What are you modeling?

Here’s my mom post for today. I signed my 13 year old daughter and I up for the Run for Lawson  this Saturday at the invitation of one of our newest Steering Committee Members. I selected the 1 miler since she hasn’t been actively involved in sports for awhile. Prior to signing us up, she had kept asking to schedule time for a run. Now…she was REALLY motivated. So, this morning was the day. We woke up at 5 a.m. She sacrificed almost an hour of sleep and crawled out of bed and into her running shoes. It was cloudy and humid. We warmed up walking and then I let her take the lead on pace. We clocked 1 mile. I talked with her on the way. I could tell that this was really pushing her. Towards the end she kept asking when can we stop. At the end of driveway, my daughter and I finished our 1st mile together.

I can’t tell you what it means to me to have my daughter join me. She has sacrificed time while I train. She has followed my races. She has eaten ‘special’ pre-race meals. She has put up with my highs and lows. Running has become such a central part of my life over the last 4 years. It was amazing to have my daughter choose to join me in one of my passions this morning. I am so excited to share this passion with other girls like my daughter across the Big Bend through Girls On the Run!

Ericka McKibbin

GOTR Guest Post- Tracy’s Take

A little background - I am the mom of 3 boys ages 14, 13 and 9 and I run 5Ks to keep me active. I AM NOT a competitive runner. I learned about GOTR from a friend. My local school district does not participate in Girls On The Run, so I run with whoever needs me.
After checking out the GOTR website, I decided to sign up as a running buddy. I wanted a way to be involved and this seemed like the best way. A running buddy gets paired with a girl who is running her 1st 5K. A running buddy is there to cheer her on and for the extra motivation and push to get across the finish line. I filled out the paperwork for my background check and a few days later everything was set. I did let my local GOTR rep know that I am not a fast runner…I didn’t want to be paired with a sprinter. What good would I be if my partner left me in her dust?!
The GOTR website doesn’t do the organization justice. You really have to be there to truly understand what this program really does for young girls. I showed up on a cold November morning (Dayton, Ohio) to a local college football stadium. I was shocked to see the number of girls…and the amount of pink! I had been partnered with a school from an area that has alot of low income families. A number of the girls on my team had to ride public transportation in order to get there that morning. They all started asking about their shoes. What shoes? One of the coaches explained that New Balance donates brand new running shoes to each and every girl who participates. The girls from my team had been able to wear their shoes during each after school practice, but had been told that they had to come to the 5K in order to take the shoes home. They were extremely excited. Goody is also a sponsor, so the girls had their hair painted, fun hair accessories, etc.
The run itself was harder than I had imagined. The majority of the girls participating have never run this distance before. This is not a race where you can expect to PR. I spent alot of time jogging backwards, constantly offering encouragement to my buddy. Everyone offers encouraging words and motivation along the way. The final stretch of our local run is inside the football stadium, on the track. As the girls run towards the finish line, their friends and families are in the stands cheering them on. To me, there is no better way to finish.
Girls On The Run is a wonderful organization. Anyone who has the chance to participate, whether by coaching, being a running buddy (females only), or by signing up to run your local GOTR 5K (open to the public), definitely should. GOTR is doing awesome things. What better way to build self esteem and to teach self worth? I wish there was a program like this when I was younger.
*Thank you Tracy, for sharing your experience! Let us know if you would like to share YOURS!

My Running Story.

My love of running was slightly delayed, but I believe I was always meant to discover the benefits and true love of the sport.  My mother has always been a runner, even ran when she was pregnant with me, up until they advised her that she HAD to stop.  When I became a runner, I now knew how hard it is when someone tells you that you can’t run!

I was pushed at a young age into the dance/gymnastics/cheer arena, and that was my passion from 4th grade on through high school.  I would go with my mom to the local track and try to run, but I just couldn’t get into it and would get frustrated and wonder how she could just keep going.  It seemed boring to me then, and I couldn’t see the benefits.  She obviously knew that I couldn’t be forced, and would have to find out about this new sport on my own.  This would come to fruition sooner than later.

After being a competitive cheerleader for 3 years, the program was dwindling, and a group of us decided we only wanted to cheer games, so we’d be freed up to try our attempt at track/cross country.  And then it happened.  After a few Saturday morning group runs with cross country, I felt it.  Freedom.  Exhilaration.  That glorious moment where your body goes into autopilot, and you almost don’t feel like you are exerting much effort.  During track season, our coach placed a lot of the cheerleaders in hurdle events, and while I pretty much dreaded every meet, and even walked AROUND a hurdle once, since I knew I wouldn’t clear it (disqualification)…I loved every minute, found a new strength and endurance within me, and made a bunch of new friends.  I may have never won a race or set a high school record, but I knew I would have to keep this new running thing around throughout my life.

