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Rachel Joyce Profile

This is third guest post written by Stef Hanson, the Chief of witsup.com. This is the third (and for now, last) in our series on female Kona contenders on each other’s sites. (If you want my more “numbers-oriented posts”, head over to witsup.com!) Thanks, again Stef, and enjoy your time on the island!

The last time we saw Rachel ‘Joycey’ Joyce, hit the Ironman course was at Ironman Texas in May where she destroyed the field, along with some of the men’s field as well. It was her third sub-nine hour performance (after Ironman Melbourne and Challenge Roth in 2012) and she lead from start to finish. However, despite this outstanding performance in May, Joyce has been quiet on the racing scene this year due to illness and injuries.

“It’s been a frustrating year. At the end of last year I suffered almost getting tonsillitis every two months and I went into a lot of races with minimal training,” Joyce explained. “It was almost like a rush to get fit enough to be able to do the race. “ With possibly the most frustrating being when she was sick in the week leading into the Ironman World Championships, where she ended up 11th despite feeling less than ordinary.

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“I got some good results, but I kind of surprised myself with what I could do with so much interrupted training,” she continued. “Then after Kona last year I got my tonsils out and so I went into 2013 thinking, I’m going to be really healthy now, I’m going to be able to race lots, you know, and then it was frustrating because I would get little niggles that would come at the wrong time and I’ve not been able to get out there and race! Racing is the fun bit of it all!”

However, come Ironman Texas time, all the hard work in training paid off with a strong race, showcasing her strength across all three disciplines and a 4:42:29 bike split that fell within 4.6% of the winning men’s time. However, she turned her ankle in the dying stages of the run in Texas. Although it hurt at the time, when the adrenalin is pumping, it sometimes doesn’t seem too bad. “I didn’t really think too much about it after the race. I put some ice on it, but that was about it, and I usually have a week off running after an Ironman anyway, so I didn’t think much more about it until I went running that week later and ended up only running for 10mins and the foot really hurt.” After a while Joyce got it checked out and it turned out she had a slight tear in her tendon, so it meant three weeks off running, and not really being able to get to a start line. The only race she was going to have a hit out at was an Olympic distance event in Boulder, but with all of the floods, the swim was cancelled, so racing seemed pointless. So the decision was made to turn her focus on getting ready for Kona, and not racing as much as she would normally like.

So back to the Kona mission – Joyce finished sixth (2009), fifth (2010) and fourth (2011), and each year her time improved also, plus her 11th last year when she was sick. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to recognise what direction she is heading towards. Her best effort yet is her 9:06:57, 2011 performance, and we’re convinced that if she is in the shape that she was at Ironman Texas in May, she will no doubt be a real contender.

“I’d say that I’m actually in slightly better shape than what I was before Texas. The irony is that I had other issues going into Texas, haha! Not long before the event, I had just been for a swim and I had a few words with Dave (Dave Scott, Joyce’s coach) and he said ‘oh Rachel, a couple of weeks ago I thought you were a sinking ship, but you managed to right yourself’, haha!” Joyce explained. “But, leading into Kona, yeah I’ve had a few issues, but it’s been a much more consistent build.”

Joyce joined up with Dave Scott early this year after being with her previous coach, Matt Dixon of Purple Patch for three years, and if anyone knows the big island, it’s this man. We’d tell you more about him, but, best you google the great man as this is a site dedicated to women in triathlon, and besides, we can’t fit in his resume in this article. So we expect that Joyce will be raring to go for many reasons – redemption from her shot at the World Champs last year, her frothiness to toe a start line, and one of the masters of the island in her ear. These of course combined with her solid work ethic could be a lethal combination for her fellow competitors.

(Photo Credit: Jay Prasuhn)

Mirinda Carfrae Profile

This is another guest post written by Stef Hanson, the Chief of witsup.com, the next post in our series on female Kona contenders on each other’s sites. (If you want my more “numbers-oriented posts”, head over to witsup.com!) Thanks, again Stef!

