Breaking from the pack: Trude Lamb on and off the racecourse

Legacy High School’s Trude Lamb is a study in leadership. On and off the racecourse, she is breaking away from the pack and making a name for herself and her high school.

A junior cross country and track runner, she took first place with a 19.25.7 minute 5k at the Tyler Legacy XC Invitational at UT Tyler September 4. Lamb said running a home meet motivated her to win.

 “It was our race; we were holding the race. So I had to make us look good,” said Lamb. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to let anybody come to our hometown and beat us.’ So I made that my priority to win, and I think it really helped me.”

Trude Lamb has risen to the top of the women’s cross country team at Legacy High School, with hopes to break a 19-minute 5k this season. 📷 Jamie Maldonado

Lamb began running as a student at Hubbard Middle School. By eighth grade, she became serious. “That was when I actually decided, ‘Oh, I love doing this and I’m good at it. So why not keep doing it?’ 

“In high school, I got more competitive,” she said. “I knew I had to step up my game. That’s what I’ve been doing for three years of high school now. And yeah, it’s working,” said Lamb.

Lamb’s cross country coach, Dennis Teuber, said he sees Trude’s growth in running and leadership on the team. “I actually saw her run some in middle school.

“Over the last three years, [Trude] went from this really talented, gifted shy runner to becoming more and more outspoken, more confident in her abilities as a runner and a leader on the team. She’s definitely come out of her shell,” he said. 

Lamb has added several half marathon races to her running repertoire. In season, she is focused on training with her teammates. 

Lamb went through a typical training week, beginning each school day at 6:30 a.m. She said Mondays and Wednesdays are for long distance practice. “We usually go about five to six miles on a long distance practice day,” she said.

Tuesdays are track workout days or hill repeats. “Thursday, we have weight room. On Friday, it depends on if we have a race on Saturday,” said Lamb. Races mean an easy day Friday. Otherwise, she and her teammates can expect a track workout. 

Trude Lamb and her coach, Dennis Teuber, pause at Rose Rudman walking trail, where Lamb clocks dozens of miles during weekly practice. 📷 Jamie Maldonado

Lamb knows her physical training must be matched with mental preparedness. The night before a big race, she has a ritual and specific intentions. “The night before I lay out everything, I pack my bag [with] anything I need for the race,” she said.

“I try not to plan a race in my head. I go to bed early and try to sleep. And then the next morning, I just get dressed and hope for the best.” 

This year more than ever, Lamb is out to break her own records. “I am trying to beat 19 minutes and get into the 18 minute [mark]. I’ve been practicing with the guys,” she said.

Teuber said he hopes Trude will peak at this year’s district meet. “We’re hoping we can get her under the 19 mark this year, at the very least next year. 

“We’re hoping it happens at the district course,” said Teuber. We’ll be able to have cooler weather and she can really hit it at the October 4th district meet.”

As she approaches the start line, Lamb encourages herself and her teammates. “It’s basically a mental game. You have to make your mind do what you want it to do. But at the same time, you also don’t want to do it. You have to force yourself to get out of your comfort zone, force yourself to get there,” she said.

During the Tyler Legacy XC Invitational, Lamb found a moment to break away about midway through as she rounded the pond. She didn’t look back. “I was running with this girl, and she was pretty good. I thought I couldn’t keep up. Then I was like, ‘I have to do something.’ 

Near the midway point at the Tyler Legacy XC Invitational, Trude Lamb overtook the race and never looked back, clocking in at 19:27:7. 📷 courtesy Laura Owens

“That’s when I decided to take off and I just kept going. I don’t think my pace changed [for the rest of the race] at all,” said Lamb.

Lamb said being in her third year on the high school team has helped her step into a leadership role. “I feel like they all basically look up to me. ‘If you want to get better, you have to work harder’ is one of the things I tell them,” she said.

Teuber said Trude will switch to track in the spring. “For track, she’s running the two mile, the one mile and the 800,” he said. “She qualified for all of them, but we’re just really trying to figure out where’s her niche.”

Before Lamb took the mantle as lead runner for the women’s cross country team, she was known for her activism before and during Tyler ISD school board’s unanimous vote to change the names of Robert E. Lee High School and John Tyler High School to Tyler Legacy High School and Tyler High School, respectively — a role for which Lamb received national attention.

“Doing that was basically out of my comfort zone. Knowing that I did something I probably would never do….it really took a lot of strength to do that,” said Lamb.

Although Lamb’s introversion made it difficult, she is growing more comfortable with her decision to speak out against her school’s former name. The changed name has brought Lamb some relief.

“I’ve gotten better, owning that I did something really powerful,” she said. “It’s way better, having that name (Legacy) on your jersey. It makes you feel like you’re not having to support a person who doesn’t support you,” said Lamb. 

Originally hailing from West Africa, Lamb said she has been criticized by her peers for what they assume about her demeanor.

Trude Lamb, a “quiet person who doesn’t like to say anything” decided to speak up in 2020, before and during the high school name change decisions. “…it really took a lot of strength to do that,” said Lamb. 📷 Jamie Maldonado

“One of the things I’ve always struggled with ever since I came to America is that people always think I’m just this quiet person who doesn’t like to say anything. 

“I’m not a mean person. I was told I look angry, but I am not. It’s an African way in me, basically,” she said. “I just have a serious face.” 

As for support during race season, Lamb leans on her family members. “I know my family will be there. They’re always at my meets. My mom goes crazy about it. Like she’s the loudest one. It’s really outrageous. She’s a really big supporter of me.”

Teuber said Lamb’s running abilities have only just begun. “She’s got the endurance to go through a race. I think once she becomes more and more comfortable with herself as a runner, she’s going to be an insanely good runner,” said Teuber.

“She’s got the kick…She’s just an insanely gifted athlete.”

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Jane Neal is the executive director of The Tyler Loop and storytelling director of Out of the Loop: True Stories about Tyler and East Texas. In addition to the Loop, she works at the Literacy Council of Tyler and attends Sam Houston State University remotely, where she studies sociology. Jane is a certified interfaith spiritual guide. She is a member of Leadership Tyler Class 33 and a former teacher of French at Robert E. Lee High School, where she ran a storytelling program called Senior Stories. Jane and her husband Don have four children.
An East Texas native, Jamie Maldonado has worked as a visual journalist and copy editor for the Longview News-Journal, The Denver Post and other publications. He is a professional photographer and creates YouTube content about film photography. Taking to heart Dorothea Lange’s quote, “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera,” Jamie has turned his lens on his hometown and its people to see it anew.