Essential Sports Nutrition


Athlete Spotlight: Katja Reed Lackey - Art teacher conquering fears and chasing goals - always with a smile.

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding bicycles, bicycle and outdoor
NameKatja Reed Lackey


City/State: Dover, Delaware

Primary sport: Triathlon

How many years in the sport: 6 years, my first Tri was June 2011, almost 6 years

What Trimarni services have you used: RETUL, training plan, coaching


Displaying IMG_8762.JPG
Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?

I was an active child and continued being active as I got older, playing 3 varsity sports in HS and I was on the ski team. I played volleyball in college for 2 years. After college and in my early married years, I was not very active. After the birth of my twins I needed an outlet and to get my body back in shape. Running was the logical release. I built from 5ks to marathons, all the while I was fascinated with Ironman Triathlon. I just loved the idea of a multi-sport event. I rode my bike and biked a 50 miler and loved the idea of long rides. I signed up to swim at the local Y and soon all the basics led me to my first race....a sprint Triathlon. I was hooked!! I volunteered for Eagleman 70.3 and was impressed with the distance and the dedication - the distance scared me but I needed that goal!

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?

I am inspired by the variety of multi-sport. I need the constant change of sport and focus. There is so much to learn about each discipline and I love to learn what my body can do at the race venue, based on the race distance There is a lot of growing through the sport. All the variables keep me motivated. Plus the age groupers running with the pros is so thrilling.
Displaying 72F5D268-81EA-4622-AB1A-2941C7268A58.JPG

What do you do for work?
I am an art teacher that is hired in the schools to work with children with disabilities. The children range from 2-15 yrs and are afflicted with lots of disabilities. I am also working with adults with Alzheimer's and dementia.

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?I am inspired by my students and how they deal with severe physical and psychological disabilities. I am also reminded that I GET to swim and bike and run! The release of exercise feels so good when I hit my workouts before I hit the classroom. I travel to many schools and I need the stamina - triathlon training provides that for me.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, cloud, sky and outdoor
Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?
I am early riser! I set my alarm for 4:44 =am and usual start my first workout at about 5:30am. I do like to have at least one workout in the week to meet a friend. That friend keeps me accountable and keeps the workout fun!! Fun in life is balance!

Do you have kids?Yes! I have twins! A boy and a girl, both in college.

How does having kids affect your training? How do you balance it all?
My children have always motivated me to be a better person. I try to lead by example . My step into Ironman was purposely organized and planned so that I had a goal while my twins headed off to college so that I could handle the "empty nest" feeling. I am so grateful for the goal and the joy of crossing the finish line and surviving the 140.6 mile distance...and my kids freshman year of college! That big goal brought me back to myself!

What tips and tricks do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family? 

My kids have gone open water swimming with me (or paddling the SUP), they have been on bikes while I ran and did core work with me. These are the moments that give me the fuel for the long solo training or racing day.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, sky, cloud, outdoor and nature
How do you balance your training with your partner? Any tips or tricks for keeping your partner happy while you train to reach your personal goals?
My husband is wonderful! We are celebrating our 28th year together! He supports me and encourages me to do triathlon. He and I will run 1/2 marathon events together and he will bike with me during my longer workouts when I ride in my easier zones. He is a pilot and he is gone 3-4 days a week so I make those days long, if possible as
I like to train harder and longer when he is away. If I need to complete a long day of training with him in town, I will get up early and knock out 50% while he sleeps and then when he wakes up, he may join me for the rest.
Displaying IMG_7296.JPG

Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson
learned that you'd like to share?
I raced the Watermans Tri in Oct as a late season race (thanks to the push from coach Marni) She reminded me that I had fitness and confidence from completing my Ironman in August (IM Mont Tremblant). She gave me a lot of confidence going into that race and I raced really well and was first in my AG and I PR'd! I would not have raced at all because I thought my season was complete after the big Ironman distance, but she was right. I had the fitness, confidence and race mentality to do well. Triathlon is a true metaphor for so many lessons learned about yourself that help you grow throughout life!
Displaying 29175FF7-30FE-47F1-A4E7-2EF9B0E44E8F.JPG
What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
  1. Remind yourself of the "why." 
  2. Smile and be joyful.
  3. Power nap. 
  4. Trust the plan (following a plan works). 
  5. Have a mantra that is simple so that you can repeat it over and over on race day. 
  6. As my body ages I do more stretching and yoga than ever before. 
  7. Thank your body!
Displaying IMG_3326.JPG
How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?
My athletic success is crossing the finish line of my first 140.6 with a smile on my face and healthy body (October 2014) That Ironman journey gave me the belief that I can plan, train and succeed in a long distance triathlon. Goal setting and overcoming obstacles is the life lesson you gleam. I also saw, this year, that I do have fears but I can push through them and I can win on the other side of the fear! And that fact is so AWESOME- overcoming my fears and chasing my goals keeps me smiling and looking for more multi-sport events! I'm so grateful for triathlon!

