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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

Kona bound: Kona-inspired contest!!!!

Marni Sumbal

Can you see my name?  It's right there.

Talk about a great first full day in Kona!

1000 yard swim at the Pier with Gloria.  Thanks Triathlete Mag for the great pic!

I can't tell you how happy I was yesterday to get my bike from Tri bike transport. 

And then so super excited to ride it today on the Queen K hwy!

After a 1:45 bike with a few intervals, I did a nice 1 mile shake-out run along Alii drive (from our condo). Then it was time to pick up my packet and officially be a 2013 Ironman World Championship participant. 

Oh and I got to meet a group of strong women before my bike ride. Talk about inspiration!

The energy is really contagious here in Kona. It's like an outdoor gym here with no shortage of human bodies moving all day long. It's really hard to not be motivated to use your body while in Kona and I feel that this great energy should not be isolated to just here in Kona. 

I recognize that my body is pretty exceptional for it doesn't have to allow me to train for a 140.6 mile race. 
It's very cool that I can share this experience with 1500+ other athletes who also love to use their body to cross a finishing line. 

It takes a lot of training, hard work, commitment, dedication, money and time to prepare the body for the Ironman. What's great about Kona week is that you don't have to be an Ironman athlete to be someone special.

The special part is that every individual here is motivated by a body in motion. You see someone running and you all of a sudden have energy to run. There are no excuses as to "I am too tired or too slow" but instead, it's the desire to fit in...but in a good way. 

There are no rules as to what body size you have to be, what pace you swim, bike and run or if you have ever even stepped foot on a starting line. 

There actually is no requirement that you have to workout on this island during Kona week but it's really hard to be in this beautiful place and not want to explore your surroundings on foot (or bike or in the beautiful blue ocean sea). 

Realizing that many people will be watching the Ironman World Championship on Saturday from a computer screen, in your own home (or Kona party), I reached out to a few of my favorite companies so that you would be part of  the Ironman World Championship vibe. As you know, I use my social media outlets to provide inspiration, motivation and education. I have never done a product give-away as I want me followers to support Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC because of my philosophy and not because of items I can give away for free.
I am really excited that Hammer Nutrition, Oakley Women, 110% Play Harder and Brooks Running were all excited to get involved with the Ironman World Championship and to help my followers connect with one another and to some of my favorite companies.  

Contest rules
1) You must enter the contest within the allotted time frame. 
2) It's highly encouraged that you follow the company on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (if you do not have a personal account to all that is fine)
3) You must follow me on Facebook (Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition), Twitter (@trimarnicoach) and instagram (Trimarni).
4) Use the correct hashtags so I can view your entry.
5) The winners will be announced next week and your gifts will be shipped to your personal address (I will provide contact info for each company for you to provide your mailing address and to provide details for sizing, etc.)
6) There will only be one winner for each contest but you can enter all four contests (one entry per company per person).
7) The contest will run only on Instagram and Twitter (you do not have to enter both, just be sure you use the correct hashtags for each company)
8) Share the contest (and your entry) with others in order to inspire other fitness enthusiasts and athletes.

Contest: "What's your favorite way to refuel after a workout"
Contest timeline: 10/12-10/13
Hashtag: #Hammernutrition  #fuelingforkonaHammer #Trimarnikona
Follow: Hammer Nutrition
Description: Show me a picture of your favorite way to refuel after your Saturday or Sunday workout. Provide a description of your yummy eats and optional, include a your workout for the day.
Prize: New customer package: including a few most popular products, a few of my favorite products, a t-shirt, literature on Hammer and what they offer and a few water bottles. I have been a long-time Hammer Nutrition user. 

Contest: "What are you doing to stay active or to push your body during Ironman World Championship week/day" 
Contest timeline: 10/10-10/12
Hashtag: #GoMarni  #Madeformore #Trimarnikona #oakleywomen
Follow: Oakley Women
Description: Show me a picture of you using your body for your workout for the day. Optional, describe your workout, how the Ironman inspires you or why you are motivated to workout?
Prize: Oakley Women Commit SQ (my favorite pair of sunglasses for training/racing. I will be wearing my white commit's on Kona race day)

Contest: "How did the Ironman World Championship inspire you?"
Contest timeline: 10/13
Hashtag: #playharder #goflatout #uprkona13 #trimarnikona
Follow: 110playharder
Description: Show me a picture of how you were inspired by the Ironman World Championship. There are many options for this contest: quote, favorite workout, photo of your upcoming race/event, how you plan on changing your lifestyle/habits, etc.
Prize: A pair of Flat out compression socks and a 110% Visor (I will be wearing my Kona visor on race day)

Contest: "Where do your feet take you? 
Contest timeline: 10/12-10/13
Hashtag: #brooksrunning #runhappykona #Trimarnikona #runhappy
Follow: Brooks Running
Description: Show me a picture of where your feet took you this weekend. Did you do a workout, did you travel, did you go somewhere exciting with friends/family/pets. I want to see your feet/shoes/sandals in the picture so be creative.
Prize: Any pair of Brooks Running shoes (I will be wearing my Brooks Launch on Kona race day).

Any questions, send me an email

Have fun!

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)

Kona Ready: who said it would be easy?

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kona ready: reflecting on the journey

Marni Sumbal

It was October 2005 when I heard about the Ironman World Championships taking place online. I was in the Nova medical library studying for my exit exams for graduate school and I was a few months away from running my very first marathon in Miami. I couldn't help but get on the computer to watch whatever was online at that time and although only having completed about 4-5 triathlons, I just felt like I needed to sign up for the Ironman. Not knowing what the training would be like or what's needed to complete an Ironman, November came and I registered myself for Ironman Florida (with my friend Carlos also joining me in this crazy adventure).

I remember calling my parents and they thought I was crazy. Covering 140.6 miles in one day seems impossible for the human body and I knew that...and that's why I wanted the challenge.

After running my first marathon, I qualified for the Boston Marathon. After learning about my accomplishment, I was addicted. I loved the journey of seeing where my body could take me both physically but also mentally and I couldn't wait to train for my very first Ironman.

After completing the 2006 Boston Marathon in April, I went on to finish my first half ironman in Disney in May. After I recovered, I was 100% focused on training for my first Ironman. I found a pre built plan for free on the internet and I followed every part of it. 

I went into IMFL with a goal. 
To qualify for the Ironman World Championship.

 I told my friends and Karel (who I was dating starting May 2006) and my parents and many people thought I was crazy...not only for running a marathon after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 112 miles but also for setting such an ambitious goal for myself. 

I never once thought the goal was crazy. I was motivated by my goal every day and the challenge made me excited. I never felt confident that it would be a breeze to win my age group and receive the 1 slot in the 20-24 age group for Kona but I also didn't let my worries keep me from dreaming big.

I never got the chance to write a race report from my first Ironman because I started my blog in 2007. But I remember IMFL like it was yesterday. I remember the fears, the mixed emotions and uncertainties of what the day would be like during this well-known endurance event. 

I also remember that with all the thoughts going on in my head as to the unknowns, I was so happy that I could finally experience what an Ironman was all about. And, if all went well, I was going to be an Ironman finisher!

Nearing the 1 week countdown until I participate in my 3rd Ironman World Championship, I still have the same emotions as I did with my first Ironman. I smile because I love what I get to do with my body and I enjoy the day that I prepared myself for. Although a bit more confidence and experience in my Ironman brain and body, I still respect the distance just like I did for my very first Ironman. #1 goal is always to finish, #2 goal - execute. 

No matter what type of athlete or fitness enthusiast you are, you must pursue a goal that makes you excited to wake up every day to see what the day will bring. Do not fear how long it will take you to reach that goal for the day will come anyways, you may as well make the most of your days on earth. Do not let others tell you what is not possible and don't be afraid to show yourself what is possible. Do not give up when things get hard and don't let yourself think that every day will be easy. 

Doing something for the first time is scary and the first step is always the hardest. You will make mistakes along the way and you will have setbacks. Many people get excited for a goal but never start the journey because of the uncertainty ahead. 

If you are driven by goals, you will find yourself always making progress. But you have to start in order to see what you are capable of achieving and you can never give up if you want to feel success. 

As I reflect on my very first Ironman, I am reminded of some things that still make me smile and I'd like to use this blog to remember some highlights of my very first Ironman. 

-It was around 40 degrees at the race start and super windy. I told Karel (my boyfriend of 6 months) that "the IM is hard enough, why does it have to be windy!" Still today, I have yet to beat the wind so I don't try. 

-I saw chicken broth was on the run course from the athlete guide. I was worried that what if I craved soup on the run....but I'm a vegetarian!?! I put a can of vegetable soup in my special needs run bag. However, I didn't use it and good thing - I didn't put a can opener in my bag!

-I was at a low moment on the bike course around mile 70 - 80. I finally warmed up but the bike was feeling long. Wouldn't you know...there was Karel and my parents waiting for me in the middle of nowhere. Thumbs up for being at the right place at the right time!!

