By David Szen — Hang around the sport since 1999 and something odd happens – 15 years go by. Here are the headlines:
- Triathlon was once the center of my life
- My wife took up triathlons so she could actually spend time with me
- I have 50+ races under my belt, including 4Ironman finishes
- My wife has a great resume as well: she bit off the Ironman once, leaving a strong finish but bad taste for long distance races
- Life changed, work got really busy and now we have a baby on the way (Aug 16th – a little girl-to-be, Olivia). We are thrilled!
Today I ask – Will triathlon be a part of life with a baby in the house?
My unwavering answer is yes. I have not raced since 2011 but that does not mean I should sell my gear. There is a bigger question here: Will my daughter turn out better, and see competitive sport as normal, if she grows up around it?
At age 46, with the first child coming, I still say yes. I have observed a lot at races. The kids there are just different. They’re not the same kids that hang out at the mall, making us uncomfortable, even though they are only 15. Kids around races, while probably sometimes bored, are involved. They want to do what Mom and Dad do. They eagerly await the first cool bike they can have, and lust for carbon wheels. They think it’s awesome when they first get body marked, and wait for Mom or Dad to show up for high fives and finish celebrations. These are kids that understand there is more to do on a Saturday morning besides eat pancakes and watch cartoons.
Are these bad things? No, I still watch Sponge Bob, and I am not even a full blown Father yet. But, I understand the meaning of structure, having something on the calendar and answering that silly question we all get asked: Why do you do this?
Because I can!
I truly hope I am the best father I can be. I know two things for sure. One, I will work hard at it. Two, I have a great wife who will work her tail off at being a great Mom as well. For us, that probably means a lot of juggling. I’m ok with getting up at 4:00 am to run, in order to get home for a feeding. I’m ok with the idea of a 4 year old asking how long will my bike ride be, so that we can find time for pizza after the ride. Maybe in some way, this will get Olivia interested in swimming, and if by the grace of genetics and God, she can swim well so I won’t have to pay for college at 64.
I am willing to roll these dice. Kids around healthy active parents end up thinking that it’s normal. The concept of a long run on a Sunday does not sound odd to them, and I’m ok with that. So I say this – stay active, race whatever distance you can and want to race. I admit: my luster for 140.6 is a tad dusty right now. I have no interest. But, Olympic and maybe even a half-iron could be in the cards. Well, if I play that card next year with a new baby in the house, I will surely be racing physically challenged – Brandi will break my legs! Perhaps it’s just an Olympic.
My outlook now is simple. I will have a daughter soon – let her see Mom and Dad train, and race, and gloriously tell them – it’s “because we can.”
David Szen is a sales consultant and motivational speaker who has been racing triathlons for more than 15 years. He has finished Ironman Lake Placid, Ironman Texas, and Ironman Florida (twice), with an IM PR of 11:30, and a ½ IM PR of 5:09. David and his wife Brandi live in Atlanta, GA with their three dogs (Remy, Matilda and Roscoe), and are eagerly awaiting baby Olivia in August, 2014. You can contact David at email@example.com.