Me and My Son Hunter (10 years old)- His First Biathlon

My mom once told me, “You will never know how much you can love until you have a child.”  This statement does not mean to offend anyone who does not have children; rather I share it because it is something that resonated with me this weekend of the Foxridge Biathlon.   
Get up boys, get ready; we’re going to a biathlon!”  My two boys rolled around in bed and then slowly got up.  “What’s a biathlon?” asked my youngest son, Dane.  “It’s a race, similar to a triathlon but this one only has two sports, not three.  This race consists of swimming and running,” I replied. 
We continued to get ready and I asked my boys to wear their swimsuits.  Hunter, my oldest son, questioned, “Why do I need to wear my swimsuit?” 

“Because I signed you up to participate in the biathlon and I thought your younger brother could putz around in the baby pool,” I explained. “What?” He yelled!  “Mom, I didn’t even train for this!”  I chuckled and said, “I know, but, you’ll do fine. Its’ just a community event, relax!”  He looked nervous and excited at the same time and walked off mumbling something like, “my mom is crazy.” 

As any normal family morning routine, we took FOREVER to get moving.  I stood at the doorway of our garage and yelled for the boys to hurry up.  Moving with no sense of urgency, they approach the garage.  Hunter looks up at me as I’m wearing my banner and says in disbelief “Mom, you’re going to this biathlon as Mrs. Colorado?”

“Of course!” I responded.  “Mom, that puts a lot of pressure on me to perform.  I can’t believe you are doing this to me. First you sign me up without telling me and then you go as Mrs. Colorado?” 
I laughed and said, “First of all, you’re a great athlete and I wouldn’t have committed you to something that I knew you couldn’t do and second of all, why does it matter if I go as Mrs. Colorado?”  He quickly replied with, “Mom, I would have liked some time to prepare and everyone is going to be looking at us and they’ll expect me to win because I am your son.” 

“Oh Hunter, get over it and get in the car.  You’ll be great.” With that, we were off to the races.
We arrived at the biathlon and I registered Hunter to enter the race.  I looked over and saw him stretching and could tell he was psyching himself up to do this.   I walked over to him and reviewed what would happen once the race began.  He asked a bunch of clarifying questions, as he always does, and I was so proud to see him taking it so seriously. That’s my boy, a true competitor at heart. 

We stood by the edge of the pool and watched the adults compete. Hunter noticed a woman, who from the rib cage down, her body floated across the water. Her shoulders, pecs and arms did all the work. Her name is Ryan McLean and she is a world renowned athlete who is now paralyzed from the waist down due to a horrific car accident.  I can tell that Hunter was fascinated with her.  “Wow, mom she’s amazing,” he whispered.  I leaned down and said, “Yes she is.  For her to swim with only her upper body is not easy.  She had to work really hard to be a competitor after her accident.”  We finished watching the adult’s race and then it was time for the children’s heat.
The whistle blew and Hunter is off.  Swimming to his full potential, I was so proud. We stood at the edge of the pool yelling and screaming, “Go Hunter, you can do it!”  He finished the last lap, pushed out of the pool and ran to the transition area.  All ten years of him were fully engaged with the process of putting on his running shoes and gearing up for the big ONE mile race.  My heart gushed as I watched my little man take off down the running trail.  That timid boy in my car moments before was gone and a growing, confident, young man was sprouting right before my eyes. 

Dane and I ran to the finish line and waited his arrival.  Finally, there he was and we cheered his name and jumped up and down as he crossed the finish line.  He came over to us just radiating.  I threw my arms around him and told him how proud I was of him. We enjoyed the pancake breakfast afterwards and sat together with other contestants.   We noticed Ryan sitting with her friends.  Hunter looked up at me and said, “Mom, I just kept thinking, if she can do it, so can I.” 
On the drive home from the pool that morning, we were quiet.  I think we were all doing a lot of reflection from that morning, the race, and particularly Ryan.  As we approached the house, Hunter said, “Mom, thank you for making me do the biathlon.  I can see how things like this really make you feel good about yourself.  It was really fun.”   I smiled and my heart never felt so good.