Volunteer Spotlight: Nicole

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Today, we are thrilled to spotlight Nicole, a long-time 5k volunteer, member of our Communications Committee, and a Girls on the Run NYC fundraiser through the 5k! Each season, Nicole also brings friends to join and support our girls through her “Team Run Happy!” Read on to hear from Nicole about her experience as a 5k volunteer and what Girls on the Run means to her.


Tell us about what it’s like to volunteer at the Girls on the Run 5k:
I certainly wanted to help, but I couldn't have predicted how much fun it would be. Yes, our job as course marshals is to make sure the girls are safe but, for the most part, we spend our time out there cheering them on! I always leave feeling excited and inspired.


And each season you bring friends to join in the 5k fun! Tell us more about that:
Everything is always more fun with friends! After volunteering at the 5K a few years ago, my first thought was how much my running buddies would love it too. We're a tight-knit group of female runners who support and push each other, and I knew they'd want to get involved. But now my teams has grown to encompass a group of men and women who love running and love coming out to cheer on the girls at the 5K!


Each 5k is a special experience for everyone involved. Tell us about some of your favorite moments:
For the spring 5K, I was stationed at the northern tip of Roosevelt Island by the lighthouse. The first wave of girls speeding past were impressive and amazing, the mass of girls that passed in the middle were so happy and heartwarming, but the girls at the end were the ones that really needed us.

We greeted grimaces with smiles and high fives and encouraged them to keep going, and they really took it to heart. I can't tell how many times I shouted, "You're doing great! Keep it up!" and a runner would look at me like, "Who, me?" They really take it to heart; for the girls it isn't just a standard cheer but a commentary on their personal performance and an acknowledgment that they are succeeding.

Seeing the girls realize what they are capable of achieving is just such a wonderful and inspiring experience.


Why is inspiring girls to be healthy and confident a part of your life?
I have very distinct memories of being asked to run a timed mile in middle school. That terror in the pit in the pit of my stomach, the stress, and the feeling of it never ending. I was convinced that no person could run a mile and that the kids who effortlessly finished in less than 10 minutes must possess some sort of superhuman powers. I struggled a lot with confidence back then too, and I'm sure these two things weren't unrelated.

Fast forward 10 years and I was running half marathons and marathons. Distance running gave me confidence and a real sense of accomplishment. It made me love my body, how strong it had become, and what it could achieve.

But I'll never forget what it felt like to be that shy little girl who didn't think she was good enough. I wish I could tell her what running would mean to her and what she could achieve, but it means so much to me that I can do that for girls now through Girls on the Run. Girls have to deal with negative messages all the time telling them they're not worthy or good enough, but Girls on the Run combats that with a positive message telling girls they're strong and capable, and I think that's just the most wonderful thing.

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SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 TCS New York City Marathon: Hannah

Today we're shining a spotlight on Hannah, a SoleMate who's running in the TCS New York City Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming!  Hannah, we are so excited to see you at the Marathon and we are grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

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What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?

I believe that every child can thrive. This doesn't always happen in a traditional classroom setting, which makes after-school programs even more important. Girls on the Run give girls an opportunity to learn about themselves, build confidence, and accomplish goals in an experiential way-- the best way for anything that we learn to stick. Young women are bombarded with so much messaging from society on how to look and feel and live-- it's overwhelming. I believe that Girls on the Run provides them with a strong sense of self so that they can move through the world confidently in their own skin.

Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?

I strongly believe in building up confidence in young people from an early age and empowering them to feel healthy and confident in all aspects of their lives. I was fortunate to have sports in my schools growing up, and it was so formative for me. I want to give more girls the chance to learn to love running and to love themselves.

Tell us a little bit about your running history! Why do you run?

I started running cross country in elementary school and have been doing it since! It took me a long time to actually enjoy the running part of it, but I always loved the camaraderie and family-like team that cross country brought together, especially during high school. When I was 16, I finally realized that I liked running! Now I run to clear my head, to spend time with running friends, to explore new places, and to stay active. The best part it, all you need is a pair of shoes!

Favorite place to run? Or Favorite pump-up running song?

My favorite place to run is on the trails in Prospect Park. It's fun to stumble upon new spots that feel secret and secluded.

Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?

I ran the Eugene, Oregon marathon in 2010 and the Portland, Oregon marathon in 2011. This is my first NYC marathon!

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident, and joyful?

I love to ride my bike, hike, and spend as much time as possible outside. I also love to cook food with and for my friends and family.

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?

Take in your surroundings! Try to notice one new thing about where you are running each time. You can explore your own neighborhood in a new way!

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Hannah! If you want to donate to Hannah's fundraising efforts, click here.

