Jolene Wilkinson is a quiet competitor that is likely to sneak up and find herself on the podium at almost all the races she competes in. This 41-year old living in Boise, Idaho spends her days as a Social Worker and Triathlon Coach in the civilian world, Services Specialist in the Idaho Air Guard for my military career. When not working she can be found training and finding races to conquer!
How did you get involved in your sport?
Visiting my best friend in TX, signed up to do the Beast and fell in love with OCR…but I think my first OCR event was really in Basic Training where they let me go first and I raced through the obstacle course!
Were you always an athlete?
I was never a natural athlete, but I always liked moving and being active and I had the heart and mind of an athlete. I started gymnastics when I was 4 and started competing shortly after that
What are some of your athletic achievements?
I competed at the junior elite level in gymnastics; supposedly I am in the Little League Hall of Fame for being one the first girls to play baseball. I also competed 26 years in triathlon including 10 as a pro. I was 2x junior national champion, 3 X age group world champion, military master’s world champion, and military Ironman champion in 2012. Competed in Olympic Trials in 2000 for Time Trial in cycling.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Keep improving on my weaknesses, stay healthy, and have fun while also getting closer to the fast girls. One of my other goals is to form a partnership with an organization to get wounded vets involved in OCR. I have a huge heart for vets and would love to see a heat of wounded vets to use training/racing as a form of therapy.
Who is/are your inspiration?
Anyone who has overcome immense challenges and obstacles in their life to do amazing things; those who put their lives on the line for our freedom and country; and also my parents (dad passed away) who were always supportive of my crazy dreams.
What is your most proud moment in sport?
I have a few…1. I was one of those little girls who moved away from home at a young age to train at a gymnastics academy, it was an honor that a top coach would see potential in me. 2. Winning my 1st junior national title in triathlon. The year before, I got crushed. I came back and nobody expected a small town girl racing on a mail-order bike that was way too big could beat girls with way more talent and racing on custom bikes could win. 3. Winning the military master’s triathlon. I got to stand of the top of the podium hearing the national anthem playing and hand on my heart and representing not only my country, but my country’s military. My mom was there and she told me my dad would have been proud.
What is your most proud moment in life?
Every time I get to wear my Air Force uniform.
How do you overcome a bad race or training day?
It is hard to have bad days when you keep things in perspective. I am so grateful that I GET TO DO THIS! I have friends who are battling cancer, others who are out fighting in the war…really, this is just a sport. I also remember a time where I almost lost my own life and all I wanted to do was to go outside and walk. I don’t take anything for granted now, no bad days.
What is your training routine like?
I consider everything training since there are so many things I like to do. I mix up running, biking, swimming, yoga, skiing, paddling, crossfit. I think at my age I really have to focus a lot more on recovery activities so I can do this longer.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your sport?
Have fun. Our sport is an incredible way to get fit in a fun way. I have seen way too many talented athletes burn out because their whole life revolves around their sport and it stops being fun.
What is your favorite pre-race and post-race food?
Before a race, I eat homemade energy balls made from dates and a mix of other things + a homemade energy drink. After a race, I like to try the local specialties. I love food and that is a perk of traveling and racing at different venues.
When not training and competing what do you do with your down time?
I volunteer doing animal therapy mostly with horses, spend time with my boyfriend/friends/dog, camp, travel, ski, paddle, cook, read, garden, go to church, or sleep.
What is your favorite quote to motivate you?
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure-Eric Liddell; No Regrets-my daily motto
What is the best advice a coach ever gave you?
I don’t remember anything specific, but all of my coaches taught me hard work and discipline. As a gymnast, I trained 30-35 hours a week. I am a free-spirit at heart, so this work ethic has spilled over in all areas of my life. I have always had to work harder than others, so the setting goals and actually seeing some of my dreams come true has been a result of this gift they have all given me.
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
Again, have fun and balance in your life. Dream big and live with no regrets. I am an example of someone who came from a small town with no opportunities who is not a natural athlete, yet I have followed my heart. If I can do this, anyone can.