Whew. This is the list I would think about in my head during the monotonous (i.e. all) the parts of the bike and the run during the race. I used all the support and energy of the people below as fuel. Please take this blog post as a small thank you for the amazing things that you did for me that propelled me across the finish line
I have to start with my cousin Diane, since fundamentally without her, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this. She and her husband, along with my Uncle Cy and Aunt Diane (her parents), drove out from Northern California to watch the race. When I first asked Diane if she would like to be there, she said “Yes!” and I had been envisioning seeing her at the finish line for the last 10 months. Other athletes visualized their swim, their bike, parts of their run. I ran with one image in mind. Thanks for the kidney, cousin. It held up pretty well during the 140.6 miles.
With everyone else, we’ll keep it alphabetical just to prevent infighting or catcalling. Warning: This will be a long post – I have a lot of people to thank!
Chris Garlington (The Ambassador)
I first met Chris registering for the Austin AIDS ride three years ago, and I kept running into Chris again and again at every triathlon in Austin. I think he did my body marking at at least 3 races in the last two years before T3. When I joined T3, Chris was assigned as my ambassador, to show me the ropes of how to get the most out of T3. But Chris, and Kevin as well, have become much more than mentors or teammates, but have become close friends. Everyone cannot help but love Chris, because of his personable nature and the way he cares about other people. But far beyond that, his determination, his intensity, and the glimpses you get of the strength of Chris as a person have amazed me, and were a huge part of helping me through the last 10 months and across the finish line. And, we’re both crazy OCD organized types, though Chris edges me out by getting up at least an hour earlier than I do.
Dan Heller, Vic Chao, and Nate Moffett (The Cheering Squad)
Dan, Vic, and Nate were yelling for me, at me, with me, around me, and kept me motivated every time I would see them. They made the trip to Tempe (okay, a shorter trip for Nate, but he’s got four kids), and survived the endurance event of watching the race. I’ve known Vic since I was 18, and Dan since 2000 – and both have been there during my best and worst times.
Eric Colquette (The Training Partner)
Friendships are born from many different parents. Many of my friends have come from school, work, or business. But Eric is unique in that his friendship came out of pace. We met at a T3 happy hour, and during the next few weekend bike rides, I noticed that Eric and I were close to the same pace. We found ourselves to be similar in pace, and a whole lot more. Eric is the closest thing to a training partner I had all year, even though it was mostly weekend bike rides where we found ourselves together. Eric and I drove from Austin to Arizona for the race together, and having Eric’s straightforward view of the world was exactly what I needed. Eric has a ton of guts and determination, and I’m incredibly proud to have had the change to train alongside him, and count him as one of my friends. Eric finished about 15 minutes ahead of me at Arizona, and looked strong every minute of the race.
Escalation Point (The Job)
The past two years, after I left MessageOne, I’ve parachuted into the world of healthcare software. To keep me sane, I’ve had a madcap cast of characters who were pursuing the same vision and helping me find my way along the path. It started out with just John Cox and Chris Lacava, but expanded to a whole team of mischievous smart guys who are serious about their work but who kept me laughing and motivated during my year of training. Despite being an early stage start-up, Escalation-Point made an incredibly generous donation to my fundraising campaign. It is incredibly difficult to leave for Australia and leave such a great team behind.
Dr. Horacio Adrogue, Jr. (The Transplant Nephrologist)
In April of 2004, Horacio looked at me and challenged me, “If you’re not willing to work twice as hard as I am, then you shouldn’t be my patient.” At that moment, I knew which nephrologist I’d be working with. Dr. Adrogue shepherded me through the transplant process, and offered me the ability to be on a steroid sparing protocol, which makes my daily life post-transplant much, much easier. I’m incredibly lucky to have found the combination of a world-class academic nephrologist, a practical hands-on patient advocate, and an awesome all-around-human-being in a single package. We’ve become close friends through the process. I remembering trying to figure out how I was going to bring up the idea of doing an Ironman, and to make sure he didn’t have concerns. Despite the fact that my complains (“I need to be able to get my heart rate over 180”) aren’t the usual, he’s been there to help me get to the next step every time I call on him.
Jack & Adams (The Shop)
After my first triathlon, I realized that my 1999 Trek touring bike was not going to help me compete. I stumbled into Jack & Adams bike shop on a recommendation of a friend. I didn’t realize that it was Jack, the founder, who was helping me pick out my tri-bike until much later. His approach to “sales” was remarkable. “You’re going to want to take about four different bikes out over the course of the next month. Ride each one for the weekend and see how it fits and what you like.” I had just come out of another store which had asked for $80 to ride a bike for an hour to test it. The surprises continued: “Don’t spend too much on the bike and save some for a wetsuit.” From that moment on, Jack & Adams became my arms dealer in the world of triathlon. I’ve never met a single employee who wasn’t great.
