Mari Howells, center, and her daughters, Sofia & Elizabeth Viebranz.
Mari Howells, of Millcreek, has run the ERC Mother’s Day run with her two daughters, Sofia and Elizabeth Viebranz, for the last four years, staring when Elizabeth was just 9 years old.
“The 1st one in 2010 was so miserable–cold and very windy,” Mari said. “Luckily, my husband had gloves in his car for our 9-year old, Elizabeth. It was her first race, and she was very pretty cold and unhappy. It took her 55 minutes.”
Mari says their times have improved since that first race and Elizabeth was not deterred by that first miserable run.
“She insists we run the Mother’s Day Race every year, as a tradition,” Mari said.
I did a little Q&A with Mari in hopes of inspiring other mother runners to get their brood out there this Sunday morning:
Family: Husband, Gary Viebranz; Daughters, Sofia Viebranz, 14, and Elizabeth Viebranz, 12.
Do your daughters normally run? Do you?
We are “situational” runners. If we have a race coming up, we try to run so we don’t make complete fools of ourselves. I also go to the Y every week with my mom, and I run the track there. She’s 88. I’m trying to get her to walk a race with me, but she won’t. Sofia was on the cross country team at J.S. Wilson for 3 years, and Elizabeth was on the team this past fall.
Honestly, if I didn’t have kids, I wouldn’t run at all. The only reason I do run is because Sofia joined the cross country team in 6th grade and she insisted that we run the Turkey Trot together in 2009. I was over 40, and I had never run anywhere in my life. Needless to say, I was extremely sore the whole weekend, but we kept up with a few races every year, starting with the Mother’s Day run, and we dragged Elizabeth along that year.
Do you run the race or walk…..or do you kinda do both (run/walk)?
I slowly run the whole race, although there’s usually a voice in my head telling me to walk at around the 2-mile mark.
Who likes to do this the most…you or the girls?
I think I like it most. I enjoy being around the variety of runners, and the happy camaraderie that you see during a race.
What do you enjoy about the ERC’s Mother’s Day race?
I love the fact that we have a healthy, fun, inexpensive Mother’s Day tradition. It’s a great excuse to get out and get moving. Since we live in Erie, I can’t say that the weather is nice every year, but the odds of good weather are in our favor. People are always in a good mood at the race, and the happiness is infectious.
What do the girls enjoy most about it?
They both told me they like the finish most of all. I think they gave chocolate at the finish one year, so that was especially popular with the girls.
Most memorable moment at any of the ERC Mother’s Day races you’ve done?
The first one in 2010 was memorable for the weather. As I recall, it was miserable—cold, windy and rainy.
The past two Mother’s Day runs, my brother and his family have come from Cleveland to run. It’s always more fun when there’s a group running and cheering you at the finish. They give me a hard time because I’m slower than my brother and his kids—my nephew Aidan finished 3rd overall last year!
Why should other moms & kids do this race?
Even though getting up early and running at Presque Isle doesn’t sound like fun to many of us, it’s actually a good time. Plus, if you go to a restaurant later, you can justify dessert because you ran or walked a 5K.
What do you do after the race? What’s your Mother’s Day tradition in your family?
We go to Panera’s after every race.
Best parenting advice you ever received…and from whom?
When I was pregnant with my first child, the Lamaze teacher said something to the class that’s stuck with me—“Whatever age my kids are, that’s my favorite age.” I find that to be true for me. I can look back fondly at the baby years and the elementary school years, but right now, with my kids being 12 and 14, is my favorite age for my kids.