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
Ice cold " Blue Moon" beer in a frosted mug!

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg
What key races do you have planned in 2017?
Rockhall triathlon, MD International tri, Trimarni Camp, and Ironman Atlantic City 70.3

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?
I want to stay fit and healthy in my 50s so I plan to continue to race in triathlons. This sport is fun and challenging. I also want to knock some time off of my 70.3 and olympic distance events over the next few years, and race in a few different locations.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, swimming, pool and outdoor
Anything else? 
I recommend getting a coach, attending a tri camp and joining a team! The inspiration and motivation is huge when you feel part of a group. Attending the Trimarni triathlon camp was also a game changer for me. It was very intense (took me out of my comfort zone) but it gave me time and supreme focus on the sport. You also bond with other triathletes/teammates and coaches. I grew so much in all three disciplines and that confidence was essential prior to my big race in Mont Tremblant. 

Image may contain: 1 person, sky and outdoor

You can follow Katja on social media: 

Instagram and Twitter @ 


IM 70.3 Florida - Race Report

After a morning swim workout at Furman on Thursday morning, we packed up my car, said good-bye to our furry crew (staying with "Grandma", 1 mile down the road) and headed down south - first stop, Jacksonville, FL. About six hours later, around 5:30pm, we arrived at Tricia's house (our friend/athlete) for a quick overnight stay before making the rest of the trip to Haines City. It was nice to be able to stretch out and have a nice dinner (from Native Sun) and catch up with Tricia and her husband Brandon (and 3 furry children). Karel received his new Alto disc wheel when we arrived to Tricia's so he glued on the tubular tire on Thursday evening.

Seeing Karel with his new wheel was like seeing a kid at Disney World store - big eyes, full of excitement.

We did a little work on the computer to get caught up from traveling all day but then it was early to bed as we were exhausted from sitting in the car all day. We woke up without an alarm around 6:30am, which was nice to get a good night of rest. After a short shake-out run (~27 minutes), we ate breakfast, packed up the car again and made the rest of the trip (~3 hours) down to Haines City. 

Minus the Orlando traffic on I-4, the trip was uneventful and we stayed well-fueled with lots of snacks/food from home and podcasts for our listening entertainment.

When we arrived to Haines City, we went straight to our rental home, which was booked by our long-time triathlete friend Roger from Key West. It was nice to have a place to stay (Southern Dunes subdivision), just 2 miles away from the race venue, along with a full kitchen. Although Karel and I like our privacy to get into "the zone" before a race, we both enjoy the social aspect of racing so we don't mind sharing a house with others, especially positive athletes with great attitudes. After unloading all of our stuff, we drove over to the race venue to check-in and to listen to the first athlete meeting. It felt so good to be warm outside and the weather was just perfect, with low humidity. With lots of places to park (streets), the race venue has just one transition and everything is close (water, transition area, athlete check-in, etc.), which makes it a great location for athletes and spectators.

After the athlete meeting, we headed back to the house so that Karel could get himself ready for a little spin on his bike. Instead of joining Karel, I headed to Publix to get groceries for the house. By the time Karel came back from his ride, I had dinner all ready and we were both ready to eat.
Karel at chicken with rice and salad and I had pizza and salad. This meal is pretty typical for both of us, two nights out from an endurance event.

After a great dinner, we settled into bed around 8pm and it was early to bed for a good night of sleep. Over the weekend, we watched Triathlon LIVE (ITU race) and Paris Roubaix cycling race for a little inspiration.

With no mandatory bike check-in on Saturday (only optional), our only "to do's" on Saturday were to exercise and get our gear ready for race day. It was nice not to have to rush on Saturday morning but we wanted to be out on our bikes by 8pm so that we could get back in time to eat before heading out again for the open water swim practice between 11-2pm.

Roger joined me and Karel for a 28 mile ride on the race course. We biked the 2ish miles to the race course start and then took a short cut so that we could ride the start and the finish of the bike course. I really enjoyed the preview of the course and it felt so good to not only spin my legs, but to ride on flat roads, without hills. I noticed during the ride that my power meter (Vector pedals) were not registering as my power was low, despite staying on Karel's wheel for some harder efforts.

While I mentioned this to Karel and he changed the battery when we returned back to the house, I didn't get too bothered by the chance that I would not have realistic power numbers during the race. Although I would have liked to have seen my true power on my Garmin, I was not wasting energy over this issue as power meters love to not work only on race day (or in my case, the day before the race).

