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Meet Ironman World Champion - Amy Farrell

Posted: Aug 26 2015

Women's Triathlon Clothing provider Coeur Sports chats with Kona Qualifiers. 

This is the start of our interview series with Coeur Customers, Ambassadors, and Friends who have qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.  Today we chat with Ladies 35-39 Ironman World Champion Amy Farrell.

Coeur: First, before we talk about Ironman Hawaii, we’ve got to say congratulations on winning Lake Placid! How did it feel to be first female overall?

Amy: It was a dream come true! Since I started triathlon 15 years ago, winning an ironman was my ultimate goal! My friend and teammate, Jackie Hatherly, was in the lead until I passed her around 35 miles. The last time we both did Ironman Lake placid was in 2002 when she was 3rd and I was 5th. She's 50 now and still a total badass, being up there with Jackie was pretty awesome. At one point there where 4 woman from my tri team in the top 7! I cried every time I rode or ran through Lake Placid in the lead because the crowd was so excited. Last year my volunteer job was to ride with the lead woman runner and the crowds totally sold me on doing Placid again. All I wanted to do after I crossed the finish line was hug my daughter and my parents.

Coeur: Speaking of winning, and as some folks may know, you won your Age Group last year in Kona and earned an automatic qualification to Ironman Hawaii. So, we’ve gotta ask, why did you race Placid and did you think about dialing it down on the run since Kona wasn’t that far out?

Amy: Lake Placid was always on the schedule for this year, it had been 13 years since I tackled it and finally felt strong enough to do the race justice. It's also close to where I grew up and easy for my family and friends to get to, that was the best part-my parents, my siblings and their kids, my best friends from high school and college, Ruby's best friend and so many teammates High Performance training in NY. My students in Tupper Lake know what the race is and I thought it would be nice for them to have a better idea of what I do when I'm gone every October. I wish I could say I dialed it down on the run on purpose, but I had some trouble with my quad a few weeks before the race so my run volume wasn't anywhere near normal and it was more of a hang on for dear life!

Coeur: Now, you live in Tupper Lake, NY which is just a couple hours south of Montreal, which isn’t known as the warmest place on earth. Since Kona can tend to be on the warm side, is there anything special you do to acclimate for the race?

Amy: It was 46 degrees when I woke up for my long ride the other day so I stayed inside on my trainer and sweated puddles in my living room. Most days I just throw a couple of extra layers on and force myself to keep them on. This is the hardest while running. On my college track team, we'd run in just a sports bra any time it was over 50! That's like sweatsuit weather now!

Coeur: It seems that (like so many Ironman competitors), you're an over achiever. You're a Mom, you run a hotel and a Kona Qualifier. How do you find time to do it all?

Amy: I wake up really, really early! During the school year my alarm is set for 3:45 more than one day a week. There was a day last fall where I rode 3 hours before school, taught all day, ran 3 hours after school and then came home to clean motel rooms-that was rough. I've got a helper lined up for this fall! I try not to freak out if I just can't get some things done, like if Ruby has a sleepover and I want to be there to make pancakes, I'll switch a ride or ride inside so I can be there when she wakes up and make pancakes. I also drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot pizza, they really help me get it all done!

Coeur: Of course Kona is the big show in long course triathlon and everyone who is anyone seems to be on the Big Island. We've heard that some athletes like to experience as much of the race as they can and spend a lot of time on Alii and at the expo. Others make a point of staying away from the action so that they don't get distracted. Do you all fall into one camp or another?

Amy: In Placid I stayed away from everything except the underpants run and the normatec tent to get my legs squeezed the day before the race. In Kona I always try and keep it short and sweet at the expo but end up running into all sorts of people from the last 15 years in the sport and I'm there longer than I anticipate. It's like a reunion! After our underpants run experience last year I can't wait to do that again!

Coeur: We made a kit for you that said “Ruby’s Mom”. For our readers who don’t know, Ruby is your daughter. What does she think about your triathlon accomplishments and is there any chance she’ll follow in your footsteps?

Amy: Ruby plays it pretty cool, but I think she really enjoys it. She wants "Ruby's Mom" on everything, which is fine with me because I love hearing it when I'm racing. Today someone asked me how Lake Placid went and she blurted out, "she won!" We got to go out in the finish chute near midnight in in LP with Mike Reilly and she loved that (it was pretty cool). She's been my lifeguard this summer, as she paddles her SUP next to me when I swim. She's so patient about all the training, I think it's because she knows it'll get us to Kona!

Coeur: Coeur has a nice sized contingent going to Kona and a couple are first time qualifiers. What advice do you have for a first time racer in Kona?

Amy: hmmmmm Kona is a different beast. The wind and heat can throw you the fittest person for a loop. I was lifted up and thrown across the road with my bike at my first Kona in 2000. I was covered in road rash and lost all of my nutrition. You just have to roll with these punches, adjust and keep trudging forward. Everyone has to deal with the same conditions so don't talk yourself out of the race. Watching Sonja Wieck charge into the wind last year definitely changed my plan from crying and whimpering to putting my big girl pants and taking charge of my bike! Also, the Coeur tri top holds A LOT of ice. Keep that thing full of ice!

Coeur: We don't want you to give away any secrets but do you race Kona any differently since it is the World Championships or once the gun goes off is it just another Ironman?

Amy: Kona is Mecca for the sport of triathlon and it's really really far from home so the stakes are definitely higher. I poured everything I had into training for and racing Kona last year. I could barely run 3 miles for a solid 6 weeks after Kona because I was so spent. It's also the grand finale of the season so I do my best to leave it all out there!

Coeur: Quite a few of us will be out cheering on the course in Kona, so we have to ask. Do you ever hear what people yell to you on the bike and the run or are you concentrating so much on your body that you don't notice? Also, if you do notice, what is the best thing you've heard from a fan during a race?

Amy: I hear almost everything! Sometimes I hear so much that I can't keep my mouth shut yelling back. Having the Coeur contingent out there cheering last year was so nice because they were all over the course. I love hearing and seeing friends in unexpected places and soaking up the good energy. I remember being so excited to run back to where I knew Kebby would be last year to get an update and boost of positivity!

Coeur: We think that the finish on Alii drive is one of the most magical places in all of sport. What do you think you'll be feeling when you make the turn on to Alii?

Amy: The run as soon as you turn down on to Palani is probably the most exciting mile of any race I've ever done! The months and months of work are almost over and the crowd get better and better with every step! I always get goosebumps at the end of an ironman.

Coeur: For most people, there’s a decent sized break after Kona. Will you take some time off from training as well? If so, do you give yourself a post season reward of any kind?

Amy: After Kona it's Ruby's turn and I go into full on Ski Mom mode! Ruby is in a freestyle skiing program and my husband is a snowboard coach so we are skiing every free day that we have. Snow came early last year so we were skiing in November! Also, my 4 dogs will be happy to have their mom home more :)

Coeur: Well, thank you so much for chatting with us! We’ll see you soon in Kona!

Amy: Thank you so much, I feel so fortunate to be able to do what I love! I can't wait to be in Kona with the Coeur crew!