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Miles to Go

The 5 a.m. alarm...

Tarah Bjorem drags herself out of a warm bed for her six miles of rain, snow, heat or cold. "For sure it'll be dark," she says. And if she feels like hitting the snooze button?

Not a chance. Her running partner won't accept it. He stands at the front door, whining and nudging his leash. He's a partner in safety, too.

“Mace on four legs” Tarah calls her 86-pound boxer. Named after a Scandinavian warrior, Loki wags his tail when he hears her voice.

“As soon as we’re out the door, he’s kicking up his heels and happy as a lark,” Tarah says. “It takes me a little longer. By the third mile I’m in my groove.”


Tarah started running 12 years ago when her first boxer needed more exercise. “After a couple years I was hooked,” says the 33-year-old mother, wife and nurse who now works in health information technology.

“Running de-stresses me and clears my mind. It’s my quiet time,” she says. “Some people need a cigarette, I need a run.”

There’s one more reason for her six-day-a-week habit and it brings her to tears.

“My brother passed away in his sleep 11 years ago. Ian was just 16 and a runner," she says. “I dedicate every race to him.”

Tarah’s license plates reflect her passion: RUN 4 IAN. Her race-day shirt says "Run for Ian. Wish you were here.”

So what happens when a runner with Tarah’s spirit and drive encounters an injury? Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine takes the lead.

Twice injured

Tarah’s first injury occurred in 2006, just two weeks before the Fargo Marathon.

“One minute I was running, the next I was doubled over in pain,” she says. “Something snapped in my left foot and I couldn’t run. I couldn’t even do stairs.”

She waited for the problem to resolve on its own. “Then I got desperate,” she says. “I’d worked so hard and trained for months.”

An appointment with Dr. Timothy Uglem, Sanford podiatrist, revealed an Achilles tendon strain.

“I was relieved it wasn’t ruptured because that would’ve meant surgery and six weeks out,” says Tarah.

Physical therapy included ultrasound, massage, exercises and advice regarding running shoes. “After one visit I was brand new,” says Tarah, who went on to run the half-marathon in her best time ever: 1 hour, 49 minutes.

Her second injury occurred this past March. “It felt like a bee repeatedly stung the bottom of my left foot. Very painful,” she says. The pain worsened when she took her first steps in the morning and didn’t wear shoes.

An appointment with Dr. Richard Arness, Sanford podiatrist, led to an x-ray to rule out a stress fracture. The diagnosis: plantar fasciitis and a small heel spur.

A cortisone injection brought relief and Tarah could continue training. She also received a referral to a Sanford physical therapist with expertise in foot issues.

“Real dirty”

Today Tarah looks forward to running her fourth half-marathon in the 2011 Fargo Marathon.

“It’s an awesome experience -- the cheering, the music, the crowds, just being shoulder-to- shoulder with thousands of runners at the starting line,” she says.

But another race excites her even more: the Filthy 5K at MB Johnson Park in Moorhead.

“It’s so much fun,” she says laughing. “They create a course where you run through mud, jump over logs, slosh through puddles. You get real dirty.”

And if an injury mucks things up between now and then? “I hope I can take my own advice,” she says. “If something hurts, don’t put off getting help. The sooner you get treatment, the quicker the problem goes away.”

Call on the specialists

Does an injury block your path? Call on Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine -- the team that specializes in getting you back on track ... with your tail wagging.

Posted Date: May 2011