Imagine yourself racing down a steep hill into a hairpin turn at top speed on your bike only to have your back tire fishtail out resulting in a 15-foot skid on the pavement.
Consider yourself jumping off a barge to race in waters that are 55 degrees, inhabited by 11 types of sharks and filled with currents that can sweep you completely off course.
Those are just a few of the obstacles that Bryan Frank has faced in his years as a triathlete. A member of the D.C. Triathlon Club and its LGBT offshoot, TriOut, Frank will compete in the 2014 Cleveland Gay Games in August.
Growing up in Dallas, Frank competed in swimming through his high school years and always felt better suited for an individual sport.
“I was horrible at team sports,” Frank says. “I seemed to excel when I was only reliant on myself.”
He left sports behind while attending Trinity University in San Antonio and became a self-professed bookworm. His work in biological research brought him to D.C where in 2008, he stumbled upon the club. A friend asked him to accompany her to an information meeting. His only exercise to that point had been recreational mountain biking.
Frank ended up joining the club and in his first race at the New Jersey State Triathlon, he placed third in the novice division. That feat was accomplished on the aforementioned mountain bike and he was officially smitten with the sport.
Now 39, Frank has competed in all triathlon distances, including several Ironman events and multiple running races including a recent finish at the Boston Marathon. He is checking off time goals on a regular basis having dipped below the three hour mark in the marathon last November and is now aiming to get below two hours in the Olympic length triathlon (he has been 2:07).
His schedule has been to race in about 10 competitions per year since 2009 and he has traveled to events all over the United States as well as one trip abroad to Ironman Austria. As with many triathletes, he dreams of one day qualifying for the mother of all triathlons, the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
Along with training with weights for strength and yoga for flexibility, Frank is putting in six days a week of training in the three disciplines of triathlon. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, he is doing two daily workouts.
All the discipline and great race results have led to two sponsorship agreements for Frank. He’s a member of the Snapple Triathlon Elite Team and is also sponsored by Rose Physical Therapy in Washington.
The sponsorship with Snapple consists of gear donations and the relationship with Rose Physical Therapy has helped him gain knowledge to avoid injuries with owner Claire Bowe providing him with Active Release Therapy.
So what is it about Bryan Frank that led to the sponsorships considering there are close to 2,000 athletes in the D.C. Triathlon Club?
According to Damon Bowe, director of business development at Rose Physical Therapy, “We actually approached Bryan on our own. We use a personal approach in our patient care, maintaining an organic and grassroots quality. We liked the leadership skills that Bryan possesses and could bring to our team.”
Those skills include having served as lead program manager for the New Triathlete Program at the club from 2010-2012 and currently serving as director of programs. Last weekend, Frank volunteered at the Just Tryan It Kids Triathlon in Bethesda.
He says he has no idea what to expect at the Gay Games this summer though he admitted to looking at the times from the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne and has set his sights on a gold medal in the Olympic-length triathlon. He may also compete in the individual time trial in cycling.
“For all the progress that I have made, there are still humbling moments,” he says. “Sometimes when I try to stop at an intersection while I am clipped into the pedals of my bike, I just fall over. There’s an old saying that goes, ‘You fall and then you fall again.”
There is a pretty good chance that Bryan Frank will be standing tall this summer with a medal around his neck in Cleveland.