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Male athlete of the year: Capt. D. Brent Bundy

Capt. D. Brent Bundy, the director of operations for the 17th Test Squadron, Detachment 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., competes in the bicycle portion of an Ironman Triathlon he completed several years ago, For the third year in a row, Bundy was nominated as the male athlete of the year by the 30th Force Support Squadron sports and fitness center. (courtesy photo)

Capt. D. Brent Bundy, the director of operations for the 17th Test Squadron, Detachment 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., competes in the bicycle portion of an Ironman Triathlon he completed several years ago, For the third year in a row, Bundy was nominated as the male athlete of the year by the 30th Force Support Squadron sports and fitness center. (courtesy photo)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- For the third year in a row, Capt. D. Brent Bundy, 17th Test Squadron Detachment 4 director of operations, was nominated as the male athlete of the year by the 30th Force Support Squadron sports and fitness center.

The award recognizes outstanding achievement and noteworthy athletic accomplishments occurring at the local, regional, state or Air Force level. Nominees must have also demonstrated good sportsmanship and ethical behavior. 

"Recognition provides athletes with inspiration to continue to pursue or strive for excellence in their particular sport," said Pamela Coffey, 30th FSS fitness center director. "Positive recognition can set the stage for inspiring others or bringing out the very best in athletes. Winning a base level athletic achievement award could potentially open the door for higher athletic recognition at the Air Force level as well. Our local athletes put in a lot of time and dedication towards achieving great success in their sport. They possess drive and determination that will most likely transfer into their everyday life on the job and within their personal lives. I feel that higher caliber athletes bring stronger work ethic to their units as well."

Many jobs in the Air Force are behind a desk, and it can be easy to make excuses and postpone training for later. For Bundy, the most difficult part of his training is the mental portion.

"It is 80 percent mental," said Bundy. "There is obviously a very real physical component, but there are simply more ways to crack and fail mentally. I've found that it's usually the mental mistakes, rather than one's physical ability, that keep us from hitting the start line and competing."

Bundy also stresses another main facet of training - staying injury free.

"Staying injury free is one of the biggest challenges," said Bundy. "Just making it to the starting line in good health, is reason to celebrate. You have to work just as hard, if not harder, doing all the little things like stretching, planning meals, getting enough rest, scheduling other responsibilities, spend time on that foam roller... these things allow you to continue working towards the goal. It's tempting to get lazy and cut those mental corners - but that's what will result in the inability to adapt to the workload and make it to the start line."

Whatever a person is trying to achieve, a 5K run or a full-blown Ironman triathlon, tailoring a workout to fit the end goal is the priority.

"Part of the fun and challenge is training so that I can do something difficult with relative ease," said Bundy. "I don't start the process hoping to suffer... although I accept that some suffering will be unavoidable. Ideally most of the 'torment' happens in the shadows prior to the event. I hope and plan to choose those moments and amounts of suffering on my own terms throughout the training, so that during the actual event when I'm under the spotlight, it's as much 'fun' as possible." 

For Bundy the physical training component for an event is not so much a regimen but a lifestyle.

"I have to remind myself to integrate my training into family life, not vice versa.  It's tough. In the heart of training I am up prior to 4 a.m. for 2 hours on the bike before the kids get out of bed, then usually rush to the pool for a swim, or do a swim-specific strength workout before reporting to work. If I can get out during lunch-break for a run, that is great, if I can't, I will run after work. Sometimes I run after the kids are in bed. If I can integrate a bike ride with the family into training, or a trip to the pool to play with the kids, I try to do that. Sometimes the higher priorities will trump the training, but overall you just find a way. You may miss a day or two of training along the way, but overall if you are consistent you will be successful."

Bundy has a penchant for running Ironman triathlons, which are comprised of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run. That kind of activity may not appeal to many people and even Bundy admits it sounds 'insane', but despite those things he has learned a lot about himself in the process.

"It's arguably insane, I get it - and I can't speak for everyone, but it works for me," said Bundy. "Overall the process has made me a better husband, father, and Airman - but there are definitely times my wife has been aggravated at me for keeping my bike in the living-room. Both during training and while I'm on the course, my family provides a lot of strength. I know that if I train smart and push with caution, I am adding years to my life - which equates to more time with my wife, kids and grandkids."