contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

Greenville, SC

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: "travel"

Kona bound: ALOHA!

Marni Sumbal

A 3am wake-up call (thank you Karel for taking me to the airport so early..I miss you!), 14.5 hours of traveling and 23 hours awake. But a view like this from my balcony....absolutely worth it!

It's all getting real now and I can't believe that in 5 days I will be joining an amazing group of endurance athletes to race 140.6 miles and cross the most incredible finish line.

I had a bag full of food packed for Kona week with some of my favorite eats that have helped me train for my 7th Ironman.
Chia seeds, whey protein, instant coffee (Hawaiian coffee will be purchased in Kona), cinnamon, granola, red and tri colored quinoa, wild rice, banans and apples (consumed in flight), Trimarni trail mix, Kind bars (emergency bars - I didn't eat anything from a package or buy any food during my travel day - all homemade food from my kitchen including an egg, mushroom and cheese whole wheat pita, greek yogurt, peach, PB&J whole wheat pita, celery, edamame, carrots), figs/nut mix. Happy tummy!

From Jax to Atlanta to Phoenix to Kona......I brought my nutrition, race gear (shoes, outfit, etc.) and gadgets with me on the plane in the case that my luggage would get lost (never has it happened but I like to control my controllables and wouldn't like this week to be the first time my luggage got lost). I also bring an empty water bottle (with filter) with me through security and keep filled with my flights. Also, my CEP compression tights saved the day. Typically I wear compression socks but Karel got me the CEP compression tights and they were amazing! I wore them under my Oakley yoga pants. I am not sure if it was my strategy to eat tummy happy food every few hours or the compression and walking around every 90 minutes - 2 hours on the plane but when I got to Kona, I didn't feel like I traveled 14 hours. 

So you could imagine my excitement when I stepped out of the plane and walked through the small outdoor Kona airport for the 3rd time in the past 7 years. Gloria picked me up in our VW Jetta rental car and I was super excited to see her for the very first time! We've been friends for a few years and she has played an instrumental role in my life with sports and career as my sport psychologist but nothing could describe us meeting face to face for the first time.  

After making our 10 mile drive to the town, it was time for me to finally  be reunited with my tri bike after being without her for the past 10 days. Because Karel is not with me this time, I'm so grateful for Tri Bike Transport for their services. No bike box, no parts removed. All I needed was to head to the expo to meet my bike, the mechanic put on my pedals, pumped my tires and I was good to go. 

A 2.5 mile ride with my bike in my run shoes (and helmet) and I met Gloria at our condo Kai Bali. Since I rented our condo from a personal owner, our key was in the lock box and we were in our condo by 4pm Kona time. 
After enjoying the amazing view and unpacking just a bit, we soaked in our view one last time before heading to the local grocery store. 


A delicious easy-to-digest meal to finish off a long day. Omelet with arugula, cheese and salsa with a side of juicy grapes and toasted fresh baguette. 

Stay tuned for more pics, a few giveaways (WED) from my favorite companies and updates via my facebook page and instagram (Trimarni) and Twitter (@Trimarnicoach)
Also - check out @TriathleteDrG (Gloria's Twitter account)

Travel nutrition tips for athletes

Marni Sumbal

I'm very luck to have married someone who loves to travel as much as I do. I love the comfort of my own home and familiar surroundings but I love the experience of traveling somewhere new and creating memories. What makes life even more exciting as I age, is the opportunity to combine two of my passions: racing and traveling. In other words, we love our race-cations.
Not sure if I love to travel to race or race to travel but either way you view it, I love meeting new people, exploring the world and capturing moments to be remembered forever. 

I loved traveling with Campy to cheer Karel on at his Cat 1 cycling events. 

Now, I love our new journey of racing triathlons together.

But I will never forget the many years that Karel was by my side as my number one fan....

Coach and best friend. 

With two athletes in the house - thank goodness for Campy who can always keep us smiling when nerves are at an all time high and the normal traveling uncontrollables (like traffic) cause us to be a bit stressed out. Campy never ever complains and that is comforting. He also always treats us as if we are winners. 

No matter what race we are at, Campy is always eager to explore his new surroundings and cheer us on. 

And although Campy gets the most attention when we travel...

He's usually the first to bed. 

Campy, did you do that?

In my recent Iron Girl column article, I wrote about one of my favorite topics for traveling: Traveling nutrition. I also recently contribute to on a similar topic of eating in a hotel room before a race.

I know for many, eating away from home can be challenging, overwhelming or perhaps something that is looked forward to.

For anyone who is expecting an upcoming travel for a race, here are two of my recent articles to help you put your worries aside. With a little practice, planning and creativity, you will find yourself enjoying your race day experience with a well-fueled body. 

