Triathlete Love: Double The Deception, Double The Fun

Columnist Susan Lacke gets duped into back-to-back Ironman weekends.

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Columnist Susan Lacke gets duped into back-to-back Ironman weekends.

At first, I thought the email was a fake:

This letter confirms we have received your deposit for one ocean view room at our Cozumel location. We look forward to hosting you in November.

Cozumel? Ocean view? November? Surely this was spam. But why would Neil have forwarded this on to me if it wasn’t real?

“Babe?” I yelled down the hallway. Neil stuck his head out of the doorway, a smudge of bike grease on his forehead.

“What’s up?”

“I just got the email you forwarded. Something about Cozumel?”

“Yup! Thanksgiving weekend. Two weeks after I finish Ironman Arizona. Pack a bikini.” He slid back into his man cave to return to working on his bike, shutting the door behind him with a soft click.

I’m not going to lie, friends—I swooned a little bit. In all the time we’ve been together, Neil and I have not once taken a race-free vacation. Though we travel to a lot of great places, it’s always with bikes and wetsuits in tow. I’ve always wanted to take a trip like normal people: one suitcase, two people and bottomless pitchers of margaritas. Finally, I would get my wish!

This spring, after finishing his fourth Ironman race in the span of a year, Neil promised me he’d cut back on the racing and spend more time at home. Though I am very proud of what he’s accomplished in triathlon, four races in one year was too much for our relationship to handle. I wanted him to be a little less obsessed with his bike and a little more obsessed with…well, me. Thanks to our demanding jobs – him on night shift, me on an airplane to yet another assignment—and training schedules, Neil and I saw each other an average of four hours each week. I wanted him to put our relationship first.

But this year, Neil promised, he was scaling back his schedule. Only one race was on his calendar for the year—Ironman Arizona, our hometown race.

“I promise, I’m not going to sign up for another Ironman until after Arizona.” Neil declared after his last race. He put his arm around me and squeezed. “It’s going to be you and me, honey, all summer long.”

I snuggled into his shoulder and smiled. “I like the sound of that.”

“Maybe we’ll even take a vacation, just for the fun of it.”

History indicated he wouldn’t keep true to his promise—this isn’t the first time he’s sworn to cut back on racing—but four months later, his race calendar was still surprisingly clear and I had a reservation for Thanksgiving in Cozumel.

As I clicked through the website for our holiday hotel, I smiled at how thoughtful Neil was for putting our relationship first. I clicked on the hotel’s calendar to see if there were any fun events going on over the weekend we were there. I browsed through the listings of sunrise yoga, jetski tours and Ironman spectator shuttles.

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Wait…Ironman spectator shuttles?

“Babe?” I yelled down the hallway again. This time, the door remained closed. I walked down the hall and turned the handle. Locked. Inside, I could hear Neil working on his bike. I tried again. Knock. “Honey?” Knock-knock. “Sweetheart?”

Knowing full well he could hear me and was hiding, I became convinced of two things:

1) Neil had signed up for Ironman Cozumel.
2) Neil was an asshole.

The door opened a crack. There stood Neil with a sheepish smile.


“I thought you weren’t going to sign up for another Ironman until after Arizona!”



“Technically, it’s after Arizona.”

Two weeks after Arizona!”

“It still counts, right?”

“You are a piece of work, you know that?”

Before I could grab the nearest heavy object to lob at his head, Neil sprang into action, reciting the defense he had obviously been practicing while holed up with his bike.

“But if I’m training for two races in close proximity, it’s really like I’m only training for one. I start in August and finish in November. This way, I get to spend more time with you, rather than doing two separate training cycles over eight months.”

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Even though the man made a good point, I was still irked. He continued:

“And it’s still only two races this season, not four. Two is the max.”

I shot him a skeptical glare. Neil flashed another smile, this time extending his arms for a hug. Though I wanted to be mad, I couldn’t be. Technically, he was right. He promised not to sign up for another race until after Arizona, and technically, that’s what he did.

In his own convoluted way, Neil had done exactly what I asked of him. By condensing his calendar into back-to-back races, he was reducing the amount of time and stress on our relationship. Neil was putting our relationship first. Besides, we were still going to Cozumel. There are worse places to spend a week—even if the bikes and wetsuits come along for the fun.

“Okay,” I sighed, “two races this year. Only two. You promise?”

“I promise.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Neil laughed and pulled me in tightly, kissing the top of my head.

“You probably shouldn’t.”

More “Triathlete Love.”

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