Women in Triathlon: WITSUP Brunch with Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae and Rachel “Joycey” Joyce

By Dana Willett

This morning Jen Findley and I were honored to attend a very special WITSUP Brunch in a foothills mansion high above the cacophony of the Kona Race Week activities at sea level.

An annual event celebrating women in triathlon, the sold out Witsup Kona Brunch featured triathlon legends Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae and Rachel “Joycey” Joyce, moderated by WITSUP “Chief,” Stef “Steffie” Hansen (who is quick to note, one may only address her by this moniker if you are an IRONMAN World Champion). This is the “fourth or fifth” year of the event (and one we will not miss in the future).

Sponsors Cervelo and Ceramic Speed were well represented with signage and prize drawing giveaways.

Our plates piled high with delicacies prepared by Stef’s “chef” husband Brett, we settled in to luxurious chairs as she opened the casual Q&A session by introducing “Two of the most wanted athletes in the world,” Rinny and Rachel.

Stef introduced Rachel, pointing out that the Boulder-based pro completed three IRONMAN races in just ten weeks (including winning IRONMAN Boulder!) after giving birth to her first child, Archie, just 13 months ago.

Rinny was next, asked about what it was like to be in Kona and not be racing: “Izzy is taking most of the focus – it’s very different being here without the anxiety of racing, and just supporting Tim (O’Donnell).”

It was then Rinny’s turn to ask Stef a question… In her trademark feisty and spirited way, Rinny asked Stef point blank if she plans to have kids. Once the room settled down after some barbs and an eruption of laughter, Stef admitted she’d “never been embarrassed on stage.”  She then turned serious: “I find the subject fascinating because it’s a dilemma for athletes – age groupers or pros – pregnancy affects sponsor relationships, requires a break from training and racing; it’s one of the biggest challenges in being a pro triathlete, and any working professional. It concerns me – what would happen with WITSUP? I’m not ready to compromise that. Not now. Eventually. But not until it can be my number one priority.”

There were many murmurs of agreement from the attentive audience, most of whom were women, some Kona athletes and some not, and a good smattering of supportive men.

“Moving on,” Stef commanded, slyly changing the subject. She asked Rinny what it has been like “getting back in shape after having a kid.”

Rinny responded that so far she’s had just two runs and two swims – and, she “pulled out sore” after 20 minutes on the run. “It’s gonna be tough,” she said, succinctly.

Rachel responded to the same question, saying, “It taught me patience. I remember my first swim – I was completely exhausted after just 1500 meters – it was so different from being so in shape before. I had to switch my mindset to looking forward, instead of back. I couldn’t rush it. I had to focus on,  ‘I’m better than I was last week.’

She continued, “It was hard work, especially the core strength. When I stood at the start line of my first race back I thought, ‘Wow, six months ago I was only walking around the block. You have to take baby steps. Don’t rush it.”

Stef then asked, “It’s similar to injury, then, taking it day by day, right?”

Rachel responded, saying it is similar to injury in that you need to look forward at your progress, and not wishing you were back to where you were before. Then she added, “You have all that, plus breastfeeding. Your body’s main function is to support another human. And the physical changes, like wondering, ‘when will my stomach stop jiggling?’ I felt like my legs weren’t attached to my top half – there was no ‘pop.’  It’s a foreign feeling. My body felt disconnected getting back into training. You have to be patient.”

Rinny was then asked if the past 6-7 weeks since Izzy was born have been similar to the rest she usually takes after Kona. Rinny replied dryly, “Well, this has been 6 or 7 weeks of doing nothing, and also I had a human come out of me.” The room erupted.

She continued, “My core is lost after having to make way for all the expansion. But I’m sitting here listening and trying to take lessons from what Rachel said. I’ll look ahead. Next year I want to be back here and be a contender.”

Stef paused dramatically, and commented, “The best contraception is talking with you two.”

The discussion then turned to race day strategies. Stef asked, “How do you switch off your usual ‘nice’ personalities  to “terminator” mode on race day?”
Rinny responded, saying, “When I started (as a pro) I struggled with my friendships with competitors, how to manage that. But I learned that when gun goes off it’s a war… you must be no one’s friend.”

Stef and Rachel joined in with some barbs, Stef saying, “The smack talk is starting now.” Rinny responded, “This year it’s ok because I’m just watching … but next year – looking at Rachel -all bets are off.”

