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Coach Turns to Girls on the Run Lessons After Boston Marathon Disappointment

04/27/2018 | General

Forced to drop out of the Boston Marathon just nine days before the legendary footrace, Girls on the Run coach Lisa Abramowski found strength in the very lessons she'd long instilled in her students and GOTR girls.

Her love of running and devotion to service—both in the classroom as a teacher and on the track through Girls on the Run—had landed Lisa a spot on a unique all-teacher team for the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Out of more than 1,600 outstanding applicants, Hyland's, the Official Cramp Relief Sponsor of the Boston Marathon®, had selected only 13 distinguished educators to compete in the legendary race, widely known for its notoriously difficult qualification process.

Since finishing her first race in 2011, Lisa has completed dozens of road races. She even tackled Disney World's Dopey Challenge (completing a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon in four consecutive days). Boston would have marked her seventh marathon.

However, when Lisa was diagnosed with a femoral stress fracture just nine days before the marathon, ending her Boston hopes, she turned to the very lessons that had drawn her to coaching Girls on the Run in the first place.

Years prior, when a colleague sent out an email asking if anyone was interested in joining her as a GOTR coach, Lisa was only running a few miles at a time. The program's core values (and the teacher's assurance that you didn't have to be a superstar runner) convinced her to sign on anyhow.

"Girls were learning to believe in themselves, recognize negative self-talk and change it into positive self-talk, thoughtfully resolve conflicts, and ultimately how to reach out to others through community service. All in one program," Lisa said. "I remember laughing with a co-coach at the time that we were getting just as much out of the lessons as our girls were!"

She didn't know how right she was. After "a good cry and many cups of consolation coffee," Lisa turned her disappointment into an opportunity and her negative self-talk into positive self-talk, just as she'd taught her Girls on the Run participants to do.

"I’m learning, just as my Girls on the Run girls are, that when challenges pop into my life, I have to choose how much power to give them," she said. "I can let them steal the joy out of an amazing race weekend because I can’t lace up my shoes or I can choose instead to adjust my expectations and focus on the honor it is to be on this all-teacher team."

Lisa also transformed her hardship into a coaching moment, showing her girls how to harness their Star Power during tough times. She recently bought some colorful star beads and black pipe cleaners with this lesson in mind. Her girls will use these materials to make bracelet lap counters, sliding all the beads to one side of the bracelet, then moving them to the other side as they finish laps during practice.

"The black pipe cleaners remind us that sometimes things do get tough, but no matter what, just like the bright star beads, your Star Power is still there, just waiting to shine through it all," Lisa said. "You just have to choose to unleash it."

"So, channeling my Star Power as a Girls on the Run coach, I really believe that one day I can heal and train hard and make it to that Boston finish line in running shoes."

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