Training with my wife…

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We’ve been doing the Chicago Triathlon each August for the last 3 years.  Such a great event.  So many people, the structured chaos, the electricity of downtown Chicago.  It’s really fun.

My wife ENJOYS triathlons, she just isn’t crazy about them.  She’s a great supporter and volunteer.  She likes to cheer folks on.  As a personal trainer, she gets great satisfaction from seeing clients progression.  She likes the cycling class environment at Lifetime, occasional yoga…weight training. There is something about the structure or monotony of triathlon training that doesn’t drive here like it does me.

Baloney.  It’s because she’s been training with me.  I’m a bit of a psycho when it comes to riding and running.  I was never a distance athlete, couldn’t run very fast or very long.  I never rode a bicycle past 8th grade…and I sink when I swim.  I got into Tri’s to improve my health.  I was fat, had high cholesterol, crazy heart rate and borderline hypertension.  And my friend dared me.  Since that dare in ’09, I’ve done about 23 different events.  Centuries, 1/2 Marathons, Full Marathons, Olympic Tri’s, and 2 Ironmans.  I got hooked on speed, endurance and going deep into the pain cave.

My issue is…I always want to go faster…harder, longer…and I am constantly comparing workouts, or wishing I was a fast as that person, or had a lower heart rate, or actually knew how to swim.  I’m a short  guy with a chip on my shoulder.

Jill is a heck of a lot more practical than me…she follows a plan and doesn’t think much past that.  So I know she was worried when I suggested that, rather than hire a coach to train for her first Half Ironman (Augusta 70.3), we would train together.  My plan was simple.  If I get her hooked like I am, we could live this lifestyle for years…keep training, buying cool gear and staying a solid bike length ahead of old age.  Together!

Marriage is a compromise…and let me tell you, training with your wife is no exception.  First, I am not a coach.  Second, I lack patience.  Two pretty big obstacles to overcome.  So it comes as no surprise that the first ride we did together on her first tri bike, we ended up in an argument on the side of the road.  It actually got to a point where she dreaded the long ride…and that was a problem.  Turns out, I was less interested in training her, than I was training myself.  I confused DOING triathlons together with TRAINING for triathlons together.

Luckily, I am capable of transformation, and I decided pretty quickly that I was actually pushing Jill away from this sport, instead of toward it.  I learned patience.  I found that encouragement goes a hell of a lot further than admonishment, and I saw huge improvement.  Jill’s attitude changed, too.  She started pushing herself further.  She stuck to her plan when I traveled and  focused on her swim and run.  She took spin classes or used the indoor bikes when weather was crud.  And we found that we really like to swim together, sharing a lane.  She’s faster than me, too.

Through this training, she has the same fears and doubts I had when I first trained for Ironman AZ.  This is a big indicator for me.  It tells me how much she is thinking about this, and how much she wants to finish it.  So I tell her all the things that were told to me by people who have been there before.  She is ready, she is stronger than she realizes, and she is going to love it.

We did the Chicago Triathlon on Sunday, August 24.  We told each other, this is a training day.  No expectations…just go out, work our plan and enjoy it.  We were slotted in separate waves, separate times and would meet each other at the finish line.

Jill PR’d…and so did I.

I learned a lot training with Jill this summer.  I learned that all of the time I spent training alone didn’t necessarily make me a better triathlete.  In fact, I likely plateau quite a bit.  I learned that Jill is a better swimmer than me, and she pushes me.  I learned that she is a really strong cyclist…much quicker to respond to training than I did at the same point in my training.  I learned that she worries about the same things I worry about, and is just looking for someone to tell her she’s got this.  I learned that I love training with her.  If nothing else, I learned that she compromises with me.

We have Ironmman Miami 70.3 in 12 weeks.  We got this!




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