TSR Runner of the Week-Tasha Holland

By: Kayla Dodd

Congratulations to this week’s TSR Runner of the Week, Tasha Holland! She has been on her running journey for just over three years. Tasha started out with a couch to 5k program. She said, “At first, I could not run a block. Within 3 months, I ran my first half marathon. In just 7 months, I ran my first marathon and in a year I ran my first ultra-marathon!”

Her fist race was the Huntington Turkey Trot 5k. The following month after her first 5k, she ran her first half marathon in Paintsville, Kentucky. “It was the Christmas on the Country Music Highway Half Marathon. I had zero idea of what I was doing. I finished around 2:36 and was thrilled.” Her current PR is a six day finish at the Last Annual Volunteer State 500k. “I ran it crewed. I finished as 5th place female and 28th overall!”

Her current running goals consist of working and training with her running coach, Harvey Lewis. Tasha said that she plans to take running very seriously this year. “Up until now, running has been discovery and fun. I plan on recovering properly and training. I hope to be more competitive. I want to see what I can do.” 

Tasha is not only motivated to run because she is up for the challenge, but also for the health benefits. “Years ago, I was obese and dying from multiple endocrine diseases I did not know I had. I could barely dress and feed myself. It took years of research and trial and error to discover what was wrong with me. I went to Cleveland Clinic with my ideas and was finally given a diagnosis. I had celiacs and Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I'm also lactose intolerant. I began running at the same time I went organic and gluten free. My life drastically changed over the next year. I went from not running a block - to my first ultra. I lost 60 pounds. I was happier and healthier. Running saved my life. I run to challenge myself, to stay healthy, and to prove to my diseases that they will no longer control my life.”

She has seen and experienced a couple strange and scary things on races, check out what she said! “The strangest thing I have seen while running? A spaceship in North Carolina during the Tarheel Ultra. The scariest? A lost and aggressive dog during the WV Trilogy 50k. Oh, and I scared a bear during Shope Lope this year. It returned the favor and scared me back.”

She has several upcoming races on her calendar for this year. Her biggest race is the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa. She is also running the Indiana 100 mile, Vol State 500k, the Barkley Fall Classic, the West Virginia Trilogy 50 mile, Tunnel Hill 100 mile and the Holston River Endurance Run-36 hour. On top of all of those impressive races, she is also running several Triathlons and plans to work on and strengthen her swimming skills. Tasha has got quite the impressive running calendar!

A dream race for her is The Barkley Marathons, she said that no woman has ever completed it and few men have. Tasha is up for any challenge! Her favorite running/motivational quote is from Dory in Finding Nemo. “Instead of ‘just keep swimming’, I repeat ‘just keep running’!” Running has allowed her to realize that she is stronger than she ever thought she could be. “Running changes you. You learn something each time you challenge yourself, whether you succeed or fail.” 

Running has had a positive impact on her life and one of her best experiences has been running with her 13 year old daughter. “She started out biking with me as I ran. She saw my passion for running and signed up for the cross country team in 6th grade. She has completed 5 half marathons, two 25k’s, a marathon and a 50k, all since she began. She is just in the seventh grade now! She completed 2 half marathons in 2 days last month. I'm so proud of her and so happy that she shares this passion with me.” This is absolutely incredible that that two of them can share their passion for running together and also push each other to new limits!

Her favorite brand of running shoes for the trails are the Pearl Izumi. “I've never gotten a blister in them, no matter the elevation or if my feet are wet or dry.” Her favorite brand for road running are the Altra. “I completed two 500k’s in them.” Her favorite piece of running gear is her SPIbelt. She said that it holds her phone, keys, and race bibs and she loves it and will not race without it!

Her furthest race distance that she has completed is the Tarheel Ultra this past December. It's a 376 mile road race down the coastline of NC. “I ran it solo (with no one helping me to find food, a place to rest, etc...) I finished in the allotted time of 8 days and placed first place female, 3rd overall solo.” Now this is something to be very proud of!  

Tasha’s advice to a beginner runner…or any runner is to never give up. “Running is hard. If you stay with it, it does not get easier, you get stronger. I've never regretted a run. I have regretted sitting on the couch and skipping a run. Take care of your feet. They will take you to amazing places if you let them.”

Congratulations to Tasha on all of her amazing runner accomplishments. She really has taken running to a whole new level. I know that I was impressed by hearing her story and hearing about all of the amazing races that she has done so far. Team TSR wishes her the best of luck with all of her future training runs and races. See you at the finish line and happy running!  

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