[ED: Triathlon is most definitely a spectator affair. They lift you up when all is down. Team Unicorn Sparkle Adventure has the best cheer squad around. Hands down. Below you'll find the account from my very own Mommy! With a few choice edits interspersed. Enjoy!]
It was 4:45 am, the gangsta music boomed from the open car window and the two car convoy came up the lane between the beautiful condos to take over visitors' parking for the day. A friend of mine had offered the parking as it was a short, five minute walk from the race venue.
Trev and Brandon had registered and parked their bikes a couple of days earlier. All they had to do now was become Team Unicorn Sparkle [ed: Adventure] by donning their white and green onesies, accessorized with gold sparkles and swim, bike and run their race.
Trev proudly lifted his shirt to show me his [ed: super amazing and intimidating rawr] costume underneath and I proclaimed: “You look exactly how you looked as a three year old lifting your shirt to show me your belly” [ed: *blush].
His three beautiful female companions had their first impression of Trev’s mom.
We travelled a forested path to reach the venue and as I led the entourage playing a fanfare fit for a king on my kazoo, I felt strong. Trev emitted a wry laugh and the three young women whom I had just met had their second impression on Trev’s mom. All I needed was a drum major’s mace and we would be quite the marching band.
I had arrived the day before to have a look at the venue and walk the forest so I had an idea of where to go and where to watch. I'm glad I did. Over a thousand bikes were racked and ready and organized in a fenced off area. The swim start cattle chute seemed very small to funnel the swimmers through and it was [ed: it so was!]. I had a fleeting thought of them all being trampled as they tried to enter the water.
The athletes first obstacle was walking to the swim start area. Their walk was two hundred metres in bare feet over gravel, rock, sticks and dog doc in order to get to the start line. I'm sure a few of them had little cuts on their feet to begin the race. A couple of experienced athletes [ed: so not Brandon or Trevor] wore socks as they walked and then threw the socks away. I overheard one of these athletes remark: “A good sacrifice of three dollars.”
It was pretty funny watching participants get into the water. It was too crowded at the start line and as each person was required to step on a mat in order to start their time clock , they were continually told to move back, move back move back some more. It must have felt weird to be told to move back when you're trying to move toward the start line [ed: it did].
A highlight for me was the announcer. He announced the signing of Oh Canada, then he-himself sang our national anthem very beautifully, then resumed announcing.
Two voices in one with that guy.
There were four of us as the official cheering section for [ed: Team] Unicorn Sparkle [ed: Adventure] and did we do it up right. Two kazoos for the fanfares, unicorn horns and sparkly glasses. We were all connected to Trevor, however we were strangers to each other. Not for long. We bonded in our silliness. [ed: your epicness!]
We were ready and all four of us missed seeing Trevor or Brandon begin the swim. All the swimmers entered the water running but not running with their legs straight up and down and going forward. To a tee they would leap in, one leg pointing left, one pointing right and as high as they could get them. It didn't seem very efficient to me. I've never seen a starting position like it. They ran with their legs akimbo for a few paces and then tried to dive in except the water was only three feet deep and full of weeds. The water got deeper and the weeds got taller. This difficult swim was officially shortened because of the weeds.
We wandered over to the area where the swimmers would come out. After a while , Trevor did. He didn't see us at first, and he didn’t look good [ed: thanks mom....]. His face was drained of energy, he seemed subdued and all of us commented: “Oh boy, this is going to be rough.”
When he saw us he smiled. I think he faked his smile as an encouragement for us! “Ever the thoughtful boy” thought mom.
I was a bit worried though.
Next up the 90 k bike portion. As I had a guaranteed parking spot , I knew that Team [ed: Unicorn] Sparkle [ed: Adventure, mom you'll get the name right soon enough] could get in the car and drive to a couple of places on the route to cheer the boys on. I felt so smug. Everyone else had to sit around and wait two hours for the bikers to come back. Back through the forest, up the hill to the car went Kristin, Mel, Alex and me.
I had a map of the bike route and we strategically plotted out where to drive to get ahead and be ready in our full Sparkle Splendour.
At our first stop we cheered and waved and played our magical kingdom fanfares for many athletes. We received smiles, waves, and when a scowler went past, we delivered a robust cat-call on our kazoos.
