Meeting Pro Triathletes Tim ‘T.O.’ O’Donnell and Mirinda ‘Rinny’ Carfrae

So … guess who I got to meet Tuesday morning?  Professional triathletes and power couple Tim “T.O.” O’Donnell and Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae!


Check out these accolades:  A nine-time Ironman 70.3 Champion, T.O. most recently won and tied the course record (8:01:31) at Ironman Brazil; Rinny has 15 Ironman 70.3 wins and finished first at the 2010 Ironman World Championships in Kona (aka the Super Bowl of triathlon).



Thanks to Castelli and Colavita, the two came to Chelsea Piers for a brunch and Q-and-A session that our head coach moderated.


Here are a few things I found interesting:

1.  Before the official chat, a few teammates and I talked to Rinny about last weekend’s Rev3 Quassy, a half-Ironman in which she finished 5th in the competitive pro women field.  It was a tough day for racing—temperatures notched 90 degrees Fahrenheit—and even without the heat, the pros say this Connecticut course is the toughest 70.3 the United States offers.  Based on the pros’ finishing times, the heat didn’t seem to be a factor.  What’s their secret?  Rinny said she regularly retreats to the sauna post-workout and spends 10-15 minutes acclimating to the heat and humidity, so that her body’s used to it on race day.  As you may remember, I experimented with this strategy for the Nautica South Beach Triathlon, and looking forward, it would probably be a good idea to log some quality time in the sauna before NYC Aquaphor in July.

2.  Rinny doesn’t stretch, foam roll, or strength train.  Ever.  But she does get two massages each week.

3.  T.O. and Rinny listen to music during all of their workouts.  Both enjoy the Foo Fighters, and Rinny said she listens to David Guetta a lot.

4.  T.O. was recently diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, so he eats gluten free now.

5.  What’s your go-to pre-race breakfast?  T.O. and Rinny eat cupcakes.  T.O. also has a cup of coffee, but Rinny doesn’t ingest caffeine of any kind (except caffeinated gels).

6.  T.O. and Rinny come from athletic backgrounds—he swam, and she played basketball—and when asked about their favorite workouts (swimming, biking, or running), both T.O. and Rinny would pick running.  T.O. likes long runs (at a “steady” 5:40 pace!), and Rinny enjoys intervals on the treadmill.

7.  The couple made several references to drinking red wine.  Winos of the world unite!

After the talk, I snagged some photos and autographs.  #Trigeek.


I talked to T.O. about the transition from sprint- to Olympic-distance events and asked if he had any tips for Saturday’s race.  He said to trust my training (easier said than done!) and focus on the bike-run.


Speaking of, I need to start packing.  Montauk, here I come!

Would you ever eat a cupcake before a race?  What’s your favorite type of workout?

24 responses to “Meeting Pro Triathletes Tim ‘T.O.’ O’Donnell and Mirinda ‘Rinny’ Carfrae

  1. Oh my gosh, she doesn’t stretch, foam roll, or strength train ever! That’s amazing. It just goes to show that everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person likely won’t work for someone else. Finding your own routine that works for you specifically is always a great feeling!

    • carriestevens

      Isn’t that crazy?! I think the twice-weekly massages play a huge roll in terms of recovery, and she also mentioned using those huge, inflatable/blow up leg sleeves after workouts. So I guess if you’re doing those things, then maybe you don’t need to stretch? Lol.

  2. Wow how cool is that. I bet that was an experience in itself. I’m sure a lot of people will comment on never stretching, foam roling…ect but wow that is seriously incredible. I need to get on their plan…though never for biking haha.

    • carriestevens

      Right?! I mean, if I had massages twice a week, then I’d never stretch either! And their biking plan, holy cow. Rinny said she had to do an indoor trainer ride this year–that lasted five hours. Talk about mental toughness.

  3. if I could get two massages every week I would be golden. I actually am stunned though the coach doesn’t kill them for not stretching

    • carriestevens

      I think it’s because they get two massages each week they don’t need to stretch. Must be nice, right? 😉

  4. CUPCAKES?! These guys seem like geniuses

  5. Ah so exciting, especially right before Montauk! Also, um, two massages a week? I am super crazy jealous!

  6. That is absolutely awesome that you got to spend some quality time with two world class triathletes, very jealous. I wonder when there next trip to Iowa is (yeah I know, good luck with that)…

    I love the Q&A and it really does help us all relate just a little bit better to the pro’s and also gives a whole new respect for how they train and what they are capable of (long runs at 5:40 pace – WOW – I can’t sprint that fast for 800 meters).

    Great photos and autographs – did I mention I was jealous!

    • carriestevens

      Even though they are pros and athletically gifted, they are still quite relatable, which I don’t think we can say about other pro athletes. It’s so cool to pick their brains and learn about their training, eating habits, and what they do for fun–like eating cupcakes and drinking red wine. 🙂

  7. That is so exciting!! I probably wouldn’t eat a cupcake before a race, but definitely after!! 🙂

  8. No strength training? I’ll take that for massages 🙂

  9. The fact that she doesn’t strength train makes sense to me, since endurance sports are about being super lean…but I was surprised by the stretching tidbit. I get SO sore if I don’t stretch. Maybe she does a much longer cooldown than me?

    This looks like such a fun, interesting day!

    • carriestevens

      I’m pretty sure the twice weekly massages trump stretching/make it unnecessary. Talk about living the dream! 😉

  10. My bf NEVER stretches/foam rolls – nothing. He occasionally goes to the gym. I’m so jealous of him.
    I actually sat in the sauna for the first time this past week – 220F is freakin HOT. Cupcakes are now my new pre-race fuel. screw the pb toast! lol

    • carriestevens

      I need to start sitting in the sauna more now. It’s actually really relaxing–and super hot like you said!

  11. So jealous!! Rinny is amazing! REV3 Quassy is tough looking but it still looks amazing!

    Good tip about the sauna, if we do pick a winter marathon (ie. in hotter temps than Rochester) I’ll have to use that and most likely I’ll have to use it for Ironman Louisville, which will be in the 90s.

    • carriestevens

      The sauna trick makes a lot of sense. At the very least, you’ll know what it feels like to sweat a ton on race day.

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