The voices of girlab
For the past, the present, and the future generations.
For the women who paved the way to female participation in all sports, not just the ones deemed “appropriate”.
For the women who didn’t take “no” for an answer.
For the women who juggle motherhood and work, but still get out the door for a run because their dreams aren’t waiting for things to get easier.
For the women who love to move their bodies because it’s a reminder that we are more than our looks.
For the women who battled eating disorders and misinformed coaches and quit as a result.
For the girls who worry that being strong will scare the boys.
For the girls who don’t have female coaches to turn to when they need them.
For the girls who aren’t told they can do whatever they set their minds to.
For the girls who aren’t told their dreams can become reality if they want it badly enough.
For all women - past, present and future generations. We are here because, and for, you. Strong as individuals - collectively we are a force.
“As a woman, I’ve always wanted to be taken seriously in all aspects of my life, but especially in running because it is such an important part of who I am. And by serious, I mean that I want my goals and dreams to be respected, and I want all my hard work and effort in reaching for those goals to be acknowledged. No matter if I’m a girl; no matter if my goal is to make it to the olympics or to just run 1 mile; no matter if I’ve been running for half my life or just getting started.
I’ve always hated getting comments like “you’re pretty fast for a girl.” Why not just be fast for me?
I think being taken seriously means that you truly listen to and have compassion for others’ experiences, responsibilities, history, culture, and all the ups and downs. I think it means that you understand the things that influence both setting a goal in the first place as well as the importance of that goal to a particular person. And, it means that you can be a serious athlete by showing up for your goal, for your teammates, and for yourself.
This was my first season as a part of GirLAB, and it was all about showing up for myself and for each other. Together, we form a community in which all goals are created equal, and sharing our stories, day-to-day struggles, sweat, and soreness not only inspires and motivates us, but it also allows us to feel supported every step of the way. To me, GirLAB is the space where we can say that we, women, are enough and so are our goals.
They say it takes a village to reach your goals, right? Well, GirLAB is that village. We’re out here breaking down our own barriers, so that we can also break down barriers in sport, and everywhere else too.” - Emma Krasovich // @emrok
“I hope that women become stronger together. I hope women start celebrating each other more and that in turn the world follows.... women are the future.” - Kristol Clyde // @kris_nic22
“GirLAB highlights the power of a community of women supporting and building up one another. We are stronger together!” - Stephanie Mercer // @stephanie_adele
“I run to be an example for my kids, to demonstrate that age and language barrier is not a limitation when you have a passion. Running has made a positive impact in my life, it moves me physically and relieves me emotionally, but it can be tiring. Getting motivated to keep pushing comes easy to me, I think about what I will gain when I finish my run. GirLAB has helped me evolve as a runner, I learned to be vulnerable with new friends, I learned I can ask questions, I learned I can speak up, and more importantly be myself. GirLAB is a loving environment, I have been guided through yoga (Victoria) she has guided me through compassion to make connections with myself. I also have been guided through book club (Mel) she has shared women empowerment books that have made me realize how hard women have had to work culturally, politically, and athletically to get us where we are today. GirLAB provides a great running foundation, motivation, and atmosphere. GirLAB has awoken my passion and strength to run.” - Gaby Alcala // @aztitlan
“To me, GIRLAB is about so much more than running. It is community, friendship, sisterhood, womanhood, support, inspiration, motivation, individuality, challenge and most importantly humanity.” - Ani Panossian // @ani125
“GirLAB has created a space where I've stopped comparing myself to other female runners and learned to cheer for myself along with the women I've trained for. The one thing that has always brought me back to the sport of running has been community, and I feel that now with GirLAB more than ever. The irony is that 2/3 seasons so far have been virtual. But if anything, that proves the tenacity of these women. Nothing will stop them from showing up and supporting one another- having discussions week after week of what are training plans have felt like, talking through any obstacles that might have come up, the importance of mindfulness through movement and connection to female trail blazers who have made it possible for us to be a part of this sport.” - Victoria Sanchez // @runwithvictoria
“It's been a great experience working with such a diverse group of strong women towards a common shared goal and truly shows that there is no "cookie cutter" idea of what a runner is or should be. We are all passionate, strong and talented in so many different ways.” - Amber Morton // @amberr_niicole
“GirLAB has been the experience we all didn’t know we needed but extremely grateful we had in these times of mandated separation. It created a space for women to connect, collaborate, and empower each other. This experience has even allowed me to share my passion in strength training with other women — something I’ve dreamed of doing to help right the gender imbalance in coaching. I truly can’t wait for the next season of this powerful and ever-evolving community.” - Lilian Guevara // @lilyguevara4
“Running on a GirLAB TSP team is empowering. Being surrounded by like-minded, strong, exceptional women all working toward the same goal is something I haven't experienced in years, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.” - Sam McBirney // @obviouslynerdy
“There was no better time than 2020 to join a group like GirLAB. I struggle to explain what GirLAB is to other runners. I start by saying it is so much more than running. Its strength, yoga, book club, and most importantly, it is unconditional support from other women. Women of all ages and from different backgrounds. Some women are local to LA and others are from across the country. But we all share one thing-we're runners. And runner's have always been my favorite kind of people because we love supporting each other in our sport. In 2020, when so many communities were falling apart, GirLAB kept us all going strong.
