2017 Girl Scouts Thin Mint Sprint 5K Race Recap
Comparing ourselves to other runners is an easy, yet demotivating trap to fall into. Recently, the most dangerous runner I’ve been comparing myself to is, well, me. One of the most challenging things about returning to running after having a baby is trying not to compare my current running to the way I trained and performed long before I was ever pregnant. What was normal and easy then isn’t normal and easy now. Accepting that and embracing the runner I am in the moment is much easier said than done. Running the Thin Mint Sprint 5K hosted by the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida earlier this month helped remind me that every stage of our running journey is something to be proud of and to celebrate.
When I was in elementary school, I loved being a Girl Scout.
Ok, ok … my competitive nature was innately drawn to trying to earn as many badges/patches as possible and selling the most boxes of cookies while my dad would stand on the other side of the street chaperoning my efforts. But the camping, the group activities, the life lessons about being the kind of person who gives back created an impression on my curious fourth grade mind. I often ask my mom what she did to make me feel confident and self-assured as both a little girl and as an adult so I can do the same for Baby rUnladylike. I’m certain that my early days as a Girl Scout helped instill this.
When the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida invited me to run their local 5K, I jumped at the chance. Not because I wanted a free race registration (although the all-you-can-eat Girl Scout cookies at the finish were tempting!), but because as a new mom thinking fondly upon my old Girl Scout memories, I have an intensified desire to help Baby rUnladylike and other young girls believe in themselves, be kind to others, develop leadership skills and, more than anything, realize they are stronger than they think and capable of doing anything they can dream.
The lessons learned through Girl Scouts and the truths we learn from running are surprisingly similar: You can do things that seem impossible. Giving up is easy but never rewarding. Do what’s right, not what’s easy. Winning is about being part of a community of caring people.
As I toed the line on a hot and humid Saturday morning next to my dad (and numerous people dressed up as Girl Scout cookies) to run 3.1 miles, I was inspired by these lessons and the groups of little girls wearing green capes who were on their way to learning them.
Just three months earlier at five months postpartum, I ran a 5K on the exact same course. With 90 additional days of progress under my belt and lots of Girl Scouts around to remind me to stay strong, I ran one minute and 40 seconds faster.
In 2014, I would have been disappointed with my time. On that Saturday morning, I was over the moon. I’ve taken a slow and conservative approach to returning to running, and in the process, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of other workouts I want to be doing. I get excited for barre classes and circuit training more than I do speed intervals and tempo runs. And when I want to do those I do them, whether it would be better for my half marathon training to do something different. I strive to run 20 miles a week and meet friends for long runs and weekday morning runs, but I’ve been training differently … I’m focused more on what is bringing me joy than I am on maximizing performance. And while my 2014 self may not have been so impressed, I’d say my current running self is pretty damn pleased.
Like everyone who has ever run a 5K in the history of the world, I was uncomfortable and wanting the race to be over almost as soon as it started. It was nearly 80 degrees at the start, and a lack of speed work was catching up with me. I kept telling myself I could do anything for 10 more minutes and that I had to demonstrate what it means to be a strong, empowered woman at a race that is all about empowering girls. I thought about Baby rUnladylike at home and the strong girl I want her to grow to be. During mile two when I wished I was walking, I channeled the energy of the little girls I could see on the out and back course. Don’t stop.
You can thank my mom for the super grainy race pictures.
As I sprinted into the finish area, I crossed the line in 23:31, a 7:35/mile average pace. That nagging little voice that likes to compare myself to older versions of myself whispered that I used to run half marathons at a faster pace than that. My current self put my awesome medal that looked like a Thin Mint around my neck and felt super proud of the progress I’ve made and the comeback I’m continuing to mount.
After exploring the finish line area and the amazing tents filled with Girl Scout cookies for post-race fueling (yes, I somehow managed to avoid eating a single one!), I made my way over to the finish line to cheer the final runners in.
I literally teared up as I saw a band of girls running to the finish so happy and joyful, waving their arms in triumph.
The very last two people to finish where a woman and her daughter. I heard the mom say with an encouraging tone, you can finish this, we’re almost there.
And that, my friends, is the truth about everything, be it running or life. We can finish it. We have the strength to keep going. It doesn’t always have to be the fastest or the best or the most amazing, but when we give running and life the best we’ve got, we can do awesome things and should be proud that we have. We all win.
As I went up to the podium to accept my box of Thin Mints for winning second place in my age group (it was a small race), I clutched that green box with pride and smiled as I thought: Yes, I am proud of the runner I am today and the one I am working to be again.
Thin Mint Sprint 5K Race Highlights
- The race morning logistics were easy, including parking and short waits for porta potties. There were about 1,200 people registered for the race, but Hurricane Irma likely affected how many people actually showed up.
- The course was flat and fast. Running the same course three months earlier with a larger crowd created some traffic jams during the first mile, but since the field was a bit smaller for this race, I had plenty of room the entire time.
- It was fun and motivating to see so many young girls out on the race course with their moms. They were all excited and having fun, and running past them on the two out-and-back sections gave me a little pep in my step.
- The race medals are awesome! They looked like a Thin Mint with a bite taken out of them.
- While the pre- and post-race area was simple, they were great. There were tables set up with Girl Scout cookies for post-race treats, and there were also fruit, bagels and coffee.
- Age group and overall winners received a box of Girl Scout cookies of their choice. I chose Thin Mints, of course!
- The race benefits the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, which is reason enough to participate. They raised about $21,000 this year. The mission of the Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. What an amazing mission! There are 1.9 million Girl Scouts and 800,000 adult volunteers who participate to give girls a lifetime of leadership, adventure and success. I look forward to introducing Baby rUnladylike to the Girl Scouts when she is older and volunteering for this amazing organization.
What is your favorite Girl Scout cookie flavor? Do you love or hate 5Ks?