This is the first installment of Susan Lacke’s new “Triathlete Love” column, appearing every month on Triathlete.com. Lacke gives her humorous take on sharing a house, a life and a race schedule with the man of her dreams – an Ironman triathlete named Neil, who Lacke describes as “Insanely Hot.” (Then again, aren’t all triathletes hot?)
I’ll be honest: Three years ago, I was convinced I’d never want to date a fellow triathlete. My experience in that dating pool wasn’t a good one, and I was content to date outside the swim/bike/run circles. Fate had other plans, however, and a good-looking triathlete named Neil asked me out for a cup of coffee. A few months later, when he kissed me at the finish line of my Ironman, I knew I wanted to share more than just my bike pump with this guy.
Today, we’ve taken up residence at “The Love Shack,” our nickname for the home we share with three dogs, five bikes and more swim goggles than the U.S. Olympic team.
As we maneuver through life as a team, both in triathlon and in life, we’ve learned a lot about each other along the way. Before you enter domestic bliss with your Ironman triathlete, there are three conversations to have. They may seem flippant at first, but they’re necessary to keep a happy two-triathlete household:
“Will you do the same races?”
There’s something romantic about the idea of training for the same race as your partner: carb-loading and canoodling over plates of spaghetti, washing your bikes together and running side-by-side while little cartoon sparrows flutter in the background (yes, I watch a lot of Disney movies, you got a problem with that?). It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and declare “This is going to be so much fun!”
That is, until both of you are lying on the couch after a 100-mile ride, debating whose turn it is to answer the door when the pizza arrives, because neither of you are wearing pants (and not for the fun reasons, either). It also kind of sucks when your partner makes leaps and bounds in training, while you seem to be stuck on a plateau. Though you want to be happy for him, it’s hard to resist the urge to throw yourself on the floor and cry, “WHY!? This isn’t FAIR!”
If you stagger your races, it’s easier to support the other person, especially during peak training times. However, if you decide to do the same race, agree to be understanding of each other, since she is likely feeling some intense emotions, too. Remember, you’d be her biggest cheerleader if you weren’t racing…why should your entry form change that?
It’s important to have a clear division of labor in the household. If both of you are endurance athletes, you will quickly learn the tasks that must get done, yet neither of you want to do. Maybe it’s laundry, or perhaps grocery shopping. In our house, it’s getting up to make the coffee.
You see, we don’t talk in the mornings. We grunt, snort and use hand gestures that would make your mama blush. Before coffee, we make it a point to avoid one another, which, I’m certain, prevents murder. We each need to have a cuppa joe, head out for separate morning workouts and shower… then we can play nice.
Yet when the alarm goes off, neither of us wants to be the person to get out of bed and brew a pot of java. I imagine this must be what it’s like for people who have a baby – “Honey, it’s your turn. Get up.” “No, YOU get up.” Only our baby is named Folgers and it better get in my belly before I hurt someone.
Though you both may be tired and pressed for time, be fair, flexible and considerate. It really doesn’t take that much time to start the washing machine, and if your partner was thoughtful enough to pick up dinner on her way home so you could get your swim workout done, that deserves a big thank-you kiss.
Also, consider investing in an auto-brew coffee machine.
“What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is…oh, fine, it’s yours.”
Neil and I share more than just a living space. I’ve had my razor suspiciously disappear from my shower, but I get retaliation when I take his favorite cycling jacket. He’s taken the skewer out of my bike’s back wheel on more than one occasion and I steal bites of cheesecake from his plate when he isn’t looking. We initially kept our running socks separate, but after a week or so of me pilfering his socks (they’re just so comfy!) we decided it’d just make more sense to put them all in one drawer.
One morning, I decided to sleep in past my planned 4 a.m. wake-up. When I finally stumbled out of bed and into my running clothes at 5:30, I noticed the gel I had hidden in my hydration belt was missing. It was the last in our nutrition stash and I thought I had called dibs by putting it with my run clothes the night before. Neil took it for his ride while I was sleeping, that little thief! I left him a strongly-worded note and headed out on a miserable, soul-sucking 15-mile run. When I returned, grumpy and ravenously hungry, he had already finished his ride, showered and left for work… but not before taking the time to craft a loving apology to my note:
“THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM.”
Well played, honey. Well played.
Though I certainly didn’t envision sharing my life with a nutrition thief who uses my Lady Bic to shave his legs before races, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Neil’s the peas to my carrots, the peanut butter to my jelly and the Kermit to my Miss Piggy. If they’re not involved in endurance sports, some people may scratch their heads at our unusual home, with its treadmill in the dining room and overabundance of moisture-wicking fabrics.
But for us, it’s just “The Love Shack”… and there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.