Ya’ll are super heroes to me. That’s the way I see it with your feats of strength and willpower wearing tight and brightly colored RTB spandex. I’m a total comic book nerd and I’m just happy to be part of this Super Friends team. We all need an Origin story right? Well fortunately my home Planet didn’t explode nor were my parents offed by the Joker. By comic book standards my story may be boring but I’m guessing some of you may be in this for similar reasons. I just love to compete. I love to improve and to work towards a goal. Head Coach Pete Carol’s mantra is “Always Compete” and I love everything about this. I smile at just the thought of how fast I’d get spit out the back end of the Seahawks ultra competitive system. Just to give it a shot! See most people would think this little day dream is ridiculous and I’m sure they feel the same about trying a triathlon. I learned a long time ago that “Always Compete” freaks some people out. When I was a Kid some people didn’t like to play board games with me because I took it way to serious. I’ve definitely learned to turn it down a few notches but I came by this competitiveness honestly. I grew up in a house with three brother’s and two sisters. Often disputes were settled by a pick-up basketball game or a race of some sort. I always wore shorts and tennis shoes to school because I never knew when the next challenge would come and I wanted to be ready. I’m still haunted by the last time my older brother beat me in a fight turned to race around the block back in the 8th grade. My mom even followed us in the family van just to make sure it didn’t regress back into a fist fight. It still gets me up in the morning to go running sometimes. I know, I’ve got issues.
My sports growing up were Football, Wrestling, Track and Rugby. I had some success at the High school and College level but after that I just aimlessly went to the gym five days a week. No Cardio, all pumping iron. To get all buff I guess. After a few years of that I needed more and a coworker suggested we do a triathlon. I thought, why not? I knew I could run or at least I used to before it took a back seat to the bench press. I used to eat Mark Allen's Pro Grain cereal when I was a kid so I guess deep down inside I've been preparing for a triathlon all my life, right? I knew swimming was definitely going to be a problem and I was going to have find a bike. After discovering that I could only swim freestyle for 25 yards before having to hold onto the wall I decided to perfect the combat breaststroke and find the local Tri with the shortest swim. I figured all bikes were pretty much the same and the "engine" is all that truly matters so I traded a steak dinner for my friends 1987 Univega 10 speed and got a few training rides in.
I lined up for the 2004 Beaver Lake Triathlon and my pre race jitters started to turn into confidence as they often did before football games and wrestling matches. I looked at my fellow competitors in the Clydesdale Wave and thought “there is no way these big guys can be faster than me!” so I ditched my plan to start the swim in the back and elbowed my way to the front. Big Mistake. Every single one of those guys swam over the top of me. It was total chaos. By the time I got to the end of the swim and started crawling out of that water it felt like the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan. I was totally shell shocked. The bike seemed to go well enough, being one of the last out of the water meant that I was bound to pass a few people. The reality of how I was doing didn’t set in until I heard them announce the winner was running to the finish line while I was still in T2. Running off the bike was another new experience I had to learn about the hard way in the heat of competition. I’ll never forget having to will my stiff legs to move as I was repeatedly passed by this 64 year old man over and over again because he was doing some strange sprint-walk-sprint technique. My legs finally loosened up a bit and I was able to defeat my 64 year old rival and even pass a few more. I finished 184th and I loved it. I loved all the “war stories” we told after. I loved all the ways I was going to improve in my next tri. I was hooked.
In January 2012 my journey to always improve in triathlon finally led me Northwest Tri and Bike to get a proper steed. Brad and Patty hooked me up with a sweet P3. After talking to me for a bit I think Brad sensed I could benefit from hanging out with some people that knew a whole lot more about triathlon than I did so he suggested RTB. Sounded good to me, besides who else goes on group rides in the February rain on Time Trail bikes? Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed many good miles with some great RTB folk. I love having teammates, hearing their goals and watching them succeed. I think deep down we all need to be part of something bigger than just us and anyone who is trying to do this triathlon thing solo is really missing out.
About five years ago one of my buddies told me we should do the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon for our Fortieth birthdays. I said I’m in, because I figured I’d be a much better swimmer by then. Well, time flies, because this June I turn forty and I’m all signed up for Alcatraz. I’ve got to admit I’m a little worried about the swim. 1.5 miles in the cold choppy current of the San Francisco Bay. If this doesn’t get me to the pool more often this winter nothing will. All the shark videos my “friends” are sending me aren't helping either. The swim could be ugly, but maybe I’ll snag a Strava segment on the bike while I’m down there. It’s all about challenging ourselves, right? It should be fun and I’m looking forward to my first travel triathlon.
Thanks for letting me share a few “war stories” with you. Thanks for all the inspiration and encouragement. I’m looking forward to some good training rides this spring and seeing all the RTBers at the local races. Go RTB!