On May 14th my 12-year-old cousin Vivi did her first 5K race through the Girls on the Run program, and I happily served as her running buddy. Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization for grade-school girls that encourages healthy lifestyles and builds confidence. Vivi participated in this program for several weeks leading up to the run, and her training paid off. We finished the 5K in 27 minutes–not bad for her first rodeo!
My mom and I arrived at “Inspiration Village” (held in the fields behind the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge) around 7:30 that morning. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and it was a beautiful day for a run…albeit, a little hot.
Various schools and organizations had tents set up for their girls in the program. A DJ was playing on a stage. There were several stations for the girls (and boys) to get decorated for the run, including colored hair spray and bandannas with individualized expressions like “just keep running” or “sunshine.” We also got buttons, and someone was selling tutus (but for the record, I made mine myself).
Vivi, her sister G, and my aunt and uncle arrived shortly after us. There was a station for spectators to decorate posters, so my mom and G made some while me and Vivi got ready. Then at 8:30, there was a Zumba warm-up in “Balloon Field.” This activity was for everyone, so my mom, G, Vivi, and I all did Zumba. The girls were clearly embarrassed at my mom and I getting into the dances, which just made it more fun for us (hehe).
After the warm-up, I wasn’t just warm–I was already sweating! I hoped I could keep up my energy and have a good race; I didn’t want to let Vivi down. We lined up near the back of the race corral, and at 9 am we were off.
I explained to Vivi that it’s important to go slow at first, to avoid burnout. We weaved around walkers and slower runners, keeping a slow and steady pace. When we reached the first water station at mile 1, I encouraged her to go a little faster. She seemed okay, but she didn’t want to go faster. Not wanting to push her too hard, I kept the slow and steady pace.
As we ran, I explained some of my racing tips and tried to keep her motivated. At mile 3, when I was telling her to go her fastest, she wanted to slow down. When the finish line came into view, she wanted to–*gasp*–walk! She complained about a stitch in her side. But I refused to hear it.
We reached the final stretch, and I told her to sprint. Out of nowhere she starts sprinting full speed ahead, leaving me in the dust and finishing a good 20 seconds faster than me. That stitch in her side must have miraculously disappeared!
I was very proud and impressed by Vivi, but I have a sneaking suspicion she could have done better. Next year I want G and my mom to run with us, and I’m not letting anyone slow down.
After the race, my brother and sister-in-law, who were visiting from out-of-state, came out with my niece Sophie. There were pancakes, fruit cups, music, and a photo booth at the post-race party. It was fun dancing with little Sophie, who just turned a year old.
This is a fun race for anyone of any age. Everything about it was adorable. I had a great time with my family, and I can’t wait to do this one next year!