Girls on the Run Fall 5K & Why I’m A Coach

Posted by on Nov 15, 2015 | 0 comments


This Saturday was the Girls on the Run of Franklin County fall 5K, which is the event that my small-but-mighty team of eight little ladies trained for the past 10 weeks. The girls showed up on a chilly morning in downtown at Columbus Commons bundled in coats, scarves and gloves, which were quickly shed as the sun came out and the start time neared.

Girls on the Run Capital University team fall 2015

For a few of them, this was their first 5K, and they were nervous.

“Are you ready for this?” I asked the first girl to arrive at our meeting spot, among 1,400+ girls from the 60+ other Girls on the Run sites in Columbus. This particular girl had been brimming with confidence all season and never hesitated to speak her mind. “I think so,” she replied, uncharacteristically quietly.

The rest of her team showed up, all sporting the multi-colored tutus we’d made by tying cloth onto a pink ribbon on Thursday at practice. She perked up, and the collective nervousness among the group seemed to lift, especially when I brought out the selfie stick.

Girls on the Run Fall 5K group selfie

This marked my fifth season as a Head Coach with Girls on the Run here in Columbus, and I can’t say enough good things about my experience. The organization represents a cause that is near-and-dear to my heart: Empowering young girls in 3rd through 8th grade to be healthy, joyful and confident, through running. It’s held twice a week for 10 weeks at sites held at schools, community centers, apartment complexes or, in my case, university campuses.

Last week, we asked the girls if they were running the 5K with a parent/adult or wanted to run with one of the coaches. My friend Michelle and I are head coaches at Capital and deliver the curriculum, but there are also awesome ladies who volunteer with us as assistant coaches and running buddies.

The 8-year-old who asked to run with me has been my buddy this season. She’s in third grade- the youngest in our group- and incredibly smart. During one of the first practice runs, she told me about a series of scary stories she was writing. She also really wants a kitten, who she’s thinking she’ll name Lulu. I was the kid who filled dozens of wire-bound notebooks with stories and adored cats. Instant bond. 

This was the evening we ran 1.3 miles, and she was so excited to go home and tell her mom about it.

Capital University Girls on the Run team fall 2015

This was her first 5K. “Actually, it’s my second,” she corrected me. We did do a practice 5K, which she rocked. As we lined up at the Start, she and her teammates bounced up and down in their poofy tutus to warm up, laughing at their silly shadows and leading us in chants of “Girls on the Run is so much fun!” Then, off we went.

Girls on the Run 5K start line

She kept a steady pace and talked to me the entire 3.1 miles about music, the series about warrior cats she’s writing and her family, who was her loudest fan club through the run. The massive smile on her face never faded for that 37 minutes. Upon seeing the Finish Line, she mustered up that last bit of energy and sprinted through it, proudly accepting her medal.

Lydia is why I coach at Girls on the Run.

Girls on the Run 5K with Lydia

All of the girls leave an impact, but there have been a few that stand out and will leave their mark for years to come. As adults, we get so wrapped up in our busy, complicated lives that it’s so refreshing to spend time with young girls for 1.5 hours twice a week, who are just starting to find out who they are.

If you’ve never been to a Girls on the Run 5K, all I can say is GO! The events are completely non-competitive, and the positive energy in the air is contagious. All of the girls wear the same color shirt, which changes each season, and are dressed up in tutus, capes and colorful socks and shoes. Girls can get their faces painted for free and their hair “happied” (sprayed with temporary color and glitter). Girls on the Run is a national organization, so these events are held all over the country in the spring and fall.

Girls on the Run 5K

I wish I’d had Girls on the Run growing up. Even at that young age, girls are going through so much emotionally. Having a place where they can talk about the tough stuff, like gossip, bullying, peer pressure and negative self-talk, but then also learn to process emotions and have fun while exercising is something I can 100 percent stand behind- and practice in my own life!

Girls on the Run Fall 2015 making tutus

Not only are the girls an inspiration, but the ladies behind-the-scened of the 5K are, too. I’ve also served as a Marketing Chair for the 5K the past three seasons, and it’s been amazing to work with a team of smart, strong, grounded women. We often joke that there needs to be a Women on the Run because the lessons in the Girls on the Run curriculum applies so much to our lives, too.

GOTR committee

Helping out through PR and marketing also gives me the opportunity to spread the word about a cause I care about and use my skills to give back. In the spring, my Capital University site was featured in Fit Columbus, and the girls were so excited to “be in a real magazine!”

And, just as the girls make friends, the coaches do, too. Team Capital University is pretty cool, if I do say so myself.Girls on the Run Capital University Coaches

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