Image may contain: 1 person, tree, outdoor and nature

After the bike course preview, we rode the run course loop (~4.3 miles) so that I could see the run course. Since Karel and Roger have raced here before, it was good for me to have a visual as to what I would be running on off the bike. Of course, with the hills on the run, I was getting more excited for race day as my legs love hills - flats, not so much.

After the ride, it was time to ride home. We finished with just under 2 hours of riding and 35 miles. I went for a little jog off the bike just to shake out the legs. I felt a little niggle in my lower calf (inside) which I was a little concerned about but I had to remind myself about those phantom taper pains that happen before a race. After the run, it was time to eat!

After resting for a little bit, Karel and I headed to the race venue for a little dip in the lake during the optional open water swim practice (chip and wrist band required to enter the water). The lake was well supported with kayaks and volunteers and lots of athletes in the water. Although the water was dark, it was around 73 degrees and felt refreshing with our long sleeve Xterra wetsuits on. We met up with Trimarni athlete Stephanie before the swim and it was nice to swim together and scope out the swim course.

If you aren't familiar with this swim, it looks like a M (or a pair of pants). At first, I was a little nervous about all of the buoys and turns but as we were warming up, I felt more confident with the swim layout and it wasn't too hard to master.  After the swim, we met up with Trimarni athlete Chris and gave Stephanie and Chris a few last minute race suggestions for race day. Later that evening, Trimarni athlete Kim stopped by and I called Trimarni athlete Julie. (I always try to contact or see my athletes before a big race).

When we arrived back to the house, it was time to eat again. Although I had practiced my pre-race nutrition prior to the race, I had lots of food options in the fridge/pantry, just in case my appetite changed. As much as we (athletes) like to plan, sometimes you have to be flexible. Instead of my breakfast tacos, I had a lunch of rice and cooked tempeh with mushrooms, topped with cheese. It hit the spot! For an afternoon snack, I had granola cereal with yogurt and sipped on OJ throughout the day, here or there (and with my morning meals). For dinner, I kept it light - tomato soup with rice and saltine crackers. I had a glass of Bolthouse vanilla protein before bed but went to sleep satisfied and not full. With dinner super light, I woke up super early, ready to eat my pre-race meal.


After a not so good night of sleeping due to tossing and turning, I was ready to get up when my alarm went off at 3:45am It was nice to wake-up and have other athletes in the house as the energy was positive and the mood was good. I found it easy to get down my well practiced pre-race meal (pancakes, syrup, bananas, butter, peanut butter and a hardboiled egg with salt and glass of OJ, cup of coffee and glass of water) and I was excited that it was finally race day. Karel had a bowl of oatmeal and then a croissant and a few sips of a Bolthouse chocolate protein drink (in the car, after we put our stuff in transition, around 6am while hanging around until he did his pre race warm-up). Although an Ironman feels a bit longer with all the waiting, I was anxiously awaiting getting in the lake as that would be the point when my nerves would subside. Although I had no pressure on this race, I was nervous. I always get nervous before a race but it's good nerves (as Dr. G tells me), that remind me that I care about my performance. Karel had a lot of confidence in me that I would be able to put together a good race and he was cool as a cucumber for this race, with no expectations or goals. It was nice to be around him as he was super calm, which gave me a lot of positive vibes.
Since we packed up our bags, got our gear ready and prepared our sport bottles with powder on Saturday afternoon, it was an easy morning of getting ready for the half Ironman. Karel and I did a short jog outside our rental home around 4:45am, just to get the blood flowing before we left the house. And by short, I mean about 5 minutes just to move some blood.
We left around 5:15am, with just enough time to park the car, get body marked and rack our bikes. There was a little bit of a line getting into the transition (which closed at 6am) but it wasn't stressful as it moved quickly. After setting up our transition area, we walked back to the car, parked a few streets away on 7th street in a restaurant parking lot.
Since my wave was at 7:05am and Karel's wave wasn't until 7:40am, he was in no rush to get in his pre-race warm-up. As we walked back to the car, I felt a little rushed so I gave Karel my transition bag as I jogged around to start my pre-race warm-up (and added in some dynamic stretching). After I felt warmed up, I grabbed my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles and said good luck to Karel (with a hug and a kiss) and walked to the swimming pool, by the lake. Although it was in the low 50's on race morning and getting wet before the race didn't seem too inviting, I knew it was necessary to get in a good warm-up before the swim start since the lake was not open for swimming before the race. I took advantage of this option and swam in my wetsuit, in the pool, along with a few other athletes. I was surprised that more athletes didn't see this as a great opportunity to warm-up as an open water swim requires some type of warm-up and you can also use that warm-up as an opportunity to adjust the wetsuit so that it feels comfortable in all the right places. I swam about 10 minutes easy and added in a few 25's with break out speed and at 6:45am, I got out of the water and with my throw away plastic bottle w/ Clif Hydration, I walked to the swim start.
My feet were a little cold in the sand but with the adrenaline starting to rush, I didn't feel too cold. I lined up with my wave and by 7am, we were in the water, counting down the minutes until our wave start.

