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August 12, 2010

Pretty in pink: Sara after her third marathon, in early June

Aside from the name, Sarah relates to Sara T., a 30-year-old mom of two in Minnesota, on several levels. Topping the list: Both have a real fear of ax murderers. ‘Nuf said. Read on.

Best recent run: An 8-mile run in late July after a horrible (to me!) half marathon experience. As I ran, I felt strong, happy, and able to conquer the world. As my footsteps fell, I remembered the passion and love I feel for running. I was only going to run 5 miles, but I felt so good, so happy I couldn’t stop!

My brother’s keeper: At 21, my brother Brian was involved in a car crash en route to work. Not wearing a seatbelt, Brian was ejected from the car and landed on his neck. That moment changed my family’s lives forever. I remember going to the hospital, hearing the words, “paralyzed…can’t feel legs…never walk…” and feeling my heart break. I was 19, a newlywed, starting college in new town, and scared to death of the changes ahead of me. The next few months transformed my life. To see someone you love and so young on a ventilator makes you realize, really realize, what a gift we are given with our bodies, what an amazing thing we have with our health and movement. Although our world is very handicap accessible, you see our limitations when you are with someone who needs the modifications. How could I complain about walking up stairs or running a mile after seeing a 20-something-year-old man being carried up stairs by his father or even a complete stranger? Brian died five years after his accident. The day after his death, I was at the gym because I couldn’t think of another way to get it out, all the emotions, the pain, the fear, the sadness. Working out has always been my greatest release.

Three marathons, three years: I started running in the fall of 2006, right after the birth of my younger son. We had recently moved from a larger town that had a big gym where I’d take loads of classes. I decided to see how I’d fare running, even though I don’t think I’d ever run a mile before then! I never followed a plan, never thought it over very much, just went at it. I started by running 1 minute, then 2, then 4…and so on. Once I hit a .5 mile, I wanted to try a mile. I was seriously the happiest woman on the planet the first time I ran a full mile! By New Year’s Eve, I had done my first 5-mile run. I gradually built up my distance and my confidence, and my first race was a 25K (15+ miles!). Someone suggested I run a marathon. After some hesitation, I figured, “why not?” Now I love the training more than the race. I prefer a long run to a short one, and look forward to a 15-mile run more so than a 4-mile run. (I’m an odd duck.) I look back and laugh: In less than four years, I’ve run three marathons, a 25K, four half-marathons, two 5-mile races, and two 5K’s! It goes fast!

Most impressive microwave creation: Um, well, I can make a mean cheese tortilla in the microwave. Pretty much an expert on burning popcorn. (Ask any of my coworkers!) Fine. I get stressed out making macaroni and cheese. Seriously.

Body by Sara: At the same time Brian was in his accident, I had vowed to never take life for granted. Exercise became not a passion or a love, but something mandatory. I battled an eating disorder [ED] for many years, and it went back and forth between healthy and unhealthy. Looking back, I can see the irony of trying to make myself healthy after seeing Brian, and ending up with an ED. However, ED’s are all about control. At that point of my life, I felt very out of control and it was my coping mechanism. I have tried to run when I am barely eating, restricting carbs, and such, it doesn’t work. To run, you need to eat (imagine that!) and to race, you need to be healthy enough to do so. I love running, so I do what I need to continue. Yes, I could quit running and probably lose weight, but I don’t want to.

My goal? To see myself as I really am, as I really look. For 10 years (10!), I have not been able to tell you what I really look like. My image of myself and my body is so distorted. I have no idea if what I see in the mirror is what others see. I am my own worst critic. When others pay me compliments, I never believe them. I can’t. I can’t allow myself to believe that others may think well of me when I think negatively of myself. If a person tells me I am inspirational, I am baffled. There is nothing inspirational about me. I am just me.

Messed up huh!? I am working on it, and have come further than ever before. I won’t be “cured” tomorrow, but I understand the path I am on. I have begun to see myself and my worth. We are so capable, so strong, and so wonderful. We have to believe it for ourselves, and make it only for ourselves. I’m not trying to be healthy, inspirational, funny, or be what others want of me. I am just trying to love and be me.

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Post-marathon glow: Sara with her sons after her first 'thon (May 2009)

41 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2010 10:26 am

    Sara, what a great interview! You express beautifully how running has impacted (and been impacted by) the story of your life.

  2. August 12, 2010 10:27 am

    I love this post about Sara! I’ve just recently “met” her through twitter and she is an awesome lady. I love that she feels exercise is mandatory. I feel the same way. I think if we didn’t have an outlet where we could just focus on ourselves, our strength, sometimes our breathing, we would go nuts. Working out makes me a better mom. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jessica Whittaker permalink
    August 12, 2010 10:30 am

    Sara, great interview! You may struggle with your own image of yourself, my image of you is as a strong woman, mother, and sister who does her best to one foot in front of the other (both physically and figuretively) every day!

    • August 16, 2010 7:00 am

      How sweet was that!? Yes, I struggle, but I am fighting, which is more than I did a few months ago! Thanks so much for the sweet comment!

  4. August 12, 2010 10:37 am

    you did a great job sara!!! i learned a couple new things about you too. 🙂 whenever i struggle to keep running, i always think of you and how you started out. you definitely bring me motivation!

  5. August 12, 2010 10:51 am

    Great interview! I’m headed over to “follow” her now!

