What is a newbie?

In the world of Triathlon, we hear the term “Newbie” thrown around a lot. I have heard it used as an excuse (“I bonked on the run, but hey, I’m a newbie”) as an epithet (“My transition was ruined because some F*&#@!G newbie knocked over my bike”), as a website address (www.trinewbies.com), and even as a nickname (“hey, Newbie, looking good out there”).

The problem is that no one has really defined what a newbie is and what exactly constitutes newbiehood. I mean, this is my second year in the sport, and I did 7 races last year, so I’m not exactly “new” anymore, but I still consider myself a newbie. On the other hand, Steve Larsen won Ironman Lake Placid in his first year in the sport by applying his years of professional cycling experience, so I’m sure that he didn’t EVER consider himself a newbie.

Some definite signs that you are NOT a newbie include:

If you know your Vo2 max on the bike and run, you probably aren’t a newbie
If you have more than 3 bikes, you probably aren’t a newbie
If you can walk around in a speedo (or Tyr) suit and not feel the slightest bit of shame, you probably aren’t a newbie
If you can change a flat in under 2 minutes, you probably aren’t a newbie
If you think 9 workouts a week is a “rest week” you probably aren’t a newbie

My wife, also in her second year in the sport, likes to refer to herself as a Triathlon Sophomore. I, on the other hand, like to refer to her as “shmoopie”, but that doesn’t really apply in this article.

I think at the end of the day, Newbiness is a state if mind. A newbie is usually a little bit scared about this whole crazy sport. A newbie usually has a minor inferiority complex from begin surrounded by superfit people in tiny spandex outfits. A newbie probably doesn’t have the newest, spiffiest equipment, or if he does, he doesn’t know how to operate it properly. A newbie brings WAY too much stuff to the transition area, but still manages to forget something important. A newbie often had razor nicks and cuts on his ankles and the backs of his knees. A newbie might be the last out of the water, the last on the bike, and the last across the finish line, but will always have a winner’s smile.

I hope I stay a newbie forever.

Jason “King of the Newbies” Berkowitz

Editors Note: Jason Berkowitz’ triathlon career highlights include finishing last in his age group at the Bonelli long course in 2001, and bottom quartile finishes in 6 other races. Despite his shaky results, he continues to train hard, and demonstrate the unbreakable ability to laugh at himself and to NEVER take the sport too seriously. Jason will be moderating the Beginners Training e-mail sublist and leads a weekly beginner’s ride in the Valley, every Saturday at 9am. Check the club calendar for details.