Our newest East Nasty of the Week is the super-fast and super hilarious Leah Sawyer!
Leah grew up in Medford, Oregon. No, it’s not close to Portland, and no, her parents aren’t hipsters. She did grow up snowboarding a lot, playing in the river, and doing a lot of outdoorsy things. Growing up, Leah was a nerdy kid who was incredibly determined and passionate about her various hobbies and causes. She was crazy about running and made it a lifestyle. However, as much as she loved running, she says she was not a natural runner but that she worked very hard at it. Because of her innate dedication and passion, she worked really hard at everything she did while in high school.
Along with her studies and running, Leah also had her own business in high school! Leah owned “Sawyer’s Sweets” which sold custom truffles in the local grocery stores. Part of her misses it and would love to get back to her crafty roots, but, as she points out, time is more infinite when you’re in high school and your parents are providing you with room and board.
Not only is Leah super fast, but she is also super smart. She attended undergrad at Stanford, where there was a lot of studying, a lot of fountain hopping, and a lot of palm trees. She knew she eventually wanted to be a physical therapist so she majored in Human Biology. She wouldn’t trade her undergrad experience for all the money in the world, and if she could go back and do it again a dozen times in a dozen different ways, she would. While in college, she ran cross country and track so, like the rest of the team, she was pretty focused. However, the few times of the year that they were able to “party", they really made it count!
For grad school, Leah went to Duke and that’s what brought her out to this part of the country—she just didn't anticipate that she would stay! In fact, she first moved to Nashville for a 6 month internship in the fall of 2010. She moved back immediately after graduating in May 2012 and has been here ever since. Thankfully, she doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon!
Leah is an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist for Pro Motion Physical Therapy in Brentwood. She gets paid to educate people about the body and help patients return to their hobbies and lives without pain. She says she’s so lucky to be in this profession, and there is nothing else she would rather do.
As for her introduction to running, Leah played a lot of soccer and rode horses growing up, but she only started running in middle school to impress one of her older brother’s friends who was also a runner. In high school, she began running as a freshman after going to an epic running camp in Steens Mountains—and this truly changed her life.
Leah’s biggest accomplishment in running is running Pac 10s as a freshman. She says she was not one of the fast girls on the team, but she was persistent. At Pac 10s, it was 22 degrees, and, per usual, the team was running in tiny little spandex “buns”, i.e. underwear. Leah crossed the line, and her mom burst into tears because she was so proud- until she realized that Leah had frozen snot plastered to my face. It was only then that Leah says her mom stopped her tears of joy. Leah’s team ended up winning NCAA Championships that year, and she still wears her ring from time to time.
Leah’s favorite part of East Nasty is the “make a new friend” announcement right before the start of Wednesday night runs. It’s like being in elementary school again. Realistically, she says, there aren’t many situations as an adult where you can meet someone friendly and like-minded just by saying hello, and that's awesome. Agreed, Leah.
Her most memorable East Nasty experience is trying to keep up with Nash Harris before they actually started dating. The first time this happened, Leah was actually running with Debbie and Carl Flink’s dog, Gidget, who is super fast and probably not the best at pacing herself. Leah and Gidget blasted by Nash, and Leah thinks she said something sassy like “we don’t like boys running in front of us”. Both Gidget and Leah crashed about a mile later, but thankfully, they left a lasting first impression as Leah and Nash are unofficially East Nasty’s speediest couple. Nash had this to say about his lightning fast lady:
"Even though she is a borderline “crazy cat lady”, Leah is very level headed in all that she does. What really stands out to me is her ability to cope with adversity in the same graceful manner that she handles success…which is a rare quality to have. Her amazing ability to run is an excellent snapshot of her life, as a whole. I would highly recommend that everyone at East Nasty take the time to meet her."
Aside from running, Leah loves to cook. Most people don’t really realize how passionate she is about food and hosting. To her, cooking is such a fun way to bring people together over a simple pleasure. As Leah correctly points out, we all need to eat so it might as well be delicious. In fact, Leah was actually a kitchen manager for Houston’s before going back to grad school for physical therapy.
We're so happy you decided to stay in Nashville and that you're a part of the East Nasty family, Leah! Take Nash's advice and take the time to meet the newest ENOW! Congrats, Leah, and welcome to the ENOW club!