Welcome to the second Throwback Thursday! Each week, I will share one running-related photo from my past and explain why looking back on that moment brings me joy. Click here for last week’s post.
When I was 10 years old, I participated in Girls on the Run: an after-school program for 3rd-5th grade girls that combines running activities with lessons about healthy decision making, goal setting, self-confidence and giving back to the community. During the last week of the program, all of the girls have the opportunity to participate in a local 5k.
In the photo above, I am running the end-of-season 5k with my mom’s friend, Cara, in the spring of 2009. Although the girls are usually encouraged to wear their GOTR t-shirts for the 5k, many of us ran in tank tops that day due to unseasonably warm weather. My only vivid memory of this race was stopping halfway to chug a Dixie cup of water — a frantic attempt to rehydrate as quickly as possible — and dealing with a sloshy stomach for the last 1.5 miles of the run. Oops!
Looking back, I’m thankful to have had a running buddy that afternoon who encouraged me to keep moving forward (way to go, Cara!). Moreover, I’m grateful for the Girls on the Run program as a whole for introducing me to running in a healthy, positive way.
Last fall, I decided to give back to the organization that first prompted my love for running by volunteering as a Girls on the Run coach at Harvey Dunn Elementary School (Sioux Falls). As a coach, I watched 16 girls from different walks of life learn to access their inner “star power” and work together to better their community. They continually inspired me with their insight, encouragement and creativity. Yet, most inspiring was their positive attitude during the end-of-season 5k, which was run on a double out-and-back course amid high winds, heavy snow and bone-chilling temperatures! While I jogged alongside a resilient young girl on my team, the two of us dreamed of hot chocolate — our motivation for crossing the finish line.
Although spring 2020 Girls on the Run programs were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to coach again in the future. In the meantime, I’m grateful to have a wealth of memories to look back on — both as a participant and as a coach.