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[from Miguel Ibara, 13, just as he wrote it]


A Triathlete

My alarm goes off at exactly five-thirty in the morning with a loud buzz, but I am awake. I am just lying there, as if I were dead with my eyes wide open. There is this queasy feeling in my stomach, almost as if I was to throw up, but I knew it would pass. I get up from bed, take a shower, and put on my gear for the day. Biking shorts, a jersey, cycling shoes and a pair of shades go along with my uniform just well. I grab a banana as I go rack up the bike in the truck, checking if the weather is good for a nice race. After inspecting the bike, I head on to the race site at Loma Linda University. My first triathlon ever was about to change my entire life.

Once I arrive, I immediately go to the pre-registration booth where I ask for my number and timing chip. Number 532 is my response. I find out that the race course consists of running a 5k, biking 12.3 miles, and swimming 500m. I put on my number on the back of my bike jersey and clip the chip to my shoe, while I am focusing on the course. The sky above me is a bit grayish, but you could feel it getting warmer. I go to the bike transition and set my bike on the third row to the left and see hordes of people preparing themselves for something extraordinary. I see people eating an orange or a banana, which help for cramps, and start stretching.

Six-Thirty, glancing at my watch, and thereís thirty minutes till the start. I head to the starting line and find my coach Cherie Gruenfeld, record holder and Ironman female Champion of age group 60-64. She was in pink wearing her Ironman Kona visor with shades, looking quite professional if you ask me. I tell her about how I feel and how Iíve been training on my spare time. We chat for a while until I hear the deep voice of a man asking for silence to recite the National Anthem. Five minutes till starting time and all I think about is the crowd.

Pretty soon, all I hear is the countdown of ďTHREE, TWO, ONE!Ē followed by a loud honk of the horn. It was pretty difficult getting out fast because of how crowded it was, but somehow I managed to do it. I search frantically for my coach, but she is nowhere in sight. Running at a six forty-five pace, I take a look around just for the fun of it. I see a nice park with bright green trees, a playground with kids sitting on the swings cheering us on, and notice that Iím not that far away from being first place. I try to focus on the race as Iím running, but thoughts just flow through me about how crazy I am to enjoy this.

As Iím on my last mile, I realize that I still have a lot ahead to complete the race, so I calm down a bit. With the sky a bluish-gray, and the sun rising, I could see the transition area in the distance. As Iím entering the transition area, I look at my running time for the 5k. Twenty minutes forty-three seconds, not bad for a first time. People everywhere are cheering me on, telling me to keep strong, and thumbs up for good job.

Once I enter the transition area I run to my bicycle, strap on my helmet, put on my cleats, and run the bike to the mount area. I get on my bike and take off using the rest of the force from my legs to the pedals. On the downhill I rest a bit, leaving aerodynamics to its job, while on the uphill, I switch gears and work a bit. There are three loops to the bike course, and Iím on the second as others are on their third. People are passing me as if I werenít moving, so I pick up the pace. I regain the places I lost in the first two loops and begin my last lap. As Iím on the last turn, everything seems like a blur when I speculate the people around me. People are once again cheering, screaming, and waving as I enter the transition area for the swim.

As I enter the transition, I dismount, set my bike back, and take off my shoes and socks for the swim. I run to the swimming pool thinking that itís the worst part about the race and feel a little hesitant. It takes me about five minutes to finally get into the swimming pool, and when I do my heart starts pounding like crazy. I start swimming, staying close to the sides of the pool, and begin to set a pace. There are four laps to go and Iím pretty calm, holding on to the sides as Iím moving along. Once Iím at my last lap I look back on all the tasks that I have accomplished and feel pretty good about myself. I get out of the pool and run to the finish line, not far ahead.

Once I got to the finish line there are many volunteers helping the finishers take off their chip and another set giving out medals of accomplishment. 1:11:53, the time I finished, wasnít a bad one. After I finished, I was handed a medal and congratulated for completing the triathlon. I waited for the awards ceremony to see if I had placed in my age division of fourteen and under, since I was thirteen at the time. The announcer got to my age division and called third place. I was hoping it would be me, but it wasnít. Then he got to second, I thought he wasnít going to call my name, and said ďMiguel Ibarra, age thirteen.Ē

I ran up to the stage with all the strength I had left in me and gladly received my award. I thanked him and left happily. I was really proud of myself for accomplishing a task that I thought I would never do. I didnít want to do a triathlon because I thought I was slow and couldnít handle it, but I turned out to be okay. When I got home I was exhausted and went straight to bed, after a job well done. I learned that you donít judge a book by its cover because you might end up liking it. Iíve done many triathlons and Iím not planning to stop anytime soon.

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