Inspiration of the day: Lessons from my son from Ironkids

Smiles.  Even though I know he is terrified about this swim.

Need some inspiration?  Great, because I have an abundance of it today!  I have a story of strength, confidence and drive that I think could give us all a kick in the pants.

Last  year, I wrote about the lessons I learned from my 11 year old son when he competed in the Ironkids triathlon.  He inspired me then, and has inspired me once again by doing it this year.  You see, he has a knack for conquering anxiety with seeming nonchalance and great grace.  But I know it isn’t that easy, so when I see him succeed in the face of his fear, it takes my breath away.

No, this isn’t entirely a brag on your kid post.  But it is in part.  Because he rocks.  And because I think we all could learn a lot from him.

Part 2: Lessons from my son:

1.  Conquer your fears:  You can and should try (and try again).  When a challenge presents itself, you can rise to it or back away, but you will only succeed in overcoming the challenge if you give it a shot.  If you want something, go get it!

My son is a master at this.  A few years ago James had a terrifying crash during a bike race–I can still envision it  in slow motion.  Thankfully he was just fine–the doctor said “landed on his guardian angel.”  The next year, even though he hadn’t biked all year, he told me he wanted to try again. “Mom, I need to face my fears,” he said, and who am I to argue with that?!  In a day’s time, he conquered and dominated that bike race, forever erasing any pain/fail/did not work from the first go-round.

James took the same approach with triathlons; his first, at age 9, wasn’t so great, but the next year he tried IronKids and the swim really scared him.  Nonetheless he went back last summer to face his fear. After that, he said he was done, but this summer he moved up an age group, and all the distances double from last year.  He couldn’t say no to the challenge!  I won’t tell you it didn’t scare the hell out of me, but I backed him.  I told him he inspired me and had guts I didn’t.  I knew he could do it!  Needless to say, I was thrilled when he told me he wanted to compete in IronKids again this year even though it was really hard for him last year.

2.  Even if you aren’t the best/fastest,  you can come up with a plan and get it done.  Last year when we drove to the race, he had so much self-doubt.  This year was different:  he knew he wasn’t a strong swimmer, but he had a solid plan (front stroke; back stroke for rest) and executed perfectly.  His swim was slow, but he finished and he was so happy when he did.  I was so proud of his persistence, planning and execution.  The moral of the story:  no, you may not be the fastest person out there, but come up with a solid plan to get you through.  You’ll be very happy you got out there and did it.

My Ironkid
My Ironkid

3.  Appreciate your support network.  After the race, I showed my son all of the photos I took during the race.  He liked looking at himself in action, but he also readily noticed all of the images of his brother watching him and cheering him on.  It meant so much to him.  Seeing how much your support network loves you and is there for you is almost as cool as crossing the finish line.

4.  Appreciate the results, whatever they are.  This year he swam, biked and ran twice the distance in just ten more minutes than last year’s race.  It was amazing!  Yet, at first James was disappointed with his results since he didn’t place in his age group. I thought he was nuts and encouraged him to appreciate his improvement.

Even better, a new-found friend he raced with informed him that he qualified for Nationals for Ironkids.  From there he went through the roof!  Pride! Confidence! Glory!

Whatever the result is, remember that your competition is you.  Most of us aren’t going to win every race, but we can consistently improve.

I think we can all benefit from embracing the 4 lessons above.

To our successes and our willing to give it a try!

Thanks, James!

Mindi is a serial marathoner. She is a private practice attorney, wife and mom of two awesome (and super fast) boys, ages 12 and 14. She coaches Girls on the Run and is a big advocate of youth running.

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