laura and Karel - Karel giving tips like always. So grateful for his knowledge and perspective as a "cyclist" turned triathlete

Biking the run course

Biking the run course

Biking the run course

Biking the run course with views of Olympic ski jump

Biking the run course

Biking the run course - so happy

Biking the run course

Hubby enjoying his morning eats

Morning eats!

Supporting the local small business - Placid Planet Bike Shop





Race ready!

Packing transition bags

Empty transition area

Miracle on Ice! 1980 arena - athlete meeting


Snow from the ice skating rink

Pre-race ritual pizza two nights before the race - store-bought (frozen) this time, topped with my own toppings of mushrooms, nutritional yeast and tofu and fresh ginger and garlic



French toast w/ sunny side up egg, greek yogurt and fresh fruit and honey

Bike check-in

All checked in!

Transition area

Transition area

My hubby and me!

Trimarni coaching athlete Laura

Bike course - descending


For tracking on race day: 

LIVE COVERAGE

Marni: Bib #664
Karel: Bib #1792


A little about our race course:
Slowtwitch: IM Placid guide
Lake Placid bike course


Thank you for your support, your cheers and your encouragement!
We will do our best to race smart and to finish strong.

And lastly - a HUGE thank you to the companies that have helped me along my Ironman journey. I absolutely love being an ambassador for companies that allow me to live an active and healthy lifestyle with their safe, quality gear/products.

Thank you:
110% Play Harder
Oakley Women
Brooks Running
Hammer Nutrition

Oh and last but not least - thank you to my family who supports me no matter what crazy thing I have in my mind to achieve. My parents have never missed an Ironman of mine and I know they are enjoying their time with Campy and cheering from afar. Thank you to my brother and his fiance Dana for cheering out Karel and I and always supporting our very active lifestyle.

Ironman to-do: Race Bags

Marni Sumbal

                                   


When it comes to racing an Ironman, I believe that the training is the hardest part. Sure, 140.6 total miles of swimming, biking and running is a major feat on the body and requires proper pacing, fueling and mental focus and strength. But racing in an endurance event is simply the accumulation of days and weeks and months of training. The early morning and evening workouts, the balance of work, life, family and training, the sacrifices for a good night of rest, the investment in recovery tools, the passion for proper daily and sport nutrition, the money, the time and the commitment….so much work for the BIG day that comes and goes within an instant. No matter how long it takes a person to finish an Ironman within the allotted amount of time (17 hours), it is nothing more than 3,6,9,12 months of training only for a one-day event.

Thanks to thousands of spectators, athletes, volunteers and friends and family from afar, the Ironman race day is the “easy” part. All you do is show up to the race venue start and do what you love to do. Swim. Bike. Run. Even if you are racing for an age-group award, Kona slot or personal best time or just to finish, the entire day is up to your mind controlling your trained body. You imagined the race start day during every workout and you were motivated by your race day finish fist-pump and post-race eats. The day when everyone out on the course and on the sidelines is there to finish the race or to help you finish the race. It’s the most self-centered day for an athlete yet the most inspiring and motivating day for a spectator.

To help myself out before an Ironman, I always keep a to-do list/itinerary for what I need to accomplish before the race start. Because an Ironman requires that you pack transition bags to be turned in with your bike on the day before the race, instead of setting up your transition area on race day morning, I find that this can be a very stressful and overwhelming process for an athlete. For no matter how many long weekends you have trained for the race, there’s that little feeling like you are forgetting something before a race alongside second guessing what has worked so many times in training. I encourage athletes to always start a packing list well-before race day, typically after your last “long” training weekend. Simply write down your pre-training nutrition, during training nutrition (products/fluids, etc.), gear and clothing used as well as what gadgets were best used (ex. setting up your screens on your Garmin to show useful variables to monitor such as normalized power, cadence, current HR on the bike and current pace, lap mile pace, current HR and lap time on the run). But then there are the thoughts as to doing something for the first time or not trying things out in training (ex. using a fuel belt for the first time in a race, not wearing your HR monitor during a race, using race wheels for the first time) that may stress you out for you don’t know if it will work or not.

Since this will be Karel’s first Ironman and his 6th triathlon since he learned to swim last May and made the transition from Cat 1 cyclist to triathlete, there are many unknowns for Karel which I am sure is true for many athletes out there. One thing that is on Karel's mind - he has never worked out for more than 7 hours before. I remember at my first IM, I couldn't believe that my heart would beat for so long in one day, continuously. If anything on your IM race day, always be thankful to your body for what it allows you to do. And if you feel as if your body is failing you, just be smart. Likely it is just giving you a warning sign to modify your strategy or slow down.

Of course, Karel and I are a team so we both help each other out all the time (he cleans my bike, I make him dinner J) but with Karel being my Sherpa for my past 5 Ironman’s, he is very educated on what he needs for race day and with every long training session, Karel and myself simulated race day scenarios. We are prepared for the what-if’s, oh-no’s and awesome moments.

