My absence from writing is keeping in context with the tag line of this blog, the real life of a triathlete. I have had no time over the past month to even contemplate writing. This season has been jammed packed with more racing than I have ever done in a single year. Following the NYC Triathlon, I had no solid plans for racing outside of Ragnar Washington D.C. in October. And good thing. A week after returning home from NYC, my wife and I were blessed with two new arrivals in our home. Yes, two new, beautiful, and unexpected children. A little over a year ago, my wife and I were approved and certified as foster/adoptive parents. Since then, our life has been a never ending stream of life changing events. In a matter of 4 months we went from having on 8 year old to 4 children ages 8, 3, 4 months and 4 days. Despite the concerns of caution from family and friends and the constant “you are bat crap crazy” looks, we have never been more happy. But with this happiness comes a period of transition. We practically have twins and had no time to prepare ourselves emotionally or mentally. Much less not having the typical 10 months to prepare for the arrival of a newborn. So yes, a transition period of sorts was necessary. For me, that meant very limited to no training. Since I didn’t have any races in the very near future, some time off was necessary, especially when only getting a couple hours of sleep a night.
Triathletes tend to be type A personalities with attention to detail and a little obsessive. (Eh, “a little obsessive” may be a gross understatement.) With that said, many of us struggle with listening to our bodies rather than following a strict training plan. And I am certainly guilty of continuing to train when life piles on the crap, which only impedes progress and increases burnout in the end. I’d like to think I have learned my lesson, for I have certainly changed my view the relationships between my life and training.
Now, instead of getting up at 4 am and heading to the gym or jumping on the trainer, I sleep until 7 am after being up multiple times during the course of the night. After work training sessions are completely out of the question with dinner, baths, homework, and quality time with the kids. So recently, my only option has been training after the kids are down for the night. It has certainly been a shift. And it also involves being a little creative at times.
Trainer Ride/Pacifier Duty Jogging with the boys
It is a constant struggle to find the time and without a supportive wife and beautiful children to be a role model for, it would not be possible!
To say life has been hectic over the past 6 weeks would be gross understatement. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m interrupted every 5-10 seconds by our two month old foster son, who continues to abruptly wake from a peaceful sleep because the pacifier fell out of his mouth. Meanwhile, our 4 dogs are barking at a squirrel…or a bird…or a leaf…or nothing, our new pig persistently searches for an escape, the goats scream for more food and the chickens are in danger from being eaten from a wild bear roaming the mountain. This is all while I’m working from home. In a few short hours, I will have to pick my son up from the bus stop and take him to karate, while my wife desperately tries to finish the farm chores as quickly as possible before I explode from lack of time to breathe.
There are moments in our lives where we feel as though we cannot handle one more responsibility. Our hobbies (for lack of a better word) are our escape and provide solace in times of overwhelm. They can keep us afloat when we risk submerging into the underworld of reality and responsibility. For me, I find escape in triathlon. For my wife, she finds it in the farm. They are our passion and keep us engaged in life when the chaos closes in.
But how do families balance two time consuming passions? It isn’t easy. At times, it is down right impossible. But what makes it possible is understanding and sacrifice. It’s about setting realistic goals that are achievable along with your spouses. Obviously, it would not be a realistic goal for me to train for an Ironman given our circumstances at the time. Also, just know that you will be required to give a little more from time to time. Right now I’m on baby duty most of the time so my wife can accomplish the highly time consuming tasks she needs to do for the farm. And when I need extra time to train or race…she will be there to support me in the same way.
For our family, finding balance is about gratitude and understanding. It’s not always easy and certainly not always pretty, but it is always better.
This is the beginning of, what I hope to be, an outlet to share my journey in the life of triathlon for those who wish to follow.
In 2009, I completed two triathlons. I was immediately hooked! Crossing the finish line each time fueled a burning desire that was ignited by some unknown connection to this sport. I had never been an endurance athlete, let alone, been driven to compete in solo events. But this was different. Something about a race with three sports seemed oddly insane, yet captivating. My new found motivation was quickly halted following an injury that occurred during the second race. Season over!
Flash forward …..
2010-2013 = injuries, financial difficulties, family issues, job changes, moving homes
Flash =forward more…
2014 = redemption year!
Enough had been enough. Since the first time crossing the finish line, the desire for triathlon never ceased. Dreams about racing had been manifesting for nearly 5 years and these dreams had now formulated into one large obsession encompassing everything triathlon. So, in an attempt to redeem myself, I registered for the Kinetic Spring at Lake Anna in May. This was the race gave me the season ending injury in 2009. I also registered for the Philly TriRock….the race I was unable to compete in due to the season ending injury in 2009. This year was for redemption! And by all means it was. I completed both races and went on to complete the NYC Triathlon in August. Despite having some illnesses along the way, I accomplished more this season than I had intended.
I did not intend on how difficult being a triathlete along with a full time mother, wife, employee, and friend. Being all those things at once was more difficult than any race I have completed. But I did learn one thing….I am better at all these things, when I am training. I am better at life when I am a triathlete.