Like many avid football players and fans, my husband looks forward to the fall because of the ensuing college football season. Last fall, his eyes were opened to a new sport as our oldest daughter was introduced to running. A Cross Country course is a bit different from the football fields and 200 meter dashes that Matt was famous for during his athletic tenure, but watching our daughter over the past year has made him a believer.
I have always loved Cross Country. There is just something about taking on the challenge of a running course with nothing but a stop watch, a pair of shoes, and your pride that makes me grin. While I have transitioned away from competitive athletics during my adult years, I still periodically search for that “runner’s high” on the roads that surround our farm.
Nothing in my decade long search for athletic excellence prepared me for the absolute joy of watching my daughter in her own athletic journey. It is fascinating to watch her learn to set goals, work toward them, and gain confidence as they are achieved.
This summer her coach challenged her to run 200 miles. The lure of the “200 mile club” sparked her competitive nature, and she came home and announced that she was going to do it. I helped her to develop weekly goals for the summer, and then turned her loose to see what she could accomplish.
I spent the summer watching her gain confidence and pride with every run that she took. She and her loyal four legged running partner got up early each morning and ran in the relative coolness at dawn. While she certainly gained physical strength that will be greatly beneficial as she competes this fall, in reality she gained so much more than that…
At the end of the summer, armed with 250 miles and a smile, she is a proud member of the elusive “200 mile club”. She wore her shirt to the first day of 7th grade and talks excitedly about the plaque that she earned the right to have her name printed on. She comes home from practice talking about how it is important to always “work hard and finish strong”, and I find myself blinking back the tears as my heart swells with pride.
I have no idea what physical accomplishments this cross country season will bring—she has new goals for the season which include breaking a 5:45 mile and winning at least one race. As her mom and her biggest fan, I know that regardless of how fast she runs and how many medals she brings home that the life lessons that she picks up along the cross country course are invaluable.
I would like to send a huge thank you to Coaches Dustin and Alisa Favinger for inspiring my daughter to search for greatness in all that she does.