Essential Sports Nutrition


Here we go.....

Hello from Macon GA!
The bike is checked in and I'm ready to go...well, ready as I can be.
I have to say that I'm a bit nervous because I am racing with the big girls tomorrow. Karel talked me into stepping it up this year and racing Open/Elite.... so me, alongside 7 other females (including Ironman champion Nina Kraft!) and the open/elite men will be starting the race at 7am. I went back and forth trying to convince Karel that I SHOULDN'T be in this category but just when I convinced Karel that I should change back to the 25-29 age group, we were an hour away from the race and I told Karel I would stay in my original division.
I am going to race against myself tomorrow and see how things go. I know this will be a very challenging course and a challenging day. I know I will have up and down moments during the race and I'm sure, like every other race, I will battle my leg problems and find a way to keep foot in front of the other.
My body is ready to go so I'm crossing my fingers for a partly cloudy day (not rainy like the forecast suggests) and an enjoyable experience for my 5th half ironman distance triathlon.

I'd like to thank Hammer for keeping me fueled and without GI issues for ALL of my training sessions and for making the cutest gear for me to sport at the race.
I'd also like to thank all of my blog readers, friends and my family for supporting me in this busy time of my life.
Lastly- a BIG thanks to Karel for getting me race ready and for making sure I have the COOLEST bike and aero helmet at the race :) I also can't wait to sport my new PINK Oakley's which were not supposed to be given to me for my birthday!! I told Karel NO Gifts this year because I have a dietetic internship to pay for....but that's ok, I'll wear them anyways :)


Weekend eats

I'm not sure what triathletes look forward to more on the, eating or napping.
Perhaps the eating is a reward for the hard or long training session and the nap is well, because you are tired and you actually have a little time to rest your eyes. Well, even though a long distance training session on Sat and/or Sun validates eating a bit more food than normal throughout the day (not in one meal!), it is still important to focus on a heart-healthy diet....regardless of how hard or long you workout on the weekends.
Because we are often rushed to do a million things during the week, I am sure you would agree with me that eating oatmeal and a piece of fruit, alongside a glass of milk, after a 4 hr bike ride, is not your ideal Sat morning post-workout meal. Why? Because you likely eat oatmeal w/ fruit on a daily why eat the same thing on the weekend?
When your workouts change, so should your diet. Weight loss (and maintenance) is affected by both daily caloric intake, the foods you eat and nutrient timing. A lifelong healthy lifestyle should not be viewed a "burn x-calories, eat x-calories". When you fuel your body with nutritious food in a balanced diet, you are likely going to find yourself eating less calories as you would with an unbalanced diet rich in processed food. Without voluntarily restricting calories, you are going to find yourself with more energy due to more nutrients in your body to help support your active and healthy lifestyle.
Likewise, it is important to provide your body with an array of foods, offering plenty of vitamins, minerals and healthy nutrients to your body in an effort to boost metabolism, repair damaged tissues, maintain stable blood sugar and keep you satisfied and feeling strong.
My thoughts: If you have a schedule that works for you for training, don’t try to change it to accommodate your eating. Arrange your eating around your workouts so that in the case of working out differently on the weekends (compared to during the week) you can learn how to eat a little more or less, depending on your workout volume and intensity.

Here are some great weekend eats to fuel your lifestyle and training routine:

Post workout strawberry banana smoothie
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tsp 60%+ cocoa dark chocolate (shaved)
1 scoop whey protein (vanilla body fortress)
1/2 banana (frozen)
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
Dash of cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg
3 large strawberries
1/4 - 1/2 cup Water

1. Blend all ingredients except water.
2. Slowly add water to meet your consistency needs. I usually have 5-6 ice cubes and add about 4-6 ounces of water to make a thick smoothie.

Post workout Oatmeal Blueberry pancakes
1/2 cup instant oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
Large handful blueberries
Small handful raisins
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
1 egg
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp flax seeds (ground)
1 tbsp wheat germ

1. Mix together all ingredients except water.
2. Slowly add water until you have a batter that mixes well and drips slowly off your spoon.
3. On a medium pan w/ a little non-stick spray, place large spoonfuls of batter to form your pancakes. Flip after the bottom is slightly golden.

