yesterday i had one of my best triathlon experiences yet.
a few weeks ago i was asked to help a class of 6th graders complete their first triathlon. a teacher at a local elementary school has been doing this for the past three years. their school is K-6 so it's part of their commencement on to junior high school.
for the few months leading up to the event the kids meet each thursday and saturday to prepare. in addition to physically training they were also taught the rules and etiquette of triathlon.
yesterday we met them all down at the beach. they swam in a beach club pool, jumped out and came flying into t1, rode their bikes up the bike path a couple of miles with their "mentors" shadowing them.
here's my athlete, cole, going hard into a strong headwind. cole had come out of the pool close to last, but he flew along the path yelling out "on your left! on your left!" each time he approached someone.
in t2 they left their bikes and ran to the stoplight where their "wait time" was recorded and would be deducted later from their overall time. as cole and i waited for the light to turn (it's at the pacific coast highway so it's a loooong wait) a few police cars came along and stopped traffic so the kids no longer had to wait. cole said he felt like a rock star!
the run portion was over a mile and .8 of it was up, up, up a hill covering almost 250' of elevation gain. as we climbed cole said he wished he had taken some water in t2 (gotta love seeing racing lessons in the making, they are always there no matter your age or experience!) thirst and heat aside, he pressed on ... every so often glancing back over his shoulder to see if any of his classmates were catching up.
as we ran through the town to his school various store owners and parents were along the route shouting encouragement. it was so fun to see him pick up the pace each time someone was cheering him on.
finally we rounded the corner and headed down the final stretch to the finish line. the sidewalk was lined with the school's younger grades. music was playing, everyone was cheering and clapping and cole ran down the line of kids, high fiving each one. i don't think i could have been more proud if it had been my own kid! i definitely had goose bumps.
here's a snippet of the scene. not the best video, but you'll get the idea.
afterward we all took pictures together. the teacher kept referring to his students as his "triathletes" and you could see the pride on their faces each time he did.
this weekend i am heading down to san diego for a more formalized youth triathlon program ... three weekends of clinics to prepare a group of children, ages 7-15, for usat's 2010 junior triathlon festival in august.
watching the kids yesterday got me even more excited about this weekend and the idea of bringing this fantastic sport to these enthusiastic kids!
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