Little J had his first triathlon this week. The 8 year old's version of short course consisted of a 100m swim, 5km bike and a 1km run.
The week before the race his procrastination subsided, and he started to get into the zone. "Dad, when can we practice transition!" was the echo heard throughout the house all week. Coming out of the shower "Dad, can I practice getting changed?". Finishing dinner, "Dad, can I go practice a quick transition!?", and then he would lay out his transition gear, and do a quick practice in the living room. After several virtual trials the one thing he decided was what not to do. "No socks! That saved me almost a minute!" While we applauded his effort to practice transitions the one - or rather three - things he did not practice was any actual swimming, biking or running. This meant while his race was bound to be slow, his transitions would likely be blazing fast!
Race day arrived, and he was up and ready to go the fastest we had ever seen him get out of bed and get changed. I was making my breakfast in the kitchen to fuel up for my long day of waiting when he plopped down. "I'm having some cereal for breakfast. Some Vector! Because that is what bikers eat!" The rest of the morning consisted of reminding him to get things ready, as he was so excited he kept forgetting things like "put water in your water bottle!".
The race times were set to have the different age groups go in waves, over a 3 hour period. Little J was excited about this as he was able to get there early and watch some of the older racers do the swim and transition. While we watched the other kids we went through his race plan, where to exit the swim and which way to run to the transition, and the route to get in and out of the transition area. All throughout it he kept asking things that implied he was going to be so lightening fast, people would be in awe. "So dad, what happens when I am riding in first, and I don't know where to go?". All I kept thinking was "I wonder if he'll dropout when he gets passed in the pool in the first lap and realizes he won't be near first place?"
Finally the time to race arrived and I offered him one more piece of advice. "J, before you go to the race do you have to go to the bathroom?" His reply was as anticipated: "Nooooo!" Knowing what was about to happen next, I tried to steer him towards the inevitable and tried to coax him with a "Ok, so go try anyway.". Not surprisingly I was rebuffed and he took off towards the pool deck for the briefing.
The next scene was classic Little J: Imagine a cluster of 20 kids, all getting ready to race and one line disinter realizes he has to depart the crowd and head for the bathroom. "Is that my child?" I think, only to confirm a second later that sure enough, it was. While all 19 kids went one way to line up for their swim, one headed in the opposite direction to the bathroom. It was at that moment I made a mental note to share with him the age old tradition of peeing while racing.
We had rehearsed his race plan a few times, and all of them ending with "Do a swim warmup, but only about 10-20 meters!". I was foolish enough to think he would heed my advice, and we all watched from the stands as he did a 100m warmup, about 2 minutes before the race was set to start.
Right before the race start, I took a mental note of what Little J's mental status was:
This was going to be an epic something of a race, with the something to be determined in the next 30 minutes.
The gun went off, and like a shot he pushed off and proceeded to swim the fastest front crawl I had ever seen him do. Unfortunately for Little J his burst of speed only lasted for about 20 meters, then he dropped off and was passed by another racer. He must have decided to mix it up because at that point he floated over and switched to a leisurely backstroke pace for the remaining 80 meters. He finished the swim, and made a quick exit to his transition area, which he had strategically positioned by a tree so he could find it when he came out.
All the practicing of drying off and sitting down to get his shoes on seemed to go out the window, because once he hit transition he just wiggled on his shirt over his wet body, and then stood there while trying to stuff his wet, sockless feet into his shoes. Most of the kids seemed focused on transition, a few even ignoring the overbearing parents yelling instructions, but Jordan had a huge grin on his face as he exited on to the run. Two laps of ring-road gave the same picture: Most kids gunning it with a nice even cadence, tongues hanging out like MJ going for a dunk, and glassy eyes focused on the road ahead. Little J on the other hand was merrily biking along like he was out for a ride to the market.
He rode by us heading into the bike to run transition, and was out in under a minute, helmet gone but the same little grin attached to his running face. In fact, he was happily jogging along, only to add in a burst of speed when he was about to be passed by another racer. Like the swim, his burst didn't last long and he soon dropped back to his happy pace. We were all there for his finish, which his final time was 27:24. He came in 22nd, and later announced "I like the number 22, so I'm happy with that".
Like any true triathlete, his next stop was the food table where he devoured about four rice crispy squares and two slices of pizza.
He did have some post-race memorable quotes:
While riding home in the car:
And with that his first triathlon was done, and he's already asking when the next race is.