-from Caroline, GOTR Participant at Morehead Elementary
“I didn’t even really know what Girls On The Run was when my mom signed me up. I knew I was pretty fast running the bases in softball but that was pretty much all the running I ever did. I wasn’t sure that running a 5K sounded like much fun, but my best friend was doing it so I knew it couldn’t be too bad.
I remember on the first day, we played this name game, where we had to come up with an adjective that matched the first letter of our names. Immediately, we were all laughing and joking around, deciding what to choose. The coaches were really laid-back, and fun to talk to, always ready to tell a joke or laugh at one of ours. They established right from the beginning that we could talk to them if something was ever wrong. It felt nice to know that they were in my corner! Through all the different games and exercises we did together, the coaches really made GOTR a place where we felt that we could open up to each other and feel supported.
One of the lessons that I remember most is the one where we talked about “plugging in our positive cord.” Our coaches brought these giant pieces of paper, and we traced each other’s bodies, then filled in our shape with positive words and traits about ourselves. I tend to be really hard on myself so after the first couple of ideas I stalled out, but the group started tossing out ideas which made me feel great and I was able to fill up the sheet.
Of course, between all these fun exercises, we were running laps too! Lots and lots of laps… By the time the final race date came around, I was confident that I could run the 5K but still a little nervous since I was going to be running with my Dad for the first time and wasn’t sure I would be able to keep up with him. Dad and I arrived at the race early that morning. We got sprayed with glitter hair gel, huddled with the Morehead GOTR team, and made our way to our starting spot. As we were waiting, the crowds pushed in and my anxiety increased. But finally we got to start running. It started out easy but I was definitely feeling it by the mid-point of the race. Our pace was faster than what I had practiced. I kept going but when I saw the big hill towards the end of the race, I just had to stop and walk for a bit. I was mad at myself that I wasn’t able to keep running but then I remembered what the coaches had taught me about being my own best friend. I took a deep breath, listened to all the cheering crowds and embraced the moment. We started running again and finished strong! I felt like a champ!
That race was almost two years ago and I have faced a lot more “big hills” since then. For example, starting middle school was a major change and seemed a little overwhelming at first but the GOTR lessons have come in handy more than once. This past fall, I ran my first cross-country season, and I was surprised by how much the practices reminded me of GOTR. We formed a lot of new friendships, and continued to push ourselves. The Lakewood Montessori Girls XC team ended up taking first in the county race (we had five finishes in the top 8, including another Morehead GOTR participant!) I continued on after that with state races and surprised myself when I qualified for nationals. It’s amazing what you can do with a positive attitude and a lot of preparation! I’ve learned that this works for me outside of running as well. For example, I never thought I would be willing to stand in front of 50 people on a debate team. But I did it last month, and I’m proud of myself!
Looking back, GOTR really boosted my confidence levels both in school and sports. If I hadn’t had the GOTR experience, I might not have discovered my love of running, and my ability to push myself out of my comfort zone in all sorts of situations. It really is a great program!”
And here is what Caroline’s mom Katherine had to say:
“I have been very pleased with the experiences that both of my daughters have had with Girls on the Run at Morehead Montessori (Caroline Spring 2013 and Amanda Spring 2015). Getting them running and thinking about how to keep their bodies strong and healthy at an early age is great. The topics that are covered are important and the coaches manage to do it in a way that is both fun and personally relevant to each girl. I love that the parents’ book lets me know what they are talking about in each session and suggests ways to continue the conversations at home. For me personally, I’ve found that while my daughters had already heard most of these messages from me over the years, it somehow becomes more true and impactful for them to hear it from an outside source and to have the messages affirmed by their peers in a group setting. The hands-on exercises that they do are great in translating the messages into actual actions that they are able to practice and incorporate into a mental arsenal of tools to help with any future girl drama, self-doubts, and all the other life challenges that come fast and furious during the tweenage years.
For Caroline, GOTR was her first foray into running which has since become a big part of her life. She surprised both herself and me with her running success and I have been very impressed with not only her physical achievements but also how mature she has been with building new relationships with coaches and teammates, setting goals for herself and really pushing herself to meet them, and all the time management required to do this on top of all her other commitments. Amanda of course is much younger as a third grader, but she is thrilled to be running like her big sister and I can’t wait for her to have the opportunity to cross her own finish line next month! I am so glad that they have both had this wonderful growth opportunity!”