To help you out if you are planning for an Ironman or triathlon, here is my current packing list: 

                           

Pre-race
Sandals/old tennis shoes if warming up with a jog
Zip-up hoodie
Skirt or comfy pants
Sport nutrition – 1 scoop hammer heed + water bottle, water bottle to toss, hammer gel, endurance aminos, electrolytes.
Pre race nutrition - ~450-600 calories (low fiber, low fat, energy dense, low volume but high carb foods, as tolerated, `3 hours before your race start time) + 16 ounces water + cup of coffee. Typically I have rye wasa crackers (3) + honey + banana + walnuts + granola + milk (however before races my tummy doesn’t like milk except in coffee so I will omit but I always do milk before training)  + PB + raisins.
Karel typically has a base of waffles or oatmeal and then some additional toppings, similar to mine. He also likes the Bolthouse yogurt-based drinks.
Spray sunscreen
Body Glide
Race outfit (often I put on dry clothes in transition area, especially if weather is chilly)
NO ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES PRE RACE!!!!


Swim
Goggles (2 pairs)
Cap (provided by race)
Wetsuit or speed suit (depending on water temp)
Garmin 910XT (set on multisport function) – for swim I have it set to lap every 400 yards and on my screen I can see distance, time and pace.

Bike
Garmin edge 500 (charged and reset)– I have multiple screens on my garmin but I will set my garmin to my interval screen for the majority of the ride (3sec power, normalized power, current cadence, current HR, lap speed, lap time, average speed)
Cycling shoes
Socks
Bike pump (pump tires race morning if needed and check brakes to avoid rubbing)
Helmet (I will not be wearing an aero helmet for IM Placid because I feel the advantages of having the helmet will not be too my advantage at this race because of my riding style and because of the toughness of this course).
Race wheels (practiced many times in training) w/ power meter properly working
Sport nutrition – I will be bringing 4 bottles with me so that I do not have to rely on the aid stations except as needed and for water for sipping and cooling. I will always have 2 bottles of sport nutrition and 1 bottle of water on my bike at all times for most of the race. I will bring a gel flask to supplement additional calories w/ gels + water so I don’t have to mess with gel wrappers during the race. I do not eat solids during an IM but if I need something it will be at an aid station. I take in around 300 calories per hour from sport drinks and additional calories from gels as needed.
Electrolytes and endurance aminos - wrapped in mini plastic wrap bags w/ tape
Oakley commit sunglasses (I find these lighter than my Radar glasses which is important since I will be wearing sunglasses for 9.5+ hours)
Tri/jersey top and cycling shorts (depending on weather – I will be wearing my Trimarni Cycling shorts through the entire race, the padding in the shorts does not bother me and I prefer to ride in cycling shorts)
Additional clothing pending weather – gloves, ear covers, arm warmers (depending on the race day weather)
Towel (small) in transition bag to wipe off after swim

Run
Race belt w/ race bib number (first name) + extra race belt w/ race number (last name) – I always have a back-up if needed. IN the past Ironman required a race number on the bike and I would use my first name number and put backup last name in my T2 bag but now you only have to wear a number on the run so I will use my pink race belt w/ first name bib.
Extra sunglasses (my Oakley’s never fall or slip but in the case of an emergency I will have a backup)
Visor
2 gel flasks filled with gels (I will rely on aid stations for water and additional calories as needed/tolerated. Pretzels are often my best friend if my tummy feels off from swallowing the water in the swim portion)
Tums (in case of an emergency)
Endurance aminos and electrolytes - wrapped in mini plastic bags w/ tape
Extra socks
Running shoes w/ lace locks
Towel (small) in bag to wipe off after bike
NO ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES!!!

Extra
I put all my individual items in large zip lock bags within my transition bags so that when the volunteer dumps my bag, nothings gets lost as it can be a little chaotic in the transition tent. Also, in the case of overnight or day showers, this prevents items from getting wet in the transition bags.
I tie bright string on my bags to easily locate my bags if the volunteer cannot help me out.
I always thank the volunteers J
I always review the course as much as possible before the race to get familiar with how the aid stations will be placed as well as what to expect along the course which may affect/impact my pacing / nutrition strategy. This also helps me visualize the course as I am in the moment as I don't like to jump ahead with my mind on race day. I was taught by my mental coach Gloria to always stay in the moment. Think only about the swim while you are swimming, etc. 






Hello from Lake Placid!!

Marni Sumbal

Race to travel. Travel to race.

Karel and I absolutely love seeing new places and making memories together. Since we both live a very active lifestyle, the combination of traveling and racing works very nicely for us for it allows us to see new sights in a very active way.

