Tips for Traveling with an Endurance Athlete
My husband is an endurance athlete. I have rooted him on at triathlons, marathons, open water swims, and bike races for a good portion of the 20 years we’ve been together. I used to be able to perfectly time my arrivals at transition areas to catch him coming in from a swim, zipping out on a bike and digging deep for that last rush to the finish line. All of that changed when our kids came along.
Having kids brought about the realization that when you have an endurance athlete in the family, the entire family participates in the quest for victory whether they know it or not. Kids meant a new plan for handling the situation. In the end, rethinking things gave us a better travel plan as well.
Here are my simple tips for traveling with an endurance athlete:
Make it a Race Vacation
Once we started focusing on places where there was something for everyone to enjoy, the kids got more excited about triathlons. The Santa Cruz Triathlon meant a day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The Half Moon Bay Triathlon equaled some time at the Fitzgerald Marine Preserve.
Destination races yielded even bigger experiences. The Honu Triathlon meant that we were headed to one of our favorite vacation spots, Hilton Waikoloa Village. When my husband won a coveted spot in the New York City Marathon, we were headed to New York Hilton Midtown and all that the Big Apple has to offer.
Packing for Competition
Packing becomes a whole new experience when it includes a racing bike, wet suit, running shoes, and more. Make packing a team sport; you are after all headed into the heat of competition on your trip. A travel checklist will be your best friend in such an instance. Start by handing this list to your athlete.
Packing for travel to destination races was an even bigger challenge for my family when we were contending with strollers and other large baby accessories. Luckily, you can rent those things now! Check out this handy list of companies who rent baby travel gear.
You can also take solace in the fact that as they get older, packing gets easier. We are traveling primarily with carry-on luggage now.
Prepare to Solo Parent
We usually arrive at a destination 2-3 days before the race event, allowing time for our endurance athlete to prepare himself, attend race expos, acclimate to any climate change and get familiar with a race course. This usually means 2-3 days of solo parenting for me. Go into it with a plan and be prepared to change or adjust it for weather or your kids’ needs. We’ve explored plantations, ocean centers with touch tide pools, zoos, and historic sites while our athlete did his thing.
Make Race Day Fun
You know the old adage from the Saturday Night Live skit, “More Cow Bell!” Break those babies out at the race and make some noise on race day! My family just grew out of our latest t-shirts featuring our racer and declaring ourselves part of his team. We’ll soon be investing in new ones. Your family can design your own at online outlets like Zazzle and Shutterfly. These are also great sites for preserving the memories of the unique experiences you’re about to have as a family.
These shifts in planning for endurance competitions have not only gotten the kids thinking about perseverance, commitment and athleticism, they have further fueled their interest in travel. The challenge now is to convince our athlete that it isn’t necessary to incorporate a competition into every vacation.
At least now when the kids hear the click-clack of bicycle shoes heading out into the garage, witness the systematic filling of water bottles or see other signs that training season is here, they take it to mean that we’ll be heading to some pretty cool destinations.
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Kristine lives in Mountain View, California, where she is the mother of a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house,…