With two Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast wins already to her credit, new mum, Swiss Ironman superstar and former Sunshine Coast resident Caroline Steffen is back in town to see if she can make it three from three.
Caroline is gradually returning to racing after taking a break from racing to have her first child and when lines up on the start line in Mooloolaba she will have an additional supporter on her side, with eight month old son Xander making his IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast debut.
The two time World Longcourse champ and multiple podium finisher at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona has just returned to Australia after a five week camp at altitude in St Moritz, Switzerland with Brett Sutton and a second place at the IRONMAN 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship in Cebu.
“Brett is tough but he is smart. I used to train with him for four years, I left but I am back with him now. It was a solid five weeks to give me a good base to start a new season off after having the little man (Xander). I felt like I needed a decent block of training before I started racing, so the focus was to go over, be smart and not do anything silly. I am very happy with how it all worked out.”
Caroline is over the moon about being a new mum but she said her comeback has been harder than she originally thought it would be.
“First of all I had to lose a lot of weight after being pregnant and not doing much. That took a little bit longer than I thought, which was fine because it takes the time it takes. But I lost heaps of fitness over that 10 months and then had to find a routine with the little man with my training. It is not just about the training anymore but much more, so it was a challenge to get organized initially. I have to feed him, get him ready and get everything sorted before training, so to get that routine organized took a little while but I am pretty happy with where I am at, at the moment.”
“After four months I did a race at 70.3 Vietnam which was a training day but in hindsight was way too early. I wasn’t even close to race fit. So really my first decent and focused race back was the Asia Pac Champs in Cebu where I got second. It was heading in the right direction with the fitness coming along, I still have some work to do but definitely very happy and proud of what I achieved over the past few months.”
Caroline said that having all the new mums on the IRONMAN circuit has added a new dimension to her racing.
“We made a list and I think there were 22 of us last year who had babies, so a creche at the races would be good, we could drop off the bags and the babies at the check in. It is great. I am in contact with all the girls and we don’t talk about racing anymore, we talk nappies and food and baby stuff. It is cool, it is different and it makes it become normal and keeps us doing what we do in triathlon.”
“We definitely all talk to each other. I am talking to Rinny (Mirinda Carfrae) about travel with the little one and getting some tips from her or catching up with Radka (Vodickova) and Ruby. Ruby and Xander are already good friends. Jodie Swallow and Jack were in Switzerland. It definitely helps and it is great to have something else to talk about other than triathlon,” she said.
Having lived in Moooloolaba for seven years and done the race twice and won it twice, Caroline is a local favourite who is very familiar with the area and the stunning course.
“I love the course and it is a very good 70.3 race and I especially love the run course with the hill. I have some local knowledge so hopefully that will play into my favour. It would be nice to go three from three in Mooloolaba but there is definitely a way to go in my training and fitness but I will definitely give it a good shot. I felt so much stronger in Cebu than I did in Vietnam so hopefully the extra training will give me another boost and I can improve again.”
“Sunshine Coast race is a week ahead of the 70.3 World Championships and I could have qualified but the travel is too much at the moment. I don’t want to be there making up the numbers and end up way back in a world class field. I am just not quite ready, so Sunny Coast is a nice local race and I can fly in an enjoy it. I love the Sunshine Coast so it is good to get up there and catch up with some old friends and hopefully have a good race and to come away with a win would be amazing.”
“I am not planning to far ahead but I am going to do a few more 70.3 races later this year and then see how it goes. Maybe a full IRONMAN before the end of the year to get an early qualification for 2019. I have to see how the body pulls up after all the races because it is important I don’t push it over the edge. Anyway my training volume is not enough for a full IRONMAN at the moment, mostly because I want to spend more time with Xander, so I am just planning month to month,” she said.