Last November my mom passed away, so now my family consists of me, my father, my sister Birna who is a year younger than me and my 18 year old brother Ivar.
I and my siblings practiced swimming when we were younger but my dad was the one that introduced us to triathlon three years ago when he decided to take part in the Ironman that was held in Haikou, Hainan Island.
The ITU race in Chizhou was our first time competing together.
The three of them flew from Dalian, but I from Shenzhen and like so often the flight got delayed. This meant I missed registration and would therefore not be able to take part in the competition the following day with the CTSA elite group, but had to compete in an age group on Sunday.
Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been a problem but because I had been looking forward to competing with my whole family I was disappointed and asked my dad to try his best to talk to the organizers.
Thankfully they were really understanding and agreed to wait for me. When I came it was almost midnight and they had a long day ahead, but I didn't sense any annoyance over the trouble I was giving them.
I came to the hotel and went straight to bed after setting my alarm clock for 6am. I got about four hours of sleep. The next morning I put my bike together, got my nutrition stuff ready, had breakfast and biked to the racing area.
It’s always good arriving there, seeing teammates from the Dalian Yong Yuan Triathlon Team, and other friends that I’ve made at races during the last three years.
This was a special race for many reasons.
First me and my dad couldn’t help smiling when we arrived and saw our names written on a card above our bikes. It really felt like we were competing pro, having seen those cards before at the ITU races with names like Alistair Brownlee and Chris McCormack. My sister on the other hand was at her first triathlon event and thought this was the norm.
Another thing was the heat. It said 35°C but also that real feel was 49°C. And not only was it hot, there wasn't any wind, it was humid and the sky completely clear. It's really difficult competing in those weather conditions.
Last week I did a 183km cycling race in Jilin with a lot of climbing. My average speed there was the same as it was for the 40km I did on a flat road in Chizhou. I think that pretty much tells it all about how difficult I thought it was coping with the heat.
My sister did amazing though. This was her first time competing and she came second after a really strong girl that’s won every race I’ve competed with her in. My brother as well; of the four of us he came second even though he hasn’t been training endurance sports.
But my dad had a difficult day. He started getting stomach cramps after the swim and got sick on the bike. Every time we met on the run I could see he was in pain. But I knew why he was there suffering. - He wanted to finish the first race that our family did together.
After I crossed the finish line and got my medal and towel, I and my sister ran after him and walked with him the last lap. He was close to fainting and said it was the most difficult race he’d done.
Somehow he made it, and as the four of us walked through the finish line together, our Dalian team was still there in spite having to race the next morning. They had waited in the blistering heat for my dad to finish.
There was an award ceremony later the next day and to our surprise they called us up on the stage to award us with a special prize. It was for being an inspiration, competing together as a family.
Like I said before; the race in Chizhou was special for many reasons. But mostly because it taught me firsthand what I’ve often heard athletes say but never really understood, - sometimes you win on your bad days.