What it’s like to be married to an Ironman

Training for long distance racing is a big job. Long hours of pushing your body further and faster, not to mention the drive, ambition, stamina, and pure FOCUS you need to have on your end goal. In addition to all that? It’s pretty addictive. Once a person starts, they usually become pretty obsessed with it. It’s all they think about: the thrill of race day is a high like no other. And to those of us that don’t partake? Well, we think they are just crazy people.

I know all these things because I am part of the lesser known group of people that support one of these crazies. I say that in the most affectionate way imaginable, but I do think my husband is a little crazy. A lot of people have asked me over the years how I deal with him being gone for long hours while training, and how I handle his brutal schedule. I’m not going to lie, with 2 kids and busy lives, it’s not always easy.

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In the beginning I don’t think I realized what participating in an Ironman was going to do to my family. In all honesty, I don’t think Mark realized it either. After he competed in his first full, he told me about how he felt on the beach at the crack of dawn, looking out over the water at the start line, his heart pounding. I knew then that it would not be the last time I would have to endure months of absences, months of listening to him talk about swim strokes, his Garmin, run pace, bicycles, helmets, and salt plans. (What the hell is a salt plan?)

Just when I think I can’t do it again, and that I have to ask him to scale back, I get a few things stuck in my head that change my perspective:

1. How great is it that this is what my kids see their father doing? Maren and Henrik seriously think their Dad is a badass. I mean, what kid doesn’t think that about their Dad? I’m a grown adult, and I’m still pretty sure my Dad is a badass! I guess I’m saying that in this day and age there are so many worse things my kids could see him doing. They swell with pride when they talk about him, and I have to laugh when I hear them telling their friends that Dad isn’t home because he’s out riding his bike 100 miles or so.

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2. We have expanded our group of friends substantially. There’s one thing to be said about the triathlon community- they are a close knit bunch. They are SO supportive of each other and it translates into every part of their lives. Mark has met so many people that truly want to see him do well, they are there for him when he needs them, and he goes out of his way to help and support them as well. I hang out with them a lot, and I am always amazed at their dedication to this sport. They feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and they share that common bond.

3. We get to travel to some really fun places. So far we’ve been to Wilmington, NC and New Hampshire with plans in 2017 to go to Louisville, Norway and Raleigh. We talk all the time about heading to Arizona, Tennessee, California, and the list goes on and on. With our group of tri-friends, we never travel alone. Even better!

4. Training, racing, new friends, travelling, and being a badass makes my husband happy. This helps him be the kind of guy I want to be around. Cheese, anyone?

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The families of athletes aren’t where the spotlight lands when the race is over, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m sure most of the people in my shoes totally agree with me. If you are a supporter (enabler!) like me, leave me a comment and tell me about YOUR crazy person.

A friend at work sent me this video, and it made me think of this post. It’s called the Theory of Human Motivation, and it makes you think a little. Check it out.

I’m dedicating this JAM to Mark. It’s the song he told me he listened to as he stood on that beach looking out at the water thinking of the challenge ahead. And just like him…it’s pretty badass.

 

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