Meet our new Program Director, Deidre Dodd!

Meet our new Program Director, Deidre Dodd!

Meet our new Program Director, Deidre Dodd!

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Girls on the Run of Alachua County would like to extend a happy welcome to our new Program Director, Deidre Dodd! Deidre has been working with the Alachua County Girls on the Run Program since 2011.  We are so pleased to welcome her to her new position & can’t wait to see the wonderful things she helps GOTR of Alachua County accomplish. I had the pleasure of interviewing Deidre and learned so many inspiring things about her.  Below are the questions and answers from my interview with her:

Question 1: How did you start out working with Girls on the Run? What lead you to volunteer?
  • When I began with GOTR in 2011, my two daughters were ages 9 and 4. My girls are very much outdoor, fun loving girls.  It was becoming increasingly important to me to ensure that they would continue to have the self-confidence in themselves through their maturing years, and Girls on the run was the perfect answer for my girls! The program at that time was being led at an elementary school where I worked, and I saw first hand the impact the Girls on the Run program was having on these students.
Question 2: What do you wish to accomplish as the new program director?
  • My wish as the new program director is to help Girls on the Run of Alachua County grow through organizational exposure as well as site locations, so that all parents are knowledgeable of the program. As well as giving these parents the opportunity to enroll their daughter into GOTR program, where ideas and strategies will change the way their girls think about not only themselves but friends and the community!
Question 3: What has been your greatest success or memory since you started working with GOTR?
  • An important part of my growing with GOTR was when we piloted the Girls on Track program in Fall 2013. This was the first time Girls of Alachua County participated in the second tier of the Girls on the Run organization, Girls on Track, offered to 6-8th grade students. As a coach for GOT, I found it ironic after preparing for each of the lessons that these messages are just as applicable to myself as much as they were to the girls. They relate to girls and women, and everyone.  Just because we, as coaches, are adult women does not mean that we don’t forget to practice these ideals in our own life.
Question 4: Has GOTR had any impact on you and/or your family? If so, how?
  • YES! Both of my girls have participated in the Girls on the Run as well as the Girls on Track program. We speak Girls on the Run lingo all of the time…We put in our positive cord, and begin to look at the positive ways to look at a situation, and we resolve the challenge in that direction. My youngest daughter loves to put her sparkly cord in, and she will tell me she is getting rid of her yucky, slimy cord. We focus on positivity, and I tell my own daughters as well as all of my GOTR girls that Happiness and Positivity are contagious…Be the Carrier!


-Rebekah Mena

Running with Company

Running with Company

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It’s been quite a while since I last wrote, and I promise my intentions were good. It’s been a little over a month since I finished my second half marathon with my awesome and inspiring friend, Kerry! To say that my race weekend was amazing would be an understatement. Leading up to the race, I was feeling so nervous, anxious, and I would get all kinds of butterflies. Flash forward to the Friday before my race, and my husband and I got some incredibly exciting news! We were expecting our first child!! In that moment, everything felt surreal. My weird stomach issues were instantly explained, and even before I told my husband, I was on the phone with my doctor to make sure that I was in the clear to run my race. I felt even more passionate about finishing my race knowing that I wanted the best future for our little one, and the world they were going to be coming in to. My doctor encouraged me to run my race, but to do so while keeping my heart rate low. So, with that information and a little running partner, my husband and I set off for Orlando to stay with our friends and celebrate this new journey we were starting.

Flash forward to race morning…for any moms out there, I’m sure that all of you can relate with not feeling the greatest during the first weeks of pregnancy. My morning, however, started with a Questbar before the race and one to eat along the way during the race. When Kerry and I arrived at the race morning, it was dark and a little chilly for Orlando. We pulled up to the building where I used to work and I could already feel the excitement building up! I felt so at home in Lake Nona when we lived there, and I still feel so comfortable in that area of Orlando. The race was packed with people getting ready, and we made our way to our spots. Kerry and I run at different paces, so we made a plan to meet at the end of the race. Just before the race, one of the guests of honor gave a special “Good Luck” announcement to all of the runners. That’s when the waterworks started that day. I started to feel the excitement, adrenaline, and sentimental moments building up. Lake Nona was my home and where I really found myself as an adult. It was where my husband and I had our first home together, and it where we would spend our weekends when we dated. Every step of the race, I felt myself explaining to our little one what cherished moments had happened at the locations I passed. The whole 13.1 miles, I was narrating our story, my story, internally to my little running buddy.

