Monday, January 23, 2012

Member Spotlight: Last 4 Presidents

by Scott Kleekamp

Maggie O’Toole. Mike Hollywood. Meredith Harjes. Laurie Damianos.

I am just listing four people who get up before I do each day. They also swim faster.

They are also our last four presidents of BTT. I sat down with Maggie, 2005-06, Mike, 2007-08, Meredith, 2009-10*, and Laurie, 2010*-12, to discuss the past seven years. And we ended our chat by throwing in a classic twist on Bob Eubanks’ Newlywed Game for good measure. We call it “El Presidente Game”.

*When Meredith got pregnant, her doctor told her “nine months is full term”. She thought he was referring to her BTT Presidency. So she vacated the position after nine months. Laurie was forced to intervene -- not as Meredith’s doctor, but as the new BTT President.


“What should we drink?” Maggie asks. She is the first to be seated, which is odd, given her habit of never finding any place on the first try.

“How’d you get here so quick?” I wonder, audibly.

“I actually thought we were meeting someplace else, got lost, and stopped in here for directions. Then I saw you.” She fumbles with her iPhone, shutting off its ringtone.

“Is that a George Michael song on your ringtone? Aren’t you dating yourself a bit with that?”

She slowly lowers her purse to the floor, her modulation following it nearly as far. “It’s Wham. And no.”

Well then.

“Let’s drink beer.” I start anew.

“Two Harpoons,” she says, waving her arm at the bartender.

“IPA’s?” he asks from across the room.

“Yes, two IPA’s.”

She turns back to me: “and what are you drinking?”

Never a dull moment with an O’Toole. Hopefully the others show up quickly.

And they do. First Laurie, then Meredith, and Mike a few minutes later. Small talk wanders between them, as if they were at Helen’s restaurant following a Walden Pond swim.

Things such as “I think I’m going to go for IMLP in 2013,” and, “didn’t see you at 6AM master’s swim today,” go back and forth.

I insert myself, trying to stay relevant.

“I did an Ironman because I wanted to be a changed person. I was sick of always being humble and having toenails.”

And like that…it was silent.

Until the food came. Then we get down to business.


How did you all get involved in triathlon?

Laurie: Hyannis Sprint in 1997. A group of colleagues at work dared ourselves to train for and compete in our first triathlon. We had 5 weeks to prepare. I was swimming then but nothing else. Of 5 of us, only 3 of us finished, and I was pleased that the woman won! I was hooked after that.

Maggie: Colonial Beach, Virginia. Olympic distance in 1997.

Meredith: Mooseman Olympic distance in 2006.

Mike: Fairlee in 2001 – pseudo-Olympic distance (loved the short run!).

What’s the worst race “malfunction” you’ve ever had?

Maggie: In my first Ironman I was so nervous about nutrition that I overloaded my “Bike Special Needs” bag and when the volunteer hung it over my handlebars it weighed so much that it made my wheel turn sideways and I fell over. A well meaning teammate had told me that having chicken broth on the course was really helpful so I put a couple of cans of broth in my bag. Not sure how I planned to open them since I didn’t pack a can opener…

Mike: I’ve been extraordinarily lucky. Flatted at Timberman once. Oh, and raced Boston in 2006 on NO training. Got to mile 20 and the wheels didn’t just come off, they disintegrated explosively.

Meredith: Hmm, I’ll go with Devilman ’07 when I had the bright idea to bring a bottle of spray sunblock on the ride and attempted to apply while moving. I was successful only in covering my sunglasses, the interior of my aero bottle, and the competitors behind me (oops…).

What’s the best triathlon you’ve ever done (in terms of scenery, experience, promoter, etc…)?

Maggie: Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP).

Laurie: I have to say that I love the Even Up Aquaman race. Not only is it a race of unusual distances, but it is absolutely gorgeous. It is also the first race I have ever done that was longer than an Olympic, and it was incredibly inspiring to me when I finished. Prior to that race, I had never believed I could train for that long of a run.

Meredith: IMLP 2008… first and only ironman, a great experience.

Mike: I am a huge IMLP fan. And while the race management was suspect, I have to say that the Napa Valley Vintage Half Ironman was about as picturesque as it gets.

