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Nasiya's family physician, Dr. Shirley Pan, similarly feels no qualms about Nasiya's running. "Her general health has been excellent," says Pan. "Other than a concern about repeated injuries, I really have no reservations about her running. The only types of things I would be concerned about would be fractures through the growth plates of the bones, which might cause less growth in one leg and therefore result in asymmetrical growth. But that's mainly a matter of not overtaxing. Also, sometimes female athletes, especially competitive-class ones, have had problems with the delay of menses, but that's reversible."
Last month, the Department of Agriculture invited Nasiya and her father, all expense paid, to Washington. There she ran in a government-sponsored one-mile run and was taken on a VIP tour of the White House. Speaking engagements kept the President from attending their previously scheduled meeting, but he will be sending Nasiya a letter acknowledging her achievements. She has also appeared on That's Incredible, as well as various local TV shows, and has her own weekly five-minute cable program, in which she demonstrates the stretching exercises she uses to warm up. So far, the celebrity hasn't seemed to hurt her. "I like being on TV," she says enthusiastically. Her father tries to help her keep things in perspective. "I let her know that running and TV are two different things," he says. "I tell her, 'They want you on TV because you run, not because you're an actress.' I try to help her distinguish." Jobe's efforts seem to have paid off, for as Nasiya's kindergarten teacher, Irene Haraguchi, says, "None of this seems to have gone to her head. She's just one of the kids, and she gets along with everybody. She's very quiet—just really a nice little girl."
Haraguchi says Nasiya's handwriting and coloring skills are outstanding. "It's very unusual to see a child who concentrates on her work as well as she does, and it seems like that would relate to her running," she says.
Indeed, this touches on one of the more intriguing aspects of Nasiya's talent, for quite aside from the physical demands of running long distances, there is the considerable mental discipline that such an effort requires. Ask most 5-year-olds to go from point A to point B, a distance of, say, 100 yards, and there are likely to be a couple of stops along the way. Yet, this 5-year-old can run for two hours without becoming distracted.
"People try to talk to her while she's running," says her father. "They'll say, 'Hey, little girl, what's your name?' She doesn't answer. She's got everything totally blocked out."
"When she runs, she's just running," observes Hunt. "Nothing bothers her. When I timed her in the 5,000, she crossed the finish line and was still running, and her father had to tell her to stop. I'm not real big on small kids running like that, but she's something special. Something was given to her that isn't given to very many people. She didn't get tired running that 5,000. And she actually loves running. So, unless she's injured or decides she hates it, she's just going to get better. If she continues to run and enjoy it, she's really going to be something someday."
Jobe is concerned that other parents may not understand just how unusual Nasiya's gift is. "A lot of people," he says, "come up to me and tell me, 'I wish my child could run like Nasiya. I put him out there and tell him to run, but he won't do it.' But that's not how Nasiya evolved at all. This just didn't happen overnight. I don't want parents dragging their children out and whupping them on the back and making them run, because it isn't like that. Don't expect every child to be able to do this."