April Team RWB Triathlon Newsletter

The April 2011 Team RWB Triathlon Newsletter is available!
  • We still have a few of the REV3 Cedar Point Half-Rev and Full-Rev compensated slots available for minimum fundraising levels. Please contact me if you are interested in one of these slots!
  • Ironman Texas: the race is less than a month away, and one month from today is our post-race celebration party!! We still need a few volunteers for the night shift, so if you’re available, please help—it will be FUN! If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll tell you how to sign up (brittany@teamrwb.org)!  Please see the flyer below on the blog about details for the dinner or click "Ironman Texas" at the beginning of this post.  Even if you can’t make it, PLEASE send it to any friends you have that are racing IMTX or live nearby in TX or Louisiana! Pro-triathletes Tim O’Donnell, Jessica Jacobs, and Kathy Rakel will be joining us for fajitas, raffle prizes, and most importantly—spreading the word and updates on the great things Team RWB is doing in Houston and across the country! You can buy tickets to the event here: http://teamrwbimtx.eventsbot.com/
  • Uniforms: A second order has been placed and expected delivery is mid-summer.  If you’re interested in tri-tops (men/womens), tri-shorts (men/womens) or a jog bra race top (women) please check out the order form to the right here on the blog and/or email steve@teamrwb.org. We are currently expecting our first order to arrive in mid-May and will ship everything QUICKLY after that! Thanks for your patience!
  • We want to welcome two new sponsors to the Team RWB Triathlon: Break Through Multisport (Coaching) and Rudy Project! See the newsletter and sponsor page for details!
  •  Be sure to check out the newsletter for a GREAT GU Energy discount courtesy of Team RWB Pro-Triathlete Derek Oskutis!
 Thanks for your support! Congrats to all of you who have already had some great races and best wishes to everyone with their upcoming races! Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions/ideas you may have!  And if you haven’t “liked” us on Facebook (RWB Triathlon Team) or follow us on Twitter (@TeamRWBTri) please do! Stay tuned to the blog for more stories, announcements, and athlete profiles!


Armed Forces Tri Championship: A Team RWB perspective

Many of you have probably seen the Team RWB Tri Facebook posts or Tweets (@TeamRWBTri) updates on last weekend's Armed Forces Triathlon Championships (AFTC) at Pt. Mugu, CA. This race brings together the best military triathletes from each branch of service, to include the Coast Guard (racing with the Navy), and this year also included the Canadian military team.  LAVA Magazine, courtesy of tri-journalist Jim Gourley (who is also a Team RWB athlete and will participating on an RWB RAAM team this summer) provided a PREVIEW and a RACE RECAP so that the triathlon world would know this awesome race was going down at Pt. Mugu.  But, it wasn't just a great military race, it was an AMAZING Team RWB race, and I want to tell you about it.
Jess Forman, Steve Rakel, Kathy Rakel, Brittany Meeks, Bradley Pigage, Derek Oskutis, Nick Vandam, James Bales

By I, I mean Brittany Meeks (the short one sporting the RWB shirt in the picture).  You've probably seen my name or email (brittany@teamrwb.org) on various things that Team RWB has published.  Along with Steve Burns, and now Haley Siggers, we are the people behind the scene of Team RWB Triathlon working to make this awesome for you and for Team RWB.  It's a true labor of love!  It's also a lot of fun!  I am currently living in San Diego, CA, just a mere 3 hour drive (and a really gorgeous one at that!) from Pt. Mugu.  When I found out about the fact that we were going to have SIX Team RWB Pro-Ambassadors representing their branch of service at the race, I committed to going up and cheering for all of them (Defending champions Kathy Rakel and James Bales; top contenders Derek Oskutis, Nick Vandam, Bradley Pigage, and Jolene Wilkinson). What I didn't realize was that we actually had SEVEN athletes racing, as Jess Forman was also racing for Team Army!

The AFTC was set to start at 1030 in the morning. What I didn't initially realize was that at 0800, they also host the Admiral's Cup Sprint Triathlon (400m/12miles/5k).  It is open to anyone and was a great deal for active military, so when I did find out I quickly signed up! I was not the only Team RWB athlete to do so though! Steve Rakel (Kathy's Dad) and Jim Felty (Navy Tri Coach) had also signed up to race the sprint (Steve) and relay the race (Jim- swam). When I rolled into packet pick-up the morning of the race, I immediately met Jim (sporting his Team RWB sweatshirt) and Steve proudly wearing his Air Force blue.  We all had a great time at the race! For Steve, it was a training race in prep for Ironman Texas; Jim's relay team took 1st place; and I happened to pull out women's overall win.  A great way to start the day--though I was surely glad we only had to swim 400m because that water was COLD to the tune of 52-54 degrees. The AFTC racers were going to have their work cut out for them in that cold water! All of the athletes were setting up their transition areas and mentally prepping for the day. It's always fun to see how different athletes deal with race-day morning.  Some are quiet, others jovial and talkative, and others jam out to their tunes as they mentally prep for the race ahead. I said a couple of hellos to Kathy and Nick, but didn't want to do anything to interrupt their routine.

