Eighteen years ago last week I became a dad for the first time. When people ask me what I remember most of that special day I am ashamed to admit my overriding emotion was frustration that my original plan for the day) to head to Manchester and check out Shimano cycling shoes) had been disrupted! Instead I was faced with the prospect of spending several hours in Burnley General. I considered taking my turbo trainer into the maternity ward and getting a bike session in whilst waiting for the arrival. Even more ridiculous I was debating whether to get my trunks and swim goggles and smash out a few lengths in the birthing pool. ( I assumed that the pool would be at least 20 metres!).
For most of the first two months of baby Katie’s life I was out training as inconveniently, her birth came only a few weeks before Ironman Lanzarote. A race which I had been training hard for for the past year.
Looking back, this set the pattern of triathlon dominating my life, I was obsessed and often felt frustrated and irritable when things such as parents evenings, requests to go swimming or play down the park threatened to interrupt my strict training routine. Whilst other dads were kicking a football around with their kids on a Sunday afternoon I was out on the bike or heading to the pool.
Over the passing years I spent thousands of pounds on equipment, gym memberships, race entries, bikes and new gadgets. I spent time away from home competing across the world. And for what? I was never going to win a world title, turn pro or podium at Ironman Hawaii. Although trophies did appear on the mantlepiece unfortunately they were sat along side pictures of family outings where I was noticeable by my absence.
Quite how obsessed I was was brought home to me recently by a comment from one of Peak XV athletes. Stephen had travelled all the way to New Zealand to take part in the Ironman. However his day didn’t go to plan and he wasn’t able to finish the race. Upon hearing this I sent him a message asking him how he felt and that he must have been devastated his reply was “I was disappointed, but the sun came up this morning and the world continues to turn” At first I couldn’t relate to his comment but after a short while I realised that Stephen had something that I hadn’t had: a sense of perspective. I know for certain that when a race didn’t go well I would have a mini meltdown, mentally beating myself up and generally being unbearable for several days and I thought that everyone was like me!
Fast forward 18 years and I am over my addiction to the start line, I no longer spend hours studying race results or researching how to shave grams off my latest carbon bike. These days I am happy to swap a night at the pool for a kids movie night, to spend Sundays playing football down the park rather than out on my bike and helping with homework without feeling resentful that I am not out running. Hopefully its not too late to make up for all that lost time.
So if I had a early Easter message for my fellow triathletes it would be: by all means love your training, enjoy your racing but remember no matter how good or bad it goes the sun will rise and the world will continue spin. Time passes far too quickly and before you know it that small bundle of joy will be blowing out 18 candles, taking her first driving lessons and won’t give a dam about what her dads Ironman personal best was back in the last century.