Sometimes I like to write race recaps for races I haven’t done. It’s fun to talk about and lots happens on the spectator side of a race. When Rob or I race, we try to get the kids there and make it a family event. It’s not always possible(Chicago for example), but we do it when we can.
So here is the perspective of a mom on the side lines. Juggling kids while cheering on my better half as he pushes towards a huge goal.
We ended up taking two cars to Austin. Rob went Friday with Josh(our middle one…he’s 7) and I drove down Saturday morning with Lila and Jake who had basically had a stomach ache so bad he thought he was DYING on Friday…so I stayed behind to make sure he wasn’t going to puke all over my new car. He was fine. Totally and completely fine. But, better safe than sorry right?
Friday was somewhat of a disaster. The stomach ache and delays by the dozens made the day less than ideal for the start to a race weekend. I felt like we were ruining Rob’s pre-race mojo and just making the jitter’s even worse. I mean, we’re a loud bunch.
Saturday morning I headed to Austin with the other two kids after a donut and coffee stop.
The tired in my eyes does not lie. I wasn’t exactly “loads of fun energetic mom”. I was tired mom. It had been a long week, Rob had been out-of-town and here we were headed to Austin, not together as a family and it was POURING. I got a large coffee.
We got to Austin around lunch time, met up with Rob and Josh at the hotel and headed to the expo. We decided to wait on lunch until after the expo, which went against my better judgement. Tired, hungry and BORED kids makes for a slightly disastrous situation. Triathlon expo’s(the half and full distances anyway) aren’t the same as a typical running race expo. Not only do you have to get your bag and go through all the lines for your gear, but you also have to check in your bike. We got to the expo, rain still coming down, and it was a long muddy walk to the pavilion where they held the packet pick up. Once inside, it was crowded and there was nothing for the kids to do. It was basically an agricultural center of sorts….picture the place you go for a rodeo or cattle auction. That’s the best way to describe it. All in all, not the best for kids.
However, I kept
yelling at reminding the kids that this was dad’s weekend. “Be happy for him for crying out loud, stop fighting and touching each other, don’t bug your sister and stand nicely so we don’t stress him out even more!!!!!!” Fairly certain people thought I was in need of a drink. Or an institution. We met up with our friends Jeremy and Kassie who had come down to see family and support Rob. Can I just tell you what friends look like?
Lugging 6 kids around a very wet Austin for 7 hours takes some guts and patience and humor. We looked like a freak show. But the kids ran and had fun and we visited Mellow Johnnie’s, where they were underwhelmed with enthusiasm. Enough with the bikes already.
We took the kids to Zilker park and they played and we froze and talked and had tons of fun. The kids were finally all happy and in their elements. After that we headed to dinner and landed at an AMAZING and EMPTY pizza place. The empty part is key. We were done. We were desperately in need of some food and an adult beverage and an empty restaurant where our crew wouldn’t make people want to cry or get up and leave.
We ate, they ate, they played and watched football. Dreamy.
We headed back to the hotel so Rob could get his gear and head over to another hotel to stay with another friend and coach who had come down to provide race support. That way we wouldn’t all have to wake up at 5am. Oh wait, that happened anyway.
5:30 AM and she’s tossing her penguin hat that she insisted on sleeping with up in the air and I immediately knew it was going to be a long day. In hindsight, that’s when I should have started praying. We got up and around and headed out to try to catch Rob on the bike course. Key word TRY.
We went to a McDonald’s where Lila had her first melt down of the day. But, a 5:30am wake up call and a hungry belly don’t make for a happy kid. So, I had to extend some grace even though I really wanted to just scream and maybe slap someone. Jeremy and Kassie did not see my best self this weekend. They just didn’t. I lacked patience and grace and it only came in small waves when it did come. It makes you thankful for the real though. I just couldn’t fake it. I was tired and missed my husband who I hadn’t really seen in weeks.
I was ready for race season to be over. As I fought all those feelings I also felt so proud. It’s a weird mix of emotions. Racing takes a lot from our family time. We both do it and we have boundaries around it but still. It’s a sacrifice. We both aim for one big race each per year. For me it’s been marathon’s, for Rob it’s been the 70.3. We’ll sprinkle smaller races in there but as for the big ones, we’re done for a while. Anyway, load all that and a bag of chips onto a momma’s shoulders and add juggling everyone around town trying to catch a hot guy on a bike and it can make for a bit of stressful day. I again ordered a large coffee.
