Monday, May 23, 2016

Girls on The Run

I'm not sure when I first heard about Girls on the Run, but I remember wanting to start up a council in Southwest Florida - where I had meant to move somewhere between college and 2012.  At some point my name was on the website as a point of contact, but I never moved to Fort Myers and continued on with my daily life.  While volunteering for the Mohawk Hudson Marathon & Half two years ago I remember chatting with the local council leader.  I was interesting in participating but never really took the initiative.  Fast forward to this year, my head of school had met with some women and was interested in finding a way for us to be apart of program.  I quickly volunteered to be the volunteer coach and at the final hour we had enough girls to start our program.

We met Mondays & Wednesdays directly after school, in my classroom.  This is important to note because unfortunately for me, it didn't feel like I was volunteering, it felt like I was working.  As soon as dismissal was over, I'd head back into my room to get our afternoon started.  The girls were eager to participate, which did make it a pleasant afternoon!

The curriculum is set, and walks through a series of different lessons about embracing differences, healthy eating, the media and many others throughout our 10 week program.  The girls at my school were lovely, always eager to participate and adapt, given our small space.  After we would spend time in the classroom, we would head to the soccer field to run / walk laps to prepare for our 5k race.

A few of the girls would run most of the time, often competitive with one another. The others would run & walk often chatting away throughout the time. They were always moving though.  I appreciated their efforts and before each run they would identify what their lap goal would be, I would emphasis that what they have to offer today, may be different than the last day.  Not every day is going to be faster/farther but to give their best for that day. Since repeating this 2x week for 10 weeks, I've started to incorporate it into my own self talk!

The day we returned from spring break the girls and their running buddies (mostly moms but a friend of mine also happen to be one of our volunteers)  ran a practice 5k around our soccer field.  As overwhelmed as I felt for most of the season, to see how accomplished the girls look made it worth the work.  When we discussed the run afterwards most all of them said "I never thought I could run this far!"



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The girls then participated at the Mother's Day 5k in Schenectady.  I had the opportunity to run as well, which was nice since it was my birthday this year, but not a great run given the tightness in my quad 2 weeks before and being on vacation time for far longer than I anticipated. All of the girls had running buddies, so I took off and did my own run, it took a lot to shake the cobwebs.

It was a unique experience to lead these girls through the program.  I know I will not be coaching in the fall as I'll be training for the Philadelphia Marathon but will consider leading again next spring.

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