|Early in the race. Natalie was leading the girls, and was 4th overall.|
|Natalie, still leading the girls. She was passed shortly after this pic.|
This little race did a lot to boost her confidence. When the season started, she wasn't sure she wanted to stick with it. I was able to convince her to hang tough, that her body would adapt and her fitness would improve. I know she has potential to be a good runner. After she finished, she was pretty excited. Her previous best timed mile was 9:06, so she shaved nearly two minutes off that time.
Last night, she even told me that once cross-country season ends, she wants to run with me (assuming I'm not hobbled by my foot), which we did a little of during the summer. We're going to run a local Fowl Fun Run (2 miles) next month. I want her to enjoy it, but I also want her to race it. I believe that, if she ends up finishing strongly in her age group, she'll really start believing in her abilities. I think young runners (and even us older runners) need confidence builders. So much of running is mental, and if you start having successes, they build on each other. You also need to learn how to bounce back after bad runs & races, but if you don't have breakthroughs to get excited about – especially as a kid just starting out – you're more prone to throw in the towel. That's why I nearly got choked up seeing her do so well yesterday. It was a big hurdle to clear and she did it.
With all that said, I'm not going to push her and pile expectations on her, either. It has to be fun. But a little success definitely adds to the fun factor.
So, as a parent of a new runner, I'm excited about how she's doing and what she can (and hopefully will) do in the future. And I'm excited to see HER excitement!