Back to the race. To my surprise, after we left McDonald’s, the kids did AMAZING. Seriously. They all(6 kids total, 2 3 year old’s and an 8 week old in the mix….yes. Feel sorry for us now). They watched movies and totally camped out while we waited in the same spot on the bike course for about 2 hours. The weather was gorgeous and we laughed and had such a great time. It was so needed after a rough start to the weekend.
All those athletes look the same after a while. We started talking to the cop directing traffic where we were stopped and literally turned around just in time to see Rob. But we had fun waiting. The rush of race day is infectious. It’s sort of hard not to soak it all up and enjoy it. The energy is high and chasing them around from one spot to the next is fun, as long as everyone is happy and getting along. So far, so good.
We headed to the run course where we had friends with tents set up providing race support. We knew what awaited us. Chairs, open spaces, and FOOD.
Lila and Travis(Bonnie and Clyde as we like to call them. They have the same birthday and are equal messes…but so stinking adorable) had so much fun hanging out, watching moves, playing in the endless amounts of mud and well, doing this…
They took care of each other. We were parked in a huge open field so the boys had a football game going within about 3 seconds of being at the run stop. There were other kids there from our town’s race group and they were covered in mud in 5 minutes flat.
So we camped out. The run course was a 3 loop course so Rob passed us a lot. It was so fun to finally see him and get to cheer him on. Jeremy and Kassie were amazing and fed my kids and turned on movies all while juggling an infant. True friendship is feeding your fussy and tired toddler while you take pictures of every single thing happening around you.
So, we cheered and tracked and watched his time. The kids were all hanging in there with us and having fun. Tired. But having fun.
I can’t explain the emotion that goes into these races for me. On the side of mom and wife, I’m conflicted. I’m so happy to get my husband back, and at the same time, I’m so stinking proud of him and want to soak up every second of the race. My attention is taken constantly from watching him run by the kids and the need to stop them from eating ALL THE FOOD but still, it’s a mix. All the months of training affect us. All of us. But for me, it’s so important for the kids to see us finish our goals. To see him gutting out a hard run and finishing what he started. Those are just life skills that we get to teach them through real experiences. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
A high-five as he ran by. It was getting warm and windy. The course was all hills which I knew it would be. He was tired but still trucking, as he always does. After he passed the last time we headed to the finish line, which was inside this giant pavilion(remember the cattle auction?). We trudged through the muddy field, all the kids in tow, to try to squeeze into the line of people trying to see the finishers come through. At that exact moment, Lila decided she had held it in long enough. Time to come unhinged. Oh my word. Are you kidding me?! Not now!!! We were crammed in between tons of people, the boys were annoyed and embarrassed that she was having a melt down and there was nowhere to go. Nowhere. Unless I wanted to miss him cross which I refused to do. Lila and I share a stubborn gene.
threw handed my phone to Kassie and in total exasperation snatched Lila up and went to find a small space against a wall to set her down and try to talk some sense into her 3-year-old head. No dice. She was officially over it all. I walked back to Kassie and a sweet lady in a red sweatshirt caught my eye. She was standing right where we were against the barrier’s they had set up by the finish. Leaning over was the only way you could see. She stepped away from her spot, handed Lila a giant back of Cheetos’, gave me a hug and told me to take her spot. Lila calmed down as I calmed down and we squeezed in.
At that exact moment I heard Kassie say, “Kelly there he is!!” I grabbed my phone, stuck it over the barrier and hit record. We saw it. But only because of the lady in the red sweatshirt that, instead of giving me the stink eye like so many other people were, embraced me. She saw the struggle and extended grace. She didn’t judge me for being such a mad and frustrated mom, she didn’t get annoyed with me for having a loud and screaming 3-year-old in the middle of everyone’s finishing moment, she didn’t walk away. She hugged me you guys. I started crying and she watched as Rob came over and hugged me, emotional from the race and the struggle and the months of training. It all comes down to that moment. And we got to see it.
So racing is hard. On both ends. But it’s so worth it. People may think we’re insane. That we are obsessed with fitness or competition or what we look like. But I can tell you from the very bottom of my soul that those are not the reasons we race. We race for ourselves, for our family and our kids. Because we both crave a little healthy competition and have decided that having that outlet is just good stuff in the midst of a lot of stress in the every day. It gives our kids a chance to see us doing something we both love. To finish what you start. To shoot for your dreams as impossible as they may seem. To do the hard and to dig deep. Because so much of life is digging deep.
So there you have it. A race perspective from the mom on the side lines. It’s fun, and crazy, and stressful and fulfilling and exciting. And I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. Because that’s what family and friends(and sometimes strangers in red sweatshirts) do. Support. Love. Encourage. Extend grace. And embrace the real.