Tripp’s first triathlon, he was two days into riding a bike. His second year, he was just a few weeks out of floaties and swam the race without them. This year, Tripp had three real attempts at riding without training wheels, but decided to race on a two wheeler. As he said, “four wheels makes you heavy, I’m going to go faster because I’m on two wheels!” So with one trip two weeks ago to the park, where he successfully went a few hundred yards on his own, to last week with D on a slightly longer stretch, and last night with me for a last attempt, and a successful circumnavigation of the park, Tripp was ready to ride his first long stretch on his own.
Tripp started the race thinking he’d be the fastest swimmer; I had unfortunately mentioned that the dolphin kick is the fastest swim stroke to D, and he loves swimming underwater. The leadup time to the race, from breakfast to arriving at Arroyo Park, we talked about how the only person he was really racing was himself, and that as long as he did better than last year, he was doing great. He was geared up with his tri-suit (an Aquasphere “core warmer” wetsuit), his new-old bike (Damon’s previous bike), and his fastest running shoes. All that was left was four hours of waiting till the 11:34am swim start, the 54th wave of the day.
After a great breakfast at Noah’s, and a bit of a scare on arrival times (don’t ask), we made our way out to Arroyo Park to pick up our bibs, shirts, and get set up for the race. This being our fourth time doing it, setup went pretty smoothly, and we got to spend the rest of the time wandering around, watching some swim starts, and relaxing for the hour before our race start.
Tripp was pretty eager to start this year, and we were lined up first for our wave. With just about thirty seconds between the pool entrance starting “gun”, we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. Just in the water, and off we go! As expected, Tripp spent more than half of the time under the water, and the rest swimming along the top and getting a breath.
He can swim about 40 feet without a breath, since he can swim one length of our pool at home, so he did what was most comfortable, and just kept going strong without need a rest on the ropes, like last year.
Unfortunately for Tripp, he was still the last one out of the water. It was a disappointment for him, but as I told him before the race, as long as he does better than he had done the previous year, then he’s doing great! His results were a minute and a half faster than last year, including T1, so there’s no question that he improved, big time.
I’m very proud of Tripp for making it out on the race without training wheels. About a year ago, I tried to get him to start without training wheels, and he was just not going to do it. One fall, and no real start, and he was done. This year, he still wasn’t too sold on going without the wheels, but I had him go out to our neighborhood park and try, and after a few false starts, he was able to get about twenty feet on his own before a crash, and finished off the attempt with one, slightly downhill, hundred foot run.
About a week before the race, knowing that we’d have to make the go/no-go decision, D took him again to our park, and was able to get him to go a bit further. It wasn’t a long trial, and it didn’t do much to help make the training wheel decision, but neither was it a bad experience. So two days before the race, and I take Tripp on one last park run.
This time, he rode around and around the park, and crashed only a couple of times. Whatever it is that is the difference between going and falling (confidence?) happened, and it was at that point that Tripp was no longer deciding whether to use training wheels, there was no way he would.
So at race time, he took off pretty good, and I was jogging alongside him again. However, when we got to the first turn, about fifty feet into the race, Tripp ended up in the dirt. I realized at that point that my attention was going to have to be a lot more focused than before, because there was a good chance of bad things happening. The next straightaway went without a hitch, and Tripp was aware enough to slow down at the turn, and while he ended up in the bench, it wasn’t an awful spot to be in. And then came the first downhill. Scary, fast, and fortunately I was there enough to grab the handlebars and keep him safe. Unfortunately, that’s when confidence kicked in for me, and I began letting him do his thing a bit more. I didn’t mind if he fell, falling is part of learning, I just hoped he wouldn’t hurt himself so bad that we couldn’t finish. The next fall was almost like that. About half way through the bike route, Tripp fell, scraped up his hands pretty bad, and hurt enough that for a few seconds, the whole thing was over in his mind.
Fortunately, Tripp is a pretty resilient kid, and he was able to get up with some encouragement, get going, and get over the issue and move on. I think there may have been one more fall on the second half of the ride, and one more section (narrow passage through cement pillars) that I helped him through, but overall the back half of the ride went smoothly.
All that’s left is the most important, how we finished. A quarter mile run, for Tripp, is nothing. And this year, he completed it 41 seconds faster than last.
All in all, Tripp cut six minutes off of his time from last year till this. If I could cut 30% off any of my race times, I’d be ecstatic. Tripp was very happy with how he did, enough so that he’s ready to do another one again. So while doing these isn’t motivational enough to get him running much at home, or thinking of anything like “training,” he is having enough fun that he wants to continue doing these, and in fact would like to do more than one a year. The real question is whether or not next year, he’ll want to do the individual divisions, or still stick with parent/child.