Essential Sports Nutrition


Challenge Williamsburg Race Report - Pre-race + 1.2 mile swim

My alarm went off at 4:05am which gave me 10 minutes to make some coffee with the help of our home electric kettle that we brought + instant coffee (Nescafe Classico), take Campy outside and then fill my Nathan hydration belt flasks (2 of them) with cold water.
I sipped on aminos + electrolytes in a small bottle of water and a mug of coffee w/ milk and grabbed my T2 gear (in a drawstring bag that I brought) which included: running shoes, my dad's Corvette hat, race belt,  number (safety pinned), Nathan hydration belt + flasks (with extra nutrition in my belt pocket: margarita Clif blocks, salt tube  and Clif Bar Gel)  and a small towel and headed 10 minutes down the road to T2. I parked and made the 10-15 minute walk to transition.

I decided the night before the race that I would go to T2 first thing in the morning (it opened at 4:30am) to drop off my run gear by myself. Since my mom was driving us to the beach (T1/race start) we did not need to board the bus shuttles. Our athletes ended up on the shuttle buses and they all said it was very easy and not waiting involved. 

I dropped off my run gear in my designated rack and kept my run shoes in my drawstring bag just in case it rained (lesson learned from Knoxville - although not sure it mattered as cold/wet feet may have been nice in the heat - minus the potential blisters). 

I double checked my gear at least four times - it is so different to just lay out run gear and then know that it will be hours until you see it again and then headed back to the car around 4:40am to make it back to the hotel by 4:55am. 

I took a banana with me for the car ride home so I started my pre-race fueling around 4:55am (2 hours before race start).

When I got back to the hotel room, my mom and Karel (and Campy) were up and I ate my typical pre-race meal of banana (consumed in car) a rice cake dressed up with lots of maple syrup, raisins, cinnamon and peanut butter. I brought everything with me from home and laid it all out the night before so it was easy to make and consume. 

I continued to sip on my pre-race bottle throughout the morning so in all I consumed around 28-32 ounce fluid in the 2.5 hours before the race start and around 400 calories and around 1200 mg sodium. 

Karel drove us to T2 and we parked in the spectator parking lot (cars had to be out by 9:30, athletes who drove could park in a different lot but no shuttles back to T1 after the race) across from the transition area. 

My mom and Campy stayed in the car for 15 minutes or so while Karel and I went to the transition area to pump up our tires with our pump. We had our race numbers on us already (race number temporary tats) so it was a very smooth entry in and out of setting up our gear.

I laid out my helmet, shoes, Oakley Women RPM shades and compression socks. Since calf sleeves were not allowed in the water with it being non-wet suit legal, I decided to wear my CEP socks instead of putting on socks and calf sleeves. I also had a towel to wipe off my feet and my T1 bag which I was to put all my swim gear in after the swim to be transported to T2 by the volunteers.
We were given a dry clothes bag but we put our clothing, transition bag and pump in our car.

Campy came to greet me after we left transition area and it was very nice to have his great energy around us. He makes every situation less stressful. 

Thanks for the pic Elizabeth!

We all (Trimarni athletes) gathered for a picture after transitioned closed for half athletes at 6:20 (and after a bathroom stop) and off we went on the grassy field toward the swim start. 

I had my pre race drink in a plastic bottle so I tossed it in a garbage can as we were walking to the swim start. 

Thanks Elizabeth for the great pictures! 

I warmed up for about 10-15 minutes in the water with a few strokes to get comfortable, then I would just hang out since the water was extremely shallow. When the pro males were making their way back to the beach, you could see many dolphin dives as the water was not deep at all.

I chatted with Amy before the start and we talked about the best strategy with the shallow water and we both decided that swimming or dolphin diving would move us more than walking (and I don't think either of us considered walking in the swim portion).

At 6:50am we all corralled behind the timing line on the beach and then made our way into the water. It was an in the water start although we could all touch the bottom. The water was extremely warm and the sun was rising as we were waiting for our 6:55am start.
Thanks Elizabeth for the great pictures! 

Our wave included all women, relays and the aquabike so Karel was in my wave (he later mentioned how awesome it is to swim with the ladies and not the guys - he said there is no pushing or swimming over each other. He loved the calmness of swimming with the ladies :) )

At 6:55am we were off. I tried really hard to stay with Amy who is a former D1 swimmer and extremely fast but despite swimming as fast/hard as I could, I just couldn't hang. I was a bit frustrated that I missed her pack of a few pink caps but oh well, time to just focus on myself.

I had heard from previous years about the current in the water and I can say that I never felt as if we had it easy as if the current was in our favor. I felt like the entire 1.2 miles, I was fighting hard to not swim off course because the current was constantly changing. 

My main focus was to feel myself catching the water and moving through the water but never losing sight of the buoys. I spotted a lot, probably every 4-6 strokes. 

