Friday, May 23, 2014

Girl on the Run

After weeks of training, Nat finally ran her first 5K!

It all started when she signed up for an after-school program called "Girls on the Run." GOTR is a national program focused on developing positive life skills through physical activity and interactive lessons, and I had no clue about the program until they came to her school.

What a blessing it has been. From the day she first heard about it she got excited to run, and it caught me completely off-guard. I saw the flyer she brought home and didn't think she would be interested. After all, this is the girl who isn't really into riding her bike, the girl who scoffs at going outside any day when the temperature is over 70, the girl who is perfectly content to lay around the house with headphones on and read a book.

But now, she's a runner. She's taking after her dad.

I have a hard time claiming to be a runner today, as I've just recently started running again after a nearly 15 year break from the activity. With that disclaimer out of the way though, I ran the race with her, so you could say I'm as much of a runner as she is.

In all honesty, this used to be me. I couldn't throw a spiral in highschool, or shoot a basket and while I loved watching baseball and hitting in the cages, right field sucked. So, I ran. It was therapeutic. I genuinely loved getting out on the course with nothing but my thoughts and a finish line in front of me. But somewhere along the line, I fell out of it.

Nat is only nine, and I know she has years ahead of her to find her passion, but a small part of me really hopes this is a springboard to a lifetime of running.

After training two days a week all semester after school with her classmates, the girls got together bright and early last Saturday for a morning of fun before taking off on their non-competitive 5k. The organizers really thought of everything; from a DJ pumping music into the venue before the race to face-painting and hair-coloring provided free (by volunteers in the rain no less!), to bagels, bananas and granola bars when they finished.

All morning long, there were girls running around, laughing, playing, singing, dancing. You could sense the positive vibes at every turn, and every smile I saw on Nat's face made me beam with a little more pride over the young woman she is growing into.

After a few hours of crazy, things really got serious. A couple of women (organizers, no doubt) stood up in front of the crowd of girls and lead them in a few cheers before splitting off to warm up and stretch out with their individual groups - I took this opportunity to warm up my old bones by jogging up and down the track a few times. With about three or four minutes til race time, everyone running began to gather around the starting line and then promptly at 9 AM, they sounded the horn to start the race.

Nat spent most of her training running side-by-side with one of her best friends, so naturally the two of them raced the same way, and I got to follow behind. As most races do, this one started out a bit slow as the crowd was shoulder to shoulder, but once it opened up a little, the girls found their pace.

Of course, Girls on the Run is as much about positive self image as it is about running, so the goal for all the girls was to finish without stopping. As 3.1 miles is a long distance for new runners, we did our share of walking, but the girls never gave up and finished strong, hand-in-hand after 42 minutes and 13 seconds.

Once we crossed the finish line, the girls received medals for running and we grabbed our cups of water, bananas and granola bars. Nat was greeted by her mom and Papa, the girls caught their breath, posed for victory photos, and then Nat said, "that was fun, when's the next race?"

We'll be running another 5k together in June.


  1. Inspirational. My girls are both incredibly energetic and I hope that translates into a passion for sport. Their Dada used to be something else on a ball court or football field or pool. Dada's got a lot of work ahead of him if he's ever gonna get back to running form. Tell your daughter I'll be checking the blog for progress reports and motivation for me and my girls!

    1. She's still excited to keep this going, and we're running together on weekends to keep her going. Of course, I'm having to run a little more often to make sure my knees don't give out or my shin-splints don't show up before hers while we're out together!