What’s the one race you’d love to do?

Meredith: There are lots, but since I love Burlington VT I’d like to do the Olympic up there someday.

Mike: Kona, duh.

Laurie: I’ll let you know when I think of it.

Maggie: The Amazing Race with my sister!

What’s the worst triathlon-related impulse buy you’ve ever made?

Maggie: I don’t have one – I am not very impulsive – closest I could say to that would be Jelly Belly Sport Beans…yuck!

Scott: Way to kill off a potential sponsor Maggie.

[Ed. note: BTT’s official view is that Jelly Belly Sport Beans are a potential part of a well-rounded nutritional plan that may or may not be appropriate for a multisport athlete.]

Maggie: Okay, Scott, first of all, that’s your note, note the editor’s, and BTT has no official position on Jelly Belly Beans. I should know, I was the President. And I change my answer. My worst triathlon-related impulse buy was agreeing to pay for your five highway pit-stops of McDonalds when I drove you to IMLP in 2006 and you complained that your were going to pass out from low blood sugar every fifty miles.

Scott: Maggie, I thought Lake Placid was right over the New Hampshire border, and you know I hadn’t eaten dinner that day. Let’s take this off-line. No need to be inappropriate.

Maggie: Scott, honestly, how many times a day do you have to ask people to “take this off-line”? My guess is about thirty. And you never apologized for leaving all of your junk food bags thrown all over my car.

[Ed note: let’s move on]

Maggie: There you go again. Look, anyone can type brackets around their words and make it seem like they are the editor. [See I am doing it now.] And I don’t seem to recall being the one who started this whole, “let me put brackets and editorialize the comments” thing, so I don’t think it’s me who needs to move on.

Mike: Hi, there are three other people here. Anyways, my impulse buy would be my “[Lord’s name in vain deleted] wheels” (ask SP).

Scott: Okay, Maggie -- before you yell at me again, I bracketed Mike’s answer, but not as me, I was really being an editor that time.

Meredith: A wetsuit I bought when I hit race weight for IMLP. Never fit me again (in fact I’m pretty sure I ripped it the next time I attempted to put it on).

Laurie: I am definitely an impulse buyer but have no regrets for triathlon-related purchases (yet).

Maggie: Laurie, isn’t that a “recovery mini-skirt” you are wearing?

Laurie: No regrets Maggie. Not yet.

What were some of the challenges you encountered, or changes/initiatives you helped usher in as team president?

Maggie: You.

Scott: I was only a “Friend of BTT” in 2005, try again.

Maggie. Okay, you, in 2006.

That, and revamping membership requirements. The sport was growing rapidly and new triathlon groups were forming almost as quickly. BTT was inundated with applicants and could no longer take on everyone who applied. We needed a way to effectively manage our growth and distinguish BTT from all the other clubs and groups. Katie O’Dair was instrumental in spearheading the committee where we ultimately made the decision to cap membership, set criteria for new members and establish requirements to continue on in the newly formed categories of Active, Out of State, and Associate.

A big part of this decision came from the almost unanimous feeling that our members wanted to be a part of a close knit team – where we would know each other at races and be able to cheer for each other by name.

It was incredible to be a part of the team during a period of such dynamic growth. When I joined in 1998 we were CRP (Charles River Park) Triathlon Team and the application process consisted of sending in a check for $35 with your name and email address – no training weekends, very few group training activities and no uniform -unless you count the cotton tank top that said CRP in light blue letters!

Mike: Oh man. Sponsorship was eternally an issue – we’re in a much better place now then we were then. It was at the end of my term/beginning of Meredith’s that we made the switch from our previous bike shop sponsor to Landry’s. I really wanted things to work with the previous sponsor, and inertia can be a powerful force, so it was tough to have to “fire” them. But in the end, it’s one of the best decisions we made. Uniforms, too. It’s tough to keep everyone happy.

Meredith: The BTT Time Trial… very proud of what that event has become!

