The wicked cold and snow of the winter has given way to the appearance of spring. Finally! All across Nebraska, young ladies ages 8-13 have been working. Working towards a goal that comes to fruition tomorrow. Girls On The Run is a program designed to enhance their self esteem, team working abilities, provide support and encouragement….and train them to run a 5K. With such a brutal winter, training for such a race has been a challenge. After the school hallways have cleared, their pony tails have been seen swinging up and down the halls. Shouts of encouragement echo throughout, and sweaty brows and sweet and innocent chatter and giggles have passed me by as I watch in wonder and amazement at the talent. I have listened and looked on at coaches who murmur words of advice and who have poured their hearts and time into these young ladies over the past several months. As the weather began to improve, they moved their training outdoors. Pasty, white legs braved the spring chill and wind to run laps around the school block, and huddled at the finish to encourage each girl who finished the course. One of these girls who has been working away is my brown-eyed, 10 year old daughter. This is her first ever 5K race. When I asked her to consider the challenge of this training program, I made a promise to her. I promised I would be her run buddy, and would run the final race with her. Then winter. And more winter. And more winter. My gravel roads around home have been frozen solid, with knee deep ice and slop. The winds blew a gale, snow falling every weekend when I laced up my shoes. Then Influenza, Rota Virus, a slip on the ice, and plantar fasciitis. Two weeks ago, I looked at myself in the mirror, and told myself that I was a failure. I had failed in my promise to my girl. The race would soon be upon us, and I was far from ready. Last week I woefully told her that I had failed her. I told her that her daddy would swap places with me, being that he is in far superior shape. I didn’t want her to be embarrassed by my performance. Her face fell. She began to cry. “Mommy, I want YOU to do it with me. I don’t care if we have to walk.” Then came my tears. Somehow in my mind, I had decided that Girls on The Run meant that I had to show my daughter that I could be fit and fast and make a “show” of my own accomplishments. And yes, that is true. I know many women who have been doing their own training, because they also want to show their daughters and other young ladies that they can set lofty goals and accomplish them. But my daughter extended grace to me, that I didn’t extend to myself. She knows that I spent my free time this winter remodeling a kitchen, nursing my sick babies, volunteering my time, and working to save the money for her running shoes. All she wanted, was to do this together, tomorrow. So I will set aside my pride and put on my sassy running shoes and roomy capris. I will grab the gold bond, a big water bottle, and pack my smile and positive inner voice. And, I will join the ranks of thousands of girls and run buddies across Nebraska tomorrow morning as we set out to spread a positive message about health and physical and emotional wellness. Thank you Girls On The Run for reminding me that I don’t have to be a “winner” to set a good example for my daughter. Sometimes the best examples are set just by showing up, and keeping up with a promise made, even if it takes longer than planned and hoped. Congratulations to all those who will show up tomorrow across this beautiful state. I will see you all at the finish line!

I Pledge This I declare: As I trudge the road Of pain-filled souls with a heavy load— A pilgrim lad, with staff in hand, plodding along through the shifting sand; A patriarch, with flowing beard, troubled o’er the ones he’s reared— Eyes fixed intent on a Sacred Page, truth filled with hope for his ripe old age. A woman bent with the toil of years, saying her prayers through a veil of tears; A mother grieved o’er life’s hard start with a wayward son who has ached her heart; A father bowed with a heavy toll—sin eating away at his suff’ring soul; A daughter wild—uncouth—unkept, slipping away from where she slept Out into a night of sin and shame—permanent blot on her once good name— I pledge my God I will bear part load Of those who struggle along this road; I’ll point a finger toward the skies And say to each: ‘There’s paradise; ‘Lift up your heads while the eons roll ‘And purge yourselves from the travail of soul; ‘Onto your face feel heaven’s rain, ‘Let it remove the sin and stain, ‘While from the throne of grace on high ‘A sweet contentment fills your sky.’ by Charles Badger Clark

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