As many of you may know already, my brother, Corey Nygaard, is an insane triathlete. For those of you who don't know what a triathlon is, here it is: a triathlon is an individual sport where athletes compete in short, or long, races. These races consist of three sports into one: swimming, biking, and running. I never really was big on triathlons until my brother started to compete in them. And let me tell ya, it is absolutely amazing. In total, Corey has competed in 33 triathlons. Here is my story about my brother, and what he loves to do.
his article on my brother has been long overdue, but I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. Okay, here we go. Corey has only been into triathlons for 4 years, and his very first race was actually a duathlon, in Fergus Falls, MN. This race consisted of a 20 mile bike, then a 4 mile run, then a 7 mile bike to finish it off. I remember this race like it was yesterday. It was SO COLD and SO WINDY that day. Not great racing weather. With this being his first race, Corey was very unprepared. He had only his mountain bike, shorts and a rain jacket. I remember him telling us how hard it was, and that he never wants to do it again. Yeah, that wasn't the case. He ended up doing the duathlon again, and did improve, because he was more prepared. Now, after the duathlon, he found the Hoot Lake triathlon, which was also located in Fergus Falls. This race was known as a sprint triathlon. It consisted of a 450 meter swim, about a 17 mile bike, and a 5k run. I, myself, have experienced this race twice. Once when I was 16, and just this past summer, when I was 19. The first time I raced, I was just like Corey, and I never wanted to do it again. I finally got the courage to do it again this year. I trained harder, and was older and stronger than I was when I was 16. Man, was there an improvement. I never felt so good crossing that finish line, and getting that third place medal around my neck. Even though it is a small town race, I was finally able to understand why Corey loves this sport so much. It just makes you feel so good about yourself, and that you can accomplish anything.
Shortly after Hoot Lake, Corey was signing up for races left and right. Finally, he signed up for the half IRONMAN in Racine, WI. This race was much more vigorous than any other race Corey has done. It consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a half marathon run (13 miles). I can remember this race just as well as the first duathlon in Fergus Falls. My family and I didn't bring enough snacks, so we were crabby and hangry the whole day we were getting Corey checked in for everything. That was not fun. The Nygaard clan is not fun when we are hungry. We have also never been to Racine before, and when we go to a new place everyone gets frustrated with everyone because no one knows where we are going. But we eventually got everything done that we needed to achieve the day before the race. At this point in Corey's triathlon career, he has gotten a much more expensive bike, that is specifically for triathlons. He is more prepared with gear, food, etc. Also, this is the first time I have ever heard of this IRONMAN race. Now, you could practically call me an expert on the race. I've done all the research to prove it.
With Racine, Corey has had some ups and downs with this race. There was only one race, where it was perfect weather and they did the whole race. Every year since then, the swim has been cancelled, and/or the bike has been shortened because of weather. To add on to that, we had about a 2 and a half hour delay last year because of a storm the morning of the race. That was not fun, but being Corey's number one sherpa, I was making sure that I was staying positive for him, because these races are his life. But again, that was the year that Corey qualified for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga TN, this summer, which is amazing! He attempted Racine again this summer, along with his good friend Branden Scheel. Again, the swim was cancelled, because the of the temperature in Lake Michigan, which was another huge bummer. On the other hand, Corey has been battling a very bad knee injury, and I remember seeing the pain in his eyes when he ran by me on the course. But knowing Corey, he will not quit.
After doing the IRONMAN 70.3, Corey wanted to attempt the whole thing. IRONMAN Boulder Colorado 2016. 140.6 miles. One awesome dude. So we packed The Nygaard crew into a small rental car, and headed to beautiful Colorado. We drove all the way to beautiful North Platte, Nebraska, and stayed the night, to wake up in the morning and drive to Boulder. And let me tell you this, the drive to Boulder is SO BORING. Imagine driving from Fargo to Grand Forks, but for 14 hours. Yeah, it's pretty bad. But once you get to Boulder, it is one of the most beautiful places I've seen. I will never be against going back there again and again.
And we did just that. This summer, Corey and I drove to Boulder, for his second IRONMAN. I was knew this race was going to be a good one. Once we stayed in North Platte once again, we drove to stay at Corey's friends place, Brad, and his wife Caydee. They were so welcoming, and I thank them very much for letting us into their home. We were able to explore Boulder a little more, and make sure that Corey was ready for his race.