(Nick Vandam takes the inside position for the men's wave)
At 1030 they played both the Canadian and US National Anthems. Then, the men lined up on the beach in a long line, one deep, ready to rock and roll...and off the went--sprinting from the sand and towards the cold, Pacific surf! After the men were off, the women took their place, also in a long line, one deep.  As soon as the majority of the men's wave rounded the first buoy, the women were also sprinting into the surf.  The race was in full motion!
(Jolene Wilkinson inside for the women, Kathy Rakel leans forward, anxious to start)


The AFTC is an Olympic distance race, and the swim course is two loops. Nick Vandam led the men by a lot in both loops, but James, Derek, and Brad weren't far behind.  He was out front and charging! Similarly, but with the company of a couple of ladies hot on her heels, Kathy Rakel took the lead charging into T1. It was a blast to watch these athletes hard charging towards the bike! The bike course is a pancake flat, 4-loop course.  The race is also conducted in the ITU draft-style format. This meant that James and Derek were able to work together to reel Nick back in, and those three would lead the men for the rest of the bike.  There were a few small chase packs and a couple of big ones, but they couldn't close the gap that Nick, James, and Derek had put on them coming out of the swim and in the first lap. These three were working together at a blistering pace, and they all came in together.
(Nick, James, Derek lead the bike together)

The women's race was a bit different.  Kathy headed out on the bike with two of her Air Force teammates right not too far behind her.  Unlike the men's race though, they wouldn't be able to reel her in, and it was Kathy in front from start to finish. Both Jolene and Jess were pushing the pedals hard and closing gaps with some of the other athletes on the course.  Watching all of this unfold, and seeing athletes push their limits, work together, and fly on the bike was exciting. I was doing my best to remain "neutral" and just root for Team RWB. I did cheer for all of our RWB athletes, but then my Army roots came to bear and it was all "Go Army!" At the same time, I was also really glad that in the "big scheme" of it all, these were all my brothers and sisters in arms as well.  Seeing them work hard, like they were, and knowing that they balance their duty with their training to be excellent, that was amazing.
Kathy hammers the bike
(James pushes the pace out front)
(Nick in pursuit)
(Derek flying)
Not too long after Nick, James, and Derek flew into T2, Kathy did the same and I made my way over to the run course.  The two-loop run, like the bike, is flat and decently scenic as the path takes runners out to Pt. Mugu and along the water.  The runners were flying along the course, pushing
the envelope. The temperatures were perfect for running, cool, but not cold. By the time I made it to the run course, the men were heading out out to start their 2nd loop.  James had pulled out front, with Derek determined pursuit, and Nick hunting pushing to hunt them both down.  Kathy passed by on her first loop with no sign of letting up, even knowing that she had a significant lead on the rest of her competition.  It was clear that this race wasn't just about winning
(L-Brad, R-Derek)
 for any of these athletes, it was being excellent and putting out max effort!  At this point, a good majority of the athletes were taking off on the run, but the leaders weren't to be threatened, and coming towards the finish line in the same order as they hit the second loop were James, Derek, and Nick!  James defended his championship; Derek proved his tenacity as he was just coming from a string of Navy EOD school and literally in the middle of Airborne school; and Nick put out a solid performance despite battling a foot injury and on the back of some hard ITU race efforts. BUT, that's not the end of the story for the men--not too far behind and having an amazing race was Brad Pigage. Staying in contention throughout the day, he laid it down on the run and pushed across the finish line to claim 6th place for the men!

Kathy heads to victory!
Jolene and Kathy celebrate an Air Force 1-4 sweep
Out on the run Kathy continued to push the pace and confidently and purposefully crossed the line in first place, and like James, defended her title!  At the same time, Jolene was tearing up the run course and found herself crossing the line in 4th place, and Jess Forman battled tough to take 20th in a very strong field! What a great race to all of those athletes that did it, but what an absolutely amazing day for some of our amazing elite athletes! What makes the AFTC EXTRA special this year is that it was a qualifier for the Military World Games that will be held in Brazil later this year.  The top six finishers from the men and women will put aside service rivalries and represent as Team USA.  That means that, so long as military obligations allow, James, Derek, Nick, Brad, Kathy, and Jolene will all travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July as representatives of the USA! So, to each of you, we say congratulations and we say thank you.  Thank you for choosing to serve your country as members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard! And a BIG thank you for being part of Team RWB and willing to use your success in sports to help your fellow veteran service members!  It was an absolutely fun and amazing day to watch all of you race, to meet you and other great RWB athletes (Steve and Jim).  Rest assured, as you continue to race and prepare to represent the US in Brazil, you will have the support and enthusiasm of Team RWB behind you!