When I made my way around the 2 buoy, I noticed that despite trying to swim a bit harder than I did at Knoxville, I wasn't as tired. I felt strong in the water but for some reason, it just didn't feel fast. As I start swimming toward the shore before one last right hand turn around a buoy to head toward the finish (there was one more turn buoy to go around near the finish), I felt as if my sub 5 hour time goal was not in reach for I feared a very slow swim just because of the difficulty I was experiencing trying to stay on course. As I was swimming to the last buoy by the finish, I noticed that several athletes were walking. I could not feel the bottom with my hands (maybe because I am only 5 feet "tall") but I never considered walking as I was swimming.  We kept the buoys on our right the entire swim (except the last buoy to swim around toward the finish) and the buoys were very well marked so you could see which was a turn buoy (candy corn colors) and the red buoys were for spotting. Challenge did a great job marking the swim course.

Nearing the shore, I saw many athletes walking. I stood up but I was not walking very fast. I dolphined dived back into the water and swam some more. I kept doing this until I could stand and run out of the water. 

When I exited the water, I made the long run on the grass (so much better than concrete!) and entered transition. I first put my swim gear in my Swim to Bike bag and that stayed near my rack. My mom was there with Campy and I couldn't help but smile that Campy had crawled under the railing around transition and was laying down watching me. It took a lot for me to not go over and kiss him (Karel would not be happy that I spent time in transition to kiss Campy - he would say - Marni that's free speed!). I removed my chip to put on my socks (I have to say in my head "chip, chip, chip" over and over so I don't forget to put it on), helmet, Oakley RPM sunglasses and shoes, powered on my Garmin 500 on my bike as I was running out of transition and I asked my mom what place and she said she thought 4th or 5th female. 

Karel leaving T1...just a few minutes after me!

My competitive spirit was there and I was excited to see what my body could do on this "fast flat"  course. 

I mounted my bike, hit start on my Garmin bike computer, clipped in and pedaled my way on a bumpy side road until I reached the main road. I made a left hand turn, got aero and off I went for 56 miles of chasing the girls ahead of me. 


1.2 mile swim: 
T1: 3:07

1.2 mile swim: 
T1: 2:16 

Stay tuned for my 56 mile bike recap. 

If you have any questions that you'd like me to cover in my race recap, just send me an email. 


Challenge Williamsburg Race Recap - Pre-race

After a 1200 yard swim at Furman University around 8am and a delicious drink of Clif chocolate protein recovery mixed with 1% Organic cow's milk, we packed up my car, loaded the bikes, ate some breakfast (for me - waffle sandwich with syrup, raisins, cinnamon, peanut butter and banana and handful of blueberries) and hit the road.

Campy was excited for his first trip to Virginia and since it was our first trip to Williamsburg, we were excited to make lots of memories together as a family.

We picked up my mom (who is a great spect-athlete and a wonderful Campy sitter/aka "grandma to Campy") and we started our 7-hour trip to Williamsburg.

Our in-car entertainment was several podcasts of The Real Starky (which we love to listen to when we travel). We all took turns driving which was good to not be stuck behind the wheel for too many hours at once. 

We had plenty of snacks for the trip, including PB, bread, saltines, baked potato chips, hummus, carrots, yogurt, milk, berries, fruit (oranges, bananas, peaches, apples), rice cakes, pretzels, bars, raisins, granola and my favorite trail mix, Veronica's Health Crunch.

The trip was rather smooth and uneventful and we arrive to our hotel, Holiday Inn Patriot around 6pm. And it was warm out!

We unloaded the car and oddly enough, as we were unpacking, we saw our athletes/friends Rob and JoAnn from Jacksonville who were racing and they were in the room across the hall from us! 

So first things first upon arrival....find local pizza!! 

It's no surprise to those who know me that I always have pizza two nights before an endurance event.

I found Anna's Brick Oven from our hotel eating guide in our room (which included a $3 off coupon) and after reviewing the menu, we called in our order and 20 minutes later and 2 miles down the road, I picked up our  dinner.

I ordered the veggie pizza on thin crust and Karel and my mom each ordered a pasta dish (Karel got meatballs and my mom got chicken). Rob and JoAnn ate with us in our room and it was fun to relax and veg-out before the anticipation of the race grew the next day.

By 10pm, it was time for lights out.

For some reason, Campy was not his normal self and he was up all night just sitting up in our bed, very alert. The hallway was a bit noisy at times and every now and then the smoke detector would beep. Needless to say, if Campy doesn't sleep well, we don't sleep well (since Campy always sleeps under the covers in our bed) so I was up all night with my little furry friend and even let him outside for a potty walk around 3am.

