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Story #1: Jason Collier

Posted by Hugo Mendez on

Digging Deep on Father’s Day

My dig deep journey is not a romantic one.  It is not as dramatic as someone who has survived violence or cancer and has pursued triathlon for their fulfillment.  I am a recovering club soccer dad. 

I am the proud father of 3 beautiful intelligent athletic daughters, 2 of which have played soccer at very high competitive levels over the course of 10+ years.  It is the dreams of most parents to have their children play at their best and be the best in any endeavor.  It is in this pursuit of excellence that lies danger ; the danger of who is in control of their destiny.  This is the path that leads to burn out and permanently ruining relationships for life through sports. 

It seems benign at the beginning to have your kid training just one more day a week than what is already a 3-4 times per week already (think of this as the tiger mom philosophy to club sports). What’s one more day or one more Saturday?  Mind you, this is a slow progression over months and years.  But, just like a boat off course, it just drifts in the wrong direction.

Before you know it, you are having you kid miss sleep overs and she is basically having a “professional” athlete lifestyle at the age of 12.  Of course as time goes on, the critiques of games and practices begin.  The “you could’ve done that better” or “you look exhausted” or “what’s wrong with you tonight” start to escalate.  Next, there is silence on the drive home from games or the avoidance of wanting to drive home with dad.  ;(. That one still stings me when I have to write it.

Mind you, my kids were still smiling, getting great grades, and playing good.  That is more a point of their resilience as young girls. 

One of my daughter’s coaches pulled me aside one day.  This was the Jerry MacGuire moment in the story.  He simply told me that whenever I was around my kid played and practiced different (meaning she was better when I happened to not be there).  He told me that I should just drop her off at practice and go do something.   He asked me “why don’t you start running?”   

And so it began.  He planted the seed that allowed me to dig deep and change my fate along with the relationships I had with my daughters.   

I started just running for 15 minutes and mostly doing ridiculous warm ups that lasted longer than the actual workout.  Then I signed up for a 5k. Most runners and triathletes know how it works from here.  It’s never enough.  I then did what is natural - 10k then 1/2 marathon then marathon. All of this was done in a span of 2 years.  All the while, my kids were developing and practicing free of a “helicopter” dad and I was devoting my time in a positive light.  Their happiness index went up as well as their play.  I would return to their practice sweaty and oblivious to any mistakes that they made.  They were oblivious to my mistakes as well.  This is the natural order of the world. 

Fast forward 3 years later, running wasn’t enough and triathlon fell into my life.  The same algorithm applied.  It started with a sprint tri then an olympic then 70.3 and finally a full Ironman. 

The beauty and true meaning of this story is that I have completed 2 Ironmans and I am currently training for my 3rd this November.   During the first 2, I had the pleasure of my daughters running with me during the last half of the marathon.  They were able to share the pain and joy just as I shared in their pain and joy in soccer.  They never were critical of me or said anything negative.   There was nothing other than encouragement and love.  It was the only way I could’ve finished.

Digging deep is as much mental as it is physical.  Hamlet said “...there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”. Negative thoughts are natural to have in your own head but persons in our environment should uplift us, most of all our fathers. 

This has been a continued transformation. Training is never complete.  I am constantly working on me as the person, husband, father, son and lastly triathlete.   

Keep Digging.  Deep.

Have A Dig Deep Story To Share? All you have to do is think of a particular time in your life when you had to dig deep (it doesn't necessarily have to be about racing or training, it can be about anything). Make your story as long as you want and send it to digdeepboco@gmail.com (subject : Your Instagram name if you have one). Don't forget to include a picture :) . I look forward to featuring your story! Cheers, Hugo 

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