A Dad’s Life: Ironman gets his comeuppance
“There is not enough time to jeopardise missing stuff
I’m tired all the time and have nobody to blame but myself.
The training schedule for this ridiculous Ironman event I have committed to is relentless and creeping.
The brief highs at the end of demanding sessions are all too quickly replaced by long periods of fatigue and dismay at the lack of any hope of a social life.
What started out as a bit of a joke, the notion that I would be sleepy and grumpy for most of the next few months, has become very unfunny very fast. I’m two months into this programme with another four to go and am sick to death of it. I miss having a life.
I am coming to hate running and cycling and, most of all, dragging myself to a pool and negotiating my way around double-arm backstroking pensioners for an hour at a time. I am coming to hate myself too, for being that curmudgeonly git in the pool growling at people who have the temerity to want to just relax and enjoy themselves. Don’t they know they are in my way?
The grump spills over into everything. The odd invite to a birthday party or out to dinner is viewed with resentment, as if the host were deliberately trying to undermine my efforts.
So I make excuses, sit in, doze off in front of the Late Late instead and wake clear-headed but miserable. For another long bike effort. This is not the life for any self-respecting father of two.
After a low-blood-sugar inspired rant in the car recently where I threatened to leave them both on the side of the road, the younger child leaned forward, flicked my ear and said, “If you didn’t want kids, you shouldn’t have had us.”
This shows two things.
The first is that she is a cheeky mare and some day will be left on the side of that road and good luck with hiking home from Termonfeckin.
And the second is that my rants have obviously become far too commonplace to cause any concern.
The fact is there is not enough time to jeopardise missing stuff.
We have a communion coming up, a religious event I regard as relevant today as leeching, but one which the same ear-flicking child is looking forward to.
She has grand ambitions to get filled up on Holy Spirit and I am expected to be appreciative of her pious efforts.
I have weddings to tart up for, musicals to attend, sporting events at which to cheer, grazed elbows to kiss and bruised egos to soothe.
I’m a father, I do not have time to indulge my daft fantasies that I can complete a certain event that requires you to push your body to ridiculous extremes.
My pair of girls certainly don’t care if I ever get it done, but they are bothered when I go awol for long periods at a stretch.
So, as usual, choices boil down to allocation of time.
One of the reasons I chose this year as the one in which to make a grand commitment to a large sporting challenge was because the girls are at an age where they are far more self-contained than ever before.
Body in decline
It seemed that time, for the first time in a long time, was opening up.
The body is in decline, it won’t be getting stronger any time soon, I should grab that newly available time and do something with it.
Except I hadn’t factored in one thing. While I enjoy attempting new things and pushing my body (reasonably) hard, I also get rather a large kick out of the demands the two small girls place on me.
Time may be freed up for the first time in a long time, but all that has signified is that it is possibly also more limited than ever.
They are self-contained because they can manage themselves better and better. They need me less and less; the holy grail has been reached. I reckon now is when I need to concentrate more than ever on them.
In a couple of years’ time my efforts will be rejected out of hand, I’ll be faced by a couple of teen girls who see nothing but an irrelevant middle-aged git when they look in my direction, particularly if I choose to duck off their radar now.
It’s time to ease off the masochism. I’ll still have a crack at that daft race but the severity of the training has to ease off.
It might only be four months, but it’s four months I’m unwilling to gamble.
I’m gonna remind that child I did want kids in the first place, just so she appreciates how difficult it is for me when I kick her out of the car.