I am here to tell all you tripartners out there that it is possible to take a triathlete on vacation and NOT hear the “T” word, triathlon, mentioned; well, barely mentioned. Yes, it just happened to me…
My triathlete husband and I recently returned from a 9 day vacation to Alaska. We were invited by his sister, along with her husband’s cousin. Having had such a great experience on a similar trip to Antarctica, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. What surprised me was neither did he, as it was planned even before he knew his 2016 triathlon race schedule. Usually, it’s totally reversed, IF we get a “real” vacation at all.
My first clue that this would be a different kind of vacation should have been when he didn’t ask if there was a gym on board until AFTER we booked the trip. Why the surprise? Well, it’s usually a huge deciding factor on where we can vacation. In terms of swimming, of course he realized we were not on a luxury liner, so a pool was out of the question. And the water temp in Alaska would make doing laps an impossibility, so this meant no swim practice. A polar plunge, however, did make it into the agenda!
There was a very small – 2 bikes, an elliptical machine, and a few weights – outdoor gym. He did manage to jump on one of the machines most days and do his own resistance training, but would just mention it in passing or if anyone asked. Normally, daily workouts are part of the daily conversations with anyone who will listen. Yoga stretching was also offered every morning before breakfast, which he eagerly participated in.
Also of note was the fact that he didn’t bring ANY workout clothes from his races. They were all generic athletic wear. Nothing that said Ironman Mont Tremblant Finisher for the world to see. Nothing that identified him as a triathlete.
Please take note of the guest dryer in the above picture. There were no laundry facilities on board, so I bought a small size of Tide and HE rinsed everything out to get the stink out and then popped it in the dryer. This little touch made a huge difference, especially since I forget our plastic dirty laundry bag at home.
A little about the trip…We took a cruise on a small ship – 70 passengers – that journeyed from Sitka to Juneau, going into Glacier Bay National Park on the way. It was definitely an adventure trip that offered some kind of activity every morning and afternoon and that we participated in. These ranged from all day kayaking to bushwhacking hikes to skiff tours, with a few easier kayak trips and shore hikes thrown in for those days when you were too tired to work hard.
One of the pluses on this trip was that the average age of our fellow passengers was probably mid to late 60’s, so not many people were familiar with triathlon races, so didn’t know to ask. But my husband also never brought up the subject and when you’re not wearing clothing that advertises triathlon, no one is going to bring up the subject out of the blue.
I actually only recall one night at dinner when triathlons even came up. One person asked what he did to stay in shape and he just said he trains for triathlons, not making a big deal out of it at all. Then, one person asked if he had been to Kona. He just smiled and said three times. No elaboration whatsoever. Just a quiet pride.
The funny thing was that I didn’t even realize the triathlon conversation was not going on until I got home. When I sat down to develop topics for posts from the trip, I had this aha moment and some disbelief. I had to wonder what caused the change and what made this vacation different. Was it the type of vacation and his expectations? Was it that he hasn’t been doing many triathlons lately due to injuries? Or was it that his love of the sport is fading just a bit?
I seriously debated whether to ask him about my observations or just accept the “T” word silence vacation I had experienced and not rock the boat. Well, my curiosity got the best of me, so I asked. Plus, I wanted to pass on to you what I learned in the hopes it could be duplicated! So, all you triathlete partners out there, if you REALLY want to get away from it all and not hear the “T” word come up often in conversation, here are a few tips to make this happen…
- Don’t vacation with other triathletes.
- Vacation with people you suspect will be unfamiliar with triathlons.
- Pick a vacation venue that your triathlete has always wanted to go to.
- Vacation where training will be difficult.
- Don’t let your triathlete bring clothing that advertises the sport; keep it generic.
- Make sure they have plenty of activities to fill their free time and make them feel active.
- Make sure there are opportunities for learning to keep them engaged.
The biggest thing he told me and you could see it in his face was that the vacation was so extraordinary it didn’t need any embellishments. He didn’t feel the need to talk about himself and quite frankly, didn’t think much about triathlons. He was just happy to leave the real world behind for a week. He was too busy taking in the absolutely stunning scenery; making new and hopefully, life-long friends; reconnecting with his sister; learning from all the staff on board, including the guides, the park ranger, and the captain; and having fun kayaking, whale watching, and calling out “Hey, bear” on our hikes. There is nothing that could make me smile more…