Wednesday, Natalie completed her third 5k via “Girls on the Run”. This AMAZING program works on both self-esteem as well as running endurance. I’m so proud that she wants to participate in this program and that she has dedicated two days a week for the past couple months to training.
One of my favorite aspects of the race is prior to the start. The organizers have set up a tween paradise. Not too young and certainly not too old. There is a hair color station, hula-hoops, jump ropes and lots of room to frolic. I was in awe watching Natalie and her friends playing tag, leapfrog, and some sort of jump on a tree and scream game. Each game morphed into the next and no rules had to be explained. There was giggling abound.
Then the race began. I was in a sea of 8-10 year old girls and we all had on matching t-shirts and many of us had spray painted spots or stripes in our hair. Nat took off with a smile until it faded…
Within the first half mile, Nat’s mood drastically changed. There was cranking and whining and lots of “I can’t do this”. Finally, there were tears. Any one who knows Nat, knows that tears do not mean she wants to stop, it means it’s hard and she’s frustrated. I knew once I saw the tears, I had to take a calculated risk. I stepped off the course with Natalie, and in my best ‘mykidsaredrivingmecrazyandnotworkingtotheirpotentialeventhoughthisissomethingtheycando” voice said, “Nat, we’re done. I’ve had enough complaining. Let’s quit.”
Nat sat down and cried. I held my breath, hoping I made the right choice. After a bit, she looked up at me with fire in her eyes. Seriously, the kid stared me down. She very succinctly said, “I. Don’t. Quit.”, and she hopped back on the course. Woo Hoo!!!!
We were up and running. We talked about when you run there are two competing voices in your head. One, which can be very loud, often says, “this is hard and you should stop”. The other, which starts off quietly say, “You can do this. You have trained hard. You are brave. You are smart. You are strong.” The trick is to give your power to the small voice until it is stronger than the negative voice.
Now we found our groove and settled into a pace that worked for Natalie. The giggling and frolicking was back. She saw lots of friends and we became a moving-happy-dispensing team as Natalie encouraged other runners. Every so often, we would check in on her voices and the small positive voice was steadily gaining strength, she sort of lost track of that negative one.
Within a half mile of the finish, I turned to Natalie and prepped her for our grand finale. She took the challenge and literally ran with it. When we crossed the finish line her cheeks were pink, and she was breathing hard, but she was immensely proud of herself.
I learned a bit more about my daughter during that race, as I beamed with pride and love. Even greater than her running accomplishment, was the insight into the kind of person that my daughter is and the adult she will become. Pleased, thrilled, gratified, happy, I wish I could peg the word that captured what I was feeling. Way to get ‘er done, girl!