With every pound of the pavement, the daily stresses seem to fade away. The house chores aren't in front of you. The calendar, filled to the brim with activities requiring aggressive mileage, is nowhere in sight.
"It's almost like meditation," says Amy Pietrasanta, mother to two kids. "It's just the time when you go out and no one's calling you, no one's bothering you, nothing is waiting for you to do it. It's just you, running."
That's why she is training for Run Like A Mother, a 5K in Ridgefield scheduled for May 12. For many women, this event is a Mother's Day gift to themselves that represents more than fitness.
"It's really, really more the mental well-being and the peace that we get that makes us a better woman and a better mother at the end of the day, if we just take that time for ourselves," says founder Megan Searfoss, who created this concept seven years ago when she moved to Fairfield County and realized her three kids were acclimated but she needed something for herself. An impromptu meeting of 45 women grew quickly, thanks to a viral Facebook campaign.
"In Ridgefield this year we'll have 2,000 women running our race," she says proudly, and that's not the half of it. RLAM is now celebrated in eight locations across the country, attracting a total of 10,000 participants.
Searfoss, an Ironman triathlete, is thrilled to see her peers progress: "I get the same charge when I see any woman cross the 5K finish line … because I know that they're feeling the same way I do when I compete."
A group of mothers has been meeting once a week for the last month and a half for training. This camaraderie has proven to be vital, as it is easy to put-off exercise time if no one is counting on you.
"One of the things we like to tell moms is that this is important and you need to schedule it….put this on your calendar and make it like any other appointment," says trainer Deb Povinelli, also a physical therapist. "Seeing the smiles on their face … as they run a minute, then they run three minutes, then they run six minutes and they think, 'Oh my gosh, I'm actually doing this! It's so rewarding for us as trainers."
Searfoss had taken her passion to the Boston Marathon and was there when the bombs went off.
"I feel very violated, I think most runners felt violated that this happened," she says, acknowledging a sense of solidarity that these athletes feel. "I've already got my hotel reservations for next year. I'm running Boston Marathon. This is a big deal for all of us."
That spirit of togetherness will also be on full display Sunday as kids reverse roles to cheer-on their moms. Pietrasanta is among many first-time participants who are ready to take the leap and join this sisterhood of strength and friendship.
>>For information: http://www.runlikeamotherrace.com. Watch today's Fox CT Morning News to see a RLAM training session.