–By Michelle Dalton, Team OAM NOW triathlete
“My husband and I are Triathletes”. This statement is usually met with blank stares or at best polite nods. Sometimes an explanation is required. “We race in events that require us to swim, bike and then run.”
We have been competing for over a decade in this sport, both here and in our native Australia. We were introduced by a friend whilst training for a half marathon in Sydney. She was a Grandmother – and I thought well if she can do this, I would like to give it a go. And I did. And then James did. And we have been hooked ever since.
It’s not easy having two endurance athletes in the family, especially with two small children, jobs and lives. We have to balance very carefully training with work and family. And it has worked well. Mostly.
This year we are both training for our first Ironman in Cozumel Mexico in November. An Ironman is a 2.4 miles swim followed by a 112 mile bike and then a 26.2 mile run. It’s a huge event and requires many hours of training – in our family that means Ironman volume training times two. After people get over the shock that you are actually thinking of attempting such an event on purpose, they often ask us the question of how we manage to both do the work and have time leftover for everything else.
The answer is that sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. The key is to have priorities. Family is always first. We have explained to our children that this year is a lot of training and time away from them to try to fit in long bike rides and runs. And when we are done, it’s their time. And at 9 & 11 they sort of understand this. I also think the opportunity to watch mum and dad work very hard for something that they want and are passionate about but are not going to win is very enriching for them. They get that it is important to work towards your dreams. To try your very best no matter what. I believe that in watching us train toward our first Ironman, they are learning some valuable lessons in dreams and hard work.
In terms of training – we have to be on a schedule. We talk at the beginning of the week about who has to do what and when. And we try to stick to it as much as possible in fairness to the other person and the girls. We don’t always get this formula right and sometimes this means missing something but you have to have balance. But at the end of the day, we want each other to succeed so we do whatever we can do help each other out.
Our household isn’t prefect! But what we have learnt about training and racing together has enabled us to be more structured in our approach to training, more flexible when things go wrong and more patient with the other when you things get tough. Its also helped us to teach our kids some valuable lessons along the way. Determination, perseverance, commitment, healthy choices and doing something that you love.
This is a challenging year but when we cross the finish line in November, it’s all going to be worth it. And to have the other one racing beside you, makes the finish line look even better.