If you are reading this, you are not alone! I hope your spouse is lucky enough to find a triathlete community where you are and you can commiserate and celebrate with other spectating significant others– if you aren’t there yet, fear not! Come race day, you will pass lots of people who know what you are going through and you can recognize in each other the sacrifices you and your family have made to get to race day. Hopefully, over time you will meet fellow triathlete families and build your own village.
Our village, our little six pack of craziness, is one of the best parts about this journey. Here is the cast: Jon and yours truly, Mike and Angie (along with their son, Michael), Shaun and Sara (and their two children, Fergie and Fitz).
Sara and I always joke that Shaun and Jon are the same person. While I know this isn’t true all of the time, it is true enough that I find comfort on a bad day knowing I am not alone. I also know that when Sara tells me the latest chapter of living with an Ironman, we can laugh about the level of ridiculous it is and go right back to loving our spouses.
Some real talk: I try my absolute best to not commiserate too much, as much as it might make you feel better in the moment, I know it is neither positive nor healthy. We love our spouses, through it all, but some days you just need to make sure you are not alone. I will sometimes draft text messages, mostly to Sara on Saturday afternoons when I’ve been waiting for Jon to be finished with his workout, but I probably send less than a tenth of texts I initially write. I try to think if Jon saw those texts, would it hurt him? Would it discourage him? The answers are usually yes and I reflect on that, delete my message and find something else to occupy my time and thoughts.
The reality is, sometimes this life is difficult. Our triathletes will be the first to admit that this is a selfish sport. My qualms are always all ‘first world problems’ and they always stem from wanting to spend more time together. Training is his mistress. I can share him 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I get jealous.
A classic example: we stay up late watching a movie on Friday (late means 10 p.m.) and the 5 a.m. alarm gets snoozed until suddenly, it is 8 a.m. and there is a 5-hour workout on the schedule. There just isn’t a way around it– by the time Jon gets on the bike, showers afterwards and scarfs down lunch, it is likely 2 p.m. and our day together is just starting. Sure, it is only 2 p.m. but he also has a 45 minute run to do “later in the day” after his bike. Just when you get them back, they are gone again.
If you like to make lemonade from life’s lemons… you can also say that I also got up at 8 a.m., ran, did laundry, did some errands and even had time to cook a delicious lunch. That is all true and AWESOME! I love weekends when I feel like a rock star. The truth is, all of those things are even better shared together.
The struggle is never finding something to do during training time. There is always plenty to do! This could be a great opportunity to connect with your friends, see your family or have some me time. The struggle is that it isn’t on YOUR time. I wish I had wise, insightful advice to share on how to overcome this feeling. If you do, please let me know!
It is all about sacrifice. If you want to do a race, you put in the training and you make the training work around your life. When you life is revolving around training, that is when you or your spouse can get frustrated. Keep communicating. Keep supporting each other and trying to have it all! That might mean an alarm at 4 a.m. to squeeze workouts in before work. That might also mean playing in the pool with your friend and her two toddlers while your spouses are swimming laps, even though it is January and you would rather only be in a swimsuit if you were on a tropical island. Find the humor in it. Know that it is easier to laugh about the ridiculous lives you lead and only commiserate with people who understand this life and who won’t be calling your spouse crazy, and you even crazier for loving them. Find your tribe who will maybe be there on race day to spend those long hours running around to the next spot, pulling out the binoculars and writing pace times in sharpies on their arms.
It will be worth it 🙂
(The guys and Mike’s son, Michael, after Muncie 70.3)