Friday, September 12, 2014

Making it Work: Running When the Kids are Small

Question: Can a 30-something mom with two small children, a husband who travels, and a demanding full-time job maintain a satisfying running schedule?

“Yes,” says Erica Burr who lives next door to me, “but you have to get creative.”

I’ve been watching Erica run for several years now, from the time when Maddie, now 6, was in a stroller through part of a second pregnancy, and now with a second daughter, Isabelle, 14 months at this writing.
Active in volleyball, basketball, and track during high school, Erica began to run regularly as a freshman at Northern Illinois University, and it has been an important part of her life ever since. She remembers Midwest wind so strong she had to run backwards to get home.

A visit to Fort Collins with a friend during college and all the runners she saw in town made her decide to move west after graduation in 1997. A degree in English and experience in web development landed her a marketing coordinator position at Hewlett Packard where she met Chris, a software engineer. They married in 2002.  In the days before Maddie arrived in 2006, Erica and Chris often trained and did races together.
“HP had showers on site and in those days dirt roads surrounded the place. It was easy to get in a good run at noon,” Erica says.
For six months after Maddie was born, Erica ran pushing a regular stroller. “It didn’t work well,” she says. “A jogging stroller was the best investment I ever made. Maddie lived in it.”
When she got old enough to choose, Erica would offer Maddie, “a nap or a ride in the stroller.” She seldom chose to stay at home.
Erica has established a routine that allows her to run 20 miles a week, about half on the weekends. Because Chris is gone every other week, Erica hires a girl twice a week to come to her home about 6:45 a.m. Those days, weather permitting, she bikes to work at CSU, arriving by 7 a.m. and works until 3 p.m., bikes home, changes clothes, picks Maddie up at school, and together they get Isabelle at day care, and are off, Erica running, Maddie on her bike, Isabelle in the stroller, for four miles.
“There have been times,” Erica says, “when Maddie balks. I explain that this is something she’s doing for me. It’s not a choice.” This summer Maddie ran her first 5k, struggling a little during the race, but full of pride afterwards.
“My dad has diabetes and is not in good shape. I explain to Maddie that running will help to keep us both healthy.
When the weather cooperates, Erica puts Isabelle to bed a little early so they can both get up in time for a run before work. Early morning is Erica’s favorite time to run. “I love the quiet,” she says. “There’s nothing better than waking up and going for a run.”
Sometimes she sneaks away from her job as assistant coordinator for CSU Academic Computer Networking Services for a noon run. “No shower available, but I manage,” she says. “The important thing is getting in the run.”


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