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My daughter, Hannah, has been running cross-country this season for our local high school. This is her second season running at the high school level. Last year, she was probably running 13th – 17th on a very deep team. The season was a great opportunity to learn her capabilities, to meet her coaches, and to become more comfortable with the girls on the team. She started the year out somewhat slow, but she showed improvement as the season went along.
This year, she entered the season with higher expectations. She ran over 250 miles during the summer in preparation for the season. She definitely came in with higher goals of running faster and being ranked higher on the team. One of her goals was to run under 21:30 (for 5K or 3.1 miles), and another goal was to crack the varsity line-up. Each week, Hannah has shown improvement, and it was obvious she would meet the first goal before the end of the season. She has been close on the second goal, but this goal seemed to be just out of reach.
In a typical meet, varsity is made up of the top 7 runners. A couple of weeks ago, she was scheduled to run with the varsity runners for the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University. This race allows 10 runners from each team to run varsity. Unfortunately, this race was cancelled due to unseasonable heat which caused many runners to go to the hospital in earlier races. Hannah was disappointed, but she kept going.
The next week, she had her last dual meet of the season. Before the race, we talked about her goals for the race, and she hinted about cracking the top 7, but she knew it would be tough. She ran very well, and ended up finishing 7th on the team (and 8th overall). She was so happy.
This left the coaches with a tough decision heading into the conference championships. Should they go with the runners who had performed best throughout the entire season? Should they give Hannah a chance to run on the varsity squad based on her last race? I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision especially since our team had a chance to win the event given a combination of great races by our best runners.
The race was Thursday, and we were waiting for word from the coaches as to which race Hannah would run – the Varsity race or the Junior Varsity race. Obviously, Hannah was hoping to run with the Varsity team, and she kept an optimistic outlook heading into the decision. On Wednesday afternoon, I received a text from Hannah, “Jv-so plan 2 win the race!”
What a positive attitude! I know I would have been disappointed, but she kept her chin up with the decision.
Thursday afternoon arrived, and she kept smiling. She definitely knew she had a chance to win the race, and she also realized her performance at the conference meet could still win her a spot on the Varsity team for the district meet later this week. The coaches seemed to think Hannah had a chance to win the race as well. They were excited for this possibility when they spoke to Leanne and I before the race.
The race started and Hannah moved towards the front of the pack in the first kilometer. She kept the lead and even extended the lead as the race continued. It was so exciting to watch Hannah throughout the race. She ran with grit and determination the whole race. When she broke the tape at the finish line, she was grinning from ear to ear. Her time of 21:08 beat the closed JV competitor by nearly 30 seconds, and it also would have been strong enough to medal in the Varsity race.
She did such a great job maintaining a positive attitude. She could have sulked and complained when the coaches made their decision to keep her at JV. She could have hung her shoulders in defeat. But she didn’t!
When the race finished, the coaches mentioned she would most likely be running with the Varsity team for the district meet on Friday. Obviously, Hannah’s running ability and hard work had a lot to do with this turn of events, and I think her positive attitude was a huge reason she reached this goal. I can’t wait for Friday!
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