It's been a frequent laugh in our house that Mackie was born to one day become a Salty Pup triathlete.
It (literally) almost happened, as I delivered her five days after waddling through our community Salty Dog/Salty Pup Triathlons in 2009, serving as coordinator. The poor little miss has celebrated her fair share of birthdays and birthday weekends at the Dog/Pup events, running around with grandma while mama coordinated and ran around like a madwoman, daddy by her side, and cheering on papa to the finish line.
So when Mackie realized last year that her 7th birthday would fall on this year's Salty Pup Triathlon, she begged us to compete. It really didn't take much begging, as Jack and I finally felt she was old enough to compete and she had the heart and desire to train.
She spent the summer on swim team and prepared for the swim. She spent some of her mornings running a lap or two with mama (or daddy) around the neighborhood as part of our own cool-downs during our morning runs. And she and daddy went biking on the trails several times these past few weeks, making sure she could handle the bike leg of the event.
Race week arrived this week - and with it, brought a surprise fever to our little miss on Wednesday night. Mackie hadn't been sick for months (maybe even a few years?!), so it came out of the blue, and put us in the parental tricky-tough spot - when do we decide to throw in the towel on her first triathlon?
Thankfully her fever broke and she woke up raring to go her birthday morning - not minding one bit that her "alarm clock" of mama and daddy singing "Happy Birthday" at 4:45 a.m. was happening. She bounded out of bed and exclaimed that she was 7 and going to take on the Pup.
And that she did....but first the toughest part. Waiting and standing around while mama and the other Salty Pup coordinators marked, chipped, and gathered the other 80 Salty Pup kiddos (ages 6 to 15) in order while watching the 200+ adults start before them in the pool.
Mackie was (almost) the last swimmer in the water, as the youth entered oldest to youngest. She started off the 100-meter swim great, going immediately into one of her stronger strokes - the breaststroke - and then flipping over on her back for the final 50 meters.
It was then off to transition and the bike area, where daddy (who was helping mama coordinate the Pups) helped her with shoes and bike helmet. She was off - but almost instantly became confused and was turned around, going the opposite direction and heading toward the run turn-around area. We later found out that she went about an extra 1/2-mile or so in the confusion (in a normally 4.2-mile leg), stopping and just waiting for a volunteer to help her turn around.
Post-race we told Mackie we were proud of her pushing through and that these types of things happen. (Mama also made a mental note to make sure that "tricky" corner was covered with a volunteer next year so it didn't happen to someone else!).
After going longer on the bike, little miss hopped off her bike and headed out to the 1-mile run, which eventually led her to the finish line.
It warmed this mama's heart to see her blonde-headed ponytail and long legs and arms bounce through the finish line, all smiles and giggles. Immediately after the race she told Jack she was ready to train for next year (slow down, baby girl!).
We are oh-so proud of our Mackie-girl...for pushing through when things didn't go her way during the race...and for persevering and being patient with the up-down-up-down decisions of whether or not she was able to compete as her body healed from the fever earlier in the week.
It was fun cheering on her and the fellow Salty Puppers, as well as some of our favorite Salty Dog (adult) competitors, including Papa Jimmy, who won 2nd in the 60+ age division. What a treat to have a Salty Dog competitor in the family in the oldest age group, and a Salty Pup competitor in the youngest age group.
We're excited to take on the Dog/Pup next year! Jack already tells me that after helping me with coordinating duties for years, he's ready to compete as a participant again, and I'm eager to help coordinate the kids triathlon again. It's much simpler than coordinating the entire event! ;)
The family that swims/bikes/runs together.....