Traveling Nutrition TipsBy Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N
Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC

It’s exciting to race on a new course but the downside is limited access to familiar foods. If you’ve ever eaten oatmeal with a fork, heated with water from a hotel coffee maker, you know that destination races require a bit of flexibility and creativity and come with challenges.
Be prepared to race at your best no matter the location. Although there’s no place like home, racing nutrition involves eating a reasonable amount of energy-dense, clean (and safe) food to meet the demands of your upcoming race.

Traveling nutrition tips:
  • Stay hydrated: Bring an empty 20-28 ounce water bottle when flying and fill after security. If driving, bring plenty of water for traveling and racing. 
  • Snack frequently: to control blood sugar and to ensure adequate fuel for race day, stock-up on energy dense foods like trail mix, cereal (ex. granola), bars and raisins along with washed fruits and veggies (chopped/sliced).
  • Do your research: Google it! Check out what’s on the road or around your hotel and review online menus for needed dietary needs (Ex. vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.). Consider food options that can be found at gas stations (ex. milk, bananas), CVS (cereal, oatmeal, nuts) and grocery stores (hard boiled eggs, nut butter, bread, yogurt, produce) to help make your stay a little more like home.
  • Plan ahead: Bring as much as you can that is familiar to you. If you aren't able to travel with silverware/plates/bowls, the hotel my have options to help with meal prep and eating.
  • Amenities: Does your hotel room come with a refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave or a continental breakfast (which may not be open before your race start)? These will help make your stay a little easier as oppose to dining out every meal.
Eating out? No worries! Check out these options for your favorite pre race meals:
- Oatmeal: McDonald's, Starbucks, Au Bon Pain, Jamba Juice, Panera Bread.
- Egg white sandwich: Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Einstein Bagels, Panera Bread
- Baked potato - Wendy's
- Grilled chicken sandwich: Chick-fil-A (comes with a fruit cup), Carl’s Jr., Wendy’s (hold the BBQ sauce) and McDonald’s (hold the mayo).
- Veggie burger and garden salad - Burger King
- Veggie sandwich and soup – Subway, Panera Bread
- Burrito or burrito salad bowl (vegetarian options available) - Moe's Southwestern Grill



Reheat, repeat: Smart Meals for traveling triathletes

Including two hotel friendly creations - yum!

Traveling eats: Trimarni style

Marni Sumbal

Who said it was hard to find veggies while traveling? 

Early Thursday morning, Karel and I headed to Pittsburgh for my brothers wedding. 

We traded our spandex for our bridesmaid and groomsman outfits and danced the night away.....well past our bedtime. 

Keeping with a healthy relationship with food and making sure I eat for fuel and for health, my body was extremely happy during my travels to and from Pittsburgh. 

Here are a few (of many) of my delicious traveling eats.....

My number one way to maintaining a healthy relationship with food and the body is to never give the body a chance to experience low blood sugar. In route to Pittsburgh  and there were two endurance athlete bodies on board feeling great before  breakfast in ATL: wasa cracker with PB and raspberries at 4:40am, long doggy walk and core/hip work (in place of cardio today) at 5-5:30am and a Trimarni bag of yumminess (and water bottle to be filled after security) including a 7:30am snack of my fav Greek yogurt and trail mix.

Yummy! Trimarni whole wheat pita sandwich with Smuckers natural peanut butter, plum jam, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and sliced apples and a side of banana.

I'm was so inspired by this amazing delicious wrap from the Pittsburgh airport. A whole wheat Mediterranean wrap  from Currito with tofu, brown rice, mango salsa, cucumber, feta cheese and balsamic. Karel got the same wrap but with chicken. Yum!

With no cardio on Thurs, a morning run on Friday (in 65 degrees!!) felt amazing and our hearts were beating hard on the hills! Elliptical warm up, then 3x8 min hill repeaters with 5 min downhill recovery (2 min walk in between each round) and then 10 min of core work. Karel and I loved the hills in Pittsburgh but oh boy were my quads speaking to me on Sunday!

Post workout, hotel cold breakfast buffet (not pictured - me eating Karel's eggs from his hot breakfast). 

After a very late bedtime due to a night full of dancing at my brothers wedding on Friday night, it was great to sleep in and then head out for a 15 mile run in the rain. 
Body happiness  in the rain and on the hills. Fueled from delicious wedding eats, I enjoyed a strong 15 mile, 2 hour run in Pittsburgh. 5 flat miles on the treadmill to warm up, then 10.3 miles outside (average pace 8:12 min/mile including walks). Main set outside: 3x3 miles RPE 7-8.5 (descending effort each mile) with 1 min rest in between. Saturday was the official, 3-week countdown,21 days til the Ironman World Championship!!!

Looking for a great place to refuel at the Atlanta airport? I recommend Willy's Mexican Grill in terminal B. I had the Willy salad with cheese, salsa, corn, cucumbers, cilantro, jalepenos, black beans and marinated spicy tofu and Karel had a spicy chicken burrito with beans, rice and all the same toppings. What a great meal that totally hit the spot in the belly. I love a hearty salad that leaves me satisfied and happy.

