She grew up an athlete. Along with her younger brother, they spent hours practicing and playing, running from field to field. Softball, swimming, and tennis. Dad was a coach and Mom kept the schedules. They were there. They were always there.
For Tasha Holland it was the time in her life when things were simple. She learned the importance of good role models and the value of sport. Both would serve her well.
But life never stays that simple and for Tasha it became downright complicated. For years she had a problem and she knew it. She began gaining tons of weight, sleeping 20 hours a day. Her organs were shutting down.Her heart was shutting down. She was dying.
Tasha chased her symptoms and finally discovered it was her thyroid. With medication her organs started working again, her energy returned and she got active again. But she couldn’t lose weight, not a pound. She started eating right. No gluten, no dairy, only organic and she started running. A couple hundred breathless yards at a time. But she was determined. So determined that she ran her first half marathon within three months, the tough Hatfield and McCoy Marathon within seven months and her first 50k ultra within a year! Things seemed simple again.
But they weren’t. Something was happening. Something called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. A condition in which Tasha’s immune system attacks her thyroid. Although she was running 75 miles a week, she had regained 36 of the 48 lbs. she had lost! And that wasn’t all. The Cleveland Clinic who diagnosed the Hashimoto Disease also diagnosed her with Celiac Disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten, which creates inflammation that damages the small intestine. She had been hit by a Mack truck! Twice!
Tasha got past all of that with her heart, determination and will. She’s lost 58 pounds, and completed her first 50-mile run in November 2015. Within 5 weeks she also completed two 50k ultras and ran across 4 states. She took a quick break then got back to it, running The Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, 45 minutes faster than she had before. She ran the Nashville Marathon and then the Four-Way Flying Pig Challenge, which includes a 5k and 10k on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday!
Her future goals are set now too. Tasha aims to complete a 100-miler, qualify for Boston and drop 1:06 off her 5k PR.
Role models are important to all of us. Her parents showed that to Tasha and now she’s doing the same for her two girls.
Tasha’s oldest was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when she was six and through all the hospital visits, all the doctor’s appointments, she kept up her gym, dance, ice-skating and soccer. The girl, like her mom, just won’t quit. Now she’s a high school soccer player.
Tasha’s twelve year-old is asthmatic and played soccer through her diagnosis. She continues to play year round, is on her school’s cross country and track teams. She’s completed two half marathons and a 15-miler. Like mother, like daughter.
We find Tasha’s story so inspiring that if it ended here we would simply call her amazing, inspiring and badass. But there’s one more thing. Tasha gives back in a big way. She is in the IRUN4 program and she runs for Maddy, a little girl from California. Maddy has Cri du chat Syndrome, a very rare genetic disorder due to a missing part of chromosome 5 and can’t walk or run for herself. Although she is in intensive therapy Maddy continues to amaze and Tasha hopes someday that Maddy will walk with her across a finish line.
That’s Tasha Holland’s story. It’s one of grit, of strength and of love. Everyday her daughters look up at her and see a woman who is an inspiration. A woman who continues to beat the odds. A woman who her daughters are so proud to call Mom.