Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae is one of the biggest superstars the sport of triathlon has ever seen. In addition to being one of the most successful racers of her generation, Runny also boasts one of the biggest personalities and an indomitable fighting spirit. She has claimed victory at Kona on three occasions, first in 2010, and then two consecutive times in 2013 and 2014, both of which came aboard the legendary Felt IA race bike. She’s also the current record holder for the Kona run course, as well as a former holder of the overall Kona course record, which she set during her championship-winning effort in 2010. After stepping away from competition in 2017 to welcome the arrival of her first child, daughter Isabelle, Rinny is back in a big way in 2018. Building her entire season around Kona, Rinny garnered impressive wins at Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa and Ironman 70.3 Augusta. With her strong form and a tenacity unlike any other competitor, new mother Rinny is poised for a breakout performance at this year’s Kona. We caught up with her in the days leading up to the biggest race of her career.
FELT: Tell us about your 2018 racing season so far. What have been some of the highlights and some of the low points of the season?
Rinny: This year has been wonderful, both personally and professionally. Racing and training, as well as juggling a toddler, hasn’t been an easy task, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge of it all. Not to mention, having little Isabelle around gives everything in our lives new meaning. I have been really happy with how my racing has gone this year. We were definitely in new territory after a year off and a slightly different post-baby body with which to work. The highlights of the season so far would have to be taking second place in my first race back when I really thought I would be more like in the fifth-through-tenth-place range. Plus, I just loved being out there doing what I love. Another season high would be breaking the tape in my first win back at Santa Rosa 70.3. In terms of any low points to the season, well, I honestly don’t feel like there were any real lows. But I guess the one race where I feel I didn’t perform to my abilities was at Monterrey 70.3 where I lost a few gels at the start of the bike and completely bonked in the run. That wasn’t super fun but a nice reminder to always have a “Plan B” for nutrition. As my coach says, “We are either winning or learning!”
FELT: What’s your favorite memory from your career racing triathlon?
Rinny: My favorite memory would be crossing the finish line in first place with a new course record and a new run course record at Kona in 2013, then jumping into my soon-to-be-husband’s arms when he greeted me at the finish line after his fifth place finish in the men’s race.
FELT: What racing goal would you like to achieve that you haven’t yet in your career?
Rinny: I’d like to run a sub-2:50 marathon at the Kona World Championship.
FELT: Describe your hardest day of training for this year’s Kona World Championship.
Rinny: It’s never just one day that’s the hardest. It’s the weeks and months of consistent hard work that makes Ironman training so grueling. But my biggest Kona training day would start with a 4-kilometer swim with lots of efforts, then jumping onto the bike for a 5-hour ride with hard efforts in the last 2 hours, and then finishing with a run for around 10 miles of efforts well above Ironman race pace.
FELT: What’s the most unique element of your training plan for Kona?
Rinny: I don’t think there is anything that unique about my training plan, except maybe for the fact that we plan my entire year around Kona. It surprises me that more athletes don’t do the same.
FELT: What makes the Kona World Championship unique compared to other triathlon events?
Rinny: There’s just something special about racing in Kona, and I’m not sure if it’s the history or the mystique of racing on the island. You never know what conditions you are going to get. It’s always hot, humid, and windy, so the question is always how hot, humid, windy will it be? That’s in the hands of the island gods.
FELT: Describe your perfect race day at Kona.
Rinny: My perfect race day would be swimming with the main pack, and finishing the bike amidst the front few competitors, then running a sub-2:50 marathon.
FELT: If you weren’t a professional triathlete, what career would you pursue?
Rinny: I have no idea, but it’d probably be something much more boring.
FELT: What are three things you cannot live without?
Rinny: Water. Love. Food.
FELT: Tell us about your Felt IA Disc bike. What do you think of disc brakes?
Rinny: I’m kind of indifferent about the actual disc brakes. I haven’t had the chance to do much technical riding on the bike just yet. I do feel like that they are safer with much better stopping capabilities, and I am certain I would love them if I was riding in the rain where traditional rim brakes can fail big time. What I do love about the IA Disc is the way the bike feels when you are riding it. It’s a much stiffer ride and feels a lot more sturdy in cross winds and around corners. I feel much more confident when I am on the IA Disc.
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