Endurance Racing and Family Support


As most endurance athletes know, endurance races are solitary endeavors. By this I don’t mean that you are lonely or even very often alone as you compete in a marathon or triathlon. But let’s face it, these are individual sports.

In addition to being a Marathon runner and Ironman triathlete, I am also a very happy and very involved father of two. I love my family, my beautiful wife and two wonderful daughters. Whenever I race, they always ask me, “Should we come out and watch?” I usually tell them, that I am ok if they don’t come out, and happy if they do come out.

GC Ironman - Go Daddy Go!

I am an introvert. I’m not afraid to admit it. Although, many people that meet me in person often assume I am an extrovert. Technically, I’m an exuberant introvert. 😉  But the point is, I recharge my batteries by being by myself, at peace with myself, out on the road alone.

I don’t do it to be seen. I don’t want to be seen. I don’t do it for the cheers. I don’t want the recognition. For me it’s all about pushing myself to the next level. Can I do it? Can I go further? Faster? Can I take on a new challenge?

Of course, the fact of the matter is that my 4 year old and 6 year old daughters don’t really have the patience to sit around and wait for Dad to complete a marathon or long distance triathlon. So this means, if they do decide they want to come out, I actually have another job beyond preparing for the race. I have to plan out a schedule for them, including locations along the race course at which they will be able to cheer for Dad, without becoming completely, mind numbingly, bored.

Lord knows my wife has already sacrificed by letting me train and race these events. She’s already had her share of answering the question “Where’s Daddy?”, “When is Daddy going to be home?” She doesn’t need to answer these questions out in the middle of nowhere 6 hours into an Ironman. I want to make it as easy on her as possible. For my first Ironman (this year) I was able to plan a nice location along the bike route, where the racers would pass twice, and as a bonus there was a playground around the corner. But of course my 4 year old just wanted to sit in the car and watch Dora videos on the portable DVD player.

GC Ironman - Bored!

“Didn’t we already see Daddy go past? Why are we still waiting here!” 

Is it worth it? What do I really get out of it?

Well, I have to be honest. It does give me a little bit of extra energy when I see a friendly face along the race course. But that’s not the biggest benefit to having the family cheer for me. No, I think the biggest benefit is that by living this fitness lifestyle (something I didn’t do for most of my life), I am hopefully imprinting positive memories and associations with exercise and fitness on my young impressionable children.

Hopefully, in addition to being a good role model of a hard working contributing member of society, and a loving caring husband and father, I am also showing my daughters that “living” is better when you are living a healthy lifestyle.

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4 Responses to “Endurance Racing and Family Support”

  1. Karrie Says:

    I like your website. I’m impressed by your attitude regarding your marathons/ironman and family support. I also went from couch potato to marathon runner a few years ago. A college friend of mine convinced me to run the Chicago marathon and I’ve run two more since then. I will probably run Grandma’s marathon in Duluth this coming June. My husband has been great about supporting me. He’s a mountain biker so I cheer for him in the MN State championship series (MNSCS) and he supports me in my marathons. I even had to tell him to stop ‘stalking me’ in my recent Milwaukee marathon, because I kept decompensating when I saw him (tears etc). After that he only caught up with me every 3-4 miles (he was on his bike). It was not a good run for me (leg cramps).

  2. halfawake Says:

    If you’re lucky some day your daughters will go for runs with you :-).

  3. noelryan Says:

    The pictures of your girls are great – my boy loves watching me run, although the first 10k I did he cheered me across the finish line and then turned to his Mum and said “but Daddy didn’t win”!. I wish!!

  4. zappoman Says:

    Thanks Karen, Halfawake, and Noel… I appreciate the comments.
    Congrats to you Karen on getting off the couch!
    Halfawake, I like your blog, you have some interesting stuff up there, I’ll keep coming by.
    Noel, I know what you mean about kids expecting you to “win” these things. If you look closely at the poster my oldest daughter is holding you’ll notice a couple things.
    First, she wanted to cheer on “Everyone” not just Dad. She got this idea when we went to cheer on her Mom at “The 3 Day Walk” and she made a similar poster. All of the walkers loved that she wasn’t just rooting for her Mom, but for all of them.
    Second, you’ll notice she drew the three triathlon events, swimming, biking, running. She got swimming and biking out of order, but I think that’s because she thinks of me as riding my bike much more than swimming.
    Finally, you’ll notice that there is one runner ahead of a pack of other runners. Apparently that’s me (notice the “D” for Daddy on my chest) winning the race. 😉

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