Lake Placid was a race that we decided to do last year around June. Karel was seeking a new challenge after spending most of his teenage - adult life training and racing cycling, with the past few years as a cat 1 cyclist. Karel jumped in the water last May for his first swim "workout" and after working hard in the water for a few weeks, he was ready for his first ever triathlon in mid July. Never did I ask Karel to do a triathlon, let alone an Ironman for I believe that with two active individuals being married, they don't have to have similar passions but instead, excitement for similar lifestyles. But one day, Karel said he wanted to train for an Ironman and knowing that it would take a while, he set his eyes on a June/July race for the following year ('13) so that he could train for an entire year, primarily learning the skills of triathlon. After tossing around a few ideas, we narrowed down our choices based on logistics, timing, weather and terrain and Ironman Lake Placid was on the top of our list. We both seek challenging, hilly courses and IM Lake Placid was not going to disappoint us based on what we new about the race. Additionally, we really enjoy visiting places where the town comes together to support the Ironman. Knowing that not every town is in favor of having 2500+ athletes take-over 140.6 miles, it is very special to be in a place that thrives off the Ironman weekend.

Lake Placid it was........our first Ironman together.

It was a long day of traveling, starting with a 3:45am wake-up call to drive 2 hours to Orlando (much cheaper flights in Orlando vs Jax). Before we even left Orlando to head to La Guardia, I received a message on my phone from Delta that we would have a delay in NY before heading to Vermont. So our 5 total hours of getting from Orlando to Vermont turned into 7.5 hours. Then, we had to take a ferry from Vermont to New York and I choose the longest ferry which took an hour. But we just missed the 4:10pm ferry so we had to wait until 5:30pm - which was the last one! We killed time by heading to the local grocery store for some groceries for the morning and before we knew it we were driving on board the ferry for a very beautiful trip to NY. I enjoyed a salad from Moe's which made my tummy happy. After arriving to NY, we traveling about 1 hour and 10 minutes to Lake Placid which put us to our rental cottage around 8pm. But despite all the delays and mistakes with my travel arrangements, it was an absolutely beautiful welcome to get to Lake Placid and we purposely drove on the bike course to our cottage (3 miles from the race venue on River Drive) to check out the course. Beautiful, challenging, tough.

We went to bed just before 9pm as we were both exhausted from the day. But up early without an alarm at 6am to get the coffee going w/ a small snack before we met Trimarni Coaching athlete Laura G and her bf Duran for a swim at mirror lake.

Karel and I didn't have our wetsuits because they were packed with our gear bag with Tri Bike Transport and I was really worried that the 43 morning temps would freeze me from a morning swim. Laura let me borrow her speed suit and Karel wore a tri suit and actually, the swim felt great (albeit a tiny bit chilly but nothing that would keep me from swimming 1.2 miles in mirror lake). It was really nice to get the blood flowing as I am itching to push hard and release my contained energy but doing nothing will only get me tight and unfocused.

After warming up back in the cottage, it was time for a real meal, followed by check-in, expo exploring and grocery shopping. So grateful for Laura being a local (grew up playing hockey around Placid but now lives in NC) as she was an excellent tour guide, driving us around and explaining the course to us (which was an added bonus since I have been reviewing her training files on training peaks for the past 2 weeks since she has been staying up here with her family).

After a light lunch, we picked up our bikes at Tri Bike Transport and Karel put on our pedals and we were ready for a ride with Laura as our tour guide.

Karel and I needed to do a little climbing to wake up our legs as it is always a shock for the body to climb, especially when you don't do it for a while (or regularly). We rode the last part of the course by heading down the last climb to Wilmington to then head back up as if we were actually on the course (2 loop course). We rode from Wilmington towards whiteface mountain on Route 86 for around 11 miles of climbing, a few rollers and not a lot of flat. This course is extremely challenging and race day calls for a big chance for rain so this course certainly requires a lot of patience and love for mother nature. All-in-all, I love this course already!

After the ride, it was nearing 5:30 pm by the time we cleaned up so Karel and I each made some dinner and the rest of the evening was relaxing.

We are looking forward to a very easy workout in the morning with a very short swim in the lake at 7:30am followed by a 45ish minute "flat" ride on river road (well- as flat as you can get around here with a few rollers).

The pictures speak louder than words and I hope you can enjoy Lake Placid via my photos for we are absolutely loving it here!






(Karel's eats)










































Race ready for Ironman #6!

Marni Sumbal

2006 IMFL - First Ironman
2007 Ironman World Championships  - 2nd Ironman

2009 IMKY - 3rd Ironman


2010 IMWI - 4th Ironman

2011 Ironman World Championship - 5th Ironman

TBA - Ironman Lake Placid July 28th, 2013


I have expressed how much I love the Ironman journey many times on this blog. But oh, how I LOVE Ironamn race week when I arrive to the racing venue. 

I absolutely love traveling and making memories with Karel. I am sad that this will be the first Ironman that my parents won't be watching but I know Campy is in great hands and is receiving lots of love this week. 

But this time around is extra special as my boyfriend, turned fiance turned hubby (from Ironman #1 until now) will be racing with me for the first time. 