Jess Kolko (The Architect)
Sometimes you may be unaware of how much you influence another person by your example. The marathon at the end of an Ironman was my biggest challenge. I knew I could finish an “aquabike” (the swim + bike portion of an Ironman), but despite being decent at the 10K distance, my first half-marathon was slow and simply not fun. In my first T3 specialty run workout, I ran with Jess Kolko, up and down the hills behind O’Henry Middle School. Jess was at run practice just two days after a half or full marathon, and we paced each other through the workout. Jess talked about her first Ironman, and how she had set a goal to not walk during the race. That one conversation set in my mind the same goal, and during those first 10-15 weekends of training, while I was running 6, 8, or maybe 10 miles, I would see Jess running the other way on the trail, pounding out 16, 18, and 20 miles, with a smile on her face, anchored by an expression of determination and willpower. Sometimes you lead by example, and Jess served as that example that I tried to model myself after during my run training. And I didn’t walk any part of the run!
John Lilly, Kathy Howe, and Sam (The Surrogate Family)
In 2003-4, I was working at Reactivity, the company where John Lilly and I had been cofounders. John and I met at Stanford and instantly became friends, and I owe an amazing amount of my personal and professional success to John’s efforts and abilities. I was living in Austin and working in the Bay Area, and John and his wife Kathy offered to let me stay with them rather than do the hotel thing. When I was first diagnosed with MPGN-1 on New Year’s Eve 2003, John and Kathy were in Austin and skipped their New Year’s Eve plans to come be with me in the hospital. Once I started dialysis, the guest room they had for me and part of their garage was transformed into a medical supplies locker. It was an incredibly dark part of my life, with the future completely uncertain, and Kathy and John adopted me like a family member, and I know that the threads of emotional stability that I hung on to during those times were there because of John and Kathy. Their support of me through the transplant, and in just about every part of my life, is tremendous. And despite all they’ve already done for me, they’ve been the one of the top donors to my Lone Star Circle of Life campaigns, and now my Transplants for Children fundraising campaign.
Katie Cully (The Sadist)
After any run of more than 15 miles, my body was always “jacked up,” and the next few days would be filled with pain, and an inability to train at the level I needed, unless I spent time with Katie, an exceptional massage therapist at Performance Wellness. While the hours I spent with Katie were, without question, the most painful of every week of training, she put me back on the path to an Ironman week after week. I have a congenital birth defect in my lower spine, specifically spondylolisthesis, which makes one leg take a much heavier beating during a run, and doesn’t naturally absorb all the punishment that the human body should. I once asked Katie if she wouldn’t prefer working on someone with a less flawed body, and she let me know that she was more into fixer-uppers – i.e. working out knots and all the nastiness in my muscles was actually fun for her. Sometimes, in digging deep into a trigger point, I’d blurt something out (I once said “ROOT CANAL!” out of the blue), and I hear her giggling in the background. During the Ironman, my legs never failed me, my back never hurt me, and Katie was a huge part of that. There’s no way I would have crossed the finish line without Katie putting me back on the road week after week.
Lisa Rollins (The Wife)
Any partner of someone training for an Ironman deserves a never-ending thank you. We saw a T-shirt at the race which said, “If our relationship is going well, I’m not training hard enough.” I am lucky that my wife is actually the athlete of the family, and so she understands the mental and physical side, and well as the time-consuming side of training. She gave me the permission to focus on the Ironman for this year, and came out to cheer me on. Seeing her on the sidelines often hit me pretty hard. This year, after my first 70.3 in Galveston, we spent a few days on the Cayman Islands just relaxing and being with each other. One morning in our hotel, I woke up, and looked at her sleeping next to me, and realized that she’s my best friend. In every other romantic relationship of my life, I have never been able to say that. (I couldn’t even say that any of my romantic relationships were great friends, which may say something about my own issues…) Even though Lisa isn’t the type to wear her emotions on her sleeve, she let me know how proud she was of me, and to me that meant as much as finishing the race.
The rest of the Rollins family have of course been incredibly supportive as well,(even though Mom worried a lot about my training and race and how it would affect my health).
Meredith Terranova (The Feeder)
I have always considered myself a “semi-healthy” eater. Since elementary school when I told my mom to stop putting sweets in my lunch because they were bad for me (yes, I know, keep the “freak” catcalls coming), I’ve cared about what I eat. Now, that hasn’t stopped me from devouring the occasional Scooter Burger or a dessert built for four, but you won’t find me huddled in front of the TV scooping mayo straight out of the jar. In May I learned how little I really knew about nutrition, and how easily I could change my diet to make my training more effective. Given that I had a kidney transplant, am hypoglycemic, sweat like a fur seal doing Bikram yoga, and hate cooking, I needed someone who could balance all those things and put me on a training and race plan for success. Meredith, an incredibly sharp nutritionist, did all those things and more, and I feel like I not only received a plan for my Ironman race, but she taught me the fundamentals to figure out how to manage my nutrition going forward. In almost every story of a disastrous Ironman race, nutrition is the #1 cause of the issue – either before or during the race.
