Nicole Zelenak, a.k.a. Running While Mommy, calls her son, Michael, 7, and daughter, Abigail, 4, her greatest running inspirations. “Without them, there would not be a running while mommy,” says Nicole, 41, who resides with her husband, Dave, and their kids in Narragansett, R.I. She just signed on for her longest distance, the Philadelphia Marathon, held Nov. 17. She’s contemplating following a plan from Train Like a Mother (we’re a little biased, yes, but we say YES, go for it, Nicole! We’ll be with you every step of the way!)
Best recent run: A 3-mile run with my running friend Jackie. We were able to leave the boys with her husband but had to take the girls in the jogging strollers. It had been a while since either one of us had to push the jogger, but we really wanted to get it done. With the girls being older, we are now pushing approximately 70 pounds! We set out and right away, fell into conversation. After about a mile, we saw our friend Mary who was just finishing up three miles. She turned right around to join us and the three of us ran, talked, and laughed for the next two miles. I learned that Mary runs “naked” for every run—she has a general idea [of her mileage] but just runs for the love of it. And Jackie killed a hill while pushing the stroller. I know this because I watched while trailing behind said hill. I also remembered some of the reasons I liked pushing the stroller. Lots of storage for one. But mostly because my daughter had fun and loved seeing mommy "racing." Both girls yelled, "Faster, Faster" and giggled almost the whole time.
Bring on 26.2! When I trained last year for my half-marathons, I ran 4-5 days a week with very little cross-training. I have had issues with my hip ever since, not to mention a deteriorating disc in my back—fun, right? My core is weak and I have worked very hard to become stronger. This time around, I want to run 3-4 days a week with cross-training for a total of 6 days. I also need to be able to change my running days around in case of sitter issues. I like the idea of the "bail if necessary" and the "bailing is not an option" in the TLAM plan. I am not sure if I will fall in love with this distance so I want to be able to enjoy it with very little pressure. It is going to thrill me to run through my childhood streets with family and friends along the course to cheer me on.
Power of 10 (Miles): I think it goes back to the first time I ran that distance—this number scared me. I woke up to a dreary day and I knew it would start to rain. I hurt, I was tired, and I got drenched in my last mile, but I felt like Superman! The following weekend, I ran the Blessing, which is a very popular 10-mile race here in my town. It was like a giant party and I had a fantastic time. The other side is mental. It is easy for me to tell myself that I am going out for two, 5-mile runs. Why is that different than saying two, 6- mile runs, I don't know, but I like it, it works for me.
Favorite piece of running gear or clothing: My shoes. I did not know the value of good running shoes when I started, but found out quickly. I am currently running in Asics GT-2160s but they are on the last few miles. Waiting patiently in my closet, with just a few miles on them, are Asics Nimbus 14s. I do have a favorite race outfit: my Run Like a Mother tank with my Kyodan hot pink running skirt with ruffles. How can you go wrong with that! The tank, by the way, I won from one of the Hump Day giveaways.
Finding Herself+Family Fitness: I was having a bad day, maybe it was a week, Mr. RWM was away, the kids were running around like lunatics and I was making mac and cheese for the 1000th time. I was feeling lost and confused. How did I get here? Before kids, I was a flight attendant and lived a pretty cool life. I love my family but I was lost in them and needed to find myself again. I laced up the next day with the Couch to 5K plan downloaded on my phone and never looked back. I ran, I walked, I ran again. I had my own music, my own thoughts, and I felt free and alive! I was a better wife and mother because I had something that was just mine. We are all a little more health conscience and my son is now running with me. He is 7 and is up to two miles! What started out to be, "just mine" is slowly becoming a family affair and I couldn't be more proud. I sometimes hate to tell this story, as I think I sound a little selfish because I started by "running away." But by doing that, I ran into pure joy and we are all better for it.
Up Next…: This year the big goal is to run 26.2 and stay injury free. And, I do have a goal for 2014: there are three half-marathons in RI that make up a triple crown—the Cox Providence Half, The Jamestown Half, and the Amica Newport Half. By running all three next year, I will become a Triple Crown recipient! Beyond that, I just hope to run, stay healthy, and enjoy life. I hope to still motivate others as well as be motivated by all of you. I started Running While Mommy to keep me accountable and never dreamed that I would have readers besides my mom. I am humbled and excited by every runner who I meet and talk with. I have learned so much in such a short time and I look forward to everyday of knowing you, in real life and virtually. Run Strong, Think Big!