I didn't let it get to me as I know I would have (hopefully) a better night of sleep on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, Karel and I headed out for a spin around 7:30am and we rode a few miles down the road to the race venue and then rode on the race course - the last 5 miles or so of the course. Since Karel was doing the aquabike half, he decided to ride a bit more so he went a bit further than I did -which was around 60 minutes of total riding time for me.  I turned around and finished my warm-up with a few pickups to wake up my heavy legs on the last few miles (miles 50-56) of the course. The course was not all flat and it was nice to know that there would be a few opportunities to get out of the saddle or to change my position from just being aero.

After the ride, Campy joined me for a quick 10 min run around the parking lot and into an apartment complex. 

I spotted Amy, who won Challenge Knoxville as overall amateur female (and beat me by several minutes - she had such an amazing race) and we chatted a bit outside the parking lot of the hotel.
I then cleaned up and had enough time to enjoy a few eats from the hotel breakfast (which was free for Challenge Williamsburg athletes).

I enjoyed some scrambled eggs and pancakes with syrup and peaches.

After my breakfast, Karel came back and ate (eggs, pancakes, biscuit, oatmeal).  About an hour later, I relaxed a little bit while Karel and my mom went to Jamestown Beach (swim start) for Karel to test the water. Since I didn't sleep too well, I wanted to just relax in the room with Campy. I'm not a napper so I just stayed in bed on the computer doing Trimarni work-stuff.

When Karel and my mom got back around noon, we had a small snack and then got ready for the athlete meeting at the expo (T2/finish) at 1:30pm. 

With Williamsburg being a two transition race (T1 is in a different location than T2/finish) there were a few logistics to consider to avoid spending all day out and about). 

It was a very hot day and Sunday was anticipated to be a hot day as well but we also had a chance of rain showers on Sat around 5pm, whereas Sunday was expected to be hot and sunny all morning.

After the athlete meeting at 1:30pm, we went to the Fresh Market and picked up a few things for lunch/dinner. I got cottage cheese (Daisy Brand 2%) and a few items from the salad bar (very simple/low fiber options) as well as more milk since we were running low, a croissant for Karel in the morning and some mineral water.

While I was shopping at Fresh Market, Karel went to Moe's (with my mom staying in the car with Campy) for his lunch.

By 3pm, we were back in the room, eating lunch which worked out well since we had a late breakfast after our morning workout. Since we snacked between noon and 3pm, we weren't starving by the time we ate our lunch.

 I never force myself to eat on a schedule when it comes to races (or long workouts) but instead, make sure that adequate fluids and calories are consumed in frequent intervals throughout the day and all foods are familiar and well tested. As for meals, I feel like I do more eating of mini meals throughout the day during the day before the race and typically, dinner the night before an endurance event is quite small whereas breakfast (post workout) is my biggest meal of the day.

I added a electrolytes to my water all day so that I was not overdrinking on just water as I knew my body needed the electrolytes. I had a sport drink with my morning workout and a recovery drink w/ branch chain aminos post workout.

We just love the atmosphere at Challenge races. Everyone is so nice and the expo is never crowded with long lines. I spotted my athlete and volunteer coordinator Tracy and it was great to see her. Soon after, we bumped into Trimarni athletes Danielle and Elizabeth.

After all was done at the expo for registration, we relaxed in our rooms for an hour and waited for the rain showers to pass, we put our bike stickers on our bikes and headed out to the beach to rack our bikes in T1. I love the transitions in Challenge races because we don't have to worry about space on the hanging racks because we all have our own individual places for our bikes, on the ground.

We walked to the swim start which was a bit of a walk from T1 but it was nice knowing that our run from the swim to T1 was on the grass and not pavement.

(thanks Elizabeth for the pic!)

Since I planned to go to T2 on race day morning to drop off my run gear, all of my pre-race to-dos were done for the day so we headed back to the hotel around 6pm and the rest of the night was left to snacking, reviewing the race courses, double checking my transition bag, filling my bike bottles and run flasks with powder and getting everything ready for a very early morning. 

As we relaxed in the evening, we enjoyed watching the Critérium du Dauphiné with our new wireless speaker that was in our Challenge swag bag - what great sound! 

(thanks Elizabeth for capturing Campy in butt-rub heaven!)

Karel and I chatted with our athletes in the hotel later that evening about pre-race strategies and Campy enjoyed several butt rubs and by 9:30pm, it was time for our last sleep before Challenge Williamsburg Half Ironman.

Stay tuned for my pre-race + 1.2 mile swim race recap coming soon!


Challenge Williamsburg Half Ironman - quick recap

Obstacles are put into your way to see if what you want is really worth fighting for. 

As athletes, we are going to peak only a few times in any given race season. Within every season, we will race on a variety of courses, in a variety of different conditions. Never will two races ever be the same. We will experience highs and lows within every race and between every race, there will be obstacles to overcome to get to the starting line. 

