Rookie of the Year

I met my buddy Ryan while on my monthly mountain bike trail patrol volunteer gig. He mentioned he was interested in doing some triathlons this year. “The Governor” knew we’d need to give this park visitor a little extra attention ‘cause I’m obsessed with triathlon.

So, I told Ryan about XTERRA. I sent him to Tri-Zone. And I told him he was more than welcome to join us for some training swims in the bay. Or email me anytime with questions. He was a mountain biker and a newbie tri – cool! He patiently tapped all my tips into his PDA. He was organized too. Definitely the makings of a tri. He just didn’t realize it.

What I didn’t realize is that he had a TON of potential. How much can one glean at the top of hill in a ten-minute conversation? When we went swimming in the bay with Kristen, I got my first hint. See Ryan is the first guy who could actually keep up with her. He matched her stroke for stroke. It’s a beautiful thing for a slowpoke like me to watch from shore. I knew he would be strong on the swim. In fact, I knew he’d be done with the swim before my wave even started. I was right. His swim time was 27:40.

I wasn’t so sure how he’d do on the bike. Newbies don’t always have the best equipment. I did my first three triathlons on a mountain bike. Ryan? He has an 11-year old used road bike – a 97 Trek 420. It’s so stylin’ the gear shifters are on the down tube. It has toe clips. Remember toe clips? (See Ryan's comment below. Yup, it gets even better!) Okay, I know I’m starting to sound like a bike snob. But I did ride my high school road bike with toe clips from the age of 14 to 30. I called it “Big Blue” ‘cause it was so frickin’ heavy. So I know what it’s like. And to make it even more tricked out, he has my hand-me-down, big, foamy aero bars. I’d like think they were good luck and totally responsible for his smokin’ time, but nah, it was all him. It had to be. He blew through that course and some Richie Rich bikes with Dura-Ace components in 1:24:21.

On the run, he was super strong too. 54:19.

The guy smoked his first Oly in 2:46:41. Plenty of time to hang around for me to finish. And he did. He was the first to greet me after I left the finish shoot, all weepy from my PR. We were both so relieved to have it under our belts. After grabbing a couple of cups of Gator-Aid, we joined the Tri-Divas rooting section.