10/20/17

Racing in unfavorable weather conditions


Every athlete is bound to experience at least one race per season that gives you unfavorable weather-related conditions.

I still remember my first Ironman (IMFL) in 2006 (picture above). It was around 38 degrees on race day morning and after the 2.4 mile wetsuit legal swim, I spent several extra minuets in the swim-to-bike changing tent in an effort to completely dry off my body (and stop my chills) before getting on to the bike. I ended up having a great first IM experience and although I was less than a minute away from breaking 11 hours in my first Ironman, I don't regret spending that extra time in the changing tent to warm-up my body.

I also remember racing IM 70.3 Branson in 2012, which happened to be Karel's very first half IM (the event got cancelled because of the difficulty of the bike course). Race morning was around 43 degrees and I remember the sand at the beach being so incredibly cold that I felt like my feet were standing on needles. Although the water was so warm compared to the air, I made the (smart) decision to only wear my sport bra and tri shorts under my wetsuit so that when I arrived to the transition area, I could put on a dry jersey and arm warmers. Although this required a little extra time in T1, I was comfortable at the start of the bike. Being comfortable allowed me to perform to my abilities on the tough bike course and I ended up running my fastest ever half marathon (1:36) off the bike, which helped me secure my first overall amateur female 70.3 win.

Knowing that there will be a race where the weather is not to your liking, it's important to equip yourself with the right clothing, gear, mental state and nutrition/pacing strategy for how you will handle the race day conditions.

A few things that I have learned over the years as it relates to racing a triathlon on a "cold" morning:
  • I get cold very easily and I am not comfortable when I am cold. Therefore, I will dress myself with a hat, gloves, pants, jacket and anything else to keep myself toasty warm before the race day.
  • I have learned that sand and cement can be very cold on race day morning. Wearing an old pair of socks to the swim start (to toss before getting in the water), while waiting for my wave, has helped to keep my feet warm before the swim start.
  • If I am shivering before a race, I have difficulty swimming to my potential and when I am cold, I don't feel strong but rather I feel weak. Therefore, if I find that a pre-race swim warm-up will not warm me up, I instead stick to the dry land to increase my body temperature and to loosen my muscles. However, I never ever skip a pre-race warm-up.
  • I don't mind spending a little extra time in transition to put on a dry jersey, arm warmers or gloves before I get on the bike, if needed. Also, if I am unsure about weather conditions, I at least have those extra gear items available in my transition area/bag, just in case. I make sure never to overdress as I know that after 20-30 minutes, I will warm-up so everything that I do put on in the transition area has the chance to be tossed at an aid station to avoid overheating.
  • I stay up on my nutrition. It's so easy to not fuel and hydrate on a schedule in cold weather races as your thirst mechanism doesn't kick in. Also, when it's cold, it can be difficult to grab bottles. I have recognized that sticking to my fueling/hydration strategy on the bike (and run) gives me the competitive edge over those who may be fitter than me, but nutritionally underfueled/hydrated.
  • I always respect my body. It's very easy to get caught-up in what other athletes are doing (regardless if that strategy works or not). Knowing how my body handles certain conditions (rain, wind, heat, etc.) brings me confidence as I can prepare myself with the necessary gear, equipment and strategies to ensure race day success, with the conditions I am given. 

If you are planning to participate in an upcoming cold, rainy or windy race, it's important to be equipped to manage any and all race day conditions. It's not about being mentally strong or feeling like you just need to "harden it up" before the race but instead, have a plan so that you don't give up on yourself, as this will allow you to reach athletic excellence at the finish line.

Here's an old Ironman article that I wrote with Gloria (Dr. G) to help you dodge those unfavorable race day curveballs.

10/19/17

The Hincapie Warehouse sale is tomorrow (Friday)!


When we moved to Greenville, SC in May of 2014 (from Jacksonville, FL), our winter riding wardrobe consisted mostly of arm warmers, leg warmers, gloves, shoe covers, ear coverings and a pair of riding tights for those "cold" days in Florida. Sure, we had the basic gear to keep our extremities warm during the cooler days but come December in Greenville, we quickly realized that we needed more gear for comfort, functionality and warmth. I certainly have my limit when it comes to outdoor riding (it needs to be above 40 degrees) but in order to keep my cycling skills sharp and fresh, I need to be outside on my bike over the winter. Thankfully, with the right gear, even those 40-degree rides are not too brutally cold.



In conjunction with packet pickup for the Hincapie Gran Fondo, the Hincapie Warehouse Sale (located at 45 Pete Hollis Blvd, Greenville, SC 29601) is an event not to be missed.

If you are in or near the Greenville area and you are in need of some high quality cycling gear (at extremely affordable prices!), I encourage you to get to the sale early in the morning so that you can stock up on lots of riding gear for your winter riding. Although Karel and I made sure to get a lot of gear in 2015, I always find something at the sale that I really "need" - plus, I can never have too many sporty pairs of socks. And in addition to cycling gear, you can also find stylish jeans and jackets, along with triathlon gear.

See you there!!




10/18/17

Nailing the off-season


There was a time in my triathlon season when I thought that the off-season meant that I deserved an extended amount of time (4-6 weeks) of no structured training - a complete break from all things swim/bike/run. This extended break from training provided me with a great physical and mental escape from the monotony of training but I came to realize that this break was too long for me - mentally and physically.

My next approach to managing the triathlon off-season was to put all of my energy, focus and time into running. Living in Florida made this easy as there were countless half and full marathon events to choose from in October until February. Although I enjoyed a run-focus block of training, I never found this strategy to be beneficial to my triathlon development. I also discovered that during this time of reduced swim and bike training, I was very prone to injuries and chronic niggles, which ultimately affected my triathlon training come March.

The next (and most recent) strategy that I applied to the off-season was to take a short break (2 weeks) from structured training after my last race of the season and then ease myself into my first structured block of training for the following season (Foundation phase). While this strategy proved to be extremely beneficial for my triathlon development, I didn't really have an opportunity to enjoy the off-season to its fullest. Two weeks was too short of a break.

Ironman Chattanooga was 3.5 weeks ago and I feel healthy, motivated and energized to get back into structured training yet I have refrained from sticking to any structured type of training. Although I have remained very active over the last few weeks, I am still respecting the fact that I am in the off-season and I mentally and physically need a break. I am having a lot of fun during this off-season and although I am still swimming, biking and running, there is little pressure to "have to" train. I have not been on my triathlon bike since IM Choo as I am having a blast on my road bike - no structure on two wheels and just riding for fun with Karel (and friends). Plus, our amazingly pleasant fall weather has made it easy to stay active (Karel is really enjoying his mountain bike). I took seven days off running after IM Choo and since then, my longest run has been about an hour but most of my runs are around 20-40 minutes (with no structure). I am even including some hiking and walking into my exercise regime in an effort to keep the overall stress on my body as low as possible. Lastly, I have been in the pool a lot because well, I love to swim! Not only are we having fun with a new coached group swim at Furman on Sunday evenings (5-6:15pm) but it's been fun to have "short"swim sets around 2000-3200 yards. And once the residual fatigue from the IM wore away, I found myself craving weight training again so we are back in the gym, having some "fun" with weights/machines for 15-20 minutes, a few times per week. Lastly, I am enjoying more time in my kitchen and with so many delicious fall ingredients, I am excited for new food creations.

There have been few alarms set over the past 3.5 weeks as I don't want to feel the pressure to have to get up and train. There's a lot of freedom in my exercise routine which has kept me motivated and excited for 2018 but also not exhausted from the previous season. To be honest, Karel and I both finished IM Choo and a few days later, we didn't feel like we wanted our season to end - we both felt like we had more energy to give to the sport this year. Oh well, I guess we will need to bottle up that energy for 2018.

