Meet Cam Dye; Pro Triathlete, Boulder’s native son, and Dad

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Bree Wee: pro triathlete, surf girl, and mom. I want to continue to introduce you to great people who are excelling in both sport and life  through my letters to you.

At Rev3 Knoxville as I headed out onto the bike course a rocket shot past me headed back into transition. That rocket was Cameron Dye on a Kestrel. (I ride a Kestrel too, just not as fast as Cam!).  He’s a young professional triathlete and is building quite a reputation for himself by winning big races across the globe.

In 2011 he won the Nautica South Beach Triathlon and the LA Triathlon with 2nd place finishes at Memphis in May and Rev3 Knoxville. So far this season he’s won Rev3 Costa Rica and the Columbia Triathlon and it seems he’s just getting warmed up.

Now just 27 years old (that’s still young for a multisport athlete) he started swimming competitively at 8 years old. Cam did his first triathlon at 15.

After a college swim career he turned pro as a triathlete in 2007 and immediately established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the water. He’s since become one of the fastest 40k TT cyclists in all of triathlon.

I’m introducing you to him, because now he’s not only a great triathlete, but he’s also a husband and a new dad. I’m excited for Cam, because I know there’s so much joy ahead of him as he watches his son grow. I also wanted to hear how it’s going now.

I had a chance to talk with him recently about marriage, fatherhood, triathlon, and balancing the 3.

1. How long have you and Natalie been married?

Cam: I’ve been married to my lovely wife for 1.5 yrs.

2. How did you two meet?

Cam: We met at a Christmas party in 2009, the host was a mutual friend of ours.

3. What part does your wife play in your success as an athlete?

Cam: She plays a huge part. Everything from allowing me to focus on training when I need to by doing all the little things around the  house, to picking me up after a bad race, to always being there for me  when things are going good or bad. Having that unwavering support in place has allowed me to really start to achieve some of the things I have set out to do in the sport of triathlon, and in life.

4. The time commitment it takes to excel in triathlon is often a source of stress for a lot of couples. How do you two deal with the time commitment and discipline it requires to compete at the pro level? Advice on that subject?

Cam:  The time commitment is huge, and it has definitely taken some work for the two of us to really be on the same page all the time. In this case being a pro and doing this for a living actually makes it easier as we both know that my training and rest is paramount to my success and our livelihood in the sport. The biggest thing for us has been communication, and making sure that we both know what the other person needs. There are days where my wife needs me to watch our son, or run an errand and I have to adjust my training schedule, but we have found that as long as we talk, we are almost always able to accommodate the  other. The other thing about the time commitment as a pro is that there are a lot of little breaks in the day when you are not training and can spend time together. Grabbing lunch or a coffee allows me to relax and us the opportunity to spend some time together that if I was working in an office I wouldn’t ever have.

I guess my best advice would just be communicate. I know its a lot easier to say than execute, but if you keep each other in the loop then you both feel more connected to what is going on and will be more likely to work around each other’s schedules when necessary. We try really hard to go on dates as often as we can, and since our son was born our definition of a date has broadened greatly. We aren’t always able to get to the dinner and movie we would like, but we grab coffee or lunch whenever we can, and just try and get in some good time alone together. Having both of our parents near by has been amazing, as they are the best babysitters in the world, and the only people we know that will call to offer to watch the baby for us.

5. Your son Liam is 7.5 months old now. How did your triathlon life change when Liam was born?

Cam: Triathlon for me didn’t change a whole lot because we were fortunate that he was born right at the end of my 2011 season, and then I had the whole off season to get through the sleepless nights and get adjusted. By the time the season really got going he was sleeping better and he really hasn’t forced many changes in my day to day schedule. He has even gone with my wife and I to my last couple races, and it has been really nice to bring the family along and keep that sense of normalcy when I travel to big races.