1.2 mile SWIM
I noticed that there was a section in the water where athletes were standing before the in-water start but I choose to start by treading water so that I could keep my blood moving and muscles working a little before the start. With my jog warm-up + pool swim, I felt really relaxed in the water and ready to go. The time was finally here to race!
The gun went off and it was a quick acceleration for me to swim hard to get near the front of the pack. I noticed one pink cap swimming away and I was unable to stay with her. My focus was on staying on course but also trying to swim in the straightest line possible to avoid overswimming while catching up to the other swimmers in the earlier waves.
There was a lot of weaving in and out but certainly not as much as Karel experienced in his later wave. Although the M-shaped swim course required a lot of sighting, I actually really enjoyed it as it kept me engaged during the entire swim (I couldn't really zone out for I had a lot to think about).
We kept the buoys on our right until the first turn buoy and then after the 2nd turn buoy, we swam toward the middle of the lake. At this point, we made a left to keep the buoys on our left, before making another left turn and then swimming out again to keep the buoys on our right. There were kayaks out and a few jet ski's (creating some wake) to keep an eye on everyone. This was one of the most fun swim courses and it went by super fast.
I felt like I only had one speed in the water (common theme for me lately with swimming) and later did I learn that once again, Karel beat me out of the water by 6 seconds! Karel has improved so much with his swimming and as much fun as it is to have a swim partner, the swimming rivalry is strong in our house these days. However, for every second that Karel swims ahead of me in the open water (with a wetsuit), I feel like I am getting 1 minute closer to him on the bike.
I tried to swim as long as I could before I had no choice but to stand but little did I know, that my first step up was not the shore but a little pocket of water. I was warned that the sand is not even all around so I happened to step into a deep section right before the exit. Luckily, it didn't catch me too off guard and I was able to step right out and jog to the sand to get out of the water.
I passed a lot of athletes on the swim but had no idea of my age group or overall place at this point in the swim. I glanced at my watch and saw 31 minutes and some change but it didn't mean much to me as I didn't care about my swim time but instead, my competition. Once the gun goes off, I am in race mode!

I quickly took off my cap and goggles and as I was running through transition, I removed my arms from the sleeves of my wetsuit and stepped out of my wetsuit at my bike. With no other females around me, I put on my socks and cycling shoes, powered on my Garmin Edge and grabbed my bike. Opps - my helmet! Oh, such a rookie mistake. Luckily, I didn't make it far (the end of my bike rack) before I went back to get my helmet. Once again - this is why we do these tune-up races!
I ran my bike out of transition and over the mount line to the far right barricade and then got on my bike. As soon as I got on my bike, I was so excited to ride.

56 mile BIKE
As much as I wish I could give you an eventful, suspenseful and exciting bike report, the bike course was well, pretty uneventful. I felt strong and fast, I loved the bike course and I rode most of the course by myself. My power meter did not work (it showed low power numbers from the first pedal stroke) and I didn't wear my HR monitor so I went all by feel - which is exactly what I had planned to do. I lapped my Garmin every 25 minutes and focused only on 1 x 25 minute segment at a time. I made sure to start my fueling around 15 minutes into the bike to let my tummy settle after the swim and every 10 minutes, I took 3-4 gulps of my sport drink from my primary cage between my aero bars. When one bottle was complete, I rotated my bottles (grabbing from the rear cage) to always have a bottle between my aero bars for sipping. I did not take anything from the aid stations as it was rather cool out. My hands were a bit cold when I started but I warmed up just fine in about 25 minutes. Karel and I both consumed almost 3 x 24 ounce bottles of our sport drink but Karel took in some additional calories from his gels during his ride. Whereas I felt amazing throughout the entire ride, Karel felt strong but had a few niggles in his hip/inner thigh during the bike (nothing abnormal for him) that limited his ability to push even harder as he had to ease up several times during the bike ride to keep from cramping. We both felt like this course was easy relative to what we ride in Greenville but there's nothing easy about racing. Since I broke the course down into 25 min segments, I never thought about "Oh, I can never hold this effort for the entire ride" but instead, just stayed present and in the moment. As the course changed, I experienced different wind and terrain conditions, which also affected my effort and RPE. I was kinda hoping for some more company during the bike to keep me engaged in racing but instead, I felt like I was out for a 56 mile TT.
There were some gentle rollers near the back end of the course and with the wind picking up a little, which made the ride a bit more exciting. Nearing the end of the bike, there was a stretch of road of chipseal with a few rollers, which reminded me of our bumpy roads in Greenville.
Throughout the ride, I was passing a lot of guys but also was passed by several of the younger guys. I wasn't passed by any females but after catching up with one lady in the 45-49 age group (Rachel), we played cat and mouse for the last 10 miles or so. Finally - some fun racing on two wheels!
Rachel and I entered T2 near each other but I think I managed to get over the line first, which meant first female into transition. Although I didn't have the fastest female bike split of the race (3rd fastest I think), I was shocked and excited to see my bike computer when I switched over my interval screen to show total time, average pace, total distance, etc. Although I didn't ease up until the last 1/2 mile of the bike, for a moment I thought I would break 2:30 but I ended up with 2:31.27 which is a big improvement for me on the bike. Needless to say, I got off the bike feeling confident!