The key to nailing my off season this year was keeping myself moving after IM Choo. I wanted to feel a nice flow from the 2017 season to the 2018 without a drastic change to my lifestyle. The ongoing exercise post Ironman really helped with my recovery but also helped with my mood and mental health. Although I feel like I am maintaining my fitness from 2017, I also feel like I have escaped from the regimented type of training that got me into great shape this past season.

Every athlete is different and it's important to recognize your own path of self-discovery. I don't feel that I did anything wrong in the past but instead, I learned from my past to figure out what works and what doesn't work. The most important thing that I have learned about the off-season is that athletic development occurs season after season. Consistency is key to athletic excellence. So while every athlete deserves and needs a physical and mental break from training, you don't want your break to be too long that you lose all the fitness that you worked so hard to gain in the previous season. Additionally, I find the off-season to be a great time to improve lifestyle habits (like sleep and diet) instead of seeing it as a time to completely let loose and let all good habits wash away.

Karel and I are super pumped about the Hincapie Gran Fondo on Saturday as it will be so much fun to ride our road bikes for 80 miles without having to worry about saving any energy to run off the bike. We live in a fantastic area for cycling and I can't wait to get out into nature and enjoy the mountain views. Although this is a group event, I can't help but go into this event with a "racing" mindset.

Immediately after IM Choo, I started setting bigger goals for myself in 2018. Because I am not making any extreme changes to my training or diet next season, I look forward to taking my accumulated 2017 fitness into next season. My motivation and excitement is high for next year and I can't wait to get back into structured training in a few weeks as I start building my foundation to ensure strength, resilience and great health for next year.



10/17/17

Overcoming setbacks - Intelligent Racer Podcast interviews


"That setback was just what I wanted"....said no one ever. 

Setbacks are no fun. They are frustrating, distracting and depressing. Life is messy, with no shortage of obstacles to overcome.

As an athlete, I recognize that setbacks are bound to happen. While some setbacks, like a cancelled race, an injury or sickness are frustrating, there are much more serious risks in life. Setbacks often put life into perspective and make you feel grateful for the great/good days. 

Knowing that setbacks happen to everyone, we must not view them as failures. 

Setbacks provide us with a powerful opportunity to persevere in times of defeat. Often times, we gain a new outlook on life.

Over this season, Karel and I have had a lot of athletic success. I feel like we are reaching our prime years of endurance triathlon racing as we feel incredibly strong, resilient, healthy and confident with our athletic abilities. Plus, we are having a lot of fun training and racing.

Although our triathlon season has given us great success, it has not been without its setbacks. While I wouldn't consider our setbacks life-changing/altering, every athlete has his/her own way of dealing with a disappointment and however you look at it, setbacks are physically, emotionally and mentally challenging.

Our friend/athlete Adam with the Intelligent Racer Podcast provided us both with a platform to share our recent health-related setbacks going into two important races of the season (Ironman Lake Placid for Karel and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship for me). If you have recently experienced a setback, we hope that you can find some inspiration in our stories as you turn your setback into a comeback.

Mental toughness and race day management with Karel (overcoming the flu prior to Ironman Lake Placid to placing on the podium and earning a Kona slot).

The ups and downs of a triathlon season (overcoming a DNS at IM 70.3 WC due to fainting on race day morning to becoming the 2017 female amateur Ironman Chattanooga champion 2 weeks later).

In case you missed the full recaps, here are the blogs that I wrote about these events:
Karel - Ironman Lake Placid
Marni - Ironman 70.3 World Championship and Ironman Chattanooga

10/16/17

The Kona dream



Karel and I spent all of Saturday watching the Ironman World Championship. Actually, we first went out on our road bikes for a 2.5 hour ride (no shortage of mountain views) and then from 12:15-11pm, we watched and tracked athletes on Ironman.com. It was such a special day to have two of our athletes (Lisa and Leyla) out on the course for their first IM Kona experience (both finished!), which was also on the day when the male professional Ironman World Championship course record was broken. It was so much fun to track so many of our friends and to watch the professionals race in one exciting race on the big island of Kona! Congrats to everyone who earned a spot to the IM Kona start line!

I always find that the Ironman World Championship has a special way of helping athletes dream a bit bigger. While triathlon may not be for everyone, this recognized event is extremely motivating, regardless of fitness/athletic background.

While motivation can easily come from watching a one day event, not always is it easy to keep. If you have recently set a goal for yourself, you must be willing to maintain your efforts until you achieved that goal. Athletic success requires a lot of patience, persistence and grit but it often comes at the result of applying a little effort, day after day.

When a motivated, focused, determined athlete has a goal in place, there's often the tendency to make a lot of changes in an effort to reach that goal. Whether it's diet, training, lifestyle or a combination of all three, it's important to recognize that success does not come from a radical change or overhaul in your training methods, diet or lifestyle. It's focusing on the small things that make all the difference. 

Far too many athletes are constantly looking for quick results in an effort to achieve success as soon as possible. This inpatient thinking with a big goal in mind often results in extreme lifestyle changes with training and the diet. If you are willing and ready to get to that next level or you want to reach a personal goal, never underestimate the importance of making realistic, sustainable, smart and healthy decisions on a day-to-day basis.

If you have recently made a huge change, hoping for a grand, visible or talked-about outcome associated with it, you may find yourself with a performance decline or health issue in the near future.

It's not easy to reach a goal. Goals require a lot of hard work, patience, time and focus. But don't let the time that it takes to reach a goal scare you away from what could be an exciting and possibly life-changing journey.

Success is built on many small sustainable changes but small changes typically aren't visible or talked about. Minimal gains are not sexy and they don't get a lot of attention. They also don't make much of a difference at the time so you often feel like your recent change isn't working.

But eventually, they do add up to something very important over the long-term.

Think small for big things to happen.

10/13/17

IM Kona Race Week - Mistake #5

RACING UNDER PRESSURE

For many months, Ironman World Championship participants have been dreaming about race day. And now, with only one more sleep left to go, excitement suddenly turns into nerves and a calm mind suddenly goes into overdrive.

When you are racing against the best athletes in the world at the Ironman World Championship, it's easy to feel intimidated about everyone around you who is in the best shape ever and ready to perform at the top of their physical game.

But don't let this psych you out.

Athletic excellence on race day comes when your mind is as strong as your body. Don't let yourself get intimidated by the other athletes around you or by the challenging course. You earned your right to be at the start line and you know what you are getting yourself into. Trust yourself that you have the capability to reach the finish line. 

Here are my simple tips to help you perform under pressure while making the most of your Ironman World Championship experience:

  1. Swim - Whereas most sport psychologists would recommend staying extremely focused before the start by tuning out any outside distractions, the IM Kona swim start is something that should be enjoyed. Take it all in as this is a moment to remember. When you see the cameras, scuba divers, helicopter, spectators, volunteers and Mike Reiley, all there to watch you start your Ironman World Championship jouney, make sure to take a few minutes and really soak it all in.

  2. Bike - As most Ironman athletes know, you don't have to have a perfect race in order to have a great race. Make sure you have a plan for what you will do in every situation. Instead of worrying about what the winds will be like in Hawi or stressing about the possibility of a flat tire, equip yourself with the right mental tools of how you will handle anything that comes your way. Visualize different scenarios from all sections of the course so that come race day, you will feel prepared for whatever the Madame Pele gives you. And above all, never make assumptions or jump ahead in thoughts. Be proactive and processed driven. Remind yourself that you have trained the best that you could for the day and what's going to happen will happen - you can only control the controllables.


