Pro-Triathlete Profile: Tim O'Donnell

Many of you who follow professional triathlon probably already know who today's pro-triathlete is! Today we introduce you to Tim O'Donnell! Tim is the very first pro-triathlete to join Team RWB, and his advice and insight has been invaluable as we continue to grow and develop the organization.  You will get to read all about Tim's accomplishments below, and keep an eye on the triathlon press as he sets out to do great things in 2011. Click here for some of the most recent news on Tim: http://triathlon.competitor.com/2011/01/news/tim-odonnell-will-pass-on-olympics-aims-for-kona_19161 .

If you click on the "Pro Ambassador" link you find links under Tim's name that takes you to some press articles about Tim's announcement, this past fall (right before he became the highest finishing US male finisher, and 3rd place podium winner, at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships) of joining Team RWB.  He's raced that race with Team RWB colors, as well as at the Asia-Pacific 70.3 Championship in December (of which he was the champion).  Beyond being an incredible triathlete, Tim is amazing person and fully dedicated to Team RWB! We are excited to have his support, and look forward to supporting him as he moves up to the Ironman distance this year! Without further adieu, we introduce you to Tim O'Donnell:

Name: Timothy O’Donnell
Nickname:  T.O.
Age: 30
Do you have a Twitter account where people can follow you? A blog? 
Twitter: @TOinTRI
Facebook: Timothy O’Donnell

Significant other and kids? My girlfriend professional triathlete and Kona Champ Mirinda Carfrae
When did you get into triathlon and why?
I was a swimmer growing up and my first two years at the Naval Academy.   When I was a Plebe at the Academy my brother Thomas (a 1st Class Midshipmen and Captain of the Triathlon Team) had me try out for the Triathlon Team, I made the cut and after two years of collegiate swimming I decided to devote  myself fully to triathlon. 
Do you have a favorite race?
Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships in Phuket, Thailand is by far the greatest race experience.  Where else do you get to cross the finish-line with  a baby elephant!
What is your best race memory?
Winning the 2009 ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championships
What is your favorite leg of a triathlon and why?
I love the run.  I was never good at running but after YEARS of working on it I am in the mix with the world’s best.  There is nothing like a good battle going into the finish chute to get your heart beating!
What is your favorite pre-race food?
Pre-race I love chicken and mashed potatoes.  For dessert, a fudge brownie!
What is your favorite post-race food?
Post race I love milkshakes
Besides triathlon, what do you do for fun?
I am a big wine and coffee fan.  I love hanging with friends at a coffee shop and just chatting and enjoying the view.  I also started to learn the drums.  I just got a set of killer electronic V-drums …hopefully I can learn to play them properly!
Why Team RWB and supporting the military?
As a former naval officer I wanted a charity close to my heart.  I heard RWB was supporting a former team mate of mine who was injured overseas and I began learning more about the foundation.  Without the support of the Navy I would never achieved the success I have seen in triathlon.  RWB is a way for me to use the notoriety I have gained from those opportunities to give back.  


Age Group Triathlete Profile: Jackie Dickens

Name:  Jackie Dickens
2011 USAT Racing Age Group: 30-34
Occupation:  Category Management at Sears Holdings Corporation
Hometown:  Syracuse, NY

Why Triathlon? I’ve run competitively since middle school and was looking for a new fitness challenge.  I had improved my swimming skills while training to become a SCUBA divemaster.  So I grabbed my old hybrid bike from when I was growing up, and decided to try an Olympic triathlon as a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training athlete.  This was back in 2008.  I’ve been addicted to the sport ever since.
Do you have a favorite race? No, not in particular.  I like to race locally whenever possible.
What is your best race memory?  Ironman 70.3 Racine, but back when it was the Spirit of Racine in 2009.  The race course was virtually the same, but the event was a bit smaller and the weather was perfect that year.  I proved to myself that I could successfully plan and execute my own training schedule and for a new, longer distance!  Achieving a PR with my husband there cheering me on was also a highlight for this day.
When you reach the point of the race where you have to dig down deep, what do use as personal motivation?  I think of the wounded veterans who I’m racing on behalf of.  Sometimes just singing songs in my head works too.
What is your favorite leg of a triathlon and why? Cycling - I feel the most powerful during this leg, there’s so much scenery to enjoy, and for me, this leg is the easiest!
What is your favorite race distance, and why?  Olympic – it’s a very manageable distance to train for and the race day duration is the length of a medium to long workout!
Besides triathlon, what do you do for fun?  I love to spend time with family and friends, travel and SCUBA dive.  I’m getting more into cooking and am trying to find more time to do my artwork and read.
Why Team RWB and supporting our military?  Upon completing my active duty commitment, I wanted to give back to the military community and be a part of a philanthropic organization.  I was particularly interested in supporting injured veterans as I feel fortunate to have completed a deployment and active duty without major injury or trauma.
Planned 2011 Races:  I’m totally undecided still.  2011 might be a rebuilding or off year for me.  I will likely do an Olympic distance triathlon or at least a couple runs (half marathon or shorter) on behalf of Team RWB.


