My mother was born in immediate post-war Germany, so she started off tough, as you can imagine. I know one story where her mother took her three daughters (my mother being the youngest) to pick potatoes from a field just so they'd have something to eat. My mother ended up with shoes full of blood - she couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 years old. She grew up without a father thanks to the war, and my grandmother, my aunts and her had to move around a fair bit. Still, somehow they muddled through.
Athletically her side of the family has been very tennis-centric. It's amazing to watch my mom play tennis (especially since she wins a lot) - no hard or fancy shots, she just hustles for the ball, and returns it consistently, grinding her opponents down. I haven't stepped on a court in years, nor seen her play recently, but I bet it's still the same. Growing up, we didn't just have tennis though. I can remember being in Scouts (everything from Cubs to Venturers), piano lessons, soccer, judo, diving, softball... the list goes on and on. On weekends we'd bike as a family or cross-country ski or hike at the cottage. We were a multi-disciplinarian, multi-sport family, so now, I'm a multi-disciplinarian, multi-sport man.
When I met my wife, I was immediately impressed by how many pies she had her fingers in (figuratively speaking, you understand). She was working full-time in a marketing executive position, volunteering with a Young Executives of Canada subcommittee of the German-Canadian Chamber of Commerce, teaching special needs kids to ski, all while maintaining an active social life and close ties to her family. She even seemed game to take on training for a half-marathon with me, so that's what we did.
Getting to know someone as a friend and better through running (or another form of training, I suppose) till the point where you're starting to fall in love with them is something I'd wish for anyone who tries to lead a physically active lifestyle. Running, exercise and physical challenges have always been part of our relationship, and now they're part of our family life too. Bringing triathlon into any relationship takes the support of your partner and it can mean outright sacrifice too; so I'm lucky to not only have her in my life to do all those little things that make swimming, biking and running possible, but also that she enjoys similar pursuits and I get the chance to return the favour sometimes. For the second year in a row, I will be taking care of our sons on Mother's Day while she runs the Sporting Life 10K... and we'll be all waiting for her at the finish line (this year I even did the race kit pickup!).
|The Human Totem Pole from last year|