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A Family Affair
Our trip for ITU World Championships in Auckland has been nearly 18 months in the making. It began with my husband, Mark Newman, winning the overall spot at the Memphis in May triathlon in May 2011. He then earned a Team USA/New Zealand slot by qualifying at Age Group Nationals in Burlington, VT in fall 2011. Through all of this training and racing, we agreed to make this a family affair for both us and our now 9-year-old daughter, Allison.
We believe it's only fair to bring her along to enjoy the fruits of Mark's athletic endeavors as she has seen firsthand his commitment to intensive training and has felt the effects of all this training. Our daily conversations usually include something along the lines of, "Will Dad be home for dinner or is he doing the Tuesday night ride?" or, "Will Dad be finished swimming his workout when I am finished with swim team practice?" If we see a cyclist riding in our area, she will be the first to comment about the type of wheels they are riding (how many 9-year-olds know how to quickly tell a 404 from an 808?) and will immediately ask if he is one of Dad's bike friends.
We also try to experience the culture and historical value of the triathlon host city. For example, when Mark raced Kona in 2010, we stayed on the island a week afterwards to see the sights. We visited a black sand beach and the Kilauea volcano. It was also a good time to just relax and reconnect as a family after months of training. When he competed in the 70.3 in San Juan earlier this year, we visited the El Yunque National Rain Forest and strolled through Old San Juan to the fort that dates back several hundred years.
While in Auckland, we have visited Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium where the penguins were the favorite part of our visit, and the Sky Tower views of the city and harbor were amazing. Hopefully the weather will improve (it's been cloudy and cool with periods of rain) and we can visit the Auckland Zoo. We may also rent a car and travel outside the city for a day.
We will continue to make these races a family affair for as long as possible. The reasons it’s important are twofold: giving my husband an athletic goal to achieve, and rewarding myself and our daughter for our sacrifices during training. It also allows her to have cultural experiences that she may not have experienced otherwise. Our family is very blessed to include such a talented dad/athlete and we will continue to enjoy his "vacation making" races.
The best trip so far was going to Kona in 2010. I really liked all the flowers on the island and visiting the Kilauea volcano. Auckland has been colder than I expected. There are lots of tall buildings and not many trees. My dad is racing on Monday and I know he will do great!