Sunday, July 22, 2007
Most of you who know me know I very rarely go to races just to watch them. As much as I'd like to it just doesn't seem to work out for one reason or another. Well for your information I did actually attend a race today and was not a part of it other than to observe the true joy of athletes and their races.
The Exceleration Try-It-Triathlon all started in Vancouver, July 21st, at the Templeton Pool. The distances were daunting:
100m swim, 4.3km bike, 1km run.
Intimidating to some, but for these athletes and especially first-timers, it appeared before them like their own personal Everest (remember that one Tracey?). It did seem that way, of course, because these first-timers were only eight years old.
The nerves on some were apparent, others waited at the start of the pool with a cool aura around them. The air of "done this before, liked it, and am doing it again". Nervousness from the competitors was not the only place it was emanating. The family members of these racers were almost coming unglued from the suspense of watching their little ones do something on their own that had never been attempted before. Images of babies first time in water, riding a bike with no training wheels, and of course, those first steps ever attempted and accomplished!! The old saying, "They grow up so fast", never rang more true.
I focussed on a set of parents watching their twin boy and girl getting ready for their first triathlon. The mother (we'll call her "Mom"), a dazzling beauty who, at first glance you may not recognize as being the best mother in the world, seemed at ease letting the little ones line up their own shoes and helmets. The father (oh, let's call him "Dad"), an ordinary-looking sod who may appear to you as possibly, maybe, occasionally entering an event such as this, was a little bit frantic in making sure that things were placed exactly as they wanted and how the kids had practised.
All was in place and Mom snapped pictures and Dad wrung his hands. A friend of the parents (let's label her as "Tracey"), a truly amazing friend and mentor to the kids who rarely thinks of herself and gives and gives unconditionally, was there to help all the kids go smoothly through the transitions. Final instructions were given as to the number of laps for each portion of the event. The final, final instructions were then voiced and repeated back by all entrants which followed one final reaffirming repetition by the racers so that all understood what was expected of them. "Fun" was also said many times.
Then the time had come where they slipped into the water and as every fifth second on the clock ticked by, a triathlete was born. The parents' son (let's go with "The Boy") began in earnest with a strong show of freestyle but switching soon after with the strokeless backstroke in a move he told us was called, "The Pancake".
Their other child (just for something different, "Bean") began a few places later with a head of steam grinding out an impressive front crawl as well which soon after transformed into what was a backstroke minus the strokes with a powerful kick. (Bean is at the top of the picture.)
The look of pride and joy on the faces of Mom and Dad could have been bottled and sold at the fair in a small jar; maybe with that red kind of scottish-looking pattern cloth with an elastic around it and a homemade note that read "Parental Pride and Joy", but Dad's might have been tough to package as a prominent feature of his face may well indeed have inhibited getting the look actually into the jar, which in that case the face would have appeared to be one squished in horror. This would have required a whole new homemade label to go along with it.
The Boy exited slightly before Bean yet they both made it onto the bikes and to the road after a couple of almost wrong turns. There was also a tiny glitch where The Boy skidded somewhat and Bean bumped his tire and nearly went down on the slippery road. Not faltering one bit, Bean set off behind her brother, a look of determination boring into the backs of the competition. Mom and Dad now had a breather to recall the amazing ability and will that their children just demonstrated. Dad was most impressed by the desire to keep going even in the face of all the other kids swimming in their faces in a giant log-jam that was the swim leg.
The three laps were completed with The Boy smiling away after each one. He headed out strong from transition, forgoing the water station not wanting to waste a single second.
Bean came in not long after, Dad mentally filing away the need to work with her another day on the necessity of changing gears on the downhills to keep up a good speed. Her transition, too, was impressive and she rocketed out on the run course with a little help from Tracey.
Again Dad awaited for what could be a life-altering accomplishment should they take everything from it and make themselves better by having done this. Mom believed the kids would just say they had fun doing a swim, a bike, and a run.
At last The Boy appeared from behind the school down the final stretch, a look of steel determination on his face. He crossed the line smiling and had to be grabbed by a volunteer to stop his momentum to let him know his race was done. Congratulations were said over and over and there were hugs-a-plenty.
Then Bean came into view, one hand holding her side in a way Dad recognized immediately as a side stitch. Knowing his daughter like he did, he knew this would in no way hinder her from finishing. Although, more serious-looking than The Boy from dealing with some adversity, she finished fast as well and collapsed into Dad's arms with the emotions from the race flowing onto his shoulder.
The look on the Mom and Dad's faces needed no explanation - they were indeed happy.
Congratulations Hannah and Elias!!
"Life is not in having and getting but in being and becoming"
Posted by Darin at 7:49 a.m.