Lisa Keller is the Employee Experience Manager at Girls on the Run, a non-profit dedicated to empowering young women. We learn the motivation behind Lisa’s involvement with this inspirational organization and why Girls on the Run is about so much more than running.
Listen to the full interview on The Omega Sports Women’s Only Podcast.
Lisa Keller’s Background
Lisa Keller is a Puerto Rican New York native, or a Nuyorican as they refer to her back home. She has been an avid runner for most of her adult life. Before Lisa took to running, she favored dance. While in New York, she attended a performing arts high school intending to become a full-time dancer.
Unfortunately, life had other plans. It was there that she had an accident that would prevent her from dancing professionally. Still wanting to remain active, Lisa picked up running and fell in love.
Running Her First 5k
In the early stages of her running career, Lisa wanted to do something that involved her love of running and was ethically philanthropic. So at 24, Lisa participated in her first race. She signed up for the Susan Komen 5k inaugural race, Race for the Cure. The race focuses on education and fundraising events for breast cancer. Being surrounded by so many inspiring people ignited Lisa to her core. She admits to feeling nervous and scared when she first arrived, but the feelings were quickly replaced by joy and belonging.
As of today, in 2021, Lisa has run 76 half marathons and 6 full marathons. Talk about impressive! After her first 5k, Lisa dove deep and started running more. Her husband also got into running.
Now, as a seasoned running veteran, Lisa recalls back to her toughest race, her very first full marathon at The Marine Corps Marathon. Her father was a marine, so when she finished, she gifted the medal to her father as a token of gratitude.
Training and Learning with Lisa Keller
If there is anything Lisa has learned, it is you only get better over time. Over the years, she has understood where her talents lay. To run these marathons, she knew she would have to join a training group. Being a go-getter, Lisa joined the Road Runners Club of America to become a certified coach. This taught her the mechanics behind training, everything from building a plan to reach your goal, to picking which shoes you should wear.
Training has been a multifaceted experience for her and her family. It involves all of her favorite things, being active, clearing your head, bonding with family, and having fun. Running is an integral part of her family’s life. Her daughter participated in Girls on the Run for many years and her son has run his whole life alongside his parents. Having two parents as coaches helps with the motivation. Her family knows that no matter who is in the lead, they are always together.
Girls on the Run
Girls on the Run is a physical, activity-based youth development program focused on creating a positive environment for young women to thrive. Their area of expertise lies with girls between the ages of 8-13. The organization has been in the business for over 25 years and continues strong. Admittedly, during the pandemic, they saw a decline in participation, mainly due to school closures. To mitigate the decrease in numbers, Girls on the Run went full virtual and saw an increase in numbers. With Fall approaching, they expect high enrollment. The organization is in a hiring frenzy and most positions are fully remote; anyone can contribute and work from anywhere.
“I know what goes on in their mind is, ‘Wow, I did a 5k, what else can I do!?” – says Lisa Keller
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Lisa Keller’s Favorite Memory
Choosing just one favorite memory is like choosing a favorite child; it is impossible! Lisa enjoys seeing girls join who start timidly and may not want to be there. Watching them come out of their shell over the next ten weeks of the program is the most rewarding experience. Lisa states that once they finish the 5k, a sense of relief and accomplishment beams from their faces. They may even go back into the race to help their friends finish. It’s something that melts your heart into a puddle!
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