Essential Sports Nutrition


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 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. 


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. 


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! 


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 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)

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

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 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
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

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