Laurie: I’ve been trying to get more team members involved so that it’s not just the EC or a core group of people running the show. I really think people take more pride in their team when they are an active part of it. We are also in the process of restructuring the team and the EC – for the better. There will be more about this in the coming year. I initiated the Sponsor Night and brought back some of the old favorites like membership cards, Week in Review, and Member Spotlight. The challenges are usually around making decisions that affect the whole team. I have come to realize that you cannot make everyone happy all the time, but I still try.

What part of being team president surprised you the most?

Mike: The email. It’s ridiculous how much email you get. One “off” message on BTTPrivate or Public could mean 10x that in my inbox that night. That, and I don’t think I bought a single beer for myself at any team functions during my tenure. So there are perks, too.

Meredith: The ridiculous amount of email that flooded my inbox.

Maggie: Having been on the EC for several years prior to becoming President I was pretty familiar with all the responsibilities so frankly, I wasn’t surprised by much. That said, when Pokress, Kurtz, and Hollywood started genuflecting whenever I came in the room, I was pretty startled.

Laurie: All the autographs people ask me to sign. Just kidding. I suppose what has surprised me most is realizing that being president is not about me or who I am; it’s more about fulfilling a role and doing a job. The president hears a lot of crap, and I just have to remind myself not to take it all personally.

What issue got the most team feedback/complaints when you were president?

Laurie: Having a coach as a sponsor.

Maggie: So many applicants, so few spots resulting in some tough decisions where membership was not offered to some spouses and significant others. This resulted in endless emails, phone calls, EC meetings and unfortunately damage to several friendships. Second to that was the “eBay Uniform Selling Scandal of 2006” that crossed international borders. Don’t make me bring that up!

[Ed note: It was not me. I am a proud eBay virgin.]

Meredith: Tie between uniforms and BTTPrivate email volume.

Mike: Uniforms. Sponsors.

How would you describe a triathlon team’s obligation to act (and encourage its members to act) as stewards of the sport?

Laurie: BTT has always been actively involved in giving back to the community and supporting other triathletes, and that is one of the reasons people see us out there and want to join the team. We also have a history of incredibly generous sponsors. Part of our obligation to our sponsors is to support their races as volunteers which is why we created the volunteering requirement. It’s not a hardship and, in fact, it’s a lot of fun. It’s also a great way to return the favor – we all know what it’s like to be racing and have good support out there. Lastly, it’s a great way to show off our team colors and to meet new people.

Maggie: This reminds me of the discussion process we went through years ago when our contract with Wheelworks ended and a group of us wanted to move forward without our name having a direct tie to a bike shop. We brainstormed tons of names, thinking about colors, logos, etc. and ultimately felt that Boston Triathlon Team identified us most accurately. As athletes, we represented Boston and the surrounding communities and believed that by taking on this name we also took on a responsibility to be ambassadors for the sport of triathlon. I don’t think that volunteering is the only form of “stewardship” but it is one way for the team to support our sponsors as well as local race directors and to establish additional criteria for membership.

Mike: I think this has become a necessity as the sport has grown – 10 years ago, there were not as many races, not as many athletes, not as many teams, etc. so it was almost a necessity for athletes to volunteer at races that they were not running, just to make sure the race happened safely. Because of the abundance now, I think we see more complacency and entitlement among athletes when it comes to helping out, so it’s really incumbent on our organization to hold the torch and give back to the community from which we derive so much enjoyment.

Meredith: Every one of us has benefited from the support of volunteers. This sport just wouldn’t be possible without them. They are out there in all kinds of weather… rain, shine, heat, cold. The least we can do is return the favor. Pay it forward, folks!!


El Presidente Game!!!

Okay smartypantses! Let’s see how well you’ve gotten to know each other during the past seven years of training weekends and wetsuit swapping. You all know how this works.

For Round 1, Meredith has already filled out her answers. I will ask five questions, you each fill out your card, and we will compare it to what Meredith says. For every match you have, you each get 1 point. Here we go!