  3. Run - You are running on an island in the Ironman World Championship. Can life get any better?? When you are running on Ali'i drive with endless cheers giving you positive energy and when you are running on the Queen K and in and out of the energy lab, with the quiet roads of the island trying to such the energy out of you, make sure to enjoy the experience. The moment you stop caring is the moment that you give up on your dream. There's no reason why you can't run happy in an Ironman as this experience (even when you are suffering) as this experience is extremely special. You are not only blessed with the talent/luck/genetics/hard work ethic that helped you qualify but you also had the support of your family/work and the means to get to big island. Never lose your positive can-do attitude, no matter how much you are hurting or how dark of a place your mind goes into during the IM Kona marathon.


  4. Finish - The atmosphere near the finish line is unreal. With every foot strike forward to the magic red carpet, you will find the energy unlike anything that you have every experienced before in a triathlon event.

                                

    As you make your way on to Ali'i drive and run into the finish line chute, take it all in and don't let this special moment pass you by.


    Be sure to thank your body for what it has allowed you to do and no matter how your race went, be grateful for your experience to race on this iconic course with your healthy and strong body. 


And make sure to rock your finisher gear!!!
Be proud to wear your necklace and finisher medal - you earned it!


10/12/17

IM Kona Race Week - Mistake #4

RACING WITH A SPREADSHEET


Racing an Ironman triathlon is dynamic as there are so many variables that affect your performance. Some are within your control and others are out of your control. No matter how hard you trained, you will never feel fully prepared for everything that happens on race day. And in Kona, the unpredictable nature of the wind and heat make for an intimidating racing experience.

Going into the race with expectations and assumptions of how the day will go is just fine if that approach brings you confidence and excitement. But remind yourself that a great race day performance requires flexibility and adaptability.

With a spreadsheet, metric-obsessed mindset, it's easy to fail to reach athletic excellence on race day. Although it's the approach of many athletes, you can't go into an Ironman and expect your body to go on auto cruise for 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running by trying to hit certain paces/watts/speeds for 140.6 miles. The body wasn't designed to function like this. Additionally, from a physiological perspective, you can not hold the same effort, watts or pace for 140.6 miles - if you can, you are likely underperforming. To perform at your potential, you have to adjust as you go, through the high and low moments, hot, very hot, windy and very windy moments and by listening to your body as it relates to energy, fuel, hydration and mental focus. 

The goal of any Ironman athlete is to be great at not slowing down. In an effort to be great at not slowing down, you have to be constantly in-tune with your body signals. For many athletes, metrics are used to control a given output to avoid under/over racing. But a metric focused, spreadsheet approached racing plan typically hinders performance because it's very difficult to take care of yourself in the moment, when the mind is obsessed about hitting (or not hitting) a certain number. And when you can't follow your spreadsheet, you feel defeated.

As an athlete, you need to put all of your attention and focus into the present moment. A spreadsheet does not help you control everything that you will experience on race day. 

In any competitive situation (like the Ironman World Championship), a spreadsheet doesn't let you "race". When your brain gets caught up in non-constructive thinking (ex. thinking about the swim when you are on the bike or the bike when you are on the run) or if you start thinking that you are not meeting your expectations of what you think you should be doing, this mental chatter in your head can make it difficult to maintain focus and perspective. As an example, if you exit the water in Kona and see a time slower than what you anticipated, you may tell yourself that you are having a bad race. Same goes for the bike - if it's windy and you see a speed that is slower than what you have ever done before, you will struggle to stay focused with self-defeating thoughts.

It's important to make good decisions in the moment on race day - a spreadsheet can not do this for you. As an Ironman athlete, you must remain alert, focused and present, while constantly listening to your body and taking care of yourself. Because most athletes will struggle to meet metric goals on race day in Kona due to the unpredictable nature of the island, you may find yourself with great anxiety frustration and a sense of failure if you have a pacing and nutrition plan that you just can't keep up with on race day. 

I encourage you to go into the Ironman World Championship with a nutrition and pacing plan that reflects what is familiar to you and what you trained your body to do on race day. However, with this plan comes the understanding that you may need to adjust. You must adapt, stay processed-driven and focused throughout the entire race. If you can do this, you will find yourself having the best race performance possible by your body based on how well you managed what you were given on race day. 

10/11/17

IM Kona Race Week - Mistake #3



Body Image Dissatisfaction 



At Trimarni, we believe in setting a good example for our athletes by encouraging a healthy relationship with food and the body. Karel and I do not follow any extreme styles of eating, we don't restrict food/fuel in an effort to change body composition and we do not manipulate our diet in an effort to change our body image. Food is our fuel and our nourishment and we firmly believe that when the body is well fueled and well nourished, it's healthy. And a healthy body can perform far better than a body that may look fit but is not receiving the necessary nutrients and energy to perform.

Sadly, we live in a society and within a sport bubble that involves competitive leanness. Rather than seeing the body as the vehicle that gets you from the start to the finish line, many athletes are spending an entire season racing for a specific appearance/body fat percentage, assuming that leanness is a criteria for race day success.

Truth be told, in the sport of triathlon, specifically in the Ironman World Championship, the winner across the finish line is not always the leanest athlete. We still have inconclusive evidence that "leanness" directly correlates to athletic readiness and ability to performance in an Ironman, specifically because there are so many variables that can affect the body over 140.6 miles.

Your body image does not make you mentally stronger on race day.
Your body image does not make you immune to needing sport nutrition on race day.
Your body image does not mean that you won't fatigue or have low moments on race day.
Your body image does not mean that you won't have an equipment related issue on race day. 

Your body image does not mean that you will have endless energy on race day. 

So why do so many athletes focus on apperance over performance? 
You can't do much on race day with an underfueled/unhealthy body. 

As an athlete, your closest relationship in life will be to your body. Your body lets you do so much on a daily basis but you can never take for granted what your body lets you do on race day.  

On IM Kona race week, you should find your relationship with your body at its strongest. You should be thanking every part of your body every for what it's about to let you do on Saturday. You receive no athletic benefit in bashing your body, restricting carbohydrates, dehydrating yourself, wishing for a different body image or feeling intense pressure to quickly weigh less. Manipulating your diet on race week in an effort to change your body composition will only put you at risk for a race performance far below your athletic potential. 

Due to self-comparison and excessive media exposure that glorifies lean and toned athletic bodies in Kona, you may find yourself constantly criticizing your appearance, assuming that if only you could have dropped a few more lbs or reached your "race weight" then you would be able to perform better on race day. When you surround yourself with the best Ironman athletes from around the world, every athlete is fit. You don't arrive to a World Championship event without a strong committment to your training. But I can tell you that many of the athletes at the start line are not healthy. While an athlete may look fit based on his/her body image, come race day, your body image does not determine race day readiness. Don't let the body image of another athlete cause you to believe that your body isn't ready or good enough for race day. 


Having a great relationship with your body not only builds your confidence for race day but it also enables you to make good eating and fueling choices on race week, which will help you arrive to your Ironman World Championship start line fresh, fueled and hungry to race. If you are constantly feeling bothered by your body composition, there's a good chance that you are spending more energy on how your body looks instead of what it can do on race day. 

It's normal to feel a little heavier than normal on race week when you are properly fueling and hydrating your body for race day. You may even feel a little uncomfortable at times and this is ok. I always remind myself that when my body feels a little heavy, it means that I am fully loaded with fuel for race day. 


It's normal to look a little different in the mirror when your body is rejuvinating and repairing itself during taper. Remind yourself that what you look like doesn't determine how your body will perform on race day. Far too many athletes arrive to Kona looking extremely lean and fit but unhealthy and nutritionally unprepared for the necessary fuel/hydration that is required to get the body to the finish line.

