Wednesday, September 25, 2013
T. wasn’t really excited about any team sports this fall. At our local Y, I saw a brochure about a local kid’s triathlon and asked the boy if he’d be interested. His response? “I like swimming; I like running; I like biking. Yeah.” So we talked about a goal. Since this was his first triathlon, the goal would be to finish. He didn’t have to be first, and it was OK if he was last, as long as he finished.
The triathlon is designed with the kids in mind. No parents are allowed in the transition areas—we are there to cheer them on. The kids are responsible for setting up their bikes, figuring out how they were going to dry themselves off and get on the bike, and how to get their bikes back in place so they could begin the run. It’s a lesson in planning and responsibility.
The Y had a training group going, so we signed up. We had a prescribed daily training regimen and weekly group trainings. We ended up missing the first two and I was about to pull out of the group when my son made it a point to tell me that he really wanted to do this. So we did our best to catch up.
My usually reserved, shy boy transformed into this fun-loving, carefree kid when he was in the water. Training in the heat wasn’t pleasant. There were days that I wasn’t in the mood to go outside, so I’d make him run on the treadmill upstairs. On other days, we’d grab our bikes and go for a ride. At first, he couldn’t keep up with me. I’d taunt him about letting his mom beat him in a bike ride, and he’d reply back that I’ve been riding a bike longer than he has. But soon he was keeping up with me and then passing me by.
We’d drive to the farthest Y from our house in the evenings because that’s the only one with an open-swim time when we were available. I’d sit outside watching him from the window while he did his laps and made friends with other swimmers. One lady would provide him tips and I watched as his swimming improved from flopping fish to almost smooth.
The Y hosted a pre-triathlon at one of their sites and T. did well in the swimming part. He didn’t do so well on the biking part, but the route was on grass. The real triathlon would be on pavement. Then came the run. In the middle, he just petered out. I was cheering him on, encouraging him to keep going, but in the heat of the day, he just couldn’t run much and resorted to walking as much as he could.
I was worried. Maybe this was too much for him to take on.
But we talked about what to do if things weren’t going well. How he could improve his breathing. How to keep going. And I kept reminding him of his goal to finish.
The morning of the triathlon, he was ready. He set up his transition area by himself. He was so excited to get going. And when the time came for him to line up, he was eager to go. And he did it.
The joy on his face when he realized he crossed the finish line was astounding. He was so proud of himself, especially after he heard a motivational speaker say that only 1 percent of the entire population would ever attempt a triathlon. My boy was now a triathlete. How cool is that?
T. learned a bit about himself during this process. He’s not really as shy as he claims he is—he just has to be in the right environment to be comfortable. He realized that he could set a goal and accomplish it with some hard work. He learned that running is not his favorite thing to do, but that it was tolerable. When he fell with his bike on a turn, he learned that he could get back on and keep on going. But most of all, he learned what it’s like to take something on from beginning to end and finish it.
He wasn’t first and he wasn’t last. He was right in the middle. And now he has a baseline for his next attempt.
I am very proud of my little man. He found something he enjoys and is willing to work for. Now we’re on to his next challenge—he’s decided he wants to see about joining a swim team.
Here we go!
Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Mom of two in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.