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“…Through Christ Who Gives Me Strength.”

June 17, 2012

Witness through Fitness, Part 2

In my last entry, I shared a few stories of our newest triathletes and the incredible accomplishments they had achieved. One of them in particular stood out to our group as he overcame some physical obstacles and still completed his first triathlon. His attitude was one that inspired us all to try harder, complain less, and give thanks for our health and well being. He truly is a hero in his perseverance and in his excellent witness to others. Below I share this entry from guest blogger and triathlete extraordinaire Stephen Leydon.


Witness through Fitness team the first day of practice last January. 

I would like to share my thoughts and experience on the journey I started with the “Witness Through Fitness” group at Snellville UMC at the beginning of this year.  Last year this time my daughter and others here at SUMC participated in the “MY FIRST TRI.”  A “TRI” or triathlon consists of swimming, biking, and running, three individual exercises put together in one event. Their experience as witnessed by Rev Julie Schendel was one of a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  She spoke of the group workouts and how everyone looked out for each other by offering encouragement and words of wisdom to help the new participants accomplish their goal; and they all did.

The other part of the name of the group is Tri-Ing with GOD.  This has special meaning to me at this time. First: My daughter suggested I could do it, so with her prodding I signed up for the event this year along with her husband Jason. There would be three of us participating.  I was an OK swimmer, I just had never thought of taking any long swims.   I had not ridden a bike in over 30 years, but I knew I could do that since I used to ride a lot in High School and college.  I just did not have a bike.  As for running, I had run in The Peachtree in the past, which is a 10K or 6-mile race and this was only a 5K.  I was comfortable with the triathlon combination and the support group at the church so I signed up.  With support from my wife Karen, others in my family, and belief in the group’s verse Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” I embarked on this new venture. 

Second, Tri-ing took on a new meaning since I needed good running shoes, a bike, and the miscellaneous items needed for the event.  Again, with support from my family I was able to get good shoes, a bike and all the other items needed for the event.  Training was being guided by leaders of the group, Kinsey and Cliff for running, Julie for swimming, and Cliff for biking.  Several evenings my daughter, Jason, and Julie came to my neighborhood to get a little practice in.  Even though I could not keep up with Jennifer and Julie, I appreciated their direction and being there for the workout.

I was in the middle of training when I was thrown a curve, or to be more exact, thrown off my bike. I shattered my collarbone.  Trying now meant that I had to deal with an injury that would prevent me from doing any practicing for 8 weeks and potentially preventing me from accomplishing my goal.  With the skills GOD provided to the surgeon and his team I was made whole again.  After the surgery when I explained what I was doing when the accident occurred, the surgeon said the TRI was a “good goal.”  After the third set of x- rays indicated I was healing nicely the surgeon allowed me to ease back into training just in time for me to be able to participate, just at a lesser level.  I thought of the Bible verse referenced on our jerseys: Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  I experienced first-hand the encouragement of others Rev Julie spoke of: encouragement from the group, and of course my family.  When I was able to return to running, my group had advanced, but I never lost sight of the original goal, which was to finish.  My wife, daughter and the group continued to provide me with positive encouragement.   As I write this I envision myself finishing the “My First TRI,” accomplishing what I set out to do months ago.  I will finish, just not with as fast a time as I had hoped. 


Stephen finishing the TRI with a time of 2:01:51.           

You might have seen the MasterCard commercials?  Here is a SUMC Tri-Ing with GOD commercial for you:      

Shoes, bike, and accessories                   $350

Surgery to repair collarbone                   $3,500

Being associated with the group “Witness Through Fitness”                  Priceless!


Stephen Leydon with his daughter Jennifer (who completed the TRI last June) and son-in-law Jason (who completed the TRI this year).

I am proud to say that Steve completed the triathlon on June 9th 2012, with his son-in-law Jason, and their entire family cheering them on at the finish line. 


Congratulations Stephen! Way to make a comeback!

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