Michelle Segovia (The Promoter)
Give a fish a man, and he will be eaten for a day. No wait, that’s not right. Anyway, since I see myself as a bit of a “connector”, I always appreciate people who help you find the right ways to accomplish what you need, who show you the paths to success. A couple of years after my transplant, I was ready to stop being so selfish – okay, more honestly to start being less selfish than usual – and wanted to find ways to give back. No person has helped me more through that journey than Michelle Segovia. Michelle is the Community Relations Coordinator for TOSA, or the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance in Austin, which helps promote the Glenda Dawson Donate Life Texas Registry. Michelle helped me get involved in the volunteer community to help register Texans, found outlets for my public speaking “skillz” (or maybe just my natural inclination to talk too much), and helped me find Transplants for Children as the centerpiece of my fundraising campaign. Along with kudos to Michelle’s wicked sense of humor, she would want me to demand that everyone reading this blog become a registered organ donor if they are not already!!
Performance Wellness (The Mechanics)
I could not fit the full list of physical challenges I experienced in the last 10 months. Seemingly every month, I would hobble into Performance Wellness, with something new. And the team there would figure out what was wrong, help correct it, and teach me how to avoid it in the future. A nasty meniscus issue threatened to prevent me from doing my first 70.3. The aforementioned spinal defect was discovered. IT band tightness was causing my quads to tweak and give up. My piriformis was discovered (I didn’t know I had one. Apparently I have two). Chris Sellers would put his fingers on my leg in a vulcan mind meld, his eyes would roll into the back of his head like a peyote induced medicine man, and after twisting me around into some submission hold variant, and then after a simple question or two, he would announce the diagnosis. Chris Olson would walk in and say “Come on back!”, knowing that we’d be spending the next 15 minutes with him trying to get some errant muscle back into the right place. Megan would always great me with a smile and help me navigate the mine fields of insurance, and make the pain seem a little bit better. Above and beyond just the basics, they helped me understand which injuries required backing off training, which were superficial, and how to stretch, rollout, workout in order to prevent recurrence or future injury.
Neel and Melissa Sarkar (The Safety Net)
I met Neel in Austin just about a decade ago, and he’s been there for every part of the BJR Roller Coaster since. Melissa has added another side to the Neel coin, and the two of them have been the place I can go when I need a frank and honest look at the world. There are a lot of friends who will always cheer no matter what you do, i.e. “gosh, Bryan is just about the best serial killer there is.” Neel is rare in his dedication to make you a better person, in the most positive yet honest way possible. Early in my life, there are several cases where I should have told a close friend that they were making a horrible mistake, and I regret having held my punches. I count on Neel for being honest with me, and always helping me work through the toughest decisions in life. With that as the unshakable foundation for our friendship, some of the best times in my life have been shared with Neel, whether it was being soaked in torrential rains aboard kayaks in Vancouver or water rationing in Big Bend. Neel and Melissa were also incredibly generous in their sponsorship of my campaign for Transplants for Children, which meant a great deal. Thank you to everyone who contributed to my campaign as well.
T3 The Coaches (The Hot Coals)
I hadn’t been directly coached on a consistent basis since I was in high school, and was curious how I’d respond. Maurice Culley, a.k.a “Mo”, was the constant encouragement and fire behind my training. One spin practice he was riding and not coaching, he looked over and saw my energy level was dropping, and he looked at me, pointed at himself, pointed at me, and then picked up his pace – a visual challenge to match him and beat him to the top of the imaginary hill we were climbing. I instantly responded and attacked, turning a mediocre ending into one of my best workouts of the year. I met Charles when I showed up at the wrong place for my first weekend ride, and he rode with me for the 15 miles to make it to the start of the ride. From there on, Charles Cannon was there, pushing me during spin classes and always there with a charged up smile. I owe my performance in the Austin Triathlon to Chrissie Novak, who helped me build a race-specific plan, and who drilled into me the strength required to cross the finish line in Arizona, and whose calm, steady expression inspires me to try harder. I could write paragraphs more about each T3 coach, but this post is long enough already. Logan, Natasha, Amanda, Michelle, Blaze, Matilda, and Leslie all helped me get to the place I needed to, despite not being the most gifted athlete and sometimes needing to hear something several times before it sunk in.
T3 The Program (The Womb)
My training up until this year had been 100% solo by design – running, riding, and swimming were my catharsis and escape from the rest of the world, a way to shut out everything else. I was skeptical about joining a team but am now proud to be a part of such an amazing group of people. A special “shout out” to Brandi, JPool, Neilia, and Seth for their encouragement and brilliant personalities, though Seth has more chest hair than the other three. To everyone on the team, it’s been a privilege, and I am sad to move out of the country and have to find new teammates!
Transplants for Children (The Cause)
Motivation is key for training, and finding a cause that would motivate me through training was important. I wanted something very personal – related to organ transplants, something close to home in Texas, something that helped the underprivileged and something focused on kids. Transplants for Children met all four criteria to a T, and when I met Roddy Baker from TFC, I knew I had picked the right organization. Thanks for all the tireless work that you do to make the lives of these kids richer, fuller, and better.
Of course, these aren’t the only people who have helped me – countless friends, family, and others have made all of this possible, so thanks to all of you as well.