-My tummy wasn't feeling so good at the start of the marathon. I made 2-3 stops at the potty in the first 3 miles of the race. I finished the marathon on pretzels and water. I'm ever-so-grateful for port-a-potty's on race courses. 

-After riding 112 miles, I couldn't believe that I just rode 112 miles. I never rode that far before and less than a year before that, I was scared to clip-in my pedals and not comfortable on my aerobars. I felt like I had already accomplished so much before I even started the run. 

Around mile 20 or so, I was getting closer to the end of the race. I had secured my Kona spot and 1st place age group win by 50 minutes. I felt absolutely amazing on this run course and I got by with the help of spectators, my family and the other athletes. I saw Karel with a few miles less to go and he yelled to me as he was running on the sidewalk "Babe - you are going to Kona!" and I yelled back "I can't believe it...I LOVE YOU!!"

That was the very first time I told Karel that I loved him. 

-After a massage and a few slices of pizza, we walked back to our condo and I was sore as can be. I could barely walk and I had never felt such soreness in my life. But I insisted on going back to watch the final finishers. Karel joined me. I hobbled my way back as I felt the need to watch those final finishers finish the race. The race that we all started together and with everyone having their own reason for finishing and refusing to give up when the mind and body say enough is enough. It is now my goal to watch every finish line in an Ironman that I finish. I've only missed one (Kona 2007) but I don't plan on ever missing another IM finish line. 

The feeling was surreal. A dream in the making. A goal that others told me was not possible for a swimmer, turned runner turned triathlete. I had this vision in my head as to what it would feel like to earn a Kona slot but never could I comprehend what it would feel like to cross the finish line as a first time Ironman finisher. 

Seven years later and six ironman finishes behind my name, I still get excited, happy and curious as to what body can do on race day. 

With Ironman #7 happening in 8 days, I hope that you are also counting down the days to watching the most inspiring event that you will ever witness and getting yourself excited to set a new goal for yourself. As you watch athletes from the world discover their limits and overcome obstacles on race day, remind yourself that the drive to succeed is from within and finishing a race is the culmination of weeks and months, if not years, of hard work. 
With your goals, you do not have to prove anything others so instead, set your goals for yourself. As you watch the IM world championship online (all day), dare to dream big for yourself and never waste a day working hard for what you want in life. 

YSC and Oakley Women - Strength not Surrender

Marni Sumbal

As you know, it is breast cancer awareness month. As a clinical inpatient RD, I see cancer patients every time I work in the hospital, so.... it's cancer awareness/ prevention month every day.. I am constantly researching and exploring ways to reduce risk for disease for there are so many areas in your life that you can reduce your risk for disease beyond just diet and exercise that will keep your body in optimal health.

As an Oakley Women ambassador, I get the opportunity to test products that are used in my active lifestyle. It's a tough gig but I love it.

(Kona specific Radar shades from 2012)

Oakley is more than a brand that sells glasses and surf shorts.

"Oakley was created for world-class athletes, those who see the limits of possibility as just another challenge. Their dedication drives us to look beyond the conventional ideas of industry standards. It’s in our DNA to identify problems, create inventions, and wrap those inventions in art. And simply to make things better than anyone thought possible. 
Decades of Oakley innovation have been awarded more than 600 patents that elevate physics to the level of art. Technologies transcend sports to enhance the lives of consumers, and more than 110 countries now enjoy a full array of market-leading products including premium sunglasses, goggles, prescription eyewear, apparel, footwear and accessories. These products represent our commitment to excellence — a passion that redefines what is possible for those who defy their own limits."

Oakley is a proud supporter of breast cancer awareness and has a solid relationship with the Young Survival Coalition. 

From 10/1 - 10/15, Oakley Women wants to know if you (ladies-only) have a friend that shows "STRENGTH NOT SURRENDER". 

In support of breast cancer awareness month, post a picture of you and your friend on instagram that shows how strong you are and that you refuse to surrender. 

For your chance to win a YSC prize pack for you and your friend, be sure to tag @oakleywomen @YoungSurvivalCoalition and #strengthnotsurrender and hash tag #strengthnotsurrender

Winner will be chosen October 15, 2013. For official rules stay in touch with Oakley Women Collective

To follow me on Instagram - search TRIMARNI
Can't wait to follow you on Instagram as well!

Stay week I will have a special Kona contest from Oakley Women!

Kona ready: active recovery week

Marni Sumbal

On Monday morning I finished my last long run in prep for Kona. The body and mind felt amazing and I can't wait to put it all together on the big island.

It's pretty cool to see how the body can adapt to training stress over a period of time but it's even cooler to feel it all come together. At one time the body feels slow and the end point seems so far away and with so much work for the body to handle, it's hard to even grasp what it would feel like to be stronger and faster "one day". But when the hard work is done and the day finally comes, you know that it was all worth it. Patience as an athlete can be challenging. Patience for anyone can be tough. We live in a world of wanting everything yesterday and if it takes too long to achieve, there's a quicker way somewhere, somehow. 

I like the journey. I love my lifestyle and I never take a day for granted. I really love what my body allows me to do and every day I wake up excited to see what the day will bring. Not every day does my body give me what my mind can handle and vice versa but I always try to make some type of progress. Or as Karel likes to say "you want to make investments with your fitness and minimize the withdrawals as much as possible. As athletes we are always teetering on the edge - avoid falling off."

Monday morning run -12 mile "long" run
1 mile warm-up
Main set:
3 rounds of 3 x 1 miles descending w/ 30 sec walk in between. 1 minute walk after each 3 mile round. 
Then 1 mile descend to fast. Walk 1 minute. 
Then 1 mile cool down

The body responded amazingly well and I could not slow myself down as my normal 8:15-8:30 min/mile pace for my IM prep just felt like a jog on Monday morning. I just couldn't hold back as sub 8 min/miles was what my IM body wanted to give me on this day and I allowed myself to give in just enough to enjoy the moment but not too much that I wouldn't be saving my best performance for race day. 

 What a beautiful way to end 10 weeks of IM Kona specific training. 

As for Tues: 3000 active recovery swim (no watch so I probably didn't count my yardage correctly but that's OK - I enjoyed the swim and didn't want to get out). Hip and core work followed the swim. 

Wednesday - 1:50-2 hour bike (only my wrist watch - no Garmin) w/ 5 x 6 min hard efforts w/ 3 min EZ in between. 1 loop run off the bike (not sure of time - probably around 7-8 minutes). 

I absolutely love the active period that follows my last long training load for it also leads into taper...which means that race day is near. 

A chance for the body and mind to rejuvinate and recover means extra time to reflect on the past journey. What doesn't change during this tapering period is my lifestyle. There is balance just like there was with training. Plenty of time for Campy, real-food Trimarni creations and sleep as well as my career of speaking, writing and coaching/nutrition with Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC.....which pays the bills. I also maintain physical activity with just enough structure and purpose to keep me sharp but plenty of gadget free workouts to keep me in-tune with my body. 

 Not once during Kona training (or 22 weeks of training for two Ironmans) did I let training affect my love for a balanced lifestyle and not once did training affect my quality of life. Knowing that good sleep, a fantastic real-food diet, good stress management and quality rest make for great training sessions, I never overlooked the many important areas in my life, that alongside putting in the hours of swim-bike-run, that will also contribute to a great race....not to mention a great experience during my prep for Ironman #7. 

This past week (although it's only Wednesday) has been a busy one but I wanted to reflect on a few highlights of the past three days. 

The best part of my day is enjoying the outdoors with Campy. We love our mini walks but we also love the short runs together that make our hearts pump even faster. I'm so lucky to have such a great dog who loves an active and healthy lifestyle just as much as his parents. 

I love lunch n' learns and really enjoyed my talk to a group of employees at Brown & Brown of Florida INC. They are starting a wellness challenge which is fantastic. I love to see people taking an initiative to take care of their health, especially in a group setting. Since I don't prefer to speak about the specifics of nutrition like calories, carbs, proteins and fats but instead the "lifestyle" approach of healthy living, I feel the group walked away with a better appreciation of how to live a more balanced active and healthy lifestyle. 

One of us is taking this tapering thing to the extreme. I guess with Campy turning 6 soon, he has a good reason for feeling tired after helping me train for my past 5 Ironman events. 

Mother nature prescribes the most delicious creations!!
Mixed greens, toasted red quinoa, apple slices, carrots, cucumbers, edamame, corn, leeks, tomatoes, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, pecans, avocado, goat cheese and strawberries.

I believe that your meals should be too pretty to eat and worthy of a photo. 
Red quinoa toasted with olive oil, strawberries, raisins, avocado, cucumbers and sunflower seeds on a bed of mixed greens.

I've been working on a few articles and quotes lately for magazines (Women's Health, Triathlete, Runner's World) for the winter months as well as on and but I wanted to share one of my favorite run workouts, featured at Triathlete magazine online.

Over/under interval run workout

This picture doesn't have to do with the article but I love any excuse to post another pic of Campy. 

