After my husband’s first sprint triathlon in 2006, I had a feeling of what our future held. Soon after, I was gifted a bike and taught to ride; gifted a pair of goggles and wetsuit and taught to swim, and found myself on enjoyable long runs with my husband. We then planned mini vacations up and around the East Coast, competing and meeting unbelievable athletes from around the globe. We found a passion and we got hooked!
However, I soon learned that my husband was craving more! When he went from a road bike to a tri bike, the writing was on the wall ~ in bold print! He progressed from Sprints to Olympics, and onto the half iron distance very quickly. I found myself lost in his accomplishments. Our once peaceful and enjoyable tri-journey was no longer.
His training became diligent and uncompromised the day he signed up for IMLP 2012, and I have been spending a lot of time alone. This “alone time” in the beginning was a bit dangerous. I had feelings of anxiousness, anger and frustration and I was not adapting to his long training hours at all. It was recognizable that this type of endurance training could become a catalyst for marital disaster.
It was imperative that I change my attitude and somehow join in on this Ironman voyage. I began to channel positive thoughts and focus more on the benefits gained, rather than feeling left out or better known as the “Ironman Widower”. I needed to find my place in his world of Ironman training.
When I realized that his new found “love” was not a reason for avoiding me or our relationship, but a way of him fulfilling a new challenge, I was able to discover my “role!”
Blending my career as a personal chef with his passion for triathlon resulted in team dinners at our home with spouses and children, as well as organizing long winter rides on trainers in our garage – which I loved since I was able to “keep up!” Further, it led to planning out structured meal plans while away on training weekends, learning how to grocery shop for 9 Ironman athletes, and managing to wash, fold and organize more spandex than I ever thought possible in a group of men! It was a task worth taking on. We soon felt more like a family than we did a team!
Although there have been times over the past year of his training that frustration and loneliness have resurfaced, I am quick to remind myself that he needs me. Moreover, I need for him to cross that finish line with dignity and assurance that I will be there waiting.
Essentially, the success of an Ironman athlete is about time management, communication, and support! My husband has been 100% honest with regard to his commitments to his family, to his business, to our personal life and to his coach and teammates. Who am I not to give him 100% of my support to ensure his success?
I am one proud “Ironmate!”
Darla Yennock of Camillus, NY is a personal chef and the owner of Mindfully Made, which provides private cooking of natural and organic meals for small groups of primarily athletes, and emphasizes proper carb: protein: fat ratios. She is also a mother of two college-age daughters, and the wife of an Ironman athlete. She has been training and competing in triathlon for five years.