Now back at home, it's nice to be back to the routine and in the Trimarni Kitchen. 
With a 2.5 hour recovery spin on Sunday (no long bike due to needing a good night of sleep and waking up at 7:30am AND enjoying Karel's bday together), this morning I was recharged for a 4500 yard swim. 
Main set: 5 x 450's
#1-3 steady, #4-5 strong. 
1 minute rest in between. 
Then hip/core work and stretching. 

Post workout smoothie "meal" for fuel and for health.

25grams whey protein, milk, ice/water, fresh ginger, 1 celery stick, 10 baby carrots, small handful raspberries and kale, 1/2 orange, 1/2 banana, 1tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 ounce dark chocolate and cinnamon. Topped with raisin granola (there's more in there but it kept sinking as I was taking the picture. I love my crunch in my thick creamy smoothie).

And what better than to get out the crockpot for a delicious stew to make the house smell amazing. 
12-bean bag mix, 1 white onion, 1 large zucchini sliced, 2 squash sliced, 2 cups barley, 1/2 pot filled with water, 1 carton sliced washed mushrooms, 2 big garlic cloves chopped, 4 red potatoes sliced, 1 small can stewed tomatoes (no salt added), seasonings - pinch of salt, turmeric, chili, paprika, oregano. 

Travel to race: Nutrition tips

Marni Sumbal

So there was a lot going on this past week, hence the lack of blogging. BUT life is continuing to move forward and no day is being wasted. I have lots to catch up on via the blog but for the mean time, how about an old Iron Girl article of mine regarding nutrition when traveling for a race. Enjoy!!

In route to Kona, (Honolulu airport) for the 2011 Ironman World Championship.

TRAVEL TO RACE: Nutrition Tips

Pertaining to nutrition, the overall mission of an Iron Girl athlete is to develop a healthy relationship with food. Although body composition goals are often primary reasons for embarking in the Iron Girl lifestyle, longevity, performance gains and a commitment to keeping your body healthy are top priorities when creating lifelong, practical dietary habits. For the nutrients that you put into your body will help fuel your fitness routine as well as reducing the risk for disease or illness.

If you prioritize heart-healthy choices on an everyday basis, you should welcome traveling (or when celebrating a special event) as an opportunity to try new foods and to enjoy a temporary change in routine. While it is advisable to maintain a few healthy habits to control blood sugar levels, maintain energy and limit overindulging, it is important to be "ok" with not abiding to your every-day eating routine. By feeling confident with the foods that you put in your body on a daily basis, you should find yourself at ease when eating on the road.

Regardless if you are traveling for an athletic event, for fun or work, a little creativity will help you apply your personal healthy eating habits while on the road. If you haven't quite figured out how to balance everyday eating with eating on the road, here are a few helpful tips to get you started before creating your own routine for traveling nutrition:

1) Plan ahead to have an idea where and when you will eat. Google the surrounding area to have an idea of your dinning/grocery/food options. Do not go into a meal starving.
2) Bring along single-serving and/or portioned-controlled snacks such as fruit, veggies, yogurt, canned fruit/applesauce, trail mix, cereal, string cheese, nuts, homemade granola bars, sandwiches and water (if traveling for an event, don’t forget to bring water for race day!)
3) Pack your own meals for the road. Make your own wrap, bagel or deli sandwich (purchase a quality cooler and/or insulated lunchbox).
4) Be creative. Gas stations typically have microwaves, fill up on gas and cook your oatmeal, minute rice or heat your potato and choice of protein.. Also grocery stores have many pre-chopped/washed options for easy snacking or meal additions. If your hotel doesn't have a microwave/fridge, think outside of the box. Use your ice bucket to keep small items cool and invest in portable electric water kettle for coffee/oatmeal.  Don't forget plates/bowls and silverware.
5) Be frugal. If you are going to spend your money on a healthy meal, it’s suggested to pass on the $8 lettuce and tomato salad. Create a meal that will make you feel most satisfied. Consider a yogurt parfait, a PB&J or egg and veggie sandwich at a bagel shop or mix and match at a local grocery store.
6) Snack on fruits and veggies. It's really easy to have a colorless diet when you travel, not to mention lacking in variety. Ask the locals for the nearest grocery store and pick up a few servings of fruits and veggies for a colorful and fibrous snack.
7) Don't forget about protein. It’s really easy to indulge in carbs while on the road (especially if you choose to not eat meat, or a varied diet). Mom-and-pop restaurants (or diners) often cook-to-order. Cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, skim milk, tofu, veggie burger and egg whites are great sources of protein to add to your meal.

Happy Traveling!

Hello from Lake Placid!!

Marni Sumbal

Race to travel. Travel to race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Karel's eats)

Race ready for Ironman #6!

