Meet A Mom- Nancy Barlow
- Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Ridgefield?
I was born and raised in Ohio. I’ve lived in Ohio, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and now Ridgefield for almost 12 years.
- Tell us about your life as a working mom. You may also include details about your husband and other family members.
I’m married almost 20 years to Dan, an animator, and I have two kids, Max age 16, and Lilly age 13, plus 3 dogs and one cat. As a mom that works outside the home, I’m getting better at saying “no” to things that aren’t good ways to spend my time or energy. Besides the emotional challenge of being there for my kids while they reach for more independence, we do not have any relatives in the area, so I lean into a network of neighbors, friends, and coaches that help me get them where they need to go, provide mentorship, and be stand-in family for them. It really takes a village, and I would encourage moms to not be afraid to ask other moms/parents for help.
- Your career journey is one to be admired- from an elementary educator here in town to a running & fitness guru. We are so interested in the backstory of how it all evolved- please share.
I’m actually on my third career! I went to school for TV Production, and worked in Production Operations for about 11 years, most of those with MTV Networks. While there, I was involved in a mentoring program for underprivileged teens, and it sparked an interest in teaching. I went back to school for my master’s degree, got a job teaching 5th grade, spent 14 years in education, 8 of those years with Ridgefield Public Schools. For many of those years, I was “Mrs. Barlow at Barlow” which still makes me smile. In 2018, I left RPS and worked as an elementary math consultant in urban districts around the region and for Megan Searfoss at Ridgefield Running Company to coordinate the store’s events and training. When the pandemic hit, I got laid off from the math consulting job. Megan then offered me a larger position within the store, and I said “absolutely!” Now, I get to manage all the events, races, and training for both the Ridgefield and Darien stores. I do occasionally miss the education world and I’m leaving the door open for a return someday.
Those three careers can seem unrelated, but I can weave a thread between all three: Problem solving. I enjoy learning and thinking through challenges, putting out fires, juggling the details and logistics, and celebrating the result, whether it’s a 30-second promotional spot, helping a child improve in math, or helping a runner cross their first finish line. If anyone is wondering if they should take a leap and make a career change, my advice is almost always YES!
- Have you always had a passion for running?
Sure! I did my first road race in middle school, a local 1-mile run on a hot summer morning. I remember running in generic Keds and just absolutely bonking at the end because I’d gone out too fast, but I loved it! I ran track in middle school, but I loved all sports: Softball, gymnastics, golf, tennis, and my bike, which I rode everywhere around my small town. I ran off an on through college and my 20’s, but took a long break from it for marriage and babies. I took it back up again when we moved to Ridgefield. I found a wonderful running community, became a little more consistent and competitive, and the rest is history.
- How many road races have you directed? Tell us about the energy on race day…
I think I may have lost track at this point…maybe 10? Every race is unique, but our (Ridgefield Running Company’s) race philosophy is to give the first finisher and the last finisher as similar race experience as possible. I love the starting line nervous energy (and I’m just as nervous), the calm while the runners are out (like the eye of a hurricane), and favorite part is getting to cheer and high-five the runners when they cross the finish line. They’ve worked so hard and I get to witness the payoff.
- If you could encourage a new mom to join your running community- what information would you share about the offerings at Ridgefield Running Co.?
The running community is so welcoming at all paces. Many worry about being “too slow” to join a group run, but we [Ridgefield Running Company] have runners at all paces and no one looks at you sideways. You end up being surrounded by people that want you to reach your goals, whether it’s running one mile or a full marathon. While we are winding up our formal training programs for the season, we always have group runs on Saturday mornings at 7AM, and to check our online calendar for fun events, like our annual Glow Run coming up in November (fun run at night with reflective/light up gear), and next year’s Run Like a Mother 5k on Mother’s Day. We have opportunities for runners of all levels (including walkers and hikers) to join us, and even more coming in 2022.
7. How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
The running community has become my main circle of friends. Meeting up in the early morning is way easier when you know someone else is expecting you to be there. Running with people makes the miles go faster, and these are the same people that support you in your highs and lows, both in running and in life. We all inspire each other to do our best, no matter the age, the season of life, or the fitness level. I would not be where I am today without the friends I’ve made in the running community.
- What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve received from another mother?
My mother told me that parenting is both the hardest and the best thing you’ll ever do and to give yourself grace. You’re doing great!