Clara Ashwood, our July recipient, embodies the maternal instinct in so many ways. Not only is Clara, 41, a preschool program director and teacher at Summers-Knoll School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but she also runs a mile twice a week before school with all interested students, and organizes the school's annual 5K. Plus, she works at Running Fit and is a mom to Houdini, a 12-year-old beagle who still likes to run with her occasionally.
In her nomination, her co-worker and friend Rachel recounted Clara's deep enthusiasm for the sport and the running family, adding, "On a personal level, she is also a dear friend who constantly celebrates my victories and supports me when the runs get hard or when I am hurt."
We all need a friend like that—and are so glad to honor Clara.
Running Roots: I was running on and off since college, mostly when someone coerced me to come along. Then in 2007 I went to watch a friend run the Twin Cities Marathon. It was hot and people looked miserable, yet I saw so much determination in accomplishing this goal. To me, it looked like a lot of fun. In 2008 I ran my first race: the Twin Cities Marathon!
After Twin Cities, I promised myself to not decide whether I was a runner or not until I had some time to recover and reflect. Needless to say, I was hooked!
On the Mend: Last spring/summer I had to stop training because of plantar fasciitis. It's made me a smarter runner: now I am sure to I stretch and take good care of my feet and legs. I'm so happy to say that I'm in the middle of training for my 8th marathon: the Grand Rapids Marathon on October 20th! It's been a challenging training time mentally, but also so good to come back and realize the joy that running gives me.
Marathon Maniac: I love the amount of time it takes to train for the marathon and the process of that training.
I don't think I'd do any distance past that...although I have some friends who are encouraging me to try a 50k trail race so you can never say never!
My Best Running Friend--who I don't run with very much: Rachel and I met two years ago when we started working at the same school. (We like to say there isn't a lot of difference between her middle school teaching life and my preschool teaching life!) We found out that we were both running the Detroit Marathon. Our friendship has actually grown from our conversations as injured runners by encouraging each other on, sharing in our setbacks and accomplishments. We've gone to races together to cheer on her husband or other friends. I also cheered her on this spring when she did a half marathon.
Best post-run meal: After those super long 20 mile runs, I crave a grilled cheese sandwich, tomato soup, cottage cheese, two fried eggs over easy, and chocolate milk.
Not Throwing Away Her Shot: On my shirt for the Detroit Marathon, I had written: "rise up" and "my shot" (based on the lyrics from the musical Hamilton). Somebody yelled, "Rise Up, Clara!" I had a respiratory cold and it took everything in me to keep going and finish that race. Those words will always mean so much to me.
A 5K Favor: I ran a 5K with Rachel's 7-year-old daughter Margo because Rachel wasn't sure she could keep up with her. It was my first time racing with a much younger runner and I loved it. I felt like her bodyguard with the task of keeping her safe and having a good buffer of space around her.
Advice for Parents of Young Runners: Before the race, I told her the best times to stop is at water breaks and that would be our plan. I also told her that if she needs to stop to catch her breath we can do that, but I'll help in keeping it short so we can continue to race well. I think having a plan before the race helps kids know what is expected--that goes for adults too! I kept encouraging Margo and wanted to make sure she was having fun because that's what it's all about!
Dream Race: Boston Marathon! I actually qualified for it at Twin Cities Marathon in 2016 but didn't realize it until registration had already closed. (I had changed age brackets.) I'm planning on either qualifying for it again or running with a charity.
Must-Have Gear: My Oofos! Everyone should get a pair! They helped me heal from plantar fasciitis. They take away any fatigue in my legs/feet and basically massage my feet as I walk. I love them!
All the thanks I need: In the 5K, a couple of other runners ran by and smiled as they looked at Margo. I told her, "You know they're looking at you, not me. There's plenty of me's out here but not many 7-year-old girls doing what you're doing right now."
Margo ran a little faster and a bit lighter, having the biggest smile beaming across her face. It was a beautiful moment.
Clara will be entered into a (very small) lottery with the other Mother Runners of the Month in 2019 to win a free registration to an AMR Retreat in 2020.
(Read: 1 in 11 odds!)
Know somebody (it may be yourself!) that is deserving of the Mother Runner of the Month title?
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