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October 06. 2012 7:52PM

Teresa Robinson's NH Runner: Just another reason to enjoy Manchester Marathon weekend

ONE OF my favorite weekends as a Queen City runner just got even better.

As someone who has adopted Manchester as my hometown, I love Manchester City Marathon weekend. I usually try to run some part of the race and, I think, I've managed to do every option at some point or another — the relay, the half marathon, the full marathon. (If I qualified for the kids' running event, I'd do that, too.)

Marathon weekend in the city brings a certain positive energy that I love. Cheering crowds, hard-working race organizers and volunteers and runners with medals around their necks. I love it all. Add an expo to the festivities and local runners have a pretty good weekend. This year there's even more to look forward to.

Molly Barker, the founder of Girls On The Run, will be here for a fundraising breakfast on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Manchester Country Club. The breakfast event kicks off at 9 a.m. and includes some words of wisdom from Barker, raffles and a fashion show from Girls On The Run's national sponsor, Athleta. The fashion show will feature program alumni and coaches as models. That alone might be worth the price of admission.

I had the pleasure of serving as a volunteer coach for one of the Green Acres Elementary School Girls On The Run teams last spring. I'm not sure who got more out of it — me or the girls. The program, while using running as a foundation for its lessons, teaches girls about making healthy decisions, focusing on positive relationships, standing up for themselves, leading a healthy lifestyle and, of course, having fun.

All of these are important things for us grown-up girls, I might add. More than once, I found myself applying the lessons I learned through the program. I still do.

Barker is ever-present in the Girls On The Run program, welcoming coaches by video during the training session and often sharing her thoughts with the girls through the curriculum. Although she's a four-time Ironman triathlete, I always find her to be very relatable. She often shares her experiences as a girl wanting to be popular, one who felt like she didn't fit in. It's a story that most girls, no matter what shape, size or personality, can identify with.

A runner at heart, Barker realized that she felt her strongest and most confident after a run. At those times, it didn't matter if she fit in with the popular crowd. The idea of tying life lessons to running was born, and so was the first chapter of Girls On The Run. It's a natural tie-in. For runners, running gives us confidence, teaches us not to give up and helps us focus on positive things.

I'm looking forward to hearing what insight Barker will share at next month's breakfast. Tickets to the Breakfast With Molly event, which will benefit the New Hampshire Girls On The Run chapter, are $30 and are available at

I'm hoping her inspiration will carry with me to the following day, Nov. 4, when I hit the Manchester Half Marathon. With the help of a running buddy, my training has been going well. We have managed to keep up our regular weekly running dates and have been training consistently on the course. That pesky route has a way of reminding me how hilly this city can be. Although training is helping, those hill are certainly humbling.

My running buddy and I have adopted a mantra of “balance” for this event. We've decided that this one won't be about our finishing time or splits or paces. It will be about having fun, being healthy, spending time with friends and just plain feeling good. Just the way Molly would want it.

Teresa Robinson's NH Runner column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. She can be reached at Twitter: @teresakrobinson

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