Healthy and strong look different on every body. Be proud of your body and how far it has gotten you in your Ironman journey. Direct your energy beyond a look and instead, focus on the amazing adventure that you will go on with your body on race day.

Fuel and eat for performance and not for an image. Be honest with yourself - what is it that you want your body to do on race day? Do you want to look strong and fast or do you want your body to be strong and fast?  If you went to Kona with plans, hopes and dreams of performing well with your body, don't sabotage your performance by letting your appearance get the best of you. 

Replace the negative self-talk and self-criticism with meaningful statements that reflect a positive appreciation for your amazing body. 

10/10/17

IM Kona race week - Mistake #2

NO MENTAL PREPARATION

It's a no brainer that mental training can help to boost your race day performance.

Whereas the atmosphere at an Ironman event can be exciting, the big island of Kona is unlike any other Ironman event on race week. There are countless events, meet-and-greets and other activities to entertain athletes and with all of the excitement of race week, it can be difficult to tune out distractions, reduce anxiety and stress and maintain great focus for race day.

It's very normal and typical for Ironman athletes to experience a heightened sense of self-doubt, worry and fear on race week. Whereas there's a lot to consider when racing for 140.6 miles, Kona brings unique race day conditions with the wind and heat and the unpredictability of the day can literally suck the energy out of your body before you even have a chance to toe the start line. 

But no need to worry.

My good friend and Licensed Clinical Sport Psychologist Gloria Petruzzelli (Dr. G) wrote an excellent article on Ironman.com that will help you increase your mental game on race week so that you can put all that hard training to great use on race day. As I always like to tell myself on race day "Control the body with the mind."

Topics discussed in the article:
  1. Set boundaries
  2. Plan, then adapt
  3. Stay in the moment
  4. Trust yourself
  5. Lighten up

By. Gloria Petruzzelli



10/9/17

IM Kona race week - Mistake #1

DON'T CHANGE THE WINNING FORMULA


Almost every athlete that competes at the Ironman World Championship has received a spot to the starting line by performing well at a qualifying event. Rarely does an athlete earn a spot to this notable triathlon event on a whim. The triathlete who qualifies for IM Kona typically invests a lot of time, money and energy into the craft of preparing the body and mind for a 140.6 mile event. Thus, it's the commitment, consistency, flexibility and goal-focused mindset in training, along with the understanding of the right gear, nutrition, mental skills, pacing, training and taper that contributes to athletic excellence on race day. This is the winning formula that helps an athlete qualify for the Ironman World Championship. 

Far too many athletes enter race week in panic mode and begin to change the winning formula. Rituals that once helped an athlete build confidence for race day are replaced with worry, fear and self-doubt. Sure, the Ironman World Championship is a big-deal race but if you think about the distance, it's just another Ironman distance triathlon race. While you should certainly respect the distance and the island, don't abort the approach, method or formula that worked for you in the past. While it's ok to change certain aspects of your gear, nutrition or pacing plan to better manage the course or conditions (ex. ventilated helmet, depth size of your wheel, etc), it's not ok to change your plan because you think you'll be faster, perform better or because you saw that someone else (top age grouper/professional) was doing something similar.

As you enter race week for the Ironman World Championship, don't get distracted by focusing on what everyone else is doing. Be attentive to your own needs and do not make drastic/extreme changes as it relates to what worked for you in the past::
  • Fueling/hydration plan
  • Pacing strategy
  • Taper training
  • Race morning routine
  • Sleep regime
  • Daily diet
  • Daily rituals
  • Mental skills
  • Gear/equipment 
Avoid the tendency to change what was familiar to you in an effort to try to gain the competitive edge.

Additionally, any last minute strategies to feel more race ready, like validation workouts to test your speed, watts or fitness, taking anti-inflammatory or other performance-enhancing medications, getting a cortisone shot, relying on ART or other body-manipulating therapies to heal a niggle/injury or trying to manipulate your diet in an effort to change your body composition can be extremely damaging to your health, not to mention your performance.
Sometimes change is good and even on race week, you may find that you need to be smart with your nutrition, gear/equipment and training. You don't need to reinvent yourself on race week in an effort to perform your athletic potential.

Trust your coach. Trust yourself. Trust your training. 


10/6/17

It's almost IM Kona race week!


Facebook reminded me of this photo from 2011.

This photo was taken by my dad at the Kona Plaza, just a few days before my 2nd Ironman World Championship. Karel was just a cyclist at this time so for his first time to the big island, Karel explored every challenging bike route that he could find.....off the IM Kona bike course.

Karel didn't understand or care much for the sport of triathlon back then, except for the fact that I loved the sport and he supported me in all of my swimbikerun goals and dreams.

It was only a few months after the Ironman World Championship, as we were driving home from USA Crits Speed Week, when Karel mentioned to me that he was getting "too old" for competitive cycling and he was ready for a change in sport. Although he still loved bike racing, Karel wanted a new athletic challenge to keep him healthy, competitive and active. Whereas once Karel didn't understand why anyone would run when they could ride a bike, he started to dedicate himself to triathlon training, which meant learning how to swim and run off the bike. 

                                         

Since Karel and I met in 2006 (when I completed my first Ironman), we have now completed a combined 21 Ironman distance events and too many half IM events to remember. We have raced on the big island of Kona a combined 6 times and have helped a few of our Trimarni athletes qualify for the Ironman World Championship.

With no plans of stopping our triathlon hobby anytime soon, we are loving sharing this swimbikerun lifestyle together and with so many like-minded individuals. Ironman World Championship race week is now a special time for me and Karel as it has an interesting way of reminding us of how much fun we have had with the sport of triathlon. It has truly enriched our life and as coaches, we get to share personal triathlon journey's and experiences with our athletes.

Although we are both extremely competitive, we work hard to improve our physical and mental skills and love to race, there is great personal enjoyment for the sport of triathlon, which we also see as a way for us to stay physically and mentally healthy as we get older.

As we gear up for another Ironman World Championship (although this year we will be glued to our computer, instead of being in Kona), all next week on my blog I will be sharing a few Kona Race Week mistakes that I see/hear Ironman athletes make year after year and how to manage all the pre-race hype to ensure athletic excellence on race day.


Picture from 2015 - our first IM Kona together. 







10/4/17

2018 Trimarni Coaching Application will close TODAY!!!


At Trimarni Coaching, we only accept new athletes for one-on-one coaching in September/October for the following year. Although we have training plans and an educational membership for athletes who want to train under our guidance throughout the year, there is only one opportunity out of the year to be coached by us as a Trimarni athlete for the following year. While this may sound a bit strict, as it requires new/potential athletes to think about coaching for the next season well before the New Year, there are a few reasons why we do not add new athletes to our coaching roster throughout the year. 

  1. Athlete/coach relationship - It takes time for us to get to know an athlete so we start building this relationship early in the year (Nov/Dec). Effective coaching is so much more than workout delivery or being great workout writers as we need to understand athletes on an individual and personal level. We also want to start opening the lines of communication so that the athlete feels as if she/he is in a safe, trustworthy and supportive coach/athlete relationship. 
  2. Team building- Although online coaching is not for every athlete, we make sure that our new athletes understand that they are joining a team. At Trimarni, we consider our athletes as family. Our athletes are not our "clients" but they are teammates. Triathlon is an individual sport and with busy work/family/life schedules, it's very easy to feel alone and isolate from other people. We make a strong effort to make sure that every Trimarni athlete feels part of a team, with caring, supportive, fun, passionate, judgment-free and ego-free teammates. We not only offer camps and key races throughout the year to bring our athletes together, but we use social media in a positive way, to help connect our athletes to one another. By welcoming new athletes to our team all at once, everyone has an opportunity to get to know one another.


