“…I am, and forever will be, in awe. I had told her that with hard work, determination, focus and a belief in herself that anything was possible. Now she can truly internalize that fact and draw upon it in the future.”

I read this quote today, from a mom of an amazing 8-year-old girl who ran and won an incredibly challenging trail race, and I couldn’t help think that this sums up perfectly the beauty of running. This passion we have is not just great for us physically, but also mentally — in the moments we’re on the roads and trails, of course, and even much later as we take those hard-won lessons of training and racing and apply them to everyday life. That this young girl is realizing the far-reaching power of her running accomplishments at such a young age is pretty terrific. You can read more about Reilly Johnson, winner of this year’s Dipsea Race in Stinson Beach, California, in this Dean Karnazes blog post.

Coming across this post today is especially fitting given it’s my daughter Emma’s 10th birthday. While she hasn’t (yet) tackled a race like the Dipsea, she just informed me that one of her life’s goals is to run a marathon someday. (This announcement came after she got her ears pierced for her “double-digit” birthday. With that accomplishment under her belt, she said, she’s looking forward to the other things on her list, including taking on 26.2 miles.)

My sweet Emma, right before we ran the 5K together

While I would be thrilled to have my only daughter enjoy running as much as I do, I’ve tried hard not to push it on her (or her brothers for that matter). Not that it’s a huge worry with Emma given she’s eagerly ran 5Ks through the Girls on the Run program and participated in both cross-country and track this past school year. She also excitedly signed on to run this past weekend’s Home Run4Chris 5K. And she did come up with the marathon goal all on her own. Still, I have to catch myself sometimes from becoming “that parent.” The one who is pushing her own dreams onto her child. I see Emma wanting to run, wanting to be fast, and am in awe of her interest in running. If she starts now, just think what she could accomplish in middle school, in high school…

What I really want for Emma is what Reilly Johnson’s mom said so well when asked about her daughter’s dogged determination, hard work and inspiring trail race win. If Emma — and her brothers — can find a healthy outlet whether it’s running or something else that allows them to believe in themselves and know that anything is possible, I’ll be one happy mommy. Here’s wishing this for all of our children.

I’ll end this post with a Happy Birthday to my sweet girl Emma who, while definitely adept at pushing my buttons at  times, also brings me more joy and happiness than I ever could have hoped for when I became a mother a decade ago. I’m so proud of you, Emma!

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