As a retired staff sergeant who served 20 years, Keith Oswald had the notion of doing something to aid servicemembers who are part of the wounded warrior Family. Oswald’s brainchild — complete two Ironman triathlons and donate proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project.
The WWP is an organization dedicated to caring for the needs of injured servicemembers and to helping them recover and transition back into civilian life.
Looking back over his military career, Oswald remains grateful for the advantages and opportunities that serving in the military afforded, such as being able to travel overseas and attaining a higher education. He has undergraduate degrees in criminology and business and a master’s degree in public administration.
Oswald, who currently works as a Department of the Army police officer and a Special Reaction Team member (similar to SWAT) is set to compete in the Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas competition, Saturday, and the Ironman Florida, Nov. 3, in Panama City Beach, Fla.
The triathlon entails tackling a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
“I wanted to do something that would give me a reason to train hard. I wanted to do something to help somebody who needed help,” said Oswald, who has been training since November.
A typical training week includes eight to 10 hours of cycling, four hours of running and two to three hours of swimming.
If anyone knows how diligently Oswald has worked, it would likely be his trainer, Eric Kinney, he said.
The two, who began working together in December, have touched on various aspects of training, including improved swim techniques, race-day strategies and nutrition, Kinney said.
According to Kinney, Oswald is a stronger and more efficient athlete because of the training techniques. “He has 100 percent control of his intensity and effort at any given point in time,” Kinney said.
Oswald, who had previously been a marathoner, said that he was introduced to the triathlon by a friend who thought he would have appreciation for the commitment of competition.
“I was a swimmer in high school, so the swimming part and the running part I’d already done, so it was just learning to ride a bike better,” said Oswald who is a native of Pensacola, Fla. “The first one (triathlon) was ugly, but I got hooked. It’s just one of those things.”
At 6 foot, 1 inch, and a slim 185 pounds, Oswald said he realizes the extent of completing a triathlon will take. A triathlete normally loses as much as four to seven pounds and burns nearly 14,000 calories during an event, he said. But, he also recognizes that the biggest challenge is not only physical, but mental as well.
“For somebody who really wants to build their confidence, this is the best race for them,” Oswald said. “This race will weed out people who are not mentally tough.”
Oswald added that in addition to the physical and mental training, preparing for the triathlon also incorporates nutritious training.
In the week preceding a triathlon, for instance, Oswald takes steps such as routinely loading up on carbohydrates and increasing water consumption.
“You’ll need all that stuff,” he said.
Saturday’s triathlon will be monitored through a chip timing system. Those interested in tracking Oswald’s progress during the event, may log onto www.ironman.com and enter his last name.