Alyssa’s last track meet was a relay event. This means that all the races were relays.
Alyssa ran a half mile leg in one relay and then a mile leg in another relay.
As she was coming around the track on the last lap of her mile relay, Tom and my mom said that she didn’t appear to be enjoying herself at all.
She was tired, she was cranky (with us only, her coaches constantly praise her for her work ethic and her non-complainy attitude) and her legs hurt.
My mom compared the look on her face to the one she had when she was competing the solo and ensemble event a couple of weeks ago. She loves playing her flute. It brings her so much joy to make music.
But running? It’s work for her. She doesn’t seem to enjoy it while she’s doing it. She plows through those runs, going at a steady speed the entire time, never slowing, never increasing, just running to get the run over with.
I mulled over what my mom and Tom were saying as I walked toward the finish line to give Lyss some water after her race.
As we walked back to my mom, Tom and Liv, I told Alyssa she didn’t have to run track next year if she didn’t want to.
She glanced over at me and said, “I know.”
Then, a little while later, one of the eight graders on her team came up to her and told her she’d done a great job in her race.
The smile on Lyssie’s face, the glow she got from that praise. It’s not joy, not really but it’s something I think she needs. She needs that sense of comradery, that sense of pride she gets in knowing that she’s doing something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally but that she can do anyway.
Over the weekend, we found her some running pants she can wear under her track uniform. I told her as we were leaving the store, “At least we know they’ll fit next year when you run track again.”
She grinned at me.
Yeah, she’s going to do it again next year. She’ll be the veteran next year, the one who knows the ropes, the one who has done it all before and who has earned her stripes if you will.
And even if she never finds joy in running, she will always know that she can do it, she can push through the frustration, the pain, the non-joy to a place of pride that she laced up her shoes anyway, that she was a member of a team and did her best and made them all, including herself, proud.