The Girls on the Run experience is very difficult to put into words.
Being a Head Coach can be time consuming – we meet twice a week for an hour each time, but a lot goes into being prepared to teach the lessons. Despite a busy schedule, I’m always excited to go to GOTR. No matter how busy or trying my day has been, GOTR never fails to energize or inspire me - even when it’s exhausting at the same time!
This season, I had the honor of coaching a vibrant group of girls. The first day of the season was just like any other – everyone was just a little anxious and shy, not knowing what to expect. As the season moved along, each girl opened up a bit more with each lesson, and before too long, we were a rowdy & exuberant bunch, full of Girls on the Run spirit!
When it came time for the 5k, I knew the girls were excited and ready. Some of them had done Girls on the Run before, but others had never done anything like this before. Seeing their eyes wide in excitement at the hustle and bustle of their first race day was even better than the excitement I felt at my first race!
As we lined up at the start, you could feel the buzz of nervous energy, and when the starting horn went off, that energy exploded forward! I was running with 4 girls who wanted to run most of the race. We talked A LOT about pacing throughout the season, but the excitement was just too much, so we took off at a blistering pace. By about half a mile, we all took a walking break, only to shoot off like rockets again after a few minutes.
This pattern repeated until the turnaround, when one of my girls took off at breakneck speed. At that point, I knew there was no way to catch up with her without leaving the other 3 girls, so I sent her some love and focused on finishing strong.
By the time we hit mile 3, the girls were tired – and so was I! I was expecting to walk a lot more than we did, but we were averaging just over 11 minute miles – um, that’s faster than I ran my first 5k!
Before we knew it, it was all over. The girls were tired, but deliriously happy to receive their medals.
PS – our speedster finished in 31 minutes flat.
I may have shed a tear or two as I watched the rest of our girls cross the finish line – not only because they accomplished something that few people will, but because of the support they showed each other. It didn’t matter who came in “first,” they stayed out on the course to cheer in every last one of our runners, and they were just as excited to see each other finish as they were to finish themselves.
Every single girl this season taught me something. Our season wasn’t always perfect – we experienced our fair share of conflicts and misunderstandings among the girls. But, we were able to work through them all, using what we learned from Girls on the Run.
One of my favorite moments came during our lesson about peer pressure. I opened the lesson with the question, “Why do some girls smoke, even though they know it’s bad for them?” One of the girls responded by saying, “They think they got swagger cuz they smoke, but really I got swagger ‘cuz I don’t!”
Lesson over. My work here is done.
I’m so grateful to have had the chance to meet these 15 amazing girls. At our final celebration, I told them that I learned just as much from them, if not more, as they learned from me, and I’m not just saying it.
Spending time with such wonderful girls inspires me to see the world through their eyes:
They are hopeful.
They are confident.
They are kind.
They are endlessly positive.
They find wonder and excitement in the small things.
They believe in themselves and in the power of working together.
I’m a firm believer that the Girls on the Run experience transcends age. No matter how old, we could all use a little Girls on the Run spirit – and the world would be a much better place for it!
Want to get involved in Girls on the Run? There are so many ways to get involved that could fit any schedule – check out the Girls on the Run website for more information about volunteering in your area!
Also, these photos were taken by the official race photographer, the lovely Amy at Amy Ann Photography – go check out her other amazing work and give her some love!