One of these years I’m going to convince E to join us at this race and then it will be the Best. Race. Day. Ever. Until then? This past Saturday will suffice.
Our plan was to have Donnie do the race alongside Nikki like I did last year, and Wes and I were going to do the relay with Wes as the swimmer. But – since he’s little and not 100% confident, I was going to do the swim alongside him. That plan was almost perfectly executed until Donnie got an infection in his elbow that was going to keep him from swimming. SO! Nikki would do the swim alone and then he would jump on his bike to do the rest with her. I knew I would finish the swim with Wes, so quite a bit behind her, so I hoped I’d be able to catch up and do the rest of the race with Nikki and Donnie.
We left the house with 3 bikes, 3 swim bags, and 2 nervous kiddos around 5:10am on Saturday. I woke Wes up right before we walked out the door so he could get as much sleep as possible. I had breakfast for him to eat at the race. We parked where we were instructed and walked the half-mile or so to the race area and headed over to transition to find our bike spots and got our transition areas kinda set up.
Donnie and Nikki set up their stuff together because they reported the same swim times so got consecutive numbers. This was my first time being part of a relay team which meant we got our own bike racks! (The relay teams, not just us.) We set up our spot and headed to body marking!
After that the kids got some breakfast, we got our timing chips (they go on your LEFT ankle so as not to get tangled with your bike gears) and jumped in the pool for a warm-up swim.
That’s when Wes started to freak out.
He has swam 400m at our YMCA pool before, but it’s a 25yd pool so it’s not as long, visually, as the 50m natatorium pool. I’ve never really seen him too nervous about anything. He’s just…well…chill. Sometimes he acts nervous about stuff when he sees Nikki is so he can get attention, but he’s never really anxious. But Saturday? He was more nervous than I had ever seen him.
The great thing about this race is it’s full of first-timers so the back of the pack is just a big ball of nervous people which actually can make you feel better, believe it or not. Because those are the people you’re entering the water with, so it suddenly feels less like you’re in a race, and more like you’re in a group therapy session. I reassured Wes that he could do the whole thing on his back if he got really anxious. He jumped in the water and started to freestyle. He’s pretty good and fast with the freestyle, but he’s not perfected breathing yet so he gets worn out so it wasn’t long before he flipped on his back, I caught up with him (we go in separately) and started my roll as “cheerleader” for the race.
He did the swim about 60% on his back and about 40% freestyle but he made it! He took a 10-second break at the end of every lap (we had planned that in advance) and just did his thing, and I think he kinda had fun! Once we got out of the water he stayed with Donnie’s parents and I jumped on the bike to try to catch Nikki and Donnie. I caught them about 2 miles into the 7 mile ride and they were doing great. Nikki was getting REALLY anxious around cars (for good reason) and turns so I took the lead and Donnie brought up the caboose of our train and then she settled in better being able to see exactly where to go by following me but still having Donnie in the back coaching her. She did GREAT.
We headed back to transition to start our 2 loops around the lake. She stayed in much better spirits this year, I think partly because it wasn’t as hot and partly because we weren’t in dead last position off the bike. As much as I tried to make that funny last year (Look! We have a police escort!) it was discouraging for her and while we ended up passing some people on the run, she still was disheartened. This year we never even saw the sweeper cop so she started the run in a much better headspace.
Donnie gave her a challenges to meet (catching up with certain walkers) to earn short walk breaks and I would just pour water on her head whenever she asked for it. It was great, she did fantastic. We had Wes meet us before crossing the finish line so he and I could cross as a team and then it was all done!
Nikki was the only one in her age group again this year so she scored First Place but I told her that ALSO meant she was the bravest 9yo triathlete in town that day because she took a challenge no one else did!
She also improved last year’s time by 13 minutes and she didn’t even train as often as she did last year because I wasn’t working from home this summer so I wasn’t able to get her out as much as I would have liked.
All in all? HUGE improvement. She moves up to a more challenging age group next year so she’ll have to really work at her speed if she wants to place – but I’m hoping she’ll become more confident and maybe do it alone! That would be awesome.
Either way it was a great day and – as always – a great race. I just can’t recommend this event enough. It’s got a great mix of elites and first-timers so it makes it a super-fun race mood. It’s also got one of the best Race Directors in the business and she stays with all of the swimmers as they go in the water. If you’ll recall she helped calm me down MY first year and she does that for all of the swimmers which is SUCH a great gesture.
Can’t wait to do it again next year!!