Saturday Spotlight- Tara Dungate

Name: Tara Dungate
Age: 32
Marital Status: Married
“Kids”: 3 Boxers (AKA The Pigs), Lily (6), Ivy (5), Pepper (9 months)
Occupation: 5th Grade Special Education Inclusion Teacher
Hobbies: Running, antiquing (“junkin”), gardening, playing with the pups
Hometown: Sayville, NY
Current Town: Bayport, NY

Wow, warrior of the week! What an honor, thank you hillbillies! I must thank Jenn Saltzman for introducing me to the hills. She told my co-teacher and I about this wonderful, supportive group of runners, about how this group changed her life, now I get it. I guess I’ll start by describing my first experience running the hills.
One afternoon in May, my co-teacher/partner in crime/running partner Veronica Weeks and I contacted Lou about the course. Jenn told us about the group and that the only way to be a part of it, was to run the hills! Veronica and I have trained on some hills in the past and completed the NYC marathon together in 2017. We thought, no big deal, we’ll go easy and just enjoy the route. Lou gave us the directions and suggested we print them out and bring them along on the run. Thank god we did! We were so excited and a bit nervous since no other warriors were with us that Friday afternoon in 2018. To start, we weren’t even sure if we were in the correct parking lot. We headed out and were hoping we were going in the right direction. We were, phew… We both use the Jeff Galloway method and went with an easy 60/30 interval. Off we went enjoying the run and anticipating what was to come. I think we both laughed when we first looked up at Adirondack. After that, we realized what all the hype was about. I was holding on to Lou’s directions the whole time and we still somehow missed the left onto Oakcrest. We backtracked and carried on. I remember how excited I was to be with my favorite running partner, finally running the course but hoping we don’t make a wrong turn again! Then we looked up Berkshire. Here we go again! Laughing and amusing ourselves, we made it. We found it was easier to run up the hill than walk! I think the directions in my hand were a sweaty wrinkly mess by that point. Again, I was so grateful that Lou told us to bring them with us! On we went again feeling so excited that we finally made it out to the hills, also knowing that the worst was over! As we turned into the parking lot, I remember the feeling of relieve when we spotted the red sticker on the pole. We did it! I believe we also said we wouldn’t be running the course again without a fellow warrior who knew where they were going!
Back track… Growing up I played soccer and lacrosse. I also danced for over 20 years. Tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, kick line, hip-hop, you name it, I loved it. I also was on my high school cheerleading team and cheered my freshman year in college. Sophomore year, I joined the dance team instead. We used to do warm up runs on an indoor track. Everyone on the team dreaded it, I loved it. I would try to encourage the team, but all I got back was dirty looks. After college, I did not know what to do with myself. Not being part of a team, or having dance classes to take, I felt a bit lost. I met my husband senior year of college and started to put on some pounds. I realized I had to do something to burn off the endorphins and get myself back into shape. I decided to give running a try and downloaded the Couch to 5K app. This completed changed my life. I signed up for my first 5K, the Turkey Trot in Blue Point in 2011. I was hooked. The adrenaline rush after crossing the finish line was exactly what I missed from being on stage performing.
During college, I started working at Bayport Starbucks. Little did I know that this coffee shop job would change my life forever. There was this cute guy who was a regular customer for about 2 years. One day, my manager decided to write on his cup that I wanted his phone number. I had no idea! Bryan came up to the counter and gave me his number, a week later, we went on our first date. The rest is history. I moved in with him and his dad right after college. Bryan has always been so supportive and in awe of my dedication to running. He comes to almost every race with as many antique bells as he can carry. We bought our first dream home right next door to his dad. I know, living next to your future father-in-law, crazy right?! I am one lucky lady. We call it the Dungate Compound. We live on a dead end with Bryan’s dad next to us, his Aunt lives behind us, and his Uncle diagonally behind us. Need an egg, well someone is bound to have one! We FINALLY got engaged in 2017 and decided to elope that summer. I waited 9 years to marry this man, I wasn’t waiting any longer! We got hitched in our favorite place, Acadia National Park with just us and the dogs. Best decision ever.
In 2014, I landed my dream job at Hauppauge Schools. I met Veronica Weeks who was also into the running scene. I had continued to run on my own after that first 5K, but never got serious about it. I can blame Veronica for getting me obsessed. We signed up for the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon. We were both so excited to run our first marathon together. She introduced me to the Jeff Galloway method. I trained throughout the summer with a 3/1 interval. It didn’t go very well. I really had no idea the amount of training that would be needed to run a freakin marathon! I backed out at the last minute and signed up for the half. Veronica ran her first marathon that day. I was so proud of her and in awe of her dedication. I couldn’t believe I finished the half! (That will be a story for another day…)
Since then, running has been a love/hate relationship that I can’t get enough of. After running the 2017 NYC marathon, I knew I would be a runner for life. Over the past year, I decided to get my nutrition right and be more consistent with my training. After losing about 20 pounds, I PRed in a 5K, 10 miler, half marathon, and shaved off 1 hour and 15 minutes during the 2018 NYC marathon. 2018 was clearly by best running year yet to date, but who knows what 2019 will have in store!
Anyway, I meant to keep this short and sweet but I’m an open book. I look forward to sharing more with everyone this week!