Kudos to all those mom triathletes, or triathletes with full-time jobs, triathletes with significant others, triathletes with families, triathletes who have pets…I mean really any triathlete. How do people make this work? Especially Ironman.
I have two kids, manageable ages at 11 and 8, a husband also training for Ironman Boulder and six jobs (albeit all part-time or freelance) and some days, I wonder how I make it all work.
Take Thursday for instance…
Workout plan: 1 hour swim, 1 hour bike, 1 hour run – with the bike and run done, ideally, as a brick meaning back-to-back with minimal transition time.
Before I even started the workout, I had a 4am wakeup call, coffee (of course), misc. catching up on emails and writing. At 5am, I headed to coach runners on hills; then drove directly to another job and did some paperwork and finally went to teach a yoga class. At this point – 11am — workout time was here. It went something like this:
Swim: Family already at the pool deck. I spied them from the yoga room, which looks down upon the pool. Dad snoozing in the chair. Children laying on towels. I noticed, no sunscreen applied when they arrived.
I greet dad with an accusatory “did you put sunscreen on the kids?”
“Yes.” He said. I explain that I didn’t see it happen. He said, “ask the kids.”
I ask the kids. They said they found sunscreen someone left by a chair and put it on. Technically, Dad is right — but really, he’s just lucky.
I enter pool. Complete warm-up. All is quiet. All is good.
Dad comes to tell me he’s leaving. Kids are staying – lounging in chair, looking innocent. “Perfectly fine,” I think.
I do a lap and son hovers at the pool deck. “I’m hungry.”
“It’ll be a while.” I swim away.
Another lap. Son still hovers.
Another lap. I sight. Son still hovers. I become certain Dad did not give them breakfast.
“You should have gone with Daddy.”
Another lap. I see that my son sat down in defeat. I feel guilty.
Another lap. I see an increasingly heated conversation between daughter and son.
Another lap. Heated discussion now has son with towel over his head and daughter banging found-can of sunscreen on pool chair.
I stop. “What’s wrong?” Not a happy voice.
“She won’t let me think.” Towel off head, tears streaming.
“Come here.” Stern voice. “Are you going to ruin my workout?”
Not the proudest mom moment. I think of all the ways I could be loving and caring and empathetic. Instead, glare.
“No,” son snivels, sits down.
“Come here.” I say to my daughter.
“He’s not thinking. He’s just looking around.” says daughter.
“Boys are stupid.” I say. “Get used to it.”
Another lap. I see the towel has returned to my son’s head and daughter pouting.
Gruffly, I get out of the pool. “We’re leaving.”
Sudden dread and horror. Children plead, no…no…you finish your workout. Five minutes of discussion. I get back in pool. It’s hard to decide which is worse: guilt over parenting or guilt over not finishing a workout.
I swim and mull over my temper tantrum. Kids happily trade off wearing my sunglasses. Cut swim 5 minutes short. We all leave without fuss.
Transition: Quick shower. Kids — long shower. Drive home. Make peanut butter and jelly. Kids seem happy. Get on bike, head out door. (Daddy in basement working)
Ride: Ride uneventful, except for musings on my priorities – kids or triathlon. Do Dads muse on this? Do they get Mom guilt?
Transition: Enter house, put bike away, change into run shorts. Hear faint call from basement…daddy.
“Where’s your phone?”
“I’m trying to do a brick.”
“Fine. Do your brick. Turn your phone off or do you not want me to set your new one up?”
Guilt pang. He’s trying to help.
Deliver phone to basement.
Head out the door.
Cool down: Get daughter ready for dance recital.
Ironman training leaves time for little else but working out. That sometimes includes simple civility at times. I honestly don’t know how people who don’t have flexible jobs and more children do it. Most days are spent juggling, and not always successfully.
When I explain training, people sometimes ask “Do you enjoy this?” The crazy thing is — yes, yes I do. I enjoy the challenge, the push – and even the juggling. However, until my kids are older, I don’t think (never say never) I’ll do another full Ironman simply because of the sheer time. Of course, at one time I swore I’d never run, never do a marathon and certainly never do an Ironman. So, don’t trust me.