April 6 2019 is Iron Kids World Champs, according to my 8year old daughter, and anything less than a podium would, for her, be a complete failure. "you must have fun my Pumpkin, it's not always about winning"
She gave me a long blank stare..... "Dad... It's Iron Kids.... Not a park run" and wondered off. I looked at my wife, she shrugged her shoulders..... "definitely your child" she said and she is not wrong. Apart from the obvious biological hints (more Rock Troll than Princess Ballerina) there are the other more subtle hints. Erin, like most children has by now worked out that lollipops are good, unicorns are cool and that light sabers are epic. Don't get me wrong I like a good lollipop as much as the next person and who wouldn't get excited about a horse with a horn of death growing out it's head.... Don't even get me started about light sabers, but she knows things, things that only a child who's parents are Iron Men would know.
She knows that golf is not a sport and never will be (she can never date a golfer), cricket is slow and boring and soccer is played by bad soap star actors who constantly fall and writhe on the ground like they've been shot by a sniper in the grandstand, only to be miraculously healed by the man with the bottle of magic water....
This is my daughter's reality, for as long as she has been alive I have been training for Iron Man, it's perfectly normal, she can't relate to the other dads at all. She came to me a few years ago..... "Dad... Renee's dad is weird"
OH boy.... "why" I ask "I saw him in shorts..... His legs are so hairy... Why doesn't he just shave them" Try and explain to a 4year old that actually most guys don't shave thier legs.... It's not easy.... I was still trying to explain to her that just because I got a medal after each Iron Man didn't mean that I won the race.... Or that my middle name really is Andrew and not Captain Awesome. It's tough.
And as she "learns" more from me it will only get tougher. For instance she has learnt that single sport athletes often get very frustrated because they only do one sport and, when, they start telling us about their Park run or sheep skin saddle cover it's their way of asking for a hug... A bro hug (that's a hug where you lean in from the waist, embrace shoulders only and give two firm pats on the back and then break. Don't make eye contact and pelvis never touch... Ever). If they carry on for more than 10 minutes then they need a condolence high five to the forehead......how many children actually know this... Or care.... Erin does...
Occasionally My Little Pumpkin will shoot herself through the foot so to speak.... Actually harpoon herself through the chest..... Sitting in the lounge one fine Sunday afternoon she declared that she did not like falling asleep on my shoulder as I was too firm and lumpy...... She preferred mommy, as mommy was all nice and soft...... As her voice trailed off I just stared at my phone.... I did not flinch or move a muscle, my daughter was on her own.... About to learn on of life's big lessons..... Do not antagonize your primary care giver!
As a dad..... Even a dad who does the odd park run, your child will always look up to you. To them you are awesome and you can do anything.... It's a huge and weighty responsibility that is not lost on me. I think that burden is a little bit more when you are an Iron Man, the level of expectation is just so much more. Miguel said (and I Googled it) there are only 200 000 people world wide who will complete an Iron Man in a Calendar year....
Compare that to how many run a marathon or pedal a race over 100km.....we are a fairly unique collection of people. This is why 3 weeks ago I found myself lining up for the most important race of my life.... The dad's 25m swim at my daughters swim gala. Anything less than 1st was not an option. At the school sports day my wife had come second by hurdling over the woman in front of her who fell..... That's the level of commitment I was up against.
As I stood there looking at a bunch of paunchy middle aged men in baggies hoping that one of them was not some swimming freak who missed out on the Olympic squad because Chad le Cloes took his spot, I heard my daughter...... "Dad..... Don't loose OK" no pressure. Gun goes I launch into the pool and I utterly crush it.... It's almost embarrassing... And to be honest I'm relieved and very stoked. But as l look around at the other dads getting "I'm sorry for your loss, but you suck" bro hugs and condolence highfives from their offspring.... Mine gives me a nonchalant thumbs up and wanders off with her friends.
I realised right there In that pool, that Iron Man will be, for better or for worse, part of my daughters life and that one day when I finally win my age group 80-84 I hope to have my wife, my daughter and possibly a grand daughter watching and cheering at the finish. #whosyourgranddaddy