page 2 of 2
Pretty soon it was Hepanna's turn and I could tell he was a little scared as he stood in line to get in the water. I looked at his face as he stared at the swimmers who were already in the water and then it was his turn. He went in and swam strong. As he made the turn, he was catching other swimmers and I was thinking "Wow, he is swimming pretty fast." Pretty soon, he made his final turn and he came in and off to the transition. As he pulled on his shirt, shoes, helmet, I cheered for him, making sure he knew I was proud of him. Hepanna took off running his bike until he could get on and he was on the bike for the 2 mile ride.
Hepanna and Winona enjoy a little shade
Now this is the funny part, since the run is about a mile away, I ran after him, off the side of the road so I could make sure I was able to see him finish. It was hot, already after 10 a.m. And the sun was blazing, I was thirsty, my mouth hurt from the tooth that was pulled and I could tell I was getting a headache from not eating. But, I put it all aside and continued huffing and puffing up a hill to get to the finish line. I made it in time to see him transition off the bike and go into the run. He was red and I could tell my little guy was tired. I yelled at him to let him know I was there. He didn't look at me, but we had practiced doing sprints and I told him he was near the finish. As I ran to catch him at the end, I thought I had enough time to set up, but he zoomed right by me and I barely caught him at the end, he was sprinting in!
I saw Winona and her dad at the finish. Hepanna immediately went into a tent to drink his water. He said he wanted to "rest." I gave my daughter a hug and asked how she felt, she said she was good. I told her I was extremely proud of her. Winona said when she was swimming she "felt like the water was pulling her down," that was the reason she kept stopping. I told her I was glad she finished even though it was a little scary for her. Winona's final time was 53:29 for a 150 yard swim, 4 mile bike ride and one mile run. She placed 17th in her age group. Hepanna's final time was 20:47 for a 50 yard swim, 2 mile bike ride and 500 yard run. He placed 6th in his age group and was five seconds away from qualifying for the national race.
Both of them made us parents proud of them, it has been tough waking up to train, but all the time we got to spend with them doing it, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Celebrating the finish, that was the best!! Encourage your kids to try something different. The Ironkids events are still going on in the Midwest!
Rhonda LeValdo, Acoma Pueblo, is a current faculty member in Media Communications at Haskell Indian Nations University, and the President of the Native American Journalists Association. This article originally was published in the "Wellbound Storytellers" blog at wellboundstorytellers.com
posted July 21, 2012 10:57 am edt