Tanya was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She wasn’t involved in any organized sports growing up but took lessons in ballet, tap, acrobatics and played tennis. For a short period in her teens she took ice skating lessons and dreamed of being the next Dorothy Hamill – seriously! But never being able to spin more than 3/4 of a turn in the air made that dream seem a little out of reach. In high school she played the xylophone in the marching band, and clarinet in high school band and the youth symphony. Tanya was never sure what she wanted to be when she grew up, but enjoyed math so parents and high school counsellors alike suggested engineering. She graduated from the University of New
Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering during one of the tech downturns. Unable to find a job, she decided to go on and get her MBA at the University of Texas at Austin which had a new concentration in information systems. She was thrilled to secure her first “real” job working for Hewlett-Packard in Rohnert Park in 1988 as a systems analyst. She worked her way up through the management ranks at HP and Agilent.
Outside of work and for all her life Tanya has had a love for being out in the wilderness, and a trip to the Brooks range in Alaska with husband and fellow empire runner Tim Stewart in 1994 caused her to start thinking about a career change. It took her a long time but in 2005 she left Agilent to work for a nonprofit called the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. She became fascinated with how the design of our cities and transportation systems could be changed to improve our quality of life, health and that of the environment. She decided to go back to school to learn more and enrolled in a distance learning masters program in urban and regional planning through the University of Florida in late 2014. She felt ready to take on a new challenge and left the Institute in May of 2015. Tanya recently started working for the county of Sonoma as the IT manager for the Department of Health Services. She feels that it’s a fun job because she is learning a lot about the many important services the health department provides for county residents. Tanya says that she does not know where her path is leading, but as long as she is learning and feeling challenged she will be happy!
When did you join the Empire Runners?
I think it was some time in 1990, around the time when Tim and I got married.
You have been a member of the board and ER Treasurer now for how many years? Being Treasurer is labor intensive – What has kept you so involved for so long?
I love this club and its members. From my very first Sunday run, which by the way I was super intimidated to attend because I knew how slow I was and how fast everyone else was, I’ve felt supported and encouraged to be the best runner I can be. It’s never mattered that my per mile pace is slower than others. So I stay involved because I am so grateful for the club, for all it’s given to me and the running community at large. I also see how a small number of volunteers do so much to organize the races we all enjoy, and I’m thankful to everyone who shows up early to set up the course, check in runners, and basically do all the work so that the rest of us can enjoy the race.
I’ve really enjoyed being a member of the ER cross-country team over the last few years. The races are tough, but it’s all worth it to be
part of the ER team and cheer each other on.
On top of being so active in the Empire Runners – you have been one of the people behind the Southeast Greenway initiative. Tell us a little about how you got involved and the work you have done to assist with that effort over the past several years.
I originally got involved through my role at the Leadership Institute.
Several of our students were involved in the early stages of the
project. The community is really fortunate that many years ago a group of passionate residents came together to stop the bridge over Spring Lake, and then more recently the greenway volunteers who have held the vision of a greenway to Spring Lake when so many others might have settled for a road on the Highway-12 right of way. As a volunteer, I’ve helped with tabling at events, attending public meetings, and most recently set up the tech equipment for the greenway’s annual community event last February.
The Southeast Greenway will be a great resource especially for
runners who live on that side of town. Living on the other side of
town, where do you do the bulk of your running?
I do a lot of my running on the smaller creek trails that are near my
neighborhood. The main Santa Rosa creek trail is about a mile and a
half from my house, so I have a range of options depending on how far I want to run. When I was training for my last marathon I did quite a few miles up and down the various creek trails. I also run in “the park” (Annadel) at least once a week, usually on Sundays, and try to get to the Thursday night run as well.
You have run a lot of marathons over the years. How many are you
up to? What are some of your favorites? Got any others planned?
I’ve run 16 marathons, starting with my first one at the Valley of the
Flowers. My two favorites were running the Victoria Marathon with Pam Horton (and George Urdzik as our amazing support crew and post race dinner host) and the California International Marathon where I qualified for Boston. I would like to run more marathons, but finding the time to train is a little challenging right now. I recently
learned about a website dedicated to “run commuting” and am intrigued by the idea of running to/from work to get a few more miles in during the week.
Do you do any cross-training? If so, what?
I’ve been participating in club member Shelli Main’s boot camp once a week and am really enjoying it. I also dabble in yoga, but struggle to maintain a consistent practice. I need more hours in the day! I used to commute by bike when I worked downtown, and would like to start riding to work again.
You just seem like a healthy person with a lot of energy. Do you
follow any particular diet or nutritional program? What are some of your go-to meals?
I try to eat healthfully but I do have a sweet tooth, and I love
chocolate! Tim and I get a box of locally grown veggies every week
from a CSA (community supported agriculture) called Singing Frogs
Farm. It’s a great way to try new vegetables that I wouldn’t otherwise buy. I like making green smoothies to use up the abundance of greens in our box. Basically I aim for moderation and figure that if I don’t eat too much of any one thing (other than fruits and veggies, of course :)) then I’m doing ok.
What are your short-term goals as a runner? What are your
long-term goals, say in the next five to ten years?
I’d like to qualify to run Boston again, and try some longer trail
races. I’ve heard there’s a fantastic trail run in Portland that I’d
love to try one day. I’m also for some bizarre reason drawn to run the Tioga pass race that goes from Lee Vining at Mono Lake up 12.8 miles to Tioga pass. I’ve had trouble with altitude sickness so the idea of running from 7,000 to 10,000 feet is daunting but every time Tim and I do a trip to Mono Lake I think about doing the race some day.
Who do you look up to as a runner? Who do you look up to in life?
As a runner I look up to Shirley Fee who runs crazy long trail races (30+ miles) and has a contagious drive to see what new adventure she can tackle.
In life I look up to my uncle Edgar who recently turned 80 and still runs and bikes with great enthusiasm for life. I look up to anyone who pushes their own edge and does something that at first may not seem possible.