6. What measures do you take to keep family time your top priority amid all of the training and travel?

Cam: This has been the hardest thing for me. It is something that I believe is extremely important but at the same time it requires the most  effort on my part as an athlete. To be great at athletics there is a certain degree of selfishness required to make sure that training and recovery are getting the priority that they need, and it has been a bit of a learning process to make sure that I make enough time for the family. Lately, my wife and I have tried to be better about getting off the phones and the computer at night when we are home together and I have been trying to play with my son in the mornings before my training day really starts. It is a constant work in progress but as long as I make it a priority, I will always be able to make the time.

7. Do your wife and son travel with you to races?

Cam: They have gone to St Anthony’s and Rev3 Knoxville so far this year and we are planning on them coming to at least a few more this year. He is still so young that we have found 2-3 hours is about the longest we want to fly with him, so that will limit some races but still give us all the opportunity to travel together a fair amount.

8. Is that stressful or has your family learned to enjoy the journey?

Cam: Honestly, I think it is more stressful for my wife than for me. She does such an amazing job of taking care of the lil man while we travel  and really tries to let me focus on just racing. I get a bit stressed traveling with a baby just because of all the extra stuff and time that is required but once we get to a race, its just nice to have them along for the adventure. There is nothing better than finishing a race, good or bad, and seeing your wife and son at the finish line.

9. Does your family play a role in your race selection?

Cam: Right now with my family being so young race selection is more left up to me. I go to the races I decide will be best for my racing career.  As Liam gets older I suspect the family will play a bigger role in some selections as far as good vacation destinations, but in short course racing doing the races in a series or qualifying races plays the biggest role in where the athletes end up. Unfortunately, my son is yet to talk to 5150 or Toyota Cup about where he would like their races to be held and until then I am sort of at the mercy of the series.

10. Living in Boulder with so many pros, do your families know and spend time together?

Cam: I have always said my claim to fame thus far has been that I am a pro triathlete that was born at Boulder Community Hospital. As you said though there have been plenty of people moving to town over the years and through racing and training my wife and I have gotten to know a lot of them. We do hang out a fair amount with some of the other families, but really most of the time we spend with other triathletes is spent with my good friends that I also train with at Apex Coaching. As of now I am sort of the old man in the group as I am the only one with a child, but all of the other guys have adopted Liam as their own and some even refer to themselves as Uncle. We have a great group of training partners and seriously talented athletes that also happen to be great people and it makes hanging out away from racing a lot of fun.

11. Do you have any advice on how to involve your kids in your love for the outdoors?

Cam: At this point I would say it is more advice I have gotten than personal experience. Since Liam is so young right now the best we do really is an afternoon in the park or a walk, but as he gets older I really look forward to spending time with him outdoors and playing sports. He has already dipped his feet in the ocean and spent plenty of time in the yard and seeing as my wife and I both love the outdoors I think it will be easy to get him involved as he gets older just by bringing him along. It seems to me that kids, at least young ones, tend to do what their parents do, so I think the best thing is just to get them outside and moving. I think a big part of my athletic background comes from my parents sending me outside to play when I was young and not letting me stay in front of the TV. We didn’t own any sort of video game console until I was about 12 and even then being active outside was so engrained in me that I never really played it that much. I hope to cultivate that same love of being active with my kids through example and time together outside and moving.

12. Away from triathlon what does your family do for fun?

Cam: In general we just try and do a lot of things together. Since my work schedule is a bit different each day and week to week, we just try and  do things together whenever we can. Be it a walk down on Pearl Street for a coffee, or a quick trip to the mountains for the weekend, we just try and do things as a family. I am really excited for my son to get a little bit older so that when we go places we can expose him to more things and show him all the awesome things that are out there.

13. You have to eat a clean diet most of the year.  Does your family follow your diet as well or do they do their own thing part of the time?

Cam: Well to be completely honest, my “clean” diet is only so clean. I do try and eat healthy most of the time but I definitely have a weakness for the finer things in life like chocolate, dessert and pizza. My wife does a good majority of the cooking at home which means that her and I both eat a pretty healthy diet most of the time. It is important for my training, and for health in general. That said I do think there is a place for just about any food in moderation and we try and take advantage of that when I am in a big training block or during the off season.