ROUND 1 -- MEREDITH’S QUESTIONS (and Meredith’s answers in parenthesis)

1. What’s the longest training run Meredith has ever done? (20 miles)

Mike: 20 miles. (+1 point)

Laurie: 20 miles. (+1 point)

Maggie: 20 miles. (+1 point)

2. How many swim caps does Meredith own? (Meredith’s guess is 20)

Mike: Too many. (+0 points)

Laurie: 10. (+0 points)

Maggie: 37. (+0 points)

3. If your post-race food options were a banana, a cupcake, or a piece of pizza, which would you choose? (I am sure Mary Beth influenced the presence of this question. I’d go for the cupcake. Anyone who gets this wrong hasn’t witnessed me at training weekend or post ironman).

Mike: A cupcake. (+1 point)

Laurie: Banana. (+0 points)

Maggie: Gluten Free pizza…..or the banana. (-1 point for guessing, and being wrong, twice)

4. Which one of you (Maggie, Laurie, you, Mike) is most likely to get lost on the way to a race? (Really?? Is this really a contest? Sorry, Maggie…)

Mike: Maggie. (+1 point)

Laurie: Maggie. (+1 point)

Maggie: Maggie. (+1 point)

5. At an amusement park, what ride would you never get on? (Roller coaster. Never have, never will.)

Mike: Meredith is pretty fearless, I’d say she would go on everything. (-1 point for being so wrong, + 1 point for being so complimentary to Meredith)

Laurie: Rollercoaster. (+1 point)

Maggie: Anything that goes upside down. (+1 point since rollercoasters could be included in that, -1 point for being so overly inclusive -- I mean, you might as well have said, ‘anything that requires a ticket’)


Mike: 3

Laurie: 3

Maggie: 1

Meredith: 0

ROUND 2 -- MIKE’S QUESTIONS (and Mike’s answers in parenthesis)

1. Which one of you is the fastest swimmer? (Yikes, they’re all faster than me now. I’d say Maggie, probably.)

Laurie: That’s not fair. I am going to offend someone. I am definitely not the fastest. I think Mike will say that Meredith is the fastest. (+0 points)

Maggie: Mike. (+0 points)

Meredith: 4 way tie. Swim off! (+0 points)

2. Which on of you owns the most number of BTT logo-apparel items? (I think this has to be Maggie too, if only due to tenure.)

Laurie: Laurie. (+0 points)

Maggie: Maggie. (+1 point)

Meredith: Laurie. (+0 points)

3. How many weeks a year do you ride your bike more miles than you drive your car? (Zero. I drive a lot, because I live in the boonies.)

Laurie: 20. (+0 points)

Maggie: Zero – he has a super long commute so even in IM training he probably drives his car more miles. (+1 point for right answer, and + 1 point for knowing why)

Meredith: 2. (+0 points)

4. When your spouse leaves the house, what time is it? Time to ride, time to clean, or nap time? (Nap time)

Laurie: Nap Time (+1 point)

Maggie: Nap Time (+1 point)

Meredith: Depends on whether she brought the kid with her. (+ 1 point for being close enough)

5. What is the last fast food restaurant you ate at? (Does Starbucks count as fast food? If not, probably McDonald’s.)

Laurie: Boloco (+0 points)

Maggie: Boloco (+0 points)

Meredith: Dunkin. (+ 1 point for getting a sponsor plug in)


Laurie: 4

Maggie: 4

Mike: 3

Meredith: 2

ROUND 3 -- LAURIE’S QUESTIONS (and Laurie’s answers in parenthesis)

1. How many BTT team members qualified for Kona in the last two seasons -- 2010 and 2011? (4.)

Mike: 4. (+1 point)

Maggie: 3 total, 2010-Pokress, Dwyer, 2011-Strain (+0 points)

Meredith: Laurie would know the exact number. I don’t, so I will guess… 5?. (+ 0 points)

2. Of the following eight events, how many have you ever done? Skydiving, scuba diving, cyclocross, cross country ski, yoga, badminton, pumpkin carving. (5, but there were only 7 listed)

Mike: 6, of 7. (+0 points for wrong answer, +1 point for knowing Laurie would correct my bad counting)

Maggie: 6 (+0 points)

Meredith: Laurie would point out that you only listed 7 options, and that she has done them all. (+1 point for being right on the first part, +0 points for being wrong on the second)

3. How would you describe your transition area: Very organized, creative, or a disaster? (somewhat organized)

Mike: Very organized. (+1 point, since Laurie is improvising up there, and you’re close enough…)

Maggie: Very organized (+1 point)

Meredith: Very organized (+ 1 point)

4. When it comes to arriving at BTT socials you are: Always on time, mostly on time, always late? (Always on time, to a fault).

