Mothers in Motion


By Lisa Unger


There is nothing more precious than a newborn baby because each new life starts out perfectly innocent and ready to absorb the myriad facets of life and the society into which she is born. When a baby is born into a running family she has an added advantage of dedicated, devoted and disciplined parents. Babies and young children learn most of their first skills from their immediate family members, usually their parents. Many running families believe that Mom’s running before during and/or after pregnancy, as well as Dad’s running, may have a positive impact on their children. GWTC is fortunate to have several mothers who are willing to reveal how their family’s running positively effects the development of their children. This month and next month will capture some of their favorite positive running stories.

Stephanie Liles started her running program about a year after the birth of her first child, making a successful effort to lose “the baby weight”. She continued running during her third pregnancy and feels that it was the best pregnancy and labor and delivery she experienced. Now, Stephanie says, “My kids see how active my husband and I are with running or other sports. They want to participate in what we are doing, which is great! It keeps them from turning into couch potatoes.” Stephanie says her 3- and 6-year old kids love to run and have participated in several short races. Her kids also ride bikes, play soccer, t-ball and swim. Stephanie hopes that by keeping them active in sports they will stay healthy and out of trouble as they get older. “The one thing I notice about kids that are not active, that they have a little bit of a weight problem. That’s a horrible thing for a child to have to worry about at such a young age.” Stephanie offers these words of wisdom, “Parenthood is hard. You just cannot prepare yourself for it. You just have to take it day by day and do the best you can.” That sounds a lot like the sport of running…it’s hard, but rewarding, so just do it!

Because of her athleticism, impeccable character and easy-going charm, Jane Johnson has become a role model for GWTC in general, but especially for her daughters, Alexis (19) and Kara (18). Jane was competing in triathlons and road races when Kara was about 6 months old. “In many ways,” she says, “my girls probably can’t imagine life without a mom who sweated regularly and took them to races all over the place. Running definitely influenced how we spent our spare time, where we went on vacation and the types of adults the girls grew up around. They were more at home around a bunch of sweating adults that most kids would be.” Jane believes that Kara and Alexis naturally became active due to their surroundings and because that was the standard with which they were most comfortable. Also, because people are generally in better moods before and after athletic events, they likely viewed runners and triathletes as fun-loving and younger-acting people than non-athletic adults. Both Alexis and Kara played soccer, swam on swim teams, played basketball, softball and rode bikes a lot. They both also excel in school and have many friends of various ages. Their mom believes that athletics gave them a sense of self-confidence that inspired them to take risks, pursue excellence and try to be their best. Both Alexis and Kara have enjoyed many successes in athletics and scholastics. Alexis is an Honor Society graduate of Maclay Day School. She earned a Bright Futures scholarship and is in the Honors Program at the University of Florida where she is pursuing a degree in Health Sciences with a minor in Physics. Alexis recently followed in her mom’s footsteps by completing her first triathlon, the Gulf Coast Half-Ironman in Panama City. Kara, also an Honor Society graduate of Maclay School, is attending Boston University where she has earned a scholarship with her running abilities. Kara holds several Maclay school records including the 4X800 set in 2002 with a combined time of 9:53.28, and three records set in 2001: 800m at 2:22.24, 1600m at 5:06.62 and 3200m at 10:58.17. Jane is rightly very proud of both of her girls because of their characters and their love and compassion for other people. Athletics allow them to feel good about themselves and Jane believes this is why they are able to be good towards other people.

Next month, more GWTC families share their running experiences.