“Aren’t you going crazy?” This is a common question we hear when planning a wedding. While this is the first time either of us have planned a wedding, we do a lot of event planning. As coaches, and in our professional careers, we are basically event planners. Whether it is preparing an athlete for an Ironman, a swim team for the swim season or rehabbing patients to achieve their individual goals, there is always a goal in mind with a long term focus.

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Throughout our last year planning our wedding, we have joked many times about the commonalities we see between wedding planning and triathlon training. As we prepare to exchange our vows this Saturday, we decided to compile a list for you all on how preparing for a wedding and triathlon/sporting event are eerily similar:

1. Long Preparation: We picked the date and venue for our wedding a year before the big day. Likewise, we typically sign up for Ironman races exactly one year before. With the dates set in stone, it is easy to work backwards in planning what should be done when. In the wedding world that meant booking a DJ six months out, getting flowers three months prior and figuring out the final flavor of cupcakes two weeks before. In triathlon, the long term planning often means picking devising a race schedule in reverse, making sure tune up races are appropriately placed months and weeks before the big race.

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2. Spectrum of Emotions: There will be laughter, tears, joy and nerves. The preparation for both can lead to stress and the big day can lead to nerves. While both can be stressful, both days lead to memories that we will be able to look back happily for the rest of our lives.

3. Advisers are key: While you can go at it alone in either instance, this isn’t always the best choice. A wedding planner typically has planned hundreds of weddings. They know the ins and outs of the business that the typical person would never know only planning one event themselves. Likewise, triathlon coaches help athletes finish hundreds of races the athletes never knew were possible. A good triathlon coach will know the ins and outs of the sport that are nearly impossible to learn from magazines and the internet.

4. Expenses: Triathlon can get expensive fast. From bikes and bike parts to race registration, things can add up very quickly. The same goes for weddings. From the food and drinks to booking a venue, expenses add up quickly.

5. The Uncontrollable: On game day for both events, something WILL go wrong. As we prepare to exchange our vows, just as we put on our swim caps prior to jumping into an event covering 140.6 miles, we understand that something is likely to not go our way on the big day. This is when we need to remember to stay focused on the bigger objective and be able to adjust on the go. Maintaining a calm, level headed approach in sport and wedding has been key for us.

6. Getting Uncomfortable: For Caitlin, walking down an aisle with eyes on her does not make her feel within her comfort zone. But neither did her first swim meet or bike time trail. Each of these events caused nerve wrecking starts for her; diving off the blocks and the time trial start ramp. She is hoping that experiencing new start lines this season in training and racing, and learning to get outside of her comfort zone, has prepared her to calmly toe the line of the aisle this weekend.

7. Getting to the Start Line Healthy: This is something every athlete aspires for. It’s also a bit personal for us. When Drew underwent his second surgery, we were told he would be on crutches for 8-12 weeks, depending upon what the surgeon saw when he opened up the knee. We understood this prognosis and took it on, 11 weeks and 6 days out from the wedding. Eight weeks in, we were able to take away Drew’s crutches and since have been normalizing his gait so he will walk without a limp on the big day!

8. Team Work: Nothing ever goes to plan. When we realized that Drew needed his ACL re-reconstructed, things around the house had to change. Even though he was no longer able to race, he did what he could so we could be the best team possible, still supporting Caitlin’s racing endeavors. We find it largely important to build a local community of teammates you can lean on when you are feeling tired, grumpy, or in need of motivation. You’ll find these are the same people you’ll turn to when you’re looking for some fun, too!  

9. The Finish Isn’t the Most Important Part: While finishing an Ironman is a great accomplishment, it’s the journey as a whole that matters. The same goes for a wedding. While the wedding itself is a great day of celebrating, it’s building a happy and healthy marriage that truly matters.

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