The thrill of a race compels one’s spirit and endurance to the max, pushing a racer to their limit, and for me it was no different. The Paragon Splash and Dash held on July 5, 2020 was a fun racing day for all of us present. We splashed then dashed all around the Barshop Jewish Community Center, swimming and running in previously measured lengths specifically determined for our age group.
Different routes and distances for each age group assured a challenge for all the aquathlon participants. Of the thirty-four participants, five were between the ages of five and six. Even though they may seem young, they swam 50 meters then ran 200 meters! Thirteen of the additional racers were between the ages of seven and ten—they swam 100 meters and ran 1000 meters. Finally, the majority of participants ran in the eleven through seventeen age group, myself included. All sixteen in that group swam 200 meters and ran a whopping 2000 meters. Coach Mark did his best to protect our safety and ensured that proper social distancing guidelines were met during the race. From the beginning of race day, all of us competing had much preparation to do.
The day began with waking up around 6 a.m. and eating a healthy breakfast to ensure we would have energy throughout the race. After leaving home and receiving good luck wishes from all the siblings awake at that hour, we headed to the Barshop Jewish Community Center. Once there, we surveyed the track and headed towards sign-in. I was met with smiling faces…at least I think they were smiling under the masks. At first, I thought that we had gotten there too late for our pre-determined check-in time! But luckily, we were just in the nick of time. After signing in, I parted ways with my father, who would be watching from the racetrack, and swiftly went to my transition spot to get everything laid out. For those of you curious what this transition spot is, it is the area where the athletes prepare to run after they have completed the swim portion of the race. Racers quickly attempt to put on shoes and a race number. It doesn’t matter if the race number is pinned to a shirt or a special belt. On the sidewalk where my race number was etched in chalk, I laid out my water bottle, my shirt with my racing number on it, my towel to quickly dry off, and finally my shoes. Once all these preparations were complete, I went into the pool area to line up for the race. Before the race started, I had time to stretch out and talk with my friends before the race began. Don’t worry, we were all properly social distanced when we talked about how the race was going to be. After several minutes Coach Mark came over and made the race announcements.
The five to six-year-old racers began first. I watched as Coach Mark sent them off one by one, each twenty seconds apart to maintain social distance between them. After all the five and six-year-olds were sent off, the seven to ten-year-old division was next. Coach Mark swiftly sent them off one by one to swim their 100 meters. Finally, it was the eleven to seventeen-year old’s turn. I was placed first in line, meaning I would have to start first in my division. I was nervous, and worried about some of the other kids passing me. I love to swim, but I have not been trained as a runner. But all that nervousness faded when Coach Mark told me to start swimming. The cool water on my face quickly calmed me down, and I focused on swimming. I swam hard but kept enough energy to still be able to run. Before I knew it, I was finished with the 200-meter swim. I was relieved, but knew the most grueling part still awaited me.
I ran as quickly as I could out of the water and hurried to my transition spot, where I dried off my feet and slipped on my shoes. I was putting my shirt on and drinking from my water bottle all while my mother was reminding me to go faster. I ran as fast as I could, still putting my shirt on as I went. I began running the 2000 meters, pacing my running as I went. I knew that unless I paced my running I would tire long before the race ended. I am not much of a runner, and I had little time to train before the race. But despite not properly training, I knew I did not want to miss the Splash and Dash. I ran as well as I could. After I finished one loop of the soccer field at the JCC, I was still in first place, but the other racers were gaining on me. I was still running as fast as I could, but my lack of training was quickly tiring me out. After entering the soccer field for the second time, I was finally passed by another racer. Shortly after this, I decided it would be best to stop for a second and catch my breath to finish strong. Three quick breaths were enough, and I was quickly running once again. I rounded the final corner and began the run towards the finish line. I was tired and ready to rest. As I crossed the finish line, I felt a wave of satisfaction and accomplishment in finishing the race. I was rewarded with a Splash and Dash medal, a Paragon water bottle and some extra treats. The Paragon Splash and Dash was graciously sponsored by Kathleen O'Shea and PAC Aviation International, Inc.
After the race I was tired. I would say the race was really fun and highly recommend it, even if you aren’t perfectly trained for it. Of course, it’s better to train for the race, and I am training for the next one. If you missed this one, several more Splash and Dash Aquathlons will be held by Paragon Training. The next race is on July 26th. I would recommend signing up if you are looking for a swimming or running competition to attend.
At the end of the race, I hobbled back to the car and tried to take a nap in the back seat. Dozing off, I thought there is no reason I would not want to race again. However, next time I will be better trained. I can assure you I slept well that night.
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