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Follow This Mother!

Clever Cathy's homage to her 2nd 5K race

Scrapbook royalty Cathy Zielske came onto our radar last spring when virtual busloads of new fans showed up on our Facebook page, telling us that Cathy had sent them. In less than 36 hours, our fans doubled from roughly 1,500 to 3,000. Yes, we knew from the get-go CZ, as we have come to lovingly refer to her as, is a force! But perhaps her greatest contribution to us, other than her always-make-us-laugh friendship (she and I especially bonded over our mutual, undying love of Peter Gabriel!) and her designs of our T-shirts, is her dubbing me a “badass mother runner.” Thus, our slogan was born! Love ya, CZ!

Best recent run: A few Saturdays back, I clocked a nice and easy 7-miler—my longest run to date—on my treadmill. Now before you gasp and say, “Oh gawd, how awful for you!” I should point out I live in the arctic tundra that is South Central Minnesota and I’m a complete winter running wuss. If the mercury’s dipping below 20, the pavement and I shant meet. I have zero problem with putting my miles in on the old ‘mill. No, it’s not scenic and spiritual, but with the right iTunes mix, it gets the job done. Plus, no need to wear my Fuel Belt and cram tons of Kleenex into my sports bra. (The Kleenex? A necessity as running makes my nose run. I will never master the Farmer’s Blow, nor will it ever appear on my list of things to do.)

Does your chub rub?! My chub does in fact rub, but thanks to a 30-pound weight loss during my first year of running and an ample supply of BodyGlide, not nearly as bad as it did at the outset. I started running in January 2010, with my 5’ 6" frame tipping the scales just under 184 pounds. Chub reduction was the primary reason I laced up and starting clocking my 12-minute miles. I’m still amazed at what running has done for my body. No, I haven’t transformed into a tiny, sinewy runner, but I am stronger today than I’ve been since my adolescent figure roller skating days. But that’s a story for another day.

Running: What made you love it? A funny thing happened on the way to chub reduction: I connected spiritually to this amazing sport.

All smiles on her first 5K
When you first start running, your goal is to make it to the next block without passing out, but over time, those blocks build into multiple blocks, and those blocks into miles, and then all of a sudden, you’re outside on a sublime 50-degree spring morning and hits you, “I. Am. Running.” This was a pretty powerful revelation for this former pack-a-day smoker, whose idea of exercise was folding and putting away the laundry. Now, every run has the potential to make me feel powerful, connected, and alive. Of course, picking up Run Like a Mother in the spring of 2010 didn’t hurt either. Suddenly, I really wanted in with this tribe. Twelve-minute miles be damned, I was officially a member.


Un-scrap-able you: As a scrapbooker, I pretty much lay it all out there. If you’re looking for scrapbooks full of pages showing how perfect my life and my family are, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you want to read about how over-the-top obsessed my son was at age 5 with Freddie Mercury, or some of the seriously sassy phrases that can come out of the mouth of a 14-year-old girl, or how I’ve struggled with body image and getting to a place where I’m okay with me, then you might connect to some of the stories I save. I think scrapbooking’s ultimate purpose is to save authentic slices of real-but-ordinary everyday life. Forget all the birthday parties and Christmas mornings. It’s the specific details of this life I’m going to want to remember and savor. Of course, I do have some limits. No pages about my daughter getting her first period, or me getting busy with my old man, if you catch my drift.

Meatless March—long trudge by soldiers? In my quest for better health and fitness, I gave up meat for the month of March just to see how my body responds to finding all of its nutrition through meatless means. I adore cooking, so I’m focusing this month on creating delicious vegetarian meals featuring healthy whole foods and grains. So far, no real complaints from my family, though my sweet hubby will always toss in, “Mmmm, Cath, this is really good. It’d go great with a burger.”

If running could scrapbook: It would make really tight, clean pages with absolutely zero fluff included. Great design, great stories, and no B.S.

Get racy: I’ve run two races to date, both 5Ks. The first one was last July--I was so nervous the night before I think I slept 90 minutes total. I ran it in just under 33 minutes and was on a permanent high for about three days following. I couldn’t believe that after four decades of living, I was outside in nature, running a foot race. Three months later, I ran my second 5K and shaved almost five minutes off my time. I wasn’t just happy to finish the 3.1 miles, I was there to kick some ass and take names. I haven’t committed to my next race just yet, but I’ll tell you what it might be: The Team Ortho Minneapolis Half Marathon in June. I currently run four days a week and crosstrain two. All I need to do is up that weekend long run and I’m golden. I guess I should get out that credit card and sign up already.

Pretty and pink: Cathy's beloved Newtons
And we don’t mean fig…:
I’ve been running in Newton running shoes since May of 2010. As a new runner starting out at the fresh age of 44, I pretty much immersed myself in everything I could find on injury-free running. Chi Running really resonated with me, both philosophically and as an applied approach. I knew to keep those knees pain free, I’d need to adopt the midfoot strike. The Chi approach led me to learn more about Newton sheos, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve has some plantar fasciitis issues in my short but glorious running career, but the Newtons seem to be a good fit for keeping me off the injured reserve. Plus, they’re hot magenta and every time I look down at my feet, I think, “I am adorable!”

