Nara finished the Steamworks Half Marathon in Durango for her mentor Melani and shared this story.

I am a firm believer in mentorship to help you succeed in achieving your goals, whether they are personal or professional.

I am lucky enough to know someone who has acted as a powerful mentor and friend for the last two years. Her name is Melani and she is the Director of Running 505, a non-profit youth wellness group.

Unknown-1I first met Melani during a very difficult time in my life. I lost my mom to breast cancer in late 2013, and after several months of being a homebody I was desperate to find something to help me deal with my grief. I started going out for longer walks and runs with my dog, which eventually led me to sign up for a couple of 5 and 10k races. When my sister told me about a volunteer opportunity with a local running group that she heard about through her college professor (who was a mentor with Running 505) I was hesitant at first. I was not looking forward to stepping outside of my comfort zone, but after many reminders from my sister, I sent out an email and got in touch with Melani. I went to the first session in January 2015, and immediately felt included and comfortable. The students were all eager, enthusiastic and ready to participate in all the activities. It was encouraging and fun to work with them, and I looked forward to every session! I have now proudly been a Running 505 mentor for two years, and I also serve on the board.

Unknown-2Melani is also an educator- she is a fierce advocate for our students, and she wrote her dissertation based on her research from working with 5th-8th graders with Running 505. The same year I started mentoring, I started an alternative teaching license program. My mother was a teacher, and her passion for teaching and education was something she instilled in both my sister and me. I was always interested in working with students, I just needed to get myself into action and enroll in school. Melani provided me with invaluable advice as an experienced educator, and I am so grateful for all her help throughout my first year of teaching.

She came into my classroom and modeled lessons for me, she gave me a reference when I started working for APS, and she helped me navigate the school environment. Being able to count on a solid support system as a new teacher is extremely important; it can be overwhelming. There were many bumps and bruises along the way, but I now have my teaching license and I completed my first year with a fabulous group of second graders.

Melani is also a runner, and as an athlete she inspires those around her by continuing to push herself in spite of sustaining injuries. She introduced me to a new running community that is supportive, lively and friendly. I ran my first trail relay race with her and other awesome women last August. I have now rUnknown-4un three trail races since, one of them a 15 mile race through the Jemez

Mountains! We are signed up for another Ragnar this year in November, and I am so excited to train this summer and fall. I never thought I would be the type of person who eagerly ran at night, in the mountains. I have been able to push myself beyond what I thought possible in many aspects of my life and having a mentor was a critical part of that.

You rock my socks, Melani! I know you’ll get La Luz this year.


A nice footnote to this story, Nara participated in this race as a result of donating to and winning an auction at the 2017 Albuquerque Runners Ball. The beneficiary of her generous gift was Running 505. -tg