He won't be cheering for me on the sidelines...


but instead we will be able to share the excitement, soreness, highs and lows together. 


Our bags are packed, traveling nutrition is ready and our bikes await us in Lake Placid. We are both very excited for this race and to share this experience together, alongside 2500+ athletes, volunteers and spectators. 

No matter the finish time, the finish place or what obstacles are thrown in our way, I am wishing for a safe and fun day on a very challenging course and I can't wait to share my race report when it is all over with on Sunday evening. 

And if you are wondering if Karel is ready and excited for his first IM? 

Here is the text message that he sent me this morning after his workout. 










Fueling for an Ironman

Marni Sumbal

I believe that training and racing in an Ironman Triathlon is a gift. The more that I think about it, any time you challenge your body with an athletic goal, it is a very special thing. From 5K running to marathon running and any other sport that makes you happy. Your body is a gift that allows you to get stronger, faster and more skilled.

Therefore, the opportunity that many of us have to use our body for sports is something that should not be taken for granted. So rather than making training and racing your life, it is important to recognize that training and racing is your lifestyle. A lifestyle that is given to you because you are healthy and well enough to train and race in your sport of choice.

You can't out-train a poorly planned diet. If your body does not receive the necessary nutrients to stay in optimal health, there is no way that your body will perform and adapt during exercise like you desire.

So rather than spending all of your energy, time and money on sport nutrition products, training plans and expensive equipment, consider the power of food to fuel your active lifestyle.

In 6 days I will be doing my 6th Ironman. My diet has not changed throughout this IM journey from what I normally eat on a day-to-day basis without training for an Ironman. The only thing that changes with training is my sport nutrition as I always adjust what I eat/drink before, during and after training based on my workout load/volume and intensity. I always fuel my body before workouts, I always fuel during workouts and I always  fuel post workout but what and how I fuel differs depending on the training.

What never changes is my appreciation of real food to fuel my muscles, brain and body. It not only helps me prevent disease but it tastes good and leaves me satisfied and happy.

I wanted to use this blog to share a few of my recent creations that have been fueling my Ironman journey. Enjoy!

Baked pasta casserole
Cooked pasta and macaroni noodles
Mushrooms
Broccoli
Red bell pepper (sliced)
1 can tomato Parmesan soup
Cheddar cheese
Nutritional yeast  (~2 tbsp)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In casserole dish (rectangle) pour can of soup and add veggies. Cover with noodles (about 1/2 cup per person) and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
3. Slice a few pieces of cheddar brick cheese to place on the noodles and season with your choice of herbs/spices.
4. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until noodles are crispy. 


PB&J  morning eats
2 slices whole grain bread
Smuckers Natural PB
100% Fruit jam
Raisins, walnuts and honey
Greek yogurt plain (0% Chobani or Fage are my fav)
Fresh fruit



Fresh fruit and breakfast bread
2 slices bakery breakfast bread
Fresh fruit and plain yogurt

Roasted potatoes w/ mixed whole grains and veggies
White and sweet potatoes (sliced)
Mixed whole grains (cooked - I mixed brown rice, spelt berries and wild rice and cooked for about 90 minutes)
Tofu (firm)
Mushrooms
Red bell pepper
Frozen corn  
Sunflower oil 

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes on baking sheet and toss in about 1 tbsp oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and season to your liking with a little salt and rosemary.
2. In casserole dish, place veggies and tofu and bake until soft (they won't brown in the glass dish).


Eggplant lasagna
1 large eggplant - sliced
Marinara sauce
Firm tofu (crumbled before placing in dish)
Corn (from the cob, cooked and then sliced off)
Spinach
Garlic (chopped)
Shredded cheese
Nutritional yeast
Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In large casserole dish, light coat with a little olive oil before layering.
3. LAYERS: Eggplant, marinara, tofu, corn, spinach, garlic, nutritional yeast. Repeat. Then top with a little cheese.
4. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until eggplant is lightly brown and soft. 

Risotto with veggies and tofu
Corn (cooked)
Tofu (grilled on skillet in a little oil until brown)
Chives
Risotto (or jasmine/orzo)
Mushrooms (cooked)
Zucchini  (cooked)
Marinara
1. Combine in a bowl starting with the veggies and then top with a serving of rice. Mix together with marinara. 


Summer salad
Avocado
Mango
Carrots
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Almonds
Mixed leafy greens
Cranberries

Sweet and spicy tempeh w/ fruit
Tempeh
Quinoa
Broccoli
Peaches
Cherries
Olive oil

1. Grill tempeh on skillet on medium heat in a little olive oil.
2. Cook quinoa according to package (1:2 ratio of quinoa to water) while tempeh is cooking.
3. Slice fruit and steam broccoli. 


