The Secret Life of a Selfless Giver with Selfish Tendencies

Anyone who knows me can attest that I genuinely enjoy helping people. Why do I offer to stay at work until 2:30am at times or tutor students in chemistry when I really don’t have the time? It’s because of that feeling you get when you know someone is appreciating the work you are doing for them. This world needs more goodness in it, and I want to help spread it, but I got to thinking, at the root of it all, is my service for the good of others or for myself?

Let’s rewind back to my high school days. My mind back then was focused on getting into college, so I did anything that would look good on an application. National Honor Society, Key Club, Spanish Honor Society… if it involved service of some kind, I probably dabbled in it. Sure, I enjoyed being able to provide service to others, but in reality, I only volunteered for my personal gain.

Now I’ve grown a lot since my days in high school. I now realize that life on Earth is so unpredictably short, so I need to fill my time with the things that truly matter to me. For instance, Royal Family Kids Camp will forever be a part of my life. I can genuinely say that attend camp to help the kids witness God’s love. If my heart wasn’t in it for the right reasons, I wouldn’t ever make it through the week because working with foster children is exhausting. These kids come with a lot of emotional baggage, and if you go in with selfish intentions, God won’t have the space to work in your camper.

That being said, though, I still have moments where my selfish inclinations start outweighing my desire to be selfless. At a stressful day of work, sometimes I only focus on my paycheck or the fact that this will help me get into medical school. Other days make me realize how much I love caring for my residents. Can I just say that I love elderly people because they are wise, witty, and all around wonderful? The other day, I helped a lady fix her drawer and they next moment she was giving me a hug because she was so grateful for my help. I love it when I can take the extra 30 seconds to make my residents feel happy, important, and beautiful/handsome.

I was reading my Bible the other day, and I stumbled upon 1 Corinthians 13 about love. Verse 5 spoke to me in particular stating that love “does not seek its own interests”. It was a crucial reminder to me that the love I share with the people I serve needs to be selfless. If I am giving of time to others, but I do it for my own accord, I‘m not showing Christ’s love.

In a few weeks, I will be co-leading a group of about 10 college students down to Little Rock, Arkansas for a children’s medical service trip at the hospital there. It will be really easy to get stuck in a rut of just seeing how this is a great opportunity for my future. After all it will be great leadership and medical experience. This trip, though, is not about making myself feel good; it’s about listening to the stories of the families I meet, encouraging others to have faith in the team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who are taking care of their child, and engaging with the children so that they can have time to relax and to just have fun. As I continue to get older, I hope that I work through my selfishness and instead serve others with unconditional, selfless love.

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Lots of love,

Hannah

The Question I Hate Getting Asked

Winter break is treating me well. There is nothing better than sleeping in (that’s til about 7:30am for me), reading in bed, and hanging out with family and friends. However, whenever I see people that I haven’t talked to in awhile, I always get asked, “What are your plans for the future?” or some other version of that same question. It drives me nuts because I have to come up with a concise answer when in actuality I should really say, “I have no clue what I am doing with my life. I’m considering about 10 career options at the moment.”

I hate being in this period of the unknown. For me, I always find comfort in having a plan (as well as back up plans). As far as the future goes, I just never feel certain on anything. For a year now, I have been pretty set on going to medical school, which seems like a great option for me. I love school, I am dedicated, and I genuinely want to help people. How can I be certain, though, that becoming a doctor will bring me the most fulfillment and joy? Medical school requires a lot of sacrifice and work, and if I decide to go that route, I want to be certain that it is the best option for me. I have also considered other health careers, such as becoming a PA, a nutritionist, or a physical therapist. If the medical field is not the right place for me, I have considered a career in public health or in food science because they both deal with health and nutrition in settings outside of a hospital.

