Do you know what happens when you spend a season coaxing 9, 10, and 11 year old girls to run 3 miles? They beast you at the finish line.
No, really. I mean, I call myself a runner. I train regularly. I do hill climbs and speed work. I strength train. I ran the freakin Blue Ridge Marathon. America’s Toughest Road Marathon? Yeah. I did that.
But let me tell you about the time two little girls made me question my entire running career.
Ten weeks. Two afternoons a week for ten weeks, we worked through the Girls on the Run curriculum and practiced running. And when it was finally time for our Celebration 5k, I found myself running with two of the girls that had been a little ho hum about the whole running thing. But they showed up and that’s half the battle, right?
So, we started off strong. I mean, the first half mile was solid. They were smiling. I was smiling. We were joking. It was fun. We were friends.
At exactly a 1/2 mile in, the smiling stopped, but I’m pretty sure they still liked me as a person.
By then end of mile one, I think our GOTR Coach-GOTR Girl relationship was beginning to waver. But they didn’t seem to be actively hostile at that point, so I was still feeling ok about things.
Mile two was pretty quiet. I kept trying to point out the beautiful scenery, the mountains, the horses. They were unimpressed. I’m pretty sure they had stopped acknowledging my actual existence about a 1/2 mile back.
By mile 2.5, one of them decided the race was over. She sat down. Literally, sat down on the side of the course. Ok, Coach. Time to coach.
We only have about 1/2 a mile to go. See that curve in the road? Once we get around that curve, you’ll see the finish line and I promise it will be worth it.
She got up.
And all three of us began jogging towards the curve in the road, me coaxing the two of them on. We can do this. We’ve got this. We’ve got girl power. You’re so strong. You’re stronger than you realize. Just keep going.
And then we turned the corner. There was the finish line. All of the people. The cheering. In my mind, I pictured the three of us joyfully crossing the finish line, arms raised in triumph, celebrating our accomplishment together.
What actually happened was they took off. I mean, dead sprint for the last 1/4 mile towards the finish line. I couldn’t keep up. I tried. I’ve sprinted to finish lines before, but my 40-something year old sprint has nothing on two 9-year old I just want this to be over sprints.
The finish line pictures tell the story. Two strong, happy girls running powerfully towards the finish while their coach smiles adoringly in the background, just happy they let me tag along for the journey. (There may also be a few pictures that show my sad, desperate attempts to keep up before the resignation set in, but we don’t need to search for those.)
So, all that is to say that it is worth your investment. Click here to donate to Girls on the Run and help one more girl learn how powerful she is.
And if you want that powerful experience of being awed and humbled at the same time, sign up to volunteer. Coach, Running Buddy, Race Set Up. Whatever you can do, it will be worth it.