Like most parents when my kids asked to take part in their first triathlon I felt varying levels of anxiety. Anxiety knowing that they both could not swim very well and anxiety knowing that my six-year-old still rode his bike with training wheels. My instinctive reaction was “let’s see”, thinking they would forget about it. A couple days later my nine-year-old daughter asked again and this time also reminded me that she had asked for the last 2 years and each year I had said “no”.
I sat them down and explained to them that the triathlon included 3 miles of biking, 4 laps of swimming and half a mile of running and they would need to train for at least the next 6-8 weeks. They both chimed in union and said, “so what, we can practice and get ready for the race”.
Thus, started our journey on training for the triathlon. We signed them up for weekly swim lessons and attended tri-clinics once a week. Their school, Horn Elementary, held 3-4 meets where the 114 kids got to practice together as a team. As the weeks went by their swimming got better. We were practicing the biking on our own and took off both of my kindergartner’s (Aarav’s) training wheels. He was not able to balance and had a fear of falling. We eventually put one training wheel back on and continued to practice biking. He could bike well with one training wheel and even rode his bike from Maple St. to Evelyn’s park in Bellaire. We practiced almost daily but even as the tri got closer the one training wheel was still not coming off.
It was the Monday before race day, we were at the last Horn clinic, and Aarav still had one training wheel on his bike. I explained to the lead coordinator, Lagenia Clark, how hard Aarav had been practicing and asked if he would be allowed to bike with one training wheel. Though Legenia understood, she said it would not be allowed due to the policy. She suggested that Aarav could skip the biking and just swim and run instead. On hearing this, Aarav started crying and said biking was his favorite thing to do.
Lagenia had told us about the bike whisperer “Mr. Tom” who had helped kids off their training wheels in just a few visits. She set up a meeting with Mr. Tom for the very next day. Within a few minutes of the meeting with Aarav, Tom had taken off the pedals to his bike and was teaching him how to balance the bike. Next, he taught him how to fall. He explained to Aarav that since you are sure to fall anyway, let’s just learn how to do it right so you don’t hurt yourself. After this began the balancing and within the next 30 minutes Aarav was biking on his own. He was over the moon and on the drive home the only thing he asked was, would he be allowed to take part in the triathlon.
On May 20th 2017 at around 9:30am Aarav completed his first triathlon along with all his friends from Horn. The school went above and beyond in supporting the kids with spirit posters, pictures and announcements. They even had a tent where the triathlete’s rested before and after the race, the team comradery and energy was amazing.
Aarav asked us several times after finishing if he could see Mr.Tom. He wanted to show his medal to the man who helped make this day a reality. Thank you, Tom, for helping Aarav achieve his goal, he already wants to train for his next triathlon. The Texan Kids Triathlon was a great confidence builder for our little six year old and even though he could have given up several times he never did and instead worked even harder at attaining this goal.