Girls on the Run - Somewhat of a Race Review

Last year, I went to speak to at my wife's elementary school about goal setting, as it relates to me as a distance runner. I was walked to her classroom by a 5th grader who impressed me with her poise and conversation as we walked the halls. I told my wife if she had the chance to get the kid in her homeroom the falling year, I bet she'd love her. A year later, Maria is definitely one of my wife's favorites in a room full of great kids.

Periodically, my wife likes to use my insanity as fodder for classroom material; the result of which is that the kids have a wide range of opinions about my foolishness on the roads and trails. But when Maria signed up for Girls on the Run, this year, she asked my wife if I'd be her run buddy, which is how I found myself at Clipper Stadium on Saturday morning.

I'm no Girls on the Run expert. I only know it's about teaching girls how to have fun through running events. The 5ks skew more fun, less competitive, and those that do it seem to really like it. Who was I to say no?

For the 5k, Maria and I decided to have 3 goals. The first was to have fun. The 2nd was to beat enough people back that we could easily get cocoa before the supplies ran low. And the final one was to not walk. I knew Maria's previous 5k PR had been around 33 minutes, but I also knew that she was nervous enough about the time that we decided to do it sans-Garmin.

With the no-walking goal on our mind, we set off at a nice easy pace that I was certain we could maintain the whole way, and in fact, we did. I wasn't sure what Maria wanted from me, but I assumed giving her first-hand versions of stories my wife had told would entertain her for a bit, so I told her about running over an aardvark in the North Face Endurance Challenge and stopping at mini-markets during 5 hour training runs. I asked her what she liked about running and let's just say she likes all of the right things; the ease of the sport, the ability to spend time with her good friends, and the feeling of a workout well-done.

I thanked the volunteers at the intersections and told her why I usually did that and within 1 or 2 intersections, she was doing it, too. We made it back to the stadium and she was stoked to see 30:30 on the clock. We were both equally pleased to get the cocoa well before it ran out, with better than 3/4 of the pack behind us.

Before the race, a parent of another student running that day told me that she thought it was great how some of the kids were inspired to run because of me. Those are always wonderful things to hear, though at the same time, it always surprises me. It's never been my goal to inspire people to run, and I think rather than being the reason, I'm just a carrier of something that has the ability to improve others' lives. Whether or not they choose to "be infected" is wholly up to them. This past weekend, it was awesome to be part of the Girls on the Run as they recruited hundreds of the next generation of lifelong runners.

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