Eric Emms MD + [Life]

Your support system. Don't neglect it.

If you're married and trying to pursue this crazy sport of triathlon, you better have a supportive spouse. And that hold doubly true if you have kids.

Some things that I've learned, through trial and error mostly. A lesser woman would have changed the locks on me, but fortunately for me, my wife, Kelly, cuts me way more slack than I deserve.

Here we go:

1. Spectating at a race is nearly as tiring as actually competing in it. I've been on the other side of the ropes, as it were, on a number of occasions. As an athlete, your mind is occupied with your race, trying to get yourself prepared for a good performance. As a spectator, 50% of your mental energy is spent trying to send good vibes to your loved one, 25% is spent thinking how much you'd rather be in bed and the rest on where you can get some friggin' coffee. A coffee stand near the transition area would clean up!! Ok, so once you get the race area, you stand around, chat with other supporters a bit. And wait. And wait. And wait. And trying to figure out the exact moment when your athlete is going to flash by. How long did she think the swim would take? She started at 6:47 and 30 seconds, a 20 minute swim means she should go by at roughly 7:07 and oh crap, there she goes! Damn it, I didn't have the camera ready!

2. Spectating at a race while simultaneously watching two young kids is HARDER than racing. Seriously. The kids and I watched Kelly compete at the Danskin race at Disneyland recently. Between getting the kids packed up in a stroller while they are still completely asleep, making sure they have food and drink for the day, managing to get them both to go to the bathroom in a porta potty at the same time without disaster (can't leave one alone outside, ya know), prevent them from running out in front of speeding cyclists on the bike course, and calming them down after one of them drops a sippy cup in a lagoon. I was DYING for Kelly to finish just so I could get some help!! And that was a 2 hour race. How she does it for a 5+ hour event like a half-ironman, I honestly have no idea.

3. On a related note, no matter how exhausted you are when you cross the finish line, you better be ready to take over with the kids when you're done. Like I mentioned before, your finish line is your spouse's finish line as well. She (or he) is Finished taking care of the kids. Time to take off the race number and strap on the baby carrier. No complaining about how tired you are... get it?

4. Say goodbye to race expos. Yes, they are full of cool stuff to buy. We all have to procure those last minute items that every triathlete needs like Gu flasks, Co2 cartridges and Lacelocks. Do yourself a favor. Buy that stuff in advance. Get your race number and get out of there. Your spouse and your kids have no desire to be there... and are spending a whole day watching you tomorrow. Don't make 'em waste their day watching you pick out a new race number belt.

4. Race day is all about you, the athlete. And justifiably so, you've trained hard for your event, so come race morning, you deserve the ability to focus, prepare and enjoy your race experience. But, see #3 above. Once you're done, you're done. Save the talk about your next event for a few days down the road... the last thing your spouse wants to hear is more talk about your next heavy training block and another race.

5. So, do something fun for the family the day after, the week after, even the month after your big event. If you do Oceanside 70.3, take the kids to Legoland on Monday (Your legs will appreciate the walking). After Vineman, hit up the wineries and drink some old grape juice. After IM Hawaii, relax on the beach for a few days afterwards and let your spouse indulge in a spa day while you hang with the kids. Let the training and triathlon talk disappear for a while.

There is more to life than triathlon after all. Right?