Marni Sumbal

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

2009 IMKY - 3rd Ironman

2010 IMWI - 4th Ironman

2011 Ironman World Championship - 5th Ironman

TBA - Ironman Lake Placid July 28th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marni Sumbal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Is it bed time yet?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

(guess who got to sleep all the way home)

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

VIP Oakley Progression session: DALLAS FORT WORTH

Marni Sumbal

Not even a week after returning from Czech Republic, it was time to do a light re-pack for a quick trip to Dallas for the last event with Oakley Women and Shape Magazine. San Diego and Boulder were amazing and I couldn't wait to meet 200 more inspiring women who are passionate about health and fitness. After coming back from Europe, I had a bit more material to add to my talk of my 7 top tips for healthy balanced living and couldn't wait to speak and hand out my delicious Trimarni balls.
What I love so much about these events is a place for women of all ages and sizes to get together and to have one special thing in common - each lady loves to move and use her body. There has been so much positive energy at these events and I couldn't wait get one more dose of it in Dallas Fort Worth.
But first, I was asked to teach a workout on the beach (Atlantic beach) behind Ocean One resort to a group of Lens Crafters employees on behalf of Oakley. The workout was great as I had everyone sweating at 8:15 in the morning with a beautiful view in sight to keep everyone happy that they were outside and not sitting in a conference room.

Thanks Oakley Women and Lens Crafters for having me!


After a great brick workout on Thursday morning, it was time to head to the JAX airport. Knowing that I was arriving to DFW around 1:30pm and getting picked up with a group at the massive airport, I had plenty of snacks and a PB&J sandwich to keep me satisfied and fueled for my direct flight to Dallas as well as until I arrived at the hotel. We finally arrived to the hotel around 3:30pm and we were all in need of a mini meal to hold us over until dinner which was at 7pm. We headed to the hotel restaurant and we all got delicious salads that we each modified with either egg (me) or avocado. It was delicious!

(FYI - I always try to have yogurt on a daily basis, about 4-6 ounces a day, in addition to up to 1 cup skim milk. When I travel, I try to bring yogurt with me and I have never had trouble with security and having it in my carry-on. Just a FYI in case you are interested in traveling with yogurt. Just don't forget to get a spoon!)

Soon enough, it was time to head to downtown Fort Worth to eat at a touristy restaurant with a group of 18 (Shape Magazine, Oakley Women and ambassadors). The restaurant was a steakhouse and I was hoping for some corn on the cob, brown rice and sweet potato but no options available and no vegetarian chef-inspired options. No worries - I enjoyed a delicious airy bread roll and then enjoyed a large filling salad and the most delicious baked potato with toppings on the side. I left the restaurant very satisfied and was excited to wake up in the morning for a 6.5 mile interval run on the treadmill and then a full day on my feet outside, speaking to 200 amazing ladies.

After a delicious buffett breakfast of  milk, fruit, oatmeal, cottage cheese, and a veggie stuffed omelet it was time to head to the park/field for an amazing day of fun!!

The event included yoga with Lacey, my nutrition workshop, social media learning, lunch from a food truck (YUM!) and interviews to be the next Oakley Women ambassador. The event kick-started with a tough bootcamp with Carrie and Cari. My friends Michelle Lovitt and Sarah Dussault were also attending the event to help others better understand fitness and social media.
Here are a few pics from Instagram - I LOVE instagram and connecting with others, just like with facebook. It's so great to be inspired by others and to associate yourself with like-minded individuals. To stay connected, you can link with me #trimarni on Instagram or @Trimarnicoach on Twitter and Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition on facebook. For Oakley Women, use #Oakleywomen. Enjoy the pics from some amazing women!

Congrats to Laila for being the next Oakley Women ambassador!!!

(Shape Magazine Diva dash)

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

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Czech trip Day 4 and 5: Pribor

Marni Sumbal

In 2004, I took a trip to the Philippines with a group of students at my University (Transylvania University in Lexington, KY – my hometown). We mostly stayed outside of Cebu for the reason for our trip was to serve others by helping to rebuild schools, bathrooms and to give school supplies. It was the best work-service trip for me for it really changed my life. No other trip has affected me like my trip to this third world country. Bucket showers, no running water, no electricity and food rationing.

When I came home from this trip, I really started to think about my own life. I remember crying when I went to a restaurant on our way home (in route home at Cheesecake factory in the airport) and saw so much food being wasted by people who were served large portions + a bread basket and were unable to finish a meal but yet, still had room for dessert. Thinking about how I would give anything to be able to properly nourish the children and individuals who appear to live such a happy and grateful life for what they have and what they are use to. I suppose that trip changed me because I do not feel comfortable with others serving me for I am not comfortable wasting food. I’d rather eat a little less than have too much food on my plate and have it thrown away. Karel knows this and he also knows my portions as I feel many of my food behaviors were first learned from observing others who have very little rather than from a dietetic textbook encouraging “calorie” control.