All in all, I’m straight up confused. I think it bothers me so much because at the end of the day, I want to follow God’s plan for me. I want to seek the vocation that he calls be to pursue, but I so often try to control my future. I’m in a constant internal battle between trying to surrender to God and trying to take matters into my own hands. I honestly pray that I can be free of the anxiety that comes with the unknown future. I wish I could be better at living each day as its own, rather than planning for the years to come. Hopefully, I can learn to trust  that God will show me what I am passionate about through my interactions with others in my daily life. Right now I know that I am passionate about serving foster children and caring for those who are vulnerable in society. I am interested in traveling, health, all things science (NOT PHYSICS), and social justice issues regarding malnourishment in the world and environmental problems. All I can do right now is have faith that God will show me the path that I am supposed to take based on the opportunities that he either gives me or closes off from me.

Rather than tensing up when asked the dreaded career question, my goal is to work on making peace with the fact that I do not know. Instead it is a great opportunity to let God be God and to allow him to really work through me. If you have any encouraging words or advice that helped you decide on your career path, feel free to share them with me!

Lots of love,
Hannah

My Teenage Years Are Over…

I woke up this morning and realized that it was my birthday. It was like I somehow had forgotten that this day was coming even though I had been thinking about this birthday for a while now. The fact that I am 20 hasn’t really sunk in yet, but it’s crazy to think that I have been alive for two decades.

Twenty years is long time to be alive, but it feels like these past few years have especially flown by. Even though time it going by quickly, it’s so amazing to see how God has been working in my life. Firstly, he allowed me to find some of the best, most compassionate friends I could ever ask for in high school. They constantly ground me in my faith and they challenge me to live a Christian life with more authenticity. Secondly, God has blessed me with such a supportive family. My senior year and even now at times, I still feel at odds with my parents, but the more I am away at college, the more I realize how much they unconditionally love me. Family is something that I cannot take for granted, especially after spending so much time with foster children. The older I get, the more I realize how precious having a family really its.

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My brother and I this year as we searched for the ideal Christmas tree.

I’m especially grateful for the past year and a half that I have had at college. God has allowed me to learn more about myself and what I am passionate about. I have had the opportunity to partake in a lot of mentorship roles both with college freshmen and with children at a local elementary school. I’ve also been mentored in a way by my professors who are always there to support and encourage me. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better college community.

So now I am here, at age 20. I really have no idea what my future holds, but I’m eager to see what opportunities God has in store for me. I’m excited to see how my story unfolds as I learn how to trust in God more fully. I’m at a place where I really want him to do whatever he pleases with my life instead of me trying to plan every moment of my future. I just know that ultimately I will find the most joy by following God’s will for my life.

As far as birthday plans, I really have none. My parents and I are going to go out to dinner (the restaurant is TBD) and then later we will have Dairy Queen ice cream cake because that is a family tradition. Otherwise, I am just going to rest, read, and relax with my cat (who never leaves my room since I keep it so toasty warm)!

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Sleeping Beauty

I hope you all have a lovely day! Stay warm 🙂

Lots of love,

Hannah

I’m Alive!

Wow, this is the first night in almost two months where I have had nothing to do. This feeling of nothingness is so blissful– I never want it to end. Today I finally made it to the end of the semester. I had my physics and organic chemistry finals yesterday and then my genetics and theology exams today. I know, it was a horrible line-up. The timing was not ideal, but I managed to power through to the end. I’m so happy that this semester is over. Even though I have thoroughly enjoyed living with my friends and being able to spend time with them, this semester was tough. I felt as though I always needed to be on my A game because if I ever wasn’t, then I would hopelessly fall behind on my work.

But here I am. I came out on top. I don’t know how I did on my finals, but I can honestly say that I did the best that I could have given the circumstances. Also, with all of the people stressing out around me, it was so hard not to get caught up in it all. It’s so easy to get stuck in the cycle of feeling the need to succeed all the time. I used to feel that way (and I still struggle with that at times); it would cause me so much anxiety that I couldn’t sleep and my stomach was constantly a wreck.

