Recently I was describing my latest race performance to my wife, inevitably going into the same level of detail normally only seen in crime scene forensic reports. It occurred to me that although she was saying “Mmmm” and “ooooh” and “really ” in all the right places, she wasn’t paying the tiniest bit of attention to me.
This is fair enough because I was banging on longer than a prog rock song, but it was an impressive performance by her to sound interested while clearly not giving a toss about my bike split or transition time.
This is a skill that has taken her many years of dedicated training to achieve, to the point where she has now evidently reached elite level, and can fool me that she’s listening while simultaneously watching Masterchef.
This got me thinking about what other skills are necessary to be a triathlete’s partner, and whether there should be some sort of job description that goes with the role. I know there are lots of tri-couples out there where both members of the relationship race together, train together, and spend a huge amount of time trying to beat each other, but what about those of us who are in mixed relationships – triathlete and non triathlete. Who better then, to come up with this job description, than the long suffering Mrs B herself…
Job Title: Triathlete’s Partner
Location: A roadside
Key responsibilities: Ideally you must…
Be able to occupy yourself for long periods while your partner is out running or cycling for bloody hours.
Have experience of cooking vast amounts of pasta.
Be nimble enough to squeeze past the turbo trainer now permanently set up in the dining room.
Have no sense of smell, essential in combating the many and varied scents emanating from your loved one including, but not limited to, chlorine, sweat, bike oil, energy drink and foot odour.
Have a relaxed attitude to timekeeping e.g. accepting that “I’ll be back from my bike ride before 12pm” means “I’ll be back from my bike ride after 2pm”.
Have an ability to be enthusiastic for the 10 seconds when you see you partner cycle past, despite having waited on the side of a remote road for them for many hours.
Have previous experience of working in a launderette, hotel laundry, or other establishment where constant operation of a washing machine was required.
Have selective hearing to mute boring, blow-by-blow race descriptions.
Be able to show no embarrassment at being seen in public alongside someone dressed permanently in running shoes, shorts, headsweats cap, coolmax T-Shirt emblazoned with latest race, and compression socks.
Have the soft tread, discretion and angelic patience of a royal footman during the period knows as “tapering” when your partner suddenly takes on the spiky and explosive properties of a WW2 sea mine.
Have an acceptance of a truncated social life with a high tolerance for the phrase: “I’ve got training first thing in the morning.”
Be able to to adapt instantly to the latest dietary fad which renders half the food in the house obsolete.
Have a high tolerance for plastic drinks bottles which occupy enormous swathes of your kitchen cupboards.
Be able to keep a straight face when your partner is banging on to your family and friends about finishing in the top 50 in a race (49th) and top 20 in their age-group (19th).
Have a keen sense of timing to know when precisely to emerge from the bar to cheer your partner on as they run past, and make it seem like you’ve been dutifully waiting there the whole time.
Have an ability to say encouraging things following a poor race performance, without sounding sarcastic.
Be able to recall the precise whereabouts of particular pairs of shorts, socks, shoes, elastic laces, glasses, gloves and other suddenly important items.
An ability to learn on the job.
And finally, but most importantly, be willing to have your holiday time taken over by races, often booked without your prior knowledge or consent.