Sweet afternoon snack
1/2 ounce dark chocolate
4 ounces greek 0% plain yogurt (not pictured)

Comforting recovery dinner
Noodly soup
French onion soup (non-vegetarian due to beef in the ingredients list)
1 can french onion soup
1/2 - 1 cup whole wheat noodles
1 cup water

1. Pour soup and additional water in a large pot. Turn to medium heat.
2. Add noodles and cover until noodles are soft (may need to reduce heat to low after a few minutes to prevent bubbling of water)
Optional: whole grain baguette
*since this is Karel's dinner, I added a few pieces of a whole grain baguette that had been in our fridge for a while. He enjoyed the different textures of the bread and noodles with the soup. He LOVES french onion soup.

Zucchini apple tofu stir-fry
1 Zucchini (sliced)
1/2 container firm tofu (cubed)
Roma tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, onions (chopped/sliced)
2 spoonfuls marinara sauce
Small gala apple (chopped)
Handful spinach
Curry powder and pepper
1tsp olive oil

1. Add all ingredients except spinach and seasonings to pan w/ olive oil. Mix together.
2. Heat on medium heat until veggies are soft (stir occasionally). After veggies are almost soft, add spinach and stir.
3. When mixture is done cooking, add marinara sauce and seasoning (non-salt) and stir. **THANKS Laura for my homemade CURRY powder!!
4. Cover for 2-3 minutes and turn off heat.
*I Loved the sweetness of the apples with this dish. SOOO good.


Simple, yet effective, pre race nutrition tips

The latest Iron Girl newsletter (FREE!!!) was filled with great information.
I've been with the Iron Girl/Ironman family for the last 4 years and I can't fully express how honored I am to be able to contribute to helping other future Iron Girls and Ironman/70.3 athletes...and to be an Ironman/Iron Girl athlete. I have never been disappointed by a race and I always look forward to the Ironman/Iron Girl experience.
Here's the list of upcoming Iron Girl events:
Atlanta, GA - June 27 - Triathlon - sold out (I'll be there!!!)
Racine, WI - July 31 - Triathlon
Syracuse, NY - August 7 - Triathlon- sold out
Columbia, MD - August 22 - Triathlon - sold out
Boulder, CO - August 28 - Triathlon
Seattle, WA - September 12 - Run/Walk
Lake Tahoe South Shore, CA - September 19 - Triathlon
Bloomington, MN - September 26 - Duathlon
Tempe, AZ - November 14 - Run/Walk

Enjoy my latest article:

Simple, yet effective, pre race nutrition tips

Your nutrition plan is your nutrition plan. Practice and experimentation will help you find what works best for you, depending on your racing distance and intensity.

Focus on a nutrient-rich diet, filled with wholesome and natural foods, on the days leading up to a race. The average American consumes two- to three- times more sodium than recommended, and a diet lacking in beneficial vitamins and minerals (not just sodium) can contribute to electrolyte imbalances and possible nutrition-related problems.

Avoid consuming a lot of high fructose corn syrup fruit/sport drinks, processed or sugary/fatty foods on the days leading up to a race. You may focus on foods that will enhance performance, but maintain a well-balanced diet that is rich in heart-healthy foods.

Prioritize your fueling strategy as you plan your training sessions. The more efficient you become with your training, the less fuel you will require before and during your workouts. The higher the heart rate during training, the more difficult it is to consume, digest and absorb nutrition products to maintain energy levels. A well-trained, efficient body is an easy-to-fuel body.

We all react differently to the fuels we put in our body. Although some fuels are more beneficial and useful than others (especially at longer distances) your age, fitness, body composition, height, intensity, duration, environment and terrain will pave the way to your individual, well-practiced fueling strategy.

Carbo- and calorie-loading the night before a race is now a past time. While it is acceptable to eat an extra serving or two of carbohydrates in the early evening before a race, your goal should not be to eat every carb in sight just because you have a race. As you taper for your race, maintain a normal diet as if you were training normally. Rather than eating a high calorie, heavy-carb meal the night before a race, focus on a portioned controlled (balanced) meal, rich in complex carbs and a little protein and healthy fat. Instead of just having a salad and fish, add a serving of brown rice and steamed veggies to your meal. Aim to eat between 5 and 6:30 p.m.