If there is one thing that I learned from this semester, it’s that school doesn’t define me. I will fully admit that I am a nerd. I love learning. It’s a part of me that I love, but it can also make me lose sight of the big picture. I am here at school, not for my own good, but hopefully to gain skills to do God’s will. School is not about what information I can regurgitate on an exam or how much better I do in a class compared to someone else. School, along with the other aspects of my life, is never supposed to be centered around me. I’m supposed to be giving all the glory to God.

With that perspective in mind, I was able to get through the stress of finals. God gave me strength, peace, and wisdom to know that being at college is a privilege that most people in the WORLD never get to experience. He has given me the opportunity to learn in an environment that challenges me to think critically and to explore new perspectives. No matter how well I excel at school, I trust that God is going to use me for some greater good. I don’t have to be better than anyone else because I am already good enough in God’s eyes.

That being said, I am really excited for a much needed break! I can’t wait to relax at home with my cat (and with my family and friends). Campus is beautiful here, but it’s bitterly cold. In 24 hours, I’ll be in my room with the space heater cranked up, snuggled in a warm blanket. Nothing is better than going home. I cannot wait! Plus it’s my birthday on Friday, so that will be a fun time too!

If you are in the midst of finals, I pray that they go smoothly. Just remember that this is one small phase of your life. Don’t let these measly tests cause you so much anxiety.

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My own winter wonderland here on campus! Like I said, it’s lovely to look at (not so lovely to have to walk in).

Lots of love,

Hannah

Good Catalyzes Good

Today began on a frustrating note. Being the morning person that I am, I decided to try to get some physics homework out of the way. Forty minutes later, I had attempted two problems and had solved neither of them. This is constant recurring theme in physics. I stare at the problems, get zero answers, and then fantasize about how I would like to burn by physics book.

However, it was the perfect fall day outside– 55°F, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Instead of doing more homework, I went on the most therapeutic run. As I ran, I listened to my favorite music, soaked in the gorgeous fall colors, and just thought aimlessly. Afterwards, it was like the physics incident had never occurred. That run changed my whole entire mood. It was a spark of good that changed my whole attitude for the day.

After the run, I got lunch with a friend from high school. We chatted while sipping on great coffee. It made me so happy to take time to catch up on each other’s lives, especially since I don’t get to see her often anymore. My lunch date was another sprinkling of good.

Later on at church,  1.) there was a baptism, 2.) I sat next to the happiest, cutest,  married elderly couple, and 3.) the priest delivered an amazing homily about leprosy and Christ’s role as a healer. He challenged us to look at our lives and to think about how Christ can physically, emotionally, or spiritually heal us. It was a homily that was challenging, but immensely clear. I needed to hear those words, and I left church feeling spiritually recharged– more good.

The final dose of goodness for the day came from a spontaneous FaceTime call from another high school friend. More chatting ensued, laughs were shared, and afterwards, I felt great.

The moral of the story– good builds on good. So often I let myself become consumed with negativity. I become overwhelmed with how busy I am or how challenging my classes are. Anxiety and stress quickly blind me from seeing the good in the circumstances that I am in. I focus on how quickly a day can turn sour, when in reality, it is just as easy for a day to become really amazing. Thinking back on the homily, right now, I need Christ to cleanse me from these burdens that weigh me down so that I can devote time to the things/people who lift me up– family, friends, spending time in nature, reading a great book, drinking hot coffee, etc. There is a lot of evil that is occurring in this work, but there is also a ton of good being done. Today was just one example of how one positive experience– my run– allowed me to more fully enjoy the rest of my day. Good catalyzes good (Can you tell I’m a science major? hehe). Every smile, laugh, or compliment could be the spark that ignites a chain reaction of good. I pray that I can continue working on changing my mindset from focusing on the negatives of life to relishing all of the sparks of good that are occurring around me.

Lots of love,

Hannah

Apple Picking Adventure

My family has a tradition of going apple picking with our family friends every fall. This tradition has been around for over 20 years–before my parents were even married! Every year, each of our families changes slightly. It’s so cool to look back at pictures from over the years to see how much we kids have grown. Last year, I didn’t have the chance to partake in this yearly ordeal since I was at college. This year, however, I decided to make the trip because creating memories and spending time with family helps me balance school’s chaos.

