Triathlons are not something I'm overly experienced with, though my athletic Hubby has done a few. He's the one who loves to push himself physically; he's run the Rotorua Marathon, cycled round Lake Taupo, and is currently in training for the cycle Tour of Northland.
Our kids take after him.
So when a notice came home about entering a team for the Weetbix Kids Tryathlon last year, we thought we'd give it a Try.
They're sporty; they're energetic, they were keen.
Plus the school was offering to put through the paperwork and take early morning training sessions. Bonus.
We paid our $35 entry fees; signed up for swimming lessons, wrangled the kids out of bed early... and counted down the weeks til the Big Day.
I had no idea just HOW big it would be.
3000 kids competing, plus all their hangers-on. Imagine the parking?!?!
I didn't realise. Maybe I would have thought twice?
You know what I'm like with Crowds. And Noise. (We don't Mix).
However, we made it there, found a carpark, checked our bikes into the transition area, located out school gazebo and sampled the free breakfast...
Words are not enough to describe the scene, so check out some pictures. Actually pictures don't really do it justice either. A heaving mass of humanity in colour coded swim caps...
|[Dash's group lining up... but where is Dash? At this point I stopped taking photos and started panicking]|
When Dash's group were called down to the beach I started to get a little nervous.
Where was he? How would I find him in the crowd? Should I wait here at the tent for Mr G... or head to the beach and hope I spot him among the hundreds of Light Blue Boys.
I fatefully went with "head to the beach".
In the press of people I couldn't find my kid. Is he in the right place? What if he misses his race?
I could feel the anxious butterflies beginning to swirl in my chest. The pressure was building inside my head. Panic was trying to set in.
I knew I had to get out of there fast.
I grabbed Scrag by the hand and hoped Miss fab was following and headed back the way we'd come. Back to the safety of the tent. To regroup, calm down.
Oh no. The way is blocked. Metal fences now prevent me from returning to the oasis in the madding crowd. I can see it but I can't get to it.
I've got to get back there.... too late.
|[The way across the road was OPEN before...]|
By now I am sobbing, finding it hard to breathe, running along the fenceline looking for a way in.
Somewhere in the back on my brain the "normal" part of me was saying, "People will be thinking what the heck is wring with that lady?" but I couldn't do anything about it.
I was in the middle of a full-blown anxiety attack, possibly the worst one I've ever had.
Finally someone saw my plight and pulled open a gab in the fence; I raced to the tent and found hubby... calmly sipping coffee and reading the paper.
It took me the better part of ten minutes to get my breathing back, to stop the tears and the gasping.
Mr G said he's never seen me that bad before.
It. Was. Awful.
An so embarrassing.
To have a major panic in front of all those parents and teachers from school? Shame.
So, given all of that, would I do it again?
I might have had a freak out, but my kids...? Well, they were legends.
I calmed myself in time to witness them at each stage of their Try.
Coming out of the water, running to the transition area. Biking, full tilt. Running with everything they had.
100metre swim. 5km bike. 1km run.
|[The transition area - crazy]|
|[There goes Dash off on his bike leg...]|
Miss Fab: 11:02 - only 31 seconds behind her big brother.
|[Miss Fab finishing her bike leg]|
They crossed the finish to receive... a Medal.
Every kid gets one. Because they TRYed.
Some kids brought tears to my eyes. Like this guy...
Honestly, when he crossed the finish line in his wheelchair, not a dry eye to be seen. Goosebumps from head to toe.
|[Miss Fab off on her run]|
That's what it's all about.
Both this Event AND life in general.
Trying is not about winning. It's about stepping up and giving stuff a go.
Sometimes when you Try, you have to fight through obstacles, pain barriers.
(Like when you go out into a crowd, when you sign up your kid for a major sporting event... things might get a bit hairy.)
But it's worth it. Worth the effort, worth the pain.
Worth it to hear them say:
"Mum I LOVED it!"
"Mum, I want to do another one!"
"Mum when's the next Tryathlon?"
Yep. They loved it. All those painful early morning training sessions, all the drama, all those expensive swimming lessons... it all paid off.
The kids completed what they started, they got a sense of pushing themselves and finding they could do it. And now they want to do it again.
Me? I had an awful experience, a bad moment, but I recovered. I survived. I stuck it out.
And in the end I got to share an amazing exhilarating experience with my children, which far outweighs the awful bit.
Triumph over difficulty.
That's what you get when you Try.
(We'll be doing other triathlons again I'm sure, but next time we might pick a slightly SMALLER event...?)