With my rack near the front of the transition, I didn't have far to run before getting my bike to the rack. I spotted my friend Roger in the transition area and he gave me a big cheer. The announcer told the crowd "we have our first females in transition area with Marni as our virtual leader." My theme of the race was stay present so I didn't let that announcement get to my head as I new I would be running a bit scared with fast girls behind me. I put on my running shoes and hydration belt and grabbed my hat (with glasses resting on the bill) and then as I was walking, I put on my bib number belt. I made sure not to sprint out of the transition so I walked myself to the far end of transition and then when I rounded the corner, I slowly jogged, making sure not to run too fast out of transition. As I crossed the timing mat, I hit lap on my watch and not until the end of the race, did I look at my watch again. For the next 13.1 miles, I would run 100% by feel.

13.1 mile RUN
As I started running, my legs felt good. But seeing the amount of brick runs and hilly runs that we do in training, I had confidence in my running legs off the bike. As for how I would feel racing this run, that was a pure unknown since most of my long runs are around 8:20-8:45 min/mile average with a lot of climbing. As I was running, I was beside Rachel and she told me to go win the race. I gave her a high five for her awesome bike ride and I thought I would be running away from her, thanks to her confidence in me. As much as that was a great boost of confidence, she made sure not to leave my side for the next 1.5 miles.

Image may contain: one or more people, bicycle, outdoor and nature
With the lead biker next to me, I managed to run a bit ahead of her up the hills and would extend that lead over the hills in the first section of the run course. But anywhere that was flat, she was able to get ahead of me. As much I wanted to stay with her, I knew she wasn't in my age group (she was 45-49) so I let her go so that I could focus on myself. I really wanted to focus on my form in the first loop (about 4.3 miles) before taking any risks with my effort.
I waited until I got to the end of the first hilly section before sipping my flask and I made sure to grab water from every aid station for sipping and cooling. I didn't have a strategy for fueling on the run but instead, to fuel immediately when I needed a boost of energy and to make sure to not go more than 10 minutes without sipping my flasks. Since I like to drink when I want to drink (and often on a schedule - at least every 10 minutes), I used the aid stations to break up each mile instead of focusing on my fueling to break up each mile. This worked well because I always looked forward to the aid station and I felt like I had good energy between the aid stations.
If you know me, I love love love looped courses. Three loops is such a mental boost because when 1 loop is done, you only have one more loop until you only have one more loop to go. At least this is how I think about it. Never did I look at the mile markers (or my watch) but instead, I just focused on where I was in the course and broke down the course into sections.
Although I loved this run course, my least favorite section was a flat part on the far end of each loop before an aid station. This occurred before the last loop around the block before heading back to a little hill (with another aid station) before entering the crowds by the lake. I would say this was around 3 miles into the loop. It was a long flat stretch and although there was shade, I did not like it. But I kept telling myself to just keep one foot in front of the other and that sooner or later, I'd be on the hills again (which is my comfort zone). And even though I suffer when I race, I almost always have a smile on my face because I love using and moving my body.

I had lots of cheers from the crowd and saw some familiar faces but wow, being by the spectators near the lake gave me a huge boost of energy! I was a little nervous about Rebecca and Gin (in my age group) behind me so my plan for loop 2 was to run steady and strong but to still make sure to have a reserve for the last loop in case I got caught and needed to run alongside a competitor in my age group. At this point, I was passed by a 30-34 year old girl who was on her first loop and she was running super fast. I let her go. I was also passed by another lady who was in an older age group who was flying. By now, I was not focused on winning overall female but instead, just hoping to stay in the front of my age group. Ironically, the thought of winning my age group didn't keep me racing hard but it was the fear of getting caught that kept me present and in the moment. I didn't let myself think about winning my age group during the race and I never focused on my pace or overall time. It's hard to describe but I was completely focused on my running form and moving my body forward that I didn't have much energy to think about anything else. As Karel always says when he runs "rhythm, rhythm, rhythm!"

