Be afraid. Be very afraid. If you are one of those special kids who thinks three sports in one is three times the fun, and if you aspire to be at the top of that crazy pile of Type A chlorine-haired, shaved-legged, heart-rate-monitored, aero-tucked, inhumanly-fit individuals, I say it's just fair warning. Because there's a kid out there named Andrew Starykowicz. Watch out for this kid's name on the list, and then watch out for him on the course.

Because he never stops. And nothing will ever stop him.

How do I know? I know. Fine, you want to know why?

First: This 26 year old kid is having way too much fun. His first recommendation to other athletes out there who want to break into the highest echelons of elite anything is to have fun. "Don't do it if you're not having fun. It's not worth it without that."

Second: The Long Grove, IL native started his course-record breaking (ever heard of a little tri called the Wildflower?) triathlon career on a bet! Who does that?! Don't ever compete against a guy who started it all on a bet. You know he's already won, and now he's got nothing to lose. The only more humiliating way to jumpstart a pro athletic career would be if he had also been shamed into it because he refused at first, but then found out his mom was going to give it a try, and had to race to save his pride. Oh wait, that happened too? Wow, DEFINITELY nothing to lose. You guys are toast.

Third: He's had career ending injuries like nine billion times. Well, maybe more like four billion. Okay, okay, so he's only had four career-ending type illnesses or injuries, but you've gotta admit, for one career, that's kind of a LOT.
Whether it was full body road rash (admittedly more of an endlessly painful and humility-inspiring injury more than a career-ender)
or a C7 vertebral fracture (touch the back of your neck and feel for the bump--yes, he broke THAT one),
or a still yet unidentified strain of Rheumatic fever (it is as bad as it sounds),
or even just getting clipped by a race official's motorcycle (I think you can imagine how that argument ended),
Andy will not quit. I told you, he's crazy. Ka-chow. Watch out.

Fourth: Remember reason two? Well he still races with his mom! That aforementioned bet revolved around his mom doing her first triathlon, and she's still doing them! So unless you can somehow trump that family bonding experience, don't expect to beat this boy's unbeatable support structure of cheering squad, training partner, and "undying love and support for my baby boy" all in one.

Fifth: You know he likes triathlon because he was frickin' GOOD at other sports, and keeps sticking to the masochistic three-fer. From over a decade of soccer to high school track-star, from All American swimmer to Big Ten Championship water polo player, Andy has placed his name on many a plaque and many an outrageously-sized-wedding-cake-tiered-Administration-Building-glass-case-residing-trophy. Now, instead of playing four sports at once, he devotes all of his crazed ambition and attention to one sport with three personalities. I can see him having way too much fun. See number one.

Sixth: He's dumb enough to also be a professional engineer at the same time. This kid doesn't just tote medals and disgustingly low split times, he's also toting a patent with Caterpillar, his parent company for the last five years. You may have heard of them. I hear they're like Tonka, only REAL. I don't have all the details, but I hear that his patent might have to do with how they become beautiful butterflies.

Seventh: This Eagle Scout has finished all over the board, from 3rd place overall in his virgin outing, to top ten at Worlds, winning the Wildflower and Memphis in May, and tickling the top ten all year long in his newly Pro career. Did I mention that he's only looking at getting better? And this year, he gets to train injury free? This is prime-time Andy, on the cusp of his Next Big Thing.

Eighth: Watch out for paper plates. This kid wrote his goal split times on a paper plate one month before Wildflower 2005, and then went on to completely break the Wildflower Olympic Distance course record, matching his plate-ial predictions almost to the second. And umm, he won, too. Just to be safe, maybe just keep him away from disposable flatware altogether. And writing implements. Never, ever let him write.

Ninth: I spoke with this kid a couple times. We had good conversation, granted. But after just a couple bouts on the phone, here's what I got:
"I want to beat heads with the best"
"Go big or go home crying."
"I go as long as I can, as hard as I can."
"It's animal instinct."
"You're either putting time into somebody, or they're putting time into you. "
"In the last week, I've had a 2lb. bag of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms. That's not bad, right? I used to do that in a night."
I don't know about you, but it's obvious to me that this kid is one huge, flying superlative waiting to run you down and spit you out.
And he'll take your candy, too.

Tenth: He wants to give back, guys. He wants to coach, he wants to bring it back into the sport, he wants to volunteer and grow the sport that has grown him so much. "There is nothing more rewarding than giving back." Aww, we can't even hate him. Oh, but before he gives back full time, he's gonna have to hit up the Summer Olympics first. Maybe a couple times. You've been warned.

Suffice it to say that Andrew Starykowicz is a special individual blessed not with winner's luck, but far more importantly, with a winner's attitude. This author finds it hard to not be inspired, or at least humbled, after a conversation with this kid about what he's doing, why he's still doing it, and what it means to him. It's also pretty obvious that he's having the time of his life doing it, and for those of us filled with a bit more angst, here is a man living a life of great example and reward. In Andy's case, with the simple philosophy of looking forward and taking every occurrence as an opportunity for learning, it looks like these are just the first ten reasons Andy Starykowicz is an unstoppable force.

Maybe I'll just give you number Eleven, because at least you'll be able to take that one with you: The secret to his success is most certainly all in his homemade granola bars. "I pack them with fiber, and they're way better than anything you can buy. And trust me, with the fiber, you can tell when you've eaten too many." He was generous enough to share his split-lowering recipe with us, so at least in one way, we can all Be Like Andy, one day of regularity at a time.

Starykowicz's World Famous (you'll know him when he whoops your ass!) Granola Bars
2.5 c Oatmeal (old fashion)
1 c flour
1 c Rice Krispies (Filler, cheerios work too)
3 c Raisins, chopped nuts, chocolate chips ect
1/4 c Coconut
2 eggs
1/3 c Honey
1 tsp Vanilla or almond extract
1/3 c PB (optional)
1-2 c Juice of choice
0.5-1 stick butter
1/4 c Packed Brown Sugar
mix dry well in a bowl
mix wet well in a bowl
mix dry and wet until well mixed
put into cookware about 1/3-1/2 inch thick
Sprinkle cinamon on surface (light)  
cook @ 425 for 10-15 min