Monday, March 14, 2016


Last Saturday my daughter, Rosie (age 11), had a gymnastics meet.  She's been on a team for four years now and this year, in particular, she has really upped her game.  She works incredibly hard, practicing three times a week with nary a complaint.  At her last meet, she did very well; placing high in three out of the four elements (beam, bars, vault, floor) and 2nd overall in her age group.  It was the best she'd done to date and she was thrilled.  She walked out of the meet with an ear to ear grin and a trophy the size of half of her body - completely useless and totally awesome.

The one thing she's been sort of struggling with all year is her floor routine; more specifically her tumbling pass which is a roundoff-backhandspring.  It's a pretty basic skill at her level but you have to land it perfectly to score high and she was regularly landing with her ankles turned in which looked a little sloppy.  For the record, I had to ask her coach to explain this to me as her pass looked fine and exactly the same every time I watched it.  Anyway, she recently worked one on one with her coach for about an hour specifically on her pass and by the time they'd finished she had it down.  As a mom, it was really fun to watch all of this unfold....her first real taste of success at the meet, her realization she could do more to improve, her heightened desire to work hard and make it happen and her excitement when her hard work paid off and it finally clicked for her.  As you'd imagine, once she got it, she was beyond fired up to give it a go again at a meet.  Which brings us back to last Saturday.  Off to Acton we drove.  We arrived early and went in to find her team for the warmup.  I was nervous.  She was not.  I told her we were going to get lunch and as I was asking if she wanted anything she interrupted me mid-sentence and said, "I''m good, mom.  You can go.  I'll see you later."  Ok then.  About a half hour later my husband, my other daughter and I got back to the gym and took our seats.  These meets are typically very slow and somewhat tedious when you're not watching your own kid.  But they got things moving right away and within no time Rosie was up in bars.  She did well, scoring a solid 9.0.  Next was beam.  This is her favorite event and I am always so impressed at how unphased she seems to be by the fact that she has to do a cartwheel on a very high (4 feet) and very narrow (4 inches) apparatus.  Again, she did great, scoring a 9.3.  Next was floor.  She had yet to score above an 8.5 on floor this year.  I was sweating.  She was smiling.  She got out there and hit her tumbling pass perfectly.  When she finished she was almost giggling as she knew she'd done it.  She was given a 9.2 and she was over the moon.  Finally, she went over to vault and did her thing.  She finished out with a 9 on vault and for the first time ever she scored 9 or higher on all four events.  Jeff and I were so excited for her.  After a long and tortuous wait the judges finally finished tallying the points.  The girls are judged first on the individual elements and then overall.  Rosie placed second and seventh on beam and floor respectively.  And even though her overall total of 36.5 was the highest she'd ever scored, it was not enough for her to place overall.  From across the room I could read the disappointment in her face instantly.  She had done so well and yet, for her, it wasn't good enough which totally broke my heart to see.  I wrapped my arm around her and we walked out of the gym, her head down as she processed all that had just happened.  "You did great, kiddo.  I am so proud of you."  I told her.  She responded with a shrug of her shoulders and a quiet Mmmmm.

You listen here, Missy!

I wanted to stop and shake her and tell her that she should, by no means be disappointed.  I wanted to explain that she needed to look at the bigger picture and recognize that she'd improved so much and that her work was truly paying off even if it didn't get her on the podium for this meet.  But, I knew that wasn't going to sink in and, if anything, would likely annoy her, so I just kept walking.  As we drove off, I thought of all the similar experiences I've had with my running, and more specifically my racing, to the one she'd had that day.  I've done so many marathons.  I've had specific goals for each of them.  And, like Rosie, I've worked my tail off every time.  Sometimes I've hit my goal.  More often than not I haven't.  For example, my goal for the Albany Marathon down in GA, which I ran in 2013, was to run a 3:15.  I finished in 3:16.  It was PR by 8 minutes, good for 4th place overall, but, in the end it was not what I'd hoped for.  And rather than take the time to be proud of what I'd accomplished, my thoughts were shadowed by what I hadn't been able to do.  Then, just recently out in LA, I ran a tough race on a challenging course with a lot of factors working against me.  I had wanted to run under 3 hours and I ran a 3:05.  Time aside, I was the first woman to cross the line in my age group and the 15th overall.  That alone should have made my year.  But, once again, my overall success was clouded by the fact that I hadn't reached my one main goal.  All of these experiences have been incredibly bittersweet.  In the end, though, with a great deal of support from my coach, my family and friends, I have done everything in my power to recognize the good in all of them.  To give myself a pat on the back and be grateful for ALL of my accomplishments, even if they weren't exactly what I'd hoped for from the start.  If I didn't do this, I likely would have given up on running and racing years ago.  Very rarely, if ever, does it all come together perfectly.  But, we gain strength and confidence in the other successes, all of which help us to become the athlete or person we eventually want to be.  Later that day, I did talk to Rosie.  I said something to the effect of I know today didn't turn out the way you'd hoped.  But you still incredibly well and you have to take a minute to be happy about that.  You brought your A-game and it showed.  The fact that you're not taking home the trophy this time doesn't reflect who you are as a gymnast.  Success takes time.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  But, it's not.  If you love it, which you clearly do, you have to take all the successes as they come, no matter what.  At the time, she still didn't have much of a response for me.  But a couple days later, I circled back and asked her if she felt okay, good even, about the way things had gone.  Her response,  Yea, mom. Yea, I do.  
This kid.
Listen to this:

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