Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happiness, marriage, and the weigh-in

I'm overweight. Since I've left racing, I haven't been training much, and I'm definitely fat now. I don't even know how much I weigh. It's hilarious that I use to weigh myself daily, and now I can't remember the last time I weighed myself. Today I did an open-water swim clinic, and I was worried the wetsuit, rash guard and tri-shorts wouldn't fit! Hahaha! Seriously!

My medium shirts and shorts no longer fit. I have to wear larges.

I'm going to write this post as I go, and when it's done, I'm going to weigh myself and see what I weigh. I think I weigh about 190. Will I be close? Wow...I weighed at my lowest in prep for Ironman AZ at 161.

Friends and former training partners are encouraging me to return to racing and training, but it's amazing to me how much satisfaction I feel in my life right now, and lack any desire to return to training. I wouldn't mind going into the weight room and working with a personal trainer, but that can't happen until a few other things happen. Namely, Orlanda and I want to buy a home here in San Diego. The trainer would be nice, only because I enjoy weight lifting.

The funny thing is, I don't think the number I'll see on the scale will affect me. The last time I felt this happy...this satisfied....this positive, was after Ironman Florida 2006. When I finished that race, it was amazing how many opportunities were before me, and the general reception I got. You'd have thought I was just elected to public office. But that's how my life is now, with so many positive opportunities before me, and I find it so full-filling. I am beginning to accept that perhaps I am better as a coach than as an athlete. That's not a bad thing at all. At first I feared that, but now I am starting to find a real sense of pride and satisfaction in that.

I have a renewed love and affection for my wife, Orlanda. Our finances have improved rather dramatically since leaving racing, and this has relieved a lot of stress in our life. The fact that buying a home seems possible has brought a new vigor to our life. As much as I am happy about this, it's a clear lesson of the affect of attitude on a marriage. We've been married a little over two years, and despite my clear love for her, and confidence in saying it's been a great two years, they haven't been easy as a professional triathlete. I don't want to be an "easy" love for my wife, that's not why I married her. I married her for the tough times. And trust me, we've had that. I've not been a perfect husband, that's for sure.

But I can really feel and tell... that my attitude determines my happiness. My attitude affects my marriage. My attitude affects my well-being. It's not my race weight. It's not my last race result. It's not the medals around my neck, or the trophies on the bookcase. It's not the number of sponsors and potential sponsors that call or email. It's just being happy with today. Being happy with what I'm doing, and how I'm doing it. For the past few years, that was training. Now, it's not. And I'm ok with that. When I look at her, I smile, and know that no finish line can give me what I feel.

In the past, it could. But I'm not the same person I was back then. I won't be the same person next week, or even tomorrow. I do feel good though when I see athletes find the satisfaction I found in the past, from training and racing. It's my connection to those times, and those finer moments.

I can only imagine how I'll feel when Orlanda and I have children. I've grown an appreciation of that as I've grown older. I used to just give an obligatory nod or congrats to friends who had children. But the more I think about it, going thru something like that with Orlanda almost makes me cry tears of happiness when I think about it. I now understand, and wow...what an amazing moment for a person...

I remember my friend Benji telling me that he and his wife cried when they saw me cross the finish line at Florida in 2006......During the interview with Welchie, they were both crying, as was I nearly! I had reached a pinnacle, and felt like all my efforts were finally worth something. And it's amazing how that feeling has returned, depsite my weight and lack of training. I feel it in my marriage, and maybe again soon when we decide to have children.

What's my point? I'm not sure, I just sit here and type away. I guess it's that I'm exposing the transition from professional triathlete to the real world. That attitude is important. The old saying that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it, is true.

I asked myself this week, "What did you not get to do that you wish you had?" I named five things...

1. Win an Ironman.
2. Race Lance Armstrong. (If he does an Ironman, maybe I'll comeback).
3. Do Roth Quelle Challenge. (If you see the race photos, you'll understand).
4. Get a good Kona result. (Good being in the top 20).
5. Race more ITU to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

I won't be upset if these never happen, and that's what I've come to realize. I'm no longer focused on what I haven't accomplished, but on the amazing possibilities of what I can still accomplish.

I'm not looking at all the things I've missed out on due to training, like family get-togethers, Nebraska football games, trips with friends, etc. Instead, I'm looking forward to all the possibilities of things I've missed out on.

Wow....this has probably been the most honest and open post I've ever written...time to weigh-in...

The official weight....190.6. I guess I really know myself. I guess my honesty with myself was real. And now that I think about it, that's exactly why I'm happy.



Coffees of Hawaii said...


Nice piece! Balance and happiness are great for every life endeavor. You've found the key.

Albert Boyce

jameson said...

great post dude... I am going through something similar right now too.... life is good!

ckotte said...

Jim - don't know you personally..but have followed your blog and your success.

Always remember to focus on your wife's needs. Don't loose sight of this...ever. I only say this as I have seen how many triathlete end up in bad marriages...our type a mentality and goals can interfere in our lives and we don't even know it. For most folks it's too late.....

You sound like your in a good place. I am happy for you. Kids are awesome someday...and I am glad someone else is getting fat!

Good post.

Anonymous said...

My husband does competitive triathons. He cant see why this affects our marriage.
Labor Day for example; he will spend most of it competing in the Cap 10.

Meanwhile I'll be home with two kids.

When he gets back his scores will be all that he talks about.
need advice.

Jim Vance said...


Sorry to hear about the struggles. Hopefully you can find a way to include your husband's love for triathlon into your lives. See if he can try to include some of his training with you and the kids. Going for a run, with the family following on bikes. Maybe he can choose races which allow the whole family to come and enjoy themselves. There's a lot, you just have to know what you want.


Peter said...

Hey Jim,

I have just become aware as the triathlon as something that I want to do over the past summer. I have always been a great runner, but biking and swimming distance are still very challenging for me. I'm only 18, but I know one day that I'm going to be an ironman.

I just wanted to say thank you for this post. It really shows a lot of wisdom about how a person should view their life and what they should be satisfied with. I'll probably read all the rest of your blog posts too. But thank you for sharing such a personal and helpful post.