Inspired by youth

Winona is ready for the start

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Winona competed in the IronKids regional triathlon in Oklahoma City.  I was really impressed by her when asked to do this race in the beginning of the summer. I said sure, but forgot about it.

In August, after we had returned from our trip to North Dakota, she asked again, when the race was and I was surprised that she still wanted to do it.  I felt bad because I figured the triathlon had already been done, but thank goodness the one in Oklahoma was scheduled 3 weeks away.  So we started her on a training regimen, running and biking in the morning, and swimming in the afternoon.

A couple of times she complained about being tired, but, she still persevered on with the days counting down to Oklahoma City. To tell you the truth, I was a little worried she would be nervous, but my Winona was all ready to go at this point.

The day of the race, they had 3 different categories for their ages, Winona was in the youngest 6-8 Junior and so they raced last.  It was a hot and humid morning, and we arrived at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City early to watch the older kids and so Winona could see how they ran in the water and swam.

We stood at the lake listening as the horn blew and sent heats of 5 competitors in at time.  They did this so they wouldn’t be bumping into each other.  We watched all these youngsters dive in, and swim to a point and turn around, and I looked back at the start, where still more kids were starting.  The horn blew again, and I saw a Dad carrying his son into the water, and I remembered seeing this boy who was a double amputee below the knees.  It was the same boy. I don’t think their was a dry eye watching this scene, as parents were clapping and shouting, I wondered how this dad felt? Overwhelmed with pride? I could see a big smile on his face, it made me realize how inspirational our youth can be.

There was another physically disabled girl who was doing the same race as this boy, and she was in a wheel chair.  When she was on the bike portion, on a specially built bike with pedals by the handlebars to move, it took her more time to finish this stage.  But as she came back to the transition area to move into a racing wheelchair people were clapping, cheering, yelling “good job”.  I again felt motivation from this young lady.

After this age group was done, Winona’s race was about to start, and I could see she was a little bit nervous waiting to get into the water, but she smiled at me and I knew she be okay.

As the horn sounded they ran into the water for a 50 meter swim and the first thing to happen: Winona’s chip timer (which was an ankle bracelet) fell off, but she managed to grab it and swim.  As she made the turn around and swam back to shore, she stood up and started to run in, just like we practiced.  Her only obstacle an official who made her stop and put the bracelet back on her ankle and she continued to the transition area.

She was putting on her shirt, shoes, and helmet on with speed, as I was on the side cheering her on (parents aren’t allowed to help) and then she was off running with her bike until they get to a certain marker they can jump on the bike and ride.  Winona took off and was chasing all the other bikers for their 2 mile ride.

I couldn’t really see her as they did the bike ride, but my husband and my son went out on the course to cheer her on.  I waited and finally I could see her in my sights coming back to the transition area.

Winona biked in fast and  swooped her legs to the side and ran into the transition area.  She was doing everything we practiced and she was onto her last event.  As she parked her bike, her face was all red and sweaty.  The humidity was horrible, but she grabbed a water and was off for her 500 yard run.

I ran with Winona for about 2o feet telling her this was all she had left and to run as hard as she could.  She just looked straight ahead and kept going.  As she made her way to the turn around and came back, I could tell she was tired.  I was a proud mom then, I almost cried, but I held it back and yelled, “Good Job Nona, your almost there!”  She ran past me, and picked up her feet, just like we practiced and sprinted in to the finish.  I was inspired.

I was inspired that my 8-year-old chose to do this event, committed to practice, and actually did it.  I thought of all the things I wanted to do and never did them.  It inspired me, to finally finish these things, so I am looking for my first marathon.

All these young people inspired me, they inspired me not to complain, not to say I can’t, and inspired me to just do it.  Thanks IronKids!

Winona is done with her first Ironkids triathlon


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