A professional marriage: 10 years in.

January 9, 2017

I must confess that I wrote the majority of this post a couple years ago.  I stumbled upon it a few days ago when I was cleaning up my computer and thought it's appropriate to update it and share after just celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary with my husband, Jarrod Shoemaker.  So here it is, a sneak peak into what it's like for two professional triathletes to be married to one another.  


It was 2005, and I was sprinting to catch my connecting flight from Philadelphia to San Juan for my first continental cup of the season.  Jarrod said, that’s the first time he saw me.  He was calmly walking of course; which is still an accurate representation of how our personality types differ when it comes to travel. I freak out and worry about being late while he is always calm and relaxed.  Six months later Jarrod and I were engaged.  Since meeting Jarrod my career has progressed far further than I ever imagined it would.  In fact, the year we met I had planned on retiring. Which begs the question, why are so many pro triathletes marrying each other?  And how are these marriages unique?


We certainly aren’t the first married pro triathletes.  Some other married pro triathletes that are currently racing are: Greg and Laura Bennett, Nikki and Tyler Butterfield, Heather and Trevor Wurtele, Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell, Lauren and Barrett Brandon, Katie and Tommy Zaferes, Luke and Beth McKenzie and the list goes on.  Just a few names you’ve heard of, eh? 


Probably the most common question I get is: “Do you like being married to a fellow professional triathlete or would you rather they were just a ‘normal person’?”  This is a great question and but I can only honestly speak to one side of the coin and hypothesize about the other.  So instead, I’ll explain what it’s like for Jarrod and I. 




Time Together

  • Jarrod and are so fortunate to spend as much time together as we do.  We spend 9am-5pm training, recovering, eating, going to appointments, etc TOGETHER. Honestly, sometimes we need to make an effort to have time apart!  However, when our race season starts we spend quite a bit of time apart since he mostly races overseas while I race domestically.  Since Jarrod has completely transitioned to long course racing, we will be spending more of our race season together now.  


The Supportive Spouse

  • We are supportive of one another but there are some days when we both wish that the other was a "normal person" who wasn't as exhausted as we are.  This often happens at the end of a long training day when dinner isn’t cooked, and the fridge is empty.  Or when the house needs to be cleaned and we’d both rather lie down on the couch.  And especially when one of us is travelling to a race and really wants the other to come and help with carrying luggage, race prep and race day. 

  • We try to balance who has the more important races coming up or who is in heavy stages of training.  If Jarrod has a big race coming up, I’ll try to take on more of the household “activities” and help him prepare as much as I can and take on more of the “supportive spouse” role, and vise versa if I have a big race coming up.  We recognize that we both can’t be #1 all the time, but we also both have to feel taken care of and find a balance between the roles of training partner and spouse. 


Understanding the Tri Lifestyle

  • Triathlon is a lifestyle.  As soon as you start participating in this amazing sport, minor aspects of your life begin to change.  It often begins with early bedtimes and wake up calls, or healthy adjustments to your nutrition.  But as your commitment to the sport evolves, the changes can become more significant and even permanent.  You may have noticed that not all family and friends are supportive and understanding of these new life choices you’re making.  Especially as a pro triathlete, finding someone that truly “gets” this lifestyle and respects all of the intricacies of being the best triathlete possible is so important to your happiness and long-term success in the sport. 


Dealing with the ups and downs

  • Jarrod and I very much look at our individual careers as pro triathletes from a team perspective.  Sometimes one of us races well while the other doesn’t and sometimes we both race well, and heck, sometimes we both race like garbage; but no matter what we’re a team.  When each of us experiences success or failure, the other feels very much a part of it. It is never a contest.


With all of this being said, there are many professional triathletes that are married to non-professional triathletes, and they are equally successful. I honestly don’t believe that there is a performance benefit to be one type of marriage or the other.  I mostly wanted to shed light on what it’s like for Jarrod and I, and perhaps some other married professional triathletes have had similar experiences to us.


This crazy sport has brought us together, but our connection goes much deeper than triathlon.  We make an effort to prepare for our lives when triathlon isn't our job; we have goals, plans and dreams for that time. I think that has been an important component to keeping us happy in the long term; 10 years by no means makes me an expert, but I think our bond, and shared goals/ dreams outside of the sport has been and will continue to be our foundation.  Sharing this journey with Jarrod has been an incredible blessing. I saw a quote from Banksy's Twitter account that got me thinking, "Have you ever just stopped and realized that if you hadn't met a certain person in your life, your life would be completely different".  Jarrod is definitely my "certain person".  

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