Early Saturday morning, I got my Salted Caramel Mocha from Starbucks and drove home. Then we as a family drove to our family friend’s house. There we ate lunch and watched a slideshow of us apple picking throughout the years. It was so precious! After that, we headed to the orchard. Our family filled up two baskets worth of Fuji and Golden delicious apples and ate our fair share of “free samples”– you have to try the apples to know what they taste like right? Apple picking is hard work. I was on top of my brother’s shoulders trying to pick the best apples (which were always at the very top of the trees). At end, I was extremely satisfied with our selections, and now I can eat multiple apples a day for a long time 🙂

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My brother and I like each other after all.

After picking our apples, we took some mandatory family pictures and then headed to the barn to buy delicious goodies. My all-time favorites include caramel apples, warm apple-cinnamon donuts (yes they are a gift from God), corn salsa, and pumpkin butter.

Then way too quickly, we had to pack up and leave because I wanted to get back to school–to get frozen yogurt, not to study 😉 I got back in the car and jammed out to music until I made it to campus.

Going apple picking was the kind of relief that I needed. School is really crazy, and I feel like I never get a break– or I never want to take a break. While school is important, I don’t want it to rule my life. At the end of the day, I want to look back at my college experience and remember all the the great times that I spent on adventures with family and friends. Academics is one aspect of college, but definitely not the only aspect. I was so happy to take a break from school and spend time with family friends that I haven’t seen in two years. I even got a chance to see my brother, who started his freshman year of college. It was a very full day–full of travel, full of memories, and full of food! I can’t wait to partake in this tradition again next year!

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This is one of the mandatory photos–all the kiddos need to stand by the scarecrow and measure their heights.

 

Lots of love,

Hannah

Solidarity Amidst Our Fractured Society

Week one of college done. As the Script would sing, “I’m still alive, but I’m barely breathing.” It’s true. I’m taking a tough course load, and I’m super involved on campus. My life is insanely busy, but it’s so fulfilling. Anyways, at the college’s opening Mass, I found out that my school’s theme for the year is solidarity. Honestly, what a perfect theme to reflect upon this year, especially when the world seems so chaotic and fragmented. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a lecture called “Solidarity in a Time of Bias, Hate, and Violence,” and it opened my eyes to the fact that so much work needs to be done in order to create unity in our communities.

The presenters challenged us to think of solidarity as more than just unity. It demands each individual to commit oneself to the common good. Solidarity stresses justice for all and reiterates that humans were designed by God to be interdependent. Our society tries to marginalize individuals based on our differences and brainwashes people into believing that each person can thrive autonomously. Solidarity fights against society’s structural sins through self-sacrifice and care for the poor and vulnerable.

Later on, the lecturers stated that bringing solidarity into communities begins with a change in the mindset of each individual. I, myself, need to take a step back and notice my surroundings. Sometimes hate, bias, and violence are so embedded in society that it is hard to notice it if I don’t proactively look for it. It’s not enough just to acknowledge the terrible things that are happening in this world. I want to be part of the solution. How can I better incorporate justice, service, and solidarity into my daily life? Even on campus, how can I help create a more inclusive, welcoming community?

I may not have the answers to these questions yet, but the theme of solidarity is so thought-provoking. After all, as Christians, we are supposed to be one body in Christ. We need to be the ones who see the similarities in each individual, rather than separate ourselves based on our differences. At the end of the day, we are all human beings deserving of love, dignity, and justice. Imagine if members of society truly lived in solidarity with one another. What a wonderful world it would be. It’s not impossible, and I’m going to do my part to make solidarity a reality.

Lots of love,
Hannah

Home Sweet Home

I’m home! Well, I’m back on campus, so it’s like my second home. Words cannot describe how happy I am to be back. I just love every aspect of college– the independence, the classes, my job, my friends, and so much more. This year, I am living in a suite with seven other girls. There’s a living area, a bathroom, four bedrooms, and get this, there is air conditioning! That truly is a blessing.

