Including the Family

20140711_181907      This weekend 5 of my 10 kids were in a swim meet!  Which means sitting at poolside, under a canopy, all day!  If you watch a little league or soccer game, you are committed for a few hours, not so with swimming.  At the first meet I went to I saw a T-shirt that said,

“If you have only one day to live, go to a swim meet! … Because they last FOREVER!”

I didn’t get it.  By the time the weekend was over, I got it!   With travel and swim time, usually Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, your weekend is full, and you feel like you competed in an Ironman.  But, truth is, you just sat and ate snacks all day!  It’s hard to be swim parent and a vegan Ironman!  How can you do it? … Let me tell you about my weekend.

The swim meet started at 2:00 on Friday, It was almost a 100 mile drive.  I left before the kids were out of bed….on my bike!  I got there, about the same time as the family, just in time for warm-ups.  Then I jumped in and started to warm up, a half an hour of easy freestyle.  You see, this was a dual sanctioned meet!  In other words, there was a category for old folks! (above 19)  All I needed  was a masters swim license, meet registration and….Voila!   Instead of baking under a canopy for the weekend, I was getting ready for my debut as a Masters Swimmer! (even the name feels fast) The truth be told, I was either last or next to last at each event, but I had tons of fun, and got a great work-out to boot!  My wife signed up as well, and the kids loved it! (I was afraid I was going to embarrass them) and it certainly gave us something to talk about! To top it off, I went for a slow easy run, with my  wife and kids, before bed.

The next morning, I woke up before the kids, and went for a 25 mile ride. (Its always fun to start from a place you haven’t been, or hardly go)  Before long I was rolling through wheat fields and following some new rivers and canyons!  I was back before warm-ups and had another fun day pretending to be the great swimmer that I am not!  On the way home that night, we stopped at a buffet style restaurant, had a mini celebration, and then continued on.  We all went for another easy run before bed.

So what can we learn…..

Take advantage of opportunities!!!  Commuting doesn’t mean just going to work!  I got a century in on Friday and didn’t take a lot of family time. ( It’s hard to carry on a meaningful conversation in a 15-passenger van!)  I got involved as a competitor at the swim meet!  This was a first, but it certainly won’t be the last!  This will motivate me to work a little harder in the pool, get a little more comfy in the water, maybe even learn to flip-turn!  And if you don’t want to be a Masters Swimmer or they won’t let us old folk in?  Use their warm-up time as your work-out time!  There are always showers at the meets, so get out and run or bike!  There is always downtime between heats… work-out!  I usually have 3 to 5 kids doing the meet, and there is almost always at least a one hour block where none of my kids are swimming, Run Time!  If they are not old enough to hang-out on their own, ask a swim mom to keep an eye on them.  My kids have a few families they always hang out with.  Ask if you can go for a run, and leave her a phone number for emergencies, tell them where you are running, and when you will be back,….and don’t be late!!! (Even if you are having an epic run!)  And lastly, whether you are in a hotel or a tent, an easy run before bed will relieve stress and get you ready for a blissful slumber!

You may have also noticed that we left on Saturday night.  Don’t overstress yourself!  You don’t have to do every event, everyday!  Schedule some off time.  We try to make Sunday our rest and family day, rarely do we do events.  If we are going to exercise, we do it together in the form of a hike, run, or bike!  If you need Sunday for a long bike or run day, do it early, and schedule some family time in the afternoon!

I didn’t really talk about snacks, but the pool concession stand is out!!!   Our coaches usually give candy to each kid after a heat, this time they had some granola bars!  The kids always come up with some candy somewhere. Bring a cooler, fill it with cold 100% fruit juice, coconut water, or soymilk. (Just plain water is great too)  Have vegan snacks.  Nuts, raisins, dried berries and other fruits, fresh fruits and vegetables, seaweed, whole-grain breads and crackers.  Throw a salad in a baggie, it will last a few days in the cooler, and this weekend, we had chick peas that we ate like popcorn! (Nobody starved, although there was a small amount of grumbling)  And remember we did the buffet on our way home!  That is the test of a true vegan, unfortunately, I was the only member of the household that passed the test, but they are getting better!

Just to clarify, none of this is easy, but it really isn’t that hard either!  You can be a Vegan Ironman with a wife and children, and still excel at both triathlon, and most importantly parenting!


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