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Open Mic Friday: Brianna K. Grant

Open_mic_friday Brianna K. Grant (aka YellowHat in the Lounge) joins us this week to talk about her book, We Are Girls Who Love To Run.  Inspired by her students and her own running, she has created a book for girls who are learning to love running.   Welcome to the Lounge Brianna!

What inspired you to write your book? 

I was inspired by my students (third and fourth graders). A handfull of them participated in the program Girls on the Run, which started in Charlotte, NC where I was teaching (the program is now HUGE!). The founder, Molly Barker, wrote an amazing book, Girls on Track, that shares her life story and how running literally saved her life. The book also includes lessons for mothers/daughters to experience together (a modified version of the Girls on the Run cBrianna200x282_3urriculum) to help build a healthy relationship with one another and their bodies while exploring running through games and training for a 5K. It is really fantastic. The girls were excited when the book was released, but it is really better suited reading material for the parents as a guide for working with their daughters. I thought the girls might enjoy a book specifically designed for THEM - one that would celebrate the great discussions and experiences they have with their coaches and fellow runners. I'm also very passionate about my mission to give back to my community. The running community has been so receptive and encouraging of me that I wanted to create something that could capture that positive energy and pass it on to others. I also wrote the book to share my passion for running with our next generation of leaders, with the hope that they won't have to wait as long as I did to discover it!

What is your favorite story or part of the book? 

One of my favorite aspects of the book is that it incorporates non-running elements of life that help rBookcover300x232emind readers to "mix it up" and keep life interesting. It is a reflection of the young girl I was (without running, since I didn't start running until I was in my twenties) and the girls I taught (many of which were discovering the joys of running at the same time I was!). The girls in the book are creative as they develop their own recipes and turn their chores into imagna tive games. They enjoy time with their families and friends, explore other sports like bike riding, and even venture into the water to catch frogs. These girls are ALIVE and HAPPY!

Tell us about your partnership/collaboration with Girls on the Run.   

I met with Molly nearly 4 years ago to share the seeds of my idea with her. She was totally receptive and encouraging the entire process. After going through the publishing process with her own book, she was even able to share some insight into the overwhelming world of books. Seeing how dedicated I was to making the book a reality and my passion for my newly adopted sport, she even suggested how I could open up the book to touch the lives of readers and runners beyond the world of Girls on the Run. I think the book has done that, which I'm able to see in the excitement that's generating with other running groups for girls and fitness groups for women. Next week I'm helping my local Girls on the Run council (Puget Sound) with their annual auction fundraising event. With my full schedule coaching a group isn't currently feasible, but this enables me to participate and make a difference in a behind-the-scenes sort of way, which I think has its own value.

Life must be busy with two little ones and a new book.  How do you find time for running?

That's the question I ask myself almost daily. How can I make it all happen? Truth is, a run doesn't always happen, though it is the ONE thing I'd love to incorporate into each day. I'm a stay-at-home mom right now, so my family takes priority with the book as a close second. My running times have to sneak in when they can, which is currently only about 2 per week (one afternoon and one weekend run). Now that the weather is a bit more cooperative and the sun is rising earlier, I'm working to fit in another run or two in the mornings before my husband heads to work. I am thrilled that I get to yoga nearly every week because my husband and I take a class together for our date night. Maybe we should run home afterward to get in a run together!

Are you training for any races currently?  What are your running goals? 

I'm currently training for a 10K race in June here in my adopted hometown of Duvall, WA.  I've run numerous 5Ks, a 15K and the marathon, but this is my first 10K race experience. It is a hilly, hilly, hilly course (pretty much a 5K uphill and a 5K back down), so I'm working on running the hill in chunks to get used to it and will do at least one run of the whole thing before the event. Hills have always made me apprehensive, so this is as much of a mental challange for me as it is a physical one.

What is the biggest lesson your learned from your first marathon?   

The biggest lesson I learned from my marathon was that I need to eat more. Typical rookie mistake, right?! My pace was steady and strong for the first 16 miles or so, but then dropped quite a bit after that. By mile 20 I knew that I hadn't eaten enough (despite the reminders from my husband) and that I'd have to really dig in and focus to finish by my goal. Mind over matter got me to the finish line, but mostly thanks to the amazing dedication of my husband who kept me distracted and helped me take the last few miles one orange cone at a time. In fact, the last mile or so was dedicated to my third grade students - I dedicated each orange cone to one of them. It really helped! 

What's next for your writing career?

This is such a refreshing and exciting question! You know, I've been very focused on getting We Are Girls Who Love to Run out into the hands of readers for the last 3 years (full-time for the last year). I laughingly call it my "third child" because the gestation and labor of it were nearly as intense as having children and it DOES get all of the time I have when my children are sleeping. Another book is definitely part of the plan, though I'm not sure which of the ideas swirling in my brain will hit the presses first. I have readers requesting a boys' version of the book, while others are rooting for this to become a "We Are Girls" series.

What is a way an ordinary runner can help new runners/young girls get started on the right path?

Ordinary runners are essential in helping new runners get started on the right path, primarily by setting the example of running. That's one of the things I love about runners - they are naturally encouraging folks. One of my favorite memories from my very first 5K was a gentleman who called out to me as he passed, "Lookin' good, Red! You've already beat the thousands of people who are still in bed!"  Girls are looking for the validation that they are doing things right and that what they're doing is strong.  That runner let me know that I was on the right path and now I pass along his wisdom to other new runners. By mentoring a group of girls, cheering on youngsters who participate in kids' races, or even "just" modeling healthy habits within your own family, you can make a difference, too. Carol Goodrow, another author for youth about running, is the brains behind KidsRunning.com, a great resource for helping kids discover our sport. It is definitely worth your time!


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Very exciting. And the book has reviews from some of our favorites, Deena Kastor, Kathrine Switzer and Kristin Armstrong among others. I haven't told anyone yet but Brianna was very generous in giving two copies to my virtual race coming up, 10k on the 10th.

Congrats on your book and on being a girl who loves to run!!


carol goodrow

Brianna's new book, We Are Girls Who Love to Run" should be in all school libraries. It's reminiscent of "Running the Road to ABC" an award winning Haitian book. Brianna's book puts into words what we all feel and experience when we love to run.

If you love the book, too, tell 2 friends and ask them to tell 2 friends. Looking forward to Brianna's next book, whatever it may be. We need to support our authors who spend their time writing with their heart about their passion for running.

Database Diva

I was so excited after reading this post I went straight to amazon.com and ordered a copy of Brianna's book as a birthday gift for my great-niece's birthday. I also ordered a copy of Girls on Track for her mom, who is training up to run the Iron Girl 5K with me in September. I'm hoping we can make it a 3 generation event!

I think the Girls on the Run program is wonderful, and I would love to be involved, but my job makes it difficult for me to do anything but work.

Thanks for sharing with us!


Girls on Track is a FABULOUS book - and I highly recommend it for any parents of girls. I'm glad you are sharing it with your great-niece's mom - the two books really compliment one another. I wish them (and YOU!) many years of happy running!


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