Do not feel starved before your pre-race dinner meal (or any meal, regardless of racing). Eat a pre-meal snack of 50 to 100 calories of protein and/or fiber (ex. nuts, string cheese, yogurt, apple, carrots, milk) approximately 20 to 30 minutes before your pre-race dinner is served. This will help prevent overeating and encourage proper digestion of fuel.

Stay hydrated on the days leading up to a race (and always!) Pass on carbonated beverages, soft drinks, energy drinks and alcoholic beverages before a race, which tend to satisfy the feeling of hunger but do not provide performance-enhancing nutrients.

Do not overeat the morning of a race. You are simply topping off your fuel tank. Whether it is 100 to 150 calories before a 5K or sprint triathlon or 350 to 650 calories before a marathon or Ironman (respectively), you should have plenty of stored carbs (glycogen) in your muscles and liver to fuel your race.

Focus on a complex carbs as the main component of your pre-race meal at least two to three hours prior to race start. Adding a little protein or fat to your carbohydrate pre-race meal or snack (ex. 1/2 bagel with peanut butter and banana slices rather than a bagel with banana) will stabilize blood sugar, slow down digestion and keep you satisfied throughout the race. The later you wait to eat solid food, the more likely your stomach will not agree with what you are putting in your body.

If you feel hungry before a race, remind yourself that any additional calories, on top of your pre-race meal, will not make your body move any faster during the race. With your taper, carb dinner and pre-race snack/meal, you have PLENTY of available fuel for the race. That funny feeling in your stomach is likely nerves, anxiety and/or excitement.

If you find yourself racing at an intensity that you did not train for and cannot sustain, be prepared for nutrition-related problems. Unfortunately, consuming extra energy gels, sport beans and high-calorie drinks at the aid stations will not give you energy to maintain an unsustainable/untrained effort. Sadly, we can't blame everything on nutrition.

Although you can improve performance by training with the best fuels possible, be realistic on race day and take advantage of aid stations, as well as bringing your own source of fuels. Be mindful that you are going to perform at your best on race day due to your previous training and not by what you drink/eat at the aid stations on the course. If your body does not tolerate what is offered at the aid stations, be prepared to bring along your own fuels.

Avoid negative self-talk before a race. Develop a healthy relationship with food so you can use it to fuel your workouts and your lifestyle. Your fitness is not defined by a number on a scale. Not being at your goal weight shouldn't deter you from performing at your best and having a great racing experience. Your weight will likely be the last thing on your mind when you are sprinting to the finish line.

Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship finisher and finished the Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon on Aug. 30, 2009, in less than 11 hours. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to and


Food labeling and vegetarian issues

My latest Environmental Nutrition (June 2010, Volume 33, Number 6) was packed with great information. The front page really caught my eye:
FDA Cracks Down on Food Labeling
In an unprecedented move, the FDA issued 17 warnings to food companies for misleading labels. The companies include POM Wonderful, Beech-Nut, Spectrum Organic Products, Pbm Products, Redco Foods, First Juice, Sunsweet Growers, Dreyer's Ice Cream, Diamond Food and Gerber.
Some offending product labels conveyed nutrient content claims that did not meet FDA requirements. For example, the term "cholesterol-free" was used even though the product contained higher levels of saturated fat than allowed when this claim is made.
Other food labels referred to websites that made claims establishing the product as a "drug" that might cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease. In some cases, websites referred to scientific studies that reported benefits linked with the food, such as lowering cholesterol or blood pressure.
The crackdown sends a message to the food industry that they need to adhere to the established rules for food labeling.

Do you buy a food based on what you read on the front of the box?
Are you more likely to not read the nutrition facts and ingredients because of what the advertising claim on the package of the food you are buying?

I recently received a newsletter/magazine from Mercy for Animals. The front page said "Vegetarian Starter Kit: everything you need to know to adopt a healthy and compassionate diet".
I was really excited to see what was inside but I did not enjoy reading about the specific details (and pictures) of the transformation of animals to food.
I am not That type of vegetarian. Although I know I have a voice in this world, there is nothing beneficial for me to see what happens to chickens, pigs and cows and how they are treated. It makes me cry and I do my best to be the healthiest vegetarian I can be. As you know from reading past-blogs, I have such love and compassion for all animals but I can not afford organic and cage-free products. I am proud of where I am right now in my life and I stand by the choices that I make and I only hope to become healthier as I become more educated in my field.

