There’s always that one guy.
He shows up at your high school reunion, and you reflexively suck in your gut in a fruitless effort to hide the decades of beer and wings that have permanently settled in your midsection.
You hold onto your wife a little tighter and ask her to please stop drooling.
Pat Dwyer is that guy for the Lower Cape May Regional High School Class of 1989.
He’s attending his 30th reunion next month in Cape May. Dwyer, 48, is a married father of two, a successful attorney in Boston, has a full head of hair and can still wear a bathing suit with confidence.
He posted pictures on his Facebook page of himself in a Speedo on Friday while joining his children for a fun run in Hawaii. I viewed them while sitting in my car eating a Tuna hoagie and chips ... at 9 p.m.
Oh, and he just happens to be one of the top long-distance triathletes in his age group in the country.
On Saturday, Dwyer competed in the Ironman Kona World Championships for the fifth time.
Endurance triathletes regard Kona with a mix of awe and fear the way big-wave surfers look at Mavericks in northern California. It is considered a bucket-list item, like golfers who dream of teeing it up at Augusta National in Georgia.
The race is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. As if the distances weren’t daunting enough, it’s conducted in searing heat and swirling winds.
“It’s one of those courses that can take your soul,” Dwyer said in a phone interview.
He wasn’t expecting to be there this weekend.
After doing the race in 2008-10 and 2013, he thought the next time he’d be in Hawaii would be on vacation. He underwent major knee surgery in 2016, then tore the ACL in that same knee while skiing later that year.
But after doing a few sprint-distance tri’s — he’s leapt off the ferry in the Escape the Cape Triathlon two or three times — he got the itch to return to Ironman one more time.
“I thought I was done,” he said. “But I wanted my kids (6-year-old daughter Hannah and 5-year-old son Ben) to see me race. The last time I did Kona, Hannah was only eight months old and Ben wasn’t born yet.”
Dwyer also decided to add another incentive. He raced this year in an effort to raise money for Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston and had received over $16,000 in donations as of Saturday morning.
Dwyer encountered his share of adversity along the way.
He entered Ironman Lake Placid on July 28 but was forced to drop out early in the run leg.
“My race started going sideways on the bike,” he said. “I started cramping 30 miles out and started to get sick, then both legs completely cramped in (the second transition). I could have finished if I had walked the run leg, but decided to call it a day.
“The good part about it was that by not doing the run, I was able to save myself for another race. I had to do another one because there was no way I could go out like that.”
Three weeks later, he was in Canada for Ironman Mont-Tremblant. Not only did he finish, he placed fourth in the 45-49 age group out of approximately 300 competitors to earn his fifth trip to Kona.
He had no aspirations of placing, but was hoping his experience would help him complete what is a difficult course.
“It’s definitely the most difficult swim I’ve ever done,” he said. “This is the first year they’re not doing a mass start, which helps, but you still get hit and kicked a lot. The bike is where people get killed. You’re out in the lava fields, it’s ridiculously hot and the winds are very strong. The run isn’t bad for the first 8 miles because you’re along the ocean and people are cheering. But after that, it’s desolate.
“I’m not even remotely in (contention) for a spot on the podium. The best triathletes in the world are here, and most of them are in my age group. If I could crack the top 25, I’d be ecstatic. My goal is just to enjoy the experience. This is sort of a celebration of everything I’ve gone through the last few years to get to this point. This is my last Ironman.”
On Nov. 2, Dwyer and his wife Jennifer will head to Cape May for his reunion at Carney’s on Beach Drive. An 11-year veteran of the Cape May Beach Patrol, he gets back to his hometown several times a year to visit family and friends.
Here’s some advice for his classmates: Between now and then, get to the gym as often as possible, cut back on the junk food and drink water instead of beer, and practice sucking in your stomach.
Luckily for me, my 45th reunion isn’t until 2021.
David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.