154 TRIATHLETE.COM | June 2011 June 2011 | TRIATHLETE.

COM 155
During the 2011 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand, journalist
Holly Bennett enjoyed unique access to Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae, as the reigning
Ironman world champion prepared to race. Read on for insight into Rinny’s race-week
thoughts, emotions, activities, training and nutrition shared in this
P+-~./ » -+y B~-- & D+y C«r
156 TRIATHLETE.COM | June 2011
After arriving in Taupo, New Zealand,
on Monday afternoon and finally feeling
caught up from jetlag, today started with
a 40K ride to test the notoriously chip-
sealed roads. It’s going to be a bumpy
bike! Then it was family time. My broth-
er Warrick and sister-in-law Tammarra
were able to pop over from nearby Bris-
bane, Australia, with their three kids—
Mackenzie (aka Macy, 3 ½), Patrick (aka
Patchy, 2) and Oliver (10 months)—to sup-
port me and enjoy a brief vacation. Hav-
ing them here is the highlight of my week.
I live with them when I’m back in Oz, and
we’re especially close. Macy generously
gives up her princess-themed room, so
that’s where you’ll find the Ironman world
champion: sleeping in a teeny tiny kid’s
bed, decorated for a princess.
Next up was an interview with the lo-
cal newspaper. The reporter met me at
the Hilton Lake Taupo, a gorgeous hilltop
hotel where I’m being treated to a luxury
apartment suite for my race-week stay.
Post-interview I scurried into town for a
noontime massage, after which I toured
the transition area’s ins and outs. Then
I met up with the Ironman New Zealand
crew, all of whom have gone out of their
way to make me feel welcome.
A quick café lunch was followed by a
2.5K swim at the Taupo Aquatic Centre.
It was just chilly and windy enough that
I opted out of a dip in the lake. I had an-
other interview in the afternoon—this
time over the phone with the Auckland
news. Later I trucked my new Felt bike
into Performance Bicycle Tuning’s Ben
Marshall (the onsite race mechanic) for
a few post-travel tweaks and then it was
time to meet my family for dinner down-
town. I know the day seems hectic, but in
comparison, this whole week promises to
be more relaxing than is often the case at
a big race. None of my sponsors are at the
expo, so my only commitments—outside
of getting myself and my race gear sort-
ed—are a variety of media interviews.
I kicked back during dinner, admired
Warrick and Tammarra’s ease in ma-
neuvering three moving-target young-
sters while still enjoying their own meals,
practiced crayon-coloring with Macy
and traipsed about town after dinner
in search of ice cream treats. I love the
entertainment and distraction the kids
provide from race-week stress—though
finding ice cream was just as high on my
priority list as theirs!
Some of the Carfrae clan supporting me in Taupo. From left, that’s Tammarra, Patrick, Oliver,
Warrick, Mackenzie and me (right). Some feet-up time at the Hilton (below). Chatting with the
media (bottom).
158 TRIATHLETE.COM | June 2011
After sleeping in until 9 a.m., I dealt with
a heap of red tape trying to get my 2011
race kit released from customs in Auck-
land. Squadra rush-shipped it direct from
the Philippines, but sadly customs cre-
ated an unforeseen roadblock. Currently,
the ETA for my uniform is Sunday, one day
The rest of the morning I chilled at the
Hilton, had a long chat with my coach (Siri
Lindley) and tried to sort through my feel-
ings about the upcoming race. I’m a posi-
tive person, yet I’m also an honest person,
and I can’t hide the fact that I don’t really
want to be here. Let me clarify: In terms
of an Ironman outside of Kona, there’s no-
where I’d rather be. The IMNZ team rocks,
and I can’t complain about the stunning
venue and fun, easy atmosphere sur-
rounding the race. But given the choice I
wouldn’t race an Ironman until October.
With a new WTC [World Triathlon Cor-
poration, owner of Ironman] policy in
place, while I qualified for the Ironman
World Championship for five years with
my 2010 win, I still need to validate my
qualification by finishing one other Iron-
man race annually. It’s never been my
strategy to race multiple Ironmans in a
season, and I’d prefer not to have that
requirement dictate my training and rac-
ing plans. I’m especially conflicted now, as
I find myself two days out from the race
and not in peak form. Yet of course I want
to defend my title in Hawaii, so here I am,
ready or not!
I choose my races carefully, coming
to each start line as ideally prepared as
possible within the context of the over-
all season. I aim to win each time. I don’t
believe in “training races,” yet this is what
my Ironman New Zealand has to be if I
don’t want to severely alter the rest of my
program. I’m also coming off the busiest
off-season of my career. Winning in Kona
brings a whole new level of exposure and
commitments. I revel in the ability to
drive awareness for our sport, give back
to my sponsors and explore all sorts of
rewarding opportunities. But I also need
Making my mark on the 2011 race banner.