  3. Education - A big component to Trimarni coaching is education. We don't want to tell our athletes what to do but to make sure that our athletes are doing things well. Over the years, we have learned that triathletes are great at training but when it comes to race day, athletes struggle to effectively put that training to good use when it counts. Therefore, we make the effort every week throughout the year to educate our athletes through weekly FB live chats and weekly check-in educational emails. There is no shortage of education for our athletes as it relates to training, nutrition, racing and so much more.


  4. Development - If an athlete is focused on training for one race, we have a Trimarni training plan that will allow for smooth progression and race day readiness. We take great pride in our training plans as we update them every year to keep them current and fresh. But for our coached athletes, we believe that a long-term relationship is imperative to allow for development, while keeping the body in good health. To reach athletic excellence within a racing season, an athlete needs patience, a hard work ethic and consistency. The process is not quick or easy but when done right, our athletes can maintain a sense of athletic-identity without feeling like training is taking over their life. Above all, we want to keep training fun and exciting as it should be a health-promoting hobby that enriches your life. When a new athlete starts with us, we have time to develop the athlete and work through the different phases of training to build resilience, strength and the necessary skills to work from year after year. We take great pride in building strong, healthy and happy athletes.

  5. Commitment - Our job as coaches is to help athletes reach personal athletic goals and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When an athlete applies to be a Trimarni coaching athlete during our 2-week application submission period, we immediately know that the athlete is committed to the journey. On the flip side, as coaches, we are committed to helping every athlete on our team and it is important for us to carefully select our athletes so that everyone is a good fit for our team and so that we do not coach more athletes than we can handle. Although there are three of us (Me, Karel and assistant coach Joe) and coaching is our full-time job, coaching is much more than writing workouts. We are committed to all areas of coaching, which most importantly, means communicating and being there for our athletes. It's very important to us that we make sure that every athlete that we coach will benefit physically, psychologically and emotionally from our coaching. We are looking for individuals who are committed to the process of development in an effort to achieve athletic excellence with a healthy and strong mind and body.


If you are interested in joining the 2018 Trimarni coaching team, TODAY is the last day to apply.


To learn more about our coaching categories and to apply, CLICK HERE. 


10/3/17

IM Choo Race Report - Post race/awards/Kona slots



Karel and I waited for Thomas, our next athlete (of 14) to finish the race before we headed back to the parking garage to change out of our sweaty, sport drink covered, wet kits. I was moving very slow after the race and like usual, my body was not yet interested in solid food. I didn't feel dehydrated at the finish (no GI issues, nausea or anything abnormal) but I did take a few sips of water at the finish line to wash out my mouth. I went into the food tent and since the food selection was unappetizing to me at that time, I ate a few orange slices and grabbed a coke to give me some sugar and calories before heading over to bag/gear check-out. I know my body well (and Karel's body) and after an endurance event, it's amazing how quick the blood sugar can drop so sipping on some sugar (or having something with quick digesting carbs) is always good prevention to a possible post-race low energy moment. Anticipating what was coming next, my body started to tighten up and it was extremely hard to bend my quads. Stepping up and down curbs was painful. As the endorphins started to dissapear, my body wanted nothing to do with moving. It's always amazing how my body can keep moving until the finish line of an Ironman and then after a few minutes, my body completely shuts down and wants nothing to do with any movement whatsoever.

Once we grabbed our bikes/bags, we slowly made our way to the parking garage and up the elevator and to our car. Karel was moving a little quicker than me since he finished over an hour before me. After we changed into clean clothes, we made our way down the stairs (backwards for me to avoid bending my quads) and back out to the finish line area. It was so fun to turn on our phones (which had been off since 7am) and read see all of the texts and messages on social media. Thank you to all who tracked us! 


Even though Karel and I are athletes, we are also coaches and we take our coaching job very seriously. No matter how tired or exhausted we are after a race, we make sure to support our athletes and watch everyone finish. Justine and Katja were at different places on the run course so that they could keep us updated with how everyone was looking/doing. Karel was on the hill just outside of the finishing chute and I had my Ironman tracker loaded with all 14 of our athletes (thank goodness for my portable phone charger!). I secured a spot right near the exit of the finishing area so that I could watch each one of our athletes finish and then give each person a big hug. It was so special to see everyone but also neat to see their expressions at the finish line and then right after they processed what they just accomplished. 

 
I guess Justine had told everyone how I did (most of our athletes had asked her during the race) because just before I congratulated each of our athletes, they were congratulating us. What a special moment for athlete and coach. I had no idea what time of the day it was until I called my mom and realized that it was nearing 9:30pm! The day went by so quickly! I was started to get a little hungry so Karel bought me salty french fries - oh so good! I also sipped on a bottle of mineral water that I had in the car waiting for me for after the race. Karel had french fries and a chicken sandwich as he was waiting for me to finish. 


Congrats to all of our athletes - All Trimarnis started and everyone finished!!!
(And thank you to Justine and Katja for your cheers and the other Trimarni spectators/fans for your support!) 

Elizabeth Coleman - First Ironman! 13:20.29
Thomas Skelton - First Ironman! 10:50.25
Kim Crist - 14:46.21
Robb Fordham - 11:50.45
Heidi Hogan - 12:33.52
Julie Huyett - 13:01.39
JoAnn Johnson - 13:56.52
Rob Johnson - 12:36.06
Stephanie Lefkowitz - 13:32.48. 11th AG (25-29)
Bryan Milling- 12:30.07
Kathy Petri - 12:32.29. 5th AG (55-59)
Alvaro Velez -11:49.10
Lisa Klueppel - 13:06.00
Dana Spark - 13:18.14
Karel Sumbal - 9:20.55. 2nd overall amateur male. 1st AG (40-44). 3rd overall. 
Marni Sumbal - 10:28.50. 1st overall amateur female. 1st AG (35-39), 10th overall female.

Once everyone finished, it was time to get a real meal in our belly. At 10pm, our options were limited but thankfully the Blue Plate was open. It was fun to see so many athletes and spectators there and we were joined by a few of our athletes. I always crave fatty/salty food after an Ironman and even though I knew I wouldn't be able to stomach much, I ordered an egg and cheese sandwich on brioche bread. After dinner, we watched some of the final finishers until midnight (official race finish at 12:40) and then it was time to head back home as the day was finally catching up to us and we were in desperate need of a shower.

After we arrived back home around 12:30am, I had a well-needed shower (no chaffing - yippee!) and then it was time for bed. Like I expected, I slept for about 3 hours and then I tossed and turned with restless legs until I officially got out of bed around 7am or so. Every step was painful and it was so hard to move my legs but the pain was all worth it. 



On Monday morning, we walked the 1 mile to the convention center to move some blood, even though it was so exhausting as every part of my body was aching. It was fun to spend that time talking with Elizabeth and Thomas about their first-time Ironman experience. 



The breakfast at the celebration party was delicious and it was fun to be there with so many of our athletes. 



It was special to see Karel receive his first overall age group win in an Ironman. Although Karel started the sport late in his life (36 years old in 2012), he has made so much progress since his first Ironman in 2013. His journey has required a lot of hard work and patience and despite being filled with a few obstacles and setbacks, he really enjoys the sport of triathlon. Karel was happy about his 2nd place male finish but more so, he couldn't believe that he finished 3rd overall out of everyone in the race (Karel was beat by Liz Lyles who won the race). Even though he was a little disappointed in his run after the race, the more he processed the day and looked at the results, he had the 2nd fastest male run of the day. This is why we don't like to chase times in a triathlon, especially in an Ironman. Fast is all relative to the day and for us, the challenging run course combined with the heat made for a very tough day for everyone.  