And lastly - a huge thank you to Susan Wallis (president and finisher of 39 IM's and 8 IM world championships) and the members of the Hammerhead Tri club who came out out to Corner Bistro this evening for a get-together/Kona send off party. I love my Kona towel and can't wait to use it at the pier (aka "dig me beach") next week!!

Wow - it's been 7 years since I did my first Ironman at the age of 24 and I still have the same love, passion, excitement and respect for the distance and what my body allows me to do to prepare and race in an Ironman -140.6 mile distance - triathlon. 

5 more days til Kona prepped and ready turns into Kona bound!

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!

A first for Karel (literally): HOT race report

Marni Sumbal

I love to dream big. It is exciting when the hard work pays off and dreaming big can be life-changing. For the 7th time in my life, I get to dream big as I take my body on a 140.6 mile journey to cross the most talked about finishing lines on the Ironman race calendar.

For many, dreaming big means accepting disappointment. It may even mean facing failure. A goal typically has an end point but a dream doesn't always come with a specific time-line. And that can be frustrating.

But if dream smart, you will find yourself discovering amazing things about yourself. Perhaps things that you never thought were possible because you stopped expecting failure and disappointment and instead, welcomed change, hard work and commitment to reach goals that you never once thought were possible.

Like many athletes, the body doesn't always respond when you want it to.  The mind is overloaded, the body feels tired and the goal that has driven you to wake up every morning wanting to work hard for your dreams, is now second-guessed based on life happenings. 

Karel decided last minute (about a week ago), to race in the HOT - Hammerhead Olympic. Karel was itching to race before Miami 70.3 at the end of October and with the race being local (about 45 minutes away at Camp Blanding), Karel was looking forward to changing up his weekend routine. 

As for his race day goals, he told me early last week that he wanted to win it. Of course, not knowing the competition that would be at the race, I still supported his goal 100%. As a coach, I never stop my athletes from dreaming big and as you know from my previous blogs, I am very open with my goals and I am not afraid to work hard for them. I always say - dream big and work hard for what you want and then on race day, race with your current level of fitness with a race strategy that allows you to execute for a strong performance. 

For Karel and myself, we don't chase PR's. Sure, they are great when they come but we don't worry about a time on paper but instead, what happens within the race. The harder the race and more challenging of conditions, bring it! We love training our bodies to prepare for race day and then being able to execute with our current level of fitness with a smart race day strategy. 

As age group triathletes, we have a lot on our plates with life and training is our lifestyle. Like many age group athletes, Karel was feeling off the day before the race with a lot on his mind and a body that was not feeling race ready on Saturday. 

Rather than scratching the race or forgetting about his race day goals, I did my best to continue to support Karel's goal of "go big or go home". 

I'm a firm believer that you have no idea what you are capable of until you try. Don't ever give up before you give things a try. 

I can't tell you how many times I have prepped myself for a workout and doubted myself until the workout happened. So much negativity in my mind that I didn't have "it" for the day but there's no way to know if "it" can happen unless I try. Thankfully, I never once let my fear of failure over-ride my ability to succeed with my Kona training and I felt in my heart that Karel was going to have a great race. 

With a 4am wake-up call, we were out the door at 4:45am and Campy was sad he couldn't come to the pet-unfriendly Camp Blanding. But with a long early morning walk, I told Campy we wouldn't be gone long. 

After picking up Karel's packet and doing the normal pre-race routine (set up transition, bathroom stops, putting on the wetsuit for the first-time wet-suit legal swim at this race, swim warm-up), Karel was standing knee high in the water waiting for the first wave of the race to start at 7:30am. 

When it comes to working on athletic weaknesses, Karel knows that doing more doesn't make you a better, stronger or faster athlete. For Karel, he has been working with Coach Mel at UNF on his swimming and instead of swimming more, he is working really hard with his swim drills and form in the water. With less than 1500 yards for a main set each practice three days per week, Karel has found himself swimming faster thanks to working on the little things. A reminder for us all that to be better,you can not rush the journey. 

I couldn't believe that the first swimmer in the 40 and under male age group exited the water in less than 20 minutes! With not a single other swimmer in sight, the first male was out on the bike before any other swimmer even exited the water. Karel finished the swim in 4th place, nearly 8 minutes behind the leader but I was confident that Karel swam strong so that he could also bike strong. 

Karel didn't lose anytime wearing a wetsuit and made a quick transition before getting on his bike. 

Although I know that Karel's legs can bike around 56-57 min for a 40K bike, today's conditions were on the windy side and this two loop course would present obstacles for the athletes who were not racing smart. 

Karel didn't focus on his power on the bike but instead, he only focused on his cadence and went by RPE. He had one opportunity to see the other athletes on the course and by the time he was nearing the end of the first loop, Karel was within 4 minutes of the leader and sitting in 2nd place. 

Guessing the time of the first place male in his wave, I tried to communicate with Karel the best I could to give him the heads up on his competition at the moment. 

Karel was calm and in his zone and I could tell he was really enjoying is day. 

I walked about 1/2 mile or so down the road to catch Karel and before I knew it, Karel was sitting just about a minute behind the leader as they entered transition. 

I wasn't sure if Karel was first or second because I missed the first place male but Karel quickly told me that he was second....although less than 1 minute behind the leader as they started the run. 

Karel made up mega time on the bike which is a good reminder that if you are an athlete in a race - never ever count yourself out. Even if you are not shooting for a podium spot, every athlete is going to have  a low or an off moment in the race. Sometimes it happens at the beginning of a race, sometimes in the middle. But the great part about  racing is knowing that if you keep going, a high will happen. You just have to keep moving forward to experience the highs for if you count yourself out at a low, you will find yourself stuck in a low place. Move forward and you never know what will happen. 

I really had the best time at this race because not only did I receive a major boost of endorphins from watching Karel race but I also got to cheer for a bunch of local triathletes who are inspiring in their own special way. Mom's and dad's, kids, newbies and the experienced....I just love watching people put hard work to the test. I know there were a lot of dreamers out there and I was inspired by so many people and I can't wait to take that positive energy with me to Kona in 7 days. 

Nearing 35 minutes, I guesstimated that Karel would be coming soon. Despite the wind on this semi-comfortable weather day (relative to Florida weather in the summer), this run course had it's challenges with a few hills. Turns out, Karel's Garmin 910XT got turned off in the swim  so he was just running off RPE, not even knowing his time.

Getting close to 36 minutes for the run, I spotted the awesome-looking Trimarni Tri kit on Karel and with no other male in his race in sight, I knew this would be a first for Karel.....

I can't tell you how incredibly happy and proud I am for Karel. He said he felt great the entire race and never red-lined it.

 Just learning how to swim last May (2012) and doing his first triathlon last summer, don't you love it when hard work pays off? No excuses but instead, enjoyment for what the body is capable of doing and not being afraid to test the limits. The desire was always there to be fast, strong and good at triathlons but Karel new it would take a lot of hard work to get to where he wanted to be. Still with dreams on the horizon (like racing in Kona together), I can't wait to share this journey of life together and enjoying it with so many amazing people who also love using their bodies and crossing finishing lines. 

(Karel and our friend, 2nd place finisher Eric)

1st overall
2:09:15 finishing time
1.5K Swim: 27:57 (12th place male)
T1: 53 seconds
40K Bike: 1:02:13 (23.9 mph average, 1st place male)
T2: 38 seconds
10K Run: 38:10 (6:09 min/mile average, 1st place male)

Kona prep: the puzzle is complete!

Marni Sumbal

22 weeks is a long time. 140.6 miles x 2 is a long way for the human body to travel. 
My journey of training for two Ironmans is now complete.....and now I anxiously await the day when I can stand at my 7th Ironman starting line. 
I am so very grateful to my body for allowing me to train for 2 Ironman distance triathlons (with the second round being 100% injury free) within 6 month time span. I trained for 10 weeks specifically for Ironman Lake Placid and after a 2 week unstructured bike/swim routine from training (with only 1 run/walk at the end of that 2 week period) I dedicated 12 weeks to preparing for the Ironman World Championship. 
Aside from needing to clean my car (My triathlon bag explodes in there almost daily), I am very excited to be approaching my active recovery week and then race week which will be my official "taper". Active recovery week allows my body to recover from many weeks of structured, quality "train hard, recovery harder" training and to rejuvenate my body. Taper, on the other hand, will include high intensity efforts w/ plenty of recovery to prepare my body for race day. Through experience as an athlete who has struggled with tapering and peaking at the right time, over the past few years Karel and I have learned that my body does the best with a heavy load at the end of my training cycle (keep in mind - I did not do over 17.5 hours a week of training for the IM world championship so my typical weekly load was more intense and race specific than high in volume) and then following that with an active recovery week. As you may have experienced, after a hard training load the body needs to repair and that can bring heavy legs, altered sleep (body wanting a lot more sleep), perhaps a change in appetite (my appetite stays the same with IM training so I never get super "hungry" or cravings with training - thanks to proper sport nutrition and daily fueling) and mood changes (nerves, excitement, highs and lows). These are things that no athlete wants to or needs to experience on race day so to ensure the body feels 'hungry' to race on race week, I allow the 2 weeks before a race for total body and mind recovery and I welcome active recovery to help flush things out and to keep the body active without a lot of training stress. Then on race week, I get to wake the body up with a few bursts and keep with my motto of saving my best performance for race day. 

