On Sunday, June 5th 2011 I completed my first triathlon. It has been a goal of mine for the past 3 or 4 years and finally I succeed (with some helpful pushes)!
During college I occasionally trained with the MSU Triathlon Team, they were a fun crew that comprised of some intense workouts and really hilarious people. However, I always skipped the swimming training days because I was intimidated and didn’t know what I was doing. I had run cross country in high school and continued to run as my primary mode of exercise ever since. I had also picked up a love for mountain biking during high school, which I carried through college and got my first road bike after my bright yellow mountain bike was stolen.
My fiancé (Nichole)’s Dad, Uncle, and Brother competed in the Hawk Island Triathlon last year. I declined to participate because of an ongoing runner’s knee issue as well as my lack of experience in swimming.
This year, after Nichole suggested I sign-up for a swimming class at the YMCA, I finally completed my first triathlon! I spent all winter trying to get my knee back in shape with spinning and signed up for the swimming class in the spring. I then spent most of my mornings up until the triathlon working on building up my ability to swim more than 2 laps without needing to stop and breath.
I felt mostly ready (even though I hadn’t run or biked much) the day of the triathlon. The Hawk Island Triathlon is a “sprint” length: 400 meter swim, 16k bike, 5k run. The chilly open water hit me and I completely forgot my plan of freestyling to the first bouy then switching to breaststroke. My sidestroke lesson when I was 8 years old came in handy so that I could catch my breath. Transitions are harder than I imagined (gotta cut down on that time in the future), but all in all moving from one activity to the other was painless. Check out my results, #686: HERE
Hawk Island Triathlon I will see you again and there even be some other triathlons in between. . .
Things to work on:
- Biking and running together
- Swimming longer distance
- Eating something during the bike
Duk, Sudan – a place of terrible memory and a place of hope. Muwt’s story began here, where will it end no one knows. By a extreme case of coincedience I met Muwt the other night at an African Culture Week student panel event. He talked about a group he was part of that was working to build a health clinic in their former home village. It sounded like a great opportunity for my own organization to get involved. After the event I talked to Muwt and found out that there was an art gallery event just nearby to benefit the health clinic. Since I had actually met the artist, who was putting on the show, a year earlier I decided to join him.
I knew Muwt was one of the many Lost Boys of Sudan living in the Lansing area, but I had not yet heard his story. The art was amazing – a collaborative effort of both the student artist and the Lost Boys. The art was created as a sort of art therapy project to help the Lost Boys express themselves as well as helping the artist express her emotions from learning the stories of the Lost Boys. As a child, Muwt lost his parents from the civil war between the North and South in Sudan which began over religious laws. He and other young boys fled so as not to be killed by the militias attempting to put down the South’s rebellion. The Lost Boys traveled across the vast deserts of Sudan, to the border to Ethiopia, chased away at gunpoint, back southern Sudan, to the border of Kenya, and finally into Kenya. This is a poor paraphrasing of the incredible tale he told so eloquently and I cannot hope to give voice to the difficult stories told by so many Lost Boys.
Muwt finally eneded with a degree of safety in a refugee camp in Kenya for nine years, until a group of Americans met him and wanted to bring him and some other lost boys back to the States. Muwt was set to leave for America on September 9th, 2001. He was caught up in the Amsterdam airport shortly after on September 11th. A defining day for the US’s foreign policy was shared as a defining day for Muwt. Lansing happens to be one of the top spots for refugee relocation and Muwt was assisted by the Lutheran Social Services to adjust to life in the US. Since that time Muwt and other Lost Boys have been brought into the US. They have gotten jobs at many of the area businesses and attend the local colleges and universities.
When they left Sudan the Lost Boys did not forget where they came from. For many there was no way that they could forget. Lost Boys have created organizations, written books, and given speaking presentations. The group of Lost Boys that Muwt is part of has started a foundation to build a health clinic in Duk Payuel to provide health services since any other medical facility is far away. A story of hope has given birth the a life giving clinic in an area of Sudan that has seen much war and destruction. From hope springs life.