Riding This Week


Chainbuster MTB Racing Series - Georgia's friendliest MTB racing. 6 & 9 Hour Endurance racing for solo or teams.

Dirty Spokes - Duathlon and Trail running series. Love these guys. First class events.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Iron Kids

This week I feel like bragging. I have two daughters. Molly is almost 13 and Ellie is 10. They rule my world. I’ve done my best not to spoil them no matter how much they deserve it. I’m not too terribly worried because any ground I lose is more than made up for by our parents. It’s the stereotypical problem that all Grandparents create for us. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Turtles are cool.

I taught both of them how to ride a bike as soon as I could. We’ve spent many hours riding together at the house or on the trails close by. Molly got into gymnastics and advanced to the point that she was practicing 16 hours per week. She developed some ridiculous strength for a 70 pound little girl.

Ellie is my little ninja. She started Karate a few years ago at the Dojo American Karate Center. I love those guys. They not only teach the kids to be strong and confident, they teach the strong willed to be disciplined. Karate has helped Ellie develop good physical strength and mental toughness.

Put it all together and you get some really strong child athletes. I’m using the words child athlete because they’ve recently been asked to join a new Kid’s Triathlon team for United Healthcare. As a parent I can’t help being excited. But my wife and I don’t want to be like some of those overzealous ones... living vicariously through their children. So…we’ve been training their butts off in the pool, on the treadmill, and on their bikes.

Molly training. Don't worry, I flipped the stem later on.
We had a “tune up” Kid’s Triathlon at Sterling on the Lake last week to let them see what they’d be doing when they race for United at the Iron Kid’s Triathlon. It would be the first time they would do all three things in succession. I was way more nervous than they were. 

We've had a few practices with our team mates and received a ton of help from some real Triathlon guys. Here's an article about that. United Healthcare even made a video and sent out the media to cover our practices. I was having a hard time not being too excited. Don't want this whole thing going to my head. Before I know it I'll be shipping the kids off to Switzerland for VO2 max workouts at high climate.
No, we're just having fun with whatever comes our way. Daddy is the only one taking his hobby too seriously.
Sterling on the Lake Triathlon, Post Race

So after weeks of running on treadmills and riding bikes and swimming for speed, not for fun, we headed to Alpharetta, Georgia for the Iron Kids Triathlon p/b United Healthcare. The race would feature some of the best kid triathlon racers in the country. I'm not kidding. This would be the series finale with over 1,400 kids. The largest field was the 9-11 year olds, Ellie's field. The race started on Sunday at 7:00AM so we got a hotel room and went down on Saturday to see the course and get our packets.

There were a ton of people there already. I saw tags from Utah and Colorado?! The types of people varied from the "highly focused" to the "deer in the headlights". Some of the parents looked like they were commanding the northern fleet. Others didn't have a clue about what exactly a Triathlon was. A disparity made all the more obvious by the types of bikes we saw in transition. Some of these kids would be riding a carbon fiber frame over a set of Zipp wheels. Others would be forced to pedal a rusty 50 pound Wal-Mart bike to hell and back.
Walking the course with hundreds of others.
As I walked around watching the desperation a thought occurred to me. I had initially intended on helping some of the folks who seemed especially needy by giving them advice or working on their bikes or whatever came up. But there were so many. We're talking hundreds. Everywhere I looked there were issues that I could offer some form of advice on. So many people scratching their heads. So many decisions being made that would ultimately become their child's new miserable experience. It was like knowing the answers and wanting to help but there were way to many of them.
I finally had to just focus on my own kids and help anyone who asked for it. And it dawned on me that God is so amazing. He sees the same thing but on a grander scale and yet he doesn't just focus on the few who love him. He cares about every person on planet earth at the same time. So when I think about my decision at the triathlon compared to His decision about all of us it helps me understand a little bit more about what makes the God I serve great.

