Little Triathletes

What a memorable weekend! Our two youngest were in a triathlon in Panama City, Florida. We traveled about five hours on Friday night to spend an absolutely glorious weekend on the white sands of Destin, Florida. As a side note, the commercials don’t lie…the beaches of the Gulf are pristine and the water was crystal clear. Just a recap of our fun weekend:
Chad and I were up and out very early Saturday morning to venture down the road a bit further. The Gulf Coast Ironman was to start at 7:00am. Neither of us have ever seen the beginning of an event, of this magnitude, start in the Gulf. There were 4,400 people standing on the beach in wetsuits and swim camps. Funny when I think back – it was quite the spectacle. The gun sounded and the entire mass/blobs started moving in to the water. I have never seen anything like this. A visual: schools of fish floundering around on the top of the water”. Seriously – arms flopping around and little heads in red and white swim camps – for the one mile loop. Awesome and super exciting….not to say I’d ever even consider competing but I would like to watch again. Now Chad was quite pumped and I imagine he’ll start contemplating when he might join this school of fish.
Later, we enjoyed an afternoon on the beach with the girls. The temp was around 75; water was clear (although, not warm); skies were the indigo blue that I love so much. While the girls made drip sand castles and sand pools, we napped. Yep – actually took a nap on the beach. Perfect.
The weekend was even better because we had a great friend and her son with us. After our afternoon at the beach, Chad worked with the triathletes on transition practice. The little amount of time they spent practicing calmed nerves and made a difference at the race.
The rest of the day was relaxed – very much out of the norm for me. We went to dinner and spent a little time shopping.
Race Day:
Up and out by 6:30. Race to begin at 8:00. We packed up and headed out for the 45 minute trek to the race. Because we arrived early, the kids were able to claim preemo spots in transition. After considerable time meticuously placing towel, helmet, socks, shoes, water bottle, race belt, protein bar, bucket, etc, we checked in and took some time to scout out the course. Thankfully, the pool swim was in a heated pool. The age division dictated that the kids swim 100 yards, bike 3 miles, and run 1/2 mile. The only concern we really had was about the swim. We haven’t trained as much as we could/should have and so, were hoping to just get through it.
The booming voice from the bullhorn called the athletes to the pool deck where they were instructed to line up by age groups. How cute…little people (I mean really little – 4 year olds were there.) in tiny bathing suits, with tiny little swim caps. This is around the time that butterflys found our youngest’s tummy. Little tears filled her eyes as she motioned that she was scared. Being her first triathlon, we understood. As she said later, “I found a friend that was scared like me – so – I was ok.” It was only this past summer that we actually ventured to say that she could “kinda swim”. When it was her turn to get in to the water, she did it – slowly and with much caution. Off she went and looked great until……it was time to breathe. Every time she needed to breathe, she found the rope. By the end of the 100 yards, the rope was her best friend. Bless her little heart. She came out of the water smiling and said, “NOW, let’s go!” And GO she did! She had an awesome race and is excited about the prospect of another triathlon.
Then…it was the veteran’s turn. She was all smiles, all week, and all during the race. As her group lined up, she was happy and excited to have returned again this year to the Kids Triathlon. She was much more at ease knowing the pool and the bike and run course. As her time came to enter the water, she plopped in and took off! Her strokes looked wonderful. As with little sister, breathing is a challenge. We call her “Turtle” while in the water. Every time she breathes, that head pops up and this surprised look on her face is so funny. It’s like “Whew – whew….I need some air!” She finished her swim still smiling and breezed through transition (thanks, daddy). On to the bike she went. Ok – so she needs a new bike. She’s too big for the purple, people eater, not to mention the rust that covers the wheels… We (daddy and I) put off the bike purchase because birthday and Christmas is just around the corner. No matter, it didn’t seem to slow her down. She took off and came back in strong after three miles and again, had no trouble in transition. She ditched the helmet and blasted out of there! The run started with a little surprise Gatorade. She’s not a big fan of Gatorade and thought she was grabbing a cup of water. Ick! The 1/2 mile took no time at all to complete and in a blink she was crossing the Finish Line and picking up her medallion.
Our friend’s son also enjoyed his first triathlon and finished strong as well. He reminds us so much of our oldest. There are no strangers to him – everyone is a friend and worthy of a word or two. It’s like anything else, the first time is so geniune, surprising, and exciting. He and our youngest loved it all.

Great weekend and an uneventful ride home. The girls are looking for the next triathlon.

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