One of the best things about this race on the run was the feeling that I had throughout the entire run. Although I slowed down by about 10 sec per loop, I never felt like form fell apart. And having the bike escort next to me didn't change how I was feeling as I was totally focused on myself. I was laughing inside a few times as my bike escort was coasting down the hills and I was pounding away. I couldn't help but think how nice it would be to just coast down a hill right now.

I felt strong through the entire run. I certainly had some low moments and had to stop twice (once on loop one near the end and once on loop two near the end of the loop just to stretch out my hips) but I kept on focusing on good form running, knowing that soon the terrain would change and I would get a high again. And anytime that I felt like I was in a low moment, feeling really uncomfortable, I just started to count my steps - one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four as this helps me shut off my brain so I don't think about the pounding of my legs to the ground.
On the last loop, I was excited to be almost at the finish and completely surprised by how fast this race went by! It was getting a bit warm on the hilly section and I really needed the aid station to keep myself cool. I never passed up an aid station for water, even the last one, less than 1/2 mile from the finish.
I guess with my steady pace, I caught back up with Rachel, who dropped me in the first loop and for the entire third/last loop, I was escorted by a volunteer on a bike, who was leading the 2nd female over the line (me!). I wasn't sure how I would finish overall once the other female age groups started to roll in, I was running as strong as I could. I actually looked over my shoulder a few times in the last 1.5 loops because I could see Gin running strong behind me. And how do I know that Gin can run strong and fast, you ask?
Well, I am her sport dietitian (coached by Haley Chura) and we have been working on her daily and sport nutrition for the past 8+ months. After her overall femalewin in IM NC 70.3, she has been running so much better off the bike, thanks to some hard work dialing in her daily diet and fueling. So yes, I was racing ahead of one of my nutrition athletes (and Karel has fit Karel and we did a private training camp with her) so I knew how strong she is on bike and run and that she was getting closer to me with each mile.
Once I made it to the last aid station on the hill, I zipped up my jersey and felt so relieved that I was running my way to the finish. Oh boy, did I sprint to that finish line!

As I crossed the finish line, it was not even a second before my legs collapsed beneath me as I can't tell you how many times during the run did I bargain with myself "you can rest when you are done, you can rest when you are done." Finally - done. I fell to the ground and just laid there for what felt like forever, until a volunteer helped me up. I was announced to be the 2nd female across the line, only to later learn that I was the 3rd overall female winner - wahoo!
Image may contain: one or more people, text and outdoor
As I waited for Gin to cross the line, I chatted with my friend Elyse who gave me some updates on Karel. She told me that she yelled to Karel that I was in the lead off the bike and he gave her a big smile. I was disappointed that I never saw Karel on the run but then again, if I saw Karel, one of us was would have been having a bad race as he started 35 minutes behind me.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and shoes
Gin crossed the line 2 minutes behind me and I told her that she had me running scared for the last loop because she looked so strong.

After Karel crossed the finish line, I told him that I won my age group. After hearing some results from our spectating friends with phones, we also heard that Karel finally broke 4:20 in a half (4:19) and he ran 1:24. I was so surprised with my run as I have never ran so fast off the bike in a half this early in the season so I was super pumped with my 1:39 run split (without any metrics). Oh the freedom to run by feel! Karel said he pushed hard on the run and with his run as his secret/not so secret weapon, he brings a lot of confidence to the end of the bike as this born cyclist loves running off the bike.

While we were both exhausted after the race, we didn't feel too beat up. Certainly, the 48 hours after the race are the worst when the inflammation starts to subside and you feel niggles in different places as some body parts take longer to heal than others.

My favorite part about racing is exchanging stories about the race with Karel. It's always fun to hear each others perspective of the race. About an hour after we finished, we changed our clothes in the car and walked back to the race to look for our athletes. We weren't able to find anyone so we grabbed our bikes and gear and drove back to our rental home. Thankfully, we were able to talk to all of our athletes later that day and everyone did great!

After we cleaned up with a shower and ate some food back at the house, we all (in the house) exchanged our stories before heading back to the awards and received our slots for the 2017 IM 70.3 World Championship.