Australian, Mirinda ‘Rinny’ Carfrae knows what it takes to win in Kona. She found herself on the top step of the podium in 2010, in only her second attempt at the Ironman World Championship. It was also actually only one year after her debut at the iron-distance where she had come second at the Ironman World Champs, and had broken the marathon record at the time in 2:56:51 – fair to say an impressive debut performance. Two years later in 2011, Chrissie Wellington reclaimed the fastest marathon time back, but she had the record for less than three minutes when Carfrae crossed the line in second, grabbing that record right back again which she still holds in a time of 2:52:09.

So in her time racing on the big island, Carfrae has had a second (2009), first (2010), second (2011) and a third (2012). She is the third fastest woman ever on the island behind Chrissie Wellington and Paula Newby-Fraser in a time of 8:57:57 (which is the fourth fastest time overall – Wellington has the two fastest, then Newby Fraser, then Carfrae), and, she has gone under the nine hour barrier twice, a feat that has only happened six times on the island ever – twice each to these three women.

So what has happened in those years since she put together her winning race in 2010, and nailed her fastest time in 2011? What has Carfrae changed to get back to that top step again? The professional women are hungry for the win, but surely this athlete is hungrier to regain her crown?

For seven years, Carfrae had been with her coach, Siri Lindley, with only the last couple of those seven years being focused on the iron-distance when she stepped up in 2009. At the start of 2012, Carfrae had a case of the seven year itch and decided she wanted a bit of a change and went out on her own for a while. She coached herself for the first year essentially, speaking with mentors, other athletes, and confidants to help her with her training. Of particular note was Matt Steinmatz who is well known in the industry, particularly when it comes to cycling and bike fits. He helped Carfrae with her cycling training, and she took care of the rest.

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However, Carfrae, despite learning a lot from Steinmatz, found that she wasn’t enjoying the process of writing her own program, and so enlisted a new coach, Joel Filliol. However, despite Carfrae’s respect for him, she just didn’t find that the match was right, and she was lacking the enjoyment in what she was doing. All signs seemed to point back to the great relationship that she had with Lindley. To Carfrae, one of the most important parts of her success, was her relationship with her coach. The comfort, the enjoyment and trust she had, well has, with Lindley was and is paramount to the success she has as an athlete, and the two reunited mid-2013. Which bring us nearly up to speed. Nearly.

As a previous World Champion (in past five years) Carfrae just has to validate her spot by finishing an Ironman in the season to qualify for Hawaii, which she did just three weeks after Kona with a second at Ironman Florida. However, since then, she has had a frustrating year trying to convert her training to success on race day due to some unfortunate luck. She crashed in San Juan in February, received a controversial red card in Oceanside for passing, and in Eagleman, her hips, glutes, hamstrings and back all locked up to the point that she couldn’t unclip from her pedals and had to get someone to help her off the bike! So while her training appeared to be going well, the points on the scoreboard were telling a different story. It wasn’t really until Ironman 70.3 Racine in late July that she started to look like the Carfrae we know with a second to the dominating Angela Naeth over the half iron-distance, and then a win at the Ironman 70.3 Muskoka event in early September with her devastating 1:18:09 half marathon split.

So while we haven’t seen Carfrae over the iron-distance for eleven months, and she hasn’t had the season she would have hoped for, you can bet that on this one day in October she will be one heck of a force, albeit a pocket rocket of a force, to reckon with. So with the combination of her fantastic and successful seven year relationship with Lindley, recently rekindled, combined with the 18 months that Carfrae spent learning a whole lot more about herself, only to bring that knowledge back to her coach, you can be dead certain that this combination will be lethal come race day.

(Photo Credit: Jay Prasuhn)

Caroline Steffen Profile

This is a guest post written by Stef Hanson of witsup.com. Witsup.com is all about women in triathlon. Stef and I have been working together on profiles for the Kona women contenders and are now guest-posting them on each other’s sites. (If you want my more “numbers-oriented post” on Xena, head over to my data post on witsup.com!) Thanks Stef for a great and insightful post, I can’t wait for more!

