My Children at My Races: Closing the Circle

By Dr. Steve Jonas | Aug. 29, 2017, 5:01 p.m. (ET)

Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 46, 2017/08)

When I meet first-timers at a race I am fond of telling them, “Remember today, for you will never again do your first triathlon (or duathlon, as the case may be).” And while I don’t remember too many of the 250-plus triathlons and duathlons I have done, I surely remember that first one, and in some detail, too. It was the second running of the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon, the first one to be held at Sag Harbor on New York State’s Long Island (where it has been held ever since). The date (and I remember this well, too) was Sept. 17, 1983. The course consisted of a somewhat longer variant of what would eventually become the standard distance or the Olympic-distance triathlon. It consisted of a 1.5-mile swim, a 25-mile bike and a 10-mile run.  The swim was in semi-protected waters off Sag Harbor’s Long Beach, the bike through the gently rolling hills of Long Island’s South Fork, and then the run followed a somewhat flatter course in the opposite direction from the bike.

An extra special feature of that day for me was that my children, Jacob, 10, and Lillian 9, were brought by their mom, Linda, to see Daddy race. They arrived in time to see me leaving transition following the bike, to go out on the run. In those early days, there were actually changing tents in the transition areas of some races, and I had taken advantage of it at Sag, changing completely from the swim to the bike and the bike to the run. (Yes, in that race, I took even longer in transition than I generally do, at my leisurely/recovery pace, now.) When I came out of the tent for the second time — the first having been between the swim and the bike — I saw my family standing at the fence.

I was so happy to see them, and started running over to tell them so.  In unison, my kids yelled “Daddy, daddy, don't come over here. Get  out on the course. You’re falling behind!” In the end, I finished well back in the pack (so what else is new?), but I was an hour ahead of the last guy, and he was younger than me. Most importantly, I finished — happily and healthily. (The phrase “happily and healthily” occurred to me as I was walking back to my car, after that race. Ever since, I have used it to describe my primary objective for every race I have entered.) And so, it was a great day for me, made even better by my kids being there. I fell in love with the sport that day, and 35 years later haven't fallen out of love with it yet.

Flash forward 35 years later to what I thought was my 250th multisport race, the 2017 running of the New Jersey State Triathlon. (It was actually my 252nd. I had miscounted my total at the end of the 2016 season.) This year I got an even warmer welcome from my dear friend, the Race Director, Michele Redmond, than I had last year, even to announcing my presence to the crowd during the swim-start. But what made this race even more special was that my daughter Lillian and my son-in-law Stu Wain were there with my two grandsons, Nathan, 10 and Adam 8. Talk about closing a circle!

I had told Lil approximately when I expected to be coming in on the bike (a heck of a lot slower on it than I was back in 1983). And as I was doing that, there I saw my family set up on a patch of lawn right by the end of the bike course, yelling “Go Dad,” and “Go Grandpa” and snapping lots of photos. And then, while I was going through my still-usual leisurely transition, they moved over to the start of the run, to cheer me on again.  And then they were there when, at the Awards Ceremony (although I was last overall, I was once again first in the 80-84 age class), Michele once again had some very nice things to say about me. That my daughter, son-in-law and grandsons heard those words made them even more special. As I said, closing the circle. What a great day!


This series of thoughts and recommendations about multisport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, "101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes" (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.

Steve’s most recent multisport book is "Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It" (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

His first book on multisport racing, "Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®" 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Dr. Jonas recently was featured in World Class Magazine. Click here to read the article.