Tammy’s Going Away Party
Always a Tornado at Heart
Tami, I first met you before we ever really met. I think most runners do. We notice familiar faces around us in a race, but just do not have the breath for the shortest of introductions. And like most guys, I especially notice fast women like you! In the spring of 1998 there was this cute girl, seemingly just out of college, right next to me in the Bellaire Trolley run. Her legs were skinny, her feet were a blur, but her eyes were elsewhere. Out of sheer coincidence, no stalking intended, I saw you a week or two later at the Memorial High School track. You were running around the infield, while all of these guys kept circling you on the track. I wondered if the fastest guy got to take you out on a date. Was this reality running? As I left the track, I noticed you taking care of an injured runner. Someone told me that you were a doctor, and I thought here is a fast, cute, caring and smart runner, what a perfect combination. I thought further, “I bet a lot of clubs would trade three elite runners just for you!”
Less than a week later I showed up for my first long run with the Tornados and met all of you. I wondered, where were the rest of the women? That didn’t deter you, so with your escort of fifteen guys (more than Madonna ever had) you all headed off to Ho-Chi-Minh with me in your wake. As I struggled in the woods through my Tornado initiation, despairing that I would ever see my home again, you comforted me. I could sense that you really cared about people, just ordinary mid-pack people. You said some encouraging words like “you are going to make it!” You also asked me how I was doing. Like most guys, I lied. I said I was OK; I was actually dying. I am sure you probably knew it too, but just the concern in your voice was so rare and wonderful at that moment. When the “race” was finished we all stood around the stretching area and talked. And the first excitable words I can now remember you ever telling me was: “Oh Gross, Gross!” A guy doesn’t forget words like that. It was the perfect commentary for my compulsive act of paying Victor my club dues with a sweaty five-dollar bill. I discovered that not only were you a fast, cute, caring and smart runner, you were an honest one too!
Through many more long runs, breakfasts at Cancun, marathon parties, and club picnics, I learned that you really listened to and loved people, you were and are a people person. You always have a hug for every runner and a smile on your face, even when you were injured and hurting yourself. I love your enthusiasm and your heart-felt, merry laughter. You have so much life and such a delightful spirit. You even dressed up your sense of fun when you ran in your cute little Christmas suit, but your Easter bunny costume was the best. It still cracks me up to see myself running next to giant rabbit along Memorial Drive. You never looked so large! I would have given anything to hear what those people said in their cars as they passed us. However all was not joy, I appreciated your honesty in sharing some of your sorrow. It seemed to flow from your love for others, perhaps at times you cared for people too much. I remembered one long run we took with Leno back in the horse trails. Both of us shared how a big heart can really hurt when people let you down. I am so happy that you have found Bill to share your love. I still wonder how anyone that small can have such a big heart? Tami, I wish I had gotten to know you even better. For you love what I love: running, people and life. And it is not just I who say this; most of us have said through out all the years, “Tami is still a Tornado.” You will always be a Tornado in our hearts. No matter how far your legs may travel, we are connected together at the heart.