A prominent member of the DC Tri Club who is always there to provide a bit of comic relief, either in person or on the Forum, this month's featured athlete is Brent Joaquin, Jr. Brent is known for always maintaining a sense of humor while balancing the demands of a rigorous career in the US Navy with being a divorced single father, all the while maintaining his commitment of being a triathlete. Lt. Commander Joaquin is a New Yorker to the core who's day job is the "care and feeding of MH-53E Helicopters." Recently transferred to a new duty station in Norfolk, VA, we miss seeing Brent's face everyday but we're sure it's just a matter of time before Washington, D.C., draws him back
First enlisting and then receiving your commission as an Officer, you have made a very successful career for yourself in the US Navy. Has triathlon helped improve your PRT scores or benefited your career in any way?
My Physical Readiness Test (PRT) Scores have always been pretty good; being a runner helps keep my numbers high. The one thing that being a triathlete has done is give me credibility when telling a young 21 year old sailor that smokes a pack a day, that they are killing themselves. It really is shocking that adults half my age (I’m 42) can’t run a 1.5 miles in under 12 minutes. When these young sailors see an old guy staying in shape and taking an interest in their well being, it sometimes snaps them into reality and makes them want to ask you "how can I get in shape and stay that way."
The Navy has taken you many places; what has been your favorite duty station?
Sigonella, Sicily (sighing in found remembrance). I love all things Italian/Sicilian and this duty station was heaven. The food, the music, the fashion... I ate it up and totally went native.
Are you involved in any community programs or clubs outside of DC Tri?
I am currently a Board member of Tri Unify. Two other DC Tri members, Cassie Trotter & Adrienne McCray, founded this group. The goal of Tri Unify is to increase the overall health and well being of the black community by providing an organized forum for training, resources and participation in the multi-sport lifestyle.
Has race or diversity impacted your participation in triathlon in any way?
Only in that I don’t have the support of family like most people do. Growing up I played team sports, African Americans understand that. Individual sports with no team to cheer for is not very prominent. When I first started doing triathlons three years ago my family thought I’d lost my mind. They understood the running..but swimming? And riding a bike that was equivalent to most people’s mortgage in funny little tight pants was enough to have them want me to change my last name. So this sport is definitely a solo endeavor for me.
What can be done by DC Tri and USAT to make the sport of triathlon more diverse?
I think Chuck Brodsky and Nic Jafarieh have the right idea. By creating the youth tri camp in DC they have reached out to the most accessible and creative group – kids. Showing the community that this sport is for everyone, including kids, will undoubtedly generate more interest from other ethnic communities.
You are an avid NY Jets fan. Considering that the J-E-T-S just finished the season 4-12, wouldn't it just be easier to cheer for playoff bound Giants?
That’s like saying "I’m switching to Duathlons because Tri’s are too hard." You have to stick it out, take the good with the bad. And everyone loves an Underdog.
You have two children, are they involved in athletics and has your participation in triathlon helped influence them to be active?
My son is an avid weight lifter. He took after his mom’s side of the family so he was blessed with muscles. He also loves baseball so we usually work out at the batting cages and work on his fielding skills so that’s our bond. My daughter has a condition called Erb’s Palsy which causes her left arm to bend at the elbow about 45 degrees. This keeps her from doing most sports but one of these days she’ll learn to love running, at least that’s my plan. The one thing that my Triathlon lifestyle has taught them is how to eat right. When they are with me we usually eat low fat, non fried foods and lots of veggies. They have recently started to cook and it seems as if they understand why eating right is so important.
How has triathlon helped to define who you are today?
Triathlon helps me to appreciate slowing down a bit. I know the words "slow and triathlon" shouldn’t go hand in hand so let me explain. No matter how hard I swim, bike or run I am still within my own bubble and that’s when my brain slows down enough to think things through. How many times have you had to do a one hour run and before you know it you’re done because you’ve been thinking about everything from A-Z?
What is the most humbling experience you have had while participating in a triathlon or other sporting event?
This is easy. For the last two years I have run in the Army 10 Miler. This run has gotten some incredibly bad press and some of it rightfully earned. Everything from "too much security," to "not enough water," to "just too many people." But the one thing that makes all this grumbling go away is seeing young soldiers that have left limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan out there competing. Each year these soldiers field of team of single and double amputees, their shirts read "some assembly required." Each of these young men and women are out there for no other reason than to show themselves that they can still be soldiers and be proud of being an American. Aside from all that is the ages… some of these men and women are only 3 or 4 years older than my son… so yes that’s humbling.
You've been an active member of DC Tri, in both the social and training scenes of the Club. Are there any special training groups, relationships, or events that have arisen through the Club?
My favorite part of DC Tri is the many diverse personalities. So many different people with one common interest. I cannot count the number of wonderful friends I have made being a member of this club. Before I moved to DC I did not have any civilian friends so this was a leap. These friends are forever - triathlon or not.
How has DC Tri helped you achieve your goals?
Just being able to train with the likes of so many incredible athletes is enough to make anyone want to work hard and finish strong. I get the most out of this club by just showing up to the bricks, long ride and open water swims. This last summer I traveled so much and had some personal issues to deal with and I didn’t train nearly as much as I should have, and my race times show it.
With your svelte, triathlete's physique and cleanly shaved heads, you and Mayor Fenty bear a striking resemblance. It's rumored that Mayor Fenty is frequently confused as being Brent Joaquin... Do you feel that this has helped his political career in any way?
But of course. Anyone that knows me knows I have a great sense of humor and to be in Politics you need a sense of humor.
If you could meet just one person, who would it be, why, and under what circumstances?
I would love to meet General Colin Powell (RET), a true American hero as far as I am concerned. I would love to meet him on any occasion. Maybe I’ll talk him into becoming a member of the DC Tri Club or Tri Unify.
In terms of life, triathlon or any other adventures you may encounter, where do you see yourself in two years?
Having completed an Ironman and still wearing a size 31 pair of jeans, one year away from retirement, looking for a place to buy on the Hill and working for the federal government in some capacity.
In closing, what advice would you like to offer other triathletes?
Me give advice to other triathletes? No way... that's like asking O.J. Simpson to speak to wayward children about keeping out of trouble.
Thanks Brent - We can't wait to get you back in DC!