Saturday's 5k didn't actually involved a lot of running, per se, but the distance was covered nonetheless, and it was an official race....so I'm counting it as mileage :).
I may have mentioned some time back that I was selected to be a coach for Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run is a 12-week program teaching self-respect and healthy lifestyles to pre-teen girls, and at the end of the 12-weeks, we run a 5k. This program is pretty huge, spanning across the country in 173 cities.
It was an interesting 12-weeks, if I had to sum up the experience in one word. I coached at a low income school...meaning, all the girls involved were on a scholarship and did not have to pay the $180 to be involved; the money was donated by a sponsor and none of us coaches knew who this was. Not that that mattered, but when we wrote letters thanking our sponsor for the opportunity to participate, I just had them write "Dear Sponsor," and left it at that. Hopefully the notes of thanks will end up in the right hands; the girls were truly grateful, once they knew how much the program cost. But the season wasn't without it's challenges and I was reminded how appreciative I am to be DONE with pre-teen girls at my house ;).
Nevertheless, we overcame each obstacle unscathed and all but one of the girls who were involved in the program came out on a chilly Saturday morning to run the season-end 5k.
I actually was a nervous wreck thinking I might lose her somewhere along the course; I tried to hold her hand as much as she'd let me and thankfully we stayed together the entire way. Phew!
We started off with the masses and quickly found our "pace"...of about 6:30 min/mile. As much as we tried to teach the girls the idea of running slow to run longer, the concept was pretty much non-existent. They'll learn one day I suspect (unless they read all my past race reports reading, "I started out too fast", of course), so I just kept reeling her in and we were able to cover the first mile in about 10:30. Not bad for a 9 year old who's never ran a solid mile before. But we sort of fell apart when she found out there was no water station parked precisely on the 1-mile sign and we came to a screeching halt. She was "out of energy", she stated, and firmly announced we'd walk until we found water. Unfortunately, that didn't come until close to mile 2, and we pretty much did walk this whole way.
At first I was thinking, "WHAT????", the competitive freak I
We talked about a lot of things during our time on the road together and I got to learn a lot from her, like what an exceptional woman her mother is and how much adversity she has had to overcome in her very short 9-years of life. I even figured out how to smile and have fun (even stopping to look at the ducks in the pond at one point - in a RACE - and I was A-okay with it!). We crossed the finish line in 49:27 and I was actually a little choked-up.
I hoped she was moved in some way by the experience; she was a little distracted by post race chocolate chip pancakes and hot chocolate to get many comments about the race out of her afterwards....but as we were leaving for the day she told me, "I loved racing, I can't wait to do another one."
My heart melted.....I found a new runner. That is worth every single micro-second I spent with these girls during the past 12 weeks and I hope by completing this program and the big 5k race that they come away with a desire for a fit lifestyle and inspiration to take good care of their bodies through running or other forms of exercise. I hope my little friend has many more 5ks and beyond in her life (and I hope the race has plenty of water stops); I can't express in one blog post how good it feels to find a new member of our running community at such a young age. If any of you have the opportunity to be a coach for such an incredible program and you find a little runner out of the process, I promise you it will change your life.
Moving on to 5k #2....
In my continued quest to find a little of my long-lost speed, I signed up for an all-women's 5k on Mother's Day. How cool is that, lots of ladies doing what we love to do - run - on the one day of the year to celebrate women?!? Well, celebrate moms, but moms are women so whatever. I was all over that, but come race day morning, another chilly and drizzly day, I wondered if I should just sleep in and skip the thing....I was tired.
But went I did. I've never regretted any race I've ever done, even the worst of the worst ones, and I knew I wouldn't regret this one either....once I got out of my nice, warm covers. Besides, I loved the shirt - a rarity for me - and I couldn't pass it up :). I'm a huge fan of cotton women's cut t-shirts; they are my daily summer staple paired with my trusty Nike Tempo shorts. What more does a girl need to wear! And this one was so cool!
I don't think I've ever done an all-women's race.....if I have, it was back in the days before old age erased all those memories, so I was sort of looking forward to no testosterone tearing up the course. I actually had a really bad week of running last week; my body did not recover quickly from that speedier-than-thought half marathon the weekend before so I had no idea what I was capable of and that worst-ever Pi-mile 5k a few weeks ago was still fairly fresh in my head. I was a bit worried that the course had no water and I actually considered carrying my hand-held bottle...until I looked like dork central when no one else around me had one. I quickly stashed it in the bushes by the start line and prayed I wouldn't pass out due to dehydration. I thought maybe I should just run it casually so I wouldn't get so thirsty.
Hum....I believe it was only yesterday I was giving my little Girls on the Run girl the "No one NEEDS water in a 5k" pep talk. Go, Jill!!!
This wasn't a big race by any normal Colorado race standards. We here in the healthiest and fittest state in the country have some pretty spectacular speedy runners....none of which are me, and none of which were at this race. In typical Jill 5k fashion, I took out too fast (duh!!!) but I really didn't care. This was an out and back course so I could easily see my placement....and I found myself in uncharted territory: 5th place. I prayed I could hold on for dear life, but shortly after mile 2, I started to get the dreaded lead legs (duh!) and one runner passed me in my slow crawl to to the finish. But, as we climbed the last small hill in the final quarter mile, I passed someone else and reclaimed my previous 5th place position and finished there with a 23:51. Almost 2 minutes faster than the Pi-mile 5k a few weeks earlier.
Well, okay, the course was short, which is a miracle since every race I've done this year has been long (including the Carlsbad Marathon since I got lost and added an extra 3/4 of a mile) ... but even if I rounded the pace to the official 5k mark, I knocked off well over a minute.
I like progress!
I took my 5th place overall medal, gift certificate to another race, and a mini bundt cake win home....
....and devoured every last drop of that cake. Gluten and all. All by myself. A Happy Mother's Day weekend to me, indeed!