On October 18, 2014, my 5 year old donned his jammers and goggles and splashed into the world of triathlon again. He was phenomenal at his first tri and I couldn’t wait to watch him in action. My mom even came to visit so she could squeeze in a tri, baseball game, and some early Halloween fun. It was to be a long and busy day.
Our day started early – not Disney race early, but 5am is still pretty early for a 5 year old. We were headed back to Keller, Texas so he could complete the Monster Kids’ Triathlon. He was in the Leap Frog category again with a 25m swim, 1 mile swim, and a 1/3 mile run. The weather was just beginning to turn cool – and you could even go as far to say “chilly” in the predawn hours – but the wind was calm and there was no wet stuff coming down.
After waiting in line to get body marked, we were allowed into transition. He picked out a transition spot and we set out his gear. Poor guy was so tired he tried to catch a few more Z’s on his transition-Bat-towel. We were not quite as early to this race so there wasn’t much time to kill before the swim.
Mom went to the upper deck to watch the swim while I hung out just beyond the doors to the pool deck (the race allowed one parent to be on deck while the child was in the water). When I saw my triathlete line up for the next heat I made my way through the maze of parents to the deck. Speaking of the parents, allow me to go off on a slight tangent… I absolutely LOVED seeing all the shirts/jackets that the parents were wearing from various races. Several were wearing jackets from the previous year’s Monster Triathlon (the grown up race was following day), but there were numerous 70.3 and 140.6 races represented as well. Being around all that triathlon mojo made me realize that it’s time to get back into the swim/bike/run swing of things.
Back to the race at hand. The boy’s on the far side of the pool waiting to get the “Go!” signal. He jumps in with a splash and he’s off! Leap Frog’s only go one length of the pool and there is one child/lane. Each lane also has a volunteer that swims with a noodle alongside the child just in case they are needed. Imagine the vigilant teenage helper drifting next to my 5 year old as he boogies down the lane. Now see if you can picture the shock that crosses the ever vigilant teenage helper’s face when suddenly the 5 year old disappears under water. For some reason that was completely rational in a 5 year old’s universe, my triathlete began to swim underwater rather than on the surface. However, thanks to the lack of lung capacity, he doesn’t get very far before a breath has to be taken. His head pops up, the ever vigilant teen helper (that is still in shock and not sure what to do) practically melts with relief, and the necessary breath is taken. The swimmer then ducks back under water and the cycle repeats. Want to know an interesting fact about 5 year old swimmers – at least my 5 year old swimmer? When going under water, there was no diving under at an angle (in order to continually move forward). Instead my little swimmer did surface dives and went down vertically before swimming on the horizontal plane. When a breath was needed, the ascent was just as perpendicular to the floor of the pool as the decent. He was still fairly quick in the pool compared to the others in his heat, and every time his head breeched the surface – his smile got bigger. On the way to transition I asked him why he wanted to swim underwater. His response? Because under the water “I can go super shark speed without that drag that’s on the top”.
After a quick transition, he was at the mount line for the bike. He still needs help getting started on the bike so I held him upright long enough for him to get both feet on the pedals and he was off! During his first tri my husband tried to keep up with him throughout the bike and the run in case he got into a spot of trouble. This time around the kiddo was going to be on his own. The previous weekend my guy did the Kids’ Dash and I did the half marathon at the Showdown. I was dealing with some ankle/tendon issues and knew I wouldn’t be able to go along with him. Not that I would have been able to keep up with Speed Racer even if I was at 100%.
I watched him pedal off into the distance. Mom and I anxiously waited to see him coming around the bend. And we waited a little longer. And a little longer. I began to have a nagging thought that something was wrong – he went off course and was on his own, he had crashed, or something simple as stopping while on the bike and not being able to get started again. I started walking, certain that I would see him any second. When I still couldn’t see him in the distance, I started
running hobbling as fast as I could. When I saw him, I had to smile… there he was, cruising along, chatting with a fellow competitor. He gave me a big smile and wave as he passed and I had to book it back to transition.
My ankle was screaming at me by this point and of course he beat me back. The kiddo got ready to run and was soon out of transition and down the path. Mom waited at the finish line and I made my way a short distance down the run path to cheer him on. Soon enough, there he was. He had slowed down some, but he was still running. He crossed the finish line, received his medal, and started searching for the post race breakfast. He was a little disappointed that there were no donuts this time, but that didn’t stop him from scarfing down the pancakes.
I hope that this interest in triathlon continues and develops into a passion that will continue to enrich his life. One of my favorite parts any race he does is when it’s all over. Not because I’m itching to get gone, but because he feels like he won. It doesn’t matter if there are 50 kids that crossed the line a split second before he did – he ALWAYS feels like he won first place. To me that is amazing – to see finishing as an achievement and that your only true competitor is yourself.
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