 

 

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SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 TCS New York City Marathon: Dana

Today we're shining a spotlight on Dana, a SoleMate who's running in the TCS New York City Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming!  Dana, we are so excited to see you at the Marathon and we are grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

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What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?

I want all young girls to be confident!  I want them to feel like they have a voice and that they are strong and not “less than” anyone else.  I want them to understand negative self-talk and how to turn it around.  I want them to understand what fear is – and how it can hold them back – and how to move through it so they can be the best “ME” they can be.  This is what GOTR is all about.

Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?

After my first marathon, I knew I would want to do one more – and NY was the obvious choice!  I coach GOTR every spring, so it was an easy choice when I knew that I was going to have to raise money in order to enter the race.

Tell us a little bit about your running history! Why do you run?

I was born with a congenital heart defect – complete atrioventricular heart block – which resulted in a very slow and arrhythmic heartbeat.  I remember being in a doctor’s office as a very small girl and hearing the doctor say – “She will never be a runner”.  The condition was not really understood at the time, so the doctor’s recommendation was “don’t run”, although my heart rate did increase and decrease properly when I exerted energy.  Throughout my entire childhood, I was always excused from running in gym class! Fast forward to when I was 25, I moved from Minnesota to Atlanta and started focusing on fitness. I started running and loved it!  I met with a cardiologist who said there was no reason I couldn’t run. For a long time, I only did 5Ks and my “big” race was a 10K. In 2006, after I had my second child, my cardiologist recommended a pacemaker as a precaution for my persistent, slow heart rate.  It was after getting the pacemaker that I caught the half marathon bug and finally, decided I should give a marathon a try!

I run for physical, emotional and spiritual health.  I never run on a treadmill – always outside in the fresh air, rain or shine (or snow when I travel home to Minnesota for the holidays!)  I never wear headphones, never listen to music or podcasts – I just listen to my run and whatever sounds are around me. I sometimes spend time working through issues or challenging life situations, but it always helps reduce stress and makes me feel more present.

Favorite place to run? Or Favorite pump-up running song?

I travel quite a bit for work and I love exploring new cities while running.  Some of my favorites running cities are London, Melbourne, Austin, and of course, New York.  In Atlanta, I love run by the Chattahoochee River and in Chastain Park. Although I don’t listen to music (now), I did love running to My Songs Know What you Did in the Dark by Fallout Boy and (cliché) Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.

Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?

This is my second marathon – my first was Chicago in 2015.

If people could give you energy awards while you were running the marathon which would you want for an energy boost?

The Mohawk Cheer – I don’t know if that’s a standard one, but we do that one all the time.  As well as one that starts – Can you spin around like Michael Jackson, …. We might have made these up.

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident, and joyful?

I try to do strength training 2-3 days per week.  I try hard to eat healthy, but I LOVE food and wine, so it’s always a balance.  I spend lots of time with my husband and daughters, and get lots of energy from cooking and traveling.  Spending time with girlfriends is a must, but as an introvert, my alone time is even more important!

Who do you look up to?

Any woman who has the confidence, drive and guts to chase her dreams!  And my badass friend, Lynn Wyatt, who has been battling cancer for years and she just never, ever stops fighting, but more importantly, she never stops truly living.

Who has impacted your life the most and encouraged you to be your beautiful, healthy, and courageous self?

My parents, family and friends

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?

I created my webpage and then did an email blast to my “first tier” friends, colleagues and family.  I made it more of a “blog” and would send occasional updates about my training, challenges, places I’ve been running, etc. and of course, thanking everyone who contributed and reminding anyone who still wanted to donate, they could.  I have a generous community of people surrounding me, so I was fortunate to be able to reach my goal relatively easily. Make it personal is my #1 recommendation – people will read about GOTR and agree it’s a great organization, but in reality, the people you reach out to will be supporting YOU!  

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?

Just have fun!  Don’t worry about the running or the 5K – just enjoy sharing yourself with the other girls and getting to know everyone else!

What advice would you give yourself at 10 years old?

Don’t be afraid to take more risks and to make mistakes.  Be curious and use your voice!  

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Dana! If you want to donate to Dana's fundraising efforts, click here.

 

 

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SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 TCS New York City Marathon: Alli

Today we're shining a spotlight on Alli, a SoleMate who's running in the TCS New York City Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming!  Alli, we are so excited to see you at the Marathon and we are grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

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What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?

Empowering girls to be athletic and great is so important. It helps in all areas of life- career, personal life, friendships, mentorships... the list goes on. Confidence is so important for females at any age... I love the confidence I get from being a great runner, and I hope I can help other girls achieve that same feeling.

Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?

I heard about the organization through a friend and thought it was an amazing cause.

Tell us a little bit about your running history! Why do you run?

