DC Triathlon Club

2020 Member Spotlight – Brian O’Donnell

July, 2020

How did you get involved in triathlons?

I had been a competitive swimmer since I was eight years old but I took a break from the sport after I graduated from college in 2012. It was a much needed break since I had not taken more than a week or two off from the sport in high school or college. But after a few months I started to miss swimming and joined a local master’s team. In 2014 I decided to try triathlons since my parents had been doing them for a few years and they loved doing them. I bought myself a cheap road bike and signed up for a race – the rest is history.

What was your first triathlon?

2014 Bath County Tri – Moomaw Madness. I did the sprint distance, and distinctly remember the nightmare that is the first hill of the bike leg. woof.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in a triathlon?

I think the biggest mistake I’ve made to date was at the 2015 Bath County Tri. My buddy and I had spent the night at a seedy motel (possibly another mistake) and we were getting our stuff set up in the transition area. About an hour and a half before the race, I started to worry if I had had enough to eat. In my infinite wisdom, I ate THREE Clif bars. As you probably know, those things are loaded with protein, and you really only need to eat one and maybe another light snack to be golden. But I ate THREE. Flash forward to the start of the race, I started swimming and I immediately know I’ve messed up. The Clif Bars felt like a block of lead in my stomach. The swim was miserable but since it’s my strongest leg, it was over relatively quickly. The bike leg was better and by the end I had completely forgotten about the overeating. The run leg, however, was not going to let me live it down. Every step felt like a medicine ball being thrown against my stomach wall. I was barely able to run in a normal form. It was agony. The silver lining of this was 1) my stomach hurt so badly that I forgot how tired my legs were and PR’d my run and 2) learned to never do that again.

Any memorable races or experience?

A couple stand out

  • I did the NJ State Tri as a relay with my dad and brother, and we ended up winning the relay category. It was the first time we had competed together as a family, which was really special, and made sweeter by getting some gold medals
  • Two of my college swimming buddies and I did the Smith Mountain Lake tri last year and that was a lot of fun to race with those guys again.
  • Last year I did the Quantico Sprint and my wife was able to come and watch, which was the first time she was able to do that.
  • Speaking of my wife, we did the 14.01 Tri last year as a relay team (I did swim + bike, she ran), and that was really special because that was the first time we had raced together

What do you enjoy outside of triathlon?

Outside of tri, I like playing video games, board games, and DnD. I also follow the MLS and NFL closely, and watch the games when I can. My wife and I also go on hikes with our dog Vader. I can be found at any local brewery drinking their hoppiest IPA.