Last weekend was the annual “Tri-ing for Children’s Triathlon,” a weekend long set of triathlons to benefit Children’s Hospital here in town. Jenny and I were both signed up to do the sprint triathlon, a 1⁄4 mile swim, 15 mile bike, then 3.1 mile run. We’ve done it a few years in a row now, so that’s not what I’m writing about - this year we decided to let our kids participate in the kid’s event on the Saturday prior to the adult races.
For Quin this was his first triathlon. He was to swim 25 yards, bike 1⁄4 mile, then run 0.1 mile to the finish. Even though he’d never done one before, we were pretty confident that he would do well - he’s one of the only 4 year olds I know that is on 2 wheels versus training wheels, and he’s pretty fast. His race started out well - they started them every 3 seconds until all of them were in the water, and they were chip timed. He passed the girl in front of him in the “swim,” which was 25 yards in waist deep water - all the kids I saw walked it, and Quin was no exception. From there, he ran to transition where I helped him putting on a shirt, shoes, and socks - what we would soon realize was a disastrous mistake. As soon as we got his shoes and socks on, he was off on the bike - calling it 1⁄4 mile was very generous - it was a single lap around a quite small parking lot. Quin was out and back in only a few seconds. From there, he parked the bike and took off on the 0.1 mile run. When it was all over, Quin placed 9th overall at 6 minutes 40 seconds. We’re pretty sure if we had just put Crocs on him instead of bothering with shoes and socks, he could have contended! Oh well, next year he’ll be in the next, tougher division, so the strategy will have to be learned anew.
After Quin was done with his race it was hurry up and wait for Ethan. He was competing in the 11-14 year old division, the oldest kids at the triathlon. He stood dutifully on the beach watching wave after wave of 5-11 year olds swim their lap in the waist deep water then head off to the bike. Though he claimed not to be nervous, he was getting impatient with waiting and exclaimed, “I just want this to be over.” As they went through the different age groups, they continued to move the swimming area buoy further and further apart, until they ran out of room in the swimming area. I started wondering aloud with Ethan how they were going to accommodate his 200 yard swim in that small area, but assured him he would be able to touch throughout the entirety of the swim. As they finally got to Ethan’s division, the announced how the legs would be run. They would swim to the far buoy in the swimming area, then out of the swimming area to some of the adult buoys for Sunday’s race! What!??! They were sending him out past the weeds where he couldn’t touch!!?!?! This was crazy… Well, Jenny and I kind of crapped ourselves, but pulled it together. As calmly as I could, I told Jenny to just back off, knowing she would probably freak him out, and I went up to talk with Ethan. Casually I said to him, “Well, it looks like you are not going to be able touch the whole way.” He looked at me with that “duh, dad” look on his face, paused dramatically, then said, “well, I suppose I’ll just have to swim then.” He convinced me, and he did just that - he swam the whole 200 yards, then got out on his 6 mile bike, and finished it off with a 1 mile run. He wasn’t in great shape, and he wasn’t anywhere near as good as some crazy good triathlete kids out there, but he finished it - it wasn’t a big deal to him - he just doesn’t freak out about those things like I do, I suppose, and I’m a little jealous.
Ethan’s “I’m just going to do it” attitude inspired me for my triathlon the next day. I’d like to say I ran it fast, but I didn’t. Instead, I got the most sleep I’ve ever had the night before a triathlon and ran a very comfortable race. Because if Ethan can do it, so can I!