One of the best parts of our training style is seeing all the pieces of the puzzle come together when they need to come together. With MANY 3-4 hour "IM rides" behind me, my body was set to put it all together for my last long ride last week. It was raining and I was in a 11-mile loop for the ride but all things considered, I was not going to let excuses get in my way for my 2nd 5-hour ride during Kona prep (the other ride was 99.1 miles with Karel).

5 hour ride + 30 min run
Bike main set:
45 minutes at IM Pace watts w/ 3 min EZ in between for 5 hours.
(yep  - that's it! Put all those pieces together and all those 3-4 hour workouts were coming into play for my first solo 100 mile ride in the past 22 weeks).

Run off the bike was great - averaged 8:12 min/miles w/ 30 sec walk in between each mile as usual.

I switched over my Garmin to my main page (from my interval screen) and I couldn't believe my eyes. Holy cow....NEVER have I held 20 mph alone and finally I could fully experience how this quality training approach pays off! Karel was just as happy as I was for you never know how the body will adapt to training stress and I'm so happy that we have been able to put the pieces together very nicely with my 3rd time training for the IM world championship.

This past week was one of the hardest weeks of training (Mon - Fri) that I have ever put in and I could not be more proud of my body. It was a lot of commitment, dedication and mental strength and as usual, I do not let excuses get in my way. Trying to keep everything balanced, I focused on the controllables and did waste any energy on things out of my control. 

Oh - speaking of uncontollables - I must mention that I did have a mental break down on Thurs as I was doing my "planned" workout which was modified thanks to a power meter that decided to malfunction just 24 hours before I needed to drop off my bike at the Trek Store for Tri Bike Transport to pick up. But as usual, Karel saved the day just like he did at Branson 70.3 and IMWI when I had two mechanical issues the day before the race. 
When people ask Karel about what gadgets/bikes to buy, Karel is always honest in terms of quality gear but he also focused on customer service. I am so grateful to Stages for sending Karel (and me) a new powermeter overnight so that Karel could do his magic and install it, sync everything and tune-up my bike within 2 hours of sending my bike off to Hawaii. THANK YOU KAREL and STAGES!!!

As for this weekend, a glorious well-deserved gadget free 2:45-3 hr-ish ride on my road bike (yes - no gadgets not even a bike computer) followed by a Campy walk in the rain. I could have ridden forever on my road bike but the focus today was to ride like a kid and stop when I wanted to stop. I figured my ride was over when it started pouring but I really enjoyed today just riding for fun. Tomorrow I will enjoy a day off from training and cheer for Karel who is racing at the local HOT olympic distance triathlon at camp blanding (with Campy).

And about those taper blues and concerns about the diet/body composition before race week? 

Putting things into perspective if you struggle with your relationship with food as an endurance athlete, it's important that your mindset does not change throughout IM training....even if you are still training despite lowered volume. The entire focus of training is to put all the pieces together for race day and I could not be more excited to see what my body can do on October 12th, 2013. I did not put in all this work to stand around in spandex and show off my body. I trained to use my body, to test my limits, to overcome obstacles and to thank my body for the gift it has given me to swim-bike-run for 140.6 miles.

14 days until the Ironman World Championship and I will continue to eat the same foods that have fueled my workouts, have kept my immune system strong and have helped me recover. I will still love every day as triathlons are not my life, but instead my lifestyle.
My body will perform on race day based on how I trained it to perform and not based on a number on a scale. 
And most of all, my "reward" food will continue to keep me healthy until I get to the starting line.

A yummy post workout meal:
Local fresh whole grain bread
Scrambled eggs (1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
Sauteed kale w/ olive oil, goat cheese, leeks and red peppers
Sliced peaches

Thank you to all who have continued to follow and support my IM journey! Keep dreaming big!

Trimarni Tip: Inside-out sandwich

Marni Sumbal

I'm sure you can only imagine the fun I had at the grocery stores in Czech Republic during our trip in May. And oh did it all taste great too!

Have you been adding to your "off limit" food list over the past few months/years?

How about rethinking your meals as you learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food?

It's time to free yourself from food rules and "bad" food.

Trimarni Tip (from the Sumbal household who always has a loaf of fresh local bread in the house at all times):

Pics from our Czech Republic trip in May

I find many people are all or nothing. Either you LOVE bread and eat it all the time or bread is bad and it is off limit. I think the same is true for any food or food group. People hear low and they think no and if they hear something is good, it is consumed in excess. Since when did our society become so extreme with everything?

The key is balance for any meal but hopefully you are looking for easy ways to create more plant strong meals to provide your body with lots of vitamins and minerals to reduce risk for disease and to support your immune system.....but you also need to feel satisfied. Whereas a plate of lettuce and veggies is not going to satisfy you or fuel your body, the same may be true for two slices of bread with veggies and a few slices of meat in between.

Since I do not have any bad, off limit food in my food vocabulary, I welcome any opportunity to enjoy real food. Eating time is always a happy time for Karel and myself. There is no food critiquing but instead lots of yumming.

Consider turning your sandwich inside out and use your veggies as the base and then top with your choice of protein, whole grains and heart healthy fats. Keep in mind that you can only stuff a limited amount of plants between two slices of bread and a plant strong meal may require the use of silverware and a table (instead of eating with your hands or behind the steering wheel). As a side dish, no need to give up bread. Enjoy an open face sandwich with cheese/yogurt spread, avocado or hummus or enjoy your bread as a pre/post training snack with nut butter. Tweak your diet to find what works best for you.

Here is a creation I made to help you get excited that you don't have to have an off limit food list when it comes to enjoying plant strong meals to fuel your active and healthy body.

In case you missed this post, here is a blog on our experience to a vegetarian restaurant in Czech. 

Kona prep mind over matter: Train the brain

Marni Sumbal

Well, it's finally official. 
MARNI SUMBAL (30-34 age group): BIB NUMBER 1933

With this week being my last week of Ironman training before an active recovery week followed by race week taper, my body feels amazing. With our approach to Ironman training being enhanced every year, I really feel Karel and I nailed my training for my 7th Ironman and 3rd Ironman World Championship. Every go-around we reflect on what didn't work and then we stretch the boundaries on how much I can get my body to adapt with the least amount of training stress. With this "less is more, train hard, recover harder approach" I have experienced bitter sweet feelings before my last three Ironmans. Absolutely I am ready to taper and rejuvenate from all this Ironman Kona specific training and I am excited to experience the normal "hunger" I experience on race week to get out there and let my body do it's thing. But my body and mind feel healthy. They feel strong and confident and it saddens me that this training is coming to an end. I still do not dread any workout and I continue to look forward to what my body can do with every workout I am given from Karel (and oh boy does he push me!). What's even more amazing is that instead of experiencing burnout (which I never get - ready for the season to end, sure, but never a loss of motivation), I continue to see big performance gains. I have off workouts but not as often as the great workouts. Although I pushed my body to a whole new level to qualify for Kona at 2013 Ironman Lake Placid, I challenged myself to training my brain just as much as training my body - with the help of Gloria, my mental coach (who will also be my roomie in Kona).


One thing I have learned with my journey as an endurance age group athlete, is that the mind must be as strong as the body. You can put in all the hours and miles as you want to make it look good on paper that you did the work but if you want your body to perform, your brain must be tough and ready for the challenge.

Training the brain is not easy. And this is why I rely on Gloria to help me for when I experience doubt, I know she has a toolkit to guide me in the right direction.

For example, whenever you start a training plan, for most people the first 3-4 weeks seem to fly by. Endorphins are flowing, the body feels great and everything goes as planned. But then there are the moments here and there were workouts are challenging and the doubt comes about. Looking ahead 4,8,12 weeks down the road, you think to yourself how will I ever be able to finish the race with my goals accomplished. Then, suddenly, with a balanced approach to training. Everything suddenly comes together. The puzzle pieces make more sense and although it doesn't necessarily get easy, the mind knows that race day is coming. So no more excuses, what if's or doubts but instead, confidence that the body CAN do what it was trained to do. However, for many people, the excuses, doubts and what if's continue until race day and that can be very draining and negative for a body that is primed to perform.

This week has been tough. Putting in those final workouts to my Ironman puzzle has been time-consuming and challenging. But, what's keeping me positive is that my body and mind are strong. I do not doubt my fitness and I feel very confident about my race (3rd time is the charm as they say :) Of course, knowing that I just did an IM about 12 weeks ago, I do not fear the distance and I have trust in myself that I can race smart in Kona with the notorious wind/heat race day conditions (among 1500 of the best IM athletes around the world). More than anything, I am not focusing on getting faster but instead, building confidence for race day. Learning how to overcome obstacles that occur in training is just as important as nailing a fueling plan or having several long workouts in the bank.

