Apparently, yesterday was National Running Day. I did not do any running on National Running Day (up too early and out past midnight the day before will send a girl to an early bedtime, that’s for sure). But don’t let that stop you from thinking I won’t be eating donuts on National Donut Day tomorrow.
What I wanted to share today was the 5k I ran on Sunday, the buddy I ran it with and the program through which we met!
SKIRT SPORTS KICKSTART
Earlier this year, I saw Skirt Sports post a link to apply to be a ‘Motivator’ in their Kickstart program. They needed women who’d run at least the 5k distance before to be paired with ‘Beginners’, women who wanted to run their first 5k. Because I really love what running has given me, I wanted to help someone else find the joy that comes from lacing up your shoes and hitting the pavement (or trails!) for a few miles. So I applied and found out in March that I’d been accepted. Yay!
9ish weeks ago, the Kickstart program kicked off at the Skirt Sports Headquarters in Boulder. We met Nicole DeBoom, founder of Skirt Sports and my current girl crush, met our training buddy and listened to incredibly inspiring stories from the women participating – Beginners, Motivators and Skirt Staff alike.
The group went for a 30 minute run/walk that day. My buddy, Jen, and I ran/walked 15 minutes out and 15 minutes back. I could tell she was nervous about what she was committing to and was probably feeling a little unsure about this smiley, too-talkative blonde girl she’d been paired with for the next 8 weeks of her life.
Jen’s goal was to run the whole 5k without stopping and we tweaked the run/walk plan Skirt Sports handed out to fit her life schedule. Throughout her training, we checked in with each other and even made it out to Golden to run together on the paved trail. She ran 4 miles that day! That’s when I knew she would crush her 5k goal in June.
The Kickstarters met for our final get together the day after Memorial Day to go over race logistics, pick up our pretty race shirts and go out for another 30 minute run.
The difference in mood, attitude and distance between that first and last run in all of the Kickstarters was staggering! My buddy was confident, excited, super smiley and we ran twice as far as the first time – while holding a conversation! I was so proud of Jen’s hard work – she had blossomed into a runner in 8 short weeks and in 5 days, we’d conquer her first all-running 5k race.
SKIRT SPORTS 5K RECAP
The race was held in Lousiville, CO and consisted of a 5k and half marathon (or – as Nicole says: ’13.1 miles isn’t half of anything! We call it a Thirteener around here.’). The half marathoners had started much earlier than our 7:30 race start. It was a super small race so parking was not an issue at all – I parked at 7:05 and met the Kickstart group at 7:10.
As we waited for the race to start, we warmed up, chatted nervously and parted ways with diligent supporters who’d come to cheer on their runners. Before we knew it, Nicole was counting down the seconds in the mic and we were off!
The course was mostly flat with 2 BIG hills at almost the halfway point. It was an out-and-back of sorts and we ran through a neighborhood and on a paved trail – it wasn’t particularly scenic. The weather was terrific – sunny with a breeze keeping us cool.
Jen’s goals for the race were:
1. Run the 5k without stopping
2. Beat her previous 5k time (running on her own during training)
And we did both!
Jen KILLED it on the run – she powered through those tough neighborhood hills and even managed to crack jokes (‘If Brittney Spears can make it through 2007, I can make it through this hill!). As we rounded the second to last turn, we both knew we were close to the finish. A quick check on the watch showed that if we picked it up and pushed through the last 1/2 mile, we’d get her a shiny new PR, too…and we did just that.
We crossed the finish line 2 seconds faster than Jen’s previous 5k time – which had been running around flat City Park in Denver. Here, she beat her time on a hilly, hilly course – if she’d been racing at City Park on Sunday, she would have smashed her PR!
We grabbed food (gluten free cake! bagels! Snarfs Sandwiches!) after the race and cheered our fellow Kickstarters as they crossed the finish line.To watch these women finish their first 5k when 8 weeks ago were doubting they’d be able to run 10 minutes, let alone 3 miles was SO cool and so rewarding. Whether they continue running or not, they have made a positive change in their lives that they’ll carry with them forever. But I suspect, as we runners know, that they’ve been bitten by the bug, too – many were already talking about races to sign up for next.
I would absolutely come back and run this race again, Kickstart participant or not. The race was small and well organized. Obviously, most runners were women of all ages but there were a few men – and a couple were even running in a Skirt Sports skirt! The vendors were so nice, food was super tasty and Skirt is a fabulous, local, women-empowering company that I truly believe in and respect.
tl:dr. Kickstart and Skirt Sports are awesome. So is my buddy Jen.