So, I’ve never been much of an athletic person. I know, “shocker, right?” But when one becomes a parent, often times you are required to do things in order to feed your child’s interests and help them seek out the things they love. Now my daughter Maia, on the other hand, is 9 years old and enjoys most of these athletic events that I struggle with. Usually I can escape such trials as I have to take photos and can’t do both. This was one of those times where it was unavoidable.
Up until now, I have been able to skate by the last 9 years of her life indulging her interests without putting forth much effort. Sled riding, roller skating, kayaking, swimming, these were all within my realm of comfort. A 1k kayak paddle, a 8k bike ride and a 2k run in the Second Annual Mini-Adventure Triathlon held here in Lock Haven, not so much.
Now we have gone kayaking a few times and also go on bicycle rides, but running is not my forte. I usually have a golden rule that I only run if I’m being chased (zombies, police etc.) I told Maia this and her initial response was “why would you run from the police?” Good girl Maia, you NEVER run from the police. lol. Anyhow, I don’t even own a pair of running shoes! I’m sure I looked hilarious as passer byes saw this lanky, middle aged man running in brown shoes and socks. But my shirt said it all…”Awesome”. haha
Maia had been training for this triathlon for about a month since she decided she wanted to participate. She would go twice a week (give or take) and run, bike, kayak etc. But you can imagine my surprise TODAY when she insisted that I had to do it with her because she was worried about kayaking in the river by herself. I was more concerned with her doing a 8k bike ride on the road by herself so I reluctantly agreed. I must be a glutton for punishment.
At the check in meeting I had my first mini-panic. We were told that we couldn’t leave the bike station until we had our helmets on. Well my daughter has a helmet but not me. “Perfect” I thought. I’ve already paid and am ready to start in 15 minutes and I’ve got no helmet. Luckily for me there was a spare to borrow. Crisis averted. Now it’s go time. Time to get in the water and get this party started.
We had talked to Maia and explained that this was her first triathlon and being such, it wasn’t about winning. It was about finishing the race and preparing for the next time. She totally agreed and was on board. Now Maia is on the swim team and understands winning and losing but I’m not sure the competition bug has totally bit her yet, and I’m fine with that, as long as she’s having fun. As the race started we were at the back of the pack as we were the last to enter the river. We casually paddled downstream as others raced feverishly. We told each other that we were pacing ourselves and would make up some ground on the bikes. We did make up a little space in the water and were the second to last team to reach the shore. Not bad. I was feeling pretty good. Not tired and we go biking all the time, no problem right? We leaped from our kayaks and ran to our bike station to put on dry shoes, grab a drink of water, put on our helmets and hit the road.
No sooner did we make it out of the parking lot did Maia have an itch she needed to scratch and wanted to take off her sunglasses. We stopped momentarily so she could do this and as she started back out, lost control and wrecked! Oh no! She handled it like a champ, hopped right back up said “Daddy, I’m bleeding” and started out. I tried to make light of it knowing we had two legs of the race left and it really wasn’t bad.
“That’s ok Maia, boys dig scars” I told her.
I don’t know how true it is and she didn’t buy it anyhow, but we were on the road. Her accident left us at the back of the pack, we were passed by the last two people. No big deal. I could tell she didn’t like the idea of being last but she wasn’t devastated by it either. She started her planning for next year’s race and was preparing what she could do to be better off next year. Good for her. The majority of the bike ride was flat with a couple small hills (if you can call them hills, more like inclines.) She did great even though this was by far one of the longest rides she had ever had. We were able to climb a couple of spots during the biking and finished ahead of a few people. We returned to the staging area, dropped the bikes, grabbed a drink and headed out to run.
I still felt pretty good about myself. She wasn’t racing on her bike so it was a nice casual ride for me. Although the minute my feet hit the ground i could feel it. I had a case of spaghetti legs. Not over the top, but it was there. I had warned Maia that the “run” would be more of a jog or fast walk. lol. She said she wasn’t going to wait for me. I told her that was fine. Although in my head I was thinking “I can’t wimp out. I can’t have my 9 year old totally smoke me in this thing. I gotta save some face, I’m Dadddy!”
The first 1/4 of the run was fine. The second 1/4 a little tougher. I was getting hotter, my heart was pumping faster, I could feel my face getting flush. I hate running. I find no enjoyment in it whatsoever. No “run for fun” for me. ugh! Anyhow, we reached the halfway point of the run and got a drink. Rinsed and spit, and dumped some on each others heads. Ah! That’s what we needed. We were off and running again, feeling a bit refreshed and on the home stretch. After we crossed the bridge and were heading toward the finish line, I was done! Maia was picking up steam, feeding off her friends and supporters yelling for her, me on the other hand. I was dead! My legs and chest were thumping! I had to keep pace with my 9 year old! I let her hold a stride or two ahead of my up until the last 20 feet or so. I sped up and she completely panicked when she thought I was going to “beat” her. hahaha It was a great comedic dad moment. She did finish a few seconds ahead of me though.
Prior to the race Maia’s only goal was to finish in under 1 1/2 hours. Her final time was 1 hour 8 minutes! She did awesome. It makes me feel like we are doing something right watching our little girl grow up and set goals for herself. And doing what she needs to do to accomplish her goals. Especially when those goals are for her alone. She wasn’t trying to beat all the other kids (thank goodness too because some of them are professionals, I swear!) She did a really great job and I couldn’t be more proud. Even though she had to compete with a tall, lanky, non-athletic guy running next to her the whole time in brown shoes and socks!