In Czech, I am reminded of my previous trip abroad as I have yet to read a food label, I do not know how much fat, calories, carbs, protein, sodium, etc is in the food I am eating and I am often served food. However, none of these things bother me as I am learning about a different lifestyle. Whereas in America, there is often little peace with food. We eat as if the food police are watching our every move and calories, carbs, fat, sodium and anything else with a number is on our mind. Of course, it is my job to know these things but I do not feel food facts should consume my life. Here in Czech, I find that the most appropriate word for our current eating style (in Europe for Karel and myself) is “energy”. We put in energy into our body and we expend it. We eat a meal, then we walk for a few miles….just like the locals, walking to and from work, to and from the grocery stores, to and from the parks to play, etc. Life isn’t about food reward or using food to numb emotions but instead, energy balance. Regardless of what you are eating, you expend energy after you consume energy. Sadly, many people in America would rather restrict food (often nourishing food) to “lose weight” rather than to properly energize the body and thus, move more. But as I mentioned before, the American lifestyle is not conducive to healthy living for it is much easier to drive 1-2 miles to the grocery store or walk down the hall to a vending machine than to walk to the grocery store or to take a break from working and enjoy a well-planned meal.


On Saturday afternoon, we drove ~3 hours to Karel’s brothers house in Pribor to visit his brother’s family (wife and 3 teenage kids). Although it was a bit cold and rainy out (~40-45degrees Fahrenheit), I couldn’t wait to spend time with Karel’s brother who is extremely active. They are not all athletes but they live a very active lifestyle. They take biking trips in the summer, both Karel’s brother and wife bike to work year round (A few miles down the road) and they bike to and from the grocery store. They have  a car but none of the kids need it for they all walk or take the bus. The kids (between the ages of 17-22) all cook for themselves – fresh food, nothing packaged – and drink tea and water, not sodas or energy drinks. They have a garden in the backyard  that is about to peak and they make jams, pickles, dried fruits, salads, soups and desserts from their selections of foods.

Sure, they are on the computer, they watch TV and they sit around… do Karel and I when we are at home. But their energy balance is a lot more beneficial for weight maintenance or even weight loss (without trying) as oppose to being in a positive energy balance for weight gain. Because it is natural to put on weight if you are not aware of your dietary and exercise choices, it is much harder to put on weight quickly in an active lifestyle as oppose to one that encourages large portions, easy snacking, little emphasis on meal time and real food and a sedentary lifestyle.

After a delicious lunch of homemade broccoli soup and vegetable patties we headed to
Štramberk which is a small town near Pribor, next to Kopřivnice. It was a long hike to the top of the hill where there was a cute festival going on and I couldn’t believe my eyes – I felt like I was in Disney World with all the cute timbered houses and cobblestone roads. The top of the hill is dominated by the Trúba castle tower. Stramberk is known for their “ears” which are from a tale that Barberians would eat the ears of others, thus Stramberk’s ears everywhere. I must say – as a 20-year vegetarian, those gingerbread like ears were the most delicious “body parts” I have ever eaten J Nearby there is the Šipka Cave where Neanderthal child bone remnants were found.

After our cold and rainy 3 hour walk/hike/visit to Stramberk, it was time to head back to the house to warm-up with a fire and enjoy dinner. I was tired from the day of activities which started with a quick 2 mile run with Karel (in the drizzling rain) so I headed to bed around 10pm as Karel stayed up with his brother for a little catching up.

On Sunday, Karel, his brother and nephew and I went for a rainy yet beautiful 3.75 mile run on the most amazing paved trails which Karel’s brother bikes on to and from work. It was great to get the blood flowing and to have some company for our morning run.

After a delicious breakfast, we stayed inside for the morning until the rain stopped and then had the most delicious lunch of tofu, rice and veggies prepared by Karel’s nice (who also enjoys tofu – actually 4 of us had the tofu creation and 4 others had goulash) and then we headed to a car museum all about Tetra - Tetra company

There was a special exhibit going on about Emil Zátopek who was a runner with an amazing repertoire.  Emil Zatopek

After spending much of the afternoon out, we headed back home to clean up (another cold/rainy day) and enjoy one last meal with the family. Karel’s niece prepared the meal again (whereas Karel’s nephew prepared the goulash) and it was chickpeas with veggies and couscous. So yummy!

We sat around, enjoyed a few small treats for dessert and it was such a great weekend with the family that we were sad to go to bed on Sun evening to head back to Znojmo on Monday.

I forgot to add, on our way to Karel’s brothers, we made a “fast food” stop at McDonald’s because Karel needed to prove to me that this wasn’t your normal McDonald’s…. to come soon.



