Joshua is my almost 11 year old son. He is the only one of my two kids that shows any interest in athletics, and he specifically has been involved in swimming all summer and is hoping to start swim team in October. He has a bike that he rides every where, and has done track, though he will admit it is his least favorite of the three tri sports (I wonder where he gets that?)
Anyhow, I heard about this kids triathlon on Monday and it wasn't too late to put him in. I put him in the kids race, which had a 100 yard swim, a 1 mile bike, and a .5 mile run. I knew he could do it and when I mentioned it he was excited and wanted me to sign him up. So we did. The rest of the week we kind of forgot about it, and then we woke up yesterday morning to get him ready. The kids race didn't start until 11:00 after the sprint and mini sprint races. I got up and made sure he had air in his tires, greased his chain, and straightened his handle bars as they were somehow crooked. He was appreciative for me spending the time on his bike, he gave me a big hug and said thank you. I seriously love how sweet he is!
Once we got to the race, he was really nervous. He was asking me a bunch of questions about what to do in transition, what do to in different scenarios that might come up, and he was starting to freak out a bit. I finally just told him that I had two expectations for him and that is all he should have for himself. One, do his very best, and Two, have fun. I explained that there is a difference between doing THE best and HIS best, and I think he understood. Joshua is VERY competitive, so I worried that he might beat himself up if he didn't do first or if he wasn't the fastest, etc. I could tell that a kids triathlon team was there and they were intimidating to him. I also knew that they had been in a camp all summer and had trained harder than Josh, so I didn't want him to be disappointed. When they finally opened the transition area for kids, I helped him set everything up. He just put his bag down and called it good. I showed him how to get the stuff out of his bag, set his shoes up, put a sock in each shoe, etc. He gave me another hug (normally this kid is not very affectionate) and said, "Thanks so much Mom. I would have never thought of any of that". I wanted to cry right there!
We finally went and took him to the side of the pool where they were starting and they had to seed themselves in their age groups according to swim time. He is a good swimmer, but he was nervous, so he went to the very end. I tried really hard not to just grab him and put him farther up, because I know he can do better than he was giving himself credit for, but I restrained. There were things about today I wanted him to learn on his own. Anyhow, they started the kids in a time trial start and immediately there were some very good swimmers, but there were also some, in his age group clinging to the side of the pool and the rope. Joshua would get practice passing these people! He jumped in and took off. I was so proud I may or may not have teared up at the sight of my boy doing his first tri! He did the first 50 yards in free style, then switched to back stroke, his favorite for the remaining 50. There were kids doing every sort of every stroke, so it didn't matter.
Josh killed this swim! He finished the 100 yards in just over 2 minutes, even with all the chaos of other kids and the switching of which stroke to do. Then I ran with him to T1 asking him how he felt and all he could say was, "That was awesome! I wish it were longer!" Yes, son, I completely understand. I feel the same way about triathlon swims! He quickly toweled off and got his shoes on, his shirt with his race number, his helmet and was off!
He was caught in a bottle neck of kids all trying to run with their bikes and he said "thank you" and "excuse me" when he got too close to other people. I was impressed by how polite he was being even in the rush of a race! He was excited for the bike and mounted quickly and was off.
He did the bike portion in just over 4 minutes! Way to go Buddy! He started the run and did have a chance to tell me he was having a lot of fun. That's all that matters!
Coming in from the run to the finish I could tell he was tired, but he ran like a champ and got his medal after the finish. Total time for him was 14 minutes. I was expecting him to take longer, but he did great! All he could say when he was finished was,"That was so much fun. My run sucks though. When can I do another one?" Yep, he is his Mother's Son!
Joshua was excited to get his results and even though he wasn't close to the top of his age group, he was happy with how he did. I was happy that he was happy, knowing how hard on himself he can be and how competitive. He asked for a big fountain drink from the gas station and we all got one. He was then researching kid races online at home planning his next one. Yep, he's been bit by the bug!
I was one happy Mama today. It means so much to me that one of them is athletic, even though I really wouldn't care if it were triathlon or not, that is just an added bonus. He showed good sportsmanship today, he did his best, he had fun, and he has a knew favorite hobby. This got him fired up to work harder on his swim, and more excited for swim team. He even asked when I can buy him a "fancy bike". Whoa, not so fast! He is a great kid, I still thank God every day for the chance to be his Mom, and though he is growing up too fast, every new opportunity makes me prouder of him, and today was just another one of those moments.
So what is next? A week from today is Age Group Nationals! I think that given my stiff competition there I am going to follow my own advice that I gave him. Just do MY best and have fun. In the meantime, Happy Training and racing all!