Rain was in the forecast, but a drop never fell all morning. It was overcast and in the upper 40's at race time, but felt a little cooler due to a persistent wind.
My job was to pace Natalie through the race and see what she could do, both time-wise and age-group-wise. My loose goal for her (based on what I've seen her do in training) was to run sub-18 minutes. We hit the first mile in 8:35. I kept pulling a bit too far in front of her, so I backed off a few times while still encouraging her to keep her form clean and hold the pace. With about a half mile left, we saw a girl we knew was in her age group starting to take walk breaks. I turned to Natalie and said “here's where we pass her.” We did just that, and picked up the pace. With about 100m left, there were two young boys in front of us. Natalie took off (leaving me in the dust) in an attempt to chick them. One beat her, but she beat the other one. I stayed behind the three of them and crossed a second later. Natalie ran a nice negative split (8:34 second mile) to finish in an official 17:23. And, best of all, she came away with an age-group victory (out of 7 girls)*
To me, this was more important than the time. At the start of her running career, it's great to provide some opportunities for her to build her confidence and her enthusiasm for running. Not every race will offer a chance for a division win, but a few of these results here and there should keep the fire stoked nicely.
Needless to say, I'm proud — elated — with her performance. It was special to finally run my first road race with one of my kids. If she continues down this path, there will come a time (fighting it as I might) where she will “chick” me.
|Dad, with ”the Champ”|
In the meantime, I'll run vicariously through you, my friends, and my future star daughter (sorry, no pressure intended)!
*and, in a random drawing, she won a HUGE pumpkin pie!