One thing I have learned about Ironman training so far is that consistency is key. It’s about “backing it up” not only on a daily basis, but backing up those big efforts week-to-week as well. Our weekends have entailed long rides and long runs consistently since last October. Some say you can’t train big when you have kids. Some might even think it’s selfish to try to do so. So what’s my secret to balancing Ironman training with the demanding schedules of three little boys? How do I finagle enough time to get my training in? That’s easy! I simply focus on creating time for my husband to train. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not kidding! First of all, I know that MC and I are the minority. Of the many married triathletes we know, in most situations only one spouse is involved in the sport, or at least only one races long. The fact that we both are involved and we are both training for a full Ironman means that we both understand the time commitment, and we both “get it”. Luckily, we truly care about the other person getting their training in. When I have a big ride to get in on Saturday, I know that volunteering to get the kids to their games in the morning and helping MC get out the door early, helps me to get on my ride at a reasonable time. We both realize that the more we focus on improving each other’s schedule, the more it comes back around. This takes faith and trust in each other; a true partnership. So this past April we decided to take this “partnership” to a new level. We went on our first (of hopefully many!) Spring Break “Train-cation”.
We rented a house near Black Mountain, NC. We went with another triathlon family who also has three kids, and both of whom are also training for Ironman. Between us four triathletes and the two coaches between us, we came up with a great schedule that allowed for three big training days for both the guys and the girls, and great fun for the kids! The plan was for the guys to ride long Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and the girls to ride long Monday, Wednesday, Friday. On the “off” days, we were supposed to get up early and hit the YMCA in Ashville for a swim and run, and be back by 10 am for the bikers to leave. The entire week was a perfect example of focusing on getting your partner some training time. So this made for quite a non-traditional, yet amazing “family” vacation. The kids had a blast! They went on a different outdoorsy adventure every day – they just never had mommy and daddy together. On the days the girls were on a long ride, the two dads were in charge of providing a fun-filled day for the kids, and vice-versa. Then we all came together for dinner each night. This “arrangement” allowed all four triathletes to put in a big week of structured, focused training, guilt free. I knew Michael would make sure the kids had fun while I trained; and he knew the same about me. That took the guilt off the table as we had confidence in each other to play the parental role. All of this planning resulted in some epic training.
The biking in the area was phenomenal! The weather was beautiful, the people were friendly, the drivers were courteous, and the road surfaces were well maintained. After a short ride Sunday to check out our bikes, and a decent long ride on Monday, Wednesday was meant to be our biggest day as we climbed Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak East of the Mississippi, at the end of a 75 mile ride. MC and the boys were crewing me at the end, and I actually traded my bike for my sneakers with 1 mile left so I wouldn’t miss my brick. On Friday, we decided to “back it up” and climbed Mt. Mitchell a second time. Because of the well-planned, well-paced, and well-supported week, we were able to get out there and do it again. I totally felt like a rock star for the day! Talk about the livin’ the dream!
Combining our family vacation with a training camp exemplifies the balance that we strive for on a regular basis. The kids had a blast and we were able to put down some solid, big volume/high intensity training hours guilt-free. Over the week, I biked 16.5 hours, 206 miles, and climbed 20,334 feet. Even with a spouse who “gets it” and helps me find the time I need to train, that kind of work is definitely not going to happen in a normal “real world” week here in Syracuse. So bottom line, I highly recommend a “Train-cation” for all triathlon families!