I rose early this morning to discover that the weather gods had furnished the second day of a perfect weekend. It seems summer, at long last, has finally arrived.
I joined a good portion of the North Lake Tahoe community at Truckee River View Sports Park for the twice-yearly Girls on the Run 5K. Today I played the role of volunteer rather than runner, and loved every minute of it.
Girls on the Run is an international non-profit running program for girls in 3rd-8th grades designed to promote healthy living. I first became involved with Girls on the Run back in 2008 when our Sierra chapter opened. I volunteered for a season as a “SoleMate,” which is basically a mentor for one of the girls in the program. I partnered up with an adorable 3rd-grader named Lucy. I attended practices where we had discussions, played games and ran. The girls learn to make healthy choices in life, how to pace themselves in a run, and how to believe in themselves and support each other no matter anyone’s abilities. (Check out this essay on fearlessness, written by 3rd-grader Hannah of the Chicago chapter.) They train for a season, and the program culminates in the big 5K race. The SoleMate runs with her girl throughout the entire 5K so no girl is left running alone, and Lucy and I had a blast together. (Is there anything cuter than a 3rd-grader out there going for it?)
This year my schedule didn’t allow me to attend weekly practices, so I couldn’t be a SoleMate, but I volunteered at today’s 5K so I could still be a part of the team. You’ll never guess what I did. I did hair!
Yes, Goody (you know, the company that makes all those hair bands and stuff?) sponsored a “Happy Hair Station.” I spent the morning brushing, braiding and spraying colored glitter. I have to confess, it was totally awesome. My inner-feminist kind of wants to rankle at the assumption that all little girls want their hair done, but I just couldn’t get irritated about it at all. Everyone was too busy having fun, and I sprayed color in the hair of a few boys and moms, too. (I couldn’t convince any dads, but I guess that’s their problem. They don't know how so many ultrarunning men like to paint their toenails.) Next time I do this event, I am absolutely requesting to work at the Happy Hair Station.
The day is definitely more celebration than race. There is also a bouncy castle (of course!) and face painting. The entire group gathers for a warm-up, and the girls, coaches and SoleMates do a hip-hop dance that they all learned in practices while the music thumps through the speakers.
After the race, there are more hairdo's, a picnic, and an excellent raffle.
If I ever get the chance, I’m definitely signing up as a SoleMate again. But until that time, spending the day at the 5K is a great way to be part of the action and support girls as runners. Congratulations to all the girls!