After my recent setback two weeks ago in Chattanooga, this podium (and overall win) meant so much to me. When Tom Z. finished announcing the winners in the 35-39 age group, he proceeded to tell the audience that I was the most tracked athlete per the Ironman tracker of the day. Thank you everyone for tracking - apparently my race was much more suspenseful/interesting than I thought it was when I was racing! 



After the awards, we watched the race video  and then waited until it was time for the Kona slot distribution/roll down at 11am. Although we were waiting for Karel to earn his Kona slot for 2018 IM Kona, it's always fun and exciting to see athletes receive their Kona slot (especially for a roll down). Considering that this Ironman is one of the earliest Ironman's to qualify for next year's Ironman World Championship, roll down slots are not that popular. Because I decided after IM Kona 2015 that I would take a long break from racing in Kona until I felt ready to be competitive there, I was looking forward to giving my Kona slot to another deserving athlete. Although Karel's age group had 4 slots, my age group only had 2. And because I have already registered for my two Ironman races for next year (IM Austria and IMWI), it was an easy decision to let another deserving female athlete in my age group enjoy the IM Kona experience, especially for the 40th anniversary. 



Karel has focused on IM Choo all season long as his IM Kona qualifying race. Even though he earned (and declined) a Kona spot this year in Lake Placid, he was excited to finally. accept the slot in Chattanooga. After Karel paid for his entry, it was time to head back to the house. It was not even noon and we were exhausted so it was time for a little nap. We had all intentions to do some sightseeing but after our nap, we were hungry and in need of calories. 



We went to the Terminal Brewhouse which was amazing (thanks Thomas for the recommendation). We started off with an appetizer and then dove into our entree. Heidi, Elizabeth, Karel, Justine, Karel and I enjoyed talking about the race and like usual, there were no shortage of laughs and funny moments, as well as fun stories from race day. 



With so many yummy choices, I went with The Herbivore (portobellow, button shrooms, onionsa nd feta pesto) stuffed inside cooked pizza dough. It was AHmazing. 



Karel ordered the Buffaloaf (super lean bison loaded with potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, house spices and tommed with balsamic glaze, served with whiskey baked beans and veggies).

After our meal, we slowly made our  way back to the house and sadly, it was time to start packing and cleaning up the house for our departure on Tues morning.

Chattanooga was good to us (and our athletes) and we had an incredible time making memories and doing amazing things with our bodies for 144.6 miles. Although we both don't feel ready for the triathlon season to come to an end, we will turn the page to this chapter in our life as we get ready for another exciting season of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition and a fun upcoming year of race-cations. 

Thanks for reading! 


10/2/17

IM Choo Race Report - 26.2 mile run



With every Ironman, there is always the unknown of what will happen to the body on race day. For most athletes, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Ironman marathon. Running 26.2 miles is no easy feat but after 2.4 miles of swimming and 116 miles of cycling, the body is physically compromised. Toss in the heat and a very hilly and challenging run course and the thought of running a marathon at the end of an Ironman can cause a lot of worry.

After I registered for Ironman Chattanooga the week before race week, I didn't worry too much about the marathon. To be honest, in the past, I've dedicated my entire season to training for an Ironman and felt less ready than I felt going into IM Chattanooga. All summer, my running form and resiliency has continued to improve. I always feel stronger running off the bike than in solo runs. I've experimented with all types of sport nutrition products and I've gone back to running more on the treadmill and track (along with hills) to help me stay injury free. With my longest runs in training this summer  ~11.5-12 miles (Karel's longest run since IM Lake Placid was 1:50 and on the treadmill), I found myself going into this marathon with a surprising amount of confidence. I didn't feel fast but I felt strong.

Because we don't prescribe to high volume run training (instead run frequency and specificity), we believe that a "successful" marathon does not result from running long miles in training (2.5+ hours/20+ miles), trying to be fast in training or by achieving a certain body image/body fat composition but instead, focusing on the things that are important on race day. A great attitude, a healthy body, freedom in pacing, great form/posture, great mental strength and a dialed-in fueling/hydration plan (with ability to adapt) provides an ideal scenario to help delay fatigue. Although I never consider myself a fast triathlete runner (and Karel was not too impressed with his "slow" marathon immediately after the race), we both have learned to recognize that success in long distance triathlons, especially in the Ironman, comes from being exceptionally great at not slowing down. This is why Karel and I use sport nutrition for every workout so that we can go into a race with confidence and experience on the products that best work for us. This is why we focus more on form/posture and building resilience in our run training instead of chasing times or paces. Seeing that we both were focused on doing things well on race day and being great at not slowing down, this is a testament that a healthy and well-fueled and hydrated body with a strong mind can do amazing things on race day

-----------------------------------------

Even though Karel recently ran on some of the Ironman Chattanooga course just two weeks ago at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, you can only mentally prepare so much for an Ironman marathon as mechanical fatigue and the weather and any other issues can play an impact on how the body performs when running off the bike.

When Karel started the marathon, he quickly passed a few guys and found himself in 2nd place in his age group, 1:46 behind the leader. For the first 4.5 mile slightly undulating, long stretch of road with no one in sight, Karel focused on finding his form and taking care of himself, nutritionally and mentally. When he got to an aid station around mile 7-8 ("railroad" station with the band for those who were on the course), he started to feel the heat and at that point, he walked through the aid station to make sure to really cool himself off. By the time he saw Justine at the first kicker of a hill around mile 8 of the course, Karel was in the lead of his age group by about 2 minutes. When Karel crossed the bridge, he still felt ok but to keep himself cool, he took advantage of the fully stocked aid stations with water/ice. In the back half of the course with the longer hills, Karel walked twice more at aid stations to take the necessary time to cool himself and to also take in calories from coke/Red Bull. Karel also used his sport nutrition from his flasks, which he sipped as needed between the aid stations to get electrolytes, fluids and some calories. Karel never has a precise plan with his nutrition going into his Ironman races yet he has never had a nutrition/GI related issue on race day. Karel is always listening to his body to know when to take in or back off on calories based on how he is feeling.

After crossing the wooden blue bridge, Karel got another update from Justine that he was still leading his age group and the gap to 2nd place was over 8 minutes. At this point, Karel didn't care about his overall placing as he was focused on getting his Kona slot but little did he know that he ran his way from 10th overall male after the bike to 4th overall but the leader was still over 5 minutes ahead of him. Because Karel was so focused on his age group, he didn't think to ask Justine to track his overall placement so he never knew where he was in the overall placing. After Karel stopped at special needs to grab two new bottles (which were fully unfrozen and very hot), he started to really feel the heat so he knew that he would need to start walking more at the aid stations to take care of himself. Although this would slow down his average pace for the marathon, this was the best decision for him on this day to put together the best race possible.

                                               

Once I reached the top of the hill and heard from Justine that I was "killing it" (thanks Justine for the great energy!) in my age group with a 17:45 minute lead from 2nd place (official results, more on this in a minute), I didn't get too confident with this information as I know nothing is certain in an Ironman marathon. And with the rolling start, I wasn't sure if the results would change after a few miles, when more females got on the run course. With my athlete Thomas (first time Ironman) about 1-2 minutes ahead of me and in my sights(great motivation), I kept myself focused on my form and used the first aid station to cool myself down. I wanted to give my tummy a chance to settle after the bike before taking in calories so I waited until mile 2 to take in calories from my hydration belt. The volunteers were amazing at the aid stations and for the first 4.5 miles, I looked forward to each aid station to break up the run course. I was using water, ice and sponges to keep myself cool.