All day: Plenty of H
Breakfast: Toast with
blueberry jam
Snacks: Banana, 3 Tim
Tam cookies (you try to eat
just one!), blood orange
sparkling juice drink
Lunch: BLAT (bacon,
lettuce, avocado, tomato)
Snacks: A few Cadbury
chocolates, handful of salt
and vinegar chips
Dinner: Lamb salad
Dessert: McDonald’s
caramel sundae
(everywhere else was
All day: Plenty of H
Breakfast: Kellogg’s Nutri-
Grain cereal with milk
Snack: Banana and
orange juice with scoop of
Lunch: Toasted sandwich
of sliced chicken breast,
cheese and tomato, blood
orange sparkling juice drink
Snack: Tim Tam cookie and
a few Allen’s lollies
Dinner: Lasagna and bread
roll, sparkling apple drink
Dessert: Chocolate brownie
All day: Plenty of H
Breakfast: Toast with
blueberry jam, orange juice
with scoop of Carbo-Pro
Snack: Banana
Lunch: 6-inch Subway
roasted chicken breast
sandwich with greens,
2 cookies
Dinner: Chicken breast
and rice with tomato-basil
pasta sauce, blood orange
sparkling juice drink
Snack: H
O with scoop of
Carbo-Pro, English mun
with butter and blueberry
Breakfast: 2 pieces of toast
with butter and blueberry
jam, electrolyte drink with
scoop of Carbo-Pro
20 minutes pre-race:
1 chocolate Gu
On bike: 2 bottles electrolyte
drink mixed with scoop of
1 bottle Coke
2 bottles water
3 chocolate Gu
3 pineapple Roctane
16 Thermolyte tabs
On run: 5 pineapple
Roctane, Coke and water
at aid stations
Post-race: 2 bottles
electrolyte drink
(hydrating for drug test!),
cup chicken soup
Early evening: 2 hard-
boiled eggs
Late-night dinner: Huge
burger and a few chips
(fries), red wine
(Slept through breakfast)
Lunch: Chicken salad
sandwich, carrot cake
Snacks: Sausage roll, a
few Cadbury chocolates,
a few handfuls salt and
vinegar chips
Dinner: Rice and butter
chicken, red wine
Dessert: Chocolate cake,
more red wine!
Rinny’s IMNZ Race Week
160 TRIATHLETE.COM | June 2011
to learn to better balance these
things with my training and re-
covery time. My days “off” have
been nothing of the sort: Most
have been spent jetting to photo
shoots and appearances. While
these are critical aspects of my
athletic career, rest and recovery
are also critical, and I’m at a bit of
a deficit in that regard.
It’s funny—despite the in-
creased threats in Kona with
a significantly deeper field, I’ve felt far
more confident heading into that race. I
know I’ve come to the Hawaii start line
at my best, ready to give my all—hardly
what I’m feeling now. Yet I’m still an ex-
tremely competitive person and I imag-
ine I’ll feel disappointed if I don’t win.
How could I not, given my nature? With
all these mixed feelings, I’m experiencing
weird twinges of anxiety—something I’ve
not felt before!
I know the best approach is to not
think about these things. Keeping busy
also helps, and my afternoon was exact-
ly that. I attended the pro briefing, went
over the course maps, chatted with ath-
letes at the expo, grabbed a short run (35
minutes with race-pace pickups), sorted
my gear bags and had just a few minutes
to chat with my boyfriend (fellow pro
Tim O’Donnell) before rushing off to the
carbo-loading party for an onstage Q&A.
After dinner, back at the Hilton, all three
kids climbed on my lap to help change
out the Zipp stickers on my race wheels.
I could only laugh at their enthusiastic,
if fumbling, assistance, and once again I
was distracted from any worry and ready
for bed.
After a 25K ride and a 25-minute run, I
filmed a TV interview, followed by the
pro athlete press conference. Then came
a scramble to track down a container for
my Thermolyte salt capsules. I had to
laugh at myself, as normally I wouldn’t
overlook even the smallest detail in my
race preparation. Not having an appro-
priate container was further proof that
I was in denial about actually racing an
Ironman tomorrow! Thankfully, I found
exactly what I was looking for: a flip-top
mini-M&M candy dispenser. Problem
solved, with bonus chocolate to boot!
Finally fully organized, I racked my
bike, turned in my bags, rehearsed the
transition layout and set off for an easy
15-minute swim. I had yet to dip a single
toe in the water of Lake Taupo, but at this
stage I couldn’t be bothered with cram-
ming into my wetsuit, so off to the pool
I went. Late afternoon was spent at the
Hilton, alternately dozing and talking
A quick chat with Tim via Skype (right). All sorted!
(below). Some TLC for my disc wheel, with some
help from Oliver, Mackenzie and Patrick (bottom).
162 TRIATHLETE.COM | June 2011
with Tim. My family arrived for an early
dinner, a simple home-cooked bowl of
chicken and rice, and after more playtime
with the kids I tucked myself into bed.
Not a wink—that’s how much I slept. While
downing my breakfast and pulling on my
2010 race kit (the new one languished in
Auckland) I had a quick chat with Siri, then
headed out the door to get this thing done.