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When I got to mile 8, I realized that all of the emotions were making it a little difficult to keep my heart rate down. So, I decided to slow down and walk it out a little bit. By mile 9, I seriously thought about throwing in the towel. I was tired, hungry, nauseous, and emotional. But,   all that keptrunning through my head were the pictures I’d seen on the Girls on the Run websites and the thought that I was thinking of quitting not because I couldn’t do it, but because I was tired. That moment when I thought of GOTR, is what got me through my last 4.1 miles of the race. I couldn’t wait to get home and share what a wonderful and life-changing experience my race weekend had been. I am incredibly grateful for Girls on the Run and especially for Emely who has made being a SoleMate so incredibly easy and rewarding! I’ve decided to take it easy on the running and races during my pregnancy, but I plan to come back after our little one is born and continue being a SoleMate! Thank you so much for all of the support and encouragement along the way! I hope everyone has a blessed Holiday Season!

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Stephenie & My Little Running Buddy



  1. Crossing the finish line and running straight into my husband’s arms
  2. The gorgeous sunrise overlooking one of my favorite sections of Lake Nona
  3. The thought of everyone with Girls on the Run cheering for me to finish
  4. Sharing this moment with my little running buddy. It was the perfect way to start my pregnancy off on the right foot!

Running Our Lives

Running Our Lives (pdf)

Remember to be Thankful this Holiday Season!

Remember to be Thankful this Holiday Season!

With Thanksgiving being right around the corner, I thought it would be very fitting to highlight the importance of gratitude this holiday season! It’s super important to teach kids at a young age the importance of being grateful for what they have because there could always be someone out there who isn’t as fortunate. GOTR of Alachua County is super thankful for the amazing girls that we see come through our programs. Watching these grow together, laugh together, and discover themselves together is a very rewarding experience. Although I personally do not have face to face interactions with the wonderful volunteers of GOTRAC and the girls that are enrolled in our programs, getting to write this blogs featuring what the girls are doing and see the pictures, makes me so thankful for this internship! The girls in our program are super lucky to have each other and their coaches that work with them consistently because they’re a part of the GOTR family and having a supportive family is one of the many wonderful things to be grateful for. Pictured below are the girls from Archer Elementary after they ran their practice 5k last week!


The Importance of Friendships

The Importance of Friendships

SoleMateStephanie“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.”

― Ally Condie, Matched

I started this post thinking that I was going to write all about my training and how excited I am about my race. While I’ll cover those topics, I wanted to write a little bit about what inspires me sometimes on the days when I’m nervous about running a half marathon, or I just really want to sleep in that extra hour instead of going to the gym for a workout. What truly inspires me are the women that I have come to love and admire in my life and that have become friends, but more importantly they have become like a second family.

Lately, I have been so busy with my training, work, volunteering, and school that I haven’t always been extremely motivated to stick with everything. One of the best motivators has been having a group of women in my life who are strong, intelligent, confident, and beautiful inside and out. They are mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. All of them have been with me as I’ve grown into who I am. Some of my best memories are with these women! I know that no matter what, we can be far away and busy with our own lives, but our friendship will always be there..solematesteph

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how important it is that I surround myself with positive thinking women. All of the women I’ve mentioned build one another up. It’s been mentioned so many times how women can tear one another down. It is so important to find true friends who won’t do this. Instead, they will help you grow into a better version of yourself.

When I started training for my half marathon, I wasn’t running the race with anyone. I had registered for the race without talking to anyone about it. I was really excited when one of my best friends decided to run the race with me! It’s been a great motivator to stick with my training schedule! Even more than finishing the race, I am beyond excited that I get to spend the weekend with my friend and her beautiful family!

What I’ve learned, is that more than anything, I hope and pray that every woman has a friend, or group of friends, that build her up. Girls on the Run, in my mind, is creating a generation of women that will do this. They’ll believe in themselves and one another. They’ll motivate each other to follow their dreams and live healthy and happy lives. That’s what all of these women have done for me, and I am grateful for every memory I have or will have with them.

When I wrote this there were only 10 days left until the Lake Nona Half Marathon, and I was already beginning to experience the pre-race jitters. I had one more long run, and then it was time to relax, stretch, and do a couple of short and easy runs before the race.  Now, the race is right around the corner, just two days away!  This Sunday, October 26, 2014 I will run 13.1 miles through Orlando, Florida to complete my 2nd half marathon.  I am grateful to everyone who has supported me in training for this race, and I can’t wait to get to Orlando for a fun and intense weekend! Happy Fall!!

<3 Stephenie


To support Stephenie please visit her SoleMates fundraising page:


SoleMates is the charity running leg of Girls on the Run of Alachua County (GOTRAC).  SoleMates provides adults an opportunity to raise money for GOTRAC while training for the athletic event of their choice. SoleMates set personal goals such as running in a marathon, half marathon,  or 10k event to raise money for GOTRAC. SoleMates raises critically needed funds that helps our council to serve more girls in our community.

For more information or to become a SoleMate for GOTRAC please visit our SoleMates website


Dad & Daughter Running Duo

Dad & Daughter Running Duo

IMG_1676Nooriel Nolan and her father Steve Nolan have become the first father-daughter SoleMates team!
Below they describe in their own words why they are passionate about running for Girls on the Run.

