Tuesday, June 12, 2012

soLs: you can do it!

Slice of Life Stories hosted

Running makes me tired and sweaty! 
Running makes me sore!
Running makes me hate running!  

It was the usual summer day in Chicago on Saturday.  Sunny and hot.  We were ready, waiting at the starting line.

This was my second year participating in Girls on the Run.  I was a running buddy for a fifth grade student.  It's an amazing program that empowers girls to believe in themselves, develop self-respect and be healthy.  The girls met for 12 weeks learning about physical as well as emotional, mental and character development and trained for a 5K.

Me?  I did nothing.  Zero, zip, zilch. (Bad idea.)

Six thousand (yes, 6000!) girls walking, jogging, and running with their buddies, teachers, moms, aunts, or dads encouraging them every step of the way.  There were girls and running buddies of all shapes and sizes. We spotted a girl using a walker with one running buddy beside her and another right behind her with her wheelchair.

I made eye contact with my running buddy.
"Wow," I said. "That's just awesome."  My heart strings tugged.
"It's really inspirational." M. replied.  She gets this.

We walked.
We jogged to the next turn.
We walked some more.

I listened.
I followed my running buddy's lead.
I encouraged.

Then, there was a stretch in the second mile that I thought. I. Was. Going. To. Die. (Exaggeration, of course.) My head was hanging low staring at the concrete that my feet were pound-pound-pounding on.  I was huffing and I was puffing.  I was willing myself to keep moving, to pick up my heavy feet.

I. Can't. Do. This. I thought.

"Come on Mrs. Nero!  You can do this!" M. shouted.  I picked up my head and smiled.

"I so needed to hear that." I huffed back at my running buddy.

And we did it!  It wasn't a record-breaking time, but the goal was to complete the 5K.

However, I did beat my time of 50 minutes last year. We completed the 5K in 46 minutes and 59 seconds.  For me, all without training.  Imagine if I did a little training.  This was my "summer kickoff."  Two days into summer and two days of working out!

I'm so proud of all the girls and their running buddies.  You GIRLS Rock!

Running makes me feel stronger!
Running makes me healthy!
Running makes me believe!


  1. You go Girl! What an great way to inspire girls of this age who are so self-conscious of the way they look and how they appear to others. The young girl with a walker must have been a great inspiration to everyone - it brings tears to my eyes. How special these girls are and their walking buddies - to take the time to care about each other. Thanks for these inspiring words. I won't be "running" with you, but we can do a lot of walking in the next couple of weeks. Love ya, M

  2. What a great program for these girls. And how wonderful that you did it along with her. Kudos to you and the 6,000 participants!

  3. Girls can do anything. I like how your roles were reversed during the run, M giving you encouragement. Sweet how the poem changed also.

  4. I love the concept of this run!! What a great way to empower girls! Congratulations on making it.

  5. Proud of you and all of the girls..it is a very special program...my daughter is going to try and bring this program to a small town in Equador; I'm very excited for the girls that can be impacted. xo nanc

  6. Good for you, Michelle & that you let your buddy take the lead is awesome. We do this program at our school too-very popular & special.

  7. Yes we did did it! I too am using this as my kick-off..oh wait that's right I have the triathlon in about a week! YIKES! It's amazing what we put our minds to do and then do it! Girl Power!!!

  8. Michelle,
    I love that your buddy inspired you! I was thinking about how our students, coworkers, family members and even our own children inspire us to do great things. I went to the Roadrunner Marathon, an annual event now, to cheer on my friend Anna! It is so amazing when you see the sea of runners coming toward you, all running for various reasons! Congrats on bettering your time from last year! Do you plan to keep training now?

  9. Haha, love that your buddy encouraged you! How sweet! This is such an inspiring idea -- I hope those girls (and their buddies!) take on life with newfound strength and courage now! Way to go!

  10. I loved your poems at the beginning and end. Such a change of heart! Bravo to you for being a buddy and surviving. Love empowering girls!

  11. Go, Michelle, Go! :) So glad you finished (we knew you don't give up!) and in record time!!!!

  12. I just took my first run of the summer too. I feel your pain! And mine was a simple jog around a local pond, not a 5k. And I didn't have 6,000 witnesses. I am impressed with what you took on and accomplished!

    My favorite part is the contrast in your opening and closing. Your choices there made it so that as a reader I went on the journey with you. I felt your hesitation beforehand and your inspiration at the end.

  13. Michelle,
    You ran right into summer. Congratulations on completing the event, and a high five so running with M. You both needed each other.

  14. Michelle,
    You ran right into summer. Congratulations on completing the event, and a high five so running with M. You both needed each other.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.