Summer veggies w/ quinoa
Beets  (fresh, cooked)
Tofu
Mushrooms
Onions
Sliced cheese
Red quinoa
Fresh basil
Corn on the cob
Hard boiled egg
Olive oil
1. Cook veggies and beets and tofu in large skill skillet on medium heat until soft.
2. Prepare quinoa while veggies are cooking.
3. Cook corn in microwave (husks removed) for 7-10 minutes or until cooked.
Season with your choice of seasonings. 

Race Ready tips

Marni Sumbal

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

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


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




Are you race ready?

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

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

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

1) Skills

2) Confidence

3) Planning


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

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

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

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

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

Happy Racing!

Hello Ironman TAPER!

Marni Sumbal


Taper is a beautiful thing. You reduce the volume before a race and maintain the intensity and see the fruits of your labor begin to ripen. Your life becomes a bit more normal as you find yourself with a bit more time on your hands....but for those who don't get "it", you have trouble with your new normal as you aren't quite sure what to do with your extra time. Clean, chores, errands, watching TV....not as fun as a 5+ hour workout. 

Over the past few years, Karel and I have really spent a lot of time understanding tapering for endurance athletes. Between Karel and myself, cyclist and triathlete, we have both learned how to nail a taper and it is great when it pays off. 

One of the best things about taper is going into it without needing it. No fear-based training the last week before taper, no worries about gaining weight by reducing volume and no hoping that an injury or burnout will go away in 10-14 days. 

It's really neat to see the body change throughout training for an event in terms of getting faster, stronger and smarter. But let's never forget that with training for an event, there comes plenty of ups and downs to overcome to get to the starting line. 

When I train for an event, I love putting in the work. I love staying focused for a few months at a time and learning how to keep things balanced while dreaming big. The way I race the best is by remembering all the great, positive moments in training (and in life) instead of dwelling on any bad or down moments. 

I find for many athletes, the "bad" or off workouts weigh heavy on the mind and thus, athletes struggle with not feeling "ready" for an event due to thinking about those off workouts. Well, I hope that for every bad or off workout, there is at least a dozen or so great workouts that can bring you confidence for race day. And on top of it all, an appreciation that racing in endurance events (or any event) is a gift that should not be taken for granted. 

As I go into my 6th Ironman, my mind is filled with happy thoughts and I'd love to share some of those with you in hopes that you do not waste too much energy on the moments when you feel "off" but instead, remember that in life, you will be the happiest when you think happy thoughts. Although I have many great memories in my 31 years on this earth, here are a few of my favorite recent "sport" related memories. 

Riding 112 miles behind Karel's wheel. It's been an amazing journey over the past 7 years since I first got a triathlon bike as it was super scary to clip in and ride with aero bars. I'm so grateful for a supportive hubby who is a talented cat 1 cyclist. He has been so incredibly helpful and patient with my cycling skills and fitness. Thank you Karel for challenging me on the bike and for always believing in me. It's been a pleasure looking at your butt for many long bike rides over the past few months. :)



Winning 2012 Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon and having my dad there to see me win my first big win. My dad was attending an optometry continuing ed conference in downtown Clearwater and left the conference to watch me finish. Neither one of us expected me to win so it was a great surprise for both of us. Thank you Dad for being my #1 photographer and supporter (with mom). 

Karel getting a call-up and finishing the Athens Twilight Crit two years in a row. Don't get me wrong, I love sharing a triathlon journey with Karel. But I LOVED watching Karel race in crits. The adrenaline pumping just as loud as the music and the energy was contagious. I met Karel on the bike in 2006, when he was a cat 3 cyclist and it has been amazing to see how Karel improved with cycling over the years to race Cat 1, alongside top level cyclists who race as full-time pros (not TDF pros but still pros who race for their day-job). Karel loves to suffer and push himself on the bike and he did just that at USA Crit Speed Week for three years in a row. I absolutely loved sharing those races with him. 

Riding from Znojmo Czech Republic to Retz Austria. It's easy to think that traveling will disrupt fitness, especially while training for an Ironman. Karel and I think otherwise as we rarely travel for a vaca not related to a race but when we do, we love to stay active and deviate from the "normal routine". I believe that everyone needs a break from the normal routine and structure and there are so many ways to do just that. Riding road bikes in Europe will stay with me forever and I will remember the switchbacks, the cobblestones, the espresso's mid-ride and the beautiful sights from Europe whenever I am riding my bike...even in flat Jacksonville, Florida. Thank you Karel for showing me your beautiful home country and for living such an active life with me!

Oakley Women trip to Utah! I love the sun, the water and the heat. But I'm ok with changing things up for some winter sports. I really enjoyed my recent winter trips to Iowa and Utah and allowing myself to step outside of my comfort zone. I love seeing what my body can do and the only way I can do that is by trying new things. I'm not good at everything but that's OK....life is short, not perfect. 

Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Part of being an athlete is knowing how to be a great sherpa. My brother was graduating from Carnegie Mellon business school and as my parents supported my brother at his graduation, we first had to cheer him on for his 3rd half marathon. 1:31...not too shabby for a Big Ten High Bar Champion from University of Michigan. All-around Division 1 gymnast turned runner....so proud of my brother and all of his accomplishments! Next up...he is getting married in Sept in Pitt to his amazing fiance Dana! 

