Tawni has completed at least one marathon each year for nearly 30 years. But she wasn’t always such an avid runner.
Born and raised in southern California, Tawni didn’t grow up as an athlete. She was morbidly obese and yo-yo dieted throughout much of her life, and despite graduating as valedictorian and achieving scholastically, she struggled with her weight. Tawni always identified with Oprah, who underwent similar struggles while having a successful career. Since Tawni never misses an Oprah episode, she saw Bob Greene’s appearance on the show and was inspired to change her life, just like her idol. (You can even see Tawni on the cover of Greene’s book, Total Body Makeover!)
Tawni put her drive toward finding a sustainable way to increase her fitness. She began with walking, and in 1997 she walked the Honolulu Marathon. By the next year, she’d lost enough weight to graduate from walking to running, and she celebrated by running the Portland Marathon.
The running habit stuck, and since then Tawni has finished a marathon in every state and on every continent. Being bundled up like the Michelin Man and waddling to the finish line in Antarctica was especially memorable. With more than 300 marathons under her belt, Tawni’s also found herself helping in the event of medical emergencies; she’s performed CPR on fellow runners a handful of times.
Though Tawni once thought she was too busy to exercise, she changed her perspective and learned to fit running into her life. She goes to bed at 7 p.m. and gets up at 2 a.m. so she can complete her workouts while working her full-time job and caring for her two dogs, Auggie and Bella. Tawni runs five days a week and lifts three days a week, but her favorite type of workout is a nice 20-mile long run where she can zone out while listening to a podcast. More than all her finishes, Tawni is proud of her consistency as a runner. She usually runs multiple marathons a year, and she never misses a workout because she considers running to be her best medicine.
The thing that’s kept Tawni running all these years is the community she’s found through the sport. In the early days of the Internet, Tawni created a Yahoo! Group for women to support each other in their running and fitness journeys. She began traveling to races to run with people she’d met online. She makes friends at every race she travels to, and thanks to Google Hangouts and WhatsApp, she can stay in touch with any of the people she meets—some of whom are now her best friends.
The people in her online group were some of the first that Tawni coached. Before training plans were readily available online, the best source for information was books written on the subject. The only problem was that most plans didn’t account for runners going any slower than an 8-minute per mile pace, which Tawni knew from experience wasn’t accessible for many runners, especially those just starting out.
Since then, Tawni has coached hundreds of people to run their first marathons. She became RRCA certified in 2018 because she wanted to coach people who want to cross off a bucket list item or who consider themselves back-of-the-packers. Tawni knows how it feels to be chasing a course cut-off time, and she wants to advocate for the runners who are running for their own well-being and enjoyment and may never be competing to win.
Tawni is the perfect coach for newer runners. She’s her clients’ biggest cheerleader, and her strengths are helping her clients take their training one day at a time. Since she works full-time herself, Tawni understands the challenges of balancing running with a career and family. Her approach to coaching is to give every client as much grace and understanding as possible, and to help them work running into their busy schedules. She views workouts as practice, and her philosophy is that there’s always another chance to nail the pace.
Tawni has been coaching with Run Your Personal Best since 2022. Her message to all the people who think they aren’t athletic enough to be a marathon runner? “I see you, and I’m here for you.”