When Training Wins

This is the third Monday of Six Months to Coeur d'Alene, but —thanks to the holidays—it's the first one in which I dropped my son off at school in the morning but didn't pick him up in the afternoon.

That's the school-year routine—my routine, his mom's routine, his routine: He spends alternating weeks at each parent's house and the switchover comes Monday at school.

It's always wrenching for me, but today was especially difficult because he woke up with sniffles and a slight cough and quiet temperament—sure signs of a cold coming on. Yet he was well enough to go to school. How did the day go? How is he now, 12 hours later? I haven't a clue. He's surviving, no doubt, but all things considered I'd like to be there to take his temp, hand him a box of tissues, get him some chicken soup and crackers, listen to his breathing as he falls asleep. I hate it when he's away.

And yet it's also true that when Niko goes to his mother's, I know I'll have oodles more time for running, biking and swimming.

Many triathletes have families and most if not all are struggling to balance their desire to put in long hours of training with other obligations, restrictions, needs … everything that makes up what some people call Real Life. (It's all real to me.) But here's the distinction: In the married guy or gal's world, it comes down to the willingness of the triathlete to ask of the partner and the partner's willingness to give; for the single parent with a routine like mine, it's all on the triathlete.

Every other week, I don't have any choice: Training always loses to Niko, and I wouldn't have it any other way. And then when he's gone, training must win over everything else. Other than working and sleeping, I've got to be training. It's got to be two-a-days, even in January, with Coeur d'Alene so far away. It's got to be focused, solid, base-building, moving-me-forward, long and good. Next Saturday and Sunday? Big days, GIANT days, followed by a workout commencing a good hour or so before the butt crack of dawn Monday. Because later that day, I'll pick up the lad from school. And then, for a week, I become Dad again.

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