This was my new volunteer gig.
I signed up to be a Running Buddy for our local GOTR program.
Here’s what it involved:
The Running Buddy provides encouragement and support to their buddy throughout the course of the season by sharing weekly notes of encouragement. These notes can be emailed or delivered to their buddy’s Head Coach.
The Running Buddy acts as a personal cheerleader for their buddy by attending the practice 5k and the end of season 5k.
The Running Buddy completes the 5k with their buddy and expresses support and enthusiasm for her accomplishment!
Girls on the Run Capital Region is a 10-week afterschool program for girls in grades 3-8 that uses running and physical activities to teach life skills and help girls develop a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.
The 6 sites are located in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties. I volunteered as a running buddy at Elsmere, an elementary school near my home.
This spring’s 10-week season started the week of March 9th, concluded the week of May 18th.
I was paired up with Rebecca who was 10 years old and in 5th grade. That was all I knew about her.
So each week, I wrote her a motivational letter about running and how hard it may seem and about not giving up etc. etc.
The Practice 5K was be held the last two weeks of April at the respective schools.
Mine took place on April 30. That was the day that I finally met Rebecca.
As with girls that age, she was with her friends and didn’t seem too excited to meet me. (I was told later that she was really loved getting my letters.)
We lined up together to run the practice 5K. And then she took off with a friend and the coach like a “bat out of hell.” I caught up with her to chat and found out that she is a runner and she already did the program last fall. That meant that she already had run a 5k and besides that, she was super FAST. (She obviously didn’t need my weekly motivational messages.)
So what I thought would be a slow run/walk had me running as fast as I could to keep up with her.
And I did and she and her friend (who runs track) won.
Then we hung out and had snacks and waited for all the other girls to finish. (I also discovered that the assistant coach was a student at the law school where I work.)
I was a little disappointed. But when she left with her father, she gave me a big hug and said see you next Sunday. That made it worth it.
The Final 5K was held on May 10th in Central Park, Schenectady. This was the Mother’s Day 5K that I was planning to run. I thought that it would be non-competitive so I signed up for a race the day before. (Little did I know that my running buddy would be a speedster. Oy!)
As I have mentioned, I have run this race once before.
I had to arrive early to meet up with 80 or so GOTR participants, their coaches & running buddies for a group photo.
There were 75 girls plus their buddies and their coaches. Everyone was in green but I eventually did find Rebecca.
After we took the group photo, I quickly ditched my green cotton shirt. It was warm and VERY HUMID.
Finally we lined up to start the race.
I wasn’t sure how things would play out. Would she be faster than me or vice versa. Would we stay together??
Because of my very sore, swollen scraped knees (You can get the gory details from yesterday’s race recap), I knew that I couldn’t keep up with her. I said “Wait for me at the finish.” I am sure she was happy enough to run with her friend and the coach.
So the race began and off they ran. I quickly lost sight of them.
I was stuck in the middle of green, many walking etc. It was slow going but that was good.
Soon it thinned out and I was able to run and my shoe came untied. (Do I have a black cloud over my head?)
I tied it and continued on. Then my band-aids were coming off one by one. I finally stopped and took them all off.
The course was pretty varied – around the pond, through the woods, around the lake, etc.
But as I mentioned, it was quite warm so I stopped at the first water stop around mile 1.
Mile 2 was through the woods. I was very careful of the roots and uneven turf so not to have a repeat of yesterday.
Then for mile 3 we ran back in the park. That’s when I caught up with Rebecca and her friend. They had obviously gone out too fast and had run out of steam. I tried to coax them on. “You don’t want this old lady to beat you, do you?” I yelled.
But they were not interested. So I ran on and kept looking back to see if they were behind me.
Finally, I decided to just finish and wait for them at the finish line.
I also was tired and my knees were aching but after one last walk, I sprinted through the finish line.
Over 30 minutes!? WTF?
I haven’t done that since I was recovering from a broken something.
In fact I was faster yesterday when I walked up several hills and fell.
I guess this this old gal has lost her speed. At least, for now.
About a minute or so later, the girls crossed, running as fast as they could.
They were so happy and I gave Rebecca her GOTR finishers medal.
Then I went back inside and bumped in the older ladies that I see all the time. We chatted and headed for the food.
There was an awesome food display. In addition to cookies, bagels, bars, pastries, bananas, chocolate milk, etc.
I didn’t want to eat too much since I was planning to go out for lunch at 3 pm.
We waited around for the awards. Surprisedly, I came in third and actually won something this time.
That made me feel a little better about my performance.
My only goal was to have fun and finish uninjured. And I did!!
mile 1 – 9:45
mile 2- 9:52
mile 3 – 9:25
.14 – 8:51
Garmin time – 30:09
It was not chip timed. They just collected the bottom of the bibs.
I rushed home to get ready to go out for my birthday dinner. I decided that I wanted to go up to Bolton Landing and eat with a view of Lake George.
Afterwards, we drove to our marina and hung out on the deck with friends. All in all, a pretty good day.
Happy Running! Anyone else ever volunteered with a GOTR program? How was your Mother’s Day? Did you race?