Monday, December 14, 2009

Girls On The Run (or in my case shuffle-walk)

It was a chilly morning as I woke up and packed on the layers this past Saturday. I couldn't help but smile though as I gathered the mittens, hat and running shoes because I knew today was going to be a vvverrrry special day! Today was the Girls on the Run 5k!

After the crash, at some point while evaluating the things I WOULDN'T be doing over the next 6 weeks (which were many), I realized that this was one thing I really, really, really didn't want to miss. It was one of my favorite things last year and I'm not sure who it meant more to - me or the girl I ran with during her first 5k! We just had loads of fun last year, and I couldn't help but feel if I could even shuffle, that would be enough to get the job done.

I was cautioned by many a person, but all in all, I only ended up actually shuffling about .5-.8 of a mile total! The girls range in ages from about 8 years to 11 years old so they aren't throwing down a 7:00 min mile or anything yet. Most of them are just happy to be out there and excited to give a full 3.1 mile run a go!

At first I arrived late (no surprise there), and I was getting organized by getting my orange bandanna, picking up my chip and getting the strange and bewildered looks from many of the other competitors! I'm sure they were confused why a girl with a big freaking sling was about to run a 5k! When I found the organizer she told me that everyone was pretty much already assigned and that they didn't need anymore "buddy" runners. My heart just sank! This is the whole reason I got up in the early morning on Saturday to come out here in the cold!

Finally, she looked around and saw a table with a mother and her two children, Max and Samantha. She thought a minute, and then took me over to introduce me to "Sam" and said we would make a great pair for the day. I was relieved and excited that she found someone for me and Sam was a bit shy at first, but eventually she seemed to loosen up once I started cracking jokes about my sling. She and Max were twins, so it was a big deal for her to be doing the race without him by her side, as he was in most activities.

However, after hearing how much fun she'd had in the program and having her Mom help attach my chip to my shoe, we were getting to be better buds. At 9:50am, with a 10:00am start, we went out to get in line and take some final pictures!

Sam heading to the start

Of course you're going to see a few elves, Santa hats, toy soldiers, and even a gingerbread man (like I did last year) if you are lucky at the Jingle Bell 5k (which is always where they hold the Girls on The Run event in association with this hometown race)!
Loving those socks! I HAVE to find some for next year!!

We started off pretty strong and even though I asked Sam if they taught her about "pacing" she quickly replied "oh yes," but didn't show any signs of actually following that strategy! Then again, I've been known to get caught up a little over my head at some local 5k's too so I couldn't blame her. This was exciting stuff once the gun goes off. We did plenty of walking and then we would pick a spot and decide to run for a bit.

After the half way point, she got a little obsessed with picking up all the bells that had fallen off everyones' attire so we did a lot of stopping to get those! Either way, we had lots of fun and I got to know a cute little girl with lots of heart. It was all in all a great day.
At about a 400 to the finish we decided it was time to run it in. I stayed with her for a bit and then let her go ahead to cross the mat and hung with her until we got her medal and met her Mom for a finishers picture. I couldn't help but smile down deep in my toes when she crossed because I remember those first days of crossing a finish line and how it made me feel. I can only hope she'll take that experience and want to feel that way again and again, in life and maybe even in some more running events. I love running so much that the best thing I think I could ever do is help someone else find that same joy it brings me.

So, that was it. My collarbone didn't seem to suffer any ill effects and any shuffling I did, I did completely on my toes to absorb all the impact. Talk about sore calves! I guess that's why I'm not a sprinter!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Hellooooo from beautiful San Diego!

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