Run Girl Run benefits girls' self-esteem, fitness
Guest post by Janel Pettit
I have to start off with a great social networking story. I met with some friends at a Tweetup last Tuesday and we got to talking about the challenges and victories of running. I’m so glad that we did, because later that day I got a DM (direct message on Twitter) from my friend, Mary Rarick, asking if I’d like to write a blog post for Run Girl Run. “Of course!” What a great way to participate in a local half marathon and do one of my favorite things; share stories about great people doing great things.
So after a night with little sleep, I eagerly got up to start my assignment Sunday morning. And although I ran my first half marathon in 1999, this was my first one since breaking my ankle on Mt. Hood on New Year’s Day; about time I got back out there!
When we arrived the parking lot at the Sleep Country Amphitheater was already filling up. We were greeted by a group of upbeat volunteers full of enthusiasm and I could already tell how well organized this event would be. I also learned that our parking attendant donated chocolate milk and ice cream from his company, Medosweet Farms, so even more motivation to finish!
I met a group of runners unloading from the car next to ours, and asked them what brought them out to Run Girl Run. They started up this year as a running friend’s club and thought this would be a perfect event to put their newfound fitness program into action.
As we approached the staging area, we were met with bustling to get volunteers and vendors into place, some snappy race-day music by Pink who rightly sang “Let’s Get This Party Started!” and more friendly and enthusiastic people helping everyone get checked in. It was fun to see all the pink Run Girl Run t-shirts popping up!
I tried to meet the event organizer, Andrea Moore of Moxie Runners but she was multi-tasking details at lightning speed. She was clearly the reason for the great organization and race-day experience, before we even passed the starting line.
I met a running mother-daughter team and asked them why they chose this event. Terri said she hadn’t raced before and hoped to finish the 5K “alive” (she did!) and that she wanted to participate in this event that supported such a worthwhile cause. After set-up expenses (all staff are volunteer), a portion of event proceeds will benefit Girls On The Run. Terri’s daughter, Cassie, said she wanted to run with her mom (something I thought was another great outcome of this run.)
It was great to see some of my Tweetup friends setting up a refreshment tent for runners, and some getting up much earlier than usual for a Sunday morning to help out!
Getting closer to start time, runners had a chance to hear from Nancy Fleck of Girls On The Run. This is a mentorship program for girls, ages 8 – 11 to participate in esteem-building activities before they enter their teenage years with more peer pressure, and personal decisions to make. We next heard from Andrea who gave volunteers and runners sincere and heartfelt thanks for participating in the first Run Girl Run event. Andrea began to break down saying “it’s a good thing this is a girl’s event!” but to everyone there, it was obvious that Andrea put her heart and soul into making this a memorable day and positive experience for everyone.
So with race chips fastened to our shoe laces, we approached the start line at 8 a.m. on a spectacular sunny morning and kicked-off the race to U2’s “It’s a Beautiful Day.”
It was great to start on some nice downhill stretches, but any runner knows that what goes down goes back up again, and that’s exactly what happened. But really, no matter as runners chatted with each other and got into the groove of a 5K or half marathon.
We were soon cheered on by more enthusiastic volunteers in all the right places, with ample water and porta-potty stops (which anyone who’s run Hood to Coast knows is vital!). The rolling course took us through some of the absolutely beautiful scenery that we are blessed with here in the Northwest. It was a nice treat to be veered off the highway, and along the Salmon Creek Trail for several miles.
I was impressed with all of the encouragement I heard between runners, and that was never more apparent than the last three miles when we got to go back up those hills…in much warmer weather! (But I’ll never complain about a sunny day.) I appreciated and enjoyed the comradery.
The finish line! That’s a great thing for a runner to see. And really, the best part of the race when you’re working hard, but nearly done when you can savor that sense of accomplishment. As I was handed my medal, I recalled Andrea saying at the beginning of the race that we could win a medal by running together today, and leave with some new friends. I know I did.