This past Saturday, my girls from Girls On The Run ran their very first 5k! After 10 weeks of lessons and training, they put themselves to the test at a race that went around and through the Louisville Zoo.
The downside: it was drizzly and a bit cold, and only half of the girls from my school showed up! Apparently, according to one girl's mom, a couple of them "didn't want to ruin their hair." Hearing that was disappointing - what's the point of going to all the practices if you aren't going to compete? I knew there was nothing I could do at that point so I just had to support the girls who were there.
The upside: we made it FUN for those who came! We had a GOTR tent and the girls could put on temporary tattoos, hair paint, ribbons, and we had granola bars for some pre-race fuel. All the girls got medals after the race too!
I was a running buddy for a girl named Jordan who was a GOTR participant at another location. She was SUCH a rockstar. We didn't get a picture together, but she ran 3/4 of the entire race! I talked to her the entire time and encouraged her to pace herself. Younger kids have a poor grasp of pacing: they tend to go all out and sprint and then collapse. Jordan and I crossed the finish line in 38:12 which is a 12:19/mi pace. Once I helped her find her mom, I ran back into the race to see who was still running. One of my girls, Mary Catherine, was still coming along so I ran with her until she finished. The girls were so proud and beaming, but not as much as I was! I was giving out hugs and high fives like no other, telling all of the girls how proud I was of them. I think they were all a bit stunned on how much they had just run, and I think at such a young age I would be too.
The last photo is me, btw!
On Sunday we had a coaches meeting and we gave lots of feedback to our coordinator. Our program here in Louisville isn't as established as it is in other cities (e.g Charlotte) so I hope that the GOTR board and coordinators found our suggestions useful! The one point I really wanted to make (and did) was the snack choices for the girls. I urged the need for whole foods and more fruits and vegetables. The Lance brand packs of six crackers wasn't cutting it for me (would you eat the Cream Cheese & Chive flavor?). It seems contradictory to talk to the girls about healthy living and healthy choices and then feed them Lance crackers or other snacks that AREN'T healthy. Girls On The Run is an international organization - we have corporate partners - are any of them food companies? I'm considering writing a letter to the GOTR headquarters to point out this flaw in the program and urge them to seek partnership with a company (e.g. Clif Bar or Larabar) so we can get REAL snacks.
Girls on the Run is an organization that I can see myself being involved with for a long time. I want to make the Louisville chapter strong and make it as popular and well-known here as it is in other cities. I am so grateful that I've found something else to be passionate about!