Rachel commented, “You have to think of it that they’re just people I want to be ahead of – I’m very single-minded. It doesn’t matter whether you’re friends or not.”

Nodding agreement, Rinny added, “At that point in the race (during the run) we’re all suffering, so you feel bad. You want to say “sorry- but I’m going on ahead of you.”

The conversation went on to cover advice for the strong Queen K cross-winds (“Trust your bike – it was designed for the wind – try to relax into it”), descending from Hawi (Rinny: “Put it in the biggest ring and go for it!”), and Race Week nerves (Rinny: “I want that – it shows the race matters to you;” Rachel: “If I didn’t feel nervous I’d wonder what was wrong”).

And then the Hot Topic: For pro women after having a baby, they have to do so many races in order to get points for Kona… there is no current carry over or accommodation for maternity leave…

Rachel noted, “We want to have the best women and men racing in Kona. We need to work back from that. Despite fitness before giving birth, it just takes a long time (to get back in shape). We need to look at other sports and consider how to take maternity leave. It’s very complex – we need a statistician to sort rankings, and look at the possibility of carrying over points from the prior year.”

Rachel continues, “There isn’t an easy answer. Women need to not rush back and risk injury – we need to accommodate that.”

Agreeing, Rinny added, “We want the best athletes in their best form – whether it’s a point system or whatever. There are lots of different ideas, and we need to look seriously at the rules.”

Stef concluded the topic saying, “We need a better solution – there’s not a perfect solution, but there is a better way.”

After some talk about finding your “zone” on the Kona run (Rachel says, “The blanker and freer you can keep your mind the better… think about rhythm, nutrition, form”) and a possible 2-day race formula for Kona, like 70.3 worlds in Chattanooga (both women were in favor of it “to showcase the women’s race properly”), the discussion turned more philosophical.

 

If not triathlon, then what career would you want to pursue?
Rinny explained she studied physiology and kinesiology in college, and she would likely pursue those fields. Rachel, a former lawyer said, “I definitely like the law, but I’m not sure I’d go back to a law firm.”

And, finally, the most memorable moment over time on the Big Island?

“Winning in 2013 ,” Rinny answered without hesitation. “I had won in 2010 and then I had a couple of not-great years. Winning in 2013 validated that it wasn’t a fluke – the day flew by went perfectly. And it was also pretty special because Tim came in 5th. It was the most memorable.”
(Stef pointed out that they were engaged, noting the famous photo of Rinny jumping into Tim’s arms, laughing and saying “you needed the money for the wedding, right?”)

Rachel found her first time at Kona as the most memorable. “I didn’t yet identify as a pro triathlete – I felt out of depth.
I came 6th that year – I came in 4th off the bike, and I heard Greg Welch saying, ‘I think we’re going to see this one go backward…’ I thought, I’ll show you. It was so memorable. It was not my best race, but it ewas the start of a proper pro career.

Predictions for the pro field on Saturday? Rinny was quick to say, “I’ll answer that. I’d pick Rachel or Daniella for one and two, and then Heather (Jackson) or my dark horse pick – Lucy Charles. She’s my dark horse.”

 

Be sure to check out the WITSUP website for all the “Wahine Warrior” videos of Kona pro women!

IRONMAN Boulder champion Timothy O’Donnell talks with 303Radio: Fatherhood, Kona Strategy

Brought to you by Training Peaks:

Hear 2017 Ironman Boulder champion Timothy O’Donnell tell 303radio hosts Bill Plock and Rich Soares talk about being a father and preparing to race and how his 2017 season played out. Timothy shares how his Santa Cruz 70.3 race went and just life as a pro triathlete, being married to Mirinda Carfrae the motivation that comes from a family and some ideas on how he is gonna attack Kona in 2017 with the help of Mark Allen and Greg Bennett both of Boulder and using the Halo NeuroSport. Road to Kona through Boulder!

The IRONMAN Foundation to provide $125,000 in charitable giveback to the Kailua-Kona community in 2017

TAMPA, Fla. (October 6, 2017) – The IRONMAN Foundation® will distribute more than $125,000 in charitable giveback to non-profit initiatives and groups in the Kailua-Kona community in conjunction with the 2017 IRONMAN® World Championship, including a special initiative with YES Hawai`i to support local youth in the foster care system and granting a wish in partnership with Make-A-Wish®. This year’s grant funding brings the total awarded to $1.5 million across 1,100 Kailua-Kona non-profit organizations.