You are entitled to your opinion of why you are a vegetarian/vegan. However, based on many scientific studies, vegetarians are associated with a number of health advantages, including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels, and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Vegetarians tend to have lower BMI and lower overall cancer rates. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in sat fat, cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals.
Certainly there are plenty healthy meat eaters and many unhealthy vegetarians. A healthy and active lifestyle is all about balance no matter if you are eating lean animal meats and fish rich in healthy fats or eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
To me being a vegetarian is more than just loving animals....and oh do I love animals and all creatures.
Based on the definition, a vegetarian is someone chooses for health, environmental, ethical or religious reasons to abstain from the consumption of animals.

Depending on the type of vegetarian you are, based on your personal beliefs, you have every right to be flexible with what you choose to or not to consume.
I can not stress enough that no matter what diet you choose, you must think about your lifestyle and activity needs. More than anything, your diet must be balanced to meet your daily macronutrient and vitamin and mineral recommendations.
On pg 18 of my newsletter, I really enjoyed reading about "The Switch: 5 helpful tips to going and staying veg".
1) Enjoy vegan versions of your favorite foods:
Becoming a vegetarian doesn't mean you have to give up the tastes you love. Next time you go to the grocery store, check out healthy and humane alternatives to your favorite meat, dairy and egg products (with all the flavor but without animal suffering and environmental degradation).
2) Think globally, eat locally:
Most new vegetarians find that they really have more food choices, not fewer. Think of offerings from around the world; Chinese - veggie stir-fry. Thai - Tofu coconut curry. Japanese - veggie sushi, miso soup. Ethiopian - lentils, collard greens. Indian - veggie samosas. Mediterranean - hummus, falafel, bab ganoush, jasmine rice. Mexican - bean burritos, tacos.
3) Visit veg-friendly establishments:
Visit or for global listing of veg-friendly restaurants. Most chefs are happy to show off their skills by making you a tasty vegetarian dish that will make your dining companions green with envy.
4) Grab a veggie cookbook:
Countless vegetarian cookbooks, offering mouthwatering recipes ranging from grandma's traditional "meat and potato" type meals to colorful and exotic foods from around the world are just a bookstore or library away. Visit and
5) Attitude, attitude, attitude:
Becoming a vegetarian is a process. Give yourself time to develop new eating habits. Soon your new diet will become second nature as you learn where to find wonderful vegetarian choices. Having other vegetarians in your life will make your new compassionate way of eating easier. Get involved with groups and like-minded friends. Remember you are making a big difference in your own life as well as in the lives of countless animals.


Happy birthday & anniversary

Not only is it my birthday but it is my anniversary!
Karel and I met 4 years ago, on my b-day, on a group ride. First I stood him up 2 weeks in a row and then I cried on my birthday. I was excited to meet my "blind date" on the bike (I loved hearing his Czech accent) but 4 years ago I could barely ride my bike! I was scared out of my mind to do this group ride and when I finally showed up, I was suffering on the warm-up.
Here's a short story....

Anyways- Happy 4 year anniversary to my amazing and wonderful hubby. Of course our wedding anniversary on Oct 26 2008 is worth celebrating but I'd like to recognize the day we met. My life has changed for the better because of Karel and I am so thankful to have such a wonderful person in my life. LOVE YOU KAREL!!

Last night Laura had us over for a wonderful b-day grill-out. Chickpea mushroom burgers (with sesame seeds) for me and Turkey burgers for the rest. I loved the burgers but I was ready for my birthday carrot cake. The cake is super delicious and healthy but the icing..not so much. I LOVE something special on my birthday, especially when it is homemade and super yummy! Thank you Laura for making us such an AWESOME meal!!!
This morning I went for a 2500 yrd swim at the Y. I always "exercise" on my birthday but considering it is taper and I have my big race on Sat, I had to pass on my normal long b-day ride with Karel and go for a swim. Tomorrow will be OFF from exercise.
After the swim I quickly went home, gathered my stuff and Campy and headed to the beach. I was worried about the weather but everything turned out great. Karel biked to the beach and met us there.
Enjoy the pics...


