"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘Girls on the Run’ Category

Forget the Skinny Jeans

I don’t think I’ll ever be a size 2. Let me re-phrase that…if I am a size 2, somebody should be shopping for my coffin, because I don’t have long for this world. This is due to several reasons—genetics (body type), age, eating habits and a lack of willpower.

That being said, I, like most people, want to stay in shape. I like when I put on my jeans and I don’t have to suck in my stomach to the point of not breathing to zip and button them. The practical part of me appreciates not having to buy new clothes because I’ve gone up a size (though I don’t mind if it’s DOWN a size!) And I’m not going to lie—I like when I look in the mirror and I’m not sporting a muffin top.

A few weeks ago I joined a gym near my house that my running partner belongs to. Since we’ve moved into the winter months, getting in our morning run has been more of a challenge. It’s not so bad as long as it’s over 25 degrees, but when it’s colder than that and the mileage is over five miles, it becomes more of a torture session. I’m not a huge fan of the treadmill, but they’ll do in a pinch, and the gym I joined has a big theater room that plays a movie. Last week we watched “Dodgeball” during our long run on the treadmill, which made the miles go by a little faster than when I only have music in my headphones to listen to.

I’ve also started going to their Body Pump class. The first day just about killed me, but I was able to scale back the weight enough to keep up through the class. Ibuprofen took care of the next few days. Word to the wise: do not try an ambition exercise routine and follow it with eight hours in the car. It’s a recipe for disaster. The next time I took the class, it was a teensy bit easier, in part because I knew what to expect. The next day I didn’t even need the ibuprofen.

When I signed up at the new gym, there was a special for personal training sessions, and since a friend I used to coach Girls on the Run with is a Personal Trainer there, I took them up on the offer. I have met with her to put together an action plan for my fitness goals. Even though I run quite a bit, my upper body and overall strength is pretty pathetic these days. But not for long.

This is where my perspective has changed over the last fifteen years. When I first started regularly working out post-third-child to get back into my regular, non-maternity clothes, my goal was to look good. Now, though I still want to look good, I am really after the boost in mood and energy to keep up with my life! Especially in the winter. And I’m really more excited about becoming strong more than skinny.

But you know what my favorite thing about the gym is? The social part. I never went to the gym I used to go to because I didn’t know anybody that went there at the times I could go. When I walk into this gym, I see other parents from my kids’ school and meet others in the classes that I didn’t know before. There’s a special bond created when you’ve seen each other with no make-up and hair styled in bedhead form. And having someone to chat (or groan) with makes it fun to show up at the gym for me.

So later today I’ll be meeting up with Missy again to see what’s next in my training and I know I’ll have to exercise more than just my jaws. (Too bad talking alone doesn’t strengthen the rest of me.) While I’ll still never be a size 2, I know at least I’ll be reaching for some pretty lofty goals. Bring on those tight-lidded pickle jars!

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The Last Lesson

Today I attended my last Girls on the Run practice as a coach. It was a fitting ending—we did the “freeze tag” lesson, which is always one of the girls’ favorite, and as Coach Missy says, “makes great memories for the girls”. Lately I’ve been thinking of how this will be my last season as a coach, and how proud I am for having been a small part of this wonderful program that helps builds character in young girls through running.

The program came to our school, Progress South Elementary, in 2009, through the efforts of Coach Gina—a mom who wanted her daughter to learn the lessons taught the in Girls on the Run curriculum. She put out the word through our Girl Scouts Neighborhood, which I am involved in, and I thought it sounded great. I’d heard of the program through a friend who was a Practice Partner at another school in our area. I replied that I was interested, though I had no prior running experience, and the next thing I knew I was the Head Coach of this team we were trying to scrape together. You needed to have eight girls for a team and somehow we managed to get eight girls by the deadline.

That first season taught me a lot—not only about running, which I learned from my wonderful Assistant Coaches that had been runners for years—but about motivating girls to do more than they thought they could. Sometimes they were reluctant to run at all, but I will never forget watching one of the girls cross the finish line at our practice 5K, red-faced and breathless, full of pride and a sense of accomplishment. In that moment, all the challenges we faced that season became worth it. I also enjoyed seeing my own daughter’s determination and confidence grow as she became a stronger runner with each practice.

The Girls on the Run program at our school has grown significantly since that first season. We now have two teams and are almost filled to capacity each season (that’s 34 girls). We have traditions and our own unique identity as a club at the school. In the St. Louis area, the Girls on the Run program has grown, too. Each season, each race, has become better organized and the processes more streamlined, from online registration and scholarships to moving the race to downtown to accommodate the larger number of race participants. There is now a Junior Coach program that both of my daughters who are no longer in elementary school have had the privilege to be a part of. What a joy it is to see something positive thrive!

