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When Girls Keep Moving Forward: 5k Reflections

Posted Pamela Young on 12/19/2014 |


From late October through mid December, Girls on the Run councils have been holding the celebratory 5ks that mark the conclusion of the Girls on the Run program season. Roughly 64,000 girls participated in one of more than 170 celebratory 5ks this fall—running, walking or leaping across the finish line and proving that big things are possible when you keep moving forward!

What's that like for the girls involved and the councils who work so hard to help get them there? Here's the view from Girls on the Run of Greater New Haven, who just experienced their very first 5k with their first team of girls. Council director Alison Thurber shared these thoughts:

As I write this, it's approaching Tuesday afternoon… that space in time that—for the last 10 weeks—has been occupied by the voices, laughter and energy of our first Girls on the Run team. Truth be told, the coaches are struggling to recalibrate and adjust to life post-GOTR. There’s a certain vacancy that’s starting to set in which only further confirms what we had come to suspect: this program—and the girls who made it their own—were something pretty special.

But crossing the “Finish Line” at 3.1 miles? Here’s the thing: You can’t take that back. A girl can’t ever go back to thinking that she can’t do this, because she JUST DID IT.

This past Sunday our courageous crew of 3rd-5th grade girls completed the 5k run (in partnership with the Annual Christopher Martin’s 5k here in New Haven) that is the culminating event of our inaugural season. A Girls on the Run 5k remains, for thousands of girls participating in Girls on the Run programs across the country, a pivotal experience.

For some of our girls, the sight of the “Mile 1” marker generated the daunting reminder of 2+ miles left to go and lurking doubts in their abilities. The “Mile 2” marker served as possibility. Suddenly there was more mileage behind them than ahead and mounting evidence that they might, indeed, get there. But crossing the “Finish Line” at 3.1 miles? Here’s the thing: You can’t take that back. A girl can’t ever go back to thinking that she can’t do this, because she JUST DID IT. And therein lies the power of Girls on the Run. Weekly practices address issues of self-confidence, teamwork and community responsibility. Team dialogue and running exercises cultivate awareness, challenge assumptions and create opportunities for new patterns of behavior and belief. But the 5K seals the deal! It effectively closes the gap between what a girl once thought “possible” to what a girl has now “realized.”

Girls on the Run plants the seed: “If I can do this, what else am I capable of?” While the program aims to promote life-long fitness, it’s this self-inquiry… “what else am I capable of?”…that is the end game for us.

To our Girls on the Run of Greater New Haven: We are so enormously proud of each of you for putting your whole hearts into this. It was, after all, your hearts that shone brightest of all on race day as each one of you finished the race and then leapt to the sidelines eager to cheer on the next teammate. It was your hearts that I heard whispering, “you did really good” to each other as you exited the scene of your tremendous feat. It was your hearts that made certain every last teammate arriving to the post-5k party had a seat at your restaurant booth so you could celebrate your success together. Yes, you each ran your own spectacular race, but you absolutely shined as a team!

Now, in the afterglow of it all, our wish for each of you is that you continue to explore that question—What else am I capable of?with all the earnest emotion, physical determination and immense courage that you demonstrated all season long and through to the finish line of Sunday’s 5k. And we hope that you stay connected to the Girls on the Run messages of confidence and compassion you learned. Until we meet again…

Congratulations to Girls on the Run of Greater New Haven and to all 225 Girls on the Run councils from coast to coast who put our mission of inspiring joyful, healthy and confident girls into action!

(Photo from GOTR Cinncinati, by PerspectiveZ Creative) 

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