Mike: Mostly on time. (+0 points)

Maggie: Always on time. (+1 point)

Meredith: Always on time (+ 1 point)

5. What is your favorite room in the house? (kitchen).

Mike: Living room. (+0 points)

Maggie: Kitchen. (+1 point)

Meredith: Kitchen (+ 1 point)


Maggie: 7

Mike: 6

Meredith: 6

Laurie: 4

ROUND 4 -- MAGGIE’S QUESTIONS (and Maggie’s answers in parenthesis)

1. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you’d spend it on: Pay off debts, buy a new bike, take a trip, something else? (Something else).

Mike: Something else. (+1 point)

Laurie: Something else. (+1 point)

Meredith: Take a trip. (+ 0 points)

2. What type of movies do you like the most: Action, comedy, drama? (Drama)

Mike: Comedy. (+0 points)

Laurie: Comedy. (+0 points)

Meredith: Comedy. (+0 points)

3. Who is your favorite singer? (Regina Spektor).

Mike: Alan White. (+0 points)

Laurie: [blank card]. (+0 points)

Meredith: Brittney Spears (just kidding… I have no idea). (+ 0 points)

4. How many triathlons have you raced in during the past two seasons -- 2010 and 2011?

(8 total (1 as a relay in 2010, 7 on my own in 2011).

Mike: 6. (+0 points)

Laurie: 13. (+0 points)

Meredith: 8. (+1 point)

5. Which class are you best at: Spin class, Math class, English class? (Math class).

Mike: Spin class. (+0 points)

Laurie: Spin class. (+0 points)

Meredith: Spin class. (+ 0 points)


Meredith: 8 -- EL PRESIDENTE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maggie: 7

Mike: 7

Laurie: 5

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 Summary Sponsor Newsletter

For your reading enjoyment, check out our 2011 Summary Sponsor Newsletter here: And a BIG THANK YOU to Brenda Chroniak for all of her hard work on this!!!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Member Spotlight: Pat Dwyer

Q&A with Patrick F. Dwyer, Esq. by Austin Whitman

Austin Whitman: You’re kind of an older fellow, Pat. When did you do your first triathlon, which one was it, and had the bicycle been invented yet?

Pat Dwyer: In the past, being an ocean lifeguard, I did a bunch of open water swims and biathlons (swim/run), but my first triathlon was in 1989, in Pompton Plains, NJ. I think it was called the Pequonnock Lake Triathlon. It consisted of a ¼ or ½ mile swim, 25 mile bike and a 10k run. Back then there weren’t many triathlons to choose from, so I had to travel about 2 hours from home. Being only 17 at the time, my whole family came to watch and my father decided to race too. I remember coming out of the swim in the top 10, then getting destroyed on the bike, and searching for a porta john on the run. To add insult to injury, my dad passed me about 2 miles into the run. He still won’t let me live that down.

AW: I hope he at least helped you find the porta-john. You've had a lot of experience and burned through dozens or maybe even hundreds of coaches over the years. It’s no secret that you’re fast. What approach(es) to training (volume, intensity, speedwork, etc.) work best for you?

PD: I’m currently on my 4th triathlon coach. All have had different approaches. I truly believe all were good coaches and believed in their approach. But I think, like any relationship, some work better than others. My first coach was a volume guy. I still remember one workout before my first Ironman. He had me do a 120 mile ride with a 20 mile transition run (I actually logged 117/17). I was toast after that one, but I did it. He told me that since I’d never done an Ironman, I needed to feel what it was like. To be perfectly honest, I was glad I did it. It did give me some confidence. But when he put it on the schedule the next season I told him “no freaking way.” When I was gearing up for LP in 2010, I made the decision to go with my current coach. We had spoken at Timberman in 2009 (he won the amateur race) and it just felt like the right “fit”. I had known of him for year and had seen his progression from a good triathlete to one of the best amateurs in the country. We had similar strengths and he was cognizant of my time limitations. But, I’d say the best thing about my current coach is our actual relationship. He calls me out when he needs to do so (which is often at this time of year!)…but he’s not preachy. I’ve been doing this long enough that I don’t need someone preaching to me…I need someone to hold me accountable.

