3/5/13

This is why I do Triathlons



As a coach and an athlete, I feel inspired by others on a daily basis. I try to do my best on a daily basis to inspire others by encouraging others to focus on personal goals and dreams. My friend and fellow Oakley Women Ambassador Fitz is an amazing woman and she has accomplished so much when it comes to inspiring others (specifically children) to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Fitz is using her social media platform and credentials/education as a way to inspire others and it was a great pleasure of mine to fill out her questionnaire as to "THIS IS MY WHY" in relation to my sport of choice. 

The questions she asked made me think but they also made me recognize why I love to get up every morning to push my body, train smart, fuel well and to live an active lifestyle. If you know me well, you know that my life is not perfect and I have dealt with injuries with my hip and back for over 6 years.I have had setbacks due to my educational career as well as plenty of obstacles. Yet I still continue to believe that I can improve and so I keep working hard with whatever I can and whatever is given to me for that day.

Every year I get a "flare-up" which can last from 4 weeks to 10 weeks with my hip. Not going into too much detail as it can become quite lengthy but in relation to a long-history of back issues from swimming competitively, to poor posture, sitting too much, leg weakness, anterior pelvic tilt that feels so normal to me but is a pain in the butt (Literally) and glute weakness due to glutes not firing despite working them in the weight room. Right now I am on 4.5 weeks of no running due to a "flare-up" of my iliopsoas tendon but all is good. I guess after 6 years of dealing with hip issues, I have learned resting is not necessary and only makes things worse for me. Sitting is the crime for my body and I do it too often. Cycling is my best friend and swimming, as much as I love it, can be hard on my back but I can't stay out of the water so I just have to hold back at times. Running has been up and down -  I love it but my body doesn't always love it and I refuse to race and train with a pain so that is why running is always the first to go.

 I have a great team behind me of PTs, MDs, Chiropracter and of course my hubby. I don't like to talk about it too much (although I have in years past on my blog) but rather, discuss how grateful I am when I can perform without pain and without limitations. I suppose "my why" of doing triathlons came at a great time when Fitz contacted me for every year I question my desire to continue competitive sports (running, swimming, biking) that are not in agreement with my body at times. I love to exercise, but I love to train.

So as an athlete, I am dedicated, passionate and determined (not stubborn) and I will focus on the CANs and take life day by day, hoping that not a day is lost that I am not enjoying life to the fullest. Last year I was "out" from running for 5 weeks (Dec - Jan) and had the best season of my life from Feb - Dec. The year prior I was "out" for 3 months from running (Feb - May) and trained for Kona in 16 weeks (without running for over 10 weeks) and raced strong (picture above) with a huge bike PR. The year prior to that, 4 weeks out from running (July) and a 10:53 PR at IMKY just 20 or so days after not running for 30 days prior. It all started in 2007 with a hip injury that caused me to be stubborn and not respectful to my body just 30 days before my first IM world Championship in 2007 (aka Racing injured which I will NEVER do again - nor even "test" an injury more than 5 minutes) and I still pay for that mistake today. 

So I guess my "Why" is more than just a finishing line, award or medal but rather the ability to do what I love on a daily basis, share that experience with others, and to always feel great with what I can do on any given day. My body does not have to let me do triathlons and sometimes I am frustrated with that fact. But at the end of the day,  my body is amazing in that it can heal itself without extreme medical interventions, it has never had a stress fracture or broken bone and I haven't been sick in over 6 years. So despite lack of running here or there every year and the pain that keeps me from running, I'd say my body is pretty special and I'll take a great race and training session, whenever my body is ready for it.


Marni Sumbal, 30, Clinical RD, triathlon coach, business owner, writer, speaker, Jacksonville, Florida


Why do you take part in triathlons?? I love the lifestyle of swim-bike-run and the enjoyment I feel (in both mind and body) when I finish a workout. I love training for a race and overcoming obstacles and setbacks along the way.
How long have you been taking part in triathlons? ~7 years competitively
Tell us about that. Not only do I coach others to reach personal fitness goals in the sport of triathlon and running, but I am also a competitive triathlete who enjoys racing in long-distance triathlons. I typically race 4-5 times a year (in both triathlon and running events) and since 2006, I have finished 5 Ironman triathlons.
Most challenging aspect of triathlons: Teetering on the edge of being injured as I like to push my body to see what I am capable of – in both mind and body. Also, knowing when to hold back in order to focus on quality workouts. I enjoy training smarter to train harder.
Most fun aspect of triathlons: Being able to “train” with other adults who “get it”.
Most rewarding aspect of triathlons: Knowing that my body is capable of racing for 140.6 miles in one day…and thanking it before, during and after every race.
Who/what inspires you when you’re feeling weak? My athletes as well as those who are unable to exercise due to medical/health reasons, but would give anything to be outside and to voluntarily move the body.
Advice for others who’d like to get started: Think small and work on weaknesses and strength training prior to starting a structured training plan. Determine how many hours a week/day you can realistically devote to “training” the body after you factor in sleep, work, family time, meal planning, eating, commuting, etc. There are no rules as to how many miles/hours you have to train per week, focus on your own individual goals and consistency will allow you to make progress.
Your must-have equipment for completing triathlons: I love my gear! Trek Bicycle (pink of course), 910XT Garmin, Nootca swim cap, Oakley Women Commit shades, Road ID, my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition triathlon kit, Pink laser helmet, Speedo vanquisher pink swim goggles, Brooks Launch running shoes, Louis Garneau triathlon shoes, Garmin 500 Edge bike computer.
Favorite training song: Any kind! I love to listen to the radio when I train (iheartradio).
Favorite healthy food: Hard to pick just one, but I love nuts, seeds and veggies.
Favorite not-so-healthy food: Banana bread (not the healthy kind).
Funniest /weirdest/most awkward experience participating in triathlons: During my first Ironman, my boyfriend (at the time), Karel was watching me race. We had been dating for six months and as I was finishing the 26.2 mile run at the end of the race, he shouted to me that I was in the lead for my age group and I was “going to Kona” (IM World Championships). I yelled back “I love you!” – it was the first time I ever told him I loved him. Now we are happily married.