Pro-Triathlete Profile: Jessica Meyers

Today's Team RWB athlete profile is of one of our Pro-Ambassadors, Jessica Meyers.  Jess has and wears many hats! She's a wife, Mom, pro-triathlete, former Army Officer with combat time in Iraq, NCAA Div I runner at West Point, and more! This year she is racing as a member of the REV3 Trakkers Professional Racing team (<--click for more information) and we'll be cheering for her throughout the year as she takes on half-iron distance races everywhere!  Jess was also featured in LAVA Magazine talking about triathlon, military life, and Team RWB! You can read that article HERE.  We are thrilled to have Jess as part of Team RWB and look forward to cheering her on throughout the season! 

Name:  Jessica Meyers
Nickname:  Jess and before I was married Jonesie
Age: 32
Do you have a blog or Twitter account where people can follow you?

Do you have a significant other and kids?  Married to Lucas (former Army swimmer) and twins Rowan and Gwyn
When did you get into triathlon and why?  My last two years at West Point I was injured from Airborne School.  I guess I didn’t feel satisfied with my collegiate running career so when I graduated I started doing with my little brother Trevor (who ended up on the Army Tri Team).
Do you have a favorite race?  I loved Armed Forces when I could do it.  They need an alumni race one day!
What is your best race memory?  Okay, I have a couple…Winning Armed Forces 2005 after a 14 month deployment to Iraq gave me hope.  Getting on the start line for my first 70.3 in 2008 and having my twins (18 months at the time) there to “cheer.”  And of course winning my first big pro race, Augusta 70.3
When you reach the point of the race where you have to dig down deep, what do use as personal motivation?  I think that it’s awesome I’m even out there.  I’m not sleeping on a cot somewhere.  I’m not getting shot at.  I’m not worried about IEDs.  But there are plenty of others out there and this is a constant worry.  Do it for them because they don’t get to.  You owe it to them to give everything you’ve got.
What is your favorite leg of a triathlon and why?  Depends on the day!  I will say that running is my first love, although much like any first love, sometimes we just don’t get along.
What is your favorite pre-race food?  Bagel, PB, banana, honey.  I will admit, I learned this little gem of a meal from Timmy O at the Olympic Training Center.
What is your favorite post-race food?  Whatever they've got on hand! 
Besides triathlon, what do you do for fun?  Ha!  Whatever my kids want to do!  That usually involves a park or destroying the house.
Why Team RWB and supporting the military?  The military has given me more than I can ever give back.  This is my attempt to give back a fraction of it.

Significant Race History/Results:
2010 Augusta 70.3 Champion
2010 Boulder 70.3 3rd Place
2010 Austin 70.3 6th Place
2009 Austin 70.3 6th Place
2009 Memphis in May 2rd Place
Armed Forces Tri Champion 2005, 8th at CISM that year
Armed Forces Cross Country Champion 2006
Former World Class Athlete Program member
Former Resident Team Olympic Training Center


Rev3 Cedar Point and Team RWB Join Forces!!

Team RWB is THRILLED to announce that REV3 Triathlon has enthusiastically come on board to support Team RWB in the 2011 race season by allocating 5 Full Rev (2.4 mile swim/112 mile bike/26.2 mile run) and 5 Half Rev (1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 mile run) slots at the Rev3 Cedar Point FOR FREE to triathletes that are willing to meet minimum fundraising levels ($750 for Half-Rev and $1000 for the Full Rev) for Team RWB.  Please check out the REV3 press release here for all of the details: REV3/Team RWB Press Release.

Team RWB will be arranging a pre-race dinner, have a booth at the expo, and plan to make it a PARTY! Please consider joining us!! If you are ALREADY registered for Cedar Point and want to be part of Team RWB, we will welcome you with OPEN ARMS! The more the merrier, and there is always room on Team RWB!

We want to say a big THANK YOU to Charlie Patten and REV3 for partnering with us in our first year of racing! It is awesome to see a race organization like REV3 understand and support the important mission of Team RWB! So, REV3, we THANK YOU! You can find out more about the REV3 Cedar Point race HERE! For questions regarding how to race with on of the slots, please email brittany@teamrwb.org.