Today on the Lifeline, our fit and fabulous art director Heather Loomis shares how fun it was to be her niece's running buddy with a great program called Girls on The Run!
Last year around August my niece Keeley, a 4th grader at Highlands Elementary, asked me if I wanted to be her running buddy as she trained for her first 5K race. Of course I did! There was just one thing holding up the show – I was already six months pregnant and at the time of race day, I would be expecting my daughter. I don’t think my doctor would have approved, so I gladly took a raincheck to be her running buddy next time.
Now a year later, I finally got to run right next to and cheer on my favorite 4th grader! It was such a great and worthwhile experience. We did it through a program called Girls on the Run, which is available in a handful of Seminole County schools.
It was really easy to get started. I just filled out the volunteer form to be a running buddy and did a background check. Then the volunteer coordinator emailed me to ask who my niece was so they could pair me with her. If you don’t know a girl in the program, but still want to be a running buddy, they are happy to pair you with someone. I had to commit to run with my buddy one month before the race then sign-up for the Track Shack Lake Eola 5K on December 3rd.
Being a newbie runner myself (I started about 5 years ago), I was so excited to share this experience with Keeley and other girls and women that enjoy running. The challenge of a race is exciting and the atmosphere is electric. (I am not a morning person, but I continue to sign-up for races because I love the experience so much.)
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The chilly morning of the race we headed to Lake Eola, Keeley in the back seat, telling us she was nervous and excited. Once we got there, we found our group. The girls were all pumped and sprayed their hair with color, painted their faces, and put on rainbow striped socks. Then we headed to the start line with hundreds of other runners and we were off! We ran almost the whole race, weaving in between and around walkers and slower runners. About 30 feet from the finish line, Emily (Keeley’s mom) yelled “40 seconds!” Keeley and I sprinted our hearts out, beating her time from last year. It was high-fives and smiles all around as we took pictures. I couldn’t be more proud of Keeley and all her hard work. I can’t wait to cheer her on in her next run. She’s moving up to a 4-mile run!