I still remember my first Ironman (IMFL 2006) like it was yesterday. Winning the 18-24 age group was a dream that came true with a lot of hard work, determination, passion and excitement. Here I am with Ironman #6 in 14 days and I still have the same motivation, excitement and passion for what I choose to do with my body on a daily basis. It never becomes boring, not-fun or something I have to do. I stay competitive to the point where I am driven by the ability to improve but I try to stay balanced so that triathlons are not my life, but instead my lifestyle and something that I want to do because it makes me happy and healthy. 

Since Campy came into our life 5 years ago, my life hasn't been the same. Since we rescued Campy from a foster family, I have found myself seeking ways to fill my life with as many opportunities as possible to create memories for us. Knowing that Campy does not get the pleasure of living a life that lasts more than 20 years, I am constantly looking for ways to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle with my furry BFF by my side. We travel together, run together, sleep together and love life together. Whenever I have a low moment in a race, all I need to do is see a furry friend to bring a smile to my face. Cow, horse, bird, dog, squirrel, cat....anything will do as I have a soft spot in my heart for all animals. Campy just happens to be the lucky one as his life is truly a lottery-winning life and I'm lucky that I can give him the best life ever. Campy always reminds me that it is possible to never have a bad day. 







Endurnace sports. What's stopping you?

Marni Sumbal

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




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

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

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

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

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

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9-17-2010
This part of the report means so much to me. Not only because I finished my fourth IM since 2006 but I get to write MY report on behalf of all of the triathletes out there, who aspire to one-day sign-up and finish an Ironman. And even if you don't aspire to do a triathlon or an Ironman, or you have done an IM, this is for all of the people out there who have set a challenging, and perhaps, unthinkable, goal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swim set, podcast link and tri-colored quinoa w/ tempeh

Marni Sumbal

As I have mentioned several times, I just love the Ironman journey. This time around, sharing it with Karel has been extra special for we have both been able to see progress within each other and that is really neat to see. Karel continues to push me on the bike and in return I get the reply "great job, babe" as I smile every-so kindly to thank him for the suffering. But on the flip side, Karel has really worked hard on his swimming and I can't believe he just started swimming 1 year ago!! I have really enjoyed helping Karel learn to swim and to be there to witness his major swimming breakthroughs. Karel started very slow, working on form for he knew he had a year to train for the IM and there was no need to rush speed when form is the most important part of swimming efficiently. 

The issue for many triathletes who struggle with swimming is the exhaustion that comes from swimming. No matter how fast or slow in the water, how long or short, it is just exhausting and it's not the same kind of exhaustion that you get from pushing yourself during a run or bike set. Although swimming is non weight bearing, one would think it would require less energy to perform. However, any form of exercise increases your breathing rate and as you know, when you swim you do not have a lot of opportunities to breath (or to take in a full inhale and exhale). Seeing that swimming (like any exercise) increases your heart rate and your blood circulation in response to your effort/intensity, your lung capacity, the efficiency in which you take in oxygen and transfer it to blood vessels as well as your form/strength in the water to push past the water's resistance, determine how fast and how far you can swim.

Overtime, your respiratory system will get stronger and you will find your lungs working more efficiently to help you with exchange of gases (oxygen/carbon dioxide). Thus, before you get focused on being fast in the water, it is very important to work on your stroke and swimming effortlessly (as possible) so that you can train the body to perform with the least amount of energy expenditure. The speed will come, just be patient. 

I have been giving Karel swim sets for the past few months and they are really paying off. It is amazing that he is so strong in the water although he does get tired which is to be expected. But, he refuses to give up so he is in the pool 3 times a week working on his form and just being as comfortable as possible in the water. 

On Tuesday before our brick run (immediately after swim) we had a great swim set focusing on a little speed and then pacing. I am trying to help Karel learn how to tolerate lactic acid in the water but not exhausting him (which is what happened a few months ago when Karel would just do fast swims and we figured he wasn't doing any good with consistency for he was just exhausting himself for upcoming workouts). 

Here's the set we did: 
3000 yards

500 warm-up
Main set 3x's: 
3 x 100's fast w/ 15 sec rest (I did them on 1:30, Karel did them on 1:45)
300 steady IM pace (ideally, going the same pace as your cycle, about 15-20 seconds or so per 100 slower than your "fast" pace). 
50 EZ recovery before repeating (or rest 2-3 minutes)

500 pull stretching things out (w/ buoy/paddles)
100 cool down


On Wednesday I had the opportunity to do a podcast with Real Women on Health and Iron Girl and it was a lot of fun as I got to talk about my favorite topics......nutrition, fitness and health! Here is the 30 minute podcast for your listening pleasure if you want to hear my thoughts on eating for fuel, health and pleasure.




