Olympic Distance Triathlon after Having 4 Kids

Published on 8th of July, 2019

The day has finally come!
The day has finally come!

My dear wife Sophie spent the last roughly eight years being either pregnant or caring for one of our four little baby daughters right afterwards.

I, on the other hand, could go off and do awesome triathlons and marathons as I pleased. Unfair biology, right? 

Now, since our little Ida has just turned 1 and is therefore done with the biggest care requirements, Sophie can finally venture off into the world of endurance sports with me. If she finds she enjoys it as well, of course. This is the next step on that test, after she successfully completed the Sprint Distance Triathlon in Hamburg two years ago, together with me. 

Now, the stakes are higher, the distance more than double (1.5 kilometers of swimming, up from 500m; 40 kilometers of cycling, up from 20; and 10 kilometers of running, up from 5), and of course, the sleep quality at home even more diminished with one additionally noisy baby. After the Sprint Distance she told me, she’ll be up for the Olympic Distance some day as well. And when the registration period began, I took her by her word and signed us both up. 

“Challenge Accepted!”

Here we are, July 7th of 2019, Hamburg, ITU Hamburg Triathlon Olympic Distance. 

Let’s go!
Let’s go!

Biking the 10 kilometers from our home to the start to warm up a bit in this drizzly 15 degree July weather. Well prepared with everything we need, except maybe the adequate amount of training.

It’s probably not a surprise that finding the time to train for a triathlon is one of the most difficult tasks if you have four kids. Sure, they go to school and kindergarten, but there’s still baby Ida. 

Sophie had to use the few chances she got and went swimming just a few times, trying out the distance to get a feel for it, running the 10k distance twice in total, and went on two bike trips with me while my in-laws took care of the four kids. One of the trip had the full 40 kilometers. So, the distances she can do. 

And it’s just about reaching the finish line. And that’s where I can probably help by being the motivational escort for her. 

Entering the world’s longest transition zone to set up our gear
Entering the world’s longest transition zone to set up our gear
Neo fits – best safety device for the swim here
Neo fits – best safety device for the swim here

The in-laws were so nice to take care of the kids again during these few hours we spent doing sports in the rain. That might have been more strenuous than the triathlon.

For Sophie and me, it felt like a mini-vacation, being here not having to think about anything of real importance, just these very simple tasks at hand to master. Swim, bike, run. 

The Alster Swim

This went really well right from the start. We kept a steady pace, doing breaststroke style, and got through it. Swimming underneath the two Alster bridges was a first for Sophie but failed to get a reaction out of her. Fair enough. 51 minutes and 57 seconds is one of the slowest results of them all – but does it matter, though? 

The transition took us a relaxed 10 minutes, mostly because of a bathroom break and the several layers of clothing required for the cold uncomfortable weather.

Biking Along the Elbe

Also, Sophie managed to keep a steady pace here and didn’t miscalculate. A few little mishaps happened, though. She lost one of the energy drink bottles I prepared for her and at one point her chain went off. But it was all fixable. During the first of three laps there’s been an accident on one of the wet roads which led to a temporary traffic jam, and we all had to come to a complete halt for about two or three minutes. That’s a first for me as well here during my 25th triathlon race. Great time to have an energy gel and catch the breath for Sophie. 

At the western most turning point of the course we were greeted by the in-laws who brought all our little girls who were quite excited to see us here. Mom and Dad in weird clothes biking through the city quite fast – an unusual sight for them. Big effort from Sophie’s parents and well appreciated by us both and the kids. 

I kept the mandatory distance, cycling behind Sophie with about 10 meters between us. From time to time I would overtake her, we would talk shortly, I’d pull in front and later let her pass me by again. Also, to have a bit of fun, I tried to get better on two of the Strava segments which happened to be on this course. But ultimately I stayed with Sophie of course. 

1 hours, 39 minutes, 33 seconds. An average of 24.8 kph.

Another transition break, rather fast considering the 800 meter long transition zone, at 4:48 minutes. 

An Alster Run

The grand finale, which also happens to be the place of our first date together, ten years ago. In 2009 we ran the 7.5 kilometer lap while talking and getting to know each other. Back then, I had just started running and had never completed the full lap without walking breaks, albeit several tries. But during that lap with Sophie, I obviously had to pull through in order to not lose face. And I did. And Sophie did as well, today. 


1:06:56 hours for the 10k run, the total time reached 3:53:20. I found it quite funny to find out that of the 2.535 male finishers, just 19 took longer than me, today. Totally worth it! 

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