Promoting Kid’s Triathlon

Posted: June 1, 2013 in Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

Over the years, especially lately now that the initial Ironman quest is behind me, I’ve learned that there is a delicate balance that exists between having fun and training to compete.  Up until this past September, I was flat out balls to the wall in ‘training to compete’; in fact, it’s safe to say it totally consumed me.  Nowadays, well, not so much.  I mean, it will again I’m sure – but just not now.

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned this year is how to mentally cope with being an “Ironman”, something that as it turns out, is not quite so simple.  I literally spent three years of my life focused on the singular goal to endure and complete a 140.6 mile odyssey of pain and then – *poof* – it was all gone in a flash of adrenaline and ibuprofen.  What followed wasn’t pretty either.  Now, eight months down the road I still haven’t 100%  physically recovered, but I’m a little wiser.  I know now that ‘all work and no play makes Terry one grumpy son of a bitch’, that’s for sure.  So, forget the ‘training to compete’ this year, I’m focusing now on the Fun’ aspect, the one thing that I more or less depraved myself of for the past few years of training and competition in an effort to get faster, go further, and become stronger.  After all, seldom does one ever smile 150k into a hot July afternoon’s bike ride, or a 3 hour Brick run afterwards.  Typically, I wanted to die but I persevered and I got it done.  I had to, and nobody can ever take that away from me.  I’m proud of those accomplishments but, in the end when it was all over and done with, I was mentally drained…empty.  Part of me still is.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end either.

Given all the 360-degree turns my life has taken in recent months the journey has just changed a bit – that’s all.  So while my body continues to heal and my gimpy leg rebuilds its strength, I more relish my bike rides with Kelly, “training” with HRH  (click HERE  for more HRH-related stories) in preparation for her own kid’s triathlon in August, and working on my stroke in the pool.  I am still very active and accomplishing goals, I’m just not ‘competing’ and I’m making peace with that now.  It’s that symbiotic relationship of mixing fun with competition that makes it all bearable.  I realize and understand that now.  So if I’m ever going to return to the intense mental and physical rigors of training to qualify for Kona in the future, I figure I’m due some fun this year in order to help keep it all in its proper perspective.

Getting warmed-up.

Getting warmed-up.

With that in mind, I had the pleasure and the privilege lately to present to the Grades 1, 2 and 3 classes at two different public schools in our area about the ‘fun’ that is triathlon.   HRH  has lived and breathed triathlon vicariously through me now for the past year so, needless to say, she has talked about it some amongst her classmates.  After all, she has a step dad who wears tight, brightly-colored spandex clothes and rides the weird bike everywhere – stuff that typically doesn’t escape your average eight-year-old’s attention.  So the idea struck me then to approach the principal at her school about opportunities to officially talk about it with her class given that triathlon is now being introduced at the high school level now despite few kids even realizing what it is.  Fortunately, my proposition that was immediately welcomed.  Later, the idea was even welcomed at another school nearby as well.  Yayness!

You like me!!  You REALLY like me!

Okay, I had to do that.

Besides, Lord knows that if I had discovered triathlon 30 years ago I would never had evolved into the gelatinous blob I would become for the majority of my life later on.  In a way, triathlon kind of saved me.  So to even pass along a little of that love and appreciation to kids would be totally worth the time alone.

Getting photo-bombed by an eight-year-old.  But, hey, at least he's smiling!

Getting photo-bombed by an eight-year-old mini me. But, hey, at least he’s smiling!

Forget triathlon being a unique challenge, or a means of sustaining a healthy active lifestyle – which, to an eight-year-old, is about as exciting and meaningful as leftover Brussel sprouts – I really wanted to stress the ‘fun factor’ knowing full well that competing with the likes of Super Mario Bros., Pac Man, or Sonic the Whatshisface (okay, so I’m little out of the video game loop) would be tricky business indeed.  After all, what kid wants to bike and run a zillion miles in the thousand degree weather throughout the summer when they could instead be sitting on their couch playing their Wii in the central air-conditioning?  Not going to get many buy-in’s that way.  With that in mind, I brought in my tri bike and wetsuit as a ‘show and tell’ opportunity to build interest and provide the chance to play dress up.  They loved that.  What kid doesn’t love dress up?  Of course, one astute little kid wanted to know what happens when I had to go pee, but I managed to avoid the question by running the ‘ol smoke and mirrors routine and dazzling them instead with some heady bling in the way of finisher’s medals.  Yup, shiny objects.  Works every time!  So after walking them through the different swim, bike and run stages, it was time to actually try our hands at competing in a mock triathlon.


Introducing Lucille. Can’t you just hear the “Ooooo’s” and “Ahhhh’s”?

Of course you can’t really swim or bike around a gymnasium or playground, but we did our best at simulating the sensation of going from discipline directly into another whether it entailed whirling our arms to simulate swimming, or picking up our knees to simulate riding a bike (running is running).  What can I say?  It’s just another arrow in my quiver of whimsy.  At the best of times, the kids hurled themselves around the staged triathlon course like crazed Vikings and seemed to enjoy themselves.  Hopefully, and judging by the way they fell to the ground exhausted afterwards, they burned off more than a little steam making the rest of the day a little more peaceful and relaxing for the teachers.

Take THAT, Sonic the Whatever you are!

But, here’s my real coup d’tat.  I wanted something the kids could take home and – hopefully – talk about with their parents, so I designed and created my own triathlon Activity booklet complete with mazes, coloring pages, word searches, crosswords, word jumbles, and other learning activities to act as a take away to reenforce the things we talked about during the presentation including safety, specific triathlon terms, etc.  Now, I admit that I’m no Paul Rand or Wolfgang Weingart, but I was still pretty damn proud with the end result.  I love that HRH  still drags it out and works in it from time to time.  In the future, I hope to find an actual graphic designer to help me flesh it out with actual cartoons, better detail, and more engaging activities *.  But as it is now, this was pretty groovy if I do say so myself (and I do!).

Activity Book (click to view)

All in all it was a very enjoyable experience; one I’d like to repeat again another time.  I’m now looking forward to volunteering more than ever at the mount line for the SunRype Kids Triathlon series of events this summer and getting to witness them actually participating in the real McCoy.  Hopefully, they’ll enjoy triathlon as much as I have and maybe, just maybe, I’ll even see a familiar face or two.

* If there are, in fact, any budding creative cartoonists or graphic designers out there willing to help me out and become involved or, at the very least, work cheap, please contact me.

  1. Saskia says:

    Love the booklet!!!!

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