Then finally, my favorite day, RACE DAY! We woke up bright and early around 3 AM. I made sure to have my camera bag, hammock, blanket, food, change of clothes, swimsuit, hydration, and more. Trust me, being a sherpa is hard work. But I love it! Corey had to make sure he had all of the gear he needed, then we were off to Boulder! It was dark and quiet, yet the city was full of life from the triathletes. I absolutely love walking around with Corey and seeing how all of this IRONMAN stuff works. It takes countless hours of training and organization to make this race as big of a deal as it is. It is absolutely incredible.
While waiting for the swim start, Corey and I observed all the athletes in transition, and watched the sun come up over the Boulder Reservoir. He better be thankful that I brought a blanket, because it was pretty cold that morning. I gave him my blanket, while I stood there in shorts and suffered while we waited for the swim to start. Corey, you are so lucky to have a sister like me :) Finally, it was time for Corey head over to the swim start. I got my blanket back, and I walked with my brother over to the swim start. I couldn't go past a certain point, so I gave him a big squeeze, and wished him all the luck in the world. I always tear up when I watch him walk towards the swim. Seeing my brother do something this incredible is so heart warming, and I will never be more proud of him.
With the beautiful sunrise coming up, a cannon went off, signaling the pros to start their swim. Then, it was the rolling start for the age groupers. It is so hard trying to find your athlete at this point, because they are all wearing their wet suits and swim caps, and look exactly the same. Although, I still manage to find my brother, and watch him disappear into the sparkling water. Once he is gone, now begins a long day of waiting. Since the IRONMAN is 140.6 miles, it kind of takes a long time to finish. As a spectator, all you can do is wait, and track your athlete. Once Corey was swimming, I got some french toast and orange juice, found a spot where the swimmers come out, and just simply waited.
A little over an hour went by, and then I heard Mike Riley say "And here comes Corey Nygaard out of the water!" This is when I jump up, grab my camera, and wait for Corey to come by. Once I see him, I am yelling as loud as I can, and am trying to take pictures at the same time. This is a task I have mastered. It is actually a lot harder than you think. Trust me. As soon as I snapped some pictures, I grabbed all my crap and SPRINTED to transition, yelled at Corey some more, took more pictures, then sprinted again to where he took off on his bike, and got a couple more pictures. For the first part, I saw Corey 3 times in the course of about 4 minutes. Yes, I am a very determined sherpa.
While Corey was out on the bike, I found a spot on a big boulder to sit and watch bikers take off, while I waited for Corey to come back around. The bike course consisted of 3 loops, so I was able to see Corey 3 times on the bike before I took the shuttle back to Boulder High School, which was where the second transition was, where the bikers came in, and headed out for the run. I didn't see Corey come in on the bike, because being the photographer, I wanted to get a good spot to take pictures of him on the run. I patiently waited, when I finally heard a distant Mike Riley announce Corey's name again, and I jumped up and got my camera ready once again. Then, there he was, running in his red, white and blue Wattie INK tri suit, looking better than ever. I snapped some pics, then ran along side him, giving him my little motivational speech, then pushed him along. Whenever I saw Corey coming from a distance, I would be yelling my head off, and people would be staring. They all had to know that the number one IRONMAN was coming. Corey said that he can hear me from a mile away, which was always my goal.
After seeing Corey on the run 3 times, I made my way over to the finish line to snatch a good spot to watch him finish. I was there for about an hour and a half, because I wasn't losing my awesome spot. I was able to see most of the pros finish, which was pretty cool. The finish line at any IRONMAN is a battle field. You are constantly fighting with other spectators, because they want your good spot. But I wasn't moving. No way. After tracking Corey all day, I knew he was in first place in his age group, while he had no idea. When you win your age group at any IRONMAN race, you will qualify for the King of the IRONMAN: Kona. So of course, I was super pumped for him to finish. Finally, the moment came. I heard Mike Riley say "Corey Nygaard, you are an IRONMAN". Seeing him cross the finish is always so emotional for me. I'm yelling and on the verge of tears, because I am so proud of him. Once he gets through all the volunteers, I am able to see him and give him a huge hug. I knew that he finished first in his age group, but he didn't want to know until awards the next day. It was so hard not telling him. After eating and grabbing his bike, I kept telling Corey that he needs to know what place he got. While on the phone with mom and dad, I finally told Corey that he won his age group. At first, he didn't believe me. I showed him his place on the IRONMAN app to prove it. Of course, he started crying from being overwhelmed, and finally seeing that he was going to Kona Hawaii for the IRONMAN World Championship. It is every triathletes dream to make it to this race, and Corey made it. The next day at awards, Corey was first out of the water in his age group, won his age group, and accepted his Kona qualification spot (I am sure many of you have seen my video I posted on Facebook).
