If you’ve never participated in a youth event as a volunteer, let me tell you, you are missing out on an inspiring experience.
Below is my Girls On the Run 5K Recap – Winter 2014.
On Sunday, December 7th, I again ran as a running buddy for the Girls on the Run 5K. I had participated in June for their Spring run and it was so awesome, I decided to do it again. I’d love to be able to participate as a coach, but my schedule won’t allow for that, so I do this, cause I can. And maybe I can help a young girl run her first 5K, and realize how amazing she is.
The twice annual 5K is the culminating event of Girls on the Run‘s Spring and Winter running program that takes girls grades 3-8 (ages 8 to 14) and prepares them to complete the 3.1 mile journey. In reality though, it’s more than just about running. The Girls On the Run program
inspires girls to take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms. It’s a place where girls learn that they can. No limits. No constraints. Only opportunities to be remarkable. – Girls On the Run
It was a brisk 30-something degree morning and I was layered up. We drove down to Randall’s Island and to Icahn Stadium.
As the crowds started increasing, looking around you could feel the excitement. Some of the girls looked nervous, while others seemed ready to go. It was great seeing the parents there to not only watch, but run with their daughters. Men and women, many of whom were not runners, were laced up to join their girls on this journey.
It was blistery and everyone was doing what they could to stay warm. including doing some warm up exercises and jogging around the track.
I was with the Briarwood School, which had 6 girls running that day. Schools were lined up in alphabetical order and Briarwood was the first school. Once all the school were lined up, we were led into a group warm up and stretch, then the cheering began.
Then we were off.
My running buddy and another coach took off, so I stayed behind them knowing eventually they would slow down. My hip was acting up so I didn’t dare try to keep up with them. I allowed people with their buddies to pass me by, cheering them as they went.
As the miles went by, you could see the young ladies who really wanted to succeed. Whether they ran the entire distance or walked a bit, they were determined to do their best.
Then there were some girls who just thought it was too hard, and their minds convinced them they couldn’t do it from the start. Getting past that negative thinking is key to being successful, but no matter what, the coaches and running buddies were not going to allow any of the girls to get left behind. Our job was to keep them moving, no matter how hard they fought it.
Eventually I caught up to my running buddy and the other coach and we ran/walked and talked for awhile. We told her our running stories and how it is never easier, but that we get stronger over time. She kept moving, but I could tell she just wanted to stop.
Soon I was in front of them, just slightly and we were nearing the end of the run. That last turn I sped up a bit, telling her to “catch me”. She soon started sprinting.
“Finish hard”, we kept yelling at her. “Finish hard.”
The last stretch into the stadium I ran as hard as I could, with the young girl behind me, and the coach beside her, both of us, willing her to go all in.
As soon as she turned back onto the track, she took of, catching me right near the finish line. And done!
Afterward we walked to get bagels and a water. (Side note: I am paleo, but I at that bagel without even a thought. That’s called mindless eating people. Don’t do it.) Then we stretched and went in search of her family.
That’s pretty much ho the day went. It was a fun event that I am sure I will do again next June. I’m hoping one day to get more involved with the organization, but so far, I like what Girls On the Run are doing. It makes for a great day!
Question: Do you volunteer for any organizations? If so, what’s your favorite way to participate?
*Photo Credit: All photos were submitted by Sean Virgo in NYC.*