I have a tale of two athletes. Both are racing this weekend. Both are taking on first time events. One is my 10 year old daughter, Olivia and the other is my dear friend and coached athlete, Karen. Though their ages and their races are different, they have something in common. Many months ago, they both made a commitment to themselves, set a goal and have worked week after week to get themselves to this point. And if you can’t tell already, they have my complete and total admiration.
Olivia has been part of the Girls on the Run program starting in January of this year. The Girls on the Run Mission says:
We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.
Through a 12 week curriculum, Olivia has learned some life skills around positive energy, removing negativity and supporting her teammates. And she has prepared to run a 5K. The accomplishment is in the doing. It’s not about running faster than anyone or watching a clock. It’s about crossing the finish line and knowing she put in the hard work to meet her goal. It’s the essence of what endurance sports is about.
Karen has been an athlete of mine for several years. She was trusting enough to take on learning and improving swimming as an adult. She has come very far in her swimming ability in the past few years, but that was just part of her master plan. Triathlon was in her sights and in just a few days, she’ll take on her first race. I know she’s nervous and while she has always worked hard during swim training, there’s a different determination driving her now.
On Tuesday, Karen completed her swim race distance without stopping (and I dare say) with ease. That’s not without effort, but if need be, she could have kept swimming and surely will be able to transition to cycling and of course, to the run. And even though this ability might have been within her for some time now, it’s the goal of the race that is forcing her to put it all out there and push further each time she swims.
It’s like that for most people, I believe. We are capable of so much more than we attain on a daily basis because there’s not a big push to do more, go further, try harder. Once a goal is set, and even better yet, once a goal is said OUT LOUD, things change. Maybe it’s the fear of failure that drives us or maybe it’s the desire to truly see what we are capable of doing. Either way, there’s a magic in setting goals – short term, long term, one time or lifelong. It matches effort with purpose and the results can not only be uplifting but also addicting causing us to find yet another goal and pursue.
I am so proud to be a part of both Olivia and Karen’s journey to this point and on Sunday, I wish them the ultimate joy of crossing the finish line, knowing hard work and determination really do pay off.