I didn't care for the first 4.5 miles of the run course (boring to me) so my focus was on running well and then rewarding myself by taking a little walk before turning to the path by the water. With every mile, I found myself passing guys and running alongside a Japanese guy who was great company for me. Before I knew it, the "boring" part of this course was over and I was surprised that I didn't walk yet. Although we are huge proponents of walking to reset form and to take care of yourself, my form felt great and mentally, I felt strong and resilient so I just kept going.



I loved the run path section of the run course (especially the wooden bridge sections) and before I knew it, I saw Justine at the hill around mile 8 before the bridge. It's always a nice boost to see a familiar face but Justine was giving me so much positive energy.  She told me that I was still in the lead with over 16 minutes to 2nd place (it was actually 20:23 per official results but more on this in a minute).

When I got to the bridge, I spotted Thomas's wife Lindsay and my athlete Katja who was cheering and it made me smile. I couldn't believe that each mile marker was getting bigger and I was already at mile 8 and the miles were just ticking by. While I didn't feel fast, I didn't feel slow as I was passing a lot of guys out on the course. I had a great rhythm and I was actually looking forward to the hills to bring a change to my running stride.


By the time I got to around mile 10/11 of the run course, I passed Thomas at an aid station and gave him a cheer. We ran together until the next aid station and I loved having his company. I noticed that the camber of the road was making it hard to run as my legs began to fatigue so I made sure to focus on running the straightest line possible around the neighborhood/country club.

Not even half way through the run, I didn't think about how long I still had to go but I kept myself going by thinking about how awesome the wooden blue bridge would be with all of the spectators.  Although the hills were tough on this course, I felt like I was still moving at a good pace. I never looked at my running watch as I didn't want to get disappointed if I saw a time slower than what I thought I was running so I just focused on how I was able to use my mind to control my body.

Before I knew it, I had tackled the big hills on loop one of the marathon and I was finally on the wooden bridge. I really liked the feel of the bridge as it was a little easier impact on my legs but the dips and bumps in the bridge made it a little more challenging to run on than I had imagined. Regardless, I was so happy to see so many spectators cheering me on. What a great boost!

When I got to special needs, I gave myself permission to walk as I felt it was a necessary moment to take care of myself. I grabbed two new flasks of sport nutrition (mine were not super hot which was good) and walked until I was ready to start running again. Although it felt like I walked for minutes, my file in Training Peaks said I only walked for 45 seconds. After my walk, I saw Justine and my friend Kristen and they both told me I was still doing great and that the girl in front of me (overall female) was not looking at good and she was really slowing down. Once again, I didn't think about overall as it never occurred to me that I would be racing for an overall amateur female finish so I just stayed focused on my age group and taking care of myself to keep myself going.


As Karel made his way through the growing crowds of his second loop, he started to walk more often at the aid stations as he was in survival mode to keep himself cool. As his body was getting tired, he kept focusing on his form and nutrition as he knew those two things would help him run the best possible on that day. Aside from Kona, Karel and I have never raced a hot Ironman before so we were adjusting to the conditions with every mile. Karel stopped taking the Red Bull on the second loop as he felt like it wasn't sitting as well as the Coke and he was using ice/water at each aid station to keep himself cool. We both wore our Perfect Cooling Towel which worked wonders on race day as it not only kept us cool but it held water for us to squeeze when we got warm in between the aid stations.

When Karel saw Justine at mile 20 (on the hill), he told her that he was getting really tired. Karel isn't one for excuses but his energy was running low.  Justine kept him going with some positive words just like I did when I saw him in Lake Placid and he told me he was hurting bad.  Even though Karel had over a 15 minute lead in his age group at this time in the race, he still didn't want to leave anything to chance, just in case another athlete had an unregistered/lost chip or if something happened to Karel in the later miles.

The hills were growing on loop two of the run but no matter how much pain Karel is in on race day, he finds something deep within him to keep him going until the finish line.  Just before climbing the last long hill just after mile 23, Karel told himself that this would be the last hill so he could push it. Well, that extra push took so much energy out of him that he stopped at the top of the hill (before the downhill into the downtown across the river) because his body stopped moving. His mind was telling his feet to keep moving but for 8 seconds (which felt like forever) he could not get his body to move. He almost thought that he would collapse and not make it to the finish line with less than 2 miles to go. Finally, he managed to wobble forward and let gravity push him down the hill. Karel doesn't remember much on the wooden bridge as he was just focusing on one foot in front of the other but he does remember getting a few cheers saying his name (he says thank you!). Just as Karel was about to round the corner to head to the finish, his fuel belt fell off (velcro) and he had to stop and pick it up. He said that was so difficult to stop and bend over with less than 1/2 mile to go. Karel managed to make his way to the finish line chute without being too disoriented (like in Placid) and crossed the line with his first age group win.


(Karel didn't wear his bib number in the front on the run so we are still searching FinisherPix lost and found for his run pictures before we purchase them...so for now, this pic will have to do.)


When I got to the long stretch of road on my second loop, my mission was to keep moving forward. I said a few cheers to familiar faces and my athletes but other than that, I tried to minimize any extra energy expenditure that was not related to cooling myself, moving forward and fueling myself.

Once I made it on the running trail, I pulled every mental trick in my book out to keep me going. I would tell myself "pretend you are on a relaxing training run" and I would look at the birds in the water. I also found myself really embracing the pain in my quads and calves as it was a sign to me that my body was healthy and strong enough to keep going. I thought back to all the times that I was injured in the past and I would have given anything to run. I also looked forward to every aid station to grab ice and hold it in my hands, along with sponges and to soak my cooling towel. Around mile aid station 10 or so, I started to sip coke every now and then just to change things up with my sport drink in my flasks. My tummy felt fine but I still had to make sure not to listen to my body as I know it's a small margin of error with sport nutrition in a hot and hilly race as you have to fuel/hydrate enough to help delay fatigue but without overfueling/hydrating to cause GI issues. So far, my gut was doing ok and based on my ability to keep going without walking the aid stations, I felt like I was doing things well on race day.

Marni Marathon Nutrition (Nathan Hydration belt): 
4 x 10 ounce flasks each with 120 calories EFS Pro (cucumber)
Coke at aid stations (I'd estimate about 8-10 aid stations)
Water/ice

Karel Marathon nutrition (Fuel belt hydration belt): 
2 x 6 ounce flasks with precision hydration (1500)
2 x 8 ounce flasks with precision hydration (1000)
1 x 8 ounce flask with Enervetine
Coke/red bull
Water/ice

When I saw Justine at mile 20, I was doing more shuffling up the hill than running but still smiling. Justine told me that there was a girl named Olga was closing the gap behind me and that she was now about 6 minutes behind me. After I heard this information, I remembered to ask Justine how Karel was doing. She responded by saying "He finished 2nd overall and won his age group." I was so happy for him that I completely forgot about my pain for a minute. I also laughed to myself that she said "Finished" as I was a little jealous that he was already done and I had 6 more miles to go on the hardest part of the course.

After I settled back into my race, this Olga girl worried me a little bit as she was running much faster than me and gaining a lot of time to me. Part of me said "oh that's ok, you can be 2nd in your age group" but then a bigger part of me said "second doesn't sound as good as first!"

With my legs throbbing with soreness with every foot strike (especially on the downhills more than the uphills), I found my mental strength to be at an all time high to keep myself going. Although per the tracker, I was slowing down, I was still holding good form which was my main focus on race day. I was determined to keep on running until the finish line because well, the quicker I get there, the sooner I can stop the hurt!!