Ellie Hayes, 10 Yrs

 We set up the girls bikes in the transition area and set about walking the course. We showed them the pool and then watched the Race Director demonstrate how the racers needed to enter and exit the transition area.
We hung out at the finish line where there was a festival of sorts going on with tents from people I've never seen. The first was one from Team "Racing for God". They had several kids in really cool custom Tri suits and seemed like a bunch of really nice people.
Then there was Team Winter. This 13 year old had won the entire series two years running. They made her the Iron Kids Ambassador this year and she spoke to us during orientation. She has a great story.

Then there was a cool tent where we made posters to hold up during the race. Of course I wasn't too keen on having to carry them all over the park along with my back pack and water bottles and camera but we all have to make sacrifices when the children we love are happily creating a work of art that they believe will motivate them during the race.

The Whitwell's
Riley Whitwell creates a squid.
  One of the best things about this Triathlon team was getting to meet other parents who share our commitment of fitness. We especially enjoyed making friends with the Whitwell's. Their daughter's Riley and Rachel were in the same races with our girls. They trained together and became good friends. We all did. In fact we ate us some Macaroni Grill together before heading to the hotel. It made for some epic sillyness.

The girls were having a great time. We were too. It was hard for us to all calm down and get some sleep but Lisa and I knew that 5 o'clock would come much to soon so we began the wind down procedure very early. When the morning came the girls didn't believe us. "It's still dark?"

Here's an example of what my own racing experience has brought to the table for this one. My plan for the morning included many things. As many of you know it is always my intention to eliminate anything that might go wrong, that is if it's within my control. So here's a short list; Fueling properly, bike is ready mechanically, clothing options, mentally prepared, course pre-ridden, and in the hour or so after getting up it is always helpful to make a natural deposit at least once before race time (twice is a bonus). After asking several times for a deposit to be made... the girls embarrassingly consented to try. And what do you suppose was missing from the port-a-johns we waited in line to use? That's right... toilet paper. Thankfully my girls are used to "making do" (no pun intended) under the various circumstances we've placed them in over the years and had no problem with napkins. Others however sought relief elsewhere.

Ellie and I watched as Molly's field started in the pool. They stagger them but ultimately they end up swimming into each other. Once out of the pool, Molly took off down through the parking lot and made a great transition to the bike. She rode Lisa's bike which I modified slightly to fit her. I debated for a long time whether or not to put the pedal cages on. It turned out to be a good idea. Once she got in them it made the long hill on each lap a lot easier. After 8 miles of that she jogged it back into place and began her run. I cheered and yelled and held up the poster. She was very focused and looked good. That was the last I saw of her. Ellie and I had to get ready for her race.

Ellie stretching.

Ellie was nervous but very focused. I tried not to overwhelm her with advice. I only answered any questions she had. Otherwise we stood together and she stretched while we waited.

Before Ellie's race could begin, Molly had finished. So they made it back over to the pool to cheer for Ellie. The line of kids in Ellie's field wrapped around the 50 meter pool 3 times. It was quite a sight. Ellie's only request was that after she started her swim I would go to the isle where her bike was in transition and point the way when she came running from the swim. So that's what I did. My 10 year old came flying through the parking lot in her bare feet, jumped in her shoes, slapped on her helmet and ran her bike out onto course. Eyes blazing...very focused. I was so proud.

Waiting to start.

As you might expect both my girls are killers on the bike. Ellie knocked it out and ran out of transition before I could get there from the bike course. We all went to the finish line to see her complete the Iron Kids Triathlon.

Hayes Iron Kids.
United Healthcare provided a great photographer, Russell Kaye/Instagramography, who made some of the best shots in the world. Lisa and I are very grateful to him because we didn't have the time or ability to get the memorable shots all parents want to have. Here's some more good ones.

As you can tell we had a great time. We celebrated with the team and said our goodbye's. We're hoping to see a lot of these folks again real soon.

Oh and Molly placed 23rd, Ellie 26th in their age groups. Overall the United Healthcare team made a great impact on the race. Especially considering it was thrown together only a few months earlier. Maybe next year we can bring the pain. :)

Thank you for reading!

Have a great week!

Chad Hayes

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