My family, Mitchell and I just returned from Kona, Hawaii about two and a half weeks ago, after watching Corey compete in the biggest race of his life. Watching people complete this race is beyond amazing, and watching your brother compete was even more amazing. Corey, I am the proudest sister in the entire world, and just know that where you are now, and when you become pro, I will always stand behind you no matter what.
Stay Golden, bro.
As I am sure many of you know, I have been working a lot this summer. 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I devoted my time to working at Kids Choice at my childhood elementary school. Kids Choice is a summer program where children as young as 4, to as old as 12, can play games, do projects, go on field trips, and much more. Sometimes, the children have parents who aren't home during the day during the summer, so that's where Kids Choice comes in. With my passion for working with kids, I figured this program would be a perfect fit. I was paid pretty well, and I was able to play with kids all day. Sounds like the best right? Well, in some cases there were times where I absolutely loved my job, and then there were other times to where I was counting down the hours to leave. Although, I do not regret my time there at all.
This job gave me great experience for what I will be doing later as a career, which is to be an elementary school teacher. I definitely learned that each kid is unique. Some have behavioral issues. Some have special needs, and others have disabilities. I will not say that there is a single normal child that I worked with. I don't like the word normal. Each child has their own beautiful personality, making them some of the greatest people you will ever meet. Some people will say that kids are just brats. To me, I don't believe that. Yes, some kids can have moments where they are extra sassy towards me, or give me an attitude. This is where I learned that you need to sit down and talk to the child, and not just yell at them. The more you yell at a kid, the more they won't listen to you. I am never a person to yell or become angry, either. There were times where I would have to be more stern with the children, and that is when they knew Miss Maddie wasn't happy.
I cannot express enough how much I loved first coming into work in the mornings. When I arrive there at 9, the kids are all outside on the playground after they have eaten their breakfast. As soon as they see me come out on the playground, I hear "Miss Maddie Miss Maddie!" coming from every angle. I am smiling right now just thinking about this. The look on the kids faces when they saw me was absolutely priceless, and it would make my heart warm. I would have 8 kids at a time come and hug me. Another one of my favorites is when I help a crying child. There was once, when a little 5 year old wouldn't take her medicine at lunch, and she was crying because she was probably stressed that no one was with her. She has to take her medicine, otherwise she can't play until she does. When I looked over and saw her crying at the table all by herself, my heart jumped out for her. I gave her a hug, and all she was telling me was that she wanted her mother. After a few minutes, I was able to make her calm down and talk to me. Her medicine was in some applesauce, so I asked her if she wanted me to eat some applesauce with her. She nodded her head. I get some applesauce and sat down right next to her, and asked her to take bites with me. With time, she started to eat her applesauce all by herself, and not long after, her beautiful, glowing smile came back on her face. Knowing that I helped that little soul become happy again, makes me so incredibly happy. That is when I knew that teaching is 100% for me.
I always was involved with the kids. I even made sure to learn how to do some projects, so I could make things for them, and teach them how to be creative. They're little minds are like sponges, and they are always willing to learn new things. Some kids' home life, is not the best, so when they come to Kids Choice, I wanted to give them what they deserve, which is to be happy. It is hard sometimes, because a lot of the kids don't have someone to talk to, so they will talk to me and tell me about bad things going on in their life. I tried to make them forget about that, at least while I had my time there.
I will be forever grateful for this experience. Besides the complaining, arguing, constant tattle tailing, crying, and fighting, I will miss the children so much. I will miss seeing their happy faces, and their bright personalities. But, this is only my first step in molding the minds of little ones. There is much more to come!
I am sure that many of you have heard that I was in a car accident earlier this winter in January. The reason I am writing this blog is to make people aware that driving safe is sooooo important. So please, hear me out.
January 8th, 2017 started off like any other normal day. My roommate, and wonderful friend, Haley and I were saying goodbye to our parents as we were getting ready to head back to UND. We packed all of our stuff into Marley, and started our long 5 hour trip back to school. The drive seemed pretty normal, Haley and I were just talking, listening to some relaxing Jack Johnson music, and having a good time. About half way through the drive, it was anything but normal. As I was passing a bright red pick up truck, I hit a patch of black ice. I felt myself lose control of the car, and it felt like we were slipping on butter. Before I knew it, all I could see was a blank sheet of white. All I could hear, was the car metal falling apart. All I could feel, was Marley closing in on us. Even though I could hear the crashes, I remember it being eerily silent. What felt like forever, was only a few seconds until we were upright, with ice cold snow up to our ribs, and being more confused than ever. That was when I realized what had happened. I had rolled my car in the ditch going 74 miles per hour. The very first thing I did, was to make sure that Haley was okay. We couldn't even cry we were so shocked at what happened. I was looking at my car, seeing the sunroof broken, the wipers were on, snow everywhere, and Jack Johnson was still singing. It seemed like he was telling us to relax. Shortly after, Haley and I found ourselves screaming for help. I was so angry that cars were just driving by us and not seeming to care that there were two 19 year olds trapped in a car with no working phones to call for help. All I wanted in that moment was to wake up from this nightmare, and to see my parents sitting there saying, "it was just a bad dream, Maddie". Unfortunately, my nightmare was not just in my head, it was real.