With around 4 miles to go, I became really really worried about the downhill to the finish line as my legs were starting to get tighter and tighter as I made my way to mile 22 and it was so painful to hit the ground with every foot strike, especially anything downhill. I remember seeing the mile 23 sign on the first loop and when I got to the second loop, I was so thrilled to see it! It was the best feeling to see the bigger numbers on the mile signs on the 2 loop course and to finally realize that those are my numbers!

As I was making my way back up the last long hill, I saw a few of my athletes on the course and everyone was cheering me on. I tried to give everyone a cheer or least a thumbs up (or pat on the butt). Although I felt like I was still moving forward I knew that I was really slowing down. After not being passed by any females all day, I was finally passed by a female athlete. She looked really good as she passed me and as I made a little surge up the hill to glance at her bib, and it read Olga. I wasn't sure how much of a gap she had closed on me in 4 miles so I tried to stay with her, but my body had one speed and it was not as fast as hers.

                                              

After she passed me, I stayed in competition mode as I know that anything can happen in the last two miles. Even with all of the pain in my body, I did not come this far to give up. When I saw Justine at the end of the wooden bridge, she yelled to me "Marni, you have to sprint!!!"

Sprint?!?! Are you freaking kidding me?? Well, I did all I could as I knew there must have been a reason why Justine wanted me to sprint and somehow, I managed to run down the hill toward the finish chute as fast as I could, with pain in every leg muscle and a body that just wanted to fall over and rest.

Although I was still running as fast as I could (after 144 miles of racing), I made sure to really enjoy the finish line. There's nothing more special to reach the finish line after a full day of swimming, biking and running.



Although my focus was on the finish line, I somehow managed to spot Karel and I immediately I ran over to him and gave him a high five. It was the best feeling to see him there, cheering me on. I could hear Justine cheering me on "Go Marni Go!" and I gave it all I had until I crossed the finish line.

                                               


Before I had a chance to even process my day, the volunteers were asking me if I was ok and if I needed any help. I told them that I was ok, just very, very sore and exhausted. I couldn't wait to hug Karel and hear about his day since I hadn't seen him all day since we started the swim, over 10 hours ago.

                                              

After the volunteers congratulated me and handed me my finisher hat and shirt, I walked over to the barricades to finally rest and I saw Justine sprinting over to me, yelling "You did it, you did it!!"

My immediate response was, "I did what?"

She then proceeded to yell to me that I won.

"Won what?" I asked.

Justine ran over to me on the other side of the finishing area and she gave me a huge hug and told me that I was the overall amateur female. The amateur female champion! This was the first time that I processed this information and to be honest, I didn't believe her. A few minutes went by as I collapsed into her arms with exhaustion and I kept asking her "Are you sure?"



Karel walked over to me and gave me a huge hug. What a day for both of us! Karel was pretty tired as he had been waiting for me for over an hour so not too long after I finished, we waited for Thomas to cross his first ever IM finish line (10:50!!) and then we both hobbled our way to our gear bags and then to the car to get changed, before spending the next few hours waiting for each one of our athletes to finish so that we could congratulate them at the finish line.

A little while later we heared that Olga (who was in my age group) was disqualified (we still don't know why). But before her results were removed from the official results, Justine told me that I still won my age group by ~90 seconds. It was so close between us and that is why Justine told me to sprint the last 1/2 mile. Even though I won, I'm glad that I sprinted! 

Although Karel and I both ran "slow" marathon times, we have both learned that to run fast for 26.2 miles at the end of an Ironman, you don't have to be fast....you just have to be great at not slowing down (or be the one who slows down the least). Here are the stats as it relates to our age group and overall placing (and time gaps) over 26.2 miles:

Karel Overall: 
Bike end: 10th overall, 9:52 down from leader
Run start: 10th overall, 10:19 down from leader
4.5 miles - 4th overall, 8:21 down
7.2 miles - 4th overall, 7:49 down
10.1 miles - 4th overall, 6:49 down
13.1 miles - 4th overall, 5:26 down
17 miles - 3rd overall, 4:48 down
19.7 miles - 2nd overall, 4:01 down
22.6 miles - 2nd overall, 2:49 down
25.6 miles - 2nd overall, 2:25 down
26.2 miles - 2nd overall male, 2:25 from the winner

Karel Age Group (40-44): 
Bike end: 2nd AG, 2:05 down from leader
Run start: 2nd AG, 1:46 down from leader
4.5 miles - 1st AG, :53 lead
7.2 miles - 1st AG, 2:06 lead
10.1 miles - 1st AG, 4:12 lead
13.1 miles - 1st AG, 8:22 lead
17 miles - 1st AG, 12:27 lead
19.7 miles - 1st AG, 14:26 lead
22.6 miles - 1st AG, 16:48 lead
25.6 miles - 1st AG, 17:06 lead
26.2 miles - 1st AG, 17:02 ahead of 2nd place


Marni Overall: 
Bike end: 2nd overall, 10:38 down from leader
Run start: 2nd overall, 9:08 down from leader
4.5 miles - 2nd overall, 8:49 down
7.2 miles - 4th overall, 8:35 down
10.1 miles - 4th overall, 7:08 down
13.1 miles - 4th overall, 6:37 down
17 miles - 3rd overall, 5:16 down
19.7 miles - 2nd overall, 2:03 down
22.6 miles - 2nd overall, 1:43 down
25.6 miles - 1st overall, 5:33 lead
26.2 miles - 1st overall, 5:47 ahead of 2nd place

Marni Age Group (35-39)
Bike end: 1st AG, 17:26 lead
Run start: 1st AG, 17:46 lead
4.5 miles - 1st AG, 19:45 lead
7.2 miles - 1st AG, 20:23 lead
10.1 miles - 1st AG, 22:02 lead
13.1 miles - 1st AG, 22:49 lead
17 miles - 1st AG, 24:22 lead
19.7 miles - 1st AG, 24:20 lead
22.6 miles - 1st AG, 22:22 lead
25.6 miles - 1st AG, 20:40 lead
26.2 miles - 1st AG, 20:20 ahead of 2nd place

Final Results
Karel:
9:20.55
1st AG (40-44)
2nd amateur
3rd overall
Kona qualified for IM Kona 2018 (accepted slot)

Swim (2.4 miles): 47:05

T1: 3:08
Bike (116 miles): 5:08.14
T2: 2:40
Run (26.2 miles): 3:19.52

Marni:
10:28.50
1st AG (35-39)
Amateur Female Champion
10th overall female
Kona qualified for IM Kona 2018 (declined slot)

Swim (2.4 miles): 47.00
T1: 4:12
Bike (116 miles): 5:33.23 T2: 3:00
Run (26.2 miles): 4:01.18


Stay tuned for our post-race/awards/Kona slot/rolldown race report!


A BIG thank you to our 
2017 Trimarni sponsors and affiliates:

-Run In - for helping us with all of our running needs
-New Wave Swim Buoy - for keeping us safe and seen in the open water
-Mg12 - for helping our muscles stay relaxed
-Clif Bar - for quality ingredients in quality sport nutrition
-Cheribundi - for providing a safe, natural and delicious way to reduce inflammation
-Veronica's Health Crunch - for the most delicious hand made crunch - ever!
-Infinit - for customizable sport nutrition
-Levelen - for helping us optimize our hydration needs through sweat testing
-Hot Shot - for keeping Karel cramp-free!
-Solestar - for maximum stability, better power transmission
-Boco Gear - for helping us race in style
-Canari - for the most comfortable, functional and stylish gear
-Xterra - for the fastest wetsuit ever (so fast, Karel is now beating me in the swim!)
-Alto cycling - for enginnering the fastest race wheels
-Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge - for keeping our campers happy with perfect lodging options
-Salem Anesthesia - for your Trimarni support