My wife just completed her first Sprint Triathlon of the season the other day and she’s becoming quite the cyclist. My cycling exploits are well documented over the last three years of this blog. I used to run, before cycling, with a friend of mine when our kids were just stroller-bound. We’d meet every Saturday at a friend’s house and Pete and I would plop our four kids (two each) into their kiddie running strollers and we were off. It gave Pete and I time with our daughters and more importantly, gave our wives some alone time. The fella, whose house we ran at, still gets misty when recounting the story of Pete and I passing him on the way out, pushing our daughters in their strollers.
My daughters have never seen the other side of me. The overweight side. The guy who stood in front of a mirror and said, “Heck with it, I’m just gonna get fat”. I buried him when I bought my first pair of running shoes. He’s got a grave marker that reads, “C’mon man, you’re too old for this…Or somethin’!”
My wife and I have pushed our daughters, well nudged is a better word, toward leading a fit lifestyle ever since they were old enough to understand what the words “fit” and “lifestyle” meant. We had help too. Many of our friends lead a fit life. Grateful Jim, when our kids were too old to push in a stroller, used to take our kids to a pool to swim and then to lunch so I could get my run in. I always made the mistake of saying he taught my kids how to swim but he corrects me, “I only taught them how to not be afraid of the water”. Either way, he had a profound influence on both of my daughters who are now on a traveling swim team. They’re eleven and eight years-old.
A month ago, I purchased a road bike for my eldest daughter. She had been asking for one for a year but I wasn’t looking at some cheap big-box mountain bike with drop bars version of a road bike. She was going to end up with the real deal because one of the great aspects of cycling is enjoying what you ride. We settled on a full-sized 700c Specialized Dolce, with a carbon fork, a triple crank and a decent integrated brake/shifter component set. Originally I was reluctant to drop almost $800 on a bike for an eleven year-old. What if she didn’t like it? My fear was fair but wrong in the end. She took to that bike like she was meant to ride and she makes her dad proud. Her younger sister inherited her mountain bike (a 21 sp, front suspension Trek) and loves it… It couldn’t have turned out any better. Or so I thought…
Monday, while on a training ride, my wife mentioned that my daughter was interested in doing the Aqua-Bike at next year’s triathlon, with my wife. I contacted the organizers of the race by email and explained our situation and my daughter’s age – and also her level of proficiency when it comes to swimming and cycling and asked that she be allowed to compete even though she’ll be well under the minimum age requirement. They responded that a special consideration will be allowed based on her proficiency as explained in my email. Of course I’ll have her whipped into even better shape for the bike leg by that time and I’ll be riding the course myself, as neutral support for all of the cyclists (it’s a female only race). She’ll be good to go and based on this year’s results, she’ll even have a very good chance at a podium spot – racing against adults. In fact, I don’t know who’s more stoked about my baby girl in her first race, my daughter or me or her mom.
Getting to this point has taken patience – if we were to push too hard, we could have turned both of them off from fit sports altogether. It’s taken persistence – always reminding them that their youthful bodies will get old in a hurry if they’re not
moved pushed on a regular and consistent basis.
Most of all, it’s taken my wife and I leading by example… Physical fitness and a happy, healthy life go hand-in-hand. There is no cheating it, no miracle pill, no easy way around it. There are no shortcuts, no days off. We can pay now or pay later and for those who opt for the latter, “later” is usually way too early. Living fit doesn’t guarantee a long, happy life. It just makes that more attainable. More probable. My kids see this and now they want to be a part of what makes their parents so happy.
A fit life is not a theory, you have to live it… And that in living it, life is good.