I begun to dig through the snow in my car and look for my phone to try and get some help. All of a sudden, a state trooper was at my window asking if Haley and I were okay. I have never been so relieved seeing someone. Once I said we were okay, he asked us to try and get out. Haley's door was lodged, so we had to climb out of mine. I was surprisedI still had the strength to push open my door in the snow. As the state trooper started to pull me away from my car, I found my glasses in the snow. It was so weird walking away from my car, seeing it the way it was. I wasn't even able to grab my keys with the Fighting Sioux lanyard. After wrapping my head around what was happening, I realized another man came to help us. He was about to put Haley and I in separate vehicles and I was like hell no, I am not leaving Haley. Finally, we were put into the back of the trooper's car, squished together, cold and shaking. I remember looking at Haley's face and seeing the mascara running down face from crying. I remember holding her hand as hard as I could, to make sure that she knew that I was never going to leave her. I kept saying I was sorry to her over and over, and she kept telling me that it wasn't my fault. Of course in that moment, I could only think that it was my fault.
After waiting for about 30 minutes in the back of the trooper's car, uncomfortable and scared, an ambulance finally came to take Haley and I to the hospital. The funny thing is, we were waiting for the ambulance at the exit we take to our cabin. It made me think, I was this close to my second home, and my friends nearby, and they had no idea what was going on. Also, I couldn't stop thinking about my parents, and how they didn't have a clue. They still thought that we were driving. It was so frustrating that no one was giving us a phone to call the most important people in our lives, and tell them what happened. Although, the medics in the ambulance were extremely kind, and tried to make us as comfortable as possible. They gave us bandages for our cuts, and had the heat on nice and warm so we could thaw. I remember the male medic said that we probably wished that we had a teddy bear to cuddle. I nodded my head, as I was still pretty speechless. Then, he gave us soft, white teddy bears with red scarves to keep us company.
Once we finally reached the hospital, I have never been so relieved to be in a building again. Unfortunately, the nurses separated Haley and I in different rooms. And I can tell you now, that it was honestly the worst thing ever, sitting in that hospital bed alone. My nurse wasn't in my room a lot, so I didn't have anyone to talk to. I kept crying and shivering because I was so cold and in shock. I kept thinking, why isn't anyone comforting me? Finally, the nurse gave me a phone to call my parents. Once I heard my dad's voice, I burst into tears. I told him about the accident, and at first, he didn't believe me. When I told him where I was, he didn't even have to think, and he said "I am not going to work. I am coming to get you". After talking to him, I was alone again. But then, like an angel, an older nurse came in looking for my nurse. Then she came up to me, and said the first kind words I heard since the crash. She asked if I was okay and if I wanted a warm blanket because she saw how much I was shaking. She came back, covered me in the blanket, took off my wet shoes and jacket, and gave me a hug and said, "everything is going to be okay sweetie". I never even knew her name, and yet I will never forget her. After being stitched up, I called my boyfriend Jay, because I knew he would be worried about me. He told me that he was going to come to me, and I told him no way because the roads were so bad. He listened, and would just have to wait until I got back.
After an eternity, my nurse finally came back and said that I could go to Haley's room now. As soon as I walked in, I gave Haley a huge hug. She had a splint around her middle finger, because she had broken it, and had to get 9 stitches. Even though the pain was annoying, Haley and I will be forever thankful that we walked away from that crash with only some stitches and bruises. Once we got let out of our rooms, we had to wait in the waiting room for my parents to come get us. Haley's phone was working, so she was able to contact her family. My phone was still buried in my car somewhere, but that was the least of my worries. When my parents finally came, the first thing I did was throw myself at them and cry. I will never forget the looks on their faces when they saw me. It has only been rare moments where I have seen my parents cry, and this was one of them. I swear that my mom was never going to let me go.
