Finding the time and money to work out at a gym when you’re a public school teacher and a mom with young children can be tough.
But thanks to Mele Echiburú, a group of teachers at César Chávez Elementary School have found a way to stay in shape without having to spend a penny on a gym membership or child care. And they’re having fun, too.
Echiburú, a fifth-grade teacher at Chávez, is a distance runner and triathlete and also, it turns out, a great motivator for her colleagues. She invited them to join an after-school walk-to-run program with the goal of participating in Sunday’s “Run Like a Mother” 5K race in Davis.
For six weeks now, anywhere from eight to a dozen Chávez teachers have met after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 40-minute workouts while their children — many of them students at Chávez — hang out on the playground, cheering on their moms and occasionally spraying them with water to cool them down. Other students have gotten in on the fun as well, counting their teachers’ laps as they make their way around the track that encircles the field behind the school.
“It’s different for some of them to see their teachers running,” Echiburú noted.
The women all walk or run on their own on the weekend as well.
They work in five-minute intervals, starting out that first day with four minutes of walking, followed by one minute of running. The second week they were down to 3 1/2 minutes of walking and 1 1/2 minutes of running, and while some are still walking for part of the 40 minutes, “some of them are beginning to run the whole way,” Echiburú said.
Indeed last Thursday, the group, clad in matching black César Chávez T-shirts, never seemed to break stride. And while they know they are doing wonders for their health, the women say the benefits go far beyond the physical exercise.
“It’s good teacher therapy,” said one of the opportunity to exercise alongside her colleagues.
“It makes you like your colleagues more,” laughed another.
Lisa Mayfield loved participating, she said, especially the encouragement the teachers gave each other.
Unfortunately, Mayfield took a wrong step on a recent Saturday walk and badly sprained her ankle.
Unable to participate for the time being, she plans to watch and cheer on her colleagues during the Mother’s Day 5K.
“I was so looking forward to doing that,” she said wistfully.
Mayfield likely will have other opportunities, and the group may well continue their regular runs even after the Mother’s Day race, the women said.
The Run Like a Mother event takes place on Sunday in Central Park. The women’s 5K begins at 8 a.m. with divisions for ages 12-14 and 15-18 and age groups up through 70-plus.
A kids’ 1-mile race begins at 9:15 a.m., with boys and girls competing in age groups of 6 and under, 7-9 and 10-11.
There will be limited on-site registration from 7 to 8 a.m. at the Race Central tent in the park and following the races will be food and activities for the whole family.
Run Like a Mother races have been going on in other parts of the country for a few years, but this is the first such race in Davis.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at email@example.com or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy