Guest post: Girls on the Run entry – Girl Power, Fanny Packs, and Jesus. How I Survived My First 5K Fun Run.

Earlier this month, we highlighted an opportunity for Girls on the Run participants to highlight their experience with this great program and have the opportunity to have their post featured on Run Oregon! We narrowed it down to two great entries! Our final winner comes from Tooty Mohr. Thanks Tooty!

I was introduced to the Girls on the Run program through my 11 year old daughter’s elementary school. They received a generous grant through Nike and were looking to sign up 15 girls, tuition free. How could we pass this opportunity up? Having no prior knowledge of what G.O.T.R. was, I read more information about it, talked to our principal, and asked my daughter if she would be interested in joining since this was her last year in elementary school. She said yes, with one condition….I had to sign up to be a Running Buddy.

Just so everyone knows, I said yes without even blinking. But later on, the anxiety crept in. What have I gotten myself into? I run/walk regularly with my dog in the morning, but I had never done an actual 5K with…PEOPLE…in my entire life! Deep breaths. I realized that I was asking my daughter to commit to a 12 week confidence building program, and I was getting nervous about two runs? I had to snap out of it and harness my Girl Power!

I would ask her to tell me about how G.O.T.R. went when I picked her up from her twice a week sessions. Her face would light up when describing their activities, games, and about how the girls supported each other. While doing volunteer work at the school, I would run into her coaches, and I could see how driven and passionate they were about working with the girls. I felt so fortunate that she was able to be a part of this program.

I knew that I would have to start training for our runs, and I fed off of my family’s support. I even got a glorified fanny pack to hold my phone and keys. They’re not just for old people and are extremely handy! Every other morning, I would head out with my dog, turn on my running app, and complete a sweaty run/walk.

When the practice 5K event approached, I felt ready. Of course it fell on the HOTTEST day of the year. Driving to the practice 5K site, I noticed a business sign flash a temperature of 92 degrees fahrenheit! This was a far cry from my 40 degree morning runs. Watching the girls prepare to run in the scorching heat, I put on a brave face. This was NOT about me. I was there to support the girls and my daughter. In my head I was thinking just smile and don’t die. Three laps around Gabriel Park. We could do it. We did do it! It was hard not to feel the excitement in a sea of over 1000 girls and Running Buddies. I patted myself on the back for not dying.

Fast forward to the main event, Portland’s Starlight Run. This was our first official running bib run. The bigness of the event, and the friendliness of everyone involved made me a bit emotional. Seeing Girls on the Run represented with our turquoise t­shirts, all the clever costumes, and runners from every age group and size was incredible. One of our coaches even handmade each girl a “Girl Power” sash. Families came to support their girls. So many hugs and pictures waiting for the run to start. Everyone was ready.

When we were given the go to head to the starting line, my daughter and I were tingling with anticipation. Calls from the bullhorn, being pressed into the streets of downtown Portland, and holding my daughter’s hand. This was a feeling I would not be able to recreate on my own. Then we started jogging. Slowly at first since there was a couple dressed as “Cereal Killers” ahead of us. It was a pace that I was comfortable with. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. I check in with my daughter, and she’s totally grinning. We round the corner and there’s a B.L.T. sandwich running ahead of us. My daughter reaches out and touches the bread. I’m cracking up.

I have my phone in my hand for the entire run. Yes, I had on my fanny pack, but there were so many things I wanted to be able to share with the coaches, my family, and my daughter, the phone stayed in my hand. Most of the run, we’re either jogging up to a cool costume or dropping back so I can take a picture. Towards the middle of the 5K is where our family was stationed to root us on. I completely blew past my son and niece. I think I was concentrating on my running mantra of “Left. Right. Left. Right.” We gave ourselves targets during the run which made it seem to go by quickly. Pass the people dressed as the movie UP. Go around Waldo. Don’t make eye contact with King Tut.

As we got close to the finish, I was pulling from my reserves, my daughter was getting her second wind with the end in sight, and I could see Jesus behind me. There was actually a man dressed as Jesus carrying an actual cross on his back running behind me! I thought to myself there was no way I was being passed by Jesus. I hold hands with my daughter and ask if she’s ready to do this? She nods yes. We round the corner and make our way to the Lincoln High School track. Up ahead is this beautiful glowing light at the end of the tunnel. Was I having an out of body experience? No, it was just the sun setting behind the finish line. We sprint across it hand­in­hand, huge smiles on our faces knowing what we had just accomplished. We beat Jesus.

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