Weekend training

Without hesitation I was heading to the beach on sat. morning. I just love the atmosphere down there. Of course, I'm not talking about sun tanning or playing in the ocean but rather training at the beach.
We live about 25 min from the beach and aside from Karel working at the beach Trek store on Tues morning, it's rare that we ever get to the ocean. I just love the water and everything that has to do with the ocean so if I have a reason to get to the beach....I'll find a way to get there!
Karel had to work at 10am at the town store so we had to split up for our morning bike ride. Mrs. Sumbal represented the beach and Mr. Sumbal represented the town. Once again I did the lodge ride and enjoyed my time with the boys in Nocatee and Karel punished a lot of people on the Open Road ride. I heard from a lot of people that Karel was attacking like crazy and no one could catch him. Sounds mean but I think the other riders like a little challenging race/training every now and then.
As for my ride it was fast like usual...well, actually it was faster than normal. Every big shot triathlete and cyclist was on the ride and I knew I would have trouble staying in.
After 8 continuous bridge repeaters from 7:45-8:05ish, my friend Doris and I headed to Nocatee to chat (while riding). Doris had to head home so I joined the rest of the boys. I really like all of the guys on the Lodge ride (although I don't know a lot of them) and more than anything, they are really nice to me. I get a little help every now and then to make sure I don't get dropped and I appreciate the support.
As for the group ride, we averaged 25mph with sections of the ride increasing to 26-28mph. The group was big and with so many strong guys, I had enough in me for 2 rotations and then before I knew it, a large group attacked (Jeff, Shawn B, Sean C, Rad, Steve P, Curtis - my friends who I know where part of the group) and after my hard two pulls, there was no way I could catch them. With about 10-15 guys ahead of my group of around 20, they were gone in a matter of seconds.
I love doing these rides because it is like racing for training. Of course, although it is challenging at times (and a bit scary if I find myself zoning out), it is a lot of fun because I can actually take part in the ride rather than suffering. Of course, it took me a good 4 years to get to where I am now with my cycling but with a little help and encouragement from the hubby, I really love being active during the rides, rotating and not getting dropped.
Last week I was called "girl" and this week I was being referred to as "anti-draft". I guess my 5 foot, 110lb frame on my small bike (w/ 700cc wheels) doesn't make for an easy draft :)

Stats for the ride:
41 miles
2 hrs

After the ride it was time for a run. This was my last key workout before starting taper so I decided to give a good effort off the bike for a short run. I felt good but once again, it was HOT!

Stats for the run:
4 miles
31.1 min
Pace: 7:47 min/mile
Mile 1: 7:43
Mile 2: 7:52
Mile 3: 7:56
Mile 4: 7:39

Finally..time to enjoy the beach. I had a nice dip in the ocean and then my pregnant friend Steph (5 months along) met me at the beach to catch up. Around noon it was time for me to go home and recover!

This morning I took my time getting ready. I wanted to enjoy my first day of Taper. Karel was out the door pretty early to head to Orange Park for an 80 mile group ride. After I walked Campy, I was ready for my run.
Well, the run was just ok. I felt great and my body wasn't sore, but my legs were not in the mood to run fast. That's ok...I can't win them all.
After 6 miles, I decided to walk for a few minutes to see if I could shake any speed into my legs. Once I started running again (1 mile from home) I figured my legs had enough and I had to respect my body. The last mile was a pure jog and I told Campy we would be walking for his "campy mile".

Stats for my run:
1 hr (including walk)
7.37 miles
Pace: 8:17 min/mile
Mile 1: 7:22
Mile 2: 7:48
Mile 3: 7:49
Mile 4: 7:55
Mile 5: 8:16
Mile 6: 7:58
Mile 6.28: 16:38 (walk for 5 min)
Mile 6.28-7.28: 8:21

+ 1 extra special Campy mile (Fast walk)

There is nothing I love more than riding my bike after a run. My legs needed it. I had planned to ride my bike after my run and I couldn't wait! I didn't worry about my speed or power I just rode and listened to my music.
20 miles on the bike went by fast and I was ready for stretching and ice.

Well, today is my last day as a 27 year old. I have to say this has been a great year. Turning 28 doesn't sound so bad. I like even birthdays. I'm really looking forward to turning 28 and I gladly welcome all of the great things to come this year.