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When I was in high school and college sports, we had a term that meant more than anything else in the world to us: personal best. It refers to an athlete’s ability to do better than ever before — compared to his or her own past performance, not anyone else’s. I was reminded of this concept this weekend, watching my 10-year-old daughter in her third-ever Equestrian Jumping competition, riding a seven-year-old (e.g., very young) horse in its first-ever jumping competition.
It must have been close to 95 degrees in the covered arena south of Salinas, not much cooler outside.
Christina waited patiently for quite a while, and then rode out with confidence when her name was called. Her jumps were reasonably good throughout. In four classes of competition, her horse only refused a jump once, which she quickly corrected.
Compared to her previous experience, and given the horse’s inexperience, this was stellar, and she knew it. So in spite of having a serious headache from the heat, she was rightfully proud of herself. She gleefully collected her two 6th and two 7th place ribbons, but we both knew that by all accounts, this was her personal best so far, and that was all that mattered.
She slept in my truck all the way home, exhausted but happy. And as we drove together through the traffic-snarled coastal hills and into the southern Santa Clara Valley, one thought came to my mind: this wasn’t just her personal best. It was mine too. Because I have never been more proud of this amazing little girl.