This One’s For The Partners

July 24, 2009

Paula and baby

Paula and baby

Dara and baby

Dara and baby

Lance and baby...separate entities?

Lance and baby...separate entities?

GB and I had a fabulous weekend up at the family cabin last weekend. Northern Wisconsin is really quite impressive and I did some of my all-time best bike riding up there. The roads were smooth and wide, and there was barely any traffic. There were also a lot more hills than you might expect and I was pleasantly surprised by the scenic, rolling terrain. It was great to reconnect with each other and with the Great Outdoors for an extended period of time.

From time to time in our relationship, we hit a bump in the road that I like to call “triathlon takes up too much relationship space”. GB starts to get the sensation of playing second fiddle to my love of triathlon and I have to look pretty closely at life to see things from a different angle. GB has always been completely in support of my athletic pursuits and it was no secret when we met that I had big dreams that would not be achieved overnight. I have felt so blessed in our years together to have such a supportive partner in that sense. When GB says “when” about triathlon, I slam on the brakes and listen. For GB and triathlon to go head-to-head would be the worst thing both for my athletic life and my relationship, so I do whatever I can to avoid that from happening. The moment there is even an inkling of resentment, I am all ears and immediately move into problem-solving mode. GB uses the ixnay so rarely that I know better that to ignore it.

If I miss a workout because of my relationship, it has very little effect on my training if any. The problem is that if I give up a workout, then GB worries that I will be resentful. The fact is, however, I could not be the athlete I am without all the support that GB gives me. If nothing else, just the countless hours of talking out loud about the psychological aspect of training and racing is worth a major Partner-Support Award. I joke that GB is the team manager because truthfully, I would be Team Flat-on-my-Face without her. It’s not just the training that takes its toll. I’m sure that sometimes the clincher for GB is my level of physical fatigue, or the $35 I spent on sports drink, or just ANOTHER conversation about how fast or how slow I feel.

It’s a funny balancing act and it makes me wonder how much more difficult it will be in parenthood. Triathlon is such a selfish pursuit and parenthood is such a selfless one. I guess I have at least a few years to figure that one out before it’s our reality. In the meantime, I will continue to work to strike a balance between my relationship and my love for triathlon.

GB and I went out for an awesome date night in Hudson, WI last night. Talk about a gem of a town. I had biked there once, but never spent any time there. We had a wonderful dinner, were treated to live music in the park, and then had ice cream while walking on the beach. Not to mention the spectacular sunset.

One of our conversation topics was around double standards in sports, since there was something on the TV in the restaurant about the ESPY awards (although there was no sound, so we could only watch). We were talking mostly about how sex sells sport for women and about how women’s performance as athletes is so often tied up with how they look in as few clothes as possible. I was waxing lyrical about Dara Torres and this occurred to me: Dara Torres is a mother – a fact I don’t think anyone is unaware of. However, Lance Armstrong is in the middle of what is undoubtedly one of the biggest comebacks in sports history and NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THE FACT THAT HE HAS A SIX-WEEK OLD BABY!!!! In fact, it seems like most people I ask, don’t even know!! Never mind the 3 children he has from his first marriage. Not that being a parent and a professional athlete are (or should be) mutually exclusive, but how did we manage to gloss over Lance’s newborn? How is it major news that Paula Radcliffe and Dara Torres have babies and not that Lance does? I get that in Paula’s case, a big part of the media hype was her instantaneous return to an elite physiology but still. The expectation is that having a baby is a life-changing event in a female athlete’s life, but it’s fascinating how it’s a non-event for Lance (at least in the media’s opinion).

My hat is off to Lance’s partner Anna who is no doubt doing a fabulous job of parenting her first newborn while Dad storms the Alps for a few weeks. I think they should put her on the Versus commercials about what it takes to be a great athlete.


One Response to “This One’s For The Partners”

  1. Alicia Parr Says:

    Interesting observations about the difference between a mother athlete vs a father athlete and the difference between female and male athletes in general. I’ve had a bone to pick with this diffference since I was young.

    I think more and more top athlete fathers embrace their fatherhood more openly these days. Also, I believe that the Team Radio Shack press release references Lance as a father among champion cyclist, cancer survivor, etc.

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