The IRONMAN Foundation will partner with YES Hawai’i, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering local youth in the foster care system by creating a community and support system through organized educational, recreational and social activities. Together they have planned an excursion event that will join local youth in the foster care system with IRONMAN athletes for a manta ray night snorkel tour. In addition, YES Hawaii will receive a $2,500 grant to sponsor its ongoing programs with local youth in foster care.

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. These wishes have the ability to help wish kids not only feel better, but sometimes, even get better. The IRONMAN Foundation will host Nicholas Purschke, a 12-year old Make-A-Wish kid with Cerebral ALD (Adrenoleukodystrophy), a severe genetic brain disorder. It is Nicholas’s wish to attend the IRONMAN World Championship and meet his triathlon heroes because it is “amazing what these athletes do and they have inspired me during my journey. I’m a runner and athlete and I’m also very competitive and would really like to do an IRONMAN in the future.” In addition to meeting IRONMAN Foundation Pro Triathlete Ambassadors Mirinda Carfrae and Timothy O’Donnell, Nicholas will participate in several race-week events, including the IRONKIDS Keiki Dip-N-Dash and leading the United States delegation of athletes at the Parade of Nations.

The IRONMAN Foundation will also present a special grant for $1,406 to PATH Hawai’i at the 31st Annual PATH 5k and 10k run taking place on Sunday, October 8. PATH works with Hawai`i state and county, local leaders and community members to safely connect people and places on Hawaiian Islands with bikeways, sidewalks and pathways.

“We are truly honored to partner with these organizations to provide funding or support for their initiatives,” said Dave Deschenes, Executive Director for The IRONMAN Foundation. “Together we’re leaving a lasting impact and our IRONMAN legacy here on the Island of Hawai`i.”

Continuing the “We’ve Got Your Back(pack)” program launched in April of this year, volunteers at the IRONMAN Foundation booth inside the IRONMAN Village will prepare backpacks for local children in need. Backpacks provided by Travelway Group International will include school supplies and sunscreen provided by Wal-mart, water bottles from Gatorade, healthy snacks from Clif Bar and inspirational notes written by IRONMAN athletes. The backpacks will be presented to Kids Matter and YES Hawai`i to support their participating youth.

Thirty athletes from around the world will race in support of IRONMAN Foundation programs, including the IRONMAN Foundation Community Fund and Women For Tri®. Together they have raised a record-breaking $850,000.

The IRONMAN Foundation Community Fund provides community and volunteerism grant opportunities to non-profit organizations where IRONMAN events are held. In 2017, The IRONMAN Foundation will distribute more than $1.5 million in grant funding to support the needs of IRONMAN race communities across North America. Since 2015, Women For Tri has distributed more than $187,000 in grant funding to support female participation initiatives.

Follow 303Triathlon this Weekend

IRONMAN Boulder week is so fun!

We love the community that shines in our home town this week.  Be sure to follow us for all the action through the weekend.  The 303 staff and ambassadors will be every where all weekend starting at yesterday’s events, today’s athlete check in and pro panel, UPR, Opening Ceremonies, race day excitement, awards and Kona slots on Monday.

 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @303Triathlon

 

Here’s a quick look at Thursday’s activities.

 

Rinny, Mike Reilly and Kristine Reinhardt-Pence at the IRONMAN Foundation and Paradox Sports in beautiful Eldorado Canyon State Park.

 

IRONMAN staff love their jobs!

 

 

 

At this year’s IRONMAN Boulder, Colorado athletes not only represent our great state to the rest of the triathlon world, but are included in IRONMAN’s Team Colorado, with special swim caps and 303 adorned race bibs for easy spotting by media and photographers… thanks to all the IMBoulder volunteers who help make this happen, along with uber race director Tim Brosious and of course Dave Christen!

 

 

Thursday Stroke & Stride is never uneventful!

 

 

Pease brothers, tandem team racing Sunday, at Big Ring Cycles

 

And every one loves a good story time, especially when Mike Reilly, the Voice of IRONMAN, is telling the stories.

