Monday, April 25, 2011

Has triathlon made me (gasp! gulp!) high maintenance?

As I mentioned before, we spent this past weekend in our hometown visiting family and friends for my wife's birthday (and nominally Easter as well). An upsetting realization dawned on me over the course of this weekend's travels and activities that I needed to mull over and perhaps discuss. Eventually I brought this reoccurring thought up with my mother, as I have been at my parents the past few nights for Easter etc. She has set me straight a bit, but not completely quashed my fears.

First of all, my mother and I discussed the literal and societal definitions of the term "high maintenance." If you think of the term's literal meaning, rather than the connotations associated with it, I have always been relatively "high maintenance." I have had medical issues throughout my childhood and adult life that have necessitated extra thought go into my everyday existence. I am medically expensive, and I have many "special needs" associated with my environment in order to keep my asthma and allergies in check. (For instance, I can't really sleep in a house with cats, I cannot have feather pillows or comforters on my bed, I must have non-smoking hotel rooms and restaurant seating, etc) But my mother insisted in our conversation that in terms of the pejorative connotation associated with being "high maintenance", the attitude of being needy and picky and a diva, I did not fit the "high maintenance" bill. She says I was always pretty game about the whole thing.

In terms of lifestyle, and what is stereotypically associated with high maintenance females, I would definitely cringe at the idea of being labeled as such. I don't get my hair or nails done. I'm not into facials. I am not a fashionista, I have a limited heel collection (although I do have a large variety of workout gear) and my makeup stash is woefully under-stocked. I don't own a blow dryer and getting ready to leave the house and go into public usually involves a ponytail with a headband and mascara. If that. When not donning a sportsbra and running shorts, I'm a jeans and a tshirt kinda gal.

There is, of course, a point to all of this back story. It occurred to me this weekend, when I left the apartment carrying 4 different bags full of workout clothes and paraphernalia and attempting to steer my bicycle, again when I was reading the nutrition labels of various snacks at the highway rest stop, again while I was sitting in my in-laws kitchen having demanded (nicely but firmly) that my wife and her mother help me find the perfect fitness facility to accommodate my specific workout needs before any other activities commence that day, and yet again when my wife worried aloud to me that the pizza place at which the family wanted to celebrate her birthday dinner would not meet my nutritional demands, that triathlon has made me high maintenance.

Nobody complained. Nobody made a face when I told them I "HAD" to get on my bike before I could participate in the Easter festivities. My wife had no overtones of disdain in her voice when she brought up her family's restaurant choice and her concern that it would not be good enough for me (turns out, btw, they had excellent salads!). I don't know if someone, somewhere is thinking "God she's a pain in the ass!" when I visit (Sorry to my friend Becky who had to give up her bed to me this weekend and sleep on the couch with the cat!). But I realized with each demand how crazy I must seem. Complete nutcase!

At home in my own domain with my own time and my own schedule and my set routines and workout places, I am usually the only one affected by triathlon-related decisions. Well, that's not entirely true. My wife doesn't cook, or have time to shop, so she has to deal with my healthy food and snack selection, but she only complains a little and is mostly appreciative since she is also an athlete. But when I have to juggle my training schedule around at home, I can make it work. On the road, though, it seems to become everyone's problem.

So to my wonderful friends and family: Thank you for putting up with me and my triathlon lifestyle! Maybe it is self-important of me to think that what I do is even an issue to you, but thanks anyway! For the beds and clean sheets, for the forgone burger joints on lunch dates, for helping me call every fitness center in the tri-state area to find the one with the lowest guest rate and the correct training equipment. I will remind myself to always have a good attitude about it if things don't work out perfectly!

And thanks Mom for telling me you don't think I am the pejorative version of "high maintenance", even if I am a bit dramatic, and was always a medical handful...

Lastly: Happy Birthday Erin! You're the best and I promise to cook something totally unhealthy for your belated birthday dinner!


  1. I'm right there with you! I've become very strict in my day-to-day activities since I started hard core triathlon training. My friends know I won't go out with them because I go to bed early. They know I rarely go out to eat. I often RSVP "no" to events because I have workouts I have to fit in.

    It's much easier when I'm home by myself because like you said, it's mostly me that has to deal with it. That's probably also why I completely gave up any thought of a significant other. At this point, she better be an athlete because not many other people would put up with me.

    I'm glad to hear you've got a great support group between your family, your wife, and her family! Always helps! What does your wife do for athletics?

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one!!

    Erin's an ice hockey player. She plays on two different teams right now, and she's training hard to try out for some higher level stuff. She drinks protein shakes with me, enjoys my healthy cooking, and understands when I need to prioritize a workout. It's awesome :)

    I bet you can find another triathlete who will understand! Although two trigeeks dating might be too much...

  3. You're totally high maintenance. But we still love you. :)

  4. The asian chicken recipe was in March, btw

  5. I think this is one of the hardest parts of triathlon - you need to have a great support group who may not fully understand the quirks about our habits, but supports us and loves us none-the-less. Sounds like you have that! :) Not high maintenance... just committed!

    Happy belated birthday to Erin!