After you have a baby there's this urge to want to wear a belt and shirts that tuck-in. I wanted to get back into shape but I was so tired and completely unmotivated. I realized the line, "I just had a baby" wouldn't work anymore when my son Luc could walk and talk. I needed a goal--so I set my sites on a sprint triathlon. A triathlon consists of three events in this order; swim (5/8 of a mile), bike (15 miles), run (3.1 miles). At the time, it seemed unreachable to me (and my husband who I begged to do it with me when I started to get cold feet). In retrospect, it was like walking from the couch to the freezer for a pint of ice cream.
We were sitting around the pool celebrating the end of summer last year with friends when the topic of Ironman, the mutha of all triathlons, came up. My husband got a little glint in his eye and I knew that he wanted to try it. I shrugged and said, "sure, why not?" I mean, how much more training could it be compared to the marathoning that he does now?
The Ironman (IM) distances are borderline suicidal: swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. And, in case you're like my Mother-yes, they have to do it all the same day.
Not that I got to sleep-in much before the IM came up; but training meant that David was gone pretty much every day at 5am to either swim, bike, or run. I was up every day by 6am to drink at least get a cup of coffee before my 4 year old son Luc woke up ready to play. I envied the people in the NY Times commercials sitting around on the weekends reading the paper and drinking coffee.
When David and I met, we skied, biked, and played tennis together. For 10 years, we did things together. Once IM training began my workouts were often postponed or cancelled since IM training was critical and Social Services doesn't like you to leave the 4-year-old at home unattended. As the training progressed David got better and better at cycling, a sport we used to be quite compatible with, and my bike got dusty in the basement. I'm not sure what bothered me more, feeling like a single Mom or being left behind. While David got in better shape, I became the picture of atrophy.
We used to get up on the weekends and not even make it out of the house before 11am. Now David wasn't back IN the house before 11. Our lives revolved around the particular training needs of that day. If David needed to get a ride in, we'd drive 50 or more miles and meet him with a picnic basket. If David needed to swim, we'd drive to the beach and wait on the shore for an hour until he was done. Luc thinks that all Dads go to the beach in their wetsuits.
Waiting around to see your loved one in the IM for 15 hours is tough, waiting around with a 4-year-old earns me a new piece of jewelry.
The IM started at 7:00 am with a mass start in the water. I really wanted to see nearly 2000 people jump into a lake and start swimming but my son was pretty clear, "I want to sleep." I woke up at 6:00 am and started packing our bags with the supplies we'd need for the day of waiting: juice boxes, water, Ritz crackers, brownies, you name it-I had the necessary treats to make my son seem civil. With the jogger stroller packed to the rim and loaded bag on my back, I picked up my sleeping son and his favorite stuffed-bunny. Luc immediately started wriggling like a fish on a hook desperately trying to flip out of my arms back into his bed. I kept struggling with the 40lb tuna repeating, "I know, I know. But, you can sleep in the jogger." We started walking down the hill towards the swim start. I'm not sure why I bothered to shower, it was 7:30 in the morning and I was already sweating. I was desperate for coffee but when I saw the lines at the coffee shop I knew I'd miss David coming out of the water. I kept on cruising towards the mass of people cheering at the lake.
How to constantly watch the clock, scan the mass of faces running towards you, and keep an eye on your personal belongings (including the one with legs) is a trick you learn over time.
David can be very intense about his racing. My fourty-something-year-old husband still talks about events he should have won in HIGH SCHOOL. I was concerned about the added stress and I gave David a big speech about relaxing and enjoying the experience. He didn't hear me grumble, "because it's the last one you'll ever do..." Standing at the fence with my still half-asleep son on my hip, I spot David. The rest of the swimmers are running, but David is walking up the hill and obviously scanning the crowd looking for me. I start screaming and jumping up and down and he spots me and Luc in our matching home-made "Go Daddy Go" t-shirts. David comes over with a smile and gives us a big hug and kiss. The crowd goes, "Awwww..." Mental note: badgering husband eventually works.
I finally get a cup of coffee and meet up with friends and family to cheer on the athletes. It was a long day: first chilled when we were rained on; sweated in the subsequent heat and humidity; mentally exhausted from dealing with the
amount of whining and requests from a VERY bored 4 year old; feet throbbing from hours of standing; and arms and back aching from holding my son all day (did I mention he was 40 pounds yet?). "No doctor, I don't know why my back hurts."
The day has turned to night and it is time for David to get to the finish line. I run (literally) with Luc in the stroller to get to the finish. If you had any experience with 4-year-olds, you would know that they have the worst timing when it comes to letting you know they have to go to the bathroom. About five minutes before I expect David to come in from nearly 15 hours of intense exercise, my son starts doing
dance. He looks at me and says, "Mommy. I have to pee." This actually means, "I had to pee and hour ago and will go in my pants at any second." I scoop Luc up and start running for the nearest porta-potty. They are, of course, up a hill. I opened the door and cringe. Luc pauses and says, "uhh. I don't have to go." I imagine the scene where I hand Luc over to David so they can run to the finish line together and Luc going in his pants right after they cross. I plead with him, "Please Luc? Just don't look at it." He shakes his head, "No. I don't have to go." I pick him up and run back down to the finish line. Grandpa says, "You mean to tell me that a dog can go anywhere he wants but a little kid can't go behind a tree or something?" Realizing that the likelihood of a 4-year-old being cited for indecent exposure was slim, we walk behind a tent and Grandpa says, "Go ahead Luc" while holding up an umbrella for privacy.
David comes in a few minutes later and Luc runs across the finish line with Daddy. David is euphoric and Luc is smiling brightly and trying to tell him something. It's impossible to expect a little boy to understand what Daddy has just completed or to say, "wow.. I'm proud of you Dad." It's pretty difficult to impress a boy who already thinks his Dad is Superman. But, David leans down and strains to hear the words from his son over the cheering crowd, enthusiastic announcer, and incredibly loud music. Luc yells one more time, "Daddy, those porta potty's are gross!"
2002 Copyright Claudine M. Jalajas