'A Day in the Life with IRONMAN's Fastest Couple'
Mirinda Carfrae has never finished off the podium in Kona. Her first IRONMAN race ever netted a second place finish-at the IRONMAN World Championship. Her second? The 2010 event that added her name to an exclusive list of IRONMAN world champions. Her fiance Timothy O'Donnell's results are also impressive: He won the ITU Long Distance Championship in 2009, has taken nine 70.3 titles and, after deciding to forgo an attempt to make the 2012 US Olympic team, leapt to IRONMAN racing with a close runner-up finish in Texas in 2011. After having to drop out of his first race here in Kona due to sickness, the former Special Ops Naval Officer came in eighth last year, following up with his first full-distance win in Brazil.
After meeting at IRONMAN 70.3 St. Croix four years ago, the two are getting married this December near their home in Boulder, Colorado. Planning a wedding while gearing up for the most important race of the year is no easy feat, but the two have arrived on the island looking extremely fit and ready to contend for the title this Sunday.
Wedding plans have been on hold for the last training block leading up to Saturday's race-a critical time for any athlete, but even more important when you're a pre-race favorite. Despite a slow start to the year, Carfrae has steadily improved over the last few months thanks to a close runner-up finish in Racine followed by a win at IRONMAN 70.3 Muskoka. In June the 32-year-old returned to her old coach, Siri Lindley, joining the powerhouse group that includes five Kona qualifiers. Carfrae's teammates include last year's champion, Leanda Cave, super-swimmer Amanda Stevens, Rebekah Keat and former Kona runner-up Yvonne van Vlerken.
Today we watched Lindley put the group through the paces for a swim workout. Next on the agenda was food. O'Donnell's nutrition choices are somewhat limited thanks to the gluten sensitivity he discovered after this race two years ago. He's been gluten-free ever since and the results have reinforced his decision, which meant he had to opt for a burger without a bun. As proof of just how hard the two have been training (and how much more filling the bun is around those burgers), a post-lunch milkshake was on the agenda before heading back to their condo to hang out in front of the television for a short break before their end-of-day massages.
Balance is the name of the game in this couple's world. Both are consummate professionals, always ready to do an interview and ready to do what it takes for their sponsors. They're both obviously willing to train hard, putting in the long hours it takes to become a world champion. They manage all that while also maintaining a laid-back demeanor that helps put them among the sport's most popular professionals.