During my college years and beyond, I was blessed to make such great friends through running. From synchronizing our radio station channels so we could run to the same beat, talking about work or the latest drama on a 10miler, or just enjoying the silence, while still having a warm body going through the same thing you were along the journey….you really get to know someone quickly, if you go on a run with them.  These friendships have carried on through time and space, and I cherish those times and having had someone to get me through the tough miles.

The same is true for races.  Many are intimidated, but if you register and run, you will see all ages and skill levels, and it’s really NOT about the medals.  Yes, it’s great to have personal bests and beat your own times, but in the end you are helping yourself in more ways than one.  I have run many a race on my own, but you’re never actually “alone”.  This is especially true in longer races (half and full marathons).  You are putting your body through SO MUCH, and it’s so great to be part of a “pack” and know that you are not going through this alone.  I have chatted up many a stranger along the way, and it’s encouraging not only to have someone else push you along, but to motivate someone else who may be struggling.  

The older I get, I find myself using running as a metaphor for life.  There are ups and downs, good runs and bad.  Sometimes you need a time out and a water break.  There are times you will have a partner, and there are times you need to go it alone.  There are set-backs, injuries, PRs, and medals….at the end of any run, you still feel accomplished, and that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.

This is why I whole-heartedly support the effort to bring Girls on the Run to the Big Bend.  Our girls and young women need this; are craving this, even if they may not know now.  There is nothing more that I would wish for the upcoming generations of women, than for them to have SELF esteem and SELF worth. To never put their value in the hands of someone else with how they are seen or judged.  I want them to have inner strength, and know they have a light inside them that should never be extinguished, but proudly lit up and shared with the world.  While we can’t protect them from harmful experiences in life, we can help them build a foundation upon which they can draw their strength from, when these times come.  I look forward to shining the light that is GOTR, and seeing it spread like wild fire.

Running down a dream,


First Day of School

As a parent, the first day of school is a mix of emotions. It is the end and beginning all wrapped up in one. It ends the summer break of vacations, sleeping in late, more relaxed family schedule, extended visits with family/friends, and ice cream runs when the urge hits you.  In contrast, it begins the next year of academic learning…of friendship forming…of new routine…of new school clothes…of sports playing…of crushes…of I don’t know what to wear…of so many things.

My thirteen year old changed schools this year. Today was her first day at a new school after 8 consecutive years at the same school. She transitioned from a small charter school to most likely the largest middle school in the area.  As a family, we decided to make this change so that my daughter could have more opportunities and challenges on both an academic and extracurricular level. She got all the courses she requested. But do you know what she is most worried about? It’s not if she can rise to the school challenge, but rather who will I eat lunch with…I don’t know anyone.

I was struck by how as parents we work so hard to provide the best for our children. We wish them to have all the advantages possible so that they can be a success. As our family supported my daughter, I realized that in life it isn’t the specific experience or thing that we give our child, but rather the support that a child is given emotionally and socially to believe in themselves to know that others believe in them and care about them.

I know that my daughter will succeed in whatever she puts her mind to. It is my job as ‘mom’ to help guide her in discovering her path through love and support.

You may be asking…’why are you posting this on the GOTR Big Bend Blog?’ Well, I believe that GOTR can be an excellent partner to parents and provide young girls with an avenue to find themselves…believe in themselves…and achieve great things! It is the time and commitment of others that has helped us all succeed.

Happy 1st Day!

Ericka McKibbin

Why Girls on the run…

When I was running the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater, I came across a table that said Girls on the Run. The women there shared that it was an afterschool program that engaged girls 8-13 to be strong, confident, and healthy. At the end of the program, all the girls would complete a celebratory 5K. Wow! Where do I sign-up? Are there programs in Tallahassee?

I was directed to GOTR, International where I was given an in-depth look at what it takes to start a GOTR Council. The fortunate part was there were other people like me who wanted to see this happen in the Big Bend. Amazing people…like the women from Route 319…a guidance counselor from Lincoln High School…a realtor…an elementary school teacher. The list of supporters keeps growing. As the GOTR movement grows in our area, it excites me! It drives me! It motivates me that GOTR will be a REALITY!

Thanks to those who are walking with me now and to those that are yet to come!

A girl on the run,

Ericka McKibbin

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