My friend Kelly and I arrived on campus early for our job training. We are both coordinators for ALIVE. The goal of ALIVE is to build community and to help students explore more about their passions, callings, and spirituality. Every week, we will work in teams to put on programs in the residence halls. Our programs might be socials, activity-based, or deep discussions, and the topics vary depending on what sparks interest in our participants. I worked with ALIVE last year as an apprentice in the honors dorm, and I am ecstatic to continue ministering in the honors dorm this year.

Training week was long and intensive. Even though we had to sit through many long talks, we still had tons of time for team bonding. We went mini golfing, visited the farmer’s market, had a lip-sync battle (which I rocked by the way), etc. The people that I work with are some of the coolest individuals I know. Not only are they a kind, outgoing, and diverse group of individuals, but they are also incredibly grounded in their faith. They are such a wonderful support group for me, and I can’t wait to spend a whole year working with them.

By friday, all of my friends were moved in! I’ve missed them all immensely. We spent our night playing “Girl Talk,” a board game created probably in the 90’s for preteen girls. It’s basically a lame version of truth or dare. If you complete the tasks, you can earn points that eventually help you gain cards that reveal your future– information about your marriage, children, and career. Failure to complete the truths/dares results in you putting a “zit sticker” on your face. Needless to say, this game is hilarious and will produce much laughter and memories among us.

I start my classes on Monday, and I couldn’t be happier. What can I say, I am a nerd, and I love being one. My schedule is full, but that’s how I like it. I just have a feeling that this year will be great. I’m hoping to grow more as an individual, to deepen the relationships that I have established with my friends, and to more wholeheartedly follow God’s will for me. This year, I really want to give my life to God. I need to hand over any anxieties I have about school and work, and just trust that God is in control.

Heavenly Father, bless this upcoming school year. Give me the tools I need to succeed the best I can. Help me to be brave–to step out in faith and to be more confident in myself and in my abilities. Whenever I am stressed, help me remember to lean on you. You are my strength, Lord. Please continue to reveal your plan for me this year, Lord. My future is still fuzzy, but I trust that you will reveal this plan to me one day at a time. That being said, allow me to listen to what you are calling me to do. It’s your will, Lord, not mine. Each day, transform my heart and mind. Help me to be more compassionate, patient, and selfless. Walk with me, Lord, each day, and help me become the best version of myself. I need you, and I love you. Thank you for this opportunity to attend college for another year. It is such a blessing, and I will take advantage of every opportunity that you present me with.  Amen.

I’m so happy to be back at college. I’m looking forward to all of the memories that will be made 🙂

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This is me and some of my amazing coworkers/friends from ALIVE 🙂

 

Lots of love,
Hannah

Tapping Into God’s Unconditional Love–RFKC 2016

This week, I was a counselor at Royal Family Kids Camp, and it was challenging, heartbreaking, and life-changing. Since this was my third year being involved with RFK, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but I was clearly wrong. Leading up to camp, I kept praying that God would allow me to give 100% to my camper, and He honored that. I have never been so exhausted, yet filled with joy. The team that I worked with, those praying for me, and God’s strength gave me the ability to get through this week. By the end of this week, I left with a better understanding of the unconditional love that God has for all of us.

Royal Family for us staff began on Sunday. After attending church, we drove to the campsite, unloaded, and decorated our cabins in order to fit this year’s Olympic theme. That evening, I finally found out who my camper was going to be. I pretty much only knew her name and that she was 9, none of her temperaments (for the safety and confidentiality of my camper, I’m only going to refer to her as “my camper”). I knew I was going in blind, but that didn’t matter to me. I was just so excited for Monday to come so that I could finally meet her. That night we all walked over to the lake in order to pray and do a devotional. In the midst of this beautiful nature, everyone could feel God’s presence. While at the lake, one of our staff members decided to be baptized, which was amazing. I have never seen a baptism like this. It was beautiful just seeing him declare his life to Christ while having his new RFK family there to support him. What was even cooler was that later a random woman saw us gathered on the beach and asked if she could be baptized. If that wasn’t a God moment, I don’t know what is. So we had two baptisms that evening. That night, I went to sleep knowing that this is God’s camp. He is orchestrating this whole thing. I knew that he had hand picked my camper, and I was so excited to finally meet her.

