Girls on the Run and a Reindeer Romp
500 girls, 500 running buddies, spray paint, reindeer, Santa Claus, the Grinch, and a 5K – what a perfect way to start out a beautiful Saturday morning.
This past Saturday the Girls on the Run fall season came to an end with the Reindeer Romp 5K. Starting at 9:00 am, thirteen smiling faces met Lesia, Lee, and me at the Underwood Elementary post and got ready to do what some people dream of doing – run a 5K. It’s so hard to believe that 12 weeks have passed since we started the fall season, and although time has gone by quickly, the girls have grown so much. Some of the girls were seasoned Girls on the Run, while others were completing the program for the first time. But no matter what their running history may have been, they all crossed the finish line on Saturday a little more confident and a little prouder than 12 weeks earlier.
Saturday morning started out sunny and cold. As is typical of me, I was one of the first people at the race and once Susan answered every question I had even before I needed to ask it, I went off to register. Originally, I was not going to run because my leg was bothering me, but this was one race I did not want to miss out on. I, along with hundreds of other people, was there to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of 500 young girls, and my running injury was going to take a backseat to that. I would walk, skip, jog or whatever I needed to do in order to cross that finish line, just as long as I was out there supporting our girls.
Around 9am, the girls, along with their parents, began to arrive. We pinned on their bibs, spray painted their hair, painted their faces, and gave them Rudolph noses. They were all pretty excited and the parents even more so. About 15 minutes before the race, we headed over to the start line, did some warm up exercises, shared some last words of wisdom, and then listened for the start gun. With so many people, it was impossible to hear, but we were off running soon enough. Lee and I lost the girls in the crowd so we decided to run along and cheer on the girls as we saw them. Along the 3.1 miles we heard moms encouraging their daughters (run 3, walk 1), dads chatting away (check out those shoes!), and even saw girls leave mom and dad in the dust so they could run their own race. Some girls were running all out, while others took breaks as needed. They were all out there to achieve the same goal but the stepping stones they had to cross along the way were different for all of them. That is one of the many amazing things about this event, and in particular, this program – it’s a personal journey and about doing your best. That’s exactly what all of those girls were out there doing. Who cares if you’re the first or the last? The point is they all had the courage to get out there and try.
Running a 5K versus racing a 5K really gave me a chance to appreciate all that was happening around me. I was able to slow down and be grateful for the opportunity to participate in such a positive program and celebrate what 500 young girls were able to accomplish. Throughout the season I learned many things, but two in particular stick out in my mind. First, never underestimate the power of a 9 year old girl. She is strong, not afraid, and most importantly, willing to try (maybe us adults could take a lesson or two). And on Saturday, I learned lesson number two. I was overwhelmed by what I witnessed between mom, dad, and daughter. This race, along with 12 weeks of running, was a once in a lifetime bonding opportunity for these families. Together, they helped each other cross that finish line, and whatever happened out there during those 3.1 miles, is something no one else will ever understand. That is powerful.
I am proud and thankful for the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful program. Tomorrow is our end of year celebration and I am sad to see it come to an end. I will miss the silliness, the life lessons, and the hard work of all of our girls. Team Underwood has been amazing and I look forward to continue working with Girls on the Run. Thank you GOTR for all that you have given to not only so many young girls, but also to us adults.