A phrase to define this race: Racing with friends is so much more fun than racing alone.
I have been coaching my school’s Girls on the Run team for the past 11-ish weeks. Although some days have been a struggle (it’s hard to coach the same kids you teach every day), it has really been a blast – and a blessing – to coach this program. I am a huge advocate for getting kids active, and I think GOTR does a great job at building girls’ self-esteem while also teaching them healthy habits they can use for the rest of their lives.
My team of 10 girls trained really hard for this race. I saw a world of difference from day 1 to day 20 (our last day of practice). Girls who walked most of the time were running more than they used to; girls who used to be middle of the pack were keeping up with the faster girls; and I definitely saw a difference in some attitudes, despite the end of the school year. I just couldn’t wait to see they could do at the 5K.
But, back to the race. Although it was perfect running weather for me – a little chilly and drizzling, it was less than ideal racing conditions. Our day started out nice and early, meeting at 7:30 so we could pin on all the girls bibs and get their D-tags (one of my favorite racing inventions) on their shoes.
I also was able to unveil our team’s mascot. GOTR St. Louis puts on a fundraiser during the spring season called the Duck Race. They take a whole bunch of little rubber ducks, put a number on the bottom, and then sell tickets for each duck. The duck that gets across the pond first is the winner, and wins some money! In addition, they also provide each team a large rubber duck for their team mascot. We decided to make ours a runner duck!
Beautifully decorated by my talented husband. I’m thinking I might have to keep this for myself instead of raffling it off to one of my girls!
We were freezing while waiting around to line up at the start. Cold, wet, and windy is just not a good mix. Finally is was time to line up at the start. One of my girls had asked me before the race if I would run with her since her running buddy hadn’t showed up yet. I reluctantly agreed, as she was planning on running MUCH faster than I had intended, but her partner showed up, so I ended up running with my co-coach Cameron since all my other girls were partnered up.
The gun went off and a good 5 to 10 minute walk to the start later, we were off! And so were all my girls! We lost them all in the first 5 seconds of the race! We had a nice easy pace going into it, which was great since the course was packed. It was crowded when I ran the Chicago Marathon, but most of those people were running around the same pace as me, thanks to starting corrals. A race involving roughly 3000 3rd through 5th graders is much, much different. There was a lot of weaving through and dodging around girls, making it difficult to keep a good pace and slowing us down. But, I really didn’t mind at all. I was out there to have fun.
Cameron and I chatted the whole time, and actually decided that we are going to train for a marathon together! Obviously, not any time in the near future, but we thought it would be fun to run Chicago in 2012. Seriously, I’m not really used to running with other people, but the last few runs Cameron and I have done together have been so much fun and have taken my mind off running. The miles fly by and I have so much fun.
About halfway through the race, we caught up with one of our girls who was having a great time. She said she was feeling great and had run the whole time! She stayed with us the rest of the way, chatting about school, GOTR, running, and the weather! She just kept saying, “This is great weather!” Ha! Great minds think alike, I guess!
All of a sudden, we rounded a corner and saw the finish line up ahead – and decided to sprint the rest of the way, about the last 0.1. Of course, I had issues keeping up with the other 2, but all 3 of us crossed the finish line with our hands up at the end!
I said this when I ran the GOTR race in the fall, and I’ll say it again: this race was so incredibly rewarding! I love seeing the smiles on all the girls faces when they finish, telling me how much fun they had, and how proud of themselves they were! I am so proud of them for accomplishing such a big race and having fun while doing it.
Unfortunately, with a baby on the way in the fall, I will be unable to coach next year and I know I will truly miss it. Some days were harder than others, but the race really made me realize what a wonderful program Girls on the Run is.