I’m tired of sounding like a Debbie Downer when it comes to my Ironman training. At times I wonder why I even do this, but then I have days like Sunday where the universe slaps me in the face to wake the heck up.
Both Dreamer (age nine) and Fearless (age seven) are part of the Tri4Kidz team and raced their last triathlon of the season this past weekend. They are coached by Lilly, who is also my swim coach and ThumbsUp teammate, so the whole thing feels very cozy and intimate.
The boys are only 21 months apart and great friends. For example, they have no intention of getting separate bedrooms in the new house, in fact, I often find them sleeping in the same bed. Yet they are very different in both their characters and body types.
Fearless, as the name implies, is daring and fast. His body is small and lean … he goes out like a bullet; running comes easily. He came in first and second place in this season’s triathlons. In his mind he is a champion. Dreamer, is more like his mom. He has a big and stocky build making running somewhat laborious. Yet he is determined and focused, and where his brother dilly dallys in practices, Dreamer is always trying his best. Sick or tired, he never misses a training session. He tends to place at the middle to the bottom of the pack, just like his mom.
This weekend was the third and final race of their season. Fearless has been resting on his laurels and did not put forth much effort since the last race. He makes up excuses not to go to practice and then looks at me with these raccoon eyes. I have a hard time pushing him to go if he tells me he is tired. He is only seven after all, and we do a lot.
Though his lack of practice showed this weekend and instead of first or second, he ended up placing sixth. The news of his score was met with disappointment. I explained, and Lilly explained, that this was a reflection of the amount of work he put in; not as him as an athlete. He handled it well, but was clearly shook.
Dreamer on the other hand, had a great race. He ran better than ever, and improved significantly over last time. He still came in the middle of the pack, but he out ran a teammate and was beaming with his performance.
He had an immediate burst of confidence. That afternoon, he told anyone who would listen about his race. When we went for a walk around our new neighborhood he would say “look how well I am running” and then dart ahead. Fearless would stay behind, finding a vine to swing on, not paying attention to his brother.
They haven’t fought once about scores, and in fact I love the way they support each other. Dreamer cheered for his brother each time he got on the podium to receive a trophy. I have a feeling that Dreamer feels this was HIS race to shine – and rightly so.
The only times I have been on the podium in triathlon is when I raced as Athena, a weight category. I no longer qualify because I have lost weight since then, and in my age group (not a weight category,) I don’t stand a chance. It’s not to be down on myself it’s that really … the chances of me standing on a podium for winning a triathlon in the 40-45 age group are slim to none. Yet ranking has no effect on my passion for triathlon. I don’t spend hour after hour training for a race to win it. I do it to beat whatever goal I set for myself. Maybe it’s a time goal, or fundraising, or as in Ironman Arizona a “how to live a balanced life” goal. Triathlon allows me to race against myself, and like Dreamer, to feel like a winner regardless of what place I get overall.
However, Dreamer also plays golf and rock climbs. In those sports he would have a better chance of placing well in a competitive race, but he insists on doing triathlon. I can’t say I don’t love it, but i do not push him towards it. He knows it would be difficult for him to win, but that doesn’t deter him. He is still shooting for that trophy, so who am I to say he can’t or won’t? If he’s encouraged by his performance on Sunday and does not want to stop training for the winter months, why on earth would I try to steer him away?
A part of me wants to protect his self esteem just in case he continues to get faster yet never makes it up to the podium. The other thinks this is a wonderful opportunity to sit back and support my child in his own decisions. Who knows, maybe it turns out his sheer determination brings him a Kona win. His youth, confidence and optimism are refreshing. I hope that my going after my dreams have had some influence on this, and if it doesn’t I am going to pretend it did. Because this is exactly what I need to keep moving forward with a training that doesn’t seem to be going my way.
I will finish Ironman Arizona, I will fundraise for Brianna, and I will support my little Dreamer in any seemingly impossible goal he sets for himself. I am awake. Thank you buddy.