I warmed up with a 10-minute run,
swim cords and 15 minutes in the wa-
ter. Compared to the now-pouring rain
and blustery wind, being in the lake was
a calming relief. Missing the swim start,
however, was a bit of a jolt! I hadn’t both-
ered to check that we had an in-water
start (more of that denial business) and
didn’t see the precise location of the pro
group until the gun went off.
I did manage to catch up, and while my
swim felt unremarkable, I came out only
two minutes down from Sam Warriner
and alongside Jo Lawn. As we hammered
through the first lap of the wet, wind-
slammed bike, Sam stretched her lead to
3:30 and Jo and I continuously jockeyed
back and forth within about 10 seconds
of one another. Just past the 85K mark, Jo
flatted ahead of me. An official race mo-
torcycle swerved to check on her, narrow-
ly missing me and gripping my body with
“I’m going to die!” fear. I gathered myself
as I headed out for lap 2, just in time for
my own sympathy puncture.
My spare tire had flown off my bike
within the first 10K, so I had to wait for
tech support, setting me back 15–16
minutes. When I finally got rolling, I reas-
sessed my plan. My priority was to finish
the race and secure my Kona spot. I had
nothing to prove, and it wasn’t worth tak-
ing risks in the torrential rain. With that
in mind, and with my heart perhaps not
100 percent in the race, I eased up a bit on
the final bike lap, starting the run almost
23 minutes down from the lead. I was
content to run a solid, if far from record-
shattering marathon. But then I saw my
family and friends, cheering wildly and
screaming messages texted in by Siri, Tim
and some of my best friends. “You can DO
this!,” “FIRE!” “You CAN! YOU can!” Dang
it. Despite not really wanting to and not
thoroughly believing them, I knew I had
to try.
Apparently the race spotters claimed
my shoes had jet propulsion, but I can tell
you I did not feel so lucky! The first part
of the run was decent—I churned out
kilometers at a 4:00 pace [6:26 per mile
pace]—but I dropped down to 4:30s [7:15s]
in the final 15K and I was seriously suffer-
ing. Sam held on to win by 3 minutes, while
I ran my way up to second place. I couldn’t
even raise my hands in celebration across
the line. I collapsed a few steps beyond the
It took a steady focus to stay upright on the wet
road (top). Finally finished! (above).

164 TRIATHLETE.COM | June 2011
finish and was helped to the medical tent,
where I camped out awhile, swaddled in
blankets, cuddling a hot water bottle and
trying to get back in balance after feel-
ing light-headed and tight-chested. I was
definitely not in shape to push that hard.
Simply put, that was agony.
I was randomly selected for an EPO
drug test, which meant I was required
to produce a 120 milliliter urine sample.
I missed the post-race press conference
due to being in medical, but I managed to
rally for an interview with IronmanLive’s
Kevin Mackinnon. Finally, after almost
two hours, a cup of soup, several bottles
of electrolyte drink and a very patient
WADA official, I produced the necessary
sample and went home to shower, rest
and ring my mum. Late that night, I did
make it back downtown, first to consume
a rather large burger and a glass of wine
and later to help cheer in the final finish-
ers. That’s where the race began to take
Warriner and seven-time champion Jo
Lawn are on home turf in New Zealand
and are loved throughout the country. So
I was taken by surprise during the week
by the number of people who wished me
good luck and approached me for auto-
graphs and photos. At the awards ban-
quet, my surprise was replaced by pure
shock when, following the presentation, I
was swarmed by a crowd of well-wishers
offering their congratulations. I stayed
until I had spoken with each individual,
signed autographs and motivational mes-
sages, and posed for hundreds of photos.
As much as I had struggled with my moti-
vation and desire to do the race, the peo-
ple who were a part of Ironman New Zea-
land—the organizers, sponsors, athletes,
spectators and volunteers—gave me
what I needed to feel happy and proud to
be there, whether I had ended up first or
dead last. They reminded me of the spirit,
perseverance and joy that are unique to
Ironman, and of the honor I hold (and the
responsibility therein) in being the world
I’m already looking forward to visiting
Taupo again next year and thinking how
I might approach the race differently. But
for tonight, it’s time to head to the pub for
some hard-earned libations!
Do I look like I just raced an Ironman? (left).
Perked up and proud on the podium (below).
perspective and the sting of disappoint-
ment started to fade—watching the age-
groupers gut it out to the line in all their
emotion and glory.
I slept! In fact, I barely made it to the har-
bor in time to meet my family for a relax-
ing boat cruise around the lake. Next, we
headed to the river to enjoy one of Tau-
po’s natural thermal springs. My quads
were bitterly sore on the hike downhill to
the springs, and while it may seem crazy
that I opted to hoist Macy in my arms the
whole way down, her smiling face and
snuggles were just the recovery I needed.
We soaked in the springs and the adjoin-
ing cold river for a few hours. Then it was
time to indulge my meat pie craving, grab
a quick nap, grant one more interview and
head to the awards banquet.
Coming into this race, I expected to
feel like a bit of an outsider. Both Sam

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