Tara Barragan

 

I started running competitively in 7th grade when my parents signed me up for the local youth track program.  I loved the sport immediately, and since then it has been a part of my life to one degree or another.  In fact, I met my husband at a track meet! Jesse and I were competing our senior year at CIF Track and Field Prelims when we caught each other’s eye, and he even followed me to college.  We’ve been inseparable ever since. As an adult, my running has been more sporadic than I prefer, as it seems to have taken the back seat at busy times in my life.  Even though I am not the fastest out there, I do have a competitive fire that drives me to train hard, and seek PR’s.  I have run a couple of marathons, quite a few Halfs (my all-time favorite distance to race), and numerous shorter events. The longer races are especially fun for me since I don’t think I can ever get back down to the short-distance PR’s I attained in High School and College!

I remember reading about Ultra’s like Western States and Badwater in Runner’s World as a teen, but our good friend Mark Jackson was the first “real” person I ever heard of running an Ultra.  Of course, I remember thinking he was ridiculous, but deep down my curiosity was piqued.  I recall having a little bit of that “if he can do it, I can do it” kind of feeling.  My husband, Jesse, caught the ultra bug after pacing Mark at a race, and signed up for Way Too Cool 50k.  It was at his second ultra, AR50 that I really got a taste of the Ultra scene.  Jesse had asked me to pace him from Rattlesnake Bar to Auburn Dam Overlook.  I thought, “well, 9 miles is a lot, and he’s much faster than me . . . . but he’ll have 41 miles on his legs.  I guess I should be fine.”  Race day came, and I spent the morning crewing and cheering.  At mile 41 I hopped in the race, trying hard to be the best pacer ever . . . and I did a great job, let me tell you.  About 2 miles into it, I caught a toe on a root (going downhill, of course), and landed on my face.  Just what a tired runner needs, right?  To tend to his damaged pacer?  Anyway, I got back up, covered in dirt from head to toe, and sucked it up for a few miles.  Then we hit Last Gasp.  Three miles of steady uphill to the finish.  I made it up about half of the hill when my calves started to tighten up from the strain of the fall.  Slowly Jesse started to pull away from me.  I waved him off, and he beat me up the hill by many minutes.  I look back at that experience, and I chuckle at how terrible of a pacer I was.  Needless to say, I wasn’t running out to sign up for any Ultra’s since I couldn’t even handle the last 9!

Apparently, all I needed was about a year to forget about that fiasco, and my curiosity and competitive spirit won out.  In the summer of 2010 I signed up for the 2011 American River 50 Mile Endurance run.  I knew I needed a good long race to prepare for it so I chose a local 50k.  I was pleased with how the Pony Express 50k went, and that gave me a lot of confidence for my first 50 mile.  I did compete in and finish AR50, and though it was obviously a painful experience, it was also a ton of fun the whole way.  I absolutely loved the entire race, and finished with tears in my eyes, and a big smile on my face.  I’m hooked, and can’t wait to find another race.  These next two years will be interesting for me as I balance my family (husband and 3 daughters) and attend Nursing School, while also maintaining fitness and racing as often as I can fit it in.

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