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I am going to share the 5 fantastic things that actually boosted my self-belief during last Sunday’s remarkable duathlon in Kericho. In fact, it was so mind blowing I am listening to James Blunt’s ‘Where Is My Mind’ on auto-rewind. Where is my mind, I kept wondering during last Sunday’s event. It was by far, one of the most challenging and yet the most memorable events to date. Having won a silver medal during last year’s Sprint Duathlon, I was optimistic of doing better.
Why do I take part in half marathons and duathlons?
My romance with half marathon and duathlons began last year when I decided to raise funding for my work with boys in juvenile prison. I have competed in 5 half marathons, one biking event and two duathlons. I have also raised over Kshs. 50,000 since I began last year.
I have 5 medals, scars and wonderful memories of the wonderful teens and parents whose lives my running and biking has impacted. Getting Lifesong Kenya to take off from the ground has not been easy at all. There have been numerous moments, in the past 5 years, when I have asked myself, “Where is my mind?”
However, the vision I have for the boys I am working with, has kept me sane. As a result, I am happier, joyful and fulfilled. As time went by and this year’s event drew closer, I discovered my finances had completely dried up.
Breaking the news that I am not going to Kericho
On my way to juvenile prison last week, I decided to share my disappointment with the boys I mentor in juvenile prison. Sharing my disappointment enabled the boys to share their own fears and hopes for the future.
In the end, we all gathered round as the boys prayed for me. I bid them bye and started walking on heavy feet out of prison. I had only walked a few metres when I got a call that changed everything.
“Hello James, where are you?” Michael asked.
“I am walking out of prison,” I replied.
“Are you still interested in coming to Kericho?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t know,” I said. “I’m so unprepared!”
“Okay, call your wife and let me know whether you’re coming. Team Tri Fit has taken care of by Team Tri Fit. All you need to do is pick up a mountain bike from the Green Cycle, fuel your car and come. Call me back in an hour with your response.”
Follow this link to learn more about duathlons.
The 5 fantastic things that actually boosted my self-belief
A minute later, I called my wife. My dream to go to Kericho was alive and kicking! All I needed to do was convince my wife to accompany me and find money for fuel. You may think that things would go smoothly from this point on.
Well, this is where God’s humor came into play.
I had spent the whole trip to prison on Facebook and therefore my phone did not have enough power to call most of my supportive friends. Nevertheless, I was able to call my wife, who – due to work commitments – wasn’t going to accompany me on my latest adventure. I also called one of my friends who was going to the event as a supporting staff.
“Are you still going to Kericho today?” I asked.
“Yes, with two of my friends,” Mary Kariuki replied. “Will you and your wife give us a ride?”
“Yes, provided you give me the money you are supposed to use as bus fare,” I said.
“Deal,” she replied, laughing.
My wife drove me to pick the bike, after which Mary Kariuki, her two friends and I drove to Kericho. We arrived at the venue six hours later after enduring a long drive in the rain, fog and slippery road in the night. I was tired and hungry since I had not eaten anything after taking a light breakfast before prison. Fortunately, I had a hot shower, coffee, meal and a bed waiting for my weary body, soul and mind.
The next day, we went to check out the terrain where we were going to run and bike. It had not rained that much the night before. We all prayed for it to remain the same. Little did we know that God heard our prayers but somehow, decided not to answer us! We went back to the house where were staying, called my wife and a few of my friends and asked them to pray for me.
The day of the event
I woke up at 4 am and kept thinking about my wife and wished she had come to cheer me through the 5k run, 20k bike and 5k run that lay ahead of me. I knew she was going to be praying for me in church by the time the race begun at 8 am. But I needed her by my side more than ever.
I took my bike and rode it to the starting point where I waited for the race to begin. This was going to be the toughest duathlon of my life. I knew I was not ready the moment the first 5k run started. I was already struggling in the first lap. By the time we came back for the second lap, three of the runners overlapped me.
I wanted to collapse to the ground. My heart was beating, my steps were heavy and I kept struggling to keep up. By the time I came back to pick my fifth rubber band, the other guys I had started the run with had gone half way through the first lap of the bike course.
I went into transition, wore my helmet, dragged my bike to the mounting point and gingerly peddled away. Since it had heavily rained the night before, mud clogged on the bike’s wheels, chain and my shoes. To make matters worse, I could not figure out how to shift the gears in such conditions.
“Oh God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit please shift my bike into the right gear,” I prayed.
“This year’s Kericho edition was more challenging based on a new route and change in weather that made the course muddy and slippery. Team Tri Fit seeks to raise the profile and participation of individuals in the sport through the hosting of such events while incorporating half marathons to get more people to witness what triathlon and duathlon is about,”
– Michael Owora, Team Tri Fit Manager
Asking a pastor to pray for me
I was finding it hard, not only to shift the gears but also to peddle the bike along the numerous rocky, winding and steep sections. Pushing and riding my bike was becoming a hard nut to crack. I spent most of the time gingerly pushing my bike. I found the long descents to be of huge relief because I was able to ride my bike and rest my legs.
“Hello,” I shouted to a thin tall man who was passing as I bent down to remover the huge cake of mud on the wheels of the bike. “Are you a pastor?” I asked.
“Yes, I am,” he smiled.
“Would you pray for me?” I asked.
“Okay, let us pray,” he said, holding my shoulders.
“What’s your name?” I asked after saying amen.
“I’m Patrick Tonui from AIC Kapkiam,” he replied, still smiling.
The list of 5 fantastic things that actually boosted my self-belief
- God is in full control regardless of what we do not see
- The need to focus on turning my writing into an income generating activity
- Trusting God to bring clients and new ideas
- Knowing there are hundreds of people who have been supporting me – through prayers, finances and by constantly encouraging me. Meeting more people and sharing Lifesong Kenya’s vision
- My experience is going to encourage the boys I work with to start and continue trusting God more
As I dismounted and pushed my bike to the transition point, the race official informed me that I was time barred. Thoughts of seeing DNF – Did Not Finish – next to my name shattered my ego, confidence and belief. I asked for the last rubber band and collapsed to the ground.
Much as I had failed to adequately train and prepare before the race, I thought I had given my all under the circumstances I had competed in. In the end, I failed everyone who believes me by first, not adequately preparing before the race and secondly, by not doing my best to do well in the race.
As I watched the winners receive their prizes, I clapped and cheered knowing I had won in my own unique way. Later that day, I drove back – another 6 hours – to Nairobi and promised to start training for the Diani Triathlon Series which is three months away from now. I am soon going to resume my training and will use this list of 5 fantastic things that actually boosted my self-belief as a guideline.
The Kericho Triathlon, Duathlon and X-Country Challenge brought together 110 athletes from across Kenya on Sunday 3rd September, 2017 at the Chesumot Estate in what was dubbed as the toughest and muddiest challenge to-date. The series is part of Team Tri Fit two pronged approach of nurturing the sport of triathlon in Kenya while raising Kshs. 500,000/- for the purchase and upkeep of gym and rehabilitation facilities at the National Spinal Injury Hospital situated on Lenana Road in Nairobi.
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