This morning I had a tough brick.
First off - 4500 swim.
Then a 6 mile run.

On paper, my physically trained Ironman body was ready for the distance but it was the sets that challenged my mental strength.

4500 swim:
2 x 1700 swim w/ 1:30 rest in between
1100 swim
All Ironman "steady" pace

With the pieces coming together very nicely, this set allowed my mind to wander. I had plenty of time to think about anything and everything but I was forced to stay in the moment. In an Ironman, it's very easy to think about mile 20-26 of the run.....when you are at mile 1 of the swim. But with 140.6 miles to cover, what's the point of thinking ahead when you can stay in the moment. Why direct your thoughts to something that has not happened yet when you can direct all your energy to what's occurring at that moment in time.

Although good on paper, I struggled mentally with this swim because it felt easy....but on my watch it didn't look fast (relative to me). But I felt SO good in the water. It was just a mental mess going on this morning in the pool and only I could figure my way out of it. So I had two choices - be grateful that it feels easy now and it once did not feel easy 8 weeks ago (because I wasn't "trained" yet for this set) OR get frustrated and upset and throw in the towel.

I choose the first option.

I finished the swim feeling happy and confident. Confident that I did the work in the pool, happy that I still love to swim. I will not bash my body for not giving me faster times for I put in the necessary work and this was all that my body could tolerate alongside my bike and run training...and balancing life, sleep, diet, traveling, etc. I am excited to start the Kona swim with a body that loves to swim.

Next up - 6 miles of running.

I remember back in June that my endurance was not where it is today. I was getting my body back into shape after 90 days of no running and running just wasn't fun for me. I was not able to push and let my mind be my only limiter. With an amazing 10 weeks of injury-free training behind me and a great foundation from recovering so well from IM Lake Placid, I have enjoyed every run and I constantly thank my body (and continue to do all my hip/core/back exercises and stretching/foam rolling/110% Play harder icing, epson salt baths, massages 1-2 times a month).

So today, I put another workout in the Kona bank that brings me confidence for my mental tool kit.

6 x 1 miles with 30 sec walk in between.
Odd steady, even "faster" (I don't have a lot of speed in my body so I am not pushing my boundaries with my current lactic threshold).
48:48 time
6.11 miles
Average pace 7:59 (including walks)
Mile 1: 8:17 min/mile, 182 HR (rush of blood)
30 sec walk: 122 HR
Mile 2: 7:25 min/mile, 161 HR
30 sec walk 132 HR
Mile 3: 7:55 min/mile, 141 HR
30 sec walk 131 HR
Mile 4: 7:06 min/mile, 150 HR
30 sec walk, 151 HR (body was speaking to me)
Mile 5: 7:57 min/mile, 146 HR
30 sec walk 143 HR
Mile 6: 7:05 min/mile, 156 HR

What made this so hard? Once again - it all came down to mind over matter. As I ran the first hard interval, my brain instantly thought "There's no way you will be able to run the last one hard." Here I am not even finished with the first interval and despite my legs speaking to me, my mind was already trying to convince me that there was no way I could do 3 sets of these. But after the recovery walk and a steady interval (which was surprisingly "fast" compared to the "fast" interval), I decided to just give it a go and instead of making excuses, just make things happen. After the 2nd interval, viola. Just one more fast to go. Although it did get tough as the lactic acid was accumulating in my oxygen deprived body, never did my body tell me that I couldn't do it.

One thing I have learned with training for sports and racing is that you can never count yourself out OR think you have it in the bag until you cross the finish line (or finish a workout). When it comes to endurance racing, the best way to succeed is to slow down the least amount possible. In other words, you don't have to be fast, you don't have to be the best at everything and you don't have to get upset if things aren't going as planned at a certain moment. What you have to do is stay in the moment. The only way to get yourself to the next interval, mile or set is to be sure your mind is just as strong as your body.

Next time that you doubt yourself, give it a go. Don't fear the hard for it will get easier. And when it does, you will likely find yourself craving another challenge of seeing where you can take your body and mind. For me, I love everything that comes with training for an endurance event for my body doesn't have to let me do what I ask for it to do when I train it. I am so incredibly grateful to my body no matter how the workout unfolds.

Thank you body....and mind.

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. 

Nutrition tips for food lovers

Marni Sumbal

Farmers market shopping in downtown Znojmo, Czech Republic  (Karel's home)

Every day I am reminded of our trip to Czech and the lifestyle that we lived during our trip. The trip was life changing but it was even more enjoyable to live such a great lifestyle while in Czech. 

When it comes to "healthy" eating, there are many tips, suggestions, fads, thoughts, rules and styles that is can be very overwhelming. When it comes to disease prevention there are many research studies as to what people do consistently well that reduces the risk for disease and illness and what people do that increases the risk for certain diseases and illnesses. We can not avoid cancer but we can reduce the risk so when it comes down to following nutrition advice in a society that loves food, it's really not that complicated. 

Eat a plant strong diet, rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Choose heart healthy fats and low fat dairy (up to 3 servings daily). Reduce intake of saturated fat, avoid trans fat and stay hydrated with water. Reduce intake of added sugar and salt and focus on portion control to maintain a "healthy" body composition. Stay active and move the body daily. 

 While traveling to Pittsburgh this past Thurs - Sat for my brother's wedding (thus the lack of  blogging for the past few days), I had a chance to catch up on some nutrition reading from various journals/magazines. As a food lover, athlete and a health and fitness professional, I really enjoy reading about food....beyond food for "weight loss". I love reading about the benefits of food, the science of food and anything that makes food special. I suppose I see food differently than many people and I think that is why my body allows me to do what I do on a day to day basis. With Karel celebrating his 37th birthday yesterday, I only hope that as we both age we can continue to travel, stay active and enjoy life with a healthy body and mind.

Hiking in Znjomo, Czech Republic

I wanted to share a few articles that caught my attention during our trip.

Food and Nutrition: Sept/Oct 2013
-Pg 16-17: Beans are a tasty, nutritious and economically efficient way to meet nutrition needs year-round. They are high in protein and soluble fiber and a good source of vitamins and minerals. They are also an essential source of protein, iron and zinc. Diets rich in soluble fiber are associated with improved blood glucose control and blood cholesterol levels and may help fight heart disease. Since they're often priced less than 25 cents per cup, dried beans are affordable. Types of beans: Black, lima, chickpea/garbanzo, red, great northern, pinto, kidney, fava, black-eyed peas, navy, soybeans.
-Pg 22: Oats: a trendy, budget-friendly food staple. At 150 calorie per -one cup cooked serving, oats resemble other cooked whole grains in their energy density. The soluble fiber in oats (B-glucan) consistently has been shown to lower the heart disease risk factors of total and LDL cholesterol. In 1997, the FDA approved a health claim for the role of B-Glucan soluble fiber, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, in reducing risk of heart disease. One cup of cooked oatmeal supplies 2 of the daily 3 grams of B-glucan soluble fiber necessary for these heart benefits. 

Oat definitions: The lease processed oats come in the form of groats - the husked whole oat kernel - and require the longest cooking time (40 minutes). Oat groats  can be substituted for brown rice, wheat berries or other whole grains in a dinner side dish. Steel-cut oats are toasted oat groats that have been cut into small pieces with a metal blade. Ready in 10-20 minutes, steel cut oats have a firm texture and nutty flavor. Rolled oats (old fashioned or 5-minute) are groats that have been steamed, flattened and dried and are typically less expensive and more readily available than whole and steel-cut oats. Quick oats are rolled oats that have been cut into smaller pieces to reduce cooking time down to 2 minute. Instant oats resemble quick oats in texture but have been partially cooked before drying so that they can be reconstituted with boiling water. 

Eating Well Oct 2013
-Pg 24: Several studies show that adding more produce to your diet can improve your mental health and sense of well-being. Celery and Parsley deliver apigenin, a compound that promotes the death of cancerous cells, according to new research from Ohio State University. Red cabbage and blueberries are packed with anthocyanins, which may help keep your memory sharp. 
-Pg 17: The apple is a powerhouse of polyphenols, potent antioxidants. eating apples may lower the risk of asthma, lung cancer, stroke and prevent blood sugar spikes. According to a recent Ohio State study, adults eating just one apple a day of four weeks reduced their level of LDL cholesterol by as much as 40%. The fruit is also rich in pectin, a soluble fiber effective in lowering cholesterol. Apples offer thousands of flavor possibilities. Once more than 16,000 varieties grew just in American orchards. As shelf life an uniformity became more important, most disappeared. Find out what's growing by you at 

Remedy's Healthy Living Fall 2013 ( - FREE pamphlet from the pharmacy at the hospital
-Pg 10: Gut reactions. The connection between the brain and the gut is a two-way street. Recent research suggest that the health of your digestive system - the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon - can affect your mood and well-being. The key to the complex interaction is the enteric nervous system, which experts sometimes refer to as the "brain in your gut." "Thousands of nerves line the intestines and signal muscles to contract to propel food along the digestive tract," explains David Wolf, MD, a gastroenterologist and University of Texas Health and Science Center in Houston. Like the one in your head, your gut's brain depends on neurotransmitters such as serotonin, the famous feel-good chemical. "Around 95% of serotonin is produced in the intestinal tract," says Dr. Chait MD. 