Steve (age 63):

I have a lifetime (50 years) love of running– it is my weight control , stress control, mood elevator , and morning meditation — at some point along the way my oldest daughter decided to follow in my footsteps and started running– she seemed to have a natural affinity for it at an early age– and I immediately saw how it gave her joy, a sense of accomplishment and a sense of bonding with her dad– we have shared that bond ever since — and we both enjoy passing that sense of joy and well-being to others! It is a healthy lifestyle that lends itself to welcoming others, encouraging others and bonding with others that becomes a basic social bond and subtle pleasure in a world of constant distractions and frequent stress. Girls on the Run is symbolic of the individual trying to outrun the limitations that society places upon us, whether it be gender, race, culture or religious affiliation — we can always outrun the limitations of “past thinking.”

Nooriel (age 33):

Running has always been an important part of my life.  As a young child, I used to ride my bike alongside my Dad as he went for his Saturday runs.  At the age of 8, I ran my first 5K race. By age 13 I was hooked, and running became part of my weekly routine. Encouraged by my parents, I would jog a couple times per week.  My father always seemed so excited by my progress, and by this mutual passion.  He made it a ritual to run his first mile or two with me before going off on his own, faster pace.   That father-daughter running bond lasted over the years, and we became running buddies.  Even as I transitioned into college, I cherished the few times per year we would run together.  This is one of the many ways my father showed me how important I was to him, how much he believed in me, and that I could accomplish anything.  It seemed logical that we would bond together to become SoleMates to help other girls realize this too.


Please sponsor us to run our first run as SoleMates, this December:

SoleMates – Find Your Happy Pace

SoleMates – Find Your Happy Pace

Happy Pace-1Want your next race to help change lives?


SoleMates is the charity running leg of Girls on the Run.  Runners can sign up for any event — runs, walks, bike rides or triathlons — and raise funds that will support Girls on the Run of Alachua County.   Individuals may register and raise funds as a SoleMate for any race/event of any distance.


Whether you are participating in your first or fiftieth marathon, by becoming a SoleMate you are doing much more than achieving your personal fitness goals. By asking friends to support your event training and participation with a donation on your behalf to Girls on the Run, you are showing your true commitment to the values we are instilling in girls everywhere to celebrate their physical and emotional health.


SoleMates funding provides scholarships for any girl who may need financial assistance in order to participate in the program as well as program supplies and running shoes for girls.  100% of the funds raised through SoleMates directly supports participants in the Girls on the Run of Alachua County.


Ready to Run?


If you are ready to sign up to run for a cause and become a SoleMate or would like additional information, please contact Emely

July 11, 2014

July 11, 2014

I’ve started writing this post a few times, but life, being sick, and of course the World Cup (Go TEAM USA!) seems to have gotten in the way. So, now is the moment when I will finally finish my post! Whoo Hoo! Yay! So, I wanted to write about how I’m going about figuring out my pace. It started during my first long run on the weekend. I wanted to give myself an opportunity to finish the run without feeling completely drained. I have a habit of just trying to run and pushing myself towards my mini goal during the run, and ignoring the fact that my knees are probably going to be screaming at me when I’m done. While I know that my muscles are going to be sore, I made a promise to my mom before I started training for my first race that I would make sure that I took care of my body, in particular my knees. So, since that day, I’ve been trying to stick to my word. I make sure that I invest in the proper running shoes and that I spend time stretching to make sure I’m concentrating on my form.
july11-blogMy form has become one of the key points to figuring out my pace. I was lucky enough to live with a high school track coach and athletic trainer when I first began running. There were some key lessons I learned that I remind myself of when I’m running. The first is that my arms should move front to back as I run. I have a hard time with this because for some reason, they always want to sway across my body as I run. The next tip I received was to simply relax as I ran. I have a tendency to over extend my stride as I run, trying to run faster, but I usually end up hurting for a few days when I do this. When I relax, my stride is shorter, my foot placement is done properly, my arms move the way they’re supposed to, and I have more fun. All of these things add up and it can seem like A LOT to think about. While working on finding my pace for the race, I am trying to make sure that I find a pace that makes it easy to maintain the correct form when running.

july-11-blog2It doesn’t make any sense to sacrifice my form and possibly the health of my knees to finish a race faster. I make sure that I stay within the limits of the race, but I also want to make sure that I finish the race standing tall and able to walk the next day.

