In the 2012 triathlon, Elise had competed as the swimmer in a relay team. She did very well, making it across the pool and back, but the event was marred somewhat due to confusion on our part over who was allowed to cross the finish line. At our encouragement, Elise rushed in to join her teammate for the final moments of the foot race, and got pulled out by a volunteer and scolded - she burst into tears. It took some time to recover from this episode, and she did not seem keen about entering again in the future. No wonder.
As 2013 rolled around, we gently suggested the idea of entering the event. Pam worked on her and she eventually agreed, albeit reluctantly. A treat for participating was promised, and that sealed the deal. Score one for bribery! In the two months leading up to the event, we did our best to help her prepare. She and I did a couple of evening trail runs, which was fun, but running is her strong suit so this didn't require much focus. She's used to hiking huge distances; we knew her endurance was good.
The biking and swimming were another story and we knew both needed work before the big day. I started by finally purchasing a bike, and this allowed us to go for a number of rides, some fairly long. Elise became more confident, and both Pam and I agreed she'd be able to do the ride without a problem. She'd definitely not be the speediest rider on the course, but that was fine with us - confident, smooth riding was the goal.
For the swimming portion of the event, we had no doubt she'd make it back and forth across the pool - she likes the water and isn't scared of the deep - but we worried she'd struggle too much and not feel comfortable. We enrolled her in "training sessions with the Squamish Pirates", the local swim club, and she did four weeks of two, one-hour sessions. Unfortunately, there was very little technical instruction which was not what we were expecting. Although Elise's endurance in the water improved, her technique stalled out and this seemed to prevent her from getting the most out of the training. To her credit, she swam many laps each time, which looked exhausting, and always seemed happy enough to go. But in the end we had to concede the swim would remain a struggle and there wasn't much we could do except offer encouragement and our own limited technical tips.
The morning of the triathlon was Mother's Day, so we rose early, made French toast for Pam and got ready. At breakfast, Elise said, "Do I have to do the triathlon next year?" In other words, I'm up for this today, but I'm not too sure if I want to do it again. She also asked us if it was a "race". She seemed concerned about having to try to move at speed, and we did our best to assure her top speed wasn't necessary; participating and challenging herself was the most important thing. We packed the van and headed off to Brennan Park Recreation Centre, the race venue.
The pictures can now do the talking...
Getting her leg and arm painted for the swimming portion of the race. Some kids her age actually do multiple races throughout the province, so the circuit is well organized. I heard one man say over 100 volunteers were needed for the Squamish event.
I was hoping she'd be able to warm up before the race, and she eagerly jumped on the climbing wall for some traversing.
Her friend Josie joined the fun. This got the blood flowing.
After tiring of the climbing, a little air hockey was in order. Not a conventional triathlon warm-up, but good stimulation nonetheless. She's playing against her friend Tyson.
After what seemed like a very long wait, her age group was finally called into the holding area. Here she is with Josie. They both wore wetsuits. We thought this might help since they'd be outside riding and running in the pouring rain. Most kids don't change clothes after the swim since it takes too much time.
On went the swim caps. Elise is in the middle in her dark wetsuit.
I filmed the entire swim, but lost sight of Elise in the middle portion as she neared me. She comes back into view as she rounds the corner and heads toward the far end. Technically she struggled, but I give her full points for trying really hard. She kept pushing forward as she fatigued, and we're very proud of her.
After the swim, Elise ran outside and, with the help of a volunteer, put on her shoes, race number and bike helmet. She then pulled her bike off the rack and pushed it to the start line of the bike section. From there, she jumped on and took off for the one-kilometre (or so) ride. After a peddle slip, Elise got herself going and disappeared around the corner. Pam and I waited anxiously, praying she didn't wipe out in the rain, and felt a rush of excitement when she reappeared around the corner after the ride. The video below is her coming back into transition, dropping her bike and heading off for the run.
Elise told me she got a cramp during the run, likely a result of poor pre-race eating and hydration tactics on our part (mistake noted). Regardless, she appeared midway down the field and Pam ran over and told her to pour it on. She'd taken my advice to heart and was jogging at a speed that she could have sustained for some time, but since the run was quite short she didn't need to conserve so much energy. As she rounded the final corner, she started to sprint and burst across the finish line.
The first words out of her mouth after crossing the finish line were, "That was awesome! Can I do it again next year?" Bingo...
Needless to say, she was high as a kite, a far cry from the inconsolable sobbing of last year. Here she poses with Josie on the finish line. Josie is about four months younger than Elise, but quite a bit taller! Different genetics, obviously.
They played in a bouncy castle in the gym afterward, got their faces painted and then we all went for a treat at "Booster Juice".
I can't wait until next year...