I’d be remiss to not mention how much this program has made me a better person as well. Before Girls on the Run, I’d never run a 5K. I think I was just as excited as the girls that first race and I will never, ever forget it. To this day it is probably my favorite race I’ve ever run. And since then I’ve run a lot of 5Ks, 10Ks and two half marathons. I’ve had two daughters that are Girls on the Run alumna and past Junior Coaches—one who runs with me in every race she can and is looking forward to Cross Country in High School. All because I said “yes” to coaching.

A few seasons ago, I stepped down as Head Coach and handed the baton to Coach Kelly, who has five daughters that will be going through the program. She has done a phenomenal job getting our team numbers to what they are today and doing all that it takes to organize 30+ families. This last season I stepped back into the Practice Partner role from Assistant Coach. My daughters are no longer in elementary school and it is time for me to let someone else experience the joy of working with truly awesome coaches and fantastic girls.

To Coach Kelly, Coach Missy, Coach Sheri and Becky, I treasure our friendship. I admire each of you not only as runners, but as mothers and mentors to all the girls who are on our team. To all of the parents through the years, thank you for sharing your daughters with me. They have so much potential and I love seeing that in them—I know you do, too. I hope they see it themselves as well and that they will remember their Girls on the Run experience fondly—and never forget to plug into their positive cords.

So, Saturday will be my last race as a Girls on the Run Coach and I will wear my tutu proudly. We are the girls, the mighty, mighty girls—and I know they are going to continue to roar.

Who I Run 4

I didn’t start running until I was 38 years old.  Truthfully, I didn’t get into fitness period until I had Erin at age 30 and was tired of going up sizes when I went shopping.  But running has been different than just working out for me.

I started running because of Girls on the Run.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an organization that was started as a character development to empower girls in grades 3-5 to be healthy and strong.  As they say, it’s so much more than a running program.  For ten weeks, we have lessons that cover topics from healthy choices with our food to bullies and being assertive.  Our team does a community service project each season (our school participates in both the spring and fall seasons).  I cannot say enough good things about this national program, and I give total credit to becoming a runner to Girls on the Run.  Even if I’m kind of old to be called a “girl”, I think I have gotten as much out of this program as the girls do.  After all, who can’t hear enough that being assertive and standing up for yourself is wonderful?

The very first 5K I ran was with Girls on the Run, and I’d never participated in any organized run before.  That first one I will never forget—I felt like I’d just done something tremendous and I was so proud of our little team.  That was five years ago, when we scraped together enough girls to have a full team of eight girls.  Now we have over 30 girls each season.  The atmosphere at a Girls on the Run race is very party-like and fun.  Now that I’ve run a lot of organized races, I realize that it’s pretty unique in the tremendous amount of positive vibes that are just out there at that event.  Truly amazing.

This past fall, I became acquainted with another organization that makes my running more meaningful.  It’s called Who I Run 4.  It was started when the founder, Tim Boyle, promised to run for a friend who was battling bilateral hip dyspasia—a friend who COULDN’T run.  The concept is simple, yet so powerful.  Runners sign up to be matched with a buddy.  Buddies can be newborn babies to adults who physically are unable to run.  Runners dedicate their miles to their buddy.  You connect on Facebook and a lot of the pairs actually meet eventually.  The relationships that develop are such a beautiful thing.

My buddy is a little boy named Niko.  He isn’t even a year old, and has many health issues.  First, I have to say, he is absolutely adorable and has the most beautiful, happy smile. He has a very rare syndrome called 2Q37 Deletion—most babies with this syndrome don’t survive the pregnancy.  But his mom, Briane, who I keep in touch with, is an amazing mom.  Her posts are so full of hope and love for her baby.  I really do think about Niko and his family every time I’m running and they inspire me to be a more grateful person.  Whenever I want to be reassured that there are loving, caring people in the world, I just read through the posts on Facebook for our group.

Running has become so much more than the physical activity of turning over my legs.  It represents me when I’m being my best self—okay, maybe not my messy hair or my smelly sweat—but the me that strives for more and is willing to work for it.  I realize that it’s in part due to the endorphins, but when I run I’m reminded of the many joys in my life.  And they are something to celebrate.

 

For more information on Girls on the Run see www.girlsontherun.org

For more information on Who I Run 4 see http://www.whoirun4.com

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