Last month, I finished coaching with Girls on the Run. We had our final run which was a big 5k and the first race for 1100 girls in the Cincinnati area. Over the past month I’ve been trying to figure out how I want to sum up this incredible season I’ve had with the girls without seeming cliché and trite. The program started in February and ran 12 weeks meeting with the girls twice a week. I missed a few days because of work and I will admit it was incredibly disappointing. I loved seeing the girls create running lap goals and then meet or blow them out of the water. I loved seeing the girls try new things and overcome fears. To be honest, I got very lucky with the group (coaches and participants) as everyone was really phenomenal.
The 5K itself was incredibly fun. Girls on the Run set up stations for hair coloring, tiara making, pinky promise (where they promise not to bully), and a few other things. This race was really focused on making the girls feel special and important. For the race, each girl is to have an adult running buddy. Each girl on my team had a running buddy except for one and another coach ran with her. I hopped up front to be a few of the speedsters on the team. We have four girls who can normally keep about an eight to nine minute mile. That might not seem super fast until you realize these are nine and ten year olds. The girls pushed right up to the starting line to get a good spot. You can see my girls on the very end on the right. They are crouched down ready to go! Three of the girls speed off as soon as the gun went off. Two of the girls left their parents in the dust so it became my responsibility to stay with them. During the 5K the girls only had two minor walk breaks and really attacked the hills. I was a little worried as they have been practicing on flat ground and Cincinnati is rather hilly. They finished with a time of 26:23! Yes, I remember their exact time as I was in shock about how fast they were going.
Since the season is over and this was really my first time going through this I started pondering how the program changed not only the participants but me as well. About four weeks from the end, one of the girls sent us coaches a PowerPoint presentation on how Girls on the Run had changed her life. She did a simple five pages about how she knows what to do when other kids bully her and how she has more self-confidence. At the end of the twelve weeks this 5th grader had more confidence.
As for me.. Sure the lessons were designed with 4th and 5th graders in mind, but the fundamental principle behind the lessons were still valid for adults as well. Girls on the Run reminded me to love my body and myself for all the awesome things I can do. Girls on the Run also reminded me about being a better person. (See sounds trite I know!) Seriously though, it reminded me not to bully and to be more respectful of others. Girls on the Run reminded me to be a little kinder and to bring a little more sparkle into the world.
P.S. if you have a chance volunteer for this organization or something like it – DO IT! It’s an incredible opportunity to share your love of running, racing, whatever with someone else.
“The opinions expressed here are solely my opinions. Content published here is not read or approved by Girls on the Run® and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Girls on the Run®.”