Travelling Far To Find My Home

Let it be known. I have a freakish addiction to blue crabs.

Let it be known. I have a freakish addiction to blue crabs.

I once thought that doing an Ironman was hard. Having now survived flying with four kids ages 8, 6, 3, and 10 months, I again have redefined the word “endurance.” This time, the epic event that spurred the change wasn’t another triathlon, but an innocent sounding nine day “vacation” on the east coast. In true triathlete fashion, I somehow turned my time off work into a blitzkrieg up and down the eastern seaboard. Let’s recap the highlights in typical race report style.

Leg 1:

Our flight out from Montana was a moderate victory. Despite having to hold a semi- screaming infant for four hours, the puke and blow out diaper count remained zero. I count that as a win. Of course, this early success was hampered by the 40 dollar a night Red Roof Inn following the flight. Let me keep it simple. ANTS.

Yup. ANTS, found right under our baby car seat.

Yup. ANTS, found right under our baby car seat.

After some creative extermination efforts by my wife and I, we were ready for a special needs bag filled with beer. Fortunately, this home brewer had already researched every brewery on our travel route. The quaint Selin’s Grove Brewery in central PA did an excellent job of washing away our insect anxiety.

A great spread at Selin's Grove Brewery.

A great spread at Selin’s Grove Brewery.

After that, it was time for the first auto long haul as we made our way to the family farm in PA. There, we got to enjoy plenty of farm cooking, campfires, homemade wines and local beers, and of course, shooting.



Moreover, the rolling PA hills provided ample opportunities for hill training. Of course, while standing in an open field without a single tree in sight, my Garmin GPS didn’t connect, and I have nothing but time data. Must be that Pennsylvania GPS abyss right?

Leg 2:

After just a few days, it was back on the road for what was supposed to be a relaxing drive to Richmond, Virginia. It was during this drive, specifically while being stuck in traffic outside of DC, that I remembered why I moved to Montana. I may miss Virginia, but I will never miss that traffic. What was supposed to be a six hour drive became a nine hour ordeal peppered with puking car sick kids.

After shouting obscenities that are likely illegal in several states, we made it to Richmond and we had a great time visiting family and friends. Of course, this involved more home brew. Fortunately, I had the chance to stop by home and visit with my parents. It was the first time for two of my kids and it was great to share some memories with them. Even better was doing my long run along the roads I grew up riding my bike on.

My old stomping grounds. Wasn't so lonely on the road as a runner this time.

My old stomping grounds. Wasn’t so lonely on the road as a runner this time. 5K is missing due to more GPS difficulties.

Leg 3:

After having already put in roughly 21 hours of driving, it was time for some serious time outside of a car. So it was off to the family beach destination along the North Carolina coast. Of course, this involved another four hour drive, but this seemed like chump change compared to what I now call the “DC Scandal.” I love the mountains in Montana, but I do seriously miss the beaches of North Carolina. The sand of Whitefish Lake just doesn’t fill my need.

Still my favorite place.

Still my favorite place.

Our time at the beach was some of the first days I’ve had in the past year when I wasn’t travelling for some other reason, like work or a race, and it was great to just finally kick back and have fun with the kids.

I also can't get enough of aquariums.

I also can’t get enough of aquariums.

And running along the beach, even with the god awful humidity, was just heaven.

I was particularly fond of beach finishes.

I am particularly fond of beach finishes.

The Final Leg:

Tired. Grumpy about vacation ending. Sick of crowded spaces. Bloated from crappy fast-food. That was the great state of mind my family was in right before we began the six hours of flying back from NC to Montana. This leg of my vacation made the marathon portion of an Ironman feel like an afternoon nap. First flight, I came to realize that when my infant gets tired, he prefers to scream and kick rather than fall asleep. Wonderful. Also, our flight was delayed. So we arrived in Atlanta 15 minutes before our connection was scheduled to LEAVE…with exactly zero diapers. Thanks to some excellent running by my family, some well placed stores, and a good Samaritan, we made it to our flight. Yep, we were that last baby carrying family coming on board that makes you sweat about that empty seat next to you.

Despite carrying a mini Toys R Us in our bags, our baby refused to be consoled for the first two hours of the four hour flight. After walking a 5k around the rear bathrooms with him, he finally settled into a deep slumber that lasted all the way back to Montana. Not to be outdone, my kid had to finish the trip with a blast by peeing out the side of his diaper and into my lap as we waited to deplane. EXCELLENT.

After getting off the plane tired, sore, sick from repeated small handfuls of pretzels, and with my crotch smelling like urine, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear Mike Reilly announcing “YOU ARE AN IRONDAD!”


I feel that a sign of a good vacation is one that ends with you longing to be home and at work. I am thrilled to be sitting in my house, even though it is surrounded by foot tall grass. And I can’t wait for the coffee filled aroma of my desk tomorrow. Yet, my vacation wasn’t only a success due to the much needed time away from the daily grind it provided. More importantly, it gave me a refreshing perspective on my life. Sometimes, us triathletes can get caught up on searching for races or events in an effort to fill a sense of accomplishment in our life. After having worked my hardest to help my kids have a great vacation, I realize more than ever that all the sense of achievement and challenge I need can be found in the smiles of my family.

That being said, I’m not stopping racing. Despite the toils of travel, I still got my long run in this morning. Started at 5:30 am, under a half moon and a star filled sky. Negative split. It’s good to be back.

Tough start but loosened up.

Tough start but loosened up.

About Ironvan

From couch potato to Ironman triathlete in 2 years.

Posted on August 25, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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