Have you ever wondered what life is like with an Ironman? And, I am not talking about Robert Downey, Jr. I would not be complaining about that Ironman. No, I am talking about the the Ironman athlete. The one who trains every week as if it is a part-time job.
I am living with one…again. My husband is an Ironman. Thirteen hours and thirty-one minutes and twenty-eight seconds. He heard the announcer say…Bilal, you are an Ironman. Apparently, that was not enough. He has signed up for a second one, since he knows what to expect from the race. And of course, he wants a better time.
Bilal, you are an Ironman (Panama City, Florida 2012)
I was not sure if my marriage would be able to handle it. All the training. Going to sleep at 9:00 pm and waking up at 4:30 am to go for a run or a bike ride. I would tuck my kids into bed for the night, and tuck my husband right afterwards. His training schedule was insane. Twice a day work outs. Training in the summer was a nightmare. Date nights became less and less. Social time with family and friends became less and less. The reality was on a non-training day we just wanted to hang out together. The marriage survived. He survived the race. All is well.
So when my husband said he wanted to do a second Ironman, my jaw dropped, I gulped, and I said okay. But the promise was made that this would be the last Ironman. OKAY!!
The best thing my husband did the second time around for his Ironman training, is he started working with a coach. I highly encouraged him to work with someone because I knew that his coach would not only help him train, but help him balance his training with his life. Stacey is his coach, and she owns TRIstacey. And she is my ally. Before we go on vacation or a weekend trip, I tell her because I know she can alter his workouts. Whatever is written in his schedule he will do. So when she said that Bilal needed to do more of a core workout, I suggested Pilates to her. And, she wrote it in his schedule. So we went to Pilates together a few times. And then he had to do yoga.
Being left all alone on the weekends so that your significant other can go and train for five hours. Do. not. take. it. personally. Paranoid people will think, my spouse does not love me. Why on earth would they want to spend all that time exercising. Repeat after me. “This is not about me. This is not about me. This is not about me.” This journey of being a triathlete is about the triathlete. You just happen to be there for the ride.
For those of you who are not training, make sure you have an awesome support system. Friends. Family. Wine. No really, you need to find people who want to hang out and talk to you. Because after your significant other comes home, he or she is mentally drained. They do not want to make any decisions about what’s for dinner. They do not want to have small talk about what you did all day. And do not expect any sympathy from your athlete, because no matter how much pain you are in…they are in more pain. No matter how tired you are, they are more tired. So find it in yourself not to complain. Be cheerful. Be the reason why your athlete wants to come home.
And for goodness sake, find something that you can be passionate about. I had started taking tennis lessons. A couple of months later my husband suggested that I start training with him. I must have had a look of panic on my face. At least that is what I felt. And I blurted out that tennis was my thing. I made it my thing. I said I was joining a team. I did not want to run, bike or swim. Athletes, do not pressure your spouse to join you. If they want to join you, they will.
Also, though they are training for the BIG race, they will do many smaller races leading up to the one. And these smaller races, are still big races. Marathons. Half-Ironman Raleigh. Sprints. It just does not stop. And do not get me started on how expensive this “hobby” can be. But at the end of the day, no matter how much it costs to do races, the gear, the travel…the benefit is good health.
A couple of races are coming up, but now I am looking forward to his next Ironman. I got to pick the location. Hello, Ironman Nice! Yes, family vacation to France at the end of June. And, the best part is that we will have the rest of the summer to work on being a family again… without the training schedule.
Here is a conversation of a wife and her triathlete…for fun.