AW: I hear you have a penchant for taking the short route to Kona. How many times have you been to Kona, and where did you qualify?

PD: I’ve been to Kona three times…actually three times in a row (after years of trying!). I qualified for my first Kona IM at Eagleman 70.3 in 2008. After several near misses (I finished 4th in the AG twice), I finally won my age group. The next year, which was supposed to be an “off” year, I jumped into Providence 70.3, which added Kona qualifying spots (only for that year), and finished an out-of-shape 5th in the age group. But the slot rolled down to me so I took it. The next year, 2010, was LP, where I finished 3rd in the age group and earned my slot. LP was the first Ironman distance race where I qualified.

AW: How did you get so damn fast on foot?

PD: Interesting story. Before I moved to Boston, I was a decent runner, a 5:50-6:00 minute pace guy. I could win or place at local races. But I think sometimes you become complacent with your environment. I became content. You just don’t know how good you can actually get. My first year in Boston, I traveled down to Philly to do the Philly Broad Street Run (10 mile race). I did okay at the race, but got beat by a guy I knew, Dave Greenfield….owner of Elite Bikes. Dave crushed me running 56:30 (I think I may have run just under an hour). Now, Dave and I used to race against each other all the time at local triathlons and I would always beat him on the run. So, I was really bothered that he just kicked my ass. So I went back to Boston and decided to really just focus on my running. And that’s what I did for a couple of years. I ran 7 days a week with guys a lot faster than me, including the occasional Kenyan.
Our mid week training runs would end up at 5:30 pace towards the end (I was never with any Kenyans at the end). Anyway, I got my times down a lot. In fact, I ran the Broad Street Run a year or two later and threw down a 54:40 (take that Greenfield!). But, I’m not built like a runner and really wanted to get back into triathlon. So I ran one marathon in 2002 (Las Vegas 2:37) and then started my second triathlon career with a mean run.

AW: Hmm. Maybe we should recruit some Kenyans to the team. They sound useful. You were injured recently. What was the injury, and what was it like recovering?

PD: I’m always injured to some degree; who isn’t? But this last injury was one of the few that has actually stopped me from training. I had a sports hernia. I had surgery in April, which left me unable to do anything for 2+ months (I wasn’t even supposed to lift groceries). Fortunately I went into the surgery in decent shape, and was somewhat careful with my diet [Editor note: beer-only] so I was able to get back into my training by July and in fairly decent shape by August. When you’ve been racing as long as I have, these types of injuries (overuse) will happen. To be perfectly honest, I think the injury was good for me. It made me stop training, which is easier said than done. I needed the break.

AW: And who doesn’t enjoy a little self-pity now and then? I sure do. Speaking of pity, what has been the most pitiful race of your career?

PD: Easy: Ironman Florida 2004. It was my first attempt at the Ironman distance and I went in cocky [Editor note: as per usual] and with a bad attitude: qualify for Kona or crash and burn. Well, after a fairly good swim and bike, I crashed and burned on the run and dropped out at mile 19. It still bothers me to this day. BTW, some of the races that I’m most proud of are the ones where I’ve been reduced to walking. Walking all or part of the marathon when things go downhill, and where it would be a whole lot easier to drop out, is the true gut check.

AW: I have always been amazed that you convinced your wife to marry you because she is pretty and you are high maintenance. Congratulations. What role does she play in your athletic successes (and failures)?