So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to get in my miles with a great race pace that includes intervals. I made an interval workout on my running app and do 1 min slow jog, 1 minute medium pace, and 1 minute “fast” (or at least what’s fast for me). This routine is working out pretty well! I love that when I finish, I feel invigorated and not like I’m going to pass out (even when running in this Florida heat!). I imagine as I increase my miles I’ll get to a 1 minute medium, 1 minute slow pace for my race day. Overall, I’m really enjoying the first weeks of training and getting into a schedule. I’ve even found a 5K to run before my half marathon so that I can practice a race since it’s been so long since my first one. I even convinced a friend and my brother to run this one with me!

I hope everyone is having a FANTASTIC week!

To support Stephenie please visit her SoleMates page

SoleMates is the charity running leg of Girls on the Run of Alachua County (GOTRAC). SoleMates provides adults an opportunity to raise money for GOTRAC while training for the athletic event of their choice. SoleMates set personal goals such as running in a marathon, half marathon, or 10k event to raise money for GOTRAC. SoleMates raises critically needed funds that helps our council to serve more girls in our community.
For more information or to become a SoleMate for GOTRAC please visit our SoleMates website

Stephenie Begins Her SoleMate Journey

Stephenie Begins Her SoleMate Journey

Hi Everyone!
My name is Stephenie, and I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am that I have officially become a Girls on the Run Alachua SoleMate!

I’m a newer member to the city of Gainesville, and I was so happy to have stumbled photo (1)upon GOTR! This program is something that I want to invest my time with. I’ll actually be running a race in Orlando, FL this fall, and I’m filled with a mixture of emotions. I have been looking forward to signing up for another race since February 2012. *I can’t believe that’s the last time I ran a race!* My last race was the Disney Princess Half Marathon, and I told myself at that point that running the half marathon was a goal that I wanted to reach within 5 years of completing my very first race, the Disney Royal Family 5K. I just made the cut off! I participated in the half marathon on its 5th anniversary. While it was a great accomplishment, I have wanted to dedicate myself to completing another half marathon before my husband and I decide to start a family. The Lake Nona Inaugural Half Marathon is the perfect opportunity for me to complete this goal. With Girls on the Run, I feel like I’m getting to contribute to the success of the women that will be leaders to my future children. My hope is that by running this race as a SoleMate, my children will later be influenced by the positive influences of GOTR.
Why the Lake Nona Half Marathon, you ask? My husband and I were high school sweethearts that reconnected after 9 years apart. Our first home together was in Lake Nona, so that part of Orlando will always hold a special place in my heart. I started running when I lived in Orlando, and it has been the best way for me to think through my day to day life. When I first started running, I have to admit, it was to lose weight. But, through running, I have fallen in love with the person that I am. I have become a lot more comfortable in my own skin. On the pavement, I can feel myself working hard to reach a goal. Every time I lace up my shoes, I set a mini goal for myself. If haven’t run in a while, I like to start with a 20 minute jog – no breaks. When I finish and I’ve reached my goal, I can feel myself smiling ear-to-ear. There has never been a day when I looked back at a run and been disappointed. Everyone has their own ways of achieving this feeling, and it’s always fun to meet new people to discover what they’re passionate about. Lake Nona is a budding medical community that I believe will be a huge influence to medicine! I love that community, and even though we no longer live there, I want to see it grow and succeed.

I’m gearing up to start my training. My *goal* is to write at least one update a week! I can’t wait to share this journey, and I hope that you enjoy reading my posts. For now, I hope everyone has a FANTASTIC week, and God Bless!


“You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so …get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss


To support Stephanie please visit her SoleMates page


SoleMates is the charity running leg of Girls on the Run of Alachua County (GOTRAC).  SoleMates provides adults an opportunity to raise money for GOTRAC while training for the athletic event of their choice. SoleMates set personal goals such as running in a marathon, half marathon,  or 10k event to raise money for GOTRAC. SoleMates raises critically needed funds that helps our council to serve more girls in our community.
For more information or to become a SoleMate for GOTRAC please visit our SoleMates website

How You Can Use Comparison, Instead of Letting It Abuse You

NahaMarathon3-150x150Our very own Program Director Amy D. Hester recently published golden words of wisdom at – it was so good we couldn’t help but share! Hoping it encourages you as much as it encouraged us. -Girls On The Run of Alachua County Board

After reading a Facebook status you berate yourself because your friend’s twenty-month-old potty trained herself, while you sent extra clothes to school with your child until he was six, just in case. And due to a Tweet you saw, you’re eating celery and carrot sticks for lunch because your friend lost two pounds this week and you’ve been on a plateau for almost a month. When we are all constantly connected by social media, it is difficult to not compare ourselves to others.

We’ve all seen the meme, and I guarantee that it’s true – you will never be satisfied with your life when you are comparing it to someone else’s highlight reel. When we compare our everyday life to the polished highlights that people are willing to share with the world, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. The key to keeping our sanity and loving the lives we lead depends on the comparisons we allow ourselves to make.

Nobody Really Looks as Good as Their Facebook. Keep reading more.