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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 lake placid"

IM Lake Placid new swim start: Thoughts

Marni Sumbal

Ironman Lake Placid (2013) was the first time Karel and I shared an Ironman event together...on the same course. Talk about an emotional day for us both, me competing in my 6th Ironman with Karel on the sidelines for 4 of them (IMFL, IMKY, IMWI, KONA) and now sharing the same course together for his very first 140.6 mile event. I can't believe it was almost a month ago!

My hubby is amazing in many ways and makes my life so much fun (even in the most stressful of times). But if there is one thing I can brag about Karel is that he is one hard worker. Not limited to athletics, instead of complaining about situations, he figures out how to survive with the best effort possible.  

I loved watching Karel in cycling races (cat 1) and always loved to hear about the race afterward for cycling is the type of sport where you never know how the race will turn out until ever rider crosses the finish line. 

Webster Roubaix was one of those races that I remember as a real suffer fest for Karel. Dirt covered roads for 112 miles and far from a casual conversational bike ride with sag stops. 

When Karel signed up for IM Lake Placid, he knew that he could push when running and that would make him a faster runner. It doesn't work for everyone that way but luckily for Karel, he adapted rather quickly and even surprised himself that he actually liked running training (and not just running for beer at the end...although, the beer is still welcomed to him anytime).

As for swimming, Karel continues to improve in the water but he knows he still has a ways to go to reach his goal of qualifying for Kona as it is a goal for both of us to compete on the big island together. Karel continues to work hard in the water for he is a hard worker who refuses to make excuses for things within his control.

When Karel signed up for Ironman Lake Placid, he was concerned about the mass start and not being able to find his rhythm in the water. For someone who just learned how to swim 13 months ago, this was always on Karel's mind for no matter how strong of a cyclist or runner he was and no matter how much he loves to suffer, push and hurt with training, swimming was of his #1 concern on race day ("just survive") for it is not yet comfortable for him to swim in open water around 2000+ people. I'm sure he is not alone. 

When Karel heard about the new rolling swim start, he was happy. It didn't ruin his first IM experience at all as he prepped for race day. If anything, it was a relief for him mentally. 
For myself, I have done 4 different types of swim starts (IMFL, Kona 2x, IMKY, IMWI) so I accept any challenge at the beginning of the Ironman.. Realizing that in a running race, self seeding (or corrals) allows runners of similar abilities to pace of each other, I gladly welcomed the idea of a new swim start at IM Lake Placid. Although many people did not like the new change, I don't see how a different start with the same distance covered is any different than standing among the masses with a group start, among athletes of varying finishing times. For if a race director is looking for a safe and fun race day experience, who are we as athletes to complain about a change without experiencing it first hand. 

Leading up to the race, as a coach and a wife to a soon-to-be first timer Ironman, it was important to me that my husband, who can suffer harder than anyone I know, was safe and comfortable in the water. 

As silly as it sounds for me to be concerned about my hubby and the 96% of other athletes in Lake Placid who were racing for a finishing line (and not a Kona slot), my only concern about this new swim start was not being able to know where my age group standing was throughout the race. I was fine to self seed and challenge myself among swimmers of a similar ability for I ended up with a PR swim and a 10 min PR for the day (and a Kona slot). The new swim start did not take away my enjoyment for the day and sharing the race course with my hubby and 2500 + athletes. 

I feel as a society, people love to waste energy on uncontrollables and love to voice their opinions when things change. Certainly, freedom of speech is welcomed and often brings good change but many times, it is the opinionated person who is unhappy that ends up putting thoughts in the heads of others and creates an all together negative situation/experience for many. 

I try to surround myself with people who give me energy and not take it away from me. That's why I stay away from forum-reading.

Looking back and thinking about a race/event situation that had me feeling worried before the start (yet still signing up for the challenge) was 6-gap in 2009. I love to climb but I am absolutely terrified of the descends in 6-gap. Hearing the horror stories of riders not being able to manage their bikes on the zig zag descends totally freaked me out but I welcomed the challenge with my some-what ok cycling skills. 

I can only imagine what it would be like if a race started at the top of a mountain and all athletes, of similar abilities started together in a mass start and had a time-cut to get down the mountain. I'm sure for many, myself included, would struggle with this start but somehow we'd all find a way to get to the bottom (hopefully safely) to receive our finisher medal and t-shirt. A race director can not stop athletes from racing based on skills but instead provide the best situation for every athlete to have a safe and fun experience. 

The Ironman is not for everyone but it is for the ordinary person who wants to do something extraordinary. It takes a lot of commitment, time and money and certainly a lot of training. I find that for many athletes, training is rushed and athletes need more than a year to prepare. As for Karel, since his body only allowed him to finish in 13th place at his first IM (10:03 - which is still amazing and he is happy), his goal is to qualify for Kona 2015 which means an entire year to work on his skills in the water and to learn how to be a smarter triathlete. For us, this is a lifestyle and not something that we need to rush or to take over our life (and disposable income). 

When I was contacted by Ironman to write about my experiences with the new Ironman Lake Placid swim start, I was excited to share my perspective as a coach and athlete. For my philosophy with life is to keep things balanced with diet and exercise and to live a quality filled life. 

I feel that in order to live a great life, we must spend our energy wisely. Just like I don't waste my energy discussing diet fads or trends or do give-a-ways or discuss products that I don't personally use or believe in, I felt that the best perspective I could offer to others with my article was to give others a better understanding of what the Ironman is all 600 words or less. 

When my article Ironman Lake Placid Swim Start  was shared on I re-read it to Karel and he loved it. We discussed the article when it was in the works and I really valued Karel's perspective as a first-timer. However, when article was posted on the Ironman facebook page, I read a mix of positive and negative comments. I was not surprised by any of the comments except for one which talked about my piece being a "PR piece for Ironman and that it is all about the money". 

My friend and editor Jennifer approached me with the piece by asking:

"What did you like? How was it different? How did it affect your overall race, and feeling about your performance? What are the benefits? Did it change your training?"

A few weeks after writing my 2.4 mile race report from Lake Placid, I gathered the thoughts in my head to be put on paper as to how I wanted to write this article. I was never forced by Ironman to say anything positive about the swim, just like Ironman does not force me or anyone to sign up for Iroman-branded events. I have had amazing experiences at every Ironman-branded event I have attended and because of Ironman (corporation), I get the opportunity to discover  new cities/states with my family and friends and even compete at the World Championship in Kona Hawaii! There aren't too many sports that have the opportunity for adults to compete at a national or world event. Thanks to USA triathlon and the largest growing sport (triathlons) many of us have the opportunity to dream big with a safe and fun venue to do it in (with amazing spectators, race directors and volunteers)

I did not have to write this blog today in reference to my recent article on Ironman Lake Placid Swim Start . As a writer on various websites and in magazines, I realize that no matter how I say something, there will always be happy and unhappy people with very strong opinions either way.

I hope that through my article and my blog, I can continue to inspire others to dream big, to not sweat the small stuff and to make the most of your days, months and years here on Earth.

Happy swimming and don't worry, be happy.

Looking forward to buckling-up for my 3rd Kona Mass swim start in October!

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. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digging deep....

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

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

Despite the constant ache in my quads....

The doubts in my head....

And the 26.2 miles ahead of me. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ironman Lake Placid RR: 112 mile bike

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garmin 500 splits 

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

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

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

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

Ironman Lake Placid RR: 2.4 mile swim

Marni Sumbal

2.4 mile swim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 hour. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

112 I come!

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

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

Ironman Lake Placid RR: IM Prep and pre-race

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.......

2013 Ironman Lake Placid FINISHERS!

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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: 


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.

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)