I thought I might cry a few weeks ago when my friend Abby asked me to be her running buddy in her first 5k. Abby is 9 years old and her school participates in Girls on the Run, a national program designed to give girls a chance to train for a 5k while learning about nutrition and health. The Northwest Arkansas chapter is healthy and growing — and they hold the big event every fall.
All the girls spent the semester running, training, and getting excited about their first 5k, which was held at the downtown square in Bentonville.
So imagine, if you will, around 1000 girls. Plus their running buddies. Plus their parents. Plus the general public. There were a few people there…
Abby’s mom, Nancy, had done all of the logistical homework and had her family (hubby + 3 kids) and my family (hubby + 1 kid) all scheduled to meet that morning. Earlier in the week, I missed the pre-registration deadline by 12 hours so I had to register the morning of the race, and I think I was driving Nancy crazy with my, “It will be fine. I’ll have plenty of time” attitude. Sorry friend!
Thankfully, it actually was fine and I actually did have plenty of time. I quickly registered then found Abby as she was warming up. Gangnam style.
We warmed up a little, talked about our game plan — and we were ready to go!
And here we are with Maddy, Abby’s friend who also ran with us that morning.
We were off!
These girls had practiced and trained and stood in line race morning to get glitter in their hair — they were ready! Girls on the Run had given all the girls the same shirt so it was a bit of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ in the crowd at the beginning, but it thinned out a bit and we ran our race.
Our goal was 45 minutes, and the plan was to run 1/4 mile at a time. We stuck to it and I think the girls really had fun. I tried to keep them distracted, but they were bulldogs about our time and distance. I wore my Garmin so they knew they could ask me (every 2 minutes! ha!) how far we’d come and how far to go and everything in between. It even inspired a short math lesson about tenths of a mile and quarters of a mile. I decided to leave the kilometers-to-miles math lesson for next time…
They got tired as we approached the 3-mile mark, but they knew we were close and the crowd was getting thicker. They could feel the energy and couldn’t wait to see their parents. Well, and this goofball.
The race was open to the public, as well as the girls, so Becky got in on the action, too. She’s been running and working hard all summer — I think this is 5k #3 for her!
And there we are! SO CLOSE, girls. I swear they were having more fun than this photograph suggests.
Abby and I had talked during our practice run the weekend before — and she told me she wanted to sprint across the finish. Girl, I need you to teach me how to look this speedy in finish line photos! Maybe I need pigtails…
Done! These girls are RUNNERS. I was 28 before I ran my first 5k — these kiddos have 20 years on me! I’m so, so proud of Abby and thrilled to have been part of such a fun day for her. We didn’t quite hit our 45 minute goal — but I told her, “That just means we get to do another one!”