The other day ML sent me an im suggesting that I join Girls on the Run as part of her 100 Days to Become Less of a Lazy Ass and Help Change the World program. I had seen GOTR booths at race expos but I'm horribly forgetful unless the thing I'm trying to remember has to do with food, which GOTR does not.
Girls on the Run is a program that builds confidence through non-competitive running programs for girls aged 8 to 13. The girls do weekly training runs with a coach and eventually run either a 1 mile or 5k Lollipop Run. My roll with this organization is to be a running buddy, someone that joins the girls for one of their training runs and for their Lollipop Run to encourage them to do their best and have fun while participating. I signed up without really thinking what encouraging an 8 year old would mean or taking into account that I tend to run more along the lines of smartass rather than cheerleader.
Today was my training run and after wandering around the elementary school feeling an awful lot like a creeper, I found the track and joined the group for warmups. After that the girls were divided between the running buddies and we were told to hit the track at whatever pace was comfortable for the kids. My two girls and I were about to set off when the coach came over and informed me that my girls, they couldn't run. And is that okay with me? Would I mind walking with them for the next hour? I think I might have scared the coach with my overly enthusiastic "Walking is great!" response and with that we were off.
For the next hour we walked around the track and talked about our pets and I told them about my marathon to which they replied "Whoa, you're crazy!" This little thing that I was dreading was actually (surprisingly) a lot of fun. They didn't need much encouragement, other than the occasional "Do you want to run for the next little bit? Yes? Wow, go you!" The rest of the girls were sprinting around the track at breakneck speeds, while the other running buddies did whatever they could to keep up and not have a heart attack, but me and my girls were just strolling.
In the end all the other girls did 14 laps while we did 8, but we had just as much fun as them. My girls were really proud of their laps and I was really proud when they asked me which high school I attend. If I had known volunteering was so good for my self esteem (high school!) I would have signed up to be a running buddy months ago.