Starting ’em young

Big day today – Jack did his first triathlon!

The “Dash at the Splash” was held at Splash Waterpark in Golden. We considered this event last year, but by the time I got around to signing the kids up, it had already sold out. So this year, I planned ahead and registered early.

What I love about Jack is that what he might be lacking in natural talent, he more than makes up for in heart and determination. The kid tries hard. All the time. I think he must get this from his dad. He loves a challenge and likes to push himself to try new things. Last year, he was so proud to climb a 14er at the age of 6. This year, he was one of the first kids on the block to ride a hilly, hard 6-mile loop around our neighborhood. He wasn’t afraid to swim a 50 in swim meets when a lot of kids his age were only swimming a 25.

Jack’s twin sister is a bit different. She tends to be a little more apprehensive about new things and doubtful of her abilities. Despite our best efforts to get her to do the race too, she decided to skip it and stay home with my sister this morning. We were a little disappointed by her decision because we knew she would have been fine at the race, but we don’t want to force things like this onto the kids and it had to be something she wanted to do.

Anyway, back to Jack…

Jack knew all summer that this event was on the horizon and he trained accordingly. It’s probably safe to say that he was one of the only kids who had done some brick runs before race day. Jack loves biking, but the running doesn’t come as easily. He kept asking us how long the run was (answer: .5 mile). I knew he was worried he would have to walk.

We got to the Splash with plenty of time to stake out a good transition spot. I helped set up his transition.

Then we went over to the pool for the pre-race meeting. One of Jack’s good friends also did the race and they hung out before the swim start.

Rockin’ his customized TYR Special Ops goggles

Here is a secret about kids’ tris – it’s all about the transitions. Once the swim heats got going, it was apparent who was racing and who was just out there for the medal and free food. Jack was there to race and he made every second count, passing some faster swimmers who were doing a full towel-dry on the pool deck. Not us. We crammed his wet feet into his shoes and raced up the hill to his bike. Mark threw on his jersey, I clipped his helmet and race belt, and Jack was off on the bike course.

I don’t have any pictures of that because it went by pretty quickly and I was too busy telling him which was to ride and shouting encouragement.

Before I could knew it, he was riding down the hill back to transition and I grabbed his bike just like an Ironman-catcher would, and we snagged his helmet and sent him out on the run course.

The run might have been a tad short (which was just fine with us) because right after he disappeared from view, Jack was heading back towards us again. He ran uphill, into the chute without walking one step.

Jack got his medal and we snapped a few post-race pics.

I realize my outfit is overkill for spectating a kids’ tri. In my defense, I went for a ride directly from the race.

This event was very low-key and I would highly recommend something like this for your kid’s first tri. There were no timing chips and no finish clock. The entire emphasis is on finishing and having fun. It was very different from the Ironkids event I saw in Boulder a few weeks ago where many of the kids seemed to be in tri kits sporting aero helmets and lace locks. Even though we some kids’ parents probably took it a little more seriously than the situation warranted, most people were pretty laid back. Most importantly, Jack felt really good about his race and his smile here says it all.


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