FARGO, N.D. — Carrie Brower-Breitwieser’s running stride is mimicked by the faster, softer pitter-patter of her 6-year-old daughter Audrey, who runs beside her.
The duo is preparing to run the Sanford Fargo Marathon’s 5K this May, but this isn’t their first race. In fact, Audrey already has 12 5Ks under her belt. Her interest in running started at age 3 when she watched her grandfather run a half-marathon.
“She decided then and there that she wanted to run a ‘big race,’” said Carrie Brower-Breitwieser, Ph.D.
Audrey ran in the 1-mile kid’s fun run at the Fargo Marathon in May 2016 when she was 4 years old.
“I tried it out, and I really liked it! I started running little kid races, but I challenged myself to a 5K,” Audrey said.
She finished her first 5K in August 2016.
“I loved it, and now I ask my mom to run all the 5Ks,” Audrey said.
Audrey’s passion for running sparked an interest for Carrie, too.
“I never enjoyed running alone – I much prefer group fitness exercise. Running with Audrey is the best though. We get one-on-one time together, and I learn so much about what is going on with her life,” Carrie said.
Audrey’s encouragement to get active has been an added bonus.
“There are days — especially cold winter days — where I don’t feel like going to the gym at night. Audrey is the best cheerleader, always encouraging me to ‘keep my body healthy and strong,’” Carrie said.
Modeling healthy habits
In her work at Sanford Health, Carrie serves as a child and adolescent psychologist, as the clinical director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program and in the Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle clinic. Her roles focus on helping kids live healthier lives.
“Our team works hard to get the entire family involved in making changes to help their child attain a healthy weight and body,” Carrie said. “We encourage family-based physical activity — bike rides, family walks, trips to the park, etc., to every family that comes to our clinic.”
She practices at home what she preaches at work.
“Knowing that I have young children who look to me to model healthy habits is the motivation that I need to keep up my healthy habits,” Carrie said.
Becoming a family affair
While running started as a mother-daughter hobby, others in the family got involved, too.
“Audrey actually has motivated my husband to take up running, as well. He now runs a few half marathons with my dad each year,” Carrie said.
“Our 2-year-old, Oliver, has started running the kid fun runs, and now tells Audrey that he is going to ‘run fast races’ with her,” Carrie said. “I’m guessing he will join us in the next year or so, which will be great to have the entire family being able to participate together.”
Proud mother moments
As Carrie and Audrey prepare for the 5K race on May 18, the skills learned in training are teaching beyond a simple race.
“I think the skills she is learning to master these races are no different than the skills she needs to master anything thrown at her at this stage in her life. She is full of determination whether she is working on reading a new book or running a race,” said Carrie.
For Audrey, the childhood excitement of a big race drives her to compete.
“The races helps me get stronger and better at running. I always beat my last race time, so I know I’m getting faster each time!” she said.
And for Carrie, seeing her daughter grow as a runner and a person has been the most rewarding part.
“I think running with Audrey has taught me a lot about the person that she is becoming — smart, strong and determined. I love watching her set a goal and work hard to meet it,” Carrie said.