Arizona Girls on the Run held their 5k race yesterday, and it was an all-around amazing day.
I rowed crew in high school and ran marathons in college. I’m not a morning person, but I love waking up at dawn, putting on my race clothes, and eating something high-carb. I love preparing to do something difficult and then actually doing it, putting in everything I have no matter how badly it hurts. I love the excitement of races, the cheering crowds, and the triumph after crossing the finish line. It turns out that I also really, really love getting to share that experience with my girls.
Most middle school girls don’t get exposed to distance running, so my team definitely had no idea what they were getting themselves into. But they trained from February to May, and along the way they became a really tightly-knit group of confident runners. Every one of them made it to the race on the opposite side of the Phoenix Valley, despite vicious family drama, broken cars, and some race-day anxiety. One girl ended up on crutches and came anyway to support the team. Part of the program is that they are required to run with an adult running-buddy, and we had more than enough amazing teachers from school willing to volunteer their time, legs, and registration-fee money.
While they raced, I got to stand around and play the Proud Mom role, cheering, taking pictures, and handing out medals as they crossed the finish line. It was a beautiful celebration of hard work and accomplishment, and I’ve never seen a group of kids so delighted with themselves. Afterward, we went out for pizza to celebrate, along with various parents, siblings, and friends. It was amazing.
In general, leading extracurriculars is a pretty poor deal for teachers. It’s tons of extra work, plus a huge time sacrifice, for a hilariously small and heavily-taxed stipend. The only reason it’s worth it is the end, when you get to see kids become people they didn’t know they could be. Not gonna lie, that part is pretty cool.