A group of Schoharie Elementary School students gathered Wednesday in their small gymnasium to have a question-and-answer session with elite distance runner Tera Moody.
Barb Almy, Schoharie’s elementary gym teacher, introduced Moody to the crowd of students.
“Today you guys are lucky enough to hear from Tera Moody, an athlete who travels all over the country to compete in races with the best runners in the world. She’s going to tell us a little bit about her life and career as a runner, so sit quietly and think of some good questions to ask her later.”
The 33-year-old athlete spent almost an hour discussing running and healthy living with the fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders. She told the students that she sometimes runs up to 100 miles a week to stay in shape, and she always makes sure to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to improve her performance.
Moody had originally planned to compete this weekend in Albany at the 36th annual Freihofer’s Run for Women, but may have to withdraw because of a leg injury.
Moody told the kids about her beginnings as a runner. She grew up in Illinois and began running long distance in junior high school. Given the choice between volleyball and cross-country, she chose the latter to prove that she could be a runner like her older brother.
Though she struggled at first, Moody persevered and soon fell in love with running. After attending the University of Colorado in Boulder and running for the school’s cross-country team, Moody continued to improve until she could compete at the highest level. She currently lives in Colorado, where she trains and works in real estate.
When Moody explained to the kids that the farthest distance she runs is the 26.2-mile marathon, a collective gasp erupted from the pint-sized audience. The students looked at each other with a wide-eyed amazement. After Moody finished talking about herself, she asked the students if they had any questions for her. Thirty hands shot up almost immediately.
“Do you ever get tired when you’re running?” asked a girl in the front row.
“Of course!” said Moody, “but even though you get really tired, you just have to keep pushing, because when you finish you know you’ll be really happy and proud of yourself.”
When she revealed that she wears a size 12 sneaker, the kids erupted in a loud chatter with exclamations like “Wow!” and “Holy cow!”
The students went on to ask a range of questions, from running to Moody’s personal life, leading her to reveal that along with running, getting her pet cat is one of the best things she’s done in her life.
Without hesitation, one boy raised his hand and asked, “Do you ever take your cat out for a run?”
The crowd burst into giggles. Moody laughed and responded, “No, but I’ve never considered it. I’ll think about that next time!”
When the time came for the students to go back to class, they thanked Moody and gave her an enthusiastic round of applause. On the way out, one student said to another, “She was so cool. I don’t think I could ever run that far!”
All joking aside, Moody, who placed fifth in the Olympic marathon trials in 2008, was more than happy to share her knowledge and inspirational words with the Schoharie students.
“It doesn’t have to be running,” she said. “It can be volleyball, music, or anything you’re passionate about. You have to work hard to win, but you have to enjoy yourself too.”