In early 2021, Mirinda Carfrae is set to add another title to her lengthy resume: Mom of two. The three-time Ironman world champ and her husband, Tim O’Donnell, made the big announcement Sunday evening alongside their three-year-old daughter, Isabelle, in a video posted on their Tim & Rinny YouTube channel. She also revealed this week that she’s gained a new sponsor in Aqua Sphere and that, in addition to training and racing with their goggles and wetsuits, she will be helping to develop some new products. Carfrae, 39, who lives in Boulder, Colorado with her family, sat down with Triathlete contributor Sarah Wassner Flynn over Zoom to chat about the news as well as other developments in her life.
Congratulations on the pregnancy!
Mirinda Carfrae: Thank you very much! We are excited.
You mentioned in your announcement that this pregnancy is a somewhat of a pivot from your initial plans for 2020. Can you elaborate?
Carfrae: The plan this year was to race Kona again after a pretty disappointing finish last year. I broke my arm five weeks out from the race and was able to get through the swim, but had some complications on the bike and wasn’t able to finish. I think if I had a great race last year, I would have been ready for a baby then. Izzy just turned three on Saturday, and we didn’t want to have kids too far apart. But then, the bad race happened and I believed I had another great Kona performance in me. I wanted to give it another shot.
Then, eight weeks out from my qualifying event, which was going to be Ironman St. George, things started to shut down. Tim and I looked at each other and said, “What are we waiting for?” We knew we definitely wanted another child, and we figured we might as well start trying since you never know how easy or hard it is going to be to conceive. Now, I’m 22 weeks along and baby number two is due at the end of the year.
Sounds like it all worked out!
Carfrae: It couldn’t have been better timing. Initially, it looked like I was going to have to miss the Ironman World Champs when they rescheduled to February since I would only be a month or so out from having a baby. So that was out of the question. But that was canceled and my invitation to race was extended to 2021. Now, I have my Kona qualification secured for next year. Hopefully we will be able to race.
This is just the type of good news we need right now.
Carfrae: After all of the initial disappointment of losing our season, now we have something to look forward to. I do feel for other professional athletes who are dealing with not knowing what the future can hold and when they’ll be able to race again. Tim is experiencing that right now, and continuing to train with no plans in place, just waiting to have a racing opportunity.
So do you plan on racing pretty soon post-baby?
Carfrae: When I first found out about the pregnancy, my coach Julie Dibens and I sat down and decided how to approach a return. I’d like to come back and race and come back as quickly as possible within reason. We’ll make a gametime decision once the baby is here and once I’m back intact. Ultimately, we decided to try and keep the training pretty consistent and go as my body feels. I’ll probably take six weeks off after the baby is born, and then we’ll start climbing the mountain again.
How much are you training now?
Carfrae: At 22 weeks pregnant, I’m slowing pretty considerably. I am training about 13 hours a week now. I swim about three times a week and maybe more as my running starts to taper off. I’ve also been riding a fair amount. A couple of weeks ago, I rode four hours on my road bike. But that’s starting to get uncomfortable as my belly grows, so I will probably stick to two-hour rides.
Now that you’re looking ahead to another return to the sport after pregnancy, do you have any advice for postpartum triathlete moms who are just now getting back into the swing of training?
Carfrae: Be kind to yourself and forget about the athlete you were prior to having the baby. Instead, focus on your improvements from week to week. Pay attention to how much stronger you feel as the weeks go on. It’s pretty incredible to see improvements.
For more from Rinny, check out the rest of her chat with Sarah on Victory Laps: The Podcast.