While this race report may be long and wordy, it's really hard to describe all the details that happen in 70.3 miles. With no expectations for this race, we both raced by feel. I have to be honest and say that after many years of endurance triathlon racing, I feel I am fitter than ever before but I am racing smarter than ever before. As Karel keeps telling me, since we finished the race, "Marni, you finally know how to race a triathlon!" I guess it only took me 11 years to learn how to race a 3-sport event!

I'm so glad that this race is out of the way and we were able to build confidence, test our fitness and take some risks and get that spark back for racing. As I continue to recover and slowly build back into training, I am counting down the days (3 weeks from Saturday!) until we get to do it all again in St. George, Utah!

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


Ironman 70.3 Florida - quick recap

When planning out our 2017 racing season, Karel and I thought long and hard about our 2017 and 2018 season goals as we are all about the developmental process and thinking long term as athletes. Once we established our goals, we selected races that featured courses that would best suit our individual strengths as endurance triathletes.

With Karel focusing on two Ironman distance triathlons this summer (IM Placid and IM Chatty), I am focused on half IM distance racing to get more experience racing before returning back to the Ironman distance in 2018 (likely, Ironman Austria to try to break 10 hours). With this being my 11th year of endurance triathlon racing (and a new age group as I turn 35 in May) and Karel now entering his 5th year of calling himself a triathlete as a 40 year old, we both realize that we may be nearing our prime as endurance athletes and we don't want to waste a day of being able to use, push and challenge our healthy bodies. It's such a gift to be able to do what we can do with our body and seeing that we both love living an active lifestyle in Greenville, SC, triathlon is the perfect outlet for us to set goals and to work hard for them. Plus, the sport of triathlon is so much fun and it allows us to meet inspiring people, to connect with other like minded individuals, to travel and to escape from our daily life stressors and to do something that makes us feel alive and in the moment.

With Ironman 70.3 St. George on our must-do race course bucket list, we decided that this would be the year that we would tackle the difficult course with a handful of our Trimarni athletes so we registered last summer. But, we decided that we needed a tune-up half to dust off the rust and cobwebs since it had been a while since we both raced a long distance race. Thus, we selected Haines City as the venue for our tune-up half in early April, which would leave us a few days to recover and then tune-up again with some final prep for St. George. IM 70.3 Florida featured a wetsuit legal (73 degree) 1.2 lake swim, a mostly flat 56 mile bike course with a few gentle rollers and  13.1 mile 3-loop hilly run.

For us, racing hurts. Although we love racing, it is much more than us showing up and completing the distance. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, Karel and I show up to every race to compete among the competition. We dig deep, take risks and put ourselves into very uncomfortable situations on race day in order to test our fitness and to see what we can accomplish on race day. There is nothing "safe" about how we race. We physically and mentally go to places on race day that we never get to experience on race day.

Regardless of your reason for participating in a triathlon, for every triathlete, the nerves, anxieties, unknowns, pressures and emotions that you experience in the 24 hours before a race and on race day can not be experienced in training. No matter how much fun you have in training or how much you love racing, race day brings nerves and nerves can certainly negatively affect how the body performs on race day.

Race week also brings phanton taper pains. Yes, this is a real thing. In the days leading up to a race (especially an important one), you suddenly feel like you have a cold, you have the flu or you are injured. But ironically, on race day, you don't feel a thing (thank goodness for endorphins). It is important to go through these feelings (that are only felt on race day/week) as you need to build confidence that these things are normal and expected but will not keep you from performing well on race day. Thus, you have to go through them to mentally feel prepared for race day so you can physically perform with your trained and fit body. More than anything, a tune-up race gives us an opportunity to be in a race environment to go through the motions of swimbikerun when there is absolutely no expectations on the outcome. Seeing that every race is different, putting pressure on yourself to achieve specific goals at every single race can create an overwhelming amount stress and can make you lose the joy of racing. Although some races may be of more importance to perform well than others, racing is all about the experience of trying your best and giving your best, regardless of the priority. But without tune-up races, you miss out on the important opportunities to simply "test" things out before the races that really count.

One of the most liberating experiences about racing is having no expectations about the outcome. This means not chasing a goal time, goal paces or goal watts. When you have expectations, you become attached to these preconceived outcomes of how things are expected to go. This can create fear and a tremendous amount of pressure. But as any athlete knows, racing is unpredictable. There is absolutely no way that you can expect certain things to happen in a certain way or in a certain time. Things "come up" on race day and you just can't plan for everything. Additionally, when you have expectations and big goals, it's easy to feel defeated and disappointed if you don't meet those goals. Racing is a reward in and of itself for it shows that you put in the work and got yourself to the start line of a race and hopefully, made it to the finish. The last thing you want is to beat yourself up for having a "bad" race because you were so heavily focused on the outcome. While big scary goals help us all get out of bed in the morning and train when there are many distractions in life, it's important to not get attached to an outcome when you are racing for the outcome will fall into place, in the right way, by simply remaining in the present moment and constantly taking care of what needs to happen during each mile of the race.

