“Girls, we are going to have a sit-up contest. I want you to go home and at some point before our next practice I want you to see how many sit-ups you can do. Have your mom or dad count for you and the next time we’re together we’ll see who was able to do the most.”
My daughter, Leah, is nine years old. She started gymnastics when she was six and it was then that I realized I gave birth to a human rubber band. This girl is so flexible I sometimes wonder if she even has any bones! Not only that, but from her very first class, she began to spend most of her life in an upside down position! She also learned that any counter, railing, couch, bed, chair, etc. can easily be turned into a gymnastics apparatus.
When she was in Kindergarten, she decided to cartwheel all the way from the school to our car. I lost count around 120! The boys used to get so mad at her when , on the spur of the moment, she would flip-flop without first looking behind her, and end up kicking them in the stomach! How many times have I caught her performing gymnastic skills and have had to say, “Leah, you can’t do that there!!”
I have been blessed with four naturally athletic children. However, Leah, as of now, is the most driven and insane athlete in our family. The sit-up contest? Did she stop at 100? 300? 500? 1000? No, she was determined to win the contest, so she wanted to post a number that she knew the other girls wouldn’t go over. That number, 1111. In fact, she wanted to do more, but I made her stop at this point as it was becoming a little crazy! And, she wondered why her stomach was sore the next day!?
Leah has what it takes to be a great athlete. She is easily coachable and has the talent, dedication, drive, determination, competitive spirit, discipline, and desire to give what it takes to be her best. Never do I put any pressure on her to compete and I always tell her whatever she decides to do with gymnastics or any sport she’s in is fine with me. I will never push her to do or be something she doesn’t want to be. She puts enough pressure on herself that she definitely doesn’t need a mother that’s going to do the same! (Although, I know she could be a great runner – and I sometimes hope she will pick up this “life-long” sport when she gets a little older. Not to mention, gymnastic meets, plus award ceremony’s can get a little long! But, again no pressure!)
My daughter’s last meet was yesterday. She started off the season falling off the bars and breaking her ankle. She had to work really hard to catch up and was very determined to give each meet her best. My favorite memory from this year was when she was at her second or third meet and she was warming up for the vault. She miss-stepped and ended up running into the vault. She ran the run-way a couple more times but could not get her steps back in order. At that point, I knew it was a mental problem. Finally on her third try, she made it over the vault and ended up doing a great job when it was her time to compete. After the meet she told me, “You know Mom, when I was having so much trouble on the vault, I just prayed and asked God to help me get over it, and He did!” Her words were so sweet, and I love when I get little glimpses that let me know I just might be doing a good job as a mom!
Yep, sometimes my inspiration to compete and do my best comes from my 9 year old daughter!
At about 2.5 miles I TORE my calf muscle. I jogged into the finish realizing my goal race (Chicago) and hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials was probably not in my future. I still won the 5k though.
Last year, in the midst of running high mileage, while training to qualify for the olympic marathon trials, I ran the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon. The race was August 14, 2011 and we were very lucky to get a beautiful morning with ideal race conditions.
Earlier in the week, I had debated about going to Wisconsin and doing a much smaller half marathon. I wanted to run a descent half, but I also didn’t want to feel the pressure to “perform,” which sometimes happens at bigger races. The reason being was I had put in two weeks of 100 plus miles and the week leading up to the Rock N Roll Half, I was already over 80 miles.
I was feeling pretty trashed and figured I wouldn’t be able to run as well as I knew I could under different circumstances. However, after talking to one of my training partners, I was convinced that on August 14th, I would just “suck it up,” ignore the pressure, put on my game face, get in the zone, and run.
I drove to the race by myself and I didn’t have any expectations. I warmed up a couple of miles, did some strides, and took my place on the starting line. I figured that once I started the race I would know, within the first few miles, if I was capable of racing or if this was going to end up being a good, effort training run.
I started off feeling great and thought I’m just going to keep running this pace until I’m forced to back off. I didn’t look at my watch. I didn’t pay attention to my splits. I just ran. I was in the zone. In fact, so in the zone, I was almost worried the effortless pace was going to come back and bite me.
Races like this don’t come around too often. There’s nothing more exhilarting then feeling like you could keep going forever. There’s nothing better than running hard, yet feeling like you aren’t putting forth any effort whatsoever. And, there’s nothing like watching the miles fly by wondering how your body just keeps going.
On August 14th, 2011, this is just what happened. I will admit around mile 10, my quads started to ache with the pain of 100 mile weeks creeping up on me, and the head wind going into the last two miles wasn’t as comfortable as the first 11. But, I knew at that point I could still over-power my body with my mind and finish strong. I was surprised when the finish clock came into view and I realized I was going to run a sub 1:20!
It was a great feeling to come to a race with tired legs and without any expectations, and end up running a 1:19:51, a new half-marathon PR. Not, only that, but during the race I ran a faster 10k and 10 mile time than I had ever done before! The 3rd place finish, in a race that big, and a nice cash prize made it even better. ( :
In 2012, I hope to run better than a 1:19:51 and set a new 1/2 marathon PR.