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About fifteen minutes in, we saw the flashy white and green of Brandon's costume [ed: they're super advanced athletic tri-suits mom for serious athletes] and cheered him around the corner. Fifteen more minutes of noise making and there came the giant on his bike.
Now Trev’s not a giant, but he's tall so he needs a taller “horse” and that makes him look big in relation to everyone else [ed: I'm big yay!].
So here I am,being the mom thinking “Oh maybe we shouldn't be distracting him with all this noise and glitter. He might not make the corner and will fall off his bike.”
Always a mom.
The corner was fine. [ed: didn't even fall or nothin'!]
I made a very ungrateful run across the road , where I could have knocked someone off a bike. The other Sparkle cheerleaders, were watching the traffic a bit better, crossed safely and we got in the car to drive to the next point to catch our athletes going by in a half hour or so.
At the second viewing area we waited at the base of a largish hill. The bikers were all leaning on those ear muff things on the handle bars [ed: hahahaha, perfect!], streamlining their bodies as they raced down the hill.
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Many of them recognized us from our first cheering spot and even the super serious grumpy ones smiled at us. Yes! Feeling a part of and valuable.
This time though I was worried again that Trev would fall off his bike because, you know, it was a really big hill [ed: Hey mom! Watch this mom! MOM!].
Brandon, then Trevor raced down that hill like the very accomplished and skilled men they are.
This time as we ran across the road to the car, got in and were ready to go, Alex looked back at where we had stood and saw her purse still on the ground. Thank goodness she saw it and raced back across the street to retrieve it.
Can you tell we were excited?
Back in the car, to the reserved parking spot, down through the forest and once again at the venue.
Now , I know my professional waste management type son has written of the potties, but I can tell you, this company (who shall remain nameless and is not his company) did not pass the muster at all [ed: right?]. The pots were full [ed: of poop]. And that’s enough about that.
Onwards, up the hill and around the corner the Sparklets raced to meet our fearless athletes on their run. We missed Brandon. Again. He seemed to cross our chosen waiting areas before we arrived. However we did see Trev who looked very strong to start the run.
About the time Trev passed by, his brother Morgan called to say that he was driving by and thought he would like to see a bit of Trev’s race. To be honest, I was getting tired from going through the forest now for the third time to direct Morgan to the most coveted of parking spaces. I found Morgan, walked him through the forest and hustled him, his girlfriend and myself up to where the trio of Sparklets were waiting. I forgot that I was used to the noise, crowds and narrow lanes that watchers had to navigate. I was moving quickly, dodging runners here and there and Morgan and his girlfriend Natasha were most uncomfortable.
I now remembered that I had scouted the venue the day before in quiet so I wouldn't be overwhelmed. We retreated from the crowd and found a quieter place to watch for Trevor to come into view. I had my kazoo but it didn't feel quite right to try to Sparkle all alone.
Until! I saw the white and green Unicorn himself come prancing across the bridge.
I moved in close and played my fanfare. And played it again louder because Trev wasn't responding. So I gave a big blast and realized he’d been running on auto- pilot and I'd actually disrupted his momentum. I had no idea until that moment that zoning out and still running was possible.
Like it or not, he was jolted and Morgan saw his brother run by. The people around me were similarly surprised as they had not heard the unicorn fanfares on the Kazoo before.
Oh well. [ed: Oh yeah!!]
Morgan and Natasha decided a date afternoon might be more fun than standing around for another hour and a quarter [ed: so slow...] for Trev to finish, so they left.
I looked in vain for my companions and realized my legs were sore from standing and walking the forest so I found a place at the finish line where I could lean on the fence and wait.
When Trev came through, he was tired. I saw him lean forward in pain, straighten up and walk out .
There's nothing magical at the finish. The athlete stops running. Someone place a lariat over their head with a finisher badge attached. The athlete walks out of the finish area. [ed: It really is underwhelming...]
Trev found a bench, drank water and drooled, had a stretch, gathered himself and in a few minutes CARRIED his bike through the forest, into the car, and presently found himself a beer with Brandon and the rest of Team Unicorn Sparkle [ed: Adventure! So close this time!].
The day was done. It was a treat and a privilege to participate.
[ed: And my honour to have you there, Mom].