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I drove Ellie (#269) with the Sebesta girls to the Boulder Res last night to pick-up their race packets at the Expo for today’s Kid’s Triathlon.  A wasp stung Ellie while standing in line.  I suspected she wanted to cry but she didn’t.  Not sure why not, most grown-ups would at least cry out a few warranted expletives in such a situation.  Perhaps peer pressure is taking hold.  Maybe she just didn’t think it an appropriate way to start a race.  I have to believe a couple of years earlier she would have cried.  She captured another wasp in her bedroom later that night which for some reason gave me visions of those evil Chick-fil-A cows.  It seemed like nature was conspiring against Ellie.

As with most triathlons, she began with the swim.  Her best friend Kate was in the same starting wave.  I was filming and saw them both hit the water last but make good corrections to right themselves in the field.  A couple of girls were pulled from the water, not sure why really but probably it was too much.  The race had tons of volunteers in the water to ensure safety.  They took both of these girls to the dock.  I noted an earlier boys wave had one boy who opted for the rescue but then jumped back in after a short rest.  Which is cool that the safety volunteers judge the ability of the participant and let them continue when appropriate.  I initially thought one of the girls was Ellie because she had the same color swim suit and apparently I’m blind.  It didn’t make sense to me because I last saw her in the middle of the pack, but I walked out on the dock to discover it wasn’t her.

I then hauled myself over to the transition area to catch the bike event.  I saw Ellie walking back and forth by her station clearly not finding it.  She was too far away for me to yell but she finally found it.  A bit later Kate came riding out of the transition area.  It was quite a bit longer for Ellie.  I learned later that she had trouble putting on her shoes; unlike other aspects of a triathlon – something she had actually practiced.  This was Ellie’s first triathlon.

Ellie finally came out and launched down the bike course.  Kate came by for her second lap and I caught her on film.  I waited and waited for Ellie until it seemed unusually long.  I began to feel bad thinking I hadn’t properly prepped her bike and the chain came off.  Karen and Jessy (Ellie’s cousin) walked down the bike course to look for her.  Not much later my name was being called by the race announcer to report to the finish line.  Several thoughts raced through my mind as I walked over, struggling to find my way through the maze of fencing.

The announcer had me walk with a couple of volunteers to the medical tent.  Turned out Ellie was actually in the ambulance.  I climbed in not knowing what to expect other than the volunteers had told me she was okay during our walk.  Inside, Ellie looked sad but fine.  The medical technicians told me they gave her a thorough exam and she was totally fine.  They suspected she might have had an episode of exercise-induced asthma.  Who knows but it’s not unreasonable as Ellie had asthma-like symptoms as a toddler.  She’s mostly grown out of that though.  And I can’t rule out allergies.  I checked and the weed count is high this week.  I’ll schedule a doctor appointment before school starts.  The medical staff at this IronKids Triathlon was great.  This event is totally prepared and supported by a wonderful community of volunteers.

Ellie shared her story with me.  She related that she nearly puked after climbing out of the water.  An indication of pushing herself super hard.  Possibly too hard.  Getting lost in the transition area and struggling with her shoes for so long further indicate exhaustion.  If the doctor exam determines she did suffer exercise-induced asthma, that swim seems intensive enough to trigger such a thing.  It was before reaching the one mile point riding up a hill when Ellie started wheezing and had to stop.  She knows this type of wheezing is an asthma symptom and it would have been impossible for her to breathe sufficiently to continue.

She told me later that she cried a bit walking down the hill knowing her race was over.  But there was no crying later when she faced the medical technicians or the family as we consoled her.  She was visibly dejected but maintained her composure as sure as Missy Franklin collecting her medals while the Star Spangled Banner plays.

What I gained from this race, other than amazement at my daughter (inexperienced in triathlons) going balls out on the swim, was the knowledge that she’s learned to not cry over everything.  This is why parents put kids in sports and go watch their events.  Sports serve as a metaphor for life in exaggerated scenes that can be shared.  Events like this capture time in a bottle and I saw my little girl mature emotionally today.  “You can’t learn how to win if you don’t know how to lose.”

The Sebesta girls had great performances in an exceptionally deep field of talent.  A Boulder County event like this is probably on par with State-wide events elsewhere.  If that sounds arrogant, bring your ass up to Boulder and you’ll discover it’s not trash talk.  This place is unreal.  Ellie is still really sad but is talking about trying to sign up for more races before end of season and doing swim classes through the winter.  That’s my girl.