On Monday as the coach bus rolled in, we all stood outside with posters with each of the campers names on them in order to welcome our 24 precious princes and princesses. Each child had varying emotions as they stepped off of the bus–excitement, a little bit of fear, maybe nothing at all. When my camper walked off the bus, I was filled with such joy! I just couldn’t wait to get to know this precious girl! What I didn’t know was that behind that beautiful face was a girl with a broken heart.

Even though the week was filled with fun events, such as Grandma’s Tea Party, Everybody’s Birthday Party, and the Variety show, she struggled throughout the entire week. My camper loved being the center of attention and being in control. When she couldn’t have her ways, she ran around or ran away. So the whole week, I was on high alert because if I turned away for one minute, she could have been out the door running somewhere else. In addition, pretty much everyday, she had some sort of of meltdown over something small– she wasn’t picked to dance on stage, someone else took her spot, etc. These weren’t the real reasons for the meltdowns. In actuality, she was dealing with past heartbreaks. She hasn’t seen her birth parents in three years, and she yearns for them, even though they must have done something terrible enough to get her taken out of that family in the first place. What probably intensified her behaviors was the fact that she and three of her other siblings are currently up for adoption at the end of this month. You think that adoption would be a good thing– finally a being taken out of foster care and being placed into a stable home, hopefully. However, I think that to my camper, adoption means never seeing her birth parents again.

Most of the week was exhausting. My camper looked so downtrodden. She constantly told me how she didn’t like this camp, and she tried to hide any emotion whatsoever. God gave we such unwavering patience with her, though. He gave me the strength to just be there for her. And the thing is by day two, I had so much love for my camper. It didn’t matter that she was constantly wandering away, acting sassy, or having a meltdown. I was her rock, and I owe that all to God. The beautiful thing was that behind her act, I could tell that she really cared for me too. She would always be asking, “Where’s my counselor?,” and she would ask me to race her up the rock wall or to dance the Whip and Nae Nae with her at the talent show. My favorite moments with her, though, were when we were at the lake. That girl loved to swim; I think it was therapeutic for her. Together, we would swim “all over the world”– to Florida, Illinois, Australia even. She also loved using her goggles to grab sand at the bottom of the lake. We would look at the sand together and find all sorts of neat rocks and shells. In the water, she would open up, not about her past, but about her interests and school and just normal things.

Friday, when we were back at church, was the hardest part for me. It was beautiful to see my camper singing the songs she learned at camp up onstage. Normally she is hogging the stage for attention, but that afternoon, she was just singing and dancing next to her best friend that she made at camp. What made it worse was when I saw a couple of tears escape her eyes during the closing ceremony. That was confirmation to me that she actually cared about me too. Saying goodbye was the hardest. I thought that her future parents were going to pick her and her siblings up, but some random lady that the girls didn’t even know picked them up instead. That made me so upset because I wanted to meet the people that were planning on adopting her just to see if they seemed loving and safe. I guess we don’t always get what we want. Eventually, my camper and I said our final goodbyes. Tears were shed by both of us, and I just kept telling her how much I loved her and how I would be praying for her. Then just like that, she was gone.

I truly believe that God matched my camper and me together. Even though I have a huge heart, I am emotionally strong, and I think that allowed me to be so consistent and composed around my camper. My camper has shown me how to love and persevere way beyond what I thought I could do. That little girl–who is so brave, smart, caring, helpful, and charismatic– now will forever have a piece of my heart. I just have to trust God that He will keep her safe and that He will use her to do amazing things. I could go on and on about camp, but this post is already so long. Camp was amazing and life-changing. It challenged me probably more than I’ve ever been challenged, but I had a great group of people to support me along the way. I pray that I will be able to keep attending Royal Family Kids Camps for many years to come.