Rolling my car has changed my life forever. Knowing I could've died in that accident, makes me not take my life for granted. If we weren't wearing out seat belts, Haley and I could've been killed. Just know, that I wasn't texting, wasn't distracted by any means. My accident was an act of God, and I for sure got His message. Just because I wasn't doing any distracted driving, doesn't give anyone the excuse to pick up their phone while they are behind the wheel. DO NOT DO IT. It's not that hard people. I despise seeing people in cars use their phones plain as day while driving. I hope that you guys aren't one of those. Take my story as a lesson, to make you more aware to safe driving. Follow speed limits, wear your seat belts, and don't use your phone. So many simple things that can save your life. Drive slower when roads are icy and it's snowing. Those were my conditions. Even though I was only going 4 mph over the speed limit, it still changed my life. I will never forget that dreadful day. I hope people realize that an accident will haunt your forever. It's been 4 months, and I still think about it. I still cry. I still wonder "what if". I still have a hard time talking about it, and I probably will forever. I cry in my new car because it's not Marley. I still get a little nervous on the highway, even when it is not me driving. I am scarred for life. So think the next time you want to drive over the speed limit or answer that text, because that thought could save your life.
A big thank you goes out to my car Marley. You did your job, and kept us safe. You will be missed, as will my fish Clyde who passed in the accident.
I am sure that many of you have read a lot of articles and blogs on someone's freshman year of college and are like "ugh, another one". Yes, this is another one, but it is mine. Just like the other's, I want to tell my first year experience of college.
I decided to go to the University of North Dakota because I wanted to get away of all the hassle and bustle that is the Twin Cities. I have grown up at my cabin in Northern Minnesota, and this is when I realized I am more of a small town nature girl, instead of a city girl. UND was the perfect mix of the outdoors, and a small town. With only about 16,000 students and a lot of flat land, I have still been able to call this place home. Everyday, not matter where you will go, you will run into a familiar face, whether it be at Squires Dining Center, or walking to class. Along with the people here, I have met some of the nicest people. Whenever you walk by someone, even if it is a complete stranger, they will always smile at you. One of my favorite encounters was when I was on a run, a girl who was running the opposite way of me smiled, gave me a thumbs up, and said "keep it up!" Little moments like that have made me fall in love with Grand Forks.
Now, I am sure a lot of you are wondering, "really? Grand Forks is in the middle of nowhere". Yes, this is true, but I don't think people realize how much there is to do here. I have been able to get myself involved in many different ways. There are a ton of different shops and original little restaurants. You can always venture down to East Grand Forks, and walk along the beautiful river, catch a movie at River Cinema, or even take a day trip to Fargo! I can admit though, that if you are die hard city folk, you will find it difficult here at UND.
North Dakota is known for its very cold and windy winters. Coming from Minnesota, the winters here are not much different besides the unbearable cold. There were times this year where I walked to class in layer after layer, in -30 degree temperatures. Now that is something no one will ever get used to, but I that is just what we get when we decide to live here:)
UND has given me some of my closest friends. I became closer with some people here in 3 months, than people I went to school with for 13 years. My roommate is a huge one. We started off only knowing each other through a job at Buffalo Wild Wings back at home. Now, I tell her everything. I never thought people could have such a big impact on your life until I came to college. When you are away from home, your friends are your family. You go to them when you're having the worst day, and you share smiles when you are having the best day. Unfortunately, some things don't go the way we planned. A lot of the wonderful friends I have made here decided to continue their journey's elsewhere. My roommate is transferring to the U of M. Even though we are separating tomorrow, I feel like I will be coming back with her in the fall. When in reality, she isn't. That is okay, because I know we will be friends forever, and we will visit each other often. Don't forget abut me Hales.
Freshman year has taught me a lot of things. It taught me how to be independent. It has taught me how to love myself. It has brought me closer to my family than I have ever been. I have learned how to get ready 10 minutes before my morning class. It has taught me how to save money, and spend it all on Deek's Pizza. Freshman year has been full of late nights, stressful days, and wonderful afternoons. It has taught me to never take free textbooks for granted. It has taught me great math skills too, such as calculating how bad you can do on your test to maintain a passing grade in a class. It has shown me that there is no more of a stressful week than finals week. But on the bright side, freshman year has taught me how to be who I truly am. We all tend to be more of an artificial version of ourselves in high school. Always trying to be cool and fit in. In college, there's no such thing as fitting in. If you do you, you will be forever successful. Thank you freshman year. It is now time to "keep on keeping' on".
Just a girl with a journal, a pen and a camera trying to express herself to the outside.