As part of The Baby Cubby's fitness month, we are ecstatic to have the chance to interview Erica Ward! She is the wife of Jared Ward, an Olympic qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games!
Today, Erica has been kind enough to answer some questions for us about their journey to the Olympics and what it has been like to raise a family during the busy trainings and moves that have to take place. We know that you are going to love this interview and cannot wait to follow Jared throughout his Olympic competitions!
What have been your favorite parts of your family's journey to the Olympics?
Seeing Jared achieve a life-long dream, I was so proud of him! I was so touched at how hard it had been on race day, but he had overcome every obstacle!
What has been the most difficult part of your journey?
It was not fun to do high altitude training so last minute. Instead of having a reasonably close, fairly inexpensive home or condo, we were essentially living between hotel rooms. We would drive the hour to Provo almost every day for workouts, work, or church. For Altitude Training to be effective, you have to be in high altitude for 18 hours a day according to research. After two hours driving, that left us four hours to do laundry, meal prep, try to keep the house organized, and do any errands in town. All while Jared taught two classes, and got his workout in.
It was hard not to be stressed, hard to not have cell service or internet in most places we stayed, hard to entertain the kids without constant screen time, and hard to eat healthy in our situation. The nightly crockpot meals definitely got old. The mini helicopter I gave Jared for Christmas was a big hit until it attacked Paul (while he was holding the controller) leaving sad tiny scratches. Luckily my week to host preschool was the week we got home!
What did it feel like when he qualified?
While he was still racing, I was silently shaking, tears rolling down my cheeks, not believing that this could be happening! I hadn't dared hoped this would be his year. When I got to him after the finish line, I felt so proud of him and happy for him. He worked so hard for so long! He has received so many blessings and help along the way in the form of coaches, trainers, friends, neighbors, and his whole family! It didn't all settle in right away, but we were all so happy that day.
How many hours per week does your husband train and how do you balance that with your home/family life?
His average week is about 40 hours, more for marathon training. He also works as an adjunct professor at BYU teaching Statistics. That is usually 20 hours a week. We make use of the time we have together. Often Jared can be home for breakfast after his morning run, and gets home by dinner. Hours aren't too different from a normal job, but sometimes traveling for races, photo shoots, interviews, etc can add up. Usually if our priorities are right, we get in everything important. Jared has always been good at putting family first, even if it meant sacrificing some training, homework time, or making up for things later. We also like to travel together when possible.
Do you have plans to all travel and go see him in the Olympics?
Though we will be missing dad like crazy, we have decided to stay. For us, taking our family to Rio is not realistic right now. Along with other risks and drawbacks, we don't know enough about the Zika virus to risk our future family. It would be a fabulous trip in many ways, but we believe staying is for the best.
What are you looking forward to most as you continue to the Olympics?
Our life is pretty normal until after school ends, then we have to move and do another high altitude training stint. So even though it will be a little crazy, I'm looking forward to spending time together at home and going to races.
How has your husband's dream impacted your children?
Paul (3) and Ellie (23 mo) love cheering for dad. Because of our lifestyle, they know eating strong food and doing workouts is the way to get faster, bigger, and stronger. They also love to race! They like to do the kids races (the really short ones) when it works out.
What would be your best advice to a family that has a child/spouse with the dream of going to the Olympics?
The only way to reach big dreams is to make smaller goals and consistently work toward them. Every day you put in the work that will give you the desired end result. For my husband, it was literally years of every day goals. It's the little things.
What has been your biggest "surprise" during this experience?
It was a shock for me to see Jared in fourth, coming up on third place. He had so many experienced athletes contending for the top three spots, it was miraculous that he was able to pull through the heat, mental perseverance, and physical pain! He said the last 800 meters were the hardest part. He really didn't know if he could do it until he saw the finish line.
What's the secret to keeping your family the focus during all the busyness surrounding this experience?
That is what makes us happy. If we weren't happy as a family, we wouldn't keep doing this! That is what matters in the end, the love you share with the people closest to you. Everything else fades. You just have to remember to enjoy each day and each moment.