On Sunday, someone in our family did their first triathlon. It wasn’t Ironballz. It wasn’t the cat. It very definitely wasn’t me. It was….#TriDude!
We’d seen the ad a few months ago and mentioned it to the Dude. He was interested. We mentioned it again two weeks ago and he was suddenly VERY keen! So we signed him up and invested in a wetsuit for him, mainly to act as a buoyancy aid for the swim. In the preceding week, we did a couple of ‘training run throughs’ mainly as a confidence booster and that was it.
The one thing that blew us away was the number of kids participating. In total, I think about 1600 kids between 2 and 15 did the triathlon. In the Dude’s 6-and-under age group, there were 190 kids signed up. 190 6 year olds (and under) whose parents suggested they did a triathlon. 190!! What kind of place are we living in?? We were worried we were pushy sports parents…apparently if so, we’re not the only ones.
The Dude’s wave started at 11.40am. I had commitments at church on Sunday morning so they headed down to Cupertino without me. When I arrived, I parked up and noticed that a good percentage of cars in the car-park had badges on proclaiming ‘140.6’ or ‘70.3’ or ‘Hiits Triathlon Series’ or even a bedraggled ‘13.1’. My own ‘Yay! Running!’ car sticker didn’t really cut the mustard. We were clearly in a part of the world full of rich, middle-aged, high-achieving white people!!
I have to say that the event was spectacularly organised. Given the number of children participating, it was incredibly calm and smooth. There were kids everywhere but plenty of volunteers and they had it totally under control. I found the boys in the transition area which was full of kids bikes – from sleek road-style numbers to My Little Pony bikes with training wheels and streamers. Children were being set off in waves from 8am so there was a constant trickle of kids, slippery and wet from the swim, dashing into transition. It was flipping adorable!
For the 6-and-under age-group, the race would be: 1 x 25 yard length of the pool, 1 mile bike, 0.25m run. He could have an adult with him in the pool if necessary and in transition. Dad was his crew member, I was Official Photographer.The Dude was VERY excited and not at all nervous.
In time, we went through to the pool for the swim. He had his Dad in the pool area with him, so I said goodbye and went to spectate and take photos. The pool was beautiful and there were millions of lifeguards around. By the side of the pool there was one lifeguard for every two starters, I could see them chatting to the children keeping them calm. For the Dude’s wave, there was one lifeguard in the water who happened to be in his actual lane. I have no idea why he was there but the Dude is not a good swimmer (despite what he would tell you) and I was very grateful. I found out later the water was 7 foot deep. Glad I didn’t know that at the time.
Anyway…the kids got in the water, the countdown started and they were off. The Dude pushed off well and slowly, awkwardly wriggled his way through the water. He’s not a strong swimmer and we’d talked to him about how (like his dad) he would probably exit the water towards the back of the field but how he was a strong cyclist and could catch people. I have to admit, I was blown away by the strength and speed of some of those 6-year-old swimmers (!) but eventually my little man was hauled out of the pool and he and his dad sped on towards T1.
T1 was…’not fast’. They forgot to take his wetsuit off before putting on his running shoes and they lost some time there, but soon enough, the Dude was wheeling his bike (delightfully named StealthBomber) to the bike course. It seemed like no time at all before he was coming back, grinning from ear to ear! I sprinted from the Bike In to the running track but got caught in the crowds so by the time I made it to the track, he was already well on the run.
The run was supposed to be quarter of a mile but I think that, if you include the run from T2, it was probably closer to half a mile! Not a problem, the Dude took it steady and ran the whole way. He didn’t look thrilled to be running but he looked okay. I dashed as fast as I could to the finish line and got there just as he crossed the line!! He looked a bit rough, got to be honest, but he was just hot and tired!
One proud little boy and his ridiculously over-proud parents!
There were loads of stands dotted around with smoothies, Clif bars and snackettes for the racers. We ended up hanging out for close to an hour as the Dude really wanted to see if he’d placed in his age-group. It was not likely but we agreed to stay. In retrospect, this was a big parenting error. He hadn’t placed, as we’d expected, and he was so disappointed about this that it took the shine off his wonderful achievement. I was gutted we’d mucked up in this manner. However one hot chocolate later, he was back on sparkling form.
All in all, it was an excellent morning’s work. I honestly can’t speak highly enough of the race organisers – they did a spectacular job. The race was not cheap ($75) but having seen it, I think it was good value for money. Such great organisation, so many calm, informed volunteers, such a wonderful venue. It was a great start to the Dude’s tri career, if he chooses to do more. Silicon Valley kids are incredibly lucky, the Dude included. I really hope he chooses to do another triathlon in due course. But first, nap- time!
Please check back tomorrow for an exclusive interview with TriDude about his first triathlon experience!