Triathlon and Family.. a balancing act
Many of us had similar starts to triathlon. We were drawn to the sport because it sounded intriguing, challenging and like something we wanted to accomplish for ourselves. I quickly learned, however, that my involvement in triathlon doesn’t just affect me–it affects my entire family. Endurance sports include more than just a few hours on random weekends; they can be consuming, expensive and sometimes cause a wedge in our relationships. As I enter my seventh year of triathlon, I want to share with you a few mantras I have found to keep myself and my family priorities balanced.
Racing isn’t just about me.
When I first started racing, my family would come with me to every race. We would drive all together, they would watch me set up transition, wait for me at the swim start and cheer throughout the day. It was great to have the support but I really didn’t think about them much and, after a while, they grew tired of supporting. I never considered that waking up at the butt-crack of dawn just to sit around on some camping chairs in a field (or better yet, a parking lot) to see me for a few glimpses over the course of a few hours wasn’t fun! Scott has told me he has seen enough men in spandex to last him a lifetime.
So after a year in the sport and realizing that I love to race, I started making their race weekend experience a priority. Sometimes for your A-race this isn’t as easy, but it’s definitely something to consider if your family is traveling with you for multiple races a year. Here are some questions I regularly ask during planning a race (especially ones away from home):
- What will my family do while I am racing? Are there fun attractions nearby? Golf course proximity? A movie theater in case of rain? What can I find for them to give them ideas for what to do? Picking family friendly race venues is in my top three considerations when laying out my race schedule.
- What will we do after the race? For me, making sure a tri-cation is fun for everyone includes making sure everyone gets to do something they want. For example, last year at Challenge Williamsburg we fit laser tag and visits to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens into the long weekend so that my son remembers the vacation as something beyond just “going to Virginia to see my mom race.”
- Sometimes I just choose to go solo. Although I would love for my family to accompany me every time, I recognize sometimes going it solo is the best for everyone. My Challenge Triathlon Team (National) and Crush Multisport (Chicago) teammates provide familiar faces at races and make going solo a different kind of fun for me. This also allows me to hang at the finish line longer, chat with friends and not be in a rush after I finish with no stress on anyone else.
Although it is great when I can check off every training session perfectly or make all my TrainingPeaks graphs turn green, sometimes that is not in the best interest of my family and they are my priority. I have made this clear with my coach, Tony Zamora (who respects this and helps him know what my ultimate goals are). With both my husband and I working and our Sunday religious services, the free time in our weekends is precious. Yes, it is precious time to get in long training but more importantly, precious time to spend together as a family. Too many times I found Scott and I trading off with Josh and not taking advantage of time we could be spending together as the three of us. Just being aware of this is half the battle.
Set a budget–even if a loose one.
Tri gear, clothing and racing can add up–fast! Even though I am not a fast triathlete, I love tech gadgets, new gear and racing–none of which are cheap. Very quickly, my husband realized how much was being sunk into the sport and how many things I all of a sudden “needed.” (For example, I really “need” the new Garmin 920X.) Now we set a loose budget every year that I try to follow. We don’t create an excel spreadsheet of costs, but we do have a target number so there are no major surprises when our bank statements are released. We still go back and forth on what goes in that “tri” bucket, but as I mentioned earlier, if we make a tri-cation a true vacation for everyone, we can work out a split for the costs of the trip.
Just b/c you love it doesn't mean others automatically will
Don't get me wrong, this isn't for lack of trying but my husband will probably never be into triathlons. It doesn't mean he won't do one here and there but it would be more for appeasing me than filling a void he has. He also probably won't get excited next year when Challenge Dubai live streaming takes place or want to talk about the pro field... and I am ok with that. I try to make a conscience effort to limit tri/endurance talk with him or be attentive when his eyes start glaring over... Can't say it makes a difference but he is very supportive of my passion and dont' want to burn him out from it.
There is no standard remedy for balance, but these reminders have served me well in the past few years. Everything in life is a balance and this is just one more pin we learn to juggle. Happy racing to all. See you out on the course!