Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nice Run!

Kathryn made a statement today in cross country.

After Will ran a 7:40/mile, an improvement from last week, Kathryn's group lined up for their run. Will noticed Kathryn jump out quickly from the pack of about 70 girls. "Look at Kathryn!" he yelled. "Wow," I agreed. "She looks determined."

As the group charged to the top of a hill at a quarter mile, I counted Kathryn in 13th place. Hope she stays up there, I thought. She's always been around the Top 20, but never in the Top 15. The girls disappeared, to return at about the .6 mile point.

Two or three fluid runners appeared, then a few more, then Kathryn. She was now 11th, with several girls right behind her. Powerfully, Dori yelled, "GO KATHRYN!!!" I noticed Kathryn running with purpose for the first time in her young life. Her posture was perfect, a slightly forward lean. Her breathing looked relaxed. Her arms and legs were in sync. Will and Dori noticed it, too.

"You look great! Keep it up!" we yelled. Pepper, showing school spirit decked in a red shirt, wagged his tail agreeingly.

As Dori and I jogged to the finish line, Dori asked, "Where is this coming from? Where did she get this?" I said, "Us." But it really is more than that. Kathryn has learned to battle, I said to myself. She has taken it upon herself to do this.

I wondered if she'd fade the last quarter mile. When I looked out on the course, I saw her staying near the front pack, which then disappeared around a bend.

The first three girls came in between 6:30 and 6:50. Then four more arrived. In the next pack, Kathryn was in a sprint, trying to catch a few girls. They held on, but so did she. She finished 11th (was it 10th?) in 7:35 on a very muggy day. Will stood at the exit to congratulate his sister. Dori beamed. I hung out with Pepper and focused on not getting too high from the performance. Kathryn has had some rough runs, and I'd made sure not to get down on her or let her mope. This was a new challenge.

When she saw me, she smiled. I smiled back, and gave her a knuckle-to-knuckle high five. "Awesome run, Kathryn." "Thanks, Dad," she said. Then she shared what her goal had been.

"I didn't want to lose sight of Mackenzie," her friend who finished third and one of the best 11-year-old athletes in Nashville.

Leaving the course, all I could think of was how delightful this was to share as a family. I thought of Dori's battle to get to this point and all the people who supported her. Kathryn performed well today. And Dori was here to see it.

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