While the serotonin in your brain regulates mod, in the gut, it promotes the growth of nerve cells and alerts the immune system to foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. Serotonin also keeps the two systems in constant communication, so when stress hits, it's no wonder your stomach starts to churn - or that GI problems make you depressed and anxious. New research is also highlighting the vital role of the healthy bacteria that exist naturally in the gut. Trillions of bacteria populate the gut and scientists are only just beginning to understand that unique habitat, according to Jack Gilbert, PhD, an environmental microbiologist at the Argonne National Lab in Chicago.
When these god bacteria are diminished by a poor diet or a course of antibiotics, your digestive health and overall well being often suffer. The best way to improve your digestion is to eat a healthy balanced diet, says Dr. Chait. Aim for plant based, fiber rich foods, plenty of veggies, fruits, whole grains and bran and lean sources of protein such as chicken and fish. Daily fiber recs - 38 g for men under 50, 25grams for women under 50 and 30,21 grams respectively for men and women over 50. 

Thanks to the enteric nervous system, the digestive system is very sensitive to emotional and psychological stress. Stress busters like deep breathing, yoga, meditation and massage can play an important role in alleviating GI disorders triggered or exacerbated by tension, such as IBS, whose symptoms include cramping, bloating and often alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea. A recent study found that women who practiced mindfulness meditation for 8 weeks had greater reductions in IBS symptoms than women who were assigned to a support group.
It's true: regular exercise keeps you regular. Activity improves motility.

-Gas: If you are belching excessively, you may be swallowing air - aeorphagia. Flatulence happens when bacteria in the gut ferments undigested food; certain foods are worse than others. Avoid carbonated sodas and chewing gum. Chew foods slowly and eat small meals. If you experience gassiness, limit artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol. 

Food Freedom: Anytime pancakes

Marni Sumbal

Not too long ago I overheard a conversation with a personal trainer and his client at the gym. The trainer had been away on vacation and the client asked her trainer where he went and if he went to any good restaurants when he was away. As I was working my core on the captain chair, I couldn’t help but listen to this conversation about food.

I remember when I was growing up in Lexington Kentucky, there was a place downtown that had the biggest, most scrumptious cinnamon rolls that would put any cinnabon to shame these days. A cinnamon roll the size of my head and a belly that would get sick if you ate the whole thing (of course, speaking from experience). But oh were those cinnamon rolls the best…when my mom and dad would take me to get them for a treat once a year.


It wasn’t that the cinnamon rolls were off limit or “bad” food but instead, my parents would reward me after my piano recitals/competitions with a walk downtown to the cinnamon roll shop. I didn’t spend my entire year planning for the cinnamon roll or saving calories for the cinnamon roll but instead, we celebrated my piano recital (which was judged) with the cinnamon roll.  Relief that the hard work with my piano practicing was over and support from my parents as we all enjoyed the cinnamon roll.  If the cinnamon roll was consumed every day or even once a month, I just don’t think it would receive the same yum factor for it was extra special on a special day.

A few months ago, I took my first trip to Europe with Karel. With a bag packed of Marni friendly travel food for me and Karel, once we stepped foot in Czech Republic, the bag wasn’t opened until we flew home 10 days later. I welcomed my trip abroad with Karel to enjoy his country and we 100% lived like a local. Even as a vegetarian and Karel’s mom preparing some of the most long-awaited not-so-vegetarian foods for Karel, I didn’t consume a single food brought from the US the entire time when I was away…and I survived just fine. And because I don’t know Czech, I couldn’t read any food labels... and I survived just fine. All I needed was Karel’s “ok” that a food didn’t have meat in it and it was complete food freedom to put all that hard work to understanding how to eat mindfully to good use in another country and to be able to maintain my active and healthy lifestyle abroad.

Riding our bikes to Retz Austria 

Enjoying (real) coffee and pastries mid morning. 

When it comes to creating a diet that works for you, we shouldn’t forget that there is no diet “staple” that you have to follow but you do have to figure out what works best for you. Yes, all diets should be plant strong as the research strongly supports a real food, balanced, whole food, plant strong diet to improve longevity and reduce risk for disease, but in terms of figuring out your style of eating, that all relates back to your goals in life and how food can enhance your lifestyle. And for the extra stuff like treats, desserts, sweets, large portions, fattier options, etc. sometimes you have trust your diet enough to know that even with an occasional treat you are not going to become “unhealthy” or for many, “gain weight.”

Although Karel and I don’t have a working scale at home, we left Czech feeling clean, light and healthy and I confirmed to myself that my diet enhances my lifestyle. I love to train, travel and use my body to make memories and for me, that means understanding what foods work for me and my body. No time am I eating for calories or a body image….somehow it just all works better that way.

Prague, Czech Republic

So if you are someone who is currently working on the diet, remind yourself that food freedom is the ultimate goal. There will be a day when you can 100% enjoy something occasional and feel absolutely great about it. Hopefully that day is sooner than later. What you can also look forward to is the day when you start eating for fuel, for health and for pleasure but in a way that improves your quality of life. So right now, eating out with your co-workers every day for lunch may not be ideal if you are trying to figure out the best foods to help control your blood sugar, to fuel your workout routine and to meet your nutritional needs. In other words, right now you may need to be in control of your meals to figure everything out. But, what you don’t have to worry about is being in control forever. As scary as it sounds, food freedom means not having rules or a strict routine but instead, knowing what works and being able to apply that “style” any day, no matter where you are in the world. Eventually, there will be a time when you eat out, enjoy that meal of foods not typical in the daily diet and feel absolutely great about. Although now I can help others with learning how to eat for fuel, for health and for pleasure, I spent a good 2-3 years learning how to have a healthy relationship with food and my body and figuring out what works best for me as an active, health conscious individual, who loves to race for 140.6 miles, is a 20 year vegetarian, is married to a Czech cyclist turned triathlete who will eat anything and works as a clinical RD..oh and is also a doggy mommy.
Oh, so what did I hear from the personal trainer that inspired me to write this blog????

The trainer told his client that he didn’t eat out at all on his trip because he didn’t want to get fat and gain 10 lbs so he hired a personal chef to deliver 6 small meals a day of chicken and veggies to his hotel room and then when his wife and kids were playing at the pool, he would go upstairs, eat in the room and then head back outside to spend time with his family.

In honor of food freedom, how about we all enjoy pancakes for breakfast, lunch or dinner, anytime during the week without “deserving” them after a 3 hour bike ride, a 15 mile run, a hard spin class or because it is Sunday.

Happy eating in your happy kitchen!
Pear and carrot muffin-inspired pancakes

Makes 7 pancakes (1/3 cup serving) - So delicious, I wish this recipe made more!

½ cup rye flour (you can use any flour, I like the consistency of rye and soy flour – a bit lighter than whole wheat)
1 egg
½ cup skim milk
1/8 tsp iodized salt
1 tbsp honey
1 small pear shredded (about ½ cup packed)
1 large carrot (peeled first) shredded (about ½ cup packed)
1 tiny mini box of raisins (I keep these in the house for on-the-go snacks or traveling)
4 large strawberries – sliced (if frozen due to season, defrost for 30 -60 sec and then slice)
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
Olive oil (1 capful per 3-4 pancakes)

1. On large skillet, heat to medium heat (just above low). Drizzle with olive oil.
2. With all ingredients mixed in a bowl (I mixed with a fork), use 1/3 cup to portion each pancake and press down with bottom of the measuring cup for a flatter pancake.
3. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side, flip when firm and cook additional 2-3 minutes on the other side.
4. Repeat until the batter is finished (I always make a mini pancake to taste while cooking  ;) 

In the Trimarni kitchen, we don't ever speak about bad or off limit food, fast, diet or cleanse. I eat to reduce risk for disease. I fuel the body and I love the food that I put into my body. The Trimarni kitchen is a happy place filled with food freedom and creativity.

Kona training update + Karel's weekend workouts

Marni Sumbal

8.5 quality, "train smarter to train harder" hours of Ironman World Championship training this weekend. My whole wheat pita bread pizza topped with marinara, cheese, BRAGG powder and oregano and olive oil, stir fried veggies (mushrooms, mixed frozen veggies, red and yellow sweet peper, garlic) with tempeh hit the spot tonight. Body and mind are feeling strong, healthy and happy.

