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TriRock Philadelphia champions share advice on making triathlon and family relationships work.
The two-triathlete household
Pro Alicia Kaye is married to 2008 Olympian (and Rio 2016 hopeful) Jarrod Shoemaker. She gives this insight on what it’s like to be married to another athlete and how they help each other through the ups and downs of racing.
“There are a lot of pros and cons to being married to another professional triathlete. One of the biggest pros is that we just get it. You get it on the days when you’re so tired, and you’re moody and you’re stressed over travel. You just look at the other person and realize, ‘Whoa, I’m making dinner tonight.’ You can kind of lean on each other a little bit.”
“When one of us isn’t doing well but the other one is, it’s actually really nice and motivating. Because you almost care more about how the other person is doing than yourself. I’m more nervous for Jarrod to race than I am for myself to race. When I see him do well, it’s the best feeling in the world. And I think when he’s not doing well, he looks to me for motivation. So we kind of work off of each other and that’s what’s worked for us to stay happy as a husband and wife.”
“We don’t try to coach each other—that’s what our coaches are for. We’ve been doing this long enough to where we both have that information dancing in our heads already, so [before a race], it’s more like that cheesy stuff your mom tells you, like ‘You’ll do great!’”
“I’ve learned in the last few years to be his wife and not his training partner who would understand technically how he’s feeling. You never need to remind an athlete that they could’ve done something better—if anything, they’re too hard on themselves, and that’s definitely Jarrod. I just let him know I support him regardless of how poorly his race went, and [focus on] being a sounding board and listening, and just letting him process his performance whether it was good or bad.”
Juggling a family while training
Cameron Dye has two young kids (ages 1 and 3), and a busy training and racing schedule doing both short-course non-drafting races and, as of recently, Ironman 70.3. He shares what he’s learned from being a full-time professional athlete while maintaining a healthy family balance.
“[After a day of training], the positives of coming home to someone who is really excited to see you outweighs the tired factor. I’m only going to race for a certain amount of time and then I’m going to retire, but I’ll always have my kids. The family thing is more important at this point.”
“Trying to be done early is the biggest thing—to get done before nap time is over so I can be there when the kids wake up. Plan everything around them. Keep your priorities straight. Don’t obsess over your training, no matter how big of a race it seems.”
“I go to races and hang out with a lot of 26-, 27-, 28-year-olds with no kids or no mortgages, and you sometimes think, ‘That would be so much easier to train,’ but at the end of the day, I’d be coming home to that same apartment that I did when I was 25 and wishing I had what I do now.”
“Train when it’s OK to train. Don’t sacrifice time with your kids or make it hard on your wife. I think that’s why [my wife] Natalie is so supportive of me—she knows I try really hard to be there when I’m supposed to be there.”