Lots of love,
Hannah

Swim, Bike, Run–Triathlon Fun

As some of you may know, I’m really into health and fitness. I just love feeling strong and confident in the body that God has given me. One of the ways that I have started challenging myself is by signing up for races. I’ve done 5k’s in the past, but my first real race was the Trial Assail half marathon in Nashotah during September of my senior year. I had such a blast training for the half, and it felt amazing crossing the finish line, especially since I am not the best runner. This year, I decided to sign up for the Lake Country Triathlon for a few reasons. One, I’ve been wanting to do a triathlon for a few years, but didn’t have the guts to actually sign up. Two, I wanted to push myself physically. Triathlons require so much endurance, and I thought the race would be an amazing challenge! I’m proud to say that found a training program, stuck with it, and finished this race with no flat tires or broken bones 🙂

 The Arrival

My alarm rang this morning bright and early at 4:40am. I actually got about 7 ½ hours of sleep since I went to bed before 9pm. Considering I got about 6 ½ hours of sleep when I worked over the summer, I felt great when I woke up! My mom, dad, and I left for the race at about 5:30 am. Once I got to the beach, I got my race chip and my body markings. Then I set up my bike in the transition area. After that, I just hung out with my parents until the race began.

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Swim 0.25 miles

The race began at 7am, the first segment being the swim. I was the last wave, so I didn’t go until 7:40 am. Right around 7, it unfortunately began to rain–first a sprinkle, then a pretty solid downpour. So there I stood on the beach with only a suit on in the rain. By the end, my fingers were blue. On the bright side, the water felt nice and warm in comparison 😉

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My wave (wave 13)–females 35 and under

I never thought that the swim would be a challenge, but man was I wrong. First of all, I had a hard time getting my momentum going. In the swimming pool, I could push off of the side to start propelling myself foreward. Here, I just had to start swimming. Plus, the rain made the water really choppy, so it was hard to get going anywhere. I really struggled to keep my breathing under control, and I was swallowing a lot of water. I was terrified that I was going to drown. I decided to flip onto my back and just float for a few seconds. Then I did a mix of backstroke and breaststroke for probably half of the swim. After that, I was calm enough to finish the swim by doing freestyle. Normally I love water, but today I have never been so happy to be on dry land.

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Mass chaos in the water. See anyone floundering? Yeah, one of those people was me. 

Bike 15.75 miles

Everything after the swim was easy peasy. The bike ride was a very scenic route through Oconomowoc. There were a few hills, but where I live there are tons of hills, so I was prepared. I finished way earlier than expected, even with my slow mountain bike that has thick, heavy tires–not really the most aerodynamic bike ever. My parents didn’t even have time to snap a photo of me as I finished because they thought I was going to be a lot slower.

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Me as I started my bike journey.

Run 3.1 miles

After I finished biking, I dropped off my bike in the transition zone and headed back on the course. I almost started running with my helmet still on, but a nice volunteer kindly stopped me so I didn’t make a fool of myself. The running course was super flat. I didn’t have any music, but hearing the cheers from the volunteers and the spectators were enough motivation for me.

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So not my best running picture ever, but I don’t care because at this point, I was about 100 feet from the finish line!

The Finish

I finished around 9:30 am; my official time was 1:50:12. I had no goal other than to finish, and I am so proud that I did that! I have been training for this triathlon for two months; I’m so glad that all of my hard work and determination paid off!!

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Done! Now where’s my victory ice cream ? (I did have victory ice cream just to clarify 🙂 )

 

I think I am hooked on races now. I just love how you have to push yourself both during the training and during the race. Plus, I love how races are an individual sport. The only person I am up against is myself. I am constantly amazed at all that my body can do, and for that, I am so grateful. Today wasn’t perfect, but I will will always remember this event in my life.

Lots of love,

Hannah