More than 10 years ago we started going to a small race in Marlborough created by a friend of ours. My kids were babies. Chris was just out of med school and our triathlon family was in its infancy. Pete would push sand around the beach and toddle among the wetsuit clad athletes. Kate would go looking for frogs in a little area off the finish line. It was a tradition that we could come to cherish over the years. We marked our summers’ beginning and end by these races. Though out it all, we would build an extended family of athletes.
Peter would grow up around the distinct smell of bicycle tires and chain oil. At two and a half, he would proudly show his grown-up bicycle friends how he could ride without training wheels. As his dad would tinker with his bikes, Pete would always be close by playing with a set of Allen wrenches or spinning a wheel in a truing stand. He was being imprinted with a culture of health and wellness long before he even realized it. He felt at home with it. When Go Far started at the age of 6 it would bring wellness down to his level, something he could truly grasp and understand. It would become his winter, spring and fall, but summer belonged to triathlon season well before he could even race.
I could see the glint in his eyes while he watched his dad race. I did my best to hold him back for as long as possible. It was a grown up sport after all. At 9, I finally allowed him to relay the run portion of the race. He had caught the triathlon bug. As ten approached, we reluctantly threw the bicycle leg into the mix. I worried about the aggressive adult riders stumbling over him or even worse, the possibility that he could make an inexperienced mistake that could cause injury to others. Bike racing can get hair raising and when you add cars sharing the roads, it can get down right terrifying. What made this all doable was the fact that he had his family of triathletes that were keeping an eye on him. While I couldn't always see him, I know this group protects him. Throughout the entire course, he has support from his older mentors.
He knew he was missing the last major piece of the puzzle and it was a daunting one. He couldn’t swim a lap. The only real solution would be to join the swim team, somewhat of a time commitment that I dreaded. Luckily we hooked up with CAT swimming at HK High School who in under 6 months had him up to speed. Their talent in coaching has been truly remarkable.
So on this Thursday night in early June, he was ready to put it on the line. He was welcomed into the club of seasoned athletes. He would follow his dad like a duckling as he awaited the start. He has witnessed and awed over the many details of Chris's successful race career. He had already learned so much. He would also stay close to Bill one of my best friends because Peter has always looked up to him. Newington Bike, our amazing local shop would make him feel like he belonged. Our close friend JD would swim along side him making Peter and this mom feel much less apprehensive. With my camera, I captured the first stroke of his first open water swim. So few times do children experience the complete unknown, and this was not without fear. He looked back for only a second and I knew he would be OK. Throughout it all, I had profound appreciation for the goodness that others can bring to my own.
Nothing says you love what you do more than the smile you wear when you’re doing it. I often find myself mesmerized by his smile because I know it’s genuine to the very core. I believe tonight was the first of a lifetime of adventures in this arena. It’s cradled him since he was a baby but now he can begin to create a legacy of his own if he chooses to do so. Thank you to this two wheeled extended family of ours that has gotten him this far. Better keep training, he’ll be on your heels.