“Mom, it seems like at almost every race we go to you’re the first or second girl runner,” my five year old mused over dinner last night.
“Yes, often in the smaller races I do well,” I answered.
“But why are you always first or second? How come nobody else is faster?” he asked.
“Because I try really hard to be as fast and as strong as I can be.”
While I think my son may be giving me a little too much credit, I do appreciate his observation. My running is throughly supported by my family, almost dauntingly so. My husband (jokingly) expects sub-human times out of me and I’m an Olympian in my children’s eyes. They see greatness in me and expect it every time I head to a starting line. And they seem to think it comes easy, that winning is somehow innate. But in reality I’m a regular lady running just ahead of the pack, pouring out everything she’s got just to snag a trophy at her local 5K. And I don’t do it because I’m highly competitive (okay, I’m a little competitive!). I do it because they are watching.
I want my children to grow up to be successful and happy in whatever it is they end up finding their passion in. But, in order for them to be successful, they need to know what that means. By watching their mother set her sights on a goal, strategize, work for it, and reach her achievements they are learning how they can go about being successful. Running, running well, setting PRs, and taking home trophies isn’t easy, it isn’t innate, but the trying is what exhibits greatness.
I also want my children to go ahead and expect success out of others, even if their expectations are daunting. They should expect everyone to try their best to succeed, because if one isn’t trying to “win” then they have already accepted a loss. Expecting success from their teammates, classmates, and future coworkers will benefit them; their teams will win more games, schools will perform better, and companies will be more profitable. If they learn to expect success, reach for it themselves, and encourage those around them to as well, then the community as a whole benefits.
Trying is important. Sure, there are races when I know I shouldn’t place or pace well. There’s a fast field or I’ve been hampered by injury. But these are self-defeating excuses. Someone has to win, might as well be me, right? I can at least try, give it my all, and go home happy that I did my greatest no matter how I finish. I went into my last race with a sub-21 minute 5k in mind. But after the first mile I knew I had it in me to push harder. Could I go sub-20?! Well, I had two miles to try. I pushed as hard as I could for those two miles and was so happy that my cheering kids got to witness me finishing in first place AND with a 19:24 time. They got to witness the power of trying.