We are Better Together

KiraBlog, Life16 Comments

I’m not going to lie I was dreading doing the Girls on the Run 5K with my daughter Milana.   There was the running thing (see first ever Middle Moments post), it was the first day of 30 degree temps (I’m a cold weather weenie) and I thought there would be nothing more crushing than having to choke on my lungs for however many minutes while my daughter repeatedly told me to stop being so red and heavy breathy and straight up embarrassing.  The stage was set for a fiasco.

And then the best thing happened.  Like the best thing ever in the history of things happening happened.  First, we went to the flag where the rest of our school’s group would be. There, we were met with a dissemination of energy that was passing like happy hot lava from pod to pod of jumping jacking little girls.  It was a two-fold marvel of trying to keep warm and ‘Let’s Do This’ rolling across the gathering crowd.  The excitement was palpable.  I let myself fall under the running tutu, pink cape spell. My tune was changing…I was getting pumped.

It was time.  We went from our school stationed flags to lining up by the start line.  In half momma bear mode, half please don’t leave me desperation I said again “Milana make sure we stay together.” My strategy was to stay behind her so I could keep an eye (aka not let her see me have to walk).  She stood ready with a handful of other gitty, skippety GOTR’ers.  We all bellied out the countdown, crossed the start line and then the most beautiful, inspiring and remarkable 48 minutes unfolded in front of me.

GOTRFour girls interlaced hands and began running a race.  I mean they just did IT…they spontaneously knitted themselves together.  No one told them to do it and it wasn’t planned (my husband would say “people know what spontaneous means” but my day after awe makes it necessary for me to drive it home).  I thought at first this will last a hundred yards or when the crowd breaks or at very most till we get to the first mile marker and everyone is too tired to hold on any longer.  And yet, THEY HELD ON.  Those girls remained connected like it was the only way it was going to get done.  Occasionally when they had to pass someone they would yell “Break” and two girls would go one way and two would go the other and then they’d re-link.  They would run up to water stations together unlatch, drink, re-latch and start again.  I’m choking for sure… because my heart is in my throat!  And then more happened.

Running with us was Milana’s 3rd grade teacher.  Her daughter came along to run with her but she had gotten ahead of us.  About a mile up the course she rejoined our group and the girls extended their collective hands and without uttering a word said ‘come on…together is better’.  And then there were five. Those girls finished that whole dang race hand in hand.  3.1 miles.  48 minutes.  It only took them that long because when one got tired they all walked never uttering a word of irritation or impatience. They were right there making an unbreakable unbeatable Red Rover ‘Take on the World’ wire through the race.  After a short pause, they’d take turns being the one to rally their GOTR gang, summon up some “We Got This” and giddy up again.

I think what I loved most is I didn’t know any of the other girls.  I remembered one from when we volunteered for the KC marathon but none of them were Milana’s ‘besties’… her inseparables.  I would expect it with them.  These were 5 girls in a common group, doing a common thing with a common goal in mind.  But there was nothing common about what they did.  It had nothing to do with winning or the best time or doing anything other than being there in that moment with each other, for each other.  Girls supporting and lifting one another up.  Yes to that!  Every. Dang. Day!

Right after they crossed the line, Milana said “We did it.  And we did it as a TEAM!”  This sent me right over into a gushy mushy “Is this really happening” pile.  Holy GOTR goodness.

So whoever made up Girls on the Run… you nailed it!  You did exactly what I know you were hoping to do.  You made a whole slew of girls believe in themselves.  You helped them see something as possible.  And you created this space where hand holding and encouragement and “Let’s Stick Together” reigned victorious.  It was THE most beautifully organic thing I’ve seen in some time.  What these girls showed me was that we are all in a great big race, its okay if you have to slow down and we are indeed BETTER TOGETHER.

Hugs and LOVE,

~ Kira



16 Comments on “We are Better Together”

  1. Jill

    I coach GOTR and I was dreading the cold. I had a great time. I occasionally yelled, “Girls on the run is..” and would get back “so much fun!” Great kids. During the run we talked about home the Royals and Chiefs don’t give up so we shouldn’t either. We played kick the cup after each water station to keep us distracted for a few hundred yards. I’m glad you had fun. Hope we get the opportunity to do it in the spring.

  2. Kelly

    Holy moly, Kira! You’ve done it again. No words. Glad you loved every GOTR minute of it. It’s a pretty special thing. I’ve coached for 3 years. Now it is my mission to get the boys (my own and the ones at my school) started in a similar program!

  3. Adina East

    Kira I can never thank you enough for writing such a beautiful piece! Thank you for supporting me as well :)

  4. Pam L

    Tears in my eyes! Love GOTR! Love our Lions! Love how you’ve captured that feeling that keeps bringing us GOTR gals back again and again no matter how old we are!

  5. Molly

    Kira…thanks for seeing what I hoped would become a reality. I am, indeed, the woman who made up Girls on the Run and it fills me with pure delight to read this post.

    We certainly are better together. Which…in light of the new work I am doing…continues to be my life’s work. Thank you for sharing your heart and soul/sole with these wonderful young girls.

  6. Caryn Marcus

    I loved reading about this experience. for you, Milana, and the girls. Thank you for putting it down in a permanent place for all to read.

  7. Janet

    GOTR really is awesome. My little girl has alopecia so she has no hair. We joke that her aerodynamics helps her run. She runs to win, though. Luckily her coaches found a running buddy who can keep up with her. They finished their 5K in 24.28!

    But the lessons in selling esteem and assertiveness are invaluable.

  8. Carolyn

    Molly, you are an inspiration! Thank you for starting GOTR! I have been a coach for several years now- coming up on 5 if my girls, ages 10 and 12, will do it with me again. ( One can be a Junior Coach now.)
    Race day is always an inspirational, heart-in-my-throat kind of day, even when the girls just run or walk and don’t link together the way “Kira’s girls” did.
    Wow, Kira! What a great experience! You’re coaching next year, right?!

  9. Debbie

    Hi Kira,
    I just read your blog post on the GOTRI facebook page, and had to respond. I started coaching GOTR when my daughter was in 4th grade. I am proud to say, that after coaching 4 seasons at the elementary school, then another 2 at the middle school, I am still involved. I am working now for the the Central Virginia Council and continue to experience the magic that you write about. I can still get teary eyed at one of our 5K’s, I relish reading surveys from our girls and still hear coaches tell me “I got as much out of if as my girls did.” It is powerful. And yet the idea is so simple and basic. It all stems from love. Molly, our fantastic founder, is as genuine as they come, and is anybody and everybody’s friend. Our world needs more people like her, and hopefully, that is what this program brings.

    My daughter is now a senior in high school, and applying for college. She wrote about her experience with GOTR in one of her college essays and the impact that it still has for her. She has served as a volunteer and junior coach and likes to be involved because she can have an impact.

    At GOTR, we say “we are changing the world, one girl at a time,” and you were witness to that power. Thank you for writing and spreading the good word. I can’t wait to hear about your coaching experience!

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