Another week of training is behind me and I am excited to recover tomorrow. I am always amazed that with one recovery day per week (sometimes two) that my body can recover from 6 previous days of training and be strong for 6 more days of training and keep this cycle going for x-weeks. One thing that really helps me stay balanced is constantly changing up my routine and only limiting my "key race training" to around 10-12 weeks at a time. When I started endurance sports, I was like many athletes and had a specific schedule Mon - Sun and would repeat that same routine week after week, month after month. Over the past few years, Karel always changes up my workouts, often with Thurs - Sun being the key workouts and then using Mon - Wed as active recovery. I love how my body is always getting use to something new and I think that is why I don't get burnt out from training. There is a lot of flexibility and challenge so I never get bored and my body never feels run down (tired and sore at times but nothing I can't recover from). After my two week recovery from IM Placid, the first few weeks of my IM training for Kona had a routine of an intense brick or interval run on Tues but now I know that my body can't take the added stress after the weekend training with my training on the weekend being much more intense and specific to the IM (now that the building is overwith). As an athlete, it is always important to weigh the pros and cons with training. Ask yourself what you can accomplish each day and week to move closer to your goals for you don't want to have 3 weeks of great workouts and then find yourself 4,6,8 weeks away from race day feeling tired, on the verge of injury or burnout. Keep it fun and never lose sight of your goals and dreams. 

Self doubt can be a challenge for an athlete, let alone any individual trying to reach goals. My belief is how do you know you can't do it unless you try and give your best effort?
This morning I woke up excited to train but the typical thoughts of "can I do this?" were on my mind as I drove 6 miles down the road to Nocatee to train. I never let my mind win when it comes to controlling my body but I do have to use my mental skills to hush up those thoughts. I never want to miss an opportunity to give a good effort just because I think I don't have "it" for the day. Of course, this is not an appropriate thought for an athlete who is sick or injured and that is why I always focus on training smart for I respect my body too much to push it went it can not adapt to training stress. My ultimate goal is to always have my mind as my only limiter when I train and race. BTW - I can't tell you how excited I am to have my personal sport psychologist and friend Gloria with me in Kona from Oct 7th - Oct 15th.

Sunday training:
After a 1 hour warm-up on the bike (18 miles and oh did my body really benefit from that) I started my long run:
First 8 miles steady @ IM Pace w/ 30 sec walk in between
2-3 min break - bathroom/refill flasks w/ sport drink
Main set:
5 x 1 miles Descending from IM pace to whatever my body would give w/ 30 sec walk in between
Last mile cool down
1 hour EZ spin active recovery (16 miles - oh this felt sooooo good to loosen the legs and sip on Hammer FIZZ - so refreshing to replace electrolytes as it was a major sweat fest this morning running from 8:30-10:30am in the Florida heat). 

Stats from my run:
2:08 hours
Average pace 8:37 min/mile (including walking and cool down, not including break)
Total miles: 14.93 miles
Average HR 140 bpm
Mile 1: 8:27, 120 HR
30 sec walk: 112 HR
Mile 2: 8:18, 126 HR
30 sec walk: 120 HR
Mile 3: 8:22, 131 HR
30 sec walk: 125 HR
Mile 4: 8:29 (incline), 139 HR
30 sec walk: 135 HR
Mile 5: 8:23, 140 HR
30 sec walk: 133 HR
Mile 6: 8:30, 140 HR
30 sec walk: 134 HR
Mile 7: 8:35, 142 HR
30 sec walk: 140 HR
Mile 8: 8:28, 143 HR
Mile 9: 8:20, 141 HR
30 sec walk: 139 HR
Mile 10: 8:12, 147 HR
30 sec walk: 141 HR
Mile 11: 8:10, 145 HR
30 sec walk: 141 HR
Mile 12: 8:10, 143 HR
30 sec walk: 153 HR (body was getting hot - look how my HR went up during the walk to try to cool my body)
Mile 13: 7:56, 153 HR (but I had just enough mental strength to convince my body that I could do this! And fueling was perfect so had plenty of energy for this run)
30 sec walk: 153 HR
Mile 14: 8:26, 150 (steady effort before cool down)
.57 miles: 9:07, 141 HR

Karel is currently training for the Miami 70.3 so his training is a lot more intense. It took him a few weeks to recover fully from Placid and a few more weeks to get his snap back into his legs. Here's his weekend training:

Saturday: 2 hour bike + 30 min run
Bike - first hour warm-up until steady "fast" pace (draft legal behind two of our athletes JM and Josh)
Main set: 10 x 6 minutes @ Z4 watts w/ 1 min recovery in between (about 1 hour of hard efforts)
Run off the bike: 30 min negative split run - 6:50, 6:40, 6:30, 6:13

Sunday: 13.1 mile run (1:30, 6:52 min/mile including walk breaks) + 1 hour social spin (active recovery)
2.5 miles - warm-up (7:17, 7:00)
Stopped and stretched for a few minutes
Main set 3x's:
3 miles descending w/ 1 min walk in between  (start at 6:50 min/miles and descend 10 sec each mile)
6:49, 6:39, 6:29
6:47, 6:39, 6:29
6:48, 6:40, 6:15 (with strong finish)
Walked 1 minute
Jogged cool down 1.4 miles - 6:50 min/mile

We train smarter to train harder and in order to do so, we recover even harder. 

Kona training update and food is fuel (yummy)

Marni Sumbal

This body is not disappointing me despite pushing it to higher limits and challenging workouts. Thanks coach Karel!

Today's workout was a breakthrough. I owe it to two great recovery days last week (Mon off, Tues 3000 recovery swim) and a balanced training plan since IM Lake Placid that has allowed my body to train hard but recover harder. I still don't forget that I didn't run for 90 days in Feb  - April but I thank my body constantly. Sometimes I even do it out loud. 

Wednesday - UNF masters swim team (joined Karel who has really benefited from this group and Coach Mel's assistance with his stroke)
Main set:
100 fast, 50 EZ
2 x 100 fast, 50 EZ
3 x 100 fast, 50 EZ
4 x 100 fast 50 EZ
The goal was to get faster with the fast as the set went on (2 minute cycle) but to be consistent. I really woke up my fast twitch fibers and oh boy was my body filled with lactic acid. I went from 1:16 to holding 1:14 on the last 4 and I was done after that. Whewww.

After the swim Karel and I went for a 90 minute bike, I included 8 x 2 min "fast" w/ 3 min EZ to wake up the body before Thursday's workout.

Thursday: Brick (bike + run)
Bike main set:
10 x 3 min Z4, 2 min Z3 low (Recover in IM watts) - loved this set!

Run off the bike
1 mile EZ (8:10), 1 min walk
Main set: 4 x 1 miles @ 7:30-7:40 min/mile pace w/ 1 min walk/rest in between
1 mile steady (8:10 min/mile)

Fri - 5000
Main set:
2 x 800's IM pace w/ 1 min rest
3 x 400's IM pace w/ 1 min rest
Hip/core work

Saturday: 3:37 bike (71 miles) + 1 hour run (7.2 miles)
1 hour warm-up (building to 15 watts below IM pace)
Main set 4x's:
35 min at IM pace (my new pace is now 12 watts higher - yippe for training smarter, less is more) w/ 4 min EZ
(this set went by super fast and my body felt strong, no residual fatigue as the set went on. Sport nutrition liquid fueling was spot on (I don't do any solid foods in my training/racing) and haven't had any stomach distress with any of my IM training in many many years.)

Run off the bike:
6 x 1 miles @ interval of goal IM pace (the focus was to run faster than goal IM pace and then walk until the goal IM pace cycle was up. My goal IM pace is 8:30 so I was running comfortably 7:57-8 min/miles and then walking 30-35 sec in between. Great set, loved it! It got hard on the last mile as I was super hot and running out of my drinks in my two flasks.
10 min cool jog down (this felt sooo good to run 8:50 min/mile pace after that)

The other day while I was working in the hospital (I work PRN as an inpatient Clinical RD) I had a patient who was admitted for Jaundice and electrolyte imbalance. This patient was also diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia.

As we all know electrolytes are vital as our nerves, cardiac muscle and skeletal muscle all rely on them on a daily basis. They also help control pH balance in the blood and body fluids. Our electrolytes are best obtained from food but as we know as athletes, we also find them in sport drinks. Electrolytes are tightly controlled in body fluids (ex. plasma, blood and interstitial fluid) and must remain in specific concentrations or else serious medical conditions may arise.

Now as a clinical RD, it is appropriate for me to let everyone know that restricting food or purging food will lead to an electrolyte imbalance (among many other issues) and may cause further stress on the kidneys and heart. 

I'm sure we can all agree that restricting food for anyone is not recommended for we can put the body into a very serious situation of poor health as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

So why is it that so many athletes feel that they don't need sport nutrition during workouts? As if the body is just fine with water (or nothing) and that dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, organ failure and even cardiovascular issues are not likely because training for a sporting event means that you are immune from these issues. 

Seeing that the body can "shut" down to try to resume balance without adding exercising into the mix when a person voluntarily restricts food (for whatever reason), this is why I am very adamant about not only consuming a balanced diet for athletes and fitness enthusiasts and learning how to fuel the body for health and for fitness/performance but also supporting the body with sport nutrition during training- when the body is under the most physiological stress. Sure, you can argue with me about fat burning and that your body doesn't need it but how about training the body to need it and then training the body so that the body takes care of itself to get stronger and more efficient?

