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Mommies Hit the Trails

New group helps new mothers meet and motivate.

As an expecting mother, Andrea Vincent knew her daughter, once born, would take up all of her time.

That's why she created SeeMommyRun.com, to motivate herself to stay active after her pregnancy.

"It's something I had been thinking about for a year," said Vincent about the recent launch of her web site SeeMommyRun.com. "Your life changes so much ... if you don't have other moms in your neighborhood it can be tough."

Vincent explained that she moved from Texas a year ago to the Northern Virginia area, and once she became pregnant wanted to find other pregnant mothers, and mothers who were active during and after childbirth.

"There's a lot of groups out there to meet other moms," said Vincent. "Myself, being an athlete, I didn't see any [running groups] out there."

Vincent, who worked out until eight months pregnant and who won first place in a few 5k and 10k races, as well as participating in dualthons with her husband before giving birth, said she wanted to find women with similar athletic interests that also incorporated children.

"I saw a huge need for a way for mothers to meet each other and exercise that didn't cost money, because moms are usually on a tight budget," said Vincent. "I had no idea so many moms were looking for this type of thing."

Vincent said since the marketing of her web site a month ago, there are already 216 members and 30 groups throughout the area.

"There's groups in Herndon, Reston, Alexandria, Arlington," said Vincent, adding the largest area of members is in Arlington.

STROLLER MOMMIES of Arlington Staying Healthy, or SMASH, is the largest with 11 members.

Courtney Desautels, group leader of SMASH, said exercise is one of the hardest things to fit into her schedule since her daughter's birth.

Desautels, a resident of Arlington, said that although she carries her 10-month-old daughter Chloe all day, almost doing squats while holding her, she doesn't see the results of that exercise, only the tiredness.

"My legs are already tired by the time it's time to work out," she joked.

Desautels, who played volleyball and swam before giving birth, said going to the gym just wasn't a possibility with her new stay-at-home mom schedule.

"I thought, 'wow, I'll be home all day, I can exercise,'" said Desautels. "But, the only time I have be myself is when she's napping, and that's when I take a shower or pay the bills."

Desautels said she is much more focused on her daughter than she thought she would be, explaining that although she knew Chloe would take her time, it wasn't until she had her that she realized how unselfish her life would become.

"I am so focused on the baby that I forget what's good for me," she said.

Desautels said that is one reason she became involved with SeeMommyRun.

"I was looking to find people to walk with in the area, I needed flexibility and it was free," said Desautels. "It was a great way to find people here, and to set the pace and keep me going."

Desautels said she also enjoys being with other new mothers and talking about baby things.

"It's good for me mentally to get out and talk with other moms," she said, adding she hopes her daughter will see her working out and her husband running and want to be active as she gets older.

Jenny Shanker, another SMASH member, said although she doesn't care if her three-month-old daughter Eliana pursues sports as she gets older, she does hope she'll learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

"I would like her to see her father and me do active things," said Shanker. "It's very important we show her to stay healthy."

ALTHOUGH SHANKER is a stay-at-home mother, she said that title is a misnomer and suggests to other stay-at-home mothers to make the time in their hectic schedules to get out of the house and to have adult interactions.

Although she is a part of other new mother groups, Shanker said she joined SeeMommyRun because she wanted to spend time with her daughter while doing something for herself.

"I needed to find a group that would kick my butt and get me out there and exercise," said Shanker. "It's really hard to get back into working out after pregnancy."

Before her pregnancy Shanker was working out five days a week, now she said it's too hard to predict what will happen on any given day with her daughter, but added the group has exceeded her expectations and so far she's been able to get up and work out in the mornings.

"The friendly faces and the enthusiasm made me want to get up at 6:30 in the morning two times a week," she said. "To me it's worth it, and you get your workout done by 9:30 [a.m.]."

Vincent said she was surprised with the initial response to the web site. Although Arlington does have the most members, she stressed moms in other areas can organize their own groups for either walking or running whenever it is convenient.

She said her next plan for the group is to introduce the LUNAtics, a training program for various races in the area that will further motivate mothers to stay active.

So far she has found 11 races that range from 5Ks to marathons.

Although she knows the training group may not appeal to some mothers, Vincent has no doubts that staying active is for everyone, even if the babies don't like it initially.

"For moms, take your babies out, if they get fussy, you can't give up," said Vincent. "That's just another excuse."