As a first generation Korean American I learned about Father’s Day from my elementary school. My parents came to America in the late seventies and their number one focus was my education and work. However, as I continued my education in the American school system, Father’s Day grew into an annual tradition; breakfast, hand-made card, and something I bought at school or local store for a few bucks. Not that there is anything wrong with the typical tradition, but I have no real memories of any specific Father’s Day that we celebrated.
Now that I have learned and lived through life experiences, I have come to the realization, through triathlon, that Father’s Day is not just one day for dads. Its one special day for all dads to bond with their children/family in their own unique way. My children were stroller age when I began triathlon in 2007. My soon to be SWAT brothers were already active in the sport and I figured it would be easy. I had a swimming and cycling background so I decided to pull the trigger and sign up for the Loggerhead Sprint Triathlon in Jupiter, Florida just ten days before the race. Boy was I wrong and that is a day I will never forget! I struggled in all aspects of the sport. I swam too fast and had no idea what my heart was doing as I struggled to get on the bike. My legs fell apart as I hobbled into T2 and my body shut down 200 yards into the run. While attempting to stretch every cramp in my body I can recall the athletes, fans, family, and friends cheering on with positive words of encouragement. I picked myself up and finished my first sprint distance triathlon with a blazing time of one hour and twenty-ish minutes. As I continued to race, Father’s Day became the same tradition as it was with my father, except my family would now come watch me race.
As my interest in triathlon began to peak, my wife Jennifer and kids, Caitlin, Addison, and Kira, also took to the sport. Triathlon had become a family affair and we found ourselves traveling all over the state to get adult and kid races on the calendar. We had to be strategic in our planning as we had jobs and other unfortunate adult responsibilities. During our planning, I always picked the Heartland Triathlon in Sebring, FL because it fell on Father’s Day and our local group (to include my Hammerfest Crew, Iron Goat buddies and Treasure Coast Triathlete studs) would plan to make a big showing at Heartland - and why not? - the race course, race venue, race director, race swag, post-race meals, awards, and overall experience was superb! The icing on the cake at Heartland Triathlon is that they hold the Kids South East USAT Race the day before the adults’ race.
My kids would race on Saturday and then I would race the sprint on Father’s Day. It was always fun and competitive, but I do believe my kids have podium-ed more than me at this point. Through triathlon, I have taught my kids simple things in life like “never give up” and found that the sport was filled with genuinely good people. The sport has allowed me to spend more quality time with my family and has indirectly made me a better dad. On this Father’s Day, DO what YOU love, but DO IT with your family and kids!
Written by Steve Kim
You might see Steve at one of our events passing out some sweet Tri Sirena gear! Don't be shy, stop by and say hi!
Are you a Dad who loves racing with his kids? Or maybe you're a kid who loves racing with their Dad? Tell us in the comments below!