After a morning of punchy Masters swimming and some gym work, Aussie 70.3 ace Joe Gambles returns home to his bike, knowing a painful interval session awaits. Ironman 70.3 Oceanside is just days away, fitness waits for no one, and his competitors sure ain’t waiting.
Gambles tosses his swim bag to the corner, grab his ride kit from the couch and—without breaking stride—grabs a bottle out of the fridge. Sweeping back to the bedroom, he raises the bottle and bends to a crib’s rail, guiding it to the lips of his newborn baby boy, Arlo. No electrolytes for the little one—not just yet, anyway. Arlo happily takes the formula. Joe’s own between-session recovery drink will wait just a moment.
And for him, that’s just fine.
Novelty piles up around Gambles’ 2017 pre-season. He has a new bike sponsor. His sole coaching charge, Heather Jackson, is training for a new slate of races. “I’m not injured anymore, which is also new!” Gambles says, laughing, at ease. And his season opener at Oceanside on Saturday has him champing at the bit to see what’s new with his racing.
But one big new item has all of his attention: Arlo. Gambles and his wife Sage became dad and mom less than a month ago, and while many athletes would see fatherhood as a potential drawback to his job, Gambles is rolling smoothly through its opening weeks, even when he’s up for daddy duty in the middle of the night.
“Sage has been fantastic,” Gambles says from his home in Boulder, Colorado. “I’ve been up with her in the middle of the night a few times, so I’m lacking a little bit of sleep, but I just try to be flexible with my training. Some days I don’t make it to Masters, or maybe don’t get out with squad for a ride later, but as long as you’ve got the whole day to do it and don’t mind doing the work by yourself, it’s not a problem at all. It’s worked well so far.”
“Exciting, fun, different stuff gives me balance,” he says of his winter diversions. “Now, that ‘different stuff’ is looking forward to getting to be a dad. After traveling for so many years, this simplifies my life a bit.”
And any thought that splitting time training with diaper changes and midnight feedings will dissuade his training, think again. He’s not out racing to get a lease on a car or to buy a new watch. No, he’s got a mouth to feed.
“I think being a dad is going to give me more determination and focus,” he says flatly. “I’m not racing for myself anymore; I’m racing for my family.”
And then Sage takes Arlo and Joe’s out the door on his bike, because Oceanside and 2017—with all its newness—is already here.