So, guess who entered the Tri of Compassion on a flyer the day before the race, put in a really solid performance despite being tragically under-trained for the swim and the run, and then finished with a nice tidy age group win?
Nope. Not me. It was my 16-year-old, D.
Thursday evening, D says to me, he says, “Hey. I’m thinking I could do the Tri of Compassion this weekend.” I summoned my best maternal supportive self and replied,
“Are you out of your mind? I know you love to ride. I know you enjoy time trialing. But you haven’t been in a pool in over two years and I’ve never seen you run more than 50 paces, like, ever.”
“Right,” he said. “How do I register?”
I sent him to Oak Bay Rec with the Box o’ Mystery Goggles to find a set that worked; scrounged up a tri suit (thank you so much to Dave Dallin, who not only loaned one to the boy, but told him he could keep it); and took my lunch break on Friday to do the last-minute registration at the LBS. (Darling E took advantage of the opportunity and wangled a pair of shorts and a fabulous jersey out of me while my Visa was free of my wallet). I had toyed with entering but figured that standing by to support D would 1) be the best way to help him and 2) get me out of an early morning swim at Thetis 😀
Attempt to cram what little I know about triathlon into a 16-year-old brain in four hours. Fail. Got him interested in practicing a few transitions. I didn’t think he’d absorbed much until I heard himself wandering around the house later, muttering “shades – lid – sock – sock – shoe – shoe – bike – go” over and over again.
D, who is usually Mr. Casual about races to the ongoing dismay of his cycling coach, took me aside just before bedtime. He looked grey. “This looked like a big adventure at lunchtime. But now I think I am more worried about this race than anything else ever. My head knows I can do it. But my body is telling me I’m freaked out.” Welcome to the club, kiddo, and go to bed.
Up early, make coffee, update manicure, check on the situation in Syria. Boy makes omelette loaded with ham and cheese. I give him an eyebrow but he is undeterred and is baffled by the stale bagel I proffer as an alternative. E and my visiting niece, who had sworn they would spectate, look out from under comfy blankets at the rain and go back to bed. I don’t blame them a bit.
We get there, he sets up his transition (“sock, sock, shoe, sh— no… shades, lid, sock, sock, shoe, shoe, bike, go”) and changes into the borrowed tri suit. Before I know it, he’s bodymarked and in the pool, swimming in a lane with two others. The tri gods smiled on him: two of the five swimmers in his lane didn’t show up.
I wait for the Goggle Emergency. Nope. I wait for the Face’o’Water. Nope. He plugs along, those great big long arms pulling him 750 more meters than he’s gone since before puberty.
I sprinted from the pool down to Transition behind him, hearing a muttered, “shades, lid, sock, sock, shoe, shoe, bike…” and off he went.
I didn’t remember to check my watch until after he was off on the bike and was stunned. That was a credible swim. I texted his dad (who lives on the course) to warn him he was coming and started noting really, really strong bike splits as he screamed thrice about Esquimalt. Wow. That run was gonna hurt.
D’s dad and I met at T2. As D ripped out on the run, we both shook our heads. “All 16-year-olds crush the first km and die. We could be in for a 40-minute wait, here…” and ambled up the course to watch.
D’s run was not a thing of beauty, but he ran it smart, choosing to walk some of the brutal hills on the course. He was smiling the two times G and I saw him. Smiling, I say. G and I went back to the finish. I expected D to blow up in the second half of the run, so took my time going back and was delighted and amazed to see him roaring toward the finish, a man hot on his heels. It turns out that the man passed him with 200m to go, with a condescending, “nice job, buddy.” D went all Tarzan Brown on the guy and served up his own little dish of heartbreak, kicking into the finish.
He wasn’t over the line for 10 seconds before saying, “Oh, that was a lot of fun!” Then, of course, he went to get food. He sent G and me home, saying he was going to stick around and see what kind of draw prize he could scoop during the prizegiving, and cheer for the “real” triathlete juniors when the race was all tallied up.
Except. He won his age group. Now, he’s another inch taller and bugging me to find him another sprint, like, next weekend, please. I am so very, very proud.