Friday, May 25, 2007

Unexpected Graces

Last weekend I participated in the Baltimore Girls on the Run event that, if you had a chance to catch this post you know it was a wonderful experience for me. I received a lovely note from Molly Barker, the founder of GOTR, soon after my blog post. Her story reminds me of the type of person I hope to be -- confident, driven and passionate about her work. A woman with kind of lady.

So, lo and behold, today posted a great article by Molly herself on the GOTR program. It's a great read -- you should check it out. What is so touching is the letter she includes in the article, shamelessly pulled from here for your reading pleasure, from a hesitant participant. The letter goes like this...

Before I started Girls on the Run, I could hardly run five laps around the school's field. I had never been a runner like some kids were. I would see kids run around the track, and I would say, I wish I could do that.

One day when I was at my friend's house, she started talking about Girls on the Run. I listened eagerly...but I hesitated to sign up because, well, maybe this just wasn't the right time. Sometime in the third quarter of the school year, I got a letter saying that there were still more spaces left in Girls on the Run, and that I could sign up. So I did.

It turns out that Girls on the Run was fun. I saw some kids from my grade, and we got to run together, with our coaches encouraging us every step of the way.

On my first day, I ran six laps! Now, for some people that might sound like the easiest thing in the world, but for ME it wasn't! Soon enough, I was running a mile. (Eight laps around our field is a mile.) My farthest yet has been 12 laps, which is a mile and a half. I'm so proud of myself for having run this far. Before Girls on the Run, never, in my wildest dreams, would I have been able to run more than a mile.

I'm kind of upset that I didn't sign up earlier. I'm going to keep running and trying to go farther. My goal this year is to be able to run at least half of the Girls on the Run 5k, and walk the other half. Next year I plan to run the 4k and walk one.

Girls on the Run has taught me many lessons, but the most important thing it has taught me is to have confidence in myself and to never give up.

(signed, Grace)

"To have confidence in myself and to never give up."

That bears repeating, no?

And sounds familiar -- at least to me. What feels like eons ago I could barely run a few blocks without walking or bike more than 5 miles without crying uncle. And I had never heard of the Ironman.

Funny how life goes.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of introspection on my long rides. I never wear headphones (and I don't buy the theory that wearing just one earbud is safe!), so my rides have become my time to roll things around in my head. Plans for the future, grocery lists and emotional inventories. And I've been thinking an awful lot about hope, and where we find it and how it is so easily lost. And I've been planning on posting some of these reflections here, in a way a follow up to my more melencholic piece on shame. Another window, so to speak.

But I think that can wait for a little while. I think that Grace may have said enough on the topic in her own way. From the mouthes of babes, yes?

This weekend, hundreds of girls across the country are participating in large and small events, many of whom are doing their first running event in their lives.

And likely most of my readers are also out doing these very same races. (I know for a fact that many will be toeing the line with fellow triathletes and runners at the Bolder Boulder run on Monday!) If you see a pink tee-shirt and a budding GOTR athlete, take a moment to say hello. Tell them how proud you are of their efforts. Give them a big high-five and maybe sign their shirt.

Remind them of what many of us already know -- that we can often do amazing things if we simply trust ourselves and try.


B Bop said...

I suppose Molly and yourself ARE the same type of person. Great story.

Also, you have been tagged. Check my blog for details :-)

Cheaper Than Therapy said...

Another great post. I love reading your blog, you always capture and convey things so well.

Tony said...

Very inspiring stuff. I am in the same boat. I figure it is all about baby steps. My last time out it was run 1:20 then walk 2:40. Tomorrow I will ajust it by ten seconds each way, so it will be 1:30 run then 2:30 walk. I am still working towards breaking the 15 min per mile barrier. Sad huh?

Spokane Al said...

Very nice post and a great, great story. And although you will not see me out on at the races in a pink tee shirt, I can relate.