 

Mike Reilly, Mirinda Carfrae, Timothy O’Donnell lead 2017 Ironman Foundation Ambassador Team

Ironman today announced it’s 18-member Ambassador team – including 303’s own Khem Suthiwan!

Ambassadors to support service projects in eight IRONMAN North American race communities

TAMPA, Fla. (May 8, 2017) – The IRONMAN Foundation® today announced that the 2017 IMF Ambassador Team comprising 18 age-group triathletes from around the United States will be led by Team Captain and “Voice of IRONMAN” Mike Reilly as well as by pro triathletes Mirinda Carfrae, a three-time IRONMAN World Champion, and Timothy O’Donnell, a multi-year IRONMAN® World Championship top ten finisher. To support The Foundation’s mission to create tangible impact in IRONMAN race communities through philanthropy and volunteerism, the ambassadors will focus their efforts on The Foundation’s eight service projects in North America.

Each service project is conducted in partnership with a local nonprofit organization, powerfully linking IRONMAN athletes and TriClubs to the local race community. At the 2017 IRONMAN® 70.3® Oceanside triathlon, an adaptive surf clinic for children with physical challenges was held with the Challenged Athletes Foundation. At the 2017 IRONMAN North American Championship Texas triathlon, a local disabled senior received a new roof and volunteers helped restore the exterior of her home with Rebuilding Together Houston.

“It’s an extraordinary moment when an IRONMAN athlete has the opportunity to connect directly with the cause they support and make a difference in their race community,” said Sarah Hartmann, Community Relations Manager for the IRONMAN Foundation. “Our 2017 Team IMF Ambassador Team truly embodies our mantra of ‘Service Through Sport and Commitment to Community.’”

Additional service projects include flood restoration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Friends of Lake Sonoma at IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa, an adaptive climbing clinic and trail maintenance with Paradox Sports at IRONMAN Boulder, a race week hands-only CPR training with the American Red Cross at IRONMAN Lake Placid, and a day of service with the Salt River Children’s Foundation at IRONMAN Arizona. Two additional projects are planned for the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship events.

“I’m extremely proud to represent the IRONMAN Foundation this season as the captain of the IMF Ambassador Team,” said Mike Reilly, Voice of IRONMAN. “This team has a unique opportunity to connect with our local race communities and give back through sport. The IRONMAN Foundation athletes give of themselves in order for others to achieve, there is no greater honor!”

The 2017 Team IMF Ambassadors are:

Mike Reilly, San Diego, CA

Mirinda Carfrae, Boulder, CO

Timothy O’Donnell, Boulder, CO

Peter Anderson, Portland, ME

Melissa Bowman, Chicago, IL

Louis Burns, Granite Bay, CA

Diana Cohen, Columbia, CT

Kevin Edmonds, College Park, GA

Shay Eskew, Brentwood, TN

Stephanie Felber, Elgin, IL

Woodrow Freese, Newton, MA

Daniel Giblin, Rochester, NY

Sheila Hiestand, Louisville, KY

Alex Holderness, Denver, CO

Terry Klise, Missoula, MT

Bryan Lam, El Cerrito, CA

Robert Maar, Plainfield, IN

John McGrath, Paradise Valley, AZ

Ed Shifflet, Swarthmore, PA

John Snyder, Leawood, KS

Khem Suthiwan, Denver, CO

For more information on each service project and how you can get involved, please visit Here.

Tri Coach Tuesday: Nicole DeBoom and Mirinda Carfrae

I’m thinking we all know who these amazing women are.  But, for the record, Nicole DeBoom won IRONMAN Wisconsin in 2004, has competed in Kona and is now the founder and owner of the successful and popular Boulder based, Skirt Sports.

Mirinda Carfrae is an amazing athlete.  With three IRONMAN Kona women’s champion titles to her name, the Boulder resident seems unstopable.

 

In 2016, Nicole added the podcast Run This World to her “To Do” List and has interviewed many amazing athletes and local entrepreneurs.  Shortly after Kona this past October, Nicole was able to sit down and talk with Rinny, discussing many topics including growing up a basketball player, transitioning to triathlon, being married to a professional athlete, balancing life and what the future may hold.

 

Listen to the podcast here

33 – Mirinda Carfrae from 5’3″ Basketball Pipsqueak to 3-time Ironman World Champion