I have been a runner since the fifth, grade ever since my Aunt Kathy cajoled me into running The Rankin Run 5k with her. She dragged me complaining the whole way. Then, she pointed out the finish line and with my eye on the prize I kept running as she watched me from behind. Her encouragement that day sparked the runner inside me to continue learning what I was capable of accomplishing.
Another defining fifth grade moment for me was an elementary school track meet. I had decided to try out hurdles, long jump, and high jump. At after-school practices I quickly learned that my “grace and coordination” was meant for something else. My gym teacher, Mrs. Storm said, “Why don’t you run the mile? No one else is doing it and you can win a blue ribbon.” My eyes lit up. As a child who didn’t find herself very athletic in the ways everyone else her age seemed to be (basketball, kickball, hurdles, soccer), the idea that I could win anything was very appealing even if I was only competing against myself.
So that week my Dad took me to the neighborhood track at Great Falls High School. We crawled through a hole under the fence and we set out to run four laps. I completed my four, but my Dad couldn’t. That was the moment he became a runner – story for another day.
I went to the track meet at Lions Park across the street from Lincoln Elementary in Great Falls, Montana. It was sunny. The teachers had marked out a 400 meter lap in the grass. The mile was the final event. By the time the mile took place run there was an audience of kids, teachers, and parents. Tara, who couldn’t catch, hit, kick, or volley a ball was an athlete. I found me sport. I could run. Four laps later I fell in love with the sport that has challenged me ever since.
Running remains a constant for me, despite a few break-ups over the years. Through running I also found my passion of the art and science of nutrition. Through running I have learned that humans are capable of so much more than we may think. Through running have met some of the most extraordinary people and had some amazing experiences. So here is my public thank you to those “grown-ups” who sparked my slow twitch muscles to run long and slow.