A year ago, I moved to Charlotte. I knew the move would be hard. I wanted to get involved in my new community and meet people, but as a full-time telecommuter, it was a bit challenging.
Then I saw an ad for a nonprofit organization in Runner’s World called Girls on the Run. The program seemed to be the perfect fit me. Helping young girls develop a healthy body image and positive self-esteem while training for a 5k race? Sign me up!
I was so happy when I found out my local chapter had an opening for a coach in January.
I’ve now coached GOTR for two seasons and cannot say enough good things about the program. The GOTR girls have taught me a lot. I’ve learned the same lessons as my excellent assistant coach, Coach Caitlin (whom will forever be known as Coach Caitlin now).
But I think the reason I enjoy GOTR so much is because I could have greatly benefited from a program like this between ages 8-10.
During third through fifth grade, I danced and played softball. I was just ok at both activities and was well aware of my mediocrity. I understood why my dance teacher placed me in the back row during our ballet recitals. I knew that nothing I did contributed to my softball team’s wins. My teams successes and failures did not depend on me. I felt useless.
When coaching, I made it my goal that none of my GOTR girls would ever feel this way. Luckily, the GOTR format really doesn’t allow for mediocrity. When the girls complete that 5k race at the end, each one knows she earned that medal. Her achievement was all because of her drive and determination, no one else’s.
This is one reason why I still enjoy running so much. When I fail, I have no one to blame but myself (ok, sometimes Mother Nature and lactose get some heat). And when I do awesome, I know it’s because I worked my butt off.
Saturday was our GOTR Reindeer Romp 5k. Our little reindeers were cold but excited. In fact, the only thing our girls were nervous about was that their parents would slow them down. (Each girl must race with a running buddy, and most of them ran with a parent.)
They each ran their little hearts out and earned that medal. The girl I ran with most of the time even ran negative splits! What kind of 8 year old does that?! We only stopped running once; at the one water station. We finished around 35 minutes, and I told her repeatedly, most adults couldn’t do that.
I hope the girls understand how awesome they are. We told them this every day at practice, reiterated it on the race course, and again at the finish line.
My wish for these girls is that they always remember how it felt to cross the finish line, and that they know they’re far from average.
Thanks Coach Caitlin for the pictures.
Do you volunteer? Do you want to? Get involved with your local GOTR chapter! Don’t say “but I work full time”. Your company may support volunteering like mine. And if you work for a large company, they may even make a donation in your name to the nonprofit you work with. Volunteer. All the cool people do it. You won’t regret it
And thanks for all of the concern about my furball :) He's now walking on his leg but we're not sure if it's a result of healing or the drugs...