14. What life lessons do you hope Liam takes away from your career as a professional triathlete?

Cam: Whether it is from my career directly or just from sports in general I think there are a lot of good lessons to be learned. Growing up a swimmer taught me everything there is to know about time management, and it also taught me how to set goals and then work hard to get to  them. I think my kids can learn those two as well as hopefully the idea that you can do things you love for a living, and that there are so many opportunities out there that you can take advantage of. I want them to see that I had a dream when I was young and I worked really hard to follow through and make that a reality and whether it is in sports or some other avenue of life, people do realize their dreams.

15. What do you hope your kids will remember about growing up with a pro triathlete as their dad?

Cam: I hope they remember a lot, because if they do it means that I raced for a long time and they got to enjoy a lot of years of traveling. I think triathlon as a career offers so many unique opportunities to travel and see the things that I hope they appreciate that when they get older. By traveling all over the world they will meet all kinds of people and see all kinds of things that they wouldn’t being at home in Boulder, and I hope those experiences give them a better understanding of the world.

16. Favorite “family movie?”

Cam: Liam’s still too young really, but my wife owns about every Disney movie ever made so I am guessing it will start there.

17.  Liam’s favorite race destination?

Cam: Not many to choose from but I would say St Anthony’s thus far. He loved watching the ocean and anywhere there are a ton of people is exciting for him.

18. What is your typical prerace meal?

Cam: The night before I try and get some good local Hawaiian Pizza. Then the morning of it is all about the maple syrup and brown sugar instant oatmeal.

19. If you weren’t a pro triathlete what would you be doing?

Cam: My joking, but half serious answer is a professional bull rider, but the more realistic one is I would have probably at least ventured  temporarily into the business world after graduating with a finance degree.

20. Three people you’d love to hang out with for a day?

Cam: I am assuming you mean people that I don’t ordinarily get to see, and while there are a ton of interesting people I guess three would be:  Warren Buffet, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), and Peyton Manning.

21. Favorite band/artist?

Cam: Depending on the mood, Jay-Z, Garth Brooks, or Jack Johnson.

22. One song that gets you fired up to race?

Cam:  Till I Collapse, Eminem

23. Favorite sports team?

Cam: College, the Iowa Hawkeyes. Pro, the Denver Broncos.

24. I am personally curious about this one…coming from Boulder, CO how did you end up going to college in Dan Gable country in Iowa City?

Cam:  I knew I wanted a big sports school and my Mom is from Iowa so I knew I loved the people in the Midwest. Finally, it came down to the recruiting trips I took for swimming and of all the schools and cities I just like the team and the town at Iowa the best. I absolutely believe it was the best college experience I could have hoped to have, and swimming with one of Dan’s (Gable) daughters and having a BBQ at his house were just some of the perks.

25. Final word of advice for average age groupers with limited time who are  juggling family, triathlon, and a full time job…what’s the most  important thing that we do to progress as triathletes without taking away from our families?

Cam: I think for most triathletes this is the million dollar question, and I think, believe it or not the answer is relatively simple. Be consistent but flexible. I know that sounds strange but if you can consistently fit in your workouts you will improve as an athlete, and if you can be flexible with them at times, your family will never be left behind. Remember that something is better than nothing, so if you need to cut a workout short, or rearrange a week that is ok and will not negatively impact your training. If you have a long ride you really want to do, make sure it gets on the family calendar way in advance so that everyone knows it is going on, and if your kid gets sick and you end up not being able to do it remember what your priorities are. Involve your family in your training and racing when you can, and they will think it is that much cooler when you are out training or crossing the finish line. The last thought would be to remember that racing and training is supposed to be fun so when you can get out with groups or just a couple guys. You can be competitive and have more fun with your workouts than when you are slogging away by yourself. Unless you are getting paid, training and racing should never feel like a job.

I hope you kids enjoyed meeting Cam Dye. You can follow more of his adventures on his blog here. Follow him on twitter @camdyetri


– Daddy Pro Interviews are sponsored by Rev3 Triathlon