I made the most delicious creation the other night and I am so excited to share it with you. I visited wholefoods the other day to explore some new foods to add to our diet and I picked up tri-colored quinoa. Prepared the same as regular quinoa with a nice nutty taste. Speaking of nutty, Karel and I just love tempeh for its taste but it is also packed with protein. It can taste a little bland so I recommend cooking it in a little olive oil (cubed) or you can try to find flavored tempeh (just watch the added sodium). 

Enjoy!

Tri-colored quinoa stir fry
Asparagus
Sweet Peppers
Garlic
Mushrooms
Tempeh

1. In cooking pot, prepare quinoa 
2. In large skillet, turn to medium heat and add a little olive oil (~1-2 tsp per 3 ounces tempeh per person) and cook cubed tempeh until golden brown (toss occasionally). Season with a pinch of salt, turmeric and oregano (pepper optional). 
3. While tempeh is cooking, prepare asparagus by chopping off ends (1 inch) and microwave in shallow dish for 3 minutes until tender (maybe 4 minutes if needed). Then chop. 
4. When tempeh begins to turn golden, add ~1-2 tsp olive oil and add pepper and mushrooms. Toss and reduce heat to low and cover (may need to add a little cooking spray to prevent sticking) and toss occasionally. Let cook for 5-8 minutes or until soft but not browned. 
5. Add asparagus to pan, toss and cook for 1-2 more minutes and then turn off heat. 
6. Assemble plate with ~1/2 cup quinoa + veggie and tempeh mixture. Enjoy!

Do you have a fitness/athletic goal....Are you committed or obsessed?

Marni Sumbal




I can't believe we are nearing July!! In only 5 weeks, Karel and I will be sharing our first Ironman experience together in Lake Placid!! I feel like it was just yesterday when we registered for the race (last July) and it was just 10 weeks ago when we started our key "IM-focused training". Although I feel that athletes always have the opportunity to build on past seasons, there is a special kind of attention and focus that is often made when gearing up for an important race or any endurance event. We must never forget that the body must be trained in order to perform. With the good and the bad (lessons learned) days, any time you have a goal you must be willing to be disciplined, determined and committed. For many times, it is when things get tough or challenging that you are most vulnerable to quitting but many times, it is at that moment that you are about to make a breakthrough, a jump on progress or learn something new about yourself. 

Although there are no guarantees in life, you may notice that for yourself (or for others) that there is a big connection between commitment and success. Although success does not have one standard definition, the person who dedicates him or herself to a goal will discover many opportunities of progress than compared to the person who is not focused or desires quick results.

As an athlete all my life, I have discovered many definitions of success with my sport activities/events. Perhaps for yourself, if you have ever tried a new sport, distance or physical activity, you have the choice of doing it when it is convenient (or wishing for it to be easy) OR being committed and recognizing that the situations ahead of you will not always be within your comfort zone. But as we all know, "easy" is rarely associated with fitness gains for the body and mind loves to be comfortable and in order to get stronger, fitter or faster we must respect the body but still, push it to a higher limit. When we are committed to the task at hand, we get to experience this amazing thing called a "breakthrough" and consequently, when this happens, the situation gets easier but the next step is setting a higher goal. And thus, the cycle continues as we look for the easy way but we all know that anytime something gets easy, we look for another challenge and new goal.

The issue for many age group athletes is this idea of commitment which we all must have when training for an event (ex. running race, triathlon, cycling event, etc.). There is an expectation that when you do an individualized sport, it is all about yourself and only you can do the work to get to the starting line and finishing line. Sure, we all need support and help along the way but our goals and level of commitment is based on how much we (YOU) want "it". Thus this is a great thing when you plan your races and training in order to peak at the right time but many athletes take this to extreme and commitment often turns into obsession.

I remember when I was in graduate school to earn a Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology, school was my life. I kept myself active and trained for a marathon (gotta put all that education to good use!) but above all, school was my top priority. I realized the educational undertaking of graduate school was only 1.5 years but I was fully committed to my education for those 1.5 years. I made sacrifices and did not have much life outside of school but I knew that it would all be worth it when it was over. I remember studying for my exit exams and that took isolation to a whole new level. Morning, noon and night, studying all day and even when I could squeeze in a workout, I felt like I was still studying (and often did on the treadmill or stationary bike). Again, it all worked out and it was worth it.

I had the same experience while obtaining my RD credential but that road was a bit longer (3 years) and I knew that the 10-month internship would be the big commitment so I made sure that I kept myself as balanced as possible throughout the journey of being eligible for my internship while obtaining my pre req courses.

So for anyone who has earned a degree, passed a certification or has dealt with a similar situation of being in school and having to be fully committed to studying all day, every day...you get it. And even if it isn't education-related, it is likely that at some point in your career, that you have had to be 100% committed to the task at hand.

