Girls On the Run
Today, I ran my 2nd Girls on the Run 5k. It was really nice to see how big the race has grown since I have run in it 2 years go.
Girls on the Run (GoTR) is a national non-profit program for girls in the 3rd through 8th grade with the aim to inspire girls to be healthy and confident through learning how to run. The run program is a 3 month long program. At the end of the program, there is a celebratory 5k race. For many of the girls in the program, it would be their first 5k.
I stumbled into the GoTR because it was promoted in my running club (Brian O’Neill’s Running Club) 2 years ago. I was looking for a 5k to wrap up my spring season, and a small 5k fit the bill. Two years ago, the 5k race was held in a local elementary school. There might have been 200 participants including the girls:
The startline at the 2012 Girls on the Run 5k. If you look very closely, you can spot me in purple shorts 🙂
Today, we had over 2000 people signed up. The crowd was so huge at the startline, I couldn’t even take a pic. Thankfully, I was able to take a shot at the finish to give you an idea how big it was:
What I like about the Race Today:
Despite having 2000 participants, the race went very well. Everything was very organized. The start-line was a bit small for a big crowd, so it was interesting trying to get through the first 0.25 of a mile. But once we were half a mile in, it had thinned out very quickly.
It was so precious to see the girls decked out in capes. They seemed to have a strong trusting relationship with their coaches, as many of them ran with the coaches the whole time. It was really fun to see parents participating as well. Many young ladies were running with their parents.
I overheard in the startline from one of the parents that she was really thankful the program existed. Before participating in the program, her daughter did not show any interest in sports. Through the creative curriculum, the young lady found herself actually enjoying running.
So How did I do?
With the lack of serious speed work and warmer weather, I did not go in to the race with much expectation. Then I saw the local sisters (13 years old and 11 years old) in the bathroom, I knew who would be the winner of the race today. So I took the opportunity to play with different racing strategy. I missed the call to line up at the startline, so I was lined up in the middle of the pack. Given the great turnout, it was quite congested in the first 1/4 miles. Instead of freaking out and weaving in and out, I just took the opportunity to aim for even pacing.
I could have studied the course map a bit better beforehand. I was expecting I would be following someone. Well, after 0.5 miles in, I lost my pack, and was slightly behind from the sisters, so I was just going blind on the course. Part of the course was through a winding neighborhood street, so for the longest time, I thought I was lost. Thankfully, the course was very well marked with cones.
Although it was a cooler and less humid morning in Houston (68 deg F), by 8am, it was getting slightly hot. Interestingly, I also felt that we were facing a relatively strong headwind most of the way. So I just trusted my internal clock and locked myself into a sub-threshold pace.
The crowd was awesome. Everywhere I turn, there were folks cheering. Even the officers who were serving as course marshalls were cheering me on!
Thankfully it was a 5k. So as my Garmin beeped mile 3, I saw the finish line right in front of me and dug deep to get the BON Racing Team sprint.
I looked at my splits on my Garmin:
6:59, 7:02, 6:59, and then 5:46 for the last 0.14 miles
Not too shabby. Later validating the chip team, my official time was 21:38 (not a PR), but solid enough to place behind the two sisters (who finished in very amazing times of 18 minutes something and 20 minutes and change respectively). Official results can be found here.
Part of the reward was a very cute medal. My friends took this photo of me with the cute backdrop.
This is one of the rare races that don’t have awards. I actually like that about the race. It truly fosters the notion that everyone is a winner. It also helps motivates the young ladies to support each other.
I ran this race because I really like what this organization stands for – not for more shiny medals/plaques. After all, today is about the instilling confidence in our future generations.
I am giving the organizers and volunteers an A+ for a great race.
If you are interested in learning more about the program, here’s the national website:
Totally unrelated: I spent my morning getting sweaty, I went home, cleaned, had breakfast, did laundry, and got ready for my last symphony show for this season:
I am really fortunate to live in a city where I could be active and cultural at the same time 🙂
Also unrelated – Happy Birthday to the Hill Sgt!! 🙂
Have you run in a small 5k before? Do you prefer large races or small races? What attracts you to signing up for a race (the prizes? the cause? or the venue?)