If we are blessed, a wake-up call comes in time to make a difference in our lives. My wake-up call came when I turned 49 and I realized that if my health were to follow the health patterns of my father's family, I could be dead in 12 years. Unless I did something to change that path I was looking at potential diabetes and a total lack of heart health. I took a good look at what I was eating and my activity levels, and decided it was time to make a change.
I joined a gym. Yeah, I know. A lot of people do that and it lasts maybe 3-6 months. But I was on a mission, and I got a trainer because I had no idea what to do with all the equipment. I started logging my calories in an app, and parking farther from the entry to the grocery. I walked and walked, but what I wanted to do was run again.
I had run some during my twenties before running was cool and Nike and Addidas were just starting their marketing efforts. I wasn't a natural athlete, but I enjoyed it, and I wanted to get back to that. It took awhile. After all, a girl who has made her living at a computer keyboard for 25 years has to learn how to exercise unused muscles! I made a lot of rookie mistakes - the wrong shoes and form and starting out too hard and too fast led to stress fractures. But once I was past that, and got some help I set my sights on a half marathon. My husband was very supportive and took up cycling again - at first to accompany me on long training runs. Eventually my daughter started running as well, and we went on running vacations together for some mother-daughter time. Since that first half marathon six years ago there a lot a runs and medals under the bridge. I am not fast, I am slow and steady, but I get it done.
I meet a lot of people running and have joined various groups - often we run races together. One of these running friends, a retired Navy officer, suggested I might be interested in volunteering for an organization that focused on empowering young women using running and teamwork as a vehicle. Joe is a coach for the local Girls on the Run chapter and thought I might like to coach as well. I went to a local 5K (3.1 miles) where over 900 local girls were doing their 5K celebration run - to wrap up their semester of training - and he introduced me to the local director.
Shortly after that I applied to volunteer, possibly coach, for Girls on the Run. This is a national non-profit organization that has self supported chapters all over the country. A background check and personal reference were required. If I couldn't coach, I wanted to volunteer in any other way I could. Once the local director contacted me, I realized that the coaching commitment was something I couldn't do based on my work schedule. Since I have some social media experience, they thought it would be a great contribution if I could help them with their YouTube efforts. While I am far from an expert, they had recently lost some marketing volunteers and this is where I could do the most good. I started putting together simple slideshows and videos using material they had stashed away.
I had spent years in Girl Scouts, both as a girl myself, and then with my daughter's troops. GOTR is in some ways like Girl Scouts in trying to help girls and young women develop self confidence and respect for others. GOTR members meet after school regularly and their coaches combine running with fun activities and community service projects to teach these skills. Each semester of participation results in a 5K where the local teams run together and family and friends cheer them on.
While I am not coaching currently due to work commitments, I am very glad I can help this organization in some way. There is a video I did on YouTube for the Fall 2017 GOTR 5K which explains a lot about the program and the event. You can click here to watch it. I hope that at some point I can coach, but in the meantime I will spread the word about the organization and contribute in any way I can.