Monday, May 17, 2010

The Run that Changed my Life...

I wrote this Saturday, just didnt get around to posting it...

I ran a 5K today, and I dont think that I will ever be the same. The pain in my quads and hamstrings will go away, the runners high of feeling over the moon will fade, but what I witnessed and saw happen during those 3.1 miles changed me forever...

I am a Girls on the Run Coach, Girls on the Run is a organization that is nationwide. It is designed to help elementary school-age girls to become comfortable with who they are. There are lessons ranging from drugs and alcohol, to peer pressure, to family, friends, etc. Each lesson is then linked with a run whether it is just a few laps in the gym, a scavenger hunt, or a 3 mile run.

I got involved because of my student teaching. My partnership teacher said that they were going to do a group at the school and if I wanted to train to become a coach. I said yes, mostly because it would look good on a resume and secondly because I knew it would help out my partnership teacher. I dont like to run, i really dislike it so I definitaly did not sign up because I love running! During training, the first thing they asked us was "how did you hear about Girls on the Run, why do you want to be invovled". I listened to ladies speak about how their daughters' were part of it and the change in them was awesome that they want to help others and just super inspiring stories while my response was "I heard about it last week, Im an intern and my teacher wants me to do it". All the training was so inspring but at the back of my mind I still didnt see how running a 5K was going to make a different in the girls lives...

Week 1 rolled around at 17 3rd-5th grade girls entered the gym, they were so shy and we spent that day getting to know one another. We would meet 2 times a week, 10 weeks total. The 2nd time we met we had the girls take a survey, basically about self-esteem and how they viewed themselves. They had a bunch of pictures of body types ranging from very obsese to very unhealthy asked the girls to circle what they thought they looked like, on the next page was the same pictures and it asked the girls to circle what they WANT to look like. After they left, we looked over the surveys, I was shocked! These girls who most of them were perfectly healthy all viewed themselves overweight and all wanted to be bone skinny! What really shook me was that the girls are only 10-12 years old and they already have a negative body image!

As the weeks progressed I noticed a change, it was more of an annoyance for me but now that it is over, it makes me so happy! Each time we met, it would take longer and longer to get the girls under control and ready to start...while it drove me crazy then, during the 5K I realized...they look longer to get under control because they were talking and playing around with the other girls. They were bonding. It reminded me of that first week where they just sat there silent, unsure of each other and now they were becoming good friends. Seeing just that change in them was really exciting, they were breaking out of their shell and embracing who they are!

Then on Saturday, the 17 girls, each with a running buddy lined up at the starting line with about 1000 other participants. We all had pink shirts on, it was quite a scene! My runner was a 4th grade girl, I'll refer to her as "A", her goal was to "run more then I walk". We start out, get our pace and are just slowly moving through the sea of pink...all around us we hear girls complaining "its hot", "there are too many people here", "I dont want to jog right now", "its to early", etc. "A" looks at me and goes "man, they are being so negative, dont they understand how cool this is"...All I could do was smile and say "I know, right?" but really I just wanted to hug her, she really understood that this program is more about just running a 5K, but it is working up to do something that you didnt think that you could.

The run was long, "A"s pace of jogging was my power walking pace but I didnt want to be walking while she was jogging so I would jog while barely taking any steps forward, her face BEAMED when she saw the 1 mile- she was so excited because we hadnt stopped to walk yet. A little after the 1 mile sign is when she asked "Can we walk a little"? I said "of course, lets set a goal, where do you want to walk to (We were in a neighborhood so we would pick a house or sign) before we start jogging again?" Setting those goals really helped and they were never for more then 4-5 houses! When we passed the 2 mile, I was getting tired- my legs were hurting from the lack of moving I was doing while running, but I wasnt going to power walk her pace, I really wanted to motivate her, even if they meant stressing out my calves!

She had turned to me and said "when we get to that turn, we are going to walk", so we are about to get to the turn and the guy standing at the turn says "only .2 miles left, you can see the group of people at the finish line from here"...I looked at her and she smiled and I knew, we were not going to stop and walk! We finished that last leg of the race strong, right before the finish line she looked at me and said "I CANT BELIEVE I JUST RAN A 5K!!!!!"

Our time was 37 minutes, we came in at the middle of the pack, she was so proud of herself! At about 50 minutes into the race, all but one girl in our group of 17 was left to finish...we saw her turn the corner and she started walking...our school had an area that we met at after we finished that was right before the finish line, we all looked at each other and we ran down to her, hand in hand our group finished the race (again!) with her!

The transformation that I saw in 10 weeks from the girls was life changing, their behavior at the 5K was inspiring! Who knew that such a shy,quiet group of girls could turn into such self confident, positive and happy young ladies in such a short amount of time. Seeing them change, changed me, I have such a more positive outlook on everything now because of them!

I was a skeptic of this program, I thought it was exaggerating a lot but I have never been so wrong. I can not wait until the Fall to do the program again with another group of girls...

although I still hate running, I dont mind suffering to see girls succeed like that!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave some love <3