Never would we complain to a person that they are studying too much or that they are obsessed with studying. We know that education is expensive, time consuming and for many, it is specialized. We often do anything and everything to support and encourage those who are in school (or doing something career related) for they need ongoing support and motivation to keep on moving forward and to not quit when things get tough, challenging and overwhelming.

But for any age-group athlete, the commitment that is needed to train and prepare for an event can often get confused with obsession. And thus, rather than getting the support needed to continue, your support-crew begins to complain.

When training begins to interfere with daily activities and relationships, when a missed workouts becomes the "worst" part of the day, when "perfect" is associated with expectations of working out, when you ignore the signs of injury, fatigue, burnout or illness, when your diet/training routine becomes extreme and isolated, when you set unattainable or unrealistic goals/expectations for yourself with training or you live in a bubble of working out, eating and sleeping, one may feel you are obsessed and have taken your training routine to the extreme.

I realize that this can be a hard situation to handle for any athlete and my suggestion is to always set goals for yourself but recognize the journey that is needed to achieve goals. Often times, athletes get so obsessed with the end result that they lose sight of the journey and the progress that is being made. Many times, success comes from worrying less about what others are doing and just focusing on yourself and what you are able to do every day to move yourself closer to your goals.

For myself, I can not dedicate more than 10-14 weeks of my life to a race. I have a lot of dedication within me and my type A personality allows me to stay focused with whatever task is ahead of me. Thus, if I have a goal, I find myself 100% committed to my goal. I try to establish my own definition of balance (which is often re-defined thanks to my supportive hubby) every time I have a goal so that I don't lose sight of all the many important parts in my life that make me happy. This year has been a great year for my career in that I have dedicated myself to many speaking events all over the US and many trips lasting for several days. I found myself with the same commitment and focus to my career as I do with my training and racing and I hope you can do the same.

Whenever you train for an event, I encourage you to find a way to keep things balanced for as long as you can. Sometimes that means talking with your close friends and family and having an honest discussion with your boss and anyone else that relies on you. There are many people in this world that don't understand the commitment, dedication and desire to train for events, whether it is a 5K run/walk or an Ironman. But, you never know who you will inspire as you dedicate yourself to the task at hand in order to achieve your goal. So I encourage you to make sure that you do not become obsessed but instead, just stay committed so that your life isn't extreme in any one way (yes - I realize that training for an Ironman or marathon can be quite extreme but be sure to keep your on/off switch ON at the appropriate time for training and ON at the appropriate time for family, work and social obligations).

Keep things fun, enjoy the journey and be sure you find yourself always making progress. You can't expect to have a great day every day but you can learn something from every workout/experience and if anything, be sure to never make the same mistake twice.


With several 3-3.5 hour rides behind us, this weekend was all about putting the pieces together. With the focus on Ironman pacing (which works very well for me since Karel's IM pace is my IM pace when I draft on his wheel - although he is much faster so I cover more distance than by myself but we typically train by time so it all works out), our plan was a 4 hour ride + 4-6 mile run on Saturday (achieved!! 90 miles + 50 min run for me) and the BIG ride today. 

Today's ride was all about getting comfortable with all the highs and lows that come from being on your bike for 5+ hours, practicing nutrition, practicing pacing, working on mental toughness (thanks Gloria for all my tips!) and well, just enjoying time together outside (which I just love sharing my 6th IM journey with Karel!). 

112 mile ride + 10 min run (Karel ran 4 miles off the bike). 





I can't believe it...never in my dreams did I think I would be riding this fast/strong behind Karel's wheel. October 2011 was the last time I biked 112 miles (in Kona for the World Championships). Two years later I have made a lot of progress and not a day goes by when I reflect on the hard work, fun and tough days on the bike to be able to ride 30 minutes faster on a training ride and to stay behind Karel's wheel for 112 miles.  For around 6 years, I have been riding with Karel. Never could I draft off his wheel like I can today. Karel and I still laugh about my very first 100 mile ride in the summer of 2006 when we were dating, while I was training for IMFL. Karel said he nearly feel asleep and it was the longest ride of his life. Of course, he was proud to be there with me but I think after that all he had on his mind was "I gotta get this girl faster!" 
Still I am challenged on the bike with certain workouts (and depending on the day - my body recovers very quickly but I don't always have perfect days) and not always can I do his workouts (especially when he was training for cycling and crit races - I didn't even try for some of his short crit-focused workouts). But whenever possible, I try to push myself on the bike and I can only do that if I believe in myself and that I can't doubt myself until I try. I have been dropped on many group rides in the past, I have struggled to stay confident when my legs hurt and I have often found myself comparing myself to those who are faster. But with everything that may have kept me from thinking I could get better, I used it all as motivation that as long as I don't give up, I can make progress. 


As you continue with your athletic journey or think about setting a goal for yourself with fitness, I encourage you to give yourself a time-frame. Don't make it too long, don't make it too short. Think about the journey ahead of you and don't ever give up. I promise....some progress is always better than no progress.