Pro-Triathlete Profile: Kathy Rakel

This week we introduce you to one of our professional women triathletes, USAF 1LT Kathy Rakel! Hopefully some of you will have the chance to meet Kathy this year, because you will quickly find her enthusiasm for life, for triathlon, and for others to be contagious! We're proud to count Kathy among our ranks as she pursues might triathlon goals but also serves her country, full time, as an Air Force Officer.  
Name: Kathy Rakel
Nickname: Katch-A
Age: 26
Do you have a Twitter account where people can follow you? A blog? Yes!  Twitter (@kathyrakel), blog (www.kathyrakel.blogspot.com), and on Facebook

Do you have a significant other and kids? single and am patiently waiting to meet the right person
When did you get into triathlon and why? My first triathlon was the summer of 2005.  The challenge of the sport appealed to me.  However, I only began training competitively as a triathlete in the fall of 2007.  I am a former basketball player and golfer!  I also play ping-pongJ
Do you have a favorite race? I haven’t raced enough to have a favorite race!
What is your best race memory? My best race memory is becoming the first woman in the Air Force to win the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship (June 2010).  A close second would be completing Ironman Arizona (April 2007) in 11:46:42.  I was a relatively new triathlete and really had no clue what I was doing, but I loved the challenge and finished!
When you reach the point of the race where you have to dig down deep, what do use as personal motivation? I can’t think much when I’m truly digging deep in a race, so I use strategies my coach teaches me to deal with the pain.  If I am seeking motivation, winning is always a great motivator!
What is your favorite leg of a triathlon and why? Does the finish line count?  This is definitely my favorite part because it feels so rewarding! 
What is your favorite pre-race food? I intentionally don’t let myself have a favorite pre-race food because what if I can’t find it before the race?  But, my normal pre-race breakfast consists of a bagel, powerbar, and a banana.
What is your favorite post-race food? Cold Stone’s Birthday Cake Remix ice cream.  However, I substitute the rainbow sprinkles for cookie dough!
Besides triathlon, what do you do for fun? Triathlon IS my funJ  I also love just relaxing with my friends and family.
Why Team RWB and supporting the military? I love that Team RWB focuses on wounded veterans and endurance events.  In much the same way that I find the sport challenging and the finish line rewarding, I know wounded veterans would feel the same satisfaction, if not more!  They are the true heroes of our nation, and I want to help them in anyway possible! 

Significant Race History/Results:
- 2010 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship (1/23, 2:00:04, first female in the Air Force to claim this title)
- 2010 Ixtapa ITU Triathlon Pan American Cup (7/30, 2:02:52, top-American)
- 2010 Las Vegas Pumpkinman Triathlon (1/106, 2:25:46, new course record)
- 2009 Buffalo Springs Lake Half Ironman (1/25 W25-29, 5:04:23)
- 2008 Best of the US Amateur Triathlete Competition (9/41, 2:23:20)
- 2007 Ironman Arizona (2/23 W25-29, 11:46:42, did this race for fun as a relatively new triathlete, current record holder for the fastest Ironman ever by a female cadet at the US Air Force Academy)


Age Group Triathlete Profile: Aaron Heatherington

This week we will continue to introduce you to members of Team RWB Tri, and we start with one of our first Team RWB Tri members, sometimes guest blogger with race reports, spouse of another Team RWB Triathlete (Tiffany), and part of the crew that will be tackling 140.6 miles at Ironman Arizona in November: meet Aaron Hetherington!

Name:  Aaron Hetherington       
Nickname:   Bubba
2011 USAT Racing Age Group:  35-39
Occupation:   Mechanical Engineer, Johnson Space Center
Hometown:   Houston, Texas