To fall back on a classic sporting quote, surely Steffen is due. She has been second on the big island twice (2012 and 2010), and fifth in 2011. Last year, she was passed by Leanda Cave in the dying kilometres of the run and was the runner up by just over one minute.

She has a ridiculously great record over the long course (half and full iron-distance), finishing on the podium every time, apart from twice, which happened to be at world championships – fourth at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs, 2009, and, fifth at the Ironman World Championships, 2011. “There is no option for not being on the podium. That option is just not available,” Steffen said to us in her true Xena matter of fact way in our WITSUP TV chat with her.

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(Photo by Jay Prasuhn)

At the start of 2010, Steffen joined up with coach Brett Sutton and Team TBB. It’s fair to say, that was a pretty good decision, as her times started going down rapidly. Her success in 2010 started with a win at the Ironman 70.3 Geelong event, and also included, amongst many impressive results, a victory at the ITU Long Distance and a runner up at the Ironman World Championships – her first time racing on the island as a professional.

Last year, she absolutely dominated, which really started with her win at the inaugural Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships in Melbourne, landing her the title of the second fastest woman ever over the iron-distance, to Chrissie Wellington, who still holds the four fastest times. 2012 saw her claim the Ironman Asia-Pacific and Ironman European titles, amongst other accomplishments.

Steffen raced a lot last year, with her final race before Kona at the ITU Long Distance World Series event (3/80/20) in China on September 22 – which she won, convincingly, just three weeks before Hawaii. This year, she cut her races back, had a slower start to the year and her final event before a tilt at the Ironman World Championships title again, was at the MetaMan Bintan iron-distance event. Many people have questioned the decision to race such a tough race because of the hot conditions, six weeks out from the World Championships, and whether she would be too cooked. However, her response is simple. Putting her feet up is not how she prepares for events. Their plan (Sutton and Steffen’s) was to of course win at MetaMan, but without destroying herself in the heat too much. In fact it was the first time that she had worn a heart rate monitor during a race, to make sure that she didn’t go too hard on the run – for your information, her heart rate was 140-145bpm for a 3:29:39 marathon. The word on the ground, and from our ambassador, Belinda Granger who was racing at the time, was that she was cruising the marathon, and, that she pulled up reasonably fresh.

“We changed a couple of things this year… Brett sent me on a Chrissie Wellington 2007 plan. He sent her to Asia in 2007, two months per Kona and she did the same. She had an Ironman in Korea – a solid swim, a really good bike and then shuffled a 3:28 run and grabbed the win. That was her last race before Kona – exactly six weeks out too…” Steffen explained. By the by, 2007 was the year a relatively unknown athlete by the name of Chrissie Wellington, won at the Ironman World Championships – her first time on the island.

What was also interesting this year was her first attempt at the infamous Challenge Roth event where she won the race, against Yvonne Van Vlerken, was won on the run. Generally speaking, Steffen lays down her winning swim/bike combination providing her with a big enough buffer to hold on for the run. That’s not to say that her marathon is lacking, but, it’s usually where other athletes can make up some time. However, in Roth, it was her marathon that sealed the deal. Steffen has yet to crack the three-hour marathon mark, but we’re sure she’s not far off, and the ease at which she pulled away on the run in Roth, suggests that athletes can not leave it until the marathon to attack Xena, as she may not be there to attack anymore.

So, back to this year’s World Champs. Sutton and Steffen knew that they had to change something, so Steffen has spent a lot of time this year in the heat training and racing, including the Ironman 70.3 Philippines before MetaMan and then back to Cozumel to train in the heat with the Team TBB crew for the last six weeks before Hawaii. She has raced less, and seemed to have a slower start to the season, having spent a lot of time at the start away from her coach and Team TBB. It looks like she is peaking at the right end of the season, and this stoic, consistent performer will be looking to take that one more step up from the second step to the top step of the podium.

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