This weekend my second season of Girls on the Run finished off with a fun-filled 5K!
We started our season in February with twelve girls from 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade and at least half of them were returning from our fall season! If you don’t know, Girls on the Run is a program for girls between the ages of 8-12 that teaches them about positive body image, friendship, and community service. It’s an amazing program that we were able to bring to our school at the beginning of the year and I’m so glad I get to be a part of it.
We finished up our season with a community impact project, that involved our girls cleaning up during lunch duty for some of our younger grades. They chose to bring our project to school and to help out our custodians during the busy lunch waves. The girls loved taking part in the cleanup of school and even created a video after to thank our custodians. Girls on the Run girls are so amazing!
During our last practice we decorated our 5K shirts. A parent graciously volunteered to put all of girls’ names on their shirts as well as our school logo in beautiful sparkly pink. The girls were thrilled with their upgraded shirts and you could just tell they were excited for our race.
The race started early, as most races in Florida should, because it’s starting to get warmer here. We got to the venue around 7AM with our girls, their families, and their running buddies. Each girl is assigned a running buddy. The buddy is an adult they can choose to run with. It can be a family member, older sibling, teacher, or coach. Each of us three coaches had a buddy to run with and we were also lucky enough to recruit some of our fellow teachers for the race too.
Girls on the Run does an amazing job of basically throwing a party for the girls. There was a hair station, manicure station, as well as crafts, tattoos, and a place to bling out your bib. The girls had a great time pre-race and didn’t seem to have any nerves at all!
We took our group pictures and got ready to get to the starting line. Our group ended up being closest to the start line (not something I ever do), but the girls were still having a great time. Some of our new girls starting to share their nerves, but our veterans were quick to reassure them that everything was going to be fine!
Once we started the girls and the buddies split up. Each of the girls learned to run at their own pace so they were prepared to not run with each other like they’d been during practices.
The morning was definitely warm and there wasn’t much cover on the first part of the course. My running buddy and I started out strong, but started to slow down after about the first mile. We try to tell the girls to pace themselves, but it doesn’t always work! The heat also didn’t help, but we were able to see all of our teammates on the course and cheer for them as we passed by.
We caught up with some teammates after mile two and ran the rest of the way with them. It was slow going, but our girls were having fun with each other and we were having fun cheering for them and embarrassing them like good buddies and coaches do. When the finish line came into view, we could hear everyone cheering and our girls recognized their families, too. At one point my buddy said “I wish my mom would stop yelling!”
Crossing the finish line with the girls was a lot of fun. All of their friends were waiting for the at the finish line and they were thrilled to finally finished. After the finish we took our group pictures, sweaty hugs, and parted ways. It’s so amazing to see how the program brings girls and their families together, as well as giving the girls new friends. They hugged and laughed and took pictures and just had fun. We coaches loved celebrating the girls and their accomplishments. GOTR is such a fun program and I’m so glad I get to be part of it.