TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent
I recently talked triathlon with the Tri Club’s Linda Rich. Linda is currently one of the TCSD’s bike coaches and she has worn many other volunteer hats over the years for our club. Please join me as we get to know this great lady.
Craig: What was your athletic background before you got involved in triathlon?
Linda: Is dancing an athletic background? My grandmother thought it was a good idea to dance, so from the time I was 3-17, that is what I did, tap and ballet. Then I decided in high school to try out for basketball. Yeppers, all my friends laughed at me. I was short and really very skinny. I made the team, only because I was fast. I know; it is hard to believe I was skinny. I was so skinny I wore 6 pairs of panties to give me hips. My grandmother bought me suspenders which I wore under sweaters to hold up my skirts.
The main sport I was involved in was equestrian, jumpers and equitation. I presently have a Holsteiner (German bred) equitation and hunter. I love to ride. In the equestrian sport, men and women compete as equals, meaning the horse is the equalizer.
When I first started riding, I got into running. I was good at that once.
Craig: What do you remember from your first triathlon?
Linda: My first tri was the women’s Subaru. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. My bike was given to me by a friend who had terminal prostate cancer. He was knocking on heaven’s door at a young age. I had a surfer spring suit. The race had been delayed due to heavy fog. Well, I could only see 2 feet in front of me so I just swam, going straight out. I heard some men saying “quick, she’s over here”, I’m thinking some poor lady is drowning so I’m swimming faster to get out of their way so they could save the poor drowning lady. They were after me. I was way off course.
Craig: How did you get involved in the TCSD?
Linda: I joined the club after that race, I found out that totem pole legs after the bike leg weren’t normal. Jim McCann was President at the time. The club was small. My first volunteer role, really was not something I volunteered for. Appointed is more like it. Jim told me I was taking the little kids activity at the aquathlons. That meant playing games and bringing prizes for them. I went all over town begging for toys and all kinds of little things for the kids. I had no idea all they wanted was candy. I love doing anything or taking on any challenge the club gives me. I have worked on the 25th anniversary committee, wow that was hard work. It was a great success. I have been a swim buddy and have stayed with people during the whole swim when needed, usually at the Carlsbad Triathlon. I am on the Wildflower group, volunteer at races and currently coach the bike work outs.
Craig: What advice would you share with someone new to the sport and our club?
Linda: I started this sport in my 50’s. My goal is to show people no matter what your age or ability you can do this sport and the whole club is here to help you. Everyone has something to offer. You have given me great advice about taking advantage of coke on the run course (best stuff). Jim Vance has given me advice at races and I have called him bad names when he had me going for a work out on nothing but coffee. I have learned you can do that. Brian Maiorano is coaching me and I know he has a tough job with me. I qualified for the Age Group National Championships in Vermont. I think it is some kind of mistake or a joke, but I’m going and I know you all will be there to help me. That’s what family is for!
Craig: What are the bike workouts like?
Linda: The bike workouts are on Wednesday nights at Fiesta Island. We do time trials, hills, bricks and duathlons. Sometimes we will put up cones for handling skills. Everyone is welcome to those, all levels.
Craig: Who else from your family is involved in triathlon?
Linda: My grandson started triathlon when he was five, when the IronKids Triathlon was at South Shores Park 5-6 years ago. My granddaughter is involved. She thinks Andy Concors is the best. He speaks Spanish to her and she laughs. My son, John, is doing triathlon now. He went to the Pumpkinman Triathlon with me a few years ago when a bunch of us went to race. He took care of my bike and saw how much fun all these over achievers were having. Not long after that he decided to get into the sport. Andy Concors and Dean Sprague also helped me at Pumpkinman. At the 25th anniversary party John won the Titanflex bike that Tom Piszkin built. That is the bike that John got started on and loved. His wife called it the “other woman.” That bike was all he talked about and how wonderful it is. Tom leads the winter track work out and it is great.
Craig: I recall you were one of the first beneficiaries of TCSD Cares. Please tell us about that organization and how they helped you and others.
Linda: TCSD Cares is the best! Penny Hale and I were the first beneficiaries. Unfortunately, Penny crashed at Oceanside 70.3 and I was hit by a bus. Yeppers. That is right – a bus! The problem is the bus company would like everyone to believe that it was my fault, but nope, not my idea of a good time. I was in ICU at Scripps La Jolla for 4 days, throwing people out that came to see me. I can’t remember doing it but that is what I am told I did. The whole time I was injured Brian Long called and checked up on me, as did other members of the club. John Cline had an accident last year and received a trainer for his rehab, he couldn’t walk but the doc allowed him on the trainer. We are all grateful for TCSD Cares. The people that are behind that group are good people.
Note from Steve Tally: TCSD Cares is a registered 501c3. Donations are tax-deductible. We can provide receipts to anyone who donates money or goods. To make a donation people can go to http://www.TCSDcares.org, and click on the “donate” button which takes them to a PayPal link. People can also donate by check (payable to TCSD Cares) by mailing to our P.O. Box (P.O. Box 910618, San Diego, CA 92191). Or they can contact Steve at email@example.com.
Craig: What are your favorite benefits of membership in the TCSD?
Linda: WOW, I think my favorite benefits of the club have already been covered, except the people I have made good friends with. I couldn’t ask for better friends. I am blessed.
The Tri Club is my family! My grandparents raised me and of course they are gone. My sister and I didn’t grow up with one another so we are not close. I love the story of how you proposed to your wife, and I loved hearing how Alex Wong fell in love with his wife. Oh yeah, hide your animals from Thomas Johnson. When I first met him he spray painted my Dalmatian green! We were at a St Patrick’s Day parade, some members of the club participated in and yes my grandchildren were there.
Craig: If you could waive a magic wand over the sport of triathlon, what would you like to change?
Linda: What would I change about triathlon, don’t know! I would like everyone to be safe.
Craig: What accomplishment gives you the most pride?
Linda: The best thing I can say about myself is I hope or I try to be a good person. I love my children and grandchildren and I just want them to be good people and remember we are all the same, and to be the best they can be and be good to other people. During the late 60’s I was one of the peace activists and marched for racial equality. I really think a lot we did back then has been lost.
2009 was not a good year for me. In January I found out I had a tumor in my colon that had grown into my appendix. Of course, as we all know when a tumor crosses 2 organs, it is not good. Well, I lucked out. It was triathlon that helped my recovery. Then the good old bus hit me. Triathlon once more helped me recover. If I had not been in good shape prior to the illness or injury the recoveries would have been long.
Last year 6 weeks prior to Oceanside 70.3, I fell and fractured my pelvis. I decided to race anyway. It was painful. Every time I put my right foot down on the bike pedal pain shot up. I looked forward to the coke on the run. If it hadn’t been for my coach, Brian Maiorano, I wouldn’t have finished. He stayed with me for most of the run. James Ismailoglu caught me at the finish and the 2 of them took me into the medical tent.
Craig: What do you do for a living?
Linda: I am a nurse case manager for Southern California Physicians. Prior to that I was an oncology nurse. I really want to be a stand-up comic. I love to make people laugh! There is nothing as funny as the original Saturday Night Live and the Not Ready for Prime Time Players.
Craig: What are your future goals in triathlon?
Linda: To do the very best I can at the Nationals, and some day qualify for something really big and be fast on the run again.
Craig: Linda, thank you for sharing your story with us. You really add so much to the Tri Club in many ways. That bus was totally over matched by you! Good luck at Nationals. I know you will make us proud!
Craig Zelent is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach. Craig can be reached at 760-214-0055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.