by Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
185th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
8/19/2014 - OKOBOJI, Iowa -- Early
on a particularly cool summer morning in Iowa a few swimmers begin to
emerge from West Lake Okoboji leaving hundreds of others in their wake.
The competitors are making their way to the bicycle transition area for
the second leg of the 2014 University of Okoboji Triathlon.
A small crowd of sweatshirt-clad spectators are gathered lakeside to
cheer them on as they strip off their swim caps and goggles. Cheering on
Senior Airman Michael Considine is his biggest fan, his mom Patty.
This scene has been repeated numerous times throughout the last several
years. Considine, a veteran triathlete has been competing in marathons
and triathlons since high school. While he competes individually, he is
also a member of the University of Iowa's triathlon team, the Tri-Hawks.
A little short of breath and dripping wet from the swim, Considine is
proudly dressed in the black and gold of his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes,
where he is a full time student. He has reason to be proud - the
Tri-Hawks have been competing in Nationals for nearly a decade and
usually finish in the top ten of 100 competing teams.
Considine, Sioux City native, works as an avionics technician in the
Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City as a 'traditional' or drill status
guardsman. It was his mom, a triathlon competitor herself, who first
inspired Considine to give it a try. It was while he was still in high
school that he completed his first Ironman. Having been sidelined from
traditional sports in high school due to surgery on both knees, running
an Ironman at that time was a huge accomplishment. Ironman is a 140.6
mile race consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a full
26.2 mile marathon.
It is not just marathons and triathlons that Considine is passionate
about. When pressed, he admits that he "has a problem" when it comes to
these, and other events, like ultra-marathons. The problem is that his
involvement can surpass passion and become more of an obsession.
"Once you get into the 'ultra' distances, like Ironman distances or 50
miles on a run, or over two miles on a swim, it's one of those things
where you think, I've gone this huge distance, I wonder how far I can
go," said Considine. "Then you just keep pushing yourself over the
The influence of Considine' s parents is evident in every aspect of his
life - from his desire to compete in triathlons to his career choices.
Both of Airman Considine's parents are former members of the Iowa Air
Guard's 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City. It was watching his
father, a former fighter pilot and commander of the 185th, fly fighter
jets that motivated him to aspire to be a pilot himself once he
completes his education.
"I grew up down here [on the base in Sioux City]," said Considine. "When
we had F-16's I was down here all the time. So that made joining the
Guard a really easy decision, especially when I learned about all the
financial benefits available for school."
Considine pushes himself to excel in many areas. Not only a veteran
triathlete, he is also a military veteran. With four years of military
service, the 22 year old again plans to postpone college this fall to
volunteer for a second overseas deployment. Having a unique
understanding of the military and veteran's issues, Considine is
actively involved with campus veteran's groups.
Considine applies the same level of tenacity that he gives to his sport,
to helping veterans as part of the University of Iowa Veteran's
Association. He has also been active in developing a student group for
veterans, as well as participating with fund raising projects for
organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and Fisher House
during his tenure at the University.
While some people his age may not put much thought beyond the end of the
week, Considine said it was his father who taught him at a very young
age, the benefit of thinking long-term. When he was just 7 years old,
his dad gave him money to invest and allowed him to choose from a list
of top performing stocks. It was years later, when the stock began to
pay dividends, that the lesson really took hold.
Col. Tom Considine, Michael's father died of cancer a year after that
lesson. Patty Considine said that was a defining moment for Michael.
"It was the day of the funeral and we had just gotten home and there was
a burnt out light bulb," said Patty. "I thought, what else could go
wrong? That's when Michael said, 'I'll change it, I'm the man of the
The influence of Michael's father - both in life and in death stuck with
the younger Considine. He continues to apply the principals he learned -
responsibility, service and thinking long-term - to all of his
endeavors, whether it is running, school or the military.
"'Can't' is not in my vocabulary," said Considine. "If I fail at a 50
miler and run 35 miles, it is way farther than I thought I would be able
Nearly two hours after first plunging into West Lake Okoboji to swim,
bike and run, Considine finished the University of Okoboji Triathlon
with an official time of 1:48:27. The 2014 Okoboji Triathlon consisted
of 0.6 mile swim, 18 mile bike ride and 4.5 mile run. In a field of 124
competitors Considine finished 53rd overall.
It was Vince Lombardi who is credited for saying that "leaders are not
born, they are made." There are many factors that go into making a
leader. While many of the circumstances surrounding Considine' s life
were out of his control, he is the one who has taken what he was handed
and is putting maximum effort into making himself a leader worth