For 13-year-old Phoenix Gibson and her mother, Shona Gibson, 43, Sunday’s Pioneer Power Sprint Triathlon at TWU was the first time they could compete together in a sprint triathlon.
TWU’s sprint triathlon involved a 200-yard swim, a 16.1-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.
Phoenix will be an eighth-grader this coming school year at Navo Middle School, where she is on the track team.
She’s been competing in youth triathlons for two years, ever since her mother’s sprint triathlon training motivated her to add biking and swimming to her training regimen.
“My mom started and she was part of a relay,” Phoenix Gibson said. “Then, she decided to do a sprint triathlon. I said, ‘That looks like a lot of fun. I think I want to try that.’ Then my brother and I started. It’s a lot of fun. … I’m a runner, so that [the run] was probably my favorite part. … I’ve already done two half-marathons.”
This is the second year Shona has competed in sprint triathlons, although Sunday’s event, which involved more than 500 competitors, was her first of 2014.
“Last year, I did five triathlons and this is my first this year,” Shona Gibson said. “This year, I quit swimming in the winter and I didn’t feel ready to swim in the beginning of the year. I kind of got lazy.”
The Gibsons train with KMF Performance and Tri Sherpa Multisport Club of Denton and enjoy competing with their teammates — primarily for the camaraderie, but also, for Shona, for the extra motivation.
“Oh my gosh, it makes all the difference,” Shona said. “Last year I did it pretty much on my own. It’s much better to have that group and see them on the race course or have them in your workouts — to have them push you makes all the difference in the world.”
As an added bonus, Shona feels good about running with the group so they can keep an eye on Phoenix, who blazes the trails during the running training.
“When we run, she’s much faster,” Shona said. “But that’s the beauty of the group. When we go for our long runs, we meet at 380 Greenbelt park. I’m a 10-minute miler and she’s an 8- or 9-minute miler, so she has people she can run with and I don’t have to worry about her being by herself.”
Shona said she relishes KMF (Keep Moving Forward) Performance’s inspirational outlook on the sport.
“We all start where we start, but the point is to keep improving and don’t compare yourself to other people,” Shona said. “We are where we’re at and there’s no place to go but up.”
Now that she’s competed her first sprint triathlon, Phoenix said she is redefining her goals and already planning for next year.
“I want to be able to ride on my bike a little more comfortably because I’m still getting the hang of the bike I have now,” Phoenix said. “I want to cut down on my time. I got my goal of under two hours today, but I want to lower it to 1:45.”
Phoenix took first place in the 0-14 age group with a time of 1 hour, 55 minutes and 17.8 seconds, which was just under two minutes slower than her mother. Shona’s time of 1:53:39.9 was good for third in the 40-and-over Athena age group.
“Rubbing it in! Rubbing it in!” Phoenix said with a smile on her face as Shona repeated their times.
There’s plenty of competitive spirit between mother and daughter, and the sport is quickly becoming a family tradition.
Shona’s husband, Chris Gibson, and 10-year-old son, Griffin, were there to cheer on Shona and Phoenix, although a broken foot kept Griffin from competing.
For Shona, triathlons are about setting a good example not only for herself, but for the rest of the family.
“I would definitely say it’s a family lifestyle at this point,” she said. “I want to instill in them the importance of activity. You instill it at this age so they can carry it the rest of their lives. That’s my goal and if I’m not doing it, how am I going to set the example for them?”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.