A girl after my own heart

On Sunday, I took the kids to my running club’s low-key weekly series race to run a two-miler. This was my daughter’s second go at the distance. The first time we ran it together, we took a few walking breaks. This time–she was having none of that. She was all about running the whole thing.

My son set off ahead and I stuck with my daughter. One of her little friends was there running with his family, also. We started out with them and stayed with them for quite some time. Then her friend moved a bit ahead of her. Well, that was all it took–her competitive side kicked in and she surged on. We caught and passed her friend (just), where we stayed for the remainder of the race. Any time I heard her friend approaching from behind, my little gal picked up her pace. It made me laugh to see her doing this.

As we were getting closer to the finish, she told me, “I just want to beat 21:46.” I was amazed that she could remember her time from the last two-miler and that she cared that much about it. I told her she could comfortably beat her time if she kept up the running. We crossed the finish line in 19:55 by my watch.

Later in the day, I mentioned to her that I noticed she picked it up every time her friend got close. Her response to me was one word/one name: her brother’s. She wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t tease her for getting beaten by one of her friends.

Oh, my readers. I wish I could say that didn’t sound just like me, but I’d be lying. When I was her age, pride in accomplishment often came in the form of where I placed in this or that competition and ensuring that there was no one who would have any reason for laughing at my performance.

The question is–have I changed much since then? Yes and no. I truly do care much more about the clock than in who I beat, and I care about my performance for me. But do I also care if my time is respectable in the eyes of others? I have to admit, I do.

I know that’s silly for someone my age, but it is what it is.  The truth of the matter is that no one is paying as much attention, or judging me, as me. I know this. But it’s still there, and it probably has quite a bit to do with my motivation at its core, if I care to look in a mirror. Will I ever outgrow it? Who knows?

What motivates you to do your best?


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  1. says

    I am so there with you. I mostly compete with myself, but yeah, sometimes I’m more worried about getting a “respectable” time or not being beaten by a certain person. I’ll freely admit that I’ve been managing my long runs lately because someone I know is suddenly running long and I need to keep up with or beat their distance. Not proud, but I’ll take motivation wherever it comes from LOL.

    I love that she kept pushing. Awesome!
    MCM Mama recently posted..State #18: North CarolinaMy Profile

  2. says

    Love this story! Good for her! I bet it’s great to see that drive in your child. And I am with you… I can’t help but care about what my time shows to others… I guess it’s a pride thing. Always been that way, I doubt I can change.. and not sure I want to as soemtimes it’s the extra push I need in a race when it gets tough.

  3. says

    love your daughter’s determination….remember you’ve instilled that drive in her, Momma-so be proud!!!

    i think what pushes me is always thinking of where I started, how unhealthy I had allowed myself to become, and that always pushes me through that next workout, each and every time!!
    marissa recently posted..random ramblings…and healthy food too!My Profile

  4. says

    How sweet to see the littlest Zippy’s competitive spirit come out. I compete against the clock or against a prior version of me. Truly I don’t pay attention to others because I’m so not into the whole comparison thing.
    Teamarcia recently posted..The Flu Bug ComethMy Profile

  5. says

    As much as I want to admit that in these “wiser” years I’m not as competetive, I know that as soon as results are posted for an event I’m stalking the results pages as soon as they’re printed or posted online to see where I placed overall and especially within my age group. Not that I beat myself up if I didn’t do as well as I hoped, but it feels great to an award… even if these days it’s just within my age bracket 😉

    Way to go for your daughter and her PR! Love to see running that runs in the family!

  6. says

    Aw! I love that you’ve instilled a love for running in your daughter at such a young age. It’s such a confidence and self-esteem booster! I remember when I was young I HATED being beat by my friends also :)
    Kara recently posted..Unexpected 3.1My Profile

  7. says

    I love, love, LOVE this!!! M son’s fastest 5K was while I was running with Girls on the Run. My girls were pretty darn fast and he was bound and determined not to let them beat him. It was great, but I thought he was going to keel over once he finished!
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  8. says

    Loved this story. I can so see my daughter becoming like this. She is stoked to do her 2nd kids’ tri this summer and see if she can bring home hardware (4th last year with no real training and no idea what we were doing on transitions). Love it! I’m sure at some point we’ll have to help focus less on others and more on “beating ourselves” and “rejoicing in the accomplishment”.
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  9. says

    I’m the same way, for sure. Mostly it’s about achieving my own person goals, racing against only myself and the clock, but of course there are always thoughts about what others will think, or how my peers are doing in comparison. All in good fun!

    Way to go to your daughter! Sub-20!!
    marlene recently posted..Boston+ Training – Week 9My Profile

  10. says

    Funny story! I can relate, completely, to the sibling pressure. My sister is my running partner and is my biggest competition. We work well together, but we definitely have a fear of failure in the face of one another.

    Other than her, my biggest motivator is my OCDness. I totally want to continually see better numbers. It’s an obsession.
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  11. says

    I love this! I have to say I really like to beat my husband when we are racing together. We go back and forth as to who wins, but whenever I win, he says he let me win and it drives me insane!! Glad we still have our competitive edge:)
    Hikermom recently posted..RoadblocksMy Profile

  12. says

    I may be just like you & your daughter! I think we all care about what others think of our time… unless I am just a crazy like you :)

    My friends motivate me… I hate losing, I am always trying to beat myself. I know this will have to end sooner or later but for now I am pretty much on goal!
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  13. says

    Congrats to your daughter and son, that is so sweet. When I was younger, my father was who motivated me to run my best, and heck, to just run in general. I love your little running family!
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  14. says

    That’s so awesome that you kids like running, you must be so proud! I think we all care on some level….as much as we wish we didn’t :) I think the way it manifests itself changes and we may learn to accept it, even if we still care, but I don’t know that we ever completely outgrow it!
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  15. says

    I definitely want my times to be impressive to at others. I understand where your daughter (and you) are coming from. That said, since my times are impressive only to those who have known me since I was a non-running bookish teenager, I’ve learned to be happy with competing just with myself!
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  16. says

    I don’t need to beat anybody I actually know (most of them faster anyway) but I do like passing….especially the 30-something guys 8)

    Picking off people that didn’t pace well in the last 6 miles of a marathon is great sport 😉
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  17. says

    Aww, I love this post– I hope my daughter gets excited about running as she’s older! I hear you on the competitive thing, it’s great motivation to push yourself… and I don’t know if we ever outgrow caring what other people think. But I’m working on it. :)
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  18. says

    One thing that motivates me is if I have put it out there in Blogland or told my friends. I was thinking the other day that if I hadn’t broadcast it all over the place I might not do a triathlon.

  19. says

    I have a friend whose 70-year-old dad can still run 6 min. miles because he hates for people to beat him at the track. The logic is simple. If someone’s running faster, just beat them. I definitely have that instinct, even with walkers on my gym track — how many times can I lap them? And I will try to push that number. For me, it comes with years of playing team sports, which are fun, but winning matters. Nothing to get crazy over if you lose, but the joy of the win is so fun to celebrate.
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  20. says

    That’s such a great story and thanks for sharing. Congrats to your daughter! That’s such a big accomplishment! I am looking forward to the day when my boys will run or play other sports with me. Competitiveness definitely runs deep in me, mostly with myself and trying to meet high expectations that I have set for myself and how others in turn perceive me. I’ve been getting better about it as I’ve grown older but I’m still working on it.
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