Mind Candy

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Slipping a notch

Posted by mandyf on September 29, 2008

Yesterday was a mixed bag of emotions for me. On the one hand it was wonderful to see my daughter run at her first ever cross country invitational while in high school. It may not seem like a big deal, but as a newly minted freshman to have done well enough to be chosen to make the trip so young speaks volumes as to how good she is becoming.

 We spent the lunch hour slogging throungh mud and rain to watch the race. I’m not sure who was more nervous,  but I almost believe it was me. I know all too well from years of competition that once the gun goes off butterflies die for the racers and grow for the spectators.  I spent the whole morning preparing to regurgitate every speech my dad ever gave me after bad race anticipating the sloppy course was going to treat her poorly. I set aside plenty of time for consoling her, knowing somewhere deep down not a single thing I said would take away the sting of what she would perceive as underperforming. “poor kid” I kept thinkimg, “your first big race comes on a day that mother nature is ticked off.”

 I say amazed watching her come through the first of her 3.1 mile (5 kilometer) trek in just a hair over seven minutes which was pretty darm good. She was actually a little fast. This just worried me more than if she had been a little slow. I worried about how hard she was working her body to get through the boggy field that quickly. i worried adrenaline had kicked in too soon and fatigue was going to hit early making the back end of her race torturous. I’d been through it before and knew tha hurt even more emotionally lying in bed at night re-running the breakdown while trying to sleep than it did in real time.

 At the two mile split the slow down was in full force, she had taken almost eaight minutes to hit that marker and I saw the worst still ahead. I kept yelling as loud as I could even though I knew it was not necessary to do so in order for her to hear me, but that was just the way it came out. I jogged across the soccer field to try to catch her when she completed a short run through a wooded section of the trail and it was a good thing I jogged because she had picked up the pace. She was actually making up ground on some of the competition that was waning. I was shocked, but it was as pleasant a jolt as I could imagine.

 Due to the rules concerning pacing I made a weird little zig zag pattern toward the finish line so I could see the finish up close and personal. She wasn’t going to win or finish in the top five but who cared? if she held on she would finish around the 21:30 time she was normally at which all things considered would be huge, she was a winner. In fact as I began re-counting the number of girls ahead of her I realized she may actually reach the top ten. I was shocked as she had never done that before, well at least not outside of age group competiton which often didn’t have ten girls in her bracket.

 I wanted to scream louder to go harder and faster but at that point I knew it didn’t matter. I could see she had already emptied the tank and was running on fumes. Still I was amazed she had done so well. What I didn’t realize, which shamed me, was that even though she was out of gas she wasn’t out of that thing called guts. I fixated on the clock, the way her form was slipping away, she focused on the person ahead of her and through what could have only been sheer will forced her way just past her for the last ten yards or so to hold on for that top ten finish. She had done in her first major race what took me two years.

 How could I not be excited? That was my baby, my little girl that found something inside her that wouldn’t let her quit. Instead of fearing the worst the way I did and accepting it, she expected the best and made it happen. Hearing her name and watching her called to the podium for her first ever trophy in high school made looking and feeling like a water logged rat worthwhile. I stood in the background watching as teammates and competitors milled around her checking out the trophy she had won and watching her smile grow bigger by the second. Somehow in that one moment I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about her. She is going to do okay. In everything.

 While I was standing back shaking the rain from my hair and wiping it off my face I was treated to a blast from the past. A friend I hadn’t seen in a couple years came by to offer me a congratulatory pat on the back. He and I went back to high school and college having had “careers” that overlapped each other. I won’t deny it felt good to have someone come up and reminisce with me and tell me I had something to do with Kay being as good as she is. That was the second best thing that had happened to me all day. What was odd though was when he said “she’s going to be even better than you were, maybe she already is.”

 Like any parent I want my daughter to do well, I want her to do great in fact. I just never considered it was going to happen so soon or that she was ever going to be considered, much less actually, a better runner than me. Actually better than I was, I’m not much of a runner anymore truth be told. It was a mixture of feelings. I want her to be better than I was, but I thought I’d hold the title just a little longer. I have awhile before she’s going to catch my times, but as far as competing and having the instinct to succeed he was right, she has passed me.

 It was tough admitting the torch has been passed. Actually it’s been passed and reignited, I let it go out years ago. Maybe I really am getting old or she’s actually growing up, either way it’s a tough thing to face. All things considered though it was a good day, even if it means I’m the new number two.

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