Monday, July 16, 2012

Kids Tri and We All Win!

Body marked and
ready to "race"!
Yesterday my six year old son did his third triathlon. I've done one triathlon, and it was over two years ago. Yeah, I'm feeling a little pressure to get back in the saddle and do something with myself! I'll get to that later. For now, I am reveling in his unique racing style.

"Racing," is a bit strong for his approach to triathlons. Leisurely might be a better description. While the other kids plunged into the pool and swam their hearts out, he kicked himself down the lane taking in the crowd and enjoying the summer sun on his back. In his transition area, he stopped for some water before sitting down to put on his shoes and socks, and then casually walked his bike to the start of the next leg. While cycling, he chats with the race volunteers and then ambles through the quarter-mile running portion. At the finish line, he accepts his medal, plays some bean-bag toss games to collect his free water bottle, plays in the bouncy house, and then goes home to play Minecraft. 

He comes in dead last. All of his friends have been at the finish line for at least 20 minutes drinking orange juice. But he doesn't seem to care or even notice. Last year when I asked what his favorite part of the triathlon was, he said, "winning." Then he went back to his Legos.

So I figured he just wasn't that into it. That's cool, I thought. My kid doesn't need to be a triathlete. Of course, that wasn't true. I was heartbroken that he didn't seem to share my love for sweat in my eyes and burning muscles from lactic acid buildup, for the heaving and OMG I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN DO IT and near-collapse at the finish line that is so rewarding in a sick kind of way. It's a lot to ask of a first-grader, I know. I consoled myself with a reminder that he did claim to enjoy running. It helped.

Then this summer he casually mentioned that at his next triathlon, he wasn't going to use a kick board. Of course, that wasn't true either. But I indulged him this fantasy as I tried to mask my glee as I probed for more information: "Do you want to do another triathlon? Because there is one in a month and I happen to have the registration form right here and can sign you up now ooops look at that I already did it! Let's go train!"

But on race day, I was confused. He had claimed to want to do a triathlon, but he was moving as slow as a turtle. It was hard to see the other kids zipping by while mine was so slow, but as he rolled past me on his bike and called out, "hi mom," I realized he was just enjoying the race. He was happy at his own pace, and that's really what its all about anyway.

As he finished his leisurely paces through the swim, bike, and run, pride overwhelmed me to the point where on the way home he politely asked me to stop congratulating him. But I couldn't help it! Completing a triathlon is an accomplishment at any age and any distance, and I am in awe of the kids who get out there and try it! 

My kid might not be fast, but he still has his game face on. Yesterday he reminded me that fitness events are more about enjoying the process than trying to prove anything. Once I realized that, I felt like we all won. Cue the after-school special music!

Get out there and get healthy today, even if you come in dead last!

1 comment:

Ellen said...

"Yesterday he reminded me that fitness events are more about enjoying the process than trying to prove anything."

All I can say is that your son is wise beyond his years!