This past weekend, the girls and I did a multi-sport race called the Brian Ballard Memorial Triathlon which is held locally at our very own swim club. The race is held on Father's Day, which means Dr. Fabulous is a trooper once again this year! Last year, we just came for Tink to participate, but THIS year, we were up at 5:45 because Mama was doing that Tri and all three girls were participating too.
Nothing says Father's Day like standing in the rain at 7:00 am while your wife and kids get body marked and ready for an hour and a half race (or longer... I am slow). But as you can see, he is totally into it.
Unlike Rella who is making some crazy faces in these photos. I swear we didn't force this child into the race - she's been asking to do it since last year! Why does she look like such a psycho?!?!
Pink was the one of whom I was most proud and most worried about. She is not a swimmer. While the two other girls have been swimming year round and are now swimming six days a week with swim team, Pink has neither had this kind of conditioning nor has she learned stroke mechanics. So, she just does laps by doing her own version of breast stroke and underwater mermaid swim. She was out of her comfort zone, for sure. I kept reminding her that so was I. That I was no swimmer either and that between the surgery and the radiation (not allowed to swim during radiation treatment) I was grossly undertrained in that area. In all three areas, quite honestly. I told her we were just aiming to finish... who cares if we are last! Let's just show up, get 'er done, and FINISH... because THAT in and of itself is a huge accomplishment.
I was not remotely worried about Tink and Rella. Between their level of conditioning right now and their confidence, I knew they'd have a great time. I was sad to not be able to see their race as I'd be already on my bike ride when they started their swim. But, I knew Dr. Fab would be there taking pictures and cheering like a mad man, for both of us.
So, anyone 13 and up can do the Sprint Triathlon which consists of a 9 lap pool swim, a very hilly 11 mile bike followed by a 5K run. For the kids, there is a Splash and Dash consisting of a five lap swim followed by a 1 mile run.
I hope I don't upset anyone by posting this picture, since I don't know all of the ladies in this photo. I am just so proud to be part of this amazing all female triathlon club! Here is the Mullica Hill Women's Tri Club representation at the race. This is a very small sample of the entire club, which at the end of last tri season was over 900 women strong! Because almost all of us wear the club's tri suit, we are easy to spot on the race course. It's so awesome to be riding your bike and running and just seeing so much "pink" out there. Even though we don't all know each other, we see that pink and black tri suit and all start shouting words of encouragement and cheering each other on.
The adults do the swim first, in a staggered start, sharing lanes. After we all emerge from the pool and get on our bike route, the kids Splash and Dash starts. All I wanted to do was go fast enough on my bike to get back to see them going out on the run!
Thanks to Dr. Fabulous, I was able to see the photos (he took a ton). Tink is a veteran now, so she had a total game plan.
Rella has no plan. She just unlocks some inner competitive spirit and runs with it.
And Pink, like me, was just hoping to get through. She looks so cute and nervous here it makes my heart burst!
Pink's 'post swim face' is similar to my own. It's this "Thank Goodness THAT is over!!" sort of look mixed with a proud, "I DID it!" smile.
My favorite part of the race was that as I was coming back in on my bike (a hellacious 11 miles of unrelenting hills), I saw first Tink and then Rella heading out on the run. I was going crazy cheering for them, screaming "I love you!!" I'm sure I totally embarrassed them, but I had to have my mom moment.
Then, after I racked my bike and started hobbling out on my run, I got to catch those same two as they looped back in for the home stretch! I gave Tink a high five and she was all smiles. Rella was so focused - no smile, no wave, hardly acknowledging me. I couldn't tell if she was miserable and angry or just being super competitive and focused. Probably both. One mile of running is a LOT for a 7 year old when you think about it!
Unfortunately, I didn't get to see Pink. I considered waiting at the top of the hill for her, but then figured I was probably almost dead last in this stupid race and if I went any slower, they might be picking up the cones behind me as I came in.
So this is me after I returned from the non-stop hilly bike and started the run. Don't let that smile fool you because I was dying on the inside. DYING. I think as Dr. Fab was snapping this picture I was telling him "I don't think I'm going to make it!" My calf was in a colossal charlie horse muscle spasm and I was seriously thinking that I might not make this stupid 3 mile run. And I LOVE the run. It's my favorite part! I wasn't running that first mile - I was shuffling.
But, even though I was dying it was still oddly 'fun.' If your idea of fun is being sweaty, hungry, sore, tired and in pain. I guess it's more the idea of getting through that and doing it anyway. The 'fun' is coming out on the other side and feeling like "Holy sh*t, I just DID that!"
My run was horrible. My swim is always slow and I'm kinda sucky on the bike too, but my run is always pretty good. However, that day I ran my slowest 5K time ever which would have disappointed me if I were someone who cared about crap like that, but honestly ... after the year I've had and all my body's been through? Just finishing was my goal. And I did... fifth to last, but I finished and I was proud of that. I was OUT there, trying my best under my own set of circumstances and that is really all that matters.
Most of all, I was proud of my girls. Pink made it through the swim and had a great run. Like me, she's stronger on dry land.
Tink was all business. That kid is a focused little noodle.
Dr. Fabulous had some technical difficulties when Rella crossed the finish line, so we don't have a single photograph, but I will give you a mental picture. The kid was wearing her freakin' swim cap the entire race. After the race, I said "Rella, did you know you were wearing your swim cap?" She says "Yeah, I know." I asked her why and she says "I just felt like keeping it on." What a goof.
And here comes the old Mom bringing it in. At this point the charley horse was gone but the knee was not happy.
But, somehow I'm still smiling! It's a sickness.
What's up with this "pointing" business? I'm so Hollywood.
Both Rella and Tink shocked themselves by coming in first place for girls in their respective age groups. It was nice, because they both received a Target gift card. Rella's name was called first for the 8 and Under Girls award, and since it was unexpected, I didn't have my camera ready! But let me give you a mental picture, again: Rella was behind the announcer, stuffing her face with the free post-race food. So she comes up to accept her gift card with 10 giant pretzel rods in one hand, a fistful of potato chips in the other hand, a mouthful of food like a chipmunk, and the swim cap STILL on her head.
That's my girl. To a tee.
Then you have Tink, dressed, coiffed and civilized.
I was super proud of all three of them, but honestly I was most proud of Pink who really pushed and challenged herself. She had mixed emotions at the end, as most 10 year olds would when their 7 and 9 year old little sisters "beat" them, but I'm hoping that in the end Pink understands that it's not about competing with other people, it's about competing with ourselves.
If you never try to challenge yourself, you never truly grow.
We all grew a little last Sunday. Mostly, we grew closer because we all did it together.
This Saturday is the Queen of the Hill Triathlon, the last one I'm doing for this season (and perhaps EVER). It will feature my nemesis - swimming in open waters. COLD open waters. Lord, give me strength.