December 19, 2012

A new medal: GOTR 5k

On Saturday, I ran in the Santa Claus Shuffle 5k with Girls on the Run of South Hampton Roads.  I was signed up to be a running buddy with elementary school-aged girls.  I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but was really looking forward to this.  I've been interested in being a more permanent GOTR volunteer for a while, but unfortunately my work schedule isn't flexible enough for me to be a coach during their after-school sessions (most start between 2 and 3pm).

When I woke up Saturday morning, I immediately knew it would be a chilly race, judging by the thick layer of frost on the ground in my yard.  I hadn't planned my race outfit in advance and was silently praying for my compression tights to be clean - luckily, they were!  I grabbed a tech shirt and my Wine and Dine jacket and suited up.  I had my pre-race ritual breakfast of English Muffin with peanut butter and then hopped in my car.  Once I actually got outside and realized how cold it was, I ran back in the house to grab gloves and a fleece headband...I was so glad I did!

All ready to go!
This race was relatively close to my house and I'd been to this area for another race, so I knew where to park and all of that.  I quickly picked up my bib and race packet (complete with a cute, long-sleeved navy t-shirt) and found the GOTR area.  I found the sign for my school assignment and noticed that the group wasn't there yet, so I headed back to my car to leave my goodie bag there.

I came back and met up with the group, introducing myself to the coaches and girls.  The coaches immediately asked me if I was fast, to which I replied "maybe."  I'm not totally familiar with pacing for 7-9 year old girls.  They paired me up with the two fastest girls in the group, one who they swore would be a track star someday.  The pressure was on!  The coaches handed out wings to the girls to make them "fly" through the race.  We stretched, cheered and headed to the start.  Because of the vast number of GOTR at the race, we had our own wave for starting at the back of the pack.

Before we knew it, we were off and moving.  My girls wanted to hold hands, which turned out to be very helpful in the beginning of the race as we wove through the pack.  They wanted to go fast and not really knowing their pace, I acquiesced.  We made it to mile 1 with relative ease and I could sense the girls were a bit tired.  They wanted to take periodic walk breaks and we got into a routine of identifying a landmark when we would run again.  The race wound through the streets of an older neighborhood, and many of the houses were beautifully decorated.   Residents dotted the course to cheer for the runners.  We admired the decorations and I tried to offer periodic encouragement throughout the race.
Source - GOTR South Hampton Roads FB page
As we turned off the seawall toward the finish, the girls started really moving.  Once we got closer to the finish, we saw the crowd of parents and the school GOTR coordinator cheering and waving for us.  I know that gave the girls an extra boost to cross the finish.  We celebrated with hugs and high fives.  We grabbed water and bananas at the finish line and double backed to go meet up with the cheering group.  The girls were adamant that we needed to get back to the group quickly so they could cheer for their friends - melt my heart.

After the last girl finished, the coordinator had a "medal ceremony" at the finish line.  Each girl was presented with her medal by her parents or a coach.  Then there were photos taken of each family and a group photo.  And they even gave me a medal, much to my surprise (and delight!).  While I may not have PR'ed this race or run hard, this medal may be one of my favorites.  I know I'll treasure the memories of running with those sweet girls for a long time.
A new medal!
If you have a GOTR organization in your community, I highly recommend getting involved, even if just supporting a race day activity like I did.



  1. That is so sweet!! I know those girls will always remember that day as well and the super awesome runner who took time out of her busy schedule to run a race with them. Sounds like a rewarding experience overall!

    1. Thanks Karen - it really was a great day!

  2. I love girls on the run, looks like you had a blast!

    1. Thanks Heather! Yes, great organization - I'm so glad I found an opportunity to get involved.

  3. Only our the people that were signed up for GOTR and it really upset some of their siblings who did the race. Wish they would have handed out more at our race!

  4. Isn't GOTR just the best? I did my first 5k with them this month and now I'm considering being a coach! Amazing organization.

    Also, love your blog theme. Disney is the first half I ever did, and I've done two others there. Can't wait to go back for my next one. It's just so much fun!

    1. Alicia, I'm trying to figure out if I could be a coach...would love to, just have to figure out my work hours.
      YAY! We (obviously) love the Disney races - they are the best!!