I am so appreciative of the time and motivation every one provides to runners during race season. After being on the receiving end so many times , I knew this year I wanted to give back to the running community. Here’s a look at my first (and very small) opportunity…..it's not much, but it's a start.
A good friend of mine spent the last three months training and mentoring a group of girls at a local elementary school through Girls on the Run. The 3rd-5th grade after school program met twice a week over the course of 10-12 weeks. During this time, the girls participated in interactive lessons and running games that taught life skills and inspired an appreciation of health and fitness. The program ended with a celebration 5k run for the girls.
I had the great opportunity of participating in the Girls on the Run 5k last Friday as a running buddy for one of the girls. As I waited to meet my girl, I chatted with another girl’s running buddy. Apparently her girl was a quick little thing whose family was full of runners. At her young age, they were already giving her tips on her 5k “fun run”. It kind of made me nervous about keeping up with the young, energetic and excited girl I would run with that night.
And then I met my runner. She was so excited to be there around her family and friends. I don’t think she knew what to expect and wasn’t as prepared as some of the other girls. I snapped this picture of her shoes before the race, knowing that running in these, on gravel….wasn’t the best idea. At this time, I didn’t realize what I was in for the next hour (that’s right….the next hour).
As the race began, the smile on her face grew and grew. She was so excited to be participating in this event with friends and even more excited that her family was there to cheer her on. We started out fast, but once we turned the corner onto the path that would lead us through the 5k, she was ready to walk. So, on and off for an hour, we pushed and struggled to make it around the 5k loop. I tried everything I could do to motivate and encourage her to keep moving….And she did everything she could to find a reason to walk (which ironically is usually me with our running group). I answered question after question about running, porta pottys, myself, our distance and anything else she could brainstorm along the way. When we finally cleared the trees, we could see the finish filled with her classmates and other fans encouraging us on. About 200 meters out, her family joined in on the running and shared in her victory across the finish. The smile on her face was just as big as her proud parents.
Even though she complained (my specialty) about running almost the entire way, at the end, she realized how much it was worth it. And if you asked her to do it again, I bet she would. That, to me is running. A struggle, a challenge, an obstacle right in front of you and you make no other choice but to push through and finish. I never doubted that this experience would amazing….What I didn’t realize is how enjoyable it would be for me. As I push and struggle to finish Dam to Dam next weekend, I know I'll have her smile in the back of my mind, motivating me to finish. Well, that and our reservations at Americana!