Maybe he’s a triathlete himself or maybe he’ll be at the start and finish lines of all your races. Fathers and father figures can provide priceless advice on and off the course, but they’re also often our biggest fans. We’ve asked some athletes how their dad inspires them in triathlon, in sport and in life.
My dad has taught me the importance of quiet, hard work. Often before I even drag myself out of bed, he has already logged 150 km on the bike or spent an hour or two in the pool. I have inherited his competitive spirit in sport, but his drive and focus are something I truly envy. His motivation to face extreme aerobic pain on a stationary bike in the garage at 5:30 AM on a frigid January morning is something I will never understand. However, beyond his talent and drive, the greatest inspiration I find in my dad is how humble he is. He brushes off the fact that he’s done a few Ironman races like it’s no big deal. I’m not ashamed to admit that my father is fitter than I will ever be in my life; it’s actually something I brag about. Even at 50, I don’t see him slowing down any time soon.
When I was young, my dad and I would spend hours in the morning watching the Tour de France. After the TV coverage we’d go on bike rides together and pretend to be battling for the yellow jersey. These moments with my dad introduced me into the world of endurance sports at a young age and all I wanted to do was be like my dad. My dad is an Ironman so I did Kids of Steel. He would run marathons and I’d run 5 kms. He completed the National Sear’s Ride for Cancer and I got into road and mountain bike racing. He has always inspired me to get outside and just enjoy the ride! I love spending time with him on the bike and I believe we have a special father-son bond because of all he has done for me and has inspired me to do.
I am my father’s biggest fan. But most importantly, my father has always been my biggest fan. Thanks to him, I have achieved more than I could have ever dreamed of professionally and as an athlete. Since I was a child my daddy has taught me to believe in myself and that hard work always pays off. He taught me how to throw a baseball and was never late to pick me up from the ice rink when I was learning to skate. For my 30th birthday, I decided I needed a challenge: I would learn how to swim and complete an Ironman 70.3. My dad encouraged me from the outset and following his example of dedication, determination and perseverance, I was able to complete my first 70.3 with success. He encouraged me all the way, actively listening to my training ups and down, but my fondest memories of that life-changing experience will always remain the early morning swim sessions at our family cottage where my dad would follow me quietly in the row boat. I love you more than words can say papounet!
At age 39, I announced to my parents that I wanted to try my first triathlon. They knew it was something I could accomplish because I had a running background from my school days. I remember arriving home after school one day to say I had signed up for the track team. My Dad said OK, let’s get training. My fondest memories of those early day run workouts are him yelling “run!” and chasing me to go faster. My dad never missed a track meet. With his motivation, I turned to a new goal: triathlon. Even in my adult years, my dad still didn’t miss a race. With pride and worry (swimming is not my strength) as well as constant encouragement, I was fortunate to have his support.
A few years ago, my niece decided to do her first triathlon. Right away, I said what my Dad would say… “let’s get training!” We prepared together for that day and my parents were there with that same pride and love on Sara’s race day. Every day I think of my Dad since his passing three years. I see his shadow as I run and I know he is right beside me. Now, with my triathlon coaching certification, I can help others and I do so with his same positivity, strength and determination.