I was lucky to participate in the summer and fall sessions of GirLAB this year. The summer session trained us for The Speed Project, and I have to brag after going back and forth between first and second place with a team from New York, my team secured a first place finish in the Women's division. The fall session was a little different. Our leader, Cassidy Benadum, challenged us to pick a distance and go for a solo time trial or "Victory Session". While The Speed Project was brutally hard, a solo time trial was even harder. There was no team to pick up the slack or to keep you motivated. In a solo time trial, there is nowhere to hide. You are exposed and vulnerable.
I decided to race the half marathon distance. My original goal was to break 1:30 since I hadn't done it before. A lot of doubt started creeping into my mind when I saw other fellow runners clocking insane times in their time trials. What if I couldn't even break 1:30? But I pushed all the negative thoughts aside and started my watch. I started running sub 7s from the start. I feared I was going too fast but it felt controlled. I remembered some of the things Cassidy telling us in our weekly sessions--dream big, don't be afraid of speed, go for it. I decided that the pace wasn't going to scare me. I focused on my form--heels to butt, high knees, finger nails to hips, etc. Before I knew it I was letting my legs fly for a fast last mile. I stopped my watch and couldn't believe it. Did I miss an entire mile? Nope. I finished with an 8 minute PR in 1:25:00. I cried.
I can't really express how shocked I am and how proud I am. I would have never had this breakthrough in running in 2020 if it wasn't for GirLAB and Cassidy encouraging us to get after it. My race was truly a victory session in every sense. I can not wait for the next GirLAB session and see what else these legs can do. #GirLAB #cryLAB #womensupportingwomen” - Janel Peralez // @janelp9
"Running has intimidated me my entire life. And for more than half of my time on this planet, I constantly floated between two mindsets; (1) a lack of motivation to run alone because it was hard and uncomfortable and (2) my mind was so engulfed by self-doubt and pace-shame that I would refuse or find any excuse to not go on any sort of group run. In hindsight, it's incredibly ironic that my fear of not being able to "keep up" was never enough to actually get me to work towards being able to.
It’s no secret that 2020 has sent the sport of running back arguably 50 years. No weekly group runs or run crews, no access to the public track, no hopping on the treadmill (unless you own one) and certainly no races to sign up for. Plus the idea of running with a mask on sounds like a fate worse than death.
But what this year did do for me in my running journey was give me GirLAB. From day one, the moment I was asked to be part of this collective, my journey has been transformative, supportive and most of all inspirational. And it’s been about me, a time for me to reflect, be generous to myself and ground me when I felt lost.
I wouldn’t trade my experience with GirLAB for anything and I’ll tell you why. Being part of GirLAB gave me energy I didn’t know I needed, a platform to speak and to lead others that I didn’t know I wanted and an incredible network of inspiring and unforgettable women to connect to. I was blessed with all this in a year that will go down in history as the hardest year to find new relationships. GirLAB not only withstood the storm of 2020 but got me through it, stronger than I came into it. I’ll remain forever humble and grateful to be a part of it.” Mel Leszcynski // @sup_melly_mel
"GirLAB has always been a space to share in collaboration and growth, often with the goal of reaching new heights-- personally, and now physically. GirLAB Summit is a new experience, beginning this winter with the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail. GirLAB members will form teams to relay it, or go it solo, with the support of GirLAB leaders and members. As athletes, we aim to tackle the extreme physical and mental challenges associated with running 68 miles and 14,000ft elevation gain, but as women, we are also aiming to inspire the community, and evolve the expectations and assumptions of women trail runners and hikers. Personally, GirLAB affords me an inclusive space to share my passion for running, and use my experience and organizational skills to help others in the running community through planning and support. My personal connection to the Backbone Trail started when my own mom assisted in completing the final segments as a volunteer trail builder with the SMM Trails Council. Assisting the amazing athletes of the GirLAB community to complete the full 68 mile experience through GirLAB Summit is sure to be an equally rewarding experience that reflects the past, present, and future contributions of women to our sport. - Amanda Grue // @amandajgrue
“Three years ago, fresh out of grad school, I made a goal for myself to run my first marathon before I turned 30. I had no idea what I was doing and resolved that if I ran every day, eventually I would be able to tackle the mileage of a full marathon. I didn’t actually realize the
true physical, mental, and emotional dedication training for a marathon would entail. Needless to say, I did everything “wrong”. Along the way, I let my own self-defeating thoughts and personal struggles get in my own way and would often give up and go on long breaks before
taking up running again. When the time came to actually run the marathon, I ran about 17 miles before tripping and injuring my ankle and quitting. All throughout the marathon instead of telling myself positive affirmations, I often would encourage myself to give up, “just get to
mile 10 and if you don’t want to do it just stop” “it’s too hard and you didn’t do this the right way, just give up no one is expecting you to finish anyway”. I left that experience completely discouraged from running. For almost a year, I would sign up for races then not do them.
Feeling defeat before even starting.
Then, this year with all the stress and anxiety from the pandemic, I decided to take up running again more seriously, let’s be honest I have the time to. I saw an opportunity from another GirLAB runner that they would be having a new season, so I decided to apply. I had no idea
what to expect, but quickly found that GirLAB was exactly what was missing from my running journey. Having the opportunity to be part of this season truly helped me to make running a bigger part of my life and to have patience with myself and my progress. I learned so much
about running from Cass and the other women. Their advice, knowledge, and words of encouragement were exactly what I needed to love and enjoy running again. I am by no means the best runner, nor am I the runner I hope to be, but GirLab has showed me that running is
more than the metrics and numbers we put on ourselves. GirLab taught me so much about running and that you can accomplish anything with a group of amazing women cheering you on.” - Gretchelle Quiambao // @gretchelleq