Ironman 70.3 Florida was a race of no expectations which meant that there was absolutely no way that Karel and I would experience a sense of failure on race day. Certainly, this approach gave us a lot of freedom to take risks and to test our fitness. And as the saying goes, good things come when you least expect (and don't plan for) them. 

1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 mile run

Swim: 31:25
T1: 2:56
Bike: 2:31:27 (22.19mph)
T2: 2:43
Run: 1:39.32 (7:35 min/mile)
Time: 4:48.03
Overall place (female): 3rd
AG place (35-39): 1st
IM 70.3 World Championship qualifier

Swim: 31:19
T1: 2:34

Bike: 2:18.59 (24.18mph)

T2: 2:26

Run: 1:24.28 (6:26 min/mile)

Time: 4:19.46
Overall place (male): 17th
AG place (40-44): 3rd
IM 70.3 World Championship qualifier


Goggles: TYR Pink 2.0 special ops 
Wetsuit: Xterra Vengeance long sleeve
Gadget - Garmin 920
Kit: Canari custom short sleeve Trimarni tri suit
Sport Bra: Oakley Women continuity bra
Pre-race fuel: 3 homemade pancakes w/ syrup, banana slices and butter and peanut butter. Hardboiled egg w/ salt. Glass of water and cup of coffee. 1 scoop Clif Cran Razz hydration in throw away plastic bottle sipping in the 45 minutes before race. 

Bike: Trek Speed Concept 7 series custom (pink rocket) w/ Shimano ultegra Di2 shifting.
Tires/tubes: Specialized S-works turbo tires and vittoria latex tubes
Gearing: Front: 39/54. Rear sprocket: 11/28, 11sp
Wheels: Alto cycling. Front: cc56. Rear: cc86
Chain: KMC X11SL Pink
Saddle: ISM PN 1.0
Bottle cages: Xlab turbo wing with 2 Gorilla cages (rear), Aerobars - Bontrager pink cage
Helmet: Lazer Wasp Air with shield
Fuel: 3 bottles each with Infinit Trimarni base blend (230 calories per bottle, grape) 
Socks: Swiftwick 
Shoes: Bontager RXL hilo
Power meter: Garmin Vector 2 pedals
Bike computer: Garmin Edge 810

Shoes: New Balance Zante (Pre-race warm-up shoes: Hoka Clifton 3)
Hat: Trimarni Boco gear performance trucker
Sunglasses: Oakley women radar lock with vents
Hydration belt: Nathan mercury 2 (2 x 10 ounce flasks)
Fuel: water and 1 scoop EFS grape per flask 

Goggles: Michael Phelps (MP) XCEED
Wetsuit: Xterra Vengeance long sleeve
Gadget - Garmin 735XT
Kit: Canari custom short sleeve Trimarni tri suit
Pre-race fuel: Bowl of oatmeal w/ brown sugar 3.5 hours prior. Espresso. Croissant with jam and a few sips chocolate protein Bolthouse drink ~2 hours prior, sipping 1 scoop LEVELEN in water bottle. 1 Hot Shot pre race. 

Bike: Trek Speed Concept 8 series custom w/ Durace Di2 shifting 
Wheels: Alto cycling. Front: ct86. Rear: Disc CT311. With CeramicSpeed bearings.
Tires: Tubular S-Works turbo
Gearing: Front: 55/42. Rear: 11/25, 11sp
Chain: Ultra Optimized Chain
Saddle: Pro Aerofuel Carbon
Bottle cages: Rear: Profile mount with Gorilla cages. Front: Bontrager 
Helmet: Giro aerohead 
Fuel: 3 bottles (1 with Infinit Trimarni base blend, 1 with 2 scoops INFINIT Speed and 1 with 1 scoop LEVELEN). 1 Hot Shot (~1/2 way), 1 powerbar gel, 1 Enervitene cheerpack before the end of the bike. 
Socks: None
Shoes: Bontager RXL hilo
Power meter: Garmin Vector 2 pedals
Bike computer: Garmin Edge 810

Shoes: New Balance Zante breathe (Pre-race warm-up shoes: NB vongo)
Hat: Trimarni Boco gear performance trucker
Sunglasses: Oakley radar lock
Socks: Swiftwick 
Hydration belt: Fuel belt helium (3 flasks )
Fuel: 1 Hot Shot in T2. 1 Enervitene in T2. Flasks: 2 with EFS Pro, 1 with Enervitene diluted with water)

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