My alarm went off at 4:15 AM; there would be no snoozing today. With coffee in hand, I moved from bed to bed waking up the kids, “Good morning guys. Time to rise and shine. It’s race day.”
Though we were not very bright-eyed, we were awake and ready when Susanna and her two boys met us at 5:00 AM. Loaded into the rental van with the coolers, bags, gear and bikes, we were off, headed to the kids first triathlon.
When we arrived at the race site, we found the venue set up like all triathlon venues I’ve raced before. The music was playing as participants gathered and prepared for the race. Orange tape and temporary fencing lined the transition areas. The finish line stood out prominently with a large inflatable arch. Chirping sounds filled the air as participants walked over the timing mats causing the system to beep continuously. The racks were full of bikes as racers chatted with each other while setting up their gear.
It was race time and our kids were ready.
I had no idea what to expect from Christopher and Julia on the swim. Neither of them has ever been taught proper stroke mechanics, so this was going to be interesting.
Seeing them inch closer and closer to the starting block, I held my breath, just hoping for the best.
Susanna’s son, Brooks, however, is a very good competitive swimmer. We knew he would do well during that portion of the race. He swims thousands of yards a week for swim practice and it showed. He did extremely well, finishing third in his age group for the swim.
Christopher is a fast learner and while he didn’t have any stroke training, he did well, finishing 10th in his age group,
Now, for my sweet little super competitive Julia. While her time for the swim was pretty good and she continued to move forward, I’m sure some of the other parents thought she needed a lifeguard to save her. She splashed and flailed the entire 100 meters.
I sent a video to my dad after the race and his comment was, “Julia looked like she couldn’t even swim.”
It wasn’t pretty, but she made it.
All three kids transitioned efficiently from the swim to the bike and began their 4-mile ride around and through the adjacent neighborhood. This was a little nerve-racking for Susanna and me because we could not be out there to help them or tell them where to go. Fortunately, the course was well marked, and the staff was very organized, ensuring the participants were safe and stayed on course.
The bike was the toughest portion of the race for the kids, partly because the bikes they used were heavy mountain bikes or dirt bikes. Brooks also had the misfortune of his chain coming off causing his time to slow significantly. Regardless, all three did well and made it back safely with very respectable times.
Next, it was time for them to start their strongest leg of the race, the run. All three are skilled runners and this is where they made up for the time they lost on the bike.
As we stood near the finish line, it was such a thrill to see them sprinting past other racers right up until the very end.
These three extremely competitive kids, who didn’t train much for the triathlon, had fun competing in a very tough endurance event and crossed the finish line as triathletes.
It was inspiring to watch them step up and take on a challenge of triathlon. Their competitive hearts were on full display during the entire race. Afterwards, they were happy about completing their first triathlon, but they started chatting, almost immediately about how they could do better next year.
I believe we can all learn from this message, to continually think about how we can be better, whether it’s in triathlon, work or life.
Three of our kiddos, along with many more who participated, poured their hearts, minds and bodies into doing what few people, young and old, have tried. These kids are triathletes and we are so proud!
You may be wondering about the kids results and how they finished. Quite impressive, actually!
Brooks ended up finishing 17th out of 31 in his age group. Had it not been for his chain issues on the bike, he would have finished well within the top 10, in a very tough age group.
Christopher finished 5th in his age group out of 26. Overall, he finished 14th, against all 78 male racers ages 8 to 16.
Julia, my little non-swimmer, finished 2nd in her age group, out of 22 racers, receiving a silver medal. Overall, and against 50 other female racers, ages 8 to 16, Julia finished 5th. Can you believe that? Her swim may not have been pretty, but she didn’t let that stop her from being the 5th fastest female triathlete. Oh, and don’t tell Christopher, but he only beat her by 22 seconds.
Watching these three kids race in and complete their first triathlon was beyond inspiring. I’m quite certain that they are hooked on the sport like a lot of us are.
For them, like me, their curiosity and determination to take on the challenge of triathlon came down to asking Why Not Tri?