Sunday, January 4, 2009

Girls, Girls, Girls!


You can't really argue with a chant like that! Holly and I became "running buddies" this winter for an organization called "Girls on the Run." This group is dedicated to helping girls between the ages of 8 and 11 develop healthy self-esteem (to match their healthy bodies!) through running. Our job as running buddies was to help these young ladies train for their first 5k and offer encouragement and support during the 3.1 mile journey.

After Sammy, my running buddy, and I were formally introduced, she looked me up and down and asked, "Can you go fast?"

Uh oh!

I wondered, am in good enough shape to keep up with this gal who is ready to win? I mustered up a bit of confidence and answered, "Uh, sure!"

From the start Sammy was ready to go fast. She wanted to pass everyone right out of the gate! I tried my best to explain why you don't go as fast as you can in the beginning, but Sammy wasn't interested in reason. Soon we were so far ahead of everyone it was okay for us to walk. It gave us a chance to get to know each other a little better.

We kept walking until one of the other girls would catch up, then we would run as fast as we could! And eventually Sammy's strategy worked! We won the practice 5k!

As the girls finished we cheered and enjoyed our celebratory cups of Gatorade. It was so touching to see the girls be so encouraging to one another. Let's face it, girls aren't always nice to each other, and it was refreshing to see these girls be so accepting and encouraging of their friends!


The Wonder Girl 5k was the event the girls had been training for. Sammy was ready to win that morning. She even looked like a super hero in her crown and cape.

On the other hand, I was freezing... it must have been about 30 degrees!

Before I knew it we were off! Sammy strategically placed us near the front of the group so we could go fast. Everything was going according to plan, then it happened.

The worst thing to happen to anyone while running: a side stitch!

Poor Sammy was trying so hard to run through it, but we still had so far to go! We tried a few times to walk it off, but it just kept coming back. I tried my best to convince her that this happens to everyone and some days are just "bad run" days.

Then she said, "I don't think we're going to win–I'm sorry..."

It totally broke my heart! I told her she didn't have to apologize! She's a strong person for even attempting to run a 5k and she'll be an even stronger person when she finishes!

I told her about my awful 12-mile run that I couldn't even finish. I had to call Matt to come pick me up. BUT the next weekend, I ran 21 miles! And the weekend before the 5k we were running I ran 13.1 miles at the Seattle Half Marathon.

"Did you win?," she asked.

It made me laugh, I wasn't even close! I won because I finished.

Our conversation reminded me that you can't expect every time you hit the road to be even better than the run before it. What's important is doing the best you can in any situation.

We sprinted the last 1/2 mile of the Wonder Girl 5k. She finished strong with the crowd and her friends and family cheering for her as we crossed the finish line.

I really admire Sammy's ambitious attitude because he's willing to work hard to achieve her goals. Although she didn't win the whole 5k, she won her personal race. Even with a side-stitch, shoe/foot pain and ridiculously cold weather she did her best that day.

Too often many of us settle for mediocrity, and we're okay with never really challenging or pushing ourselves. It's easier not to.

But what I loved about being in the "trenches" with Sammy was witnessing a young lady choosing not to settle. In our two interactions I could tell that Sammy will grow up to be a very successful woman some day. I've been inspired by her determination to be a better mental athlete.

At the end of the day, all we can ask of ourselves is to do our best in any situation; then, we can't be disappointed in the outcome.

1 comment:

Sarah Loyd said...

That sounds like a great organization... sounds like you had a lot of fun!! :)