My mom ran every single morning when I was growing up (and still does), so I grew up around running. I got into running for exercise, and didn't realize I was a real "runner" until college. There was a charity 5k being held at my school (Trinity), and the 1st place prize was a generous gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants. I said to myself... I want to win this!! And, I did! At that time, I realized that I had something a little special.

Favorite place to run? Or Favorite pump-up running song?

I love running out in the Hamptons because there is beauty pretty much everywhere you look. I love to admire the beautiful homes and fields.

Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?

This is my 4th official marathon, but my 5th if you count the 26.2 that I ran Sunday November 4, 2012. The New York City Marathon was cancelled due to hurricane Sandy, but there was no way that I was going to end my 18 weeks of training without running a marathon. I ran throughout Westchester, NY, and my parents and now-husband biked/roller bladed with me along the way to provide water and support. My sister even made signs that she displayed along the way. It was incredible.

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident, and joyful?

Running definitely keeps me all of those things. Other than that, having a great tan goes a long way :) And, it sounds cliche, but my family and friends keep me joyful.

Who do you look up to?

My mom & my sisters-in-law

Who has impacted your life the most and encouraged you to be your beautiful, healthy, and courageous self?

My mom, 100%. She is my #1 fan and truly believes I am a superstar!

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?

Double check to see if your company (or other donor's companies) can match donations! I didn't know my company could match until halfway through my fundraising, and they ended up covering 20% of my total donation requirement!  

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?

Leave it all on the field.

What advice would you give yourself at 10 years old?

Start running sooner!!  

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Alli! If you want to donate to Alli's fundraising efforts, click here.

 

 

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SoleMate Spotlight - 2018 TCS New York City Marathon: Sarah

Today we're shining a spotlight on Sarah, a SoleMate who's running in the TCS New York City Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming!  Sarah, we are so excited to see you at the Marathon and we are grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!

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What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?

Girls on the Run mission to me is to inspire all girls to be strong, confident, and healthy! For girls to be unafraid of who they are and want to be!

Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?

I volunteered as a Sparkle Running for one of the 5K celebratory races and had so much time running with the girls and seeing their faces after they realized they accomplished their goal! I always wanted to run a marathon and didn’t believe I would follow through if I didn’t volunteer for a charity. Girls on the Run is an incredible organization and program for girls and it only seems fitting to run the marathon for a charity based on running.

Tell us a little bit about your running history! Why do you run?

I was always very athletic, but I never really ran much until I came to college. I started to run as a form of exercise, but slowly it became a way to relax during my day or week. I find that going on a run is a great opportunity to clear my mind.

Favorite place to run? Or Favorite pump-up running song?

I love running through Riverside Park and along the Westside highway. As I’ve been

training for the marathon I needed to explore longer routes and found that I enjoy running in Central Park especially around the reservoir. I also loved my long runs around the city! I enjoy going through Battery Park and reminiscing about my time there when I was younger. I always get a burst of energy when “I Wanna to Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston plays in my earbuds. I sometimes can’t help myself and dance a little to the music.

Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?

This is my very first marathon! I’m very excited to be running in the NYC Marathon especially since I’ve watched it when I was younger.

If people could give you energy awards while you were running the marathon which would you want for an energy boost?

I would definitely enjoy the Boom Dynamite energy award!

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident, and joyful?

I try and keep healthy eating and hygiene habits to physically feel better in stressful stretches of time. I will also take time to go on a quick walk to get some fresh air and hopefully a different perspective on any particular situation. Spending time with friends is also a great way to be joyful and get a good laugh.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to my mother who shows me what it means to be a hard worker and a compassionate and loving friend and family member. Although sandwiched between two generations, her mother and her kids, my mother was able to handle taking care of our larger nuclear family during the good and bad times. She always checks in on me (and how I’m keeping up with my training) and knows exactly what to say to put me at ease.

Who has impacted your life the most and encouraged you to be your beautiful, healthy, and courageous self?

My grandmother had a great effect on my life. She showed perseverance and poise during difficult times and encouraged me to do the same. Being considerate, thoughtful, and graceful under pressure were just a few of the things she taught me. She also encouraged my passions and my opinion. She was more inclined to give compliments than spread gossip which I found not only benefited the person receiving the compliment but was an easy way to give yourself a boost of confidence as well.

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?

Keep posting and keep asking! When I hit milestones in my training, such as running my personal longest distance, I would post on social media to show that I am keeping up with my training and need others to help actualize my goal of going to the marathon.  

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?

I hope a girl starting with Girls on the Run enjoys her time to gain confidence in herself and realizes how bold and beautiful she is.

What advice would you give yourself at 10 years old?

As an already young and naïve 10 year old I would remind myself to be kind to myself and have fun! Don’t worry about what others are doing, but find something you are passionate about and want to pursue!  

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Sarah! If you want to donate to Sarah's fundraising efforts, click here.

 

 

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