CzechTrip Day 3: Austria, pastries, coffee and cycling

Marni Sumbal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Sorry - I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marni Sumbal


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

Wheww….the day wasn’t wasted!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Czech trip Day 3: Cycling, pastries and Austria  

Czech trip Day 1: Traveling to Czech Republic

Marni Sumbal

Day 1: Traveling to Czech Republic


Tampa – Amsterdam – Prague

It was an early morning wake-up call for Karel and I to squeeze in one last sweat session on Tuesday morning at my parents house, before 16 hours of traveling. This wasn’t a “training” workout but rather, a workout to keep us feeling good for a long day ahead.

After many Campy kisses, we were ready to go. 
Although it didn’t feel real that we were traveling to Europe as we were driving to the airport with my mom,  once we pulled out our passports, checked our bags and made it through security, we finally realized we were heading overseas. What an amazing feeling to know that 13 years ago, Karel landed in the U.S. with only a back pack and now I get to travel to Czech with Karel, to reunite with his family and hometown for the first time in over a decade!

First flight was a quickie. Delta made it easy for us to laugh our way up North as we watched Tosh.0 on comedy channel for a good 90 minutes.  We had a long 3 hour layover in NY but after being bussed to the international terminal and grabbing a delicious late lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings (black bean burger for me, steak burger for Karel), we had just enough time to stretch, roll on the trigger point ball and keep our phones charged before boarding the plane to the Netherlands.

Although it was our “long” flights, traveling 6.5 hours was a breeze with the KLM services being top-notch on board. The Dutch staff was incredibly nice and accomodating. We had our own TV’s with movies and TV shows but Karel and I had our Ipad with Season 5 of Breaking Bad so we started the flight with 2 new episodes (purchased on ITunes ahead of time). While watching, we were served a delicious dinner….vegetarian pasta for me, meat and mashed potatoes for Karel. Lucky for us, it was a packed flight but somehow we ended up with a row of 3 and only us to in it! We were also right near the bathroom in the middle of the plane and there was a water spot for drinking water and a nice area to stand up and stretch which helped us out for our long flight (along with compression socks).
Dessert was a carrot cake cobbler which was delicious (if you know me – you know I LOVE carrot cake!). We had plenty of snacks with us but with traveling through the night, we tried to catch a few hours of sleep (3-4) instead of keeping ourselves awake by snacking...but before we knew it, we woke up by another meal of yogurt, a muffin and orange juice. The yogurt was welcomed as I know our tummies do best with 1 serving of yogurt daily (probiotics) but we were a bit “off” seeing that we left NY at 6pm and after 6.5 hours of traveling, it was around 7am “local time” when we landed.

Surprisingly, we felt good but Starbucks coffee in Netherlands helped us out (our first Euro purchase – seeing that we used our credit card, I think that was the most expensive venti coffee we have ever shared).  Finding our way through the Netherlands airport was fun and thankfully we were able to get on free Wifi to connect with our family.

After our 2 hour layover and heading through customs (another passport and security check), we snacked to keep our body on the new time zone and at 9:30am, Karel finally started to realize that in less than 90 minutes, we would be in Czech.


Although our airline tickets were purchased on Delta, we were on Czech Airlines to Prague. With Karel being bilingual and Czech as his first language (he learned English by teaching himself after living in the US by himself), his brain automatically started to switch as everyone was speaking Czech on the plane. He finally felt at home. I always ask Karel if when he is around Czech people if he thinks in Czech or in English. Typically he says English since he is use to it but on the airplane, I think he switched to thinking in Czech.

After a 70 minute flight, we were both getting really excited and all of a sudden, touchdown in Prague!!

Although Vienna is a bit closer to Karel’s hometown of Znojmo, Karel wanted to fly in an out of Prague so that we could enjoy the drive to his town as see some smaller villages and sights and also spend our last 2 days in Prague. This trip is all about Karel spending time with his family so the focus wasn’t on touring around Europe so we will save that for another trip

After getting our luggage, getting the rental car and changing our money into Czech Crowns, we headed toward Znojmo for the next 3 hours.

Karel had fun driving a stick shift and with windows down (no AC), I really enjoyed Karel sharing stories with me as we made our way 220 Kilometers to his town. The speed limit changes frequently because of all the small towns and once we were off the highway (D1), the country roads were pleasant but hilly.

Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy all of it because my body was shutting down so I took a few naps as I was struggling to keep my eyes open and my brain was ready to shut off. I guess after traveling for 16 hours and only getting around 3-4 hours of on and off sleep (airplane sleep, that is), my body was pretty confused.

When we saw the sign for Znojmo, Karel started telling me stories of when he was biking there as a kid and teenager and everything started to come back. No maps, just a memory like it was yesterday that he was in Czech.

Karel said he didn’t remember his town being so small (ex. roads) when he was living there but to me, it all looked so big and amazing.

We arrived to his mom’s flat around 3:10pm local time (9:10am EST) and Karel finally got his moment that he had been dreaming of for the past 13 years. Hugging his mom at his home where he spent most of his teenage life.

