Frolic and Detour: Sports,  Triathlons

He Shall Overcome

When you’re a mother, seeing a child overcome his fear is like winning the Super Bowl of parenting.

Drew leaves for camp soon, and the first item on the agenda once he arrives is the swim test. The test wigged him out last year, to the point that he almost didn’t want to go to camp this year. We hoped his fear was treatable, and Drew has been taking swimming lessons from Bill’s tri coach. They’ve made an enormous difference, so much so that when Bill floated the idea of the twins participating in last Saturday’s triathlon, Drew chose to handle the swim and the run, while Porter handled the biking leg of the relay. I nearly passed out when Bill informed me of this, and pictured myself escorting sobbing boys back to the minivan shortly after they’d arrived at the race site. It all seemed like a recipe for horror to me.

Saturday morning both Drew and Porter were having second thoughts about the event, but Finn, ever the scornful older brother, told them to quit freaking out; a 200 yard swim, eight mile bike and two mile run were no biggie, and if they ever hoped to be cool in any sense of the word they better quit their bitching and focus on the race.

Although there were children participating, the organizers stuck strictly to the rules and didn’t let non-participating parents into the transition area to aid their kids in getting set up. Fortunately for us, Finn was competing on his own and helped Drew and Porter get body-marked, organize their equipment, and locate the tent where relay teams trade their timing chips during transitions.

Bill had barely a moment to talk strategy with the boys
before it was time for all the swimmers to head to the pool.

Drew had a little come-apart, but we found a race volunteer to assume the role of mama bear and get him to the pool.

The scene at the pool was overwhelming. There were almost 300 swimmers lined up around the pool according to number. The boys had high numbers and were near the end of the line.
Finn and Drew are actually in this picture under the yellow flag in the foreground, but are impossible to see, as they were dwarfed by most of the other competitors. waittoswim
Watching and waiting made Drew extremely nervous. Finn had a talk with him and whatever he said, Drew seemed to be okay after that.

“If you don’t shape up and swim like a man, I’m going to give you a wedgie every day for the rest of your life.”

In fact, by the time they made it around to the far side of the pool, Drew was ordering the other competitors around, even the burly ones who could have eaten him as an appetizer.
“Excuse me sir, but when you get in the pool, please keep to the right in case I need to pass you with my powerful breast/free combo stroke. These toothpick legs contain herculean muscles and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Drew didn’t win any style points for his entry into the water
but Bill and I almost cried at this point. We were so relieved to see him get in the water without balking that he could have stopped after three strokes and we’d have considered it a victory.

But he didn’t. He was slow and steady, and swam 200 yards
and exited the pool
like he’d done this a thousand times before. There must have been water in my eye– I’m not one to cry at sporting events.

Up to this point Bill and I had been hanging out on the pool deck watching the boys swim. Now we had to get moving. Bill went to the bottom of the hill to wait for Porter. He planned to bike along with him, as the bike route went along some mighty busy streets. Finn had the experience to negotiate the traffic, but we wanted Porter to be chaperoned.

My duties were two-fold: to coach the transitions and to take photographs of each child going out and coming in. This required me to run back and forth across the parking lot from the transition area to the road multiple times. It was quite a workout for a lady who doesn’t run unless being chased by someone brandishing a weapon.


After the swim Drew entered the transition area, took the chip from his ankle and gave it to Porter, who attached it and headed out on the bike.
Meanwhile, Drew changed for the run.

Eight miles later Porter biked back in
and put up his helmet and bike in the transition area and then took off for the relay tent.
Their transition was all business.
And Drew was off on the run.
He may be small, but his feet looked ginormous.

Big feet run in our family. I’m 5’4″ but wear a size nine shoe. My mom taught me to say, “They may be big, but they sure do hold me up.”
Drew’s big feet held him up well and kept him at a steady pace.

I tried to take a picture of the boys together at the finish but they made all sorts of dreadful faces unsuitable for publication.

After the race is over, it’s traditional for triathletes to complain about all the minor aspects of the race that prevented them from having a faster time. Finn was pissed because he’d gotten blocked by a moving van on a busy street and lost at least fifteen seconds. Porter claimed to be suffering from hideous butt cramps that had slowed him down on the bike. His cramps, he said, were due to the fact that his biking shorts are too small, and he announced that he needs a bigger pair with “very cushy padding.”

Only Drew was silent, and as I looked in the rear view mirror I saw him fondling his medal and smiling to himself. It made me smile, too.
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Preparing For The Enemy