Known as the Little Red Racer, American Sarah Piampiano is an unlikely triathlete. She started out as a high powered New York investment banker, smoking a pack a day, and didn’t dip a toe into triathlon until she tried an Olympic distance race on a bet and beat her friend with zero training. The fire was lit, and she made the transition into full time pro in 2012. Having placed 7th the last two years at Kona, Sarah’s coming to the Big Island with a new mindset, an improved swim, and a Cervelo P5X that she personally helped develop.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the first female to be in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. I wanted to run the Marathon in the Summer Olympics and race Downhill and Super G in the Winter Olympics.
What is on your mind as you prepare for Kona?
Last year I over-trained – I was doing extra sessions and really dug myself into a hole. This year I am singularly focused on nailing the basics – sleep, hydration, nutrition, mobility and strength training – in order to make sure I am as prepared as possible to maximize every training session.
What are three of your travel essentials?
Bose Noise Cancelling headphones, a bar of Dove Soap, SOS packets (to stay hydrated on flights)
What do you see as your biggest strength going into Kona?
I’d say my mental game. I’m not someone that panics during a race when things are tough or get too excited when things are going well. I’m great at staying process oriented through the whole day and managing the highs and lows.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
Last week I stopped mid-ride for a Red Bull and to refill my bottles and bought the groceries/lunch for the man in line behind me. I like doing random acts like that….randomly
What makes Kona different from any other race?
It is the best of the best in the world. It is the only time when we are all in one spot and race together, which makes it unique and very special.
What is your favorite Rudy Project piece of equipment?
What do you love about the triathlon community?
I love that it brings people together from ALL walks of life and allows you to meet and create relationships with people you might never otherwise cross paths with. I find that so cool. But I also love that when you are out on course it makes no difference how rich or poor or big or small you are or what your gender is – everything is neutralized and we are all out there suffering and pushing ourselves to our limits together. It is a very bonding experience.
What would make this a perfect season for you?
A podium finish at Kona.
How do you like to spend a day off?
Going out for dinner the night before, sleeping in, a trip to the farmer’s market and then heading out for a hike or SUP.