Why Triathlon?  I really like events that have multiple disciplines because it fights the boredom of doing the same thing over and over.   Triathlon is a sport that combines a lot of strategy with physical ability, and each race distance has its own unique challenges.  I also love the fact that you never know if the person that you just passed on the bike is a great runner, so you are always motivated to go harder.  My wife actually started doing them as an adult first and now we are both competing, so it’s something we can enjoy together when we have help watching the kids!
Do you have a favorite race?  So far, the Memorial Hermann Olympic Race in Cypress, Texas.  Not a good course for times, but it had a lot of fan support and the run course was hilarious and keeps your mind off of what you are doing.
What is your best race memory?  Every single time I’ve finished the swim.  Thank God I don’t have to do that anymore!  Now let’s go pass some of these people!
When you reach the point of the race where you have to dig down deep, what do use as personal motivation?  A lot of things.  Mostly I use my old training partner, Bill Jacobsen, who was killed in action in Mosul, Iraq in 2004.  We trained for and ran our first marathon together, and I wear a KIA bracelet in my races and during training because I want to remember that he would love to feel the pain I am feeling and would be right there beside me if he could.  Every step, no matter how hard, is a blessing, and I owe it to my friend to make the most of it.  I also use the old trusty Ranger tab.  Surrender is not a Ranger word, so keep moving and embrace the suck.  Become one with the suck.  And now I use our Team RWB veterans.  I take it seriously that I now represent our organization and those we try to help, so it just won’t do for me to show weakness while I represent the strong.
What is your favorite leg of a triathlon and why?  The bike.  First, it’s not the swim, so that’s good.  It also allows me to use something mechanical, which I love.  If you think about it, the bike is a pretty amazing machine and I love how much effect little changes (like aerobars) can have.  It appeals to my technical side.  I also (at least right now) ride an OLD steel framed bike made by Centurion that I bought used for $100.  It’s called an Ironman Dave Scott edition.  It was state of the art 25 years ago or so.  I love passing people on more expensive bikes, that appeals to my redneck side.
What is your favorite race distance, and why?  I don’t know yet.  So far it is the Olympic because you really start to weed out the individuals just doing something fun on the weekend and get a group that is training for the races, so it makes everything seem faster.  But we’ll see after this year’s 70.3 and Ironman races, maybe those will be my favorite.
Besides triathlon, what do you do for fun?  I play and coach lacrosse and play ice hockey (yes, in Houston), sailing, woodworking, metalworking and I’m building a race car for dirt oval tracks.  Otherwise, whatever the family is doing.
Why Team RWB and supporting our military?  I’m a vet, and want to make sure everyone that serves knows that they will not be left behind by those of us that are not living a war every day.  I know firsthand that getting off the plane on U.S. soil does not mean you are home.  Organizations have been quick to help with mitigating physical wounds, but that neglects a huge number of emotional and psychological wounds.  You can trust me, there are a lot more emotional wounds out there than the general public will ever know.  This organization is genius, yet so simple I wonder why it took so long to realize we needed it. 
Any other fun tidbits you’d like the team to know?   I applied to be an astronaut; I didn’t get selected.  Since Tiffany and I have started doing triathlon, our oldest daughter, who is three, has started doing ‘triaflons’ in our driveway.  Her’s consist of riding a lap around my truck on her princess bike with training wheels and then getting off and jogging about 5 steps, no swimming involved yet.  But she won’t do it unless you say “Ready, set, GO!”   
Planned 2011 Races:
Galveston 70.3
Ironman Arizona
Various Sprint and Olympic races around Houston


Pro-Triathlete Profile: Derek Oskutis

Happy New Year Team RWB Triathlon!  
To kick off the New Year, we are going to introduce you to members of the team, both our pro-triathletes and our age group triathletes! Team RWB is about community, and so this is part of how we will get to know each other.  There will be, at least, weekly updates and you can expect your monthly newsletter around the middle of each month! Let's make 2011 AMAZING!

 US Navy Ensign Derek Oskutis, World Class Athlete Program and Professional Triathlete

Athlete Name: Derek Oskutis
Nickname:  Big D, Scooter, Tridactyl
Age: 24
Twitter: @derekoskutis

Significant other and kids? Nope! But moving to San Diego soon… ladies?

When did you get into triathlon and why? I got into triathlons when I was 13 years old. Coming from Pennsylvania, I’ve always been around remarkable athletes and a booming athletic community. I heard of triathlons through a few athletes in the area and decided to give it a try for fun. I ended up walking the run but it was a blast. I didn’t get into them again until I was about half way through high school.

Do you have a favorite race? My favorite race location is Tuscaloosa, Al. I raced there multiple times for Collegiate and Elite Nationals. I don’t think there could be a more ‘balanced’ race course.

What is your best race memory? Best memory hands down is leading the United States Naval Academy Triathlon Team to their 4th National Championship victory in 2009. So much went into that win for the team and the feeling of all the hard work paying off was very rewarding.

When you reach the point of the race where you have to dig down deep, what do use as personal motivation? I reflect back on all the hardships that I’ve gone through. From all the things I’ve been able to do with the Navy and my family, it gives me confidence to push harder and harder.

What is your favorite leg of a triathlon and why? Does the bar afterwards count?

What is your favorite pre-race food?  I love my pasta the night before. Can’t beat Vanilla Gu right before the start either!

What is your favorite post-race food?  Anything in very large quantities.

Besides triathlon, what do you do for fun?  I love hanging out with friends and seeing where the night goes. I’m always trying improve my cooking skills and enjoy pretty much anything outdoors. Can’t wait for my next snowboarding vacation.

Why Team RWB and supporting the military? As an EOD Officer and professional triathlete, I want to use both of these professions together to help represent and bring awareness to the military, specifically the EOD community. The EOD techs, no matter what branch, are some of the brightest sailors and solders our country has and everyday they sacrifice more than their fair share for our freedoms. With Team RWB, I hope to represent them and the rest of the military heroes through my racing.

Significant Race History/Results:
Professional Triathlete
USAT Project 2016 Team Member
Represented USA 3 times on an U23 or Elite Worlds Team
2x Collegiate Nationals Champion
#1 undergrad at Collegiate Nationals
Podiumed 3x at U23 Nationals