Although only meeting Karel’s mom, dad and brother once in 2008 at our wedding, they are family to me as well. Although only Karel’s brother’s family speak English, you don’t need words when you can share love. I gave Karel’s mom a big hug and was introduced to her husband, Karel’s stepdad.

The fresh food was waiting and after cleaning up and letting my family know we had arrived, it was time for a meal. Not sure what time zone my body was on but I welcomed a delicious vegetarian meal of sautéed cauliflower, onions and eggs with boiled potatoes. Karel had pork with dumplings and gravy. We were both in Czech heaven and our bellies were happy for this “real” meal. We also enjoyed fresh pastries and a homemade dumpling stuffed with red currants and topped with melted farmers cheese and toasted bread crumbs and we knew this was the perfect start of a great 10 days in Czech.

After catching up with Karel’s mom and receiving phone calls (local phone) from his dad and brother, we both took a mini nap so that we could make it until the evening before going to bed. I took a solid 90 minute nap and finally felt a bit more normal.

Around 6:30pm local time, we walked over to Karel’s dad’s flat – about 1 mile away. Karel took me the long way so he could see some familiar sights. Once again, Karel was thrilled to see Karel Sr. (his dad) and so was I. Like father, like son. It didn’t take long for the bike talk to start and for Karel Sr. to show us his “bike room” (in the basement of the apartment building). Karel's friend in Czech got us road bikes from the local bike shop that Karel use to work out and Karel's dad had his Cervelo, which Karel gave to his dad (and shipped it) a few years ago. Karel's dad is 73 and raced until he was around 71. He still rides his bike but not competitively anymore.
Once again, we were entertained with stories and good food, with plenty of Marni-friendly appetizers and some good meats for Karel. We all enjoyed wine and then took an evening walk around 8pm around the town and visited his dad's gym....properly located next to one of the many pub's in Czech.

By 9:30, we were on the verge of exhaustion so we got ourselves ready for bed at his mom’s place (bunk beds – in Karel’s old room) and we were out!


Stay tuned for Day 2: Our first “official” day in Czech




(homemade bike wheel case)


What's my go-to traveling snack? Trail mix!

Marni Sumbal

While in Denver for the OPS Fitness event with Oakley Women and Shape Magazine, I was asked,
"What's your favorite go-to, quick snack?"
That was easy....TRAIL MIX!!!

Although I put a little thought into every meal and then snack with a purpose, I know I can always count on trail mix to keep me energized, satisfied and happy. And all those things are important on a daily basis but very important while traveling. With delays and a schedule that is off from the normal routine, I always rely on homemade trail mix to keep me fueled while traveling.
I prepared many goodies for our trip to keep us healthy and happy while traveling as I know we will be enjoying lots of indulgences in Czech....all prepared with love, of course and enjoying every bite!

The good thing is that on Tues, we  are leaving around noon from Tampa International and will be flying through the night when we land in Prague on Wednesday around lunchtime. We have a stop at JFK (3 hour layover) first and then our long flight to the Netherlands to connect. However, I know that even with the best intentions to sleep on the plane, it won't be easy and likely our body will be off and we will need some snacks to help control blood sugar in between meals.

I put together this delicious trail mix and portioned out to 8 bags. Four for the flight to Czech and four for traveling home (or to munch on in Czech - unlikely seeing that we are staying with Karel's family so we won't be without food but instead, filled with lots of yummy Czech food).  I divided my creation into 1 cup servings to make it easy to snack but to not overdo-it on calories as trail mix can be very calorie dense and I want to leave room for meals and for snacks like fruit and PB mini sandwiches.
Trimarni (Going International) Trail mix
(feel free to swap out any ingredients or add your own)
Cheerios - 6 cups
Trail mix (raisins, M&Ms, cashews, almonds, peanuts) - 3 cups
Sunflower seeds (unsalted) - 1 cup
Coconut Flakes (unsweetened) - 1 cup
Trail mix (soy nuts, pumpkin seeds, dates, cranberries) - 1 bag
Cinnamon - 1 tbsp
I sprinkled with a little cinnamon and then tossed with my (clean) hands in a large bowl.


8- 1 cup servings.
I did not figure out calories and only estimated on measurements.
If you are interested in calories for your own homemade trail mix, I recommend to make the trail mix "cereal" dense but using more cereal than nuts/raisins for more volume, less energy density. Keep in mind, many cereals are fortified (like Cheerios) to provide the body with vitamins and minerals which may be lacking while traveling or eating on the road (in other words, a yummy multi-vitamin). Combine your calories (total) from your cereal of choice with the total calories of each of your "additions" based on the serving size of the label on your bags. If using raw nuts/raisins/dates/cranberries from a bin at the store, you can look up nutrition facts online and portion control.
One last Campy pic before we travel. He's worked really hard in the past week to use all of his cuteness in hopes that we are taking him with us wherever our suitcases are going. Little does he know, Campy and his two sisters get to stay at the "resort" (aka "my parents") for a amazing 11 night stay in New Port Richey, Florida.


