Lately, we’ve been out of the loop.
We don’t meet up with people. We don’t go out for fun. We keep to ourselves. And I know people have got to be wondering why we’re suddenly off the grid.
Well, here is the dirty, awful truth. We’re training for the Ironman.
That’s right. Only Wes is signed up for the day o’ fun and athletic torture, and only he is exercising three to seven hours a day every day. He alone has been building up to this for the past fifteen months, getting himself in shape slowly but surely. He alone is suffering through what “in shape” costs him and what it feels like.
But we’re lucky enough to get to be in on the training, too, without all the pain and effort. (Which is awesome, quite frankly.) The training schedule, nutritional needs, long rides, insane amounts of laundry, and constant ice baths have changed up life around here for all of us, so much so that even the Faulkettes, who are usually clueless about such things, always know how far Papi is going and can calculate how much ice that means they can throw on him later. (It’s the little things.)
Wes could tell you all about the ups and the downs of the Ironman training from an athlete’s perspective… but I think you’ll probably also enjoy hearing about it from the support crew’s view.
Here are some things we’ve learned on the road to the Ironman…
Food is awesome. I try to make sure Wes has a big meal waiting for him after a long workout… and he usually inhales the entire big meal approximately five minutes after I put it on the table. Thinking that his inability to slow down and enjoy it had something to do with the quality of the food (pork chops, frozen vegetables, and wild rice lack something, you know), I took him out for a steak after he rode one hundred miles on the bike the other day. Five minutes after the steak was on the table? Whoosh! Gone! Along with the loaded baked potato, the salad, three Dr. Peppers, and two baskets of bread. Wow. And then, he tried to eat MY food, too. Crazy.
Laundry is an event. There is so much dirty laundry around here, y’all. Doing laundry for four people isn’t hard. But when one of those people is training for the Ironman, he wears enough laundry for four additional people. And it stinks. Oh, mercy, it stinks. I’ll wash a bike jersey only to have to turn around and wash it AGAIN because the stank lingers. (And the deodorant consumption has gone up. Not that it makes a difference at all…) It takes me a whole day to get through laundry these days. I have to schedule life around laundry.
Water stops/snack stops are a lot of work. When Wes does a long bike ride on his own, we plan points to go and meet him with water, Gatorade, Cliff bars, gels, Nuun tablets, PB sandwiches, sunscreen, BodyGlide, and kisses. Lots of sweaty kisses. I have the route ahead of time and can calculate his progress based on his normal speed, and to make it even more accurate, I track him on the “where’s my iPhone?” app. (Which is super helpful.) But even then, I get it wrong sometimes and end up waiting at some random location with the girls. This? This is where water stops/snack stops become a lot of work. I try to entertain the support crew while we wait, and the longer it takes, the more lame my attempts become. So when we see him coming and we’re cheering our heads off? Well, it’s usually because we’re so relieved that he’s finally there and Mommy can stop acting like a fool.
Time together is intentional. The training schedule is demanding, and we know it. There are days when we know we’ll only get Wes for an hour in the evening before bedtime, so we get everything done and ready for that one hour. And when he moves workouts around and gets in training hours before sunrise so that he can be there for school events, we REALLY appreciate it. We don’t take time together for granted anymore.
Nothing helps like an ice bath, ibuprofen, and a celebratory drink. We all enjoy watching Wes, outfited in his smelly, sweaty tri-suit, get into the ice cold bath water, where he screams like a little girl. Then, we dump buckets of ice on him and listen to him scream even louder. We conclude the end of a long ride/swim/run with ibuprofen and a Coke, which we give to him as he suffers it out in the tub. He comes out feeling better, and the girls totally own that, like they sincerely helped him by throwing ice on him. (Which they did! He’s so lucky to have them.)
The impossible is possible. Every distance conquered is proof to us that even the impossible is possible. We thought we knew this already with marathons, but we only knew 1/3 of it (literally) before now. Hearing that Wes swam two miles or biked one hundred miles is mind-boggling to us… especially when he attempts both on the same day! It’s inspiring enough that Emma tells him she wants to be an Ironman one day, too. And it’s inspiring enough that Ana let us sign her up for a 5K, which she plans on RUNNING. (I know! I’m amazed, too!)
Wes is HOT. Okay, so the girls don’t think so, but the man looks good, y’all. And the girls know at least some of it as they delight in how he’s able to toss them around, even with as big as they are, like he did when they were tiny. And they don’t yet know to appreciate how much better his health is now that he’s working out so much and how it’s added years to his life likely… but they will.
Your support crew is so proud of you, Wes! We can’t wait to see you become an Ironman next month!