How one woman’s hobby turned into a reason to travel the world
I used to choose my races based on close proximity to my home. I’ve always been a morning person so it wasn’t the early alarm but the need to race and return home to my family as quickly as possible. As every mom knows, maintaining a training schedule and race commitments is a delicate balance with child care and family obligations.
My decision base started to change when I qualified for the USAT Duathlon National Championship in 2013.
I had never heard of the USAT age group championship series until an invitation to the national event landed squarely into my inbox. I had just won a local duathlon which apparently qualified me to race with the top women in my age group in the country. The kicker? It was to be held in Tucson, Arizona which is a tad far from my home in Connecticut.
My husband and I decided to plan the trip for just the two of us, as a sort of long weekend getaway, with a big race thrown in. We had an absolute blast visiting a part of the country we had never been to and, being from the east coast, was so foreign to us in terms of landscape and culinary options.
The race was amazing and I ended up qualifying for the world championship which was to be held in Pontevedre, Spain in the spring of 2014.
It was an easy, quick and exciting decision to bring our twin sons (who were five at the time) as well as my Cuban-born father and my stepmother. We tacked on an additional week in Portugal since it was relatively close to the race venue in Spain. It was a trip we will never forget and one that opened a door to so many possibilities in terms of my racing and our adventures as a family.
I have since focused my training on triathlon and once again traveled to compete, this time in the USAT Triathlon Age Group National Championship in Omaha, Nebraska. Once again it was just my husband and I and once again we were pleasantly surprised with our destination city and everything it had to offer.
From the moment we stepped off the plane, the athletes were welcomed into Omaha with signs and banners. The host hotel did their homework and stocked up on bananas and even had complimentary coffee starting at 5:00 am on race morning.
The city of Omaha is no stranger to hosting large athletic events. TD Ameritrade stadium is home to the Little League World Series and, just this past June, their CenturyLink center was reconstructed with temporary pools to host the summer Olympic swim trials.
The food in Old Market and midtown was some of the best my husband and I have had! From comfort food in a local pub to farm to table culinary masterpieces and everything in between. They even have a Cuban cigar bar which made me feel right at home…in the midwest.
Another pleasant surprise were the racks upon racks of KÜHL Clothing we discovered at the Overland store in the Old Market district. I ended up ordering a shirt that my husband picked out as a “must have.” Naturally.
Although I did not qualify for the USAT triathlon world championship this time, I’m already looking forward to going back to Omaha (which will host again in 2017) and bringing my entire family.
As a veteran runner and athlete, I already knew that training and running added so much more to my life than mere fitness. Over the past 16 years I have quietly reaped the benefits of my moving meditation and have made countless friends, memories and milestones while sweating. Until recently I never knew how much more my racing had to offer and how it could extend to my family of non-runners and bring us all even closer together.
I’m so grateful to have the gift of swimming, cycling and running in my life and I hope to continue my travels with my family, all in the name of fitness, for many years to come!