Ellen Hart Pena

Ellen Hart was a superb young athlete and distance runner. While a student at Harvard, she played numerous varsity sports, finally focusing on distance running. She eventually made the 1980 U.S. Olympic team in the (demonstration, at that time) 10,000 meter event.

When Ellen was a senior at Harvard, she went over to Albany, NY to run her first 10K road race. That night, I visited her dorm room to see how the race had gone. Forced to make a prediction, and knowing that she had loads of talent, I guessed she had run 36:40. "Not a bad guess," she said, "you're off by only 3 minutes."

"39:40," I said, "I thought you would run faster than that." And if you think that comment was tactless, keep reading. "No," she replied, "33:40."

Unfortunately, the next words out of my mouth were, "must have been short." As it turns out, the course was not short, she really did run 33:40, and she reminds me of that story virtually every time I talk with her.

Ellen eventually went to Law School at the University of Colorado and is married to Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena.