The Crash

bike-crashAnyone who has ever really looked at a triathlon bike has – either consciously or subconsciously – thought: “Dang! That thing looks like a death trap.”  The bike, in an effort to be as aerodynamic as possible, shifts the rider’s center of gravity over the handlebars while simultaneously requiring the rider to balance on the teeniest, tiniest wheels possible (wheels that can be popped simply by hitting a crack in the pavement at the wrong angle).  If you ask me, it’s a terrible and dangerous design.  If you ask the founders of companies like RoadID, it’s a great (and lucrative) design.  I basically live in constant fear that Sam will be seriously injured while out training or racing.

At the second race of the season (the Buffalo Triathlon), Sam was hoping for a podium finish.  The weather was terrible, so I hid out at a coffee shop after the race started and planned to be at the finish line in time to see Sam cross.  Alas, when I arrived at the finish line, Sam was already there.  At first, I thought I had miscalculated his times.  Then, I saw the road rash down one side of his body, the ripped tri suit and the look of disappointment on his face.

Even though he was standing in front of me (and clearly in one piece), my heart skipped a few beats when I saw the blood dripping down his knee.  I rushed to his side and he explained to me that another, more novice, rider had cut him off.  He was fine (though a police officer who had witnessed the crash was disturbingly surprised by that fact), but one of his Zipp wheels had surely seen better days.

Replacing an (outrageously overpriced) wheel was a bummer, but the cost of this crash could have been SO much higher.  As the spouse of a triathlete, my focus (and frustration) is usually on the time and money spent training and racing.  This was an unneeded reminder that there are other things to worry about.

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Sam competed in the Life Time Minneapolis Triathlon on Saturday. His goal was to take first place in his age group. He believed the goal to be aggressive but achievable. And achieve it he did. In fact, not only was he first in his age group, but he placed first overall! The only racers to beat him were the men (and one woman!) competing in the professional and elite categories.

In just three years of competing in triathlons, Sam has worked his way to the top. The look of joy on his face as he stood on the podium and accepted his trophies was priceless. He has repeatedly set and surpassed his goals. Sure, he was blessed with some natural talent to help him get there, but he wouldn’t be filling our house with ribbons and trophies without the time and effort he has dedicated to it. I am proud of his dedication and so, SO happy for him (I hope when he reads this post he will fully appreciate how happy for him I really am).

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Sam’s Hardware

So, why am I also sad? Why does every one of Sam’s victories cause me at least a few moments of fear? I just can’t ever shake the (hopefully, irrational) feeling that Sam is building a life that is completely separate from our life together. He trains with groups of people I don’t know. He has Facebook friends I’ve never even heard of. He is a part of cycling groups that include young, athletic, fit women. It terrifies me to think that his triathlon world might take him away from me. I fear that each trophy that is handed to him entrenches him further into that world. Sometimes I wonder if I’m slowly going crazy . . . or maybe I have always been crazy and spectating at triathlons just underscores my craziness (my guess is that would be Sam’s conclusion!). I just wish I could overcome this fear; I do NOT want to be the crazy wife anymore.

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My Husband, the “Pro” Triathlete

As anyone who reads this blog knows, one of my biggest gripes about the sport of triathlon is how much it costs. Every time Sam says he needs some fancy new gadget or shiny new bike component or frighteningly tight new tri suit, I like to quip, “What, are you trying to buy a podium finish?”

Sam’s first race of the season was a short running race in St. Cloud, MN. He called me after the race (it was one of the few that I decided to skip) to tell me that he had officially “gone pro.” He was giddy with excitement. I thought to myself, “Could it be true? Could Sam have figured out a way to use triathlon to actually MAKE money instead of spending it?”

Nope. It turns out he took second place at the race and was awarded a $50 gift certificate. That can only be used at a store that is 50 miles away from our house. And only to purchase running shoes. I quickly pointed out that, with race fees, the gas money needed to drive to the store and the extra money that will need to be spent on the shoes, we were still in the hole. He just laughed at his little joke and told me he would be home soon. I knew it wasn’t the last time we would discuss his near-professional status!

So, Sam is not a pro. He has not been discovered by scouts (are there scouts in the sport of triathlon??). Nike has not offered him an endorsement contract. But he did start his race season off on the right foot (pardon the terrible pun). More to come about his incredible performance so far this year.

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He is an Ironman!

I could probably write a small novel detailing our weekend, the race and the aftermath. But I don’t think that’s necessary (though future blog posts might focus on some aspects of our adventure). It’s easier to be straight to the point and say: Sam is an Ironman and he made it in a mere 10 hours, 50 minutes and 29 seconds. Needless to say, he was extremely happy with his performance and had a great time racing.

I started this blog by posing the question: will our marriage survive Ironman. I think I can now safely say that it did! Sure, there were ups and downs. And there were some tears. But we also got to share in the joy of accomplishment and achievement. I got to hold Sam’s hand as he glowed (from a combination of sweat and pride) and shared the tales of Ironman with his family and friends. I do think that we now need to spend some real time focusing on our relationship and remembering why we chose each other. But then there are moments when every couple needs to do that.

Sam follows this blog. I’m not a “rah-rah” kind of gal. I’m also not generally very sentimental. So, it’s possible that Sam doesn’t fully appreciate how proud of him that I am. I’m choosing this forum to publicly (if still somewhat anonymously) tell him so. Sam, congratulations — you are amazing. And, yes, I ordered your finisher jacket.

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And We Are Off!!

The adventure begins! Or begins to wind down. Depends on your perspective, I guess. At any rate, we are in the car headed for Madison. Sam is in good spirits and claims to be ready for what lies ahead. Me? I’m just in awe at the amount of gear we had to pack!

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We are SO close!

Finally! After two years of planning and training (and adjusting and coping), we are mere days away from the big event: Ironman Wisconsin. I can’t believe that by this time next week, Ironman will be behind us. It is certainly surreal.

Sam is doing remarkably well (or, alternatively, hiding his nerves remarkably well). He is officially tapering. His bike is cleaned, adjusted, prepped and ready to go. He has a fancy new tri suit (worn just enough to ensure it will not cause unnecessary chafing or other issues), and he has begun packing his gear.  He has even read through the Athlete’s Guide (if you knew Sam, you would know how crazy this is — he usually has me read those things and then just asks me questions as they arise).  And, yes, Willard has been stocked with all the necessary nutrition aids.

Even knowing that the finish line is just days away (literally and metaphorically, I suppose), I can’t help wondering: What will Sam be like when all this is over? Will he experience some sort of post-race depression? Will he be able to relax for awhile and enjoy other activities or will he continue to train out of sheer habit? Will some of the self-absorption that necessarily comes with doing something like this begin to dissipate or has this turned him into a life-long narcissist?

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Willard the Gu Jar

During a recent shopping excursion, I was delighted to find a cookie jar on clearance at Anthropologie. While cookie jars may not excite many people, I had wanted one for awhile but was unwilling to pay the exorbitant original price (after all, funds need to be reserved for water bottle cages and replacement helmet pieces).

When Sam got home from his long training session that day, he asked me what was inside the Anthropologie bag that I had not yet unpacked. I responded” “Why, that’s Willard, of course.” He looked puzzled and asked, “Who or what is Willard?”

I responded by carefully pulling this adorable little guy out of the bag:
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At first, Sam was not happy about my purchase. He knew how much these cookie jars cost. But when I showed him the clearance tag, he happily welcomed Willard to his new home.

As I positioned Willard in a place of honor on our kitchen counter, I imagined filling him lovingly with home baked cookies. I decided that the first batch would be a simple and classic chocolate chip cookie, but the next batch should be something more interesting. A lemon ricotta cookie? A coconut macaroon? Really, the possibilities were endless.

Unfortunately, when I got home the next day, I discovered that Sam had filled Willard full of his triathlon nutrition products: Gus, Clif Bars, salt tablets, etc.

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So, now I have a triathlon bike residing in my dining room (it is, according to Sam, too valuable to store in the garage) and a cookie jar full of Gu. Ironman has officially taken over my home!  What a hoot (yeah, I couldn’t resist)!

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What will your new wife think?

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Leadville, CO Marathon. Why?

During our recent vacation, I found Sam telling our friends and travel companions that he is considering doing the Leadville marathon a year or two following Ironman. Apparently, running 26.2 miles straight up a mountain at an elevation that we never encounter in Minnesota sounds fun to him. (For purposes of clarification: It does NOT sound fun to me!!!)

After making this statement, Sam looked questioningly at me (as if he was, for what feels like the first time ever, seeking some sort of approval from me). I took this in stride and responded with a shrug: “Doesn’t matter to me. But you’ll have to see if your second wife is ok with it.”

The group laughed and now this has become a fun inside joke. Anytime Sam suggests doing anything that I find tortuous, expensive, annoying or otherwise distasteful, I simply tell him he will have to check with his second wife (I just hope I’m cuter than her).

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Triathlon 4 – Half an Ironman and a Hungry Spouse

We just returned from an adventurous and relaxing vacation to West Glacier, Montana. In the excitement of packing and travelling, I neglected to post a report of Sam’s fourth triathlon of the summer (and, mercifully, the last before Ironman!).

Sam competed in the half-iron distance division of the Chisago Lakes Triathlon on July 28. The day started out just like any other race day: EARLY! We left our house at 4:20 in the morning so that Sam could once again be one of the first competitors in transition. On the way, I ate my typical breakfast of a Detour protein bar (this becomes relevant later in this post).

It was a cold but sunny day. I cheered Sam on as the race began and snapped pictures as he ran out of the water. During the bike portion of the event, I walked to a nearby McDonalds for a hot cup of coffee (I should have had a McMuffin; again, relevant later).

The race went well for Sam and he placed 5th in his age group and 19th overall. I was very excited for him as I waited at the finish line, cheering and snapping photos. And, because it was after noon at that point, I was also VERY hungry.

I tried to be a good little spectator after the race concluded. I swear, I did. I rubbed Sam’s sore, sweaty legs, showed him photos and listened as he recapped his performance. I waited patiently as he stood in line to get his official results. I even carried his medal and water bottles.

But when he grabbed a plate of post-race food, available only to the competitors, I nearly bit him. I was SO hungry. Sure, I could have eaten something during the race. And, I suppose, it is my own dumb fault that I didn’t. But, Sam always likes to go out for a post-race lunch. I had to save the calories. I tried to hide it, but after taking his sweet time packing up his transition gear, Sam must have seen the look of hunger on my face. He looked at me and quipped: “Is my T-3 time too slow?!” That only became funny AFTER I ate my lunch!

Nonetheless, Sam had an awesome race and I truly believe that he is ready for the physical challenge that is Ironman. We have only about four weeks left. We’ve managed to get this far with only a few minor scuffles. I’m cautiously optimistic that the next few weeks will go smoothly and Sam and I will exist triathlon season with a marriage as strong (and – sappy moment alert – wonderful) as when we entered.

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Triathlon 3 – And the winner is????

On July 13, 2013, Sam competed in the Life Time Tri Minneapolis.  This is one of his favorite triathlons and he was hoping to place in the top three in his age group.  Instead, he came in fourth in his age group.  Or did he?

Allow me to briefly describe the bizarre start to this race before elaborating on that last cryptic sentence.  Heavy rain storms the night before and into the early morning washed out parts of the Olympic distance bike course (which we didn’t know until we had been sitting in the car trying to avoid the monsoon for several hours).  Sam and his friend Mark are always very eager to arrive early to transition, which meant we left our house at 4 a.m., arrived at the race at 4:30 a.m. and sat in our car until 8:00 a.m. when the race officials FINALLY announced (via Facebook and Twitter) that the Olympic distance competitors would have to participate in the sprint distance race that would begin at 9:00 a.m. (two hours after the scheduled start time).  It was a soggy mess. 

Anyway, Sam headed to transition as the rain began to taper off while I stayed in my car until the very last minute.  My desire to support Sam is simply not strong enough to compel me to stand in the rain any longer than absolutely necessary. 

Sam raced as hard as he could, but when the results were posted, he was ranked fourth (a place that I thought was impressive enough).  Because we had been up for about 8 hours by the time we received the results, we were starving and headed to lunch in lieu of attending the awards ceremony.

Later that day, as is customary (customarily annoying, if you ask me), Sam spent hours pouring over the detailed results and analyzing his performance.  He remarked more than once about how he was just “so close.”  I tried to be sympathetic but after several hours was ready to change subjects (an aside: do those of you with triathlete spouses who are rambling on about race statistics ever find yourselves smiling and nodding while silently screaming to yourself: “Shut up.  Shut up.  Shut up”?  Or is that just me?). 

Alas, the next day the official online results were updated.  I’m not sure if there was a technological error that got remedied or a penalty that got someone disqualified, but Sam’s official place is now third.  Needless to say, he was thrilled to have accomplished his goal.  However, I was once again robbed of the opportunity to get a picture of him on the podium.  I’m starting to get concerned that our Christmas cards will be blank this year.  

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