Well, not a whole lot really. It does mean my USAT membership card has some different letter on it and that my license number has changed:
For the foreseeable future, it means that I get to race in the "professional" field. Or, if you read between the lines, it means I get to have my butt handed to me at every race with a professional field... It means I'll be 5+ minutes back from the leaders after the swim, that I'll lose a little more time on the bike and then - to top it all off - some more time on the run! It sounds like a cup full of joy to be honest.
While that is my own personal take on "what it means" the official jargon provided by USAT states that:
Elite triathletes and duathletes, also called pros, are those who have taken the sport to the next level. Whether they compete in ITU, Ironman, XTERRA, short course duathlon, Powerman or at the Olympic distance, these competitors have dedicated a great portion of their lives to being the best that they can be. Some elites train and compete full time. Some hold part-time and full-time jobs outside of the sport, using their spare time to train. The main distinction between an elite and amateur athlete is that elite athletes have an elite license issued by USA Triathlon which enables them to compete for prize purses of $5,000 or greater at USA Triathlon sanctioned events.
So there's really not that much that is different. Which is probably a good thing, since I'm not all that different! In races where there are separate professional fields I get to line up and look ridiculously out of place next to people like this:
Which isn't really intimidating at all! I also will probably be beaten at some point (or frequently) by a person of the opposite sex, maybe her:
A fact which will not, in fact, shame me. I've read some blogs of new "pros" before and frequently they include season goals of "don't get beaten by an age grouper" (with the number of sandbaggers and ridiculously fast "amateurs" out there this is unrealistic) and "don't get chicked" (the only reason I beat Julie Dibens at NOLA this year was b/c of the lack of a swim...if only I could always be so lucky...) but I have no goals that resemble that. I just want to race fast and learn a lot. I got in something like 800 hours of training last year and if the last couple of weeks are any indication I'll likely top that this year which continues the multi year process of getting faster...
Anyway, that's a quick summary of what it all means. I'm heading to Tucson shortly to spend some time with this guy and that girl and the coach and I will be able to hammer out some good chatting (and a race schedule, and actually meet for the first time haha!) while the girl and I will get to hammer out some good training and awesome hang out time. There is some big training going on this weekend so my weekly recap on Monday will most certainly address that! So exciting...