VIP Oakley Progression Session: DENVER

Marni Sumbal

I couldn't believe my eyes and ears when I heard Denver, Colorado had snow this past week! As much as I love the snow, I was a bit surprised that I would need a winter jacket in May!! Thankfully, the snow had mostly melted and the weather was perfect for my quick to Boulder for the 2nd VIP Oakley Women Progression Session with Shape Magazine.

After an early morning swim and bike, I had just enough time to get to a few emails and I was off to the airport for my trip to Denver.

Feeling energized from my morning sweat session on the trainer and just enough soreness from my morning swim to remind me how awesome my body is on a daily basis, I was excited to travel to Denver and meet 200 inspiring, motivating and fitness/health-minded ladies from all over Colorado. 

Although only a month and a week since the San Diego OPS Fitness event, I was so excited to reunite with my Oakley Women family. Each event, a new brand ambassador is picked and Caitlin (pictured above on far left) won from San Diego and was able to attend this event and soak in all the positive energy that comes with Oakley Women. 

A little hot chocolate to warm up? YUM!

It was a long day of traveling with getting up early to train so by the time we arrived to the hotel around 8:30pm, I was ready for bed (10:30 EST time - way past my bedtime). Whenever I travel, I eat mini meals every 2-3 hours instead of standard breakfast, lunch and dinner as it helps me acclimate to the time zone much easier than trying to stick to my normal eating schedule. By the time we arrived to the hotel, I hadn't eaten a real meal but felt very satisfied and healthy with my many snacks/mini meals from the day and was looking forward to a very satisfying breakfast to energize my body and brain for a busy day on Fri. 

Not sure if it was going to bed rather early (compared to other times when flying to the west coast and staying up almost a full 20-22 hours), I was up early. I tried to stay in bed until 5:30am which meant just keeping my eyes closed with a racing mind. I was ready to get up.

8 miles on the treadmill while practicing my talk in my head. Couldn't ask for a better way to start the day...although I am not sure if I gained any red blood cells, I sure do love the change in air/pressure that comes with training at altitude. Boulder is about 5430 feet from sea level and I live at sea level so here's to hoping I brought home a few more red blood cells. A girl can dream, right? Live high, train low is the way to go.

OH YEAH BABY!!! Love breakfast every day..I just couldn't imagine any other way to complete a morning workout or start my day. Today's creation was brought to me by the hotel buffet which included fresh fruit, homemade oatmeal and granola, mixed nuts/raisins for toppings, cottage cheese and an omelet cooked to order. I went with an egg white, veggie stuffed omelet because I loaded up on nuts for my healthy fats. I also enjoyed a glass of milk and coffee and made a PB&J sandwich for later in the day. 

Yippe! Can't wait to start the day!!

What a beautiful drive to the park where the event was held. I absolutely loved how bike friendly Colorado is, how beautiful the sights are and how nice everyone was. I just love it there - so fitness and health friendly!!

My Oakley Women ambassador friends and I helped set up and had fun getting to know some of the 200 attendees as they arrived to the event. 

The event included the Oakley Women pop-up-shop, a media station, a t-shirt making station, a yoga station, a mass bootcamp with Carrie and Cari from Bombshell Bootcamp and my nutrition workshop station with my Trimarni balls! (recipe can be found here).

Talk about a backdrop! The weather was absolutely perfect. It warmed up nicely, not hot, just perfect. 

What a great event!!!

Thanks for the pics (seen above) - you can access more pics from the event by searching #OPSFITNESS #OAKLEYWOMEN on Instagram and Twitter.

And a big congrats to Lindsay Gonzalez for being selected as the next Oakley Women brand ambassador from Colorado!!!

Can't wait for Dallas in a few weeks!!!


Well, the time has come!!!!! All packed for Czech Republic and excited to leave on Tuesday to see Karel's family and hometown. A trip that has been a long time in the making.....5 years since our wedding and seeing his parents and 13 years since he has returned home. We are so excited!!!

Campy knows something is up and sadly, he is trying everything possible to make sure he is not forgotten.

I won't be blogging while I am in Czech (perhaps the occasional blog if I have time) but I will be keeping a journal of each day of our travel. I am so excited to share this experience with everyone, especially from the perspective of a health conscious athlete who loves making memories and experiencing life. Of course - there will be lots of food pics!

To keep up with our travel, the best way to see pics and to receive updates is via my Facebook page. Feel free to LIKE Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition to stay current on all the happenings in Czech Republic. From runs to bike rides, to touring Znojmo and Prague and Karel catching up with his friends and family.....this is going to be a trip we both won't ever forget and I am excited to share it with everyone.