GOTR

Girls On The Run 5k

Saturday’s 5k celebration wrapped up my volunteer season with Girls On The Run. It’s the culmination of all the girls’ hard work throughout the season.

I woke up bright and early Saturday morning to take the L to Millennium Park — bright and early being 5:30am. It was a brutal time to hear that alarm going off but luckily I hopped out of bed and was ready in just a few minutes. As a coach I had to be at the site at 7am to check in the girls, their running buddies, and pick up the girls’ bibs and running packets. Of course, seeing as it was dawn I had one important stop to make beforehand:

recycled photo but you get the idea

recycled photo but you get the idea

It was a Venti kind of morning.

I arrived at the site just after 7am thanks to CTA delays (you know what I’m talking about Bethany). My assistant coach had already picked up the packets so I headed over to our meeting spot to get the girls all set up, bibs on, and stretching.

My favorite part about the 5k was the parents’ involvement. The girls aren’t allowed to run alone, so they have running buddies who complete the race with them. Every single girl had either one parent or a few family members show up to run with them. It was funny because I hadn’t heard from a single parent the entire 12-week season so I got to meet a lot of them this weekend for the first time. Nothing like saying “Hi, nice to meet you! You’re welcome for babysitting your daughter for the past three months! ” I kid but not really…

Everyone was pretty apprehensive before the race. The forecast called for thunderstorms and wind so we were all on edge throughout the morning. Luckily we were in corral A so the girls were off right at 8am and done by 9. I wanted to do cartwheels of joy when I realized that as my girls were wrapping up their 5k some of the other groups hadn’t even started.

We did a bit of dynamic stretching (most of which included the girls rolling down a hill…I am not meant to be a teacher…zero discipline happening over here), got the girls’ bibs pinned on, took some mother/daughter pictures, and headed to the starting line. With Selena Gomez blaring over the speakers, the girls were off just before 8am. Everything ran so smoothly!

The other coach and I went down to the finish line to wait for our girls to arrive.

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There was a bit of rain but nothing compared to what happened later in the day so we really avoided the worst of it! As the girls ran past us with their running buddies I got more emotional than I thought I would — it was so wonderful to see them push so hard at the finish. I honestly didn’t realize how much I loved those girls until the very end when I saw them pushing to finish the 5k! I teared up thinking about how great the girls are — so confident, goofy, independent, and strong, and I had a great sense of pride being a part of Girls On The Run. As a woman who grew up in this crazy society myself, I know how hard it can be to hold on to those unique parts of yourself in a world that tells you to be more normal, quieter, smaller, and less expressive, while also making you question your worth based on impossible physical standards. These girls are too young to be affected by most of that but soon enough it will happen. And I’m just so hopeful that their involvement with Girls On The Run will make them stronger to fight it. GOTR is all about learning how to be strong and healthy, physically, while also teaching them values about friendship, self-confidence, and kindness. And even if they didn’t take much away from the season, I hope that I had a small part in helping them grow stronger.

I felt like a proud mama bear at the end of the race and insisted on tons of pictures with all the girls. Now I know why moms do that!

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The girls grabbed their medals, bananas, and water and just like that, the season was over. I have to admit it was weird to just have the families walk away afterwards. I felt like I wasn’t getting any closure on a program that I volunteered for for 12 weeks. But I guess that’s what they say — you have to give without expectation. That’s the point of volunteering, right?

When I moved to the city, I knew I wanted to be a volunteer. I wasn’t sure how, but I’m so happy that I decided to volunteer for GOTR. It taught me so much, including the fact that I am not born to be a teacher! I have a new-found respect for teachers — just three hours a week was exhausting.

So — will I work with the program next year? Yes. Will I be a head coach? No. I was unfortunately placed at a site where the Site Coordinator, aka the person at the school who was supposed to be my main form of contact and connection to the school, was completely MIA the entire season. There were multiple days when I prepared a lesson, showed up, and there was no school so no one was there. There was no communication about how to get the girls their after school snacks, where we were supposed to run, how to enter/exit the school, who to talk to to set up our bake sale, etc. For all the school knew I was just some stranger who roamed their hallways on Monday and Thursday afternoons. That being said, towards the end of the year things got exponentially better as one of the moms came to every practice and took charge. She organized the bake sale and end-of-the-year party and communicated with the principal about our program and plans. I really couldn’t have done it without her. I’m happy that I was a head coach this season, but for net year I will definitely stick with the assistant coach role, and I will definitely make sure to lay of my expectations for what the site coordinator’s responsibilities are at the beginning of the season.

If you’re interested in volunteering for Girls On The Run for their fall season, give it a try! I highly recommend working as an assistant coach — in that role you only have to commit one day a week for 90 minutes. As a head coach you are required to volunteer twice a week for three hours, not including lesson planning, so just consider what you can handle.

At the end of the day, GOTR is a non-profit, and as we all know, non-profits are disorganized. But I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything, despite the challenges. Because overall, I got to hang with some pretty cool third graders for 12 weeks and that alone was worth it.

Questions:

  • Have you ever work with Girls On The Run?
  • What’s the best organization you’ve ever volunteered for?
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Weekend Happenings: there’s a carrot in my taco

Happy Memorial Day, folks! I hope you’re starting your day with some exercise, followed by a big ol’ cookout and time spent with friends and family.

I’m grateful to live in a country where people have fought for my freedom. I was just watching Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” and on this particular episode they went to Myanmar. It’s unbelievable the restrictions and censorship that still exist well into the 21st century. I definitely take liberty for granted sometimes, so it’s good to stop, pause, and remember those who cared so much about defending freedom that they died.

The weekend started early with our Girls On The Run Community Impact Project. The girls decided to raise money for PAWS by hosting a bake sale during their lunch periods. I went to the school early Friday morning to drop off cookies and help set up

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Impressively enough, the girls raised $430! I’m thinking there were some overly-generous parents, otherwise there may be some new cases of diabetes at that school. However it happened, it was exciting to see how into it the girls got. We’re hoping to go to PAWS this week to drop off the check and really show the girls how to impact their community from start to finish.

Friday night was low-key because I had to be up early Saturday morning and lead run club for the store. My alarm went off at 6am Saturday morning and I immediately started thinking of all the excuses I could come up with to skip the run. Alas, I was feeling to mature and responsible so I was out the door in ten minutes and on the path.

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Even though it was early in the day, it was hot as hades. Within the first mile I was sweating like a chicken on a rotisserie. My running partner had some sage advice for me that I’ll definitely remember next time: “If you’re not cold when you leave the house for an morning run, you’re going to be too hot.” Preach, Tommy, preach. I felt like an Amish woman covered from head to toe, and was not pleased.

The only solution was to 90s-it-up and tie my jacket around my waist. High-fashion rolling, that’s for sure.

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I’m so happy that I womaned up and completed the run. The best part about running groups is they keep you going, that’s for sure. I know I would have walked a portion of the 7 miles due to the heat but, being the competitive spirit I am, I didn’t want to in front of the other runners. Success.

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The views always keep me going too. Chicago comes alive in the summer.

I took the whole weekend off of work and made the most of it. After some stretching and icing, I made breakfast and then Megan and I sat outside on our porch in the sunshine.

unnamed (5)Scrambled eggs, strawberries, and a Kodiak cake.

Later we walked to the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival to enjoy that classic festival vibe: free music, expensive beer, cheap clothes and jewelry, and fried food.

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We enjoyed some cinnamon-sugar mini donuts, 312s, and live music. Even though it was a No Doubt cover band (I do NOT like Gwen Stefani) it felt like the official start of summer. And that felt great.

Dinner was out in the Wicker Park neighborhood where I met up with some of my coworkers. Big Star is known for its margaritas and summer patio scene, so when you venture out there, you can expect at least a two hour wait.

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We waited about an hour and a half for our table and then immediately ordered a pitcher of margaritas and some snacks.
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The guacamole and margaritas are my favorite things at Big Star, but since it was a long day and I was hungry, I tried a few of their tacos. I’d had the fish and pork shoulder taco before, but this time I tried some newbies:

  • Taco de panza: crispy, braised pork belly, tomato guajillo sauce, queso fresco, onion, cilantro
  • Taco de pollo pibil: chicken thighs steamed in banana leaves, achiote and citrus marinade, pickled red onion, cilantro
  • Taco de zanahorias: mole spiced carrots, chipotle date yogurt, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almond, cilantro

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I loved the chicken and pork, but the carrot one (on the far right) as extremely underwhelming. The waitress said it was her favorite…further proving that I will I never be a vegetarian. Nothing can compete with meat.

