Your alarm clock going off at 5:00 am. A wet bathing suit constantly hanging in the bathroom. The snack-food cabinet taken over by energy gels. No, I am not talking about the life of a triathlete. I am talking about the life of a triathlete’s wife.
If your husband (wife, child, sibling, or otherwise loved one) is an extreme athlete you know just what I mean. When I met Mr. Tri-Guy J., he was merely Mr. One Marathon J. I was suitably impressed and thought it was a mere hobby. Little did I know the years of racing that lay ahead of me. After curb-crewing my way through 5 marathons, I thought I had the encouragement thing down. After waiting at the top of Mount Washington him to finish his run, I thought I had the worrying in the cold routine down. And then, he said the infamous words… "I think I'll try a triathlon".
Here's what I knew of triathletes – they shave their legs. They have a race in Hawaii. That guy on "The Bachelor" was one. That's it. But as J trained for his first half-ironman (in Lake Winnipesaukee), I learned more and more. Suddenly two bikes were hanging on my livingroom wall, and the smell of chlorine seemed to be everywhere. And after a few successful half ironmen and a bunch of sprints, he signed up for Ironman Coeur d'Alene. Team Iron J is headed to Idaho.
I am sure you can all relate to the "training" a partner goes through. For me, the challenge has been balancing my extraordinary pride with my fear. I alternate between wanting to brag to everyone I meet that my husband is doing this amazing thing to privately worrying that he will get hurt. Particularly for those of us who are non-athletes (my idea of a triathlon? Read a book, eat a snack, crochet. Watch all three versions of "Law and Order" in one sitting), the idea that someone would choose to put their body through this is bizarre.
And so while J prepares by increasing his workouts and shaving his legs (I was right about one thing...), I'm readying myself for race day as well. In between the moments when we can see him ("Was that him on that bike? I think he has a blue helmet…"), and the moments of awe/horror that people are actually participating in this, I plan on a tight regimen of reading, listening to my ipod, and hanging out with our families. Like any competitor, I'll be sure to stay hydrated and remember the sunscreen.
For those of you who are fellow members of this elite group, I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you manage your worry? How do you stay encouraging when your partner gets frustrated? What the hell are we supposed to do all day?
And to all the other Coeur d'Alene partners, speak up and let me know who you are. Come June 22, I hope we can meet. After all, on the course it's every man/woman for him or herself, but as for curb crew? We're all in this together.
Mrs.T-Guy J (a.k.a. Betsy)
P.S. For the athlete reading this, pass it on to the loved ones. You'll find them rinsing out your bathing suit in the bathroom...