Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Life Lesson Learned

This event was one thing my oldest daughter had been looking forward to, since she decided against competing in it last year, the school district’s elementary school triathlon.  Divisions and skills were set up based upon the ages of the young competitors.  Madison has always been a competitor, striving to give everything she has, but last year, she chose not to compete.  This year was different.

Together, Madison and I spent a lot of time together, training as recommended for this triathlon.  Madison is a natural in water, so it was just going to be a matter of getting her to an indoor pool to practice her three lengths required.  We ride bikes together all of the time, many times for at least an hour, so that was not going to be difficult.  I have seen Madison run, so I knew she had speed.  I was just unsure how much endurance she had.

We had a track that surrounded a peewee football field which would give the easily measurable distance, down the street for our home.  The plan and schedule had been set.  Madison would be at or above the skills necessary at least three weeks before the triathlon.  Unfortunately, my father’s ill health, that schedule had been tossed out the window.

Madison’s training now became a matter of “when” we had time to do it.  But she was undeterred.  This was a competition that she believed that she could handle, and wanted to compete.  She gave me daily reminders what forms needed to be filled out, and what meetings had to be attended.  She assured me she would get the rest done as far as the actual practice.

We arrived the morning of the triathlon, checked in, and then set up her staging area.  I then escorted her to her first holding area, for the swimming portion.  She sat behind her heat lane for close to an hour before they called her heat.  And then she was off.

She swam with the speed of a shark chasing its prey and then ran out to the staging area to get her pants and bib on, climb on the bike and ride.  I caught up to her at the bike track.  She raced on to the loop of the ride and was completing her first mile and proceeding through the loop for the second lap when a rider in front of her had wiped out.  Madison was about three lengths behind, but given her age and inexperience, she was not prepared to react to avoid the crash and collided with the downed rider, causing herself to crash.

But instead of getting right up, and back into the race, she asked the girl, a stranger from another elementary school, if she was alright.  The girl originally said yes, but then broke down in tears.  At that moment, Madison made the commitment to remain with her, until help would arrive.  By my watch, Madison sacrificed at least two minutes of time, providing comfort to a fellow competitor who had fallen.  For Madison, the race was not about winning or placing, the triathlon was an opportunity for Madison to do what Madison is best at, caring.

Yes, I am going to brag about how I have raised my daughters.  And I hope this is just one of the stories that I get to tell, that show just what all humans have the capability of providing, empathy and compassion.

Officially, her numbers were time of competition, 0:34:04, and she placed 24th out of 65 other girls in her grade (division).  But she won more than a race on Saturday.

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