After a busy weekend, I made a last-minute decision to go home and spend some time with my family. I tried to stay away for awhile but I just like those people way too much. So I had a lazy Sunday, capped off with a movie I’ve been wanting to see.

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I feel like everyone can relate to this movie somehow. It definitely struck a chord in my heart.

Questions:

  • What’s the longest you’ll wait for a table at a restaurant?
  • How are you celebrating Memorial Day weekend?

Saturday night bakery runs = always a good idea

Sorry I checked out for a few days — I made an unexpected trip to the suburbs (the heat in our apartment doesn’t work too well and it’s been freezing in Chicago) and forgot my laptop. I probably could have blogged from another computer but I didn’t really do anything noteworthy anyway so yeah.

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But otherwise my weekend was great–I woke up bright and early Saturday morning for Girls On The Run coaches training!!

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I can’t tell you how excited I am to be involved with this organization! I’m sure many of you have heard about it, but Girls On The Run is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. I’m going to be working as a head coach for a group of 10-20 girls twice a week, where we work through lessons about understanding themselves, valuing relationships and teamwork, and understanding how we connect with and shape the world. We’ll also do running each week, teaching the girls the importance of health and fitness. They’ll work up to a 5K at the end of the season. I’m pumped!

The rest of the day was pretty low-key: I went grocery shopping (a dream, as always) and FaceTimed with Kaitlin, who’s currently living in Mississippi. It was so nice to catch up with her and hear about her Mardi Gras shenanigans. Living so close to New Orleans has been good to her!

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How adorable is she?

I spent the rest of the day just generally being lazy until dinner, when Colleen and I went out for pizza at Homeslice. All that talk about running earlier in the day really worked up my appetite. We sat on the patio, which was covered and heated. I can’t wait until they open it up for the summer but they did a really good job making it cozy for winter too.

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One of the most endearing things about this place is that the owner’s french bulldog, Gary, runs around the patio the whole time. He was not the biggest fan of that giant balloon in the background so there was a pretty scared pup running around our feet the whole time. It was adorable!

We both started with the Pamarita: a pomegranate margarita with lime, soda, and jalapeno.

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I went with the Schulz’s BBQ Bird, because barbeque chicken pizza is one of the most underrated foods on the planet. You can quote me on that.

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After dinner we walked a few blocks to Sweet Mandy B’s, a famous bakery in Lincoln Park that I’ve always heard of, but had never been to. Because I hadn’t been before I went a little nuts, but it was all in the name of sugar. And Saturdays.

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I left with chocolate cheesecake and three cookies: confetti (sugar), ranger (oatmeal with chocolate chips and Special K), and coconut cloud (coconut meringue). Bring on dat diabetes.

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I had the confetti cookie this morning with my coffee and it was perfect. Definitely a new city favorite.

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Sunday was a lazy day until the afternoon when I went to a CorePower sculpt class and finally got the age-old “Why won’t anyone sit by me?” question answered. Just kidding. My adorable personality makes up for the sweat stains.

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If you’re in Chicago and have ever wanted to try CorePower’s Free Week of Yoga but aren’t sure which location/classes are worth your while, I highly recommend the Lakeview location. Ariel’s sculpt classes are the bomb — they’re set to faster-paced music, though, so if you’re looking for calm, relaxing yoga this ain’t your thing. But it does live up to it’s name and it will sculpt. you. up (because you can’t visit a pizza place and a bakery and expect things not to jiggle the next day).

I missed the Oscars because I worked the inventory night shift but I hope you all threw crazy wild viewing parties so I can live vicariously through you! Once again I said I would see all the Oscar-nominated movies and I didn’t see one. Crushing goals one day at a time over here.

Questions:

  • Did you watch the Oscars? What was your favorite movie in the last year?
  • Favorite kind of non-traditional pizza