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40 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. I love knowing there are other scrapbooking running mothers on the streets! I just finished a scrapbook all about my adventure training for and running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with Team in Training (in 2009, yes it took more than a year to finish!). Through the “adventure” I discovered a whole world of runners I never knew were out there and now I’m one of them. I look forward to checking out your blog! I’ve been scrapbooking a lot longer than I’ve been running.

  2. It’s funny, but RLAM pointed me to CZ last year instead of the other way around. Now these are the first two sites I look to every morning when I start up the computer!
    Cathy is so inspiring to a not quite 50 year old runner that has a hard time staying inspired.
    I love her writing and scrapbook pages. For anyone unfamiliar with CZ, Sex muffins is a classic!

  3. I just love how celebrate this mother runner is. sometimes I feel so inadequate as a runner – always seeing all these featured moms who have logged more miles in a week than I do in a month! BUT this runner momma is still working her way up the mileage chain and smiling all the way! Love it!

  4. Finally! CZ had me at hello way back in the Simple Scrapbooking days. She started telling her running tales around the same time that I decided my almost 40 year old body needed to get up and run. When she shouted the praises of RLAM…I dutifully followed. And I’m so glad I did. Thanks for sharing RLAM with me, CZ…and RLAM…thanks for sharing CZ with a whole new tribe of like-minders.

  5. That is a super cool scrapbook page! I am so not a scrapbook type of person-certainly not the ones I’ve seen but wow-that is great! And I love the idea of documenting the everyday-those truly are the memories that stick with me. I will share your site with a friend who scraps and wants to run-this might inspire her.

  6. I was one of the many people who found out about RLAM because I read Cathy’s blog. Her blog always has me laughing out loud and she has been an inspiration in my quest to Eat Less and Move More.
    If you have not read her blog….go now.

  7. You. Are. Awesome.

    I like that you scrapbook about the quotidian. I find myself thinking about Emily from Wilder’s “Our Town” about once a week, about the fact that she begged death to take her back to a big event in her life and he absolutely refused, contesting that she wouldn’t be able to handle the recognition in death of what she was missing in life. I think about this when my kids are in the bath tub, or celebrating a tree climbed in the front yard, or offering a small kindness to one another (something I wish happened more often).

    I think I may have just outed myself as a complete dork. Alas. No real news there.

    Keep it up, badass mother runner!

  8. I’ve been a Cathy follower for years – she’s AWESOME! I’ve always loved her scrappin’ style – and she motivated me to Move More and Eat Less last Jan 2010 – now I’m working on the running…Go Cathy! Congrats!

  9. Cathy introduced me to RLAM last year and she is the reason I started running last fall after my daughter was born. I had never run before in my life, but I couldn’t wait to be able to lace up and join her Nike Plus challenges each month. We love CZ in the scrapbook world and I am so THRILLED to see her honored here today! She is a badass mother runner! And make sure to check out that figure skating video–you will wet your pants laughing!

  10. Awesome profile, Cathy! You ARE adorable and super fun to follow and I’m not even a scrapbooker! Soon this seemingly endless winter will end and you’ll be hitting the pavement again– and in a skirt. I will always remember fondly our run by the river last summer when we were passed by those guys who said “Morning skirts.” In any other context that would have been creepy but that morning it was kinda cool.

  11. I was one of the fans who discovered RLAM via CZ, and I am ever so glad I did. 🙂
    For those of you who are just meeting Cathy for the first time here, go visit her blog and discover what makes her such an awesome inspiration, in the scrapbooking world and beyond.

  12. Love this post and your story! I follow ChiRunning too and it has really helped me transform my running. Have to check out those shoes though,they look pretty awesome!

  13. LOVE IT! Although as a fellow runny nose runner (my nose runs faster than me!) I would say…chuck the kleenex and go for a square of Bounty (or in my case…Kirkland) paper towel. One square can get me through 5-6 miles minimum. I just keep folding to a new side! It really does the trick! 4 squares get me through a marathon!

    And as a fellow Tundra dweller (Chicago), I have made friends with and named my treadmill. Eric (it is a NordicTrack TM) and I get busy serveral times a week…..Makes it all seem worth it…and sounds great when people ask what you did today……”I got busy on Eric.” “Eric and I ran 7 miles together’.

    Thanks for sharing!

      1. @Cathy – Paper towel was sooo not my idea! It was the idea of my children who got tired of getting Mommy kleenex when she was on Eric. They brought me PT one day and said ‘that should you for a while, Mom’ And …well that is how a paper towel transformed my running!

        1. You named your treadmill? That is brilliant! Now to come up with something clever for my Landice. Lance perhaps?

  14. Wonderful, as a scrapbooker too, I love that you mention both. I’m going to check out your link, and am very impressed that you venture out to run in Minnesota at all. We may have Montana in our future, and I think my running career will be making some serious alterations. Happy Scrap/Running.

  15. As a CZ follower and an owner of all of her books I am SO THRILLED to see her honored in this way! She has motivated so many women in so many ways I doubt she will ever know the depths of her influence on the women of the world. Congrats to Cathy!

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