PD: My wife is a saint. Once you get past my charm, good looks and sense of fashion, I’m actually not the easiest person to live with…and that’s saying it nicely! She puts up with way more than she should. I married up. I always feel bad about the people you hear about that get divorced over triathlon (what’s the term? Triathlon widow?). Not only does Jenn travel with me to most races, but she actually gets upset if she can’t. Fortunately for me, Jenn has a background in sports marketing (that’s how I met her). She used to work for Fila, and with many of their sponsored athletes. So she has an understanding of what we do and what goes into training, etc. I vividly remember when I dropped out of IM Florida in 2004, I was thinking only about myself. I was embarrassed and kept thinking about what I was going to tell people. A little later, when Jenn finally got back to the condo and I told her what had happened, she burst into tears. She really wanted to see me cross the finish line and have Mike Reilly call me an “Ironman”. I was like “holy crap, what did I do?” It really affected me. From that point on, I realized that it wasn’t just about “me” racing.
She puts as much into this sport and my training as I do….probably more. She sacrifices way more than I do. When I finally qualified for Kona in 2008, I think she was more excited than I was…it was cool!

AW: Probably because she knew she’d be going to Hawaii, and you’d be the only one suffering. Which reminds me: how long have you been practicing law on your own? How many clients did you work with last year?

PD: I’ve been practicing for about 13 years and on my own for 5. I’m really not sure how many clients I worked with in 2011. Over 10, under 1000. How’s that?

AW: Totally uninformative. Tell me about your career as a lifeguard. How did you first get into it and why did you like it? What, if anything, did it teach you about being an athlete? What, if anything, did it teach you about being a sex symbol?

PD: Lifeguarding runs in my family…my dad guarded for 7 years, my younger brother was a guard, and I guarded for 11 years. Guarding down in South Jersey was great….it’s like a fraternity….no it is a fraternity. Some of my best friends are guys I guarded with. It was an awesome way to spend the summers. I started when I was 16, back in 1988. Back then, our patrol was full of serious athletes….lots of collegiate swimmers, rowers and runners. We had a guy who rowed on 3 heavyweight Olympic rowing teams and we also had a guy who ran a 3:56 mile (back then, there were only a handful of Americans that could do that). Anyway, one of the things I’m most proud of is that when I got on the beach, I was one of the worst athletes, and when I left, I was one of the best. The beach patrol really defined who I am as an athlete. Without it, I may have never done a triathlon. It also taught me the fine art of using a combination of Sun-In and salt water to bring out the awesome blond hair I had back then! As far as teaching me about being a sex symbol? I don’t think it taught me all that much. Being a sex symbol…you just have to have “it”. You either have “it” or you don’t. Obviously, I have “it”…at least that’s what you and Jenn tell me.

AW: Do you teach PSL courses? (Philly as a Second Language)

PD: Is this some sort of Ivy League thing – are you turning your nose to the Philly speak? [Editor note: AW grew up in Philly.] Okay…the key about PSL is that anytime you have a word with “a” followed by “t”, you have to pronounce it like “u” and “d”. For instance the word “water” is pronounced “wudder”. Get it?

AW: Definitely not. Please sign me up for your next course. Hey, I’ve always wondered: why do you wear special shorts during races?

PD: Don’t bash it until you try it. I’ve turned Pokress to the dark side with shorts. I like wearing compression tri shorts when I race. I must own 15 pairs of tri shorts. Finding really good tri shorts is like my holy grail. I’ll just keep looking…and buying!

AW: I get it: it’s like finding the right coach. Good stuff. Now let’s play a game of more than/less than:

Your cumulative bar tab as a BTT member is (more/less) than the cost of your new bike?
Way less.

Four is (more/less) than the number of sets of race wheels you own?
More if you’re talking about sets. Less if you’re talking about wheels. I currently own a Bontrager disk, 2 Zipp 1080s, 2 Zipp 808s, and a Zipp 404.

Your new LED fireplace is (more/less) of a tourist attraction than your basement shrine containing all of your old, sweaty race numbers and trophies?
It’s a draw.

Your rabid and psychopathic cat has drawn (more/less) blood from guests than you have drawn from Matt Pokress on the race course?
You’ll have to ask Pokress. [Editor note: the answer probably depends on which Pokress is asked.]

Yuengling is (more/less) tasty than Harpoon?
Surprise answer…less. I’m a Harpoon convert.

Jersey is (more/less) awesome than Philly?
It depends. The Southern Jersey Shore is more awesome. But, Philly is more awesome than Jersey on the whole.

You are going to ride (more/less) than 20 miles at Training Weekend 2012?
Hopefully more. But, I don’t want to jinx myself.