  6. August 12, 2010 10:51 am

    So many inspirational stories out there. Sara, thank you for your honesty and openess.

  7. August 12, 2010 10:53 am

    Sara, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I really like it! I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I’ve lost my brother too, so I know the pain. Thanks for sharing your story. You’re very inspiring and seem like a wonderful girl!

  8. August 12, 2010 10:58 am

    This was a great interview. Thanks for sharing your story and for being so honest!

  9. August 12, 2010 11:12 am

    Sara you are so strong, you inspire me everyday and every run! 😉

  10. Amber Izzo permalink
    August 12, 2010 11:22 am

    I absolutely loved your bio and I have become a follower of your blog! You inspired me today to get out and run after our Back to School Night. I too, am a teacher and I find that once school begins, especially early in the year, running gets pushed to the side. I am determined to NOT let that happen this year. Thanks for the inspirating and for your transparency. You are an amazing woman and I wish you much joy and luck in the journey to becoming happy with yourself and the incredible woman that you are. Isn’t that the challenge of all women, to love themselves, we are so good at loving every one else. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

    • August 16, 2010 7:03 am

      Thank you! I do the same at the beginning of the school year too! For the last 3 years, I have had a race coming up, which helps keep me on track. Also, if I plan right? I can be tapering as school starts! Score!

  11. Karen Falat permalink
    August 12, 2010 11:29 am

    Ive also been plauged by disordered eating all of my life and I have to say it was great to read your interview and know I am not alone. Running has been my lifesaver and it sounds like it is yours too. Thanks for sharing.

  12. August 12, 2010 11:41 am

    Great interview of another inspiring runing mom.

  13. August 12, 2010 11:51 am

    I loved your bio, and I’m looking forward to following your journey! Already, I can tell you that you ARE inspiring, whether you see it yet or not…

  14. August 12, 2010 12:00 pm

    I follow Sarah’s Blog. She is one strong lady and trully an inpiration to me. Serioulsy. I love to read of her accomplishments and with everything that she has endured…to still be running is amazing.

    Thanks for sharing the article. It has, she has once again inspired me to want to go and run longer and further then I have ever done so before! (can’t wait until tomorrow morning so I can go run!)


  15. August 12, 2010 12:46 pm

    Great interview. It’s wonderful to read how running has had such a positive impact on Sarah. We have so, so much in common – even being an expert on burnt popcorn!

  16. August 12, 2010 12:53 pm

    So I know you won’t accept this, but you are an AH-MAZING woman and I am inspired by you. 😀

  17. August 12, 2010 1:20 pm

    I love Sara’s determination, drive, and brutal honesty. Her blog is great and the fact that she adores peanut butter doesn’t hurt either!! 🙂

  18. August 12, 2010 1:33 pm

    I can’t resist following these mothers! Glad to have found you, Sara. Back to school soon, I’m guessing, so good luck with the transition… My household also stands at the precipice of another transition to “real life.” And congrats on working out your “stuff” with running and making healthy choices. Happy to keep up with your training and races and whatnot.

    P.S. Happy birthING day to you!

  19. Tricia permalink
    August 12, 2010 1:57 pm

    All I can say is YES. Running is a great way to battle an ED. Knowing that you have to eat (and eat a fair amount and mostly GOOD food) to run your personal best is a great motivator. Honestly, motherhood is good for that too. Whenever I feel the temptation to slide into that hypervigilant/hypercontrolled world of my own ED, I can look to my 4 kids and how much they depend on me every day. Health is the best option for us all.

  20. Kaydee permalink
    August 12, 2010 1:57 pm

    Sara, I loved reading your story and the role exercise plays in your life. My brother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease at 30 and died at 36. I know the feeling of watching someone so young depend on everyone for everything. I didn’t change my lifestyle then but my other brother began training for triathlons etc. I still was on the sidelines cheering. A couple of years ago he was diagnosed with a very rare and devastating lung cancer. It was then that I decided to get active. I started Couch to 5K training 2 years ago and this year started triathon training. Having my brother able to give me his expertise is invaluable. Whenever I feel like I can’t continue, I think of my 2 brothers and their struggles and I am able to push through.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  21. August 12, 2010 4:12 pm

    Thanks for the inspirational words Sara.

  22. August 12, 2010 4:46 pm

    Sara this is a great post. I feel like I learned so much about you even though I’ve been reading your blog for over a year. Keep it up lady! You are great!

  23. August 12, 2010 4:58 pm

    Wow! So glad to “meet” you and after reading this post I’m in tears. I struggle so much with eating and the “not being a certain body type.” And doing triathlons is the only thing that keeps me eating but it also puts on weight. And it’s a mental struggle almost daily. I’m just glad to know I’m not the only 30-something mom of two who feels this way. Looking forward to reading your blog.

  24. August 12, 2010 7:19 pm

    Sara, you are an amazing woman and such an inspiration to so many! Never take life forgranted is the best advice one could give and yet you never fully understand what that means until you are faced with a broken heart. I cried through most of this post in awe of you!

  25. August 12, 2010 8:04 pm

    Awesome story. Thanks, Sara, for sharing it with such candor. It’s great to think about other women also on that path that running takes us down.

  26. August 13, 2010 7:15 am

    The way you talk about running, I assumed you have been a runner forever. It gives me the encourgement I need to get going on my running program again. i don’t know if I’ll ever be able to run a marathon, but I want to be healthier and running is the only thing that really gets my body in shape!

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