As athletes, sometimes we feel so prepared and we fail with our physical attempt on race day. But with every bad race, we learn how to move on. We continue to fight until we conquer our own personal demons, weaknesses and past setbacks.

Sometimes on race day, it all seems to come together.
Far too often, it's when we feel least prepared, not ready or feel scared to set goals that are within our reach that we do the impossible with our body on race day.

Regardless if we have a great race but it comes with a fight and a struggle, we have a good race and it feels effortless or we feel the race just didn't go as planned, we must never give up on race day.

Within every race season, it is important to set meaningful, challenging and realistic goals that will motivate and excite your spirit to work hard for what was once not possible when you started your training journey. Keeping in mind that race day will not be easy, it's important to never let one race define you or cause you to give up. 

We must  never give up on our goals, especially if that means making mistakes and learning lessons along the way. There is always something to learn on race day and we can always make improvements in our ability to manage efforts, nutrition, pacing and the elements on race day. We must never let what we fear get in the way from what we are capable of achieving.

We all have our own personal battles, weaknesses, setbacks and obstacles to overcome before and on race day. 

But remember that you don't have to stand on the podium, set a PR or qualify for a national or world event to have a great race and to do something incredible with your body. 

Never set a limit as to what you think you are capable of achieving on race day.  Get excited for the possibility to do something that you never thought was possible.
Throw out the excuses, believe in yourself and race smart.

Continue to fight on until it all comes together on race day and you have that race that you have always wanted......but perhaps never once knew it was within you to have. 


I raced Challenge Williamsburg half ironman this past weekend. This was my 11th half ironman distance triathlon. 
Nine years of endurance racing behind me and plenty of lessons to learn along the way.

Eleven 70.3 mile races to discover strengths and weaknesses and to challenge my mind and body. 
Four weeks ago at Challenge Knoxville, I had a season goal of placing top three amateur female. Knoxville was my A-race for placing whereas Williamsburg was a key race but more so just a time-goal race. In Knoxville, I finished 2nd overall amateur female after racing on a hilly bike course (in the rain) and a very hilly run and conquered my goal.
In Knoxville I raced on a course that suited my strengths of hills and rather than having a time goal, I chased my nearest competition. 
But in Williamsburg, I went into this race with only two time goals as I wasn't sure if this course would suit my personal strengths which would then allow me to place on the podium as a top-three overall amateur female. 
I love racing my competition but I never want to finish a race feeling like I didn't accomplish something. I strive off personal battles so if my nearest competition is too strong for me on race day, then I race chasing a time goal (sometimes the time goal is one that I set before a race or one that I create while I am racing). 

At Williamsburg, I wanted to break 5 hours for the first time and go sub 2:40 on the bike for the first time.

Even after 10 half ironman distance races and 9 ironman distance races, I still find myself setting new goals, learning new things and discovering continuous improvement. 

Through many years of racing, I have discovered a few things that suit me well on race day. 
-non-wetsuit legal lake swims
-hilly bike course
-looped run course
-trail run

Although these things may suit me, they certainly do not necessarily bring "fast" race times.
They require skills, focus, exceptional pacing, mental toughness and good nutrition and the ability to race smart knowing that the one who slows down the least will have the "fastest" time.

When it comes to racing and the desire to be the best athlete you can be on race day, you can chase the competition or you can chase times. 
Often on race day, you can only achieve one but with the fight to win, you may be able to accomplish both. 
After what felt like a very slow swim (I didn't have my Garmin on so I never knew my swim time), my legs felt heavy when I started the bike. But somehow, I woke them up and I had my fastest bike split that I have ever rode in any race. 

When I started the run, I made my way to the gravel trail which was 1.5 miles of rolling terrain. When I exited the trail, I had 1.5 miles of blazing heat on my body, sucking the energy away from my running legs.
With my mom and Karel cheering me on on the sidelines, I found myself not fading on the 4-loop run. I felt stronger and stronger and then the unplanned became a mission after 68.5 miles of racing.  
It was a matter of learning from past races, trusting myself, taking risks and staying on top of my nutrition that I did what I thought was never once possible at this race.  

With less than 1.5 miles to go on the run, I took the lead and finished first place overall amateur female.

Thanks to all the incredible ladies out there who pushed me to new limits at Challenge Williamsburg!

Race report coming soon.........
Marni - Half Ironman
1.2 mile Swim: 31:56
T1: 3:07
56 mile Bike: 2:33:02 (21.95 mph average)
T2: 1:12
13.1 mile Run: 1:45.24 (8:03 min/mile) 
Total: 4:54:42.30
1st overall amateur female

Karel (half aquabike)
1.2 mile swim: 33:40
T1: 2:16
56 mile bike: 2:20 (23.78 mph)
Total: 2:55.59
2nd overall male aquabike half