On Being a 5K Running Buddy

Girls on the Run 5K

On Sunday I participated at the Girls on the Run 5K. Not as a racer; instead I was a Running Buddy.

Now, if you don’t know what Girls on the Run is about, click the link to find out about this awesome organization. There mission is to inspire girls to be happy, “healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running”. And from what I am learning every day, they are succeeding.

So, like I said, I participated in this event as a running buddy. This was the first time I’d run a 5K as a casual observer rather than a competing entry. And let me tell you, it was hard to not just go all out and run as hard as I could on such a beautiful morning. But I wasn’t there for me, I was there for the 10 year-old girl (Argh, I forgot her name) who I ran with. She was the tallest 10 year-old I’d ever seen.

Icahn Stadium at Randall’s Island

The 5K was held at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island in NYC. I had never been to Randall’s  Island before – another new experience I could notch off my belt. Icahn Stadium is a mecca for running races in NYC. The outdoor track is where a lot of racing events are held every year. There are also concerts and festivals of all kinds.

When we arrived at the Stadium, I picked up my Running Buddy packet, which contained a t-shirt and my race bib. This year the Running Buddy tees were purple.

I regret not not bringing my phone/camera with me, so I don’t have any pics during or after the race. But let me tell you , it was awesome. First, I was assigned a school so when I went on the field I had to find that schools flag, which was easy enough. I found a young girl who, like I said before, was incredibly tall at only 10 years old. She was awesome. She said she really liked the GOTR program because it taught teamwork and helped her to like running. I loved hearing that.

So we started with a warm up on the field (jumping jacks, squats, etc.) then did some stretching. Then each school was lined up at the starting arch and we were off. The route took us around the track one time before we headed off through a waterfront path around the island. It was lovely. The temps were warm, but not unbearable, around 80 degrees. My 10 year old buddy had difficulty running the entire way cause she was hot so she walked while I jogged next to her. I made her get some water at the water stop. We chatted about school, where her family was from, and what she liked to do; all the while I encouraged her to run, then walk a bit. She would sprint, then walk and that’s how it went the entire time. There were some girls who could run at all, and some who ran the entire way. The point wasn’t to be fast, but to finish the 5K the best you could.

Near the last turn back into the stadium, I told her I wanted her to finish strong and to sprint the rest of the way. She took off and I was right behind her yelling “DON’T STOP, DON’T SLOW DOWN, KEEP GOING, YOU GOT THIS!” Everyone was cheering. It was a blast. She went through the finish arch and I gave her a hug. This 10 year old girl had wanted to stop. The heat was getting to her and I could tell that she done. But we worked together so she could get her the awesome medal and certificate of completion. I was so proud of her.

After stretching one more time, I walked her back to her mom who thanked me for being her Running Buddy. I could see her mom was so proud.

Then it was time to enjoy Father’s Day.

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to participate in such a great event. You could see the girls had become really good friends after this 9 months together, culminating in this 5K. I am hoping to be able to be a Coach in the Fall. In the meantime, click the link above to volunteer or donate. Help be some young girl’s inspiration.

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