The other weekend I had the opportunity to run a 5k with my daughter (10) – her first such race – near Seattle Center in downtown Seattle. She first participated in a 1k kids dash without me; then we ran the 5k together.
That morning she had to get up early. Worse yet, we also switched to daylight saving time that night. Though excited, she started that morning extra tired.
Although she had been going out running in school once a week, this was her first time running the five-kilometer distance. Seattle is a hilly town and accordingly, this course has some elevation changes along the way.
She understood to pace herself, but she also found that this was difficult. She noted pains in her feet and she struggled to maintain steady and efficient breathing. Before the end of the first mile, we slowed for a first walking break. It was clearly a challenge, she was very aware of the remaining distance — but she was also determined to finish (and earn pizza at the end).
We talked, we ran, we jogged and walked.
It was great!
There was an out-and-back portion on the course. Going out, you cannot help but notice the people coming back. Eventually that was us, then soon we were well on our way back, maintaining an easy jog.
I noticed a family we knew, who were still going out. They saw us, pointed and cheered. A minute or two later this happened again with other friends, with one of them exclaiming to my daughter “you are looking strong!”
We slowed to a fast walk. She looked tired.
I said, “do you understand what just happened?”
She shook her head. “I am not sure. What do you mean?”
“I know that you are struggling. You are working hard and you feel that you are working hard. You are having a tough time.”
She nodded. “Yes …”
“Well. They couldn’t tell. To them, you looked strong.”
If only you could feel about yourself the way that they see you.
We kept running, with the occasional walking break.
At the three mile marker, she pushed herself and almost sprinted through the finish line. She was beaming with pride afterwards and told me later she would want to do this again.
It was a win.
After the race, we ended up waiting for the pizza place to open, so that we could place an order. She had half of hers finished, by the time we got back to the car.
I love telling my daughter about other people (dead or alive), who have accomplished big things, have contributed well. Of course, I especially love telling her about women, who have done so, because my daughter is growing up to be one herself.
Recently I told her about Candice Burt, an elite ultra runner, who (as of this writing) has been on a streak of more than 130 consecutive daily runs of at least 50 kilometers. She is documenting this on social media and I find it inspiring. Candice is showing us, what is possible in endurance running. I admire her for what she is able to accomplish.
Regardless how amazing an athlete is, they are still human. They have good days and bad days. They struggle, often more than they like. Sometimes they feel great, other times they feel very bad. Sometimes they win; sometimes they lose. This may all sound very obvious, but it can also be easy to forget, when you only see someone during the times, when they shine.
What we see from the outside (and how we interpret that) often tells us very little about how they feel on the inside.
This is only incidentally about running or endurance sports at all.