I've said it before but I fuel before every workout, during every workout and after every workout. I never sabotage my body by not fueling it properly, especially when I want it to perform as beautifully as possible during training in order to get stronger and to recover faster.

Here are a few of my recent creations to help you continue your quest of learning how to develop a healthy relationship with food as an athlete. Remember - food is for fuel, for health and for pleasure. 

Brown Rice
Frozen Veggies
Boca veggie "meat" crumbles
Frozen edamame
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese
topping: Sesame seeds
1. Microwave ingredients in bowl and top with sesame seeds.

Breakfast bread (nuts and dried fruit - Publix grocery store, made fresh daily)
Fresh fruit - raspberries, bananas
Greek yogurt (daily eats - 0% Fage)
Scrambled eggs (1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
Kale w/ olive oil (sauteed)

Roasted veggies - peppers, eggplant, onions (purple), mushrooms
Asparagus w/ garlic
Sunflower seeds
Goat cheese
Olive oil
Salt to taste
Marinara sauce
1. In 425 degree oven place veggies in large casserole and toss lightly in olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
2. Steam asparagus and then place in small casserole dish and top with chopped garlic and bake until golden brown (15 minutes).
3. Prepare millet (1/2 cup dry prepares 3 cups cooked) - 25-30 minutes
4. Place 1/2 - 1 cup millet in bowl and stir in marinara. Top with roasted veggies and asparagus and top with cheese and seeds. Season to taste.

Pre training snack: flat bread cracker + peanut butter, banana slices, cinnamon and honey

1/2 cup oatmeal (dry)
1 tbsp chia seeds
~10g whey protein powder
Water (to meet consistency needs)

I love supporting small businesses especially the bakers and bread makers at the farmers market. I went to the Bartram Farmers market on Thursday and as I was browsing the breads, many tables where trying to pitch me their treats/breads by what was not in the ingredients (sugar, salt, fat, gluten, etc). I guess they don't know my personal philosophy and what I am all about when it comes to eating for fuel, for health and for pleasure.
I decided on Hugo's muffins because I could tell he was truly passionate about his food and he knew I would feel great eating it.... And I did, gluten and all. C
heck out Hugo's story HERE!
YAY - Campy walks are the best!! The most looked forward part of my day (for both of us).
(Pampered shades from Oakley Women)

Where do you get your nutrition advice?

Marni Sumbal

With so much nutrition advice available, how do you know what to believe? 

For example, my friend Jason asked me if I heard about Almased, not because he was interested in it but because he was shocked at the diet plan and that it was endorsed by a Registered Dietitian (RD). So, if a MD and RD recommend Almased, does that mean that you should use the product to lose weight and follow the diet plan? 

At the beginning, you only drink vegetable broth, water and three Almased® shakes per day. For each “meal”, eight level tablespoons of Almased® with cold water (bottled or filtered) or milk (skim, unsweetened almond or soy). The weight loss during this phase may be higher than for the rest of the diet. You can stay in this Starting Phase for a couple of days or up to 2 weeks if you feel good. Then you begin the Reduction Phase, during which you replace two meals (preferably breakfast and dinner) with an Almased® drink and eat one healthy meal. This phase lasts about 6 weeks or until you reach your ideal body weight. Then you enter the Stability Phase. For several weeks, replace one meal a day with Almased® in order to avoid the dreaded yo-yo effect that causes pounds to come back on quickly after a diet. Weight loss continues during this phase.

If you replace your dinner with Almased®, you speed up the fat burning process during the night. Almased® not only curbs your hunger but also improves thermogenesis, the conversion of fat into heat. The body takes the energy it needs for the nightly repair of cells that were damaged during the day from fat cells – you lose weight while sleeping.

There appears to be many nutrition experts out there with plenty of conflicting information. I work with many athletes and fitness enthusiasts and patients in the hospital, who ask me about different diets, foods, products, etc. and although I hear similar questions over and over again, there is always a question or two that makes me a bit upset that there are actually people out there with no credentials who speak so strongly about how a person should eat and people actually go to certain lengths to pay money for their advice.  

Just like with a tri or running coach, a lawyer, a doctor, accountant, etc, you always want to put your trust in a person based on his/her credentials. Certainly, experience goes a long way but there is something very important in society for individuals to gain an education in an area before practicing in that area.

But what about a personal philosophy? With so many experts out there (with and without credentials), who do you trust when your health is involved....and you are willing to pay money for help/advice?

 I feel right there, this would take away a lot of confusion with nutrition for if you want nutrition help, direct your energy toward someone who has a reason to provide nutrition advice and then go with the philosophy that you feel will better your life and will fit your needs. Although I
 highly recommend working with a registered dietitian when it comes to eating for health and a RD specializing in sports when it comes to performance, your choice of who you receive your nutrition advice from should be based on a personal philosophy of the expert. Credentials or no credentials, there is a lot of advice available to the public and you don't have to believe everything that you hear. 

To help you out when it comes eating to improve your health and/or changing your diet for performance/body composition, here are a few tips to follow. 

-Ask yourself if the philosophy of your expert gives you happiness.
-Does the philosophy have meaning?
-Is the advice practice, useful and valuable during all stages of life?
- Can the philosophy apply in all situations and circumstances in life?
-Does the advice seem healthy? Would the advice of this expert work for a child, an elderly person or an individual who just beat cancer? Sure, everyone has different nutrient needs and different eating styles but is the recommendation so extreme for you that it would not be appropriate for others in some way or fashion?
-Does the philosophy work for a lifetime - what about when the quick fix phase is over?
-Can the advice of the expert carry you through the good and bad times in life? Is the advice only appropriate for you to be 100% in control all day every day?
-Does the philosophy seem appropriate to meet your personal needs and goals?
-Is your expert open to change or does he/she give extreme or black/white rules?
-Is your expert open to many ways of thinking about how to improve your health? You don't have to accept every philosophy so don't limit yourself to believe that you only have live one way for the rest of your life. 

-Does your expert appear to be an expert at everything or is his/her philosophy based on a specialty? 
-Does your expert practice what he/she preaches?
-Does your expert have an answer for everything or is he/she constantly exploring new ways of thinking to ensure that you live the best life possible?

The bottom line is where do you draw the line when it comes to believing everything you hear and read? Even when you are most vulnerable, desperate and needy to try anything and everything or feel frustrated that you have failed in the past, consider your primary goals both short and long term with your body, health and fitness/performance before you search for a person who has a philosophy that meets your individual needs.

How we eat: The Sumbal's

Marni Sumbal

Every day we go to bed with happy tummy's  and wake up with a body that is energized and ready to train and have a great day. We owe it all to real food that fuels our active lifestyle and keeps our immune system healthy and our brain thinking clearly. 
No matter how many legs you have in the Sumbal house, we all love real food. 

I created the plant strong meal for Karel  (see below - my entire dinner) and he finished it off with Kuřecí řízek (chicken schnitzel) and local sourdough fresh bread. Nothing like European food that brings memories from home. 

So simple yet so delicious. Frozen mixed veggies with fresh mushrooms and sliced onions sautéed in olive oil with toasted quinoa and brown rice. I can't believe my 21 year plant strong diet is gearing me up for my seventh Ironman in 32 days. Yay for real food that makes my tummy and body happy.

And for my little furry child who is not a fan of any type of dog food (we've tried so many!), even Campy got a real food dinner tonight. He loved his Trimarni creation of boiled shredded chicken breast with mixed veggies, eggs and brown rice. (if you make your dog real food - please send me a recipe because Campy is a bit picky with his food and he would rather play outside than eat doggy food)

I wanted to share part of the lecture I gave to Wesleyan University in Macon, GA last week (Thursday). I absolutely love public speaking and having the opportunity to change lifestyles.
Sadly, my camera stopped working but I hope you enjoy the first part!
To conclude the part of my talk that was not recorded (the tip on developing a healthy relationship with food and the body), I find that many people do extreme things when they let a number on the scale run or ruin their day. Sure, the scale can be used wisely but many people use it irresponsibly. For I would never put Campy on a fast, a cleanse or a juice diet if he gained 5 lbs. I would never over exercise him or restrict his diet. So if it seems absolutely ridiculous for me to hypothetically do these things to Campy if he gained 5 lbs, why would you ever put your body through such extreme measures just because you are letting a household appliance determine your "health". Create a positive relationship with food and the body and stop using words like off limit, bad, fat, guilty, ugly, disgusting, gross, horrible, cheating and instead, give your body some credit for what it allows you to do on a daily basis such as getting you up in the morning, having a productive day, crossing finishing line and enjoying your one and only life. 


Training the body: thanking the body.

Marni Sumbal

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

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

Thank you BODY!

-Sunday's workout-

5 hour ride + 15 min run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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