Let me introduce Sara - Today's Runner Spotlight

Today is Spotlight Thursday 
Each Thursday I spotlight a different runner from around the world.

This week I'd like to introduce Sara.
I asked Sara, to tell part of her story and introduce you all to her.  So sit back and enjoy and gain some inspiration!

Sara Blogs At:

What distances do you like to run?

I have run up to 26.2 miles, but my favorite distance to run is around 15 miles, that is the sweet spot for me.

How long have you been running?

I have always been an athlete, playing soccer through college, so I guess that I have been running since I was a very young child, but I never love to run (unless it was as part of an organized sport.)  I started to just run in March 2010 after my father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  I needed to feel that happy, endorphin rush I messed from playing competitive sports.  It was the only thing I could do at the time that helped me deal with the stress and sadness of this very sudden and unexpected diagnosis.  My parents had been divorced since I was 1 years old and I was all my Dad had, so the responsibility for his care was mine.  I didn't mind this at all, it was just a lot to handle as I lived 45 minutes away, worked full time, was commuting 3+ hours a day and was planning a wedding for that May.  While knowing the hourglass was running out, I was trying to keep up my daily responsibilities while taking care of my Dad, getting him to all his appointments while trying to savor what little time we had left together.  Running helped me stay grounded.

What has been your favorite race and distance you have ever run?  Tell us why?

My current favorite distance is the half marathon.  It's not as time consuming to train for but you can really challenge yourself.  Plus, if I am going to pay money for a race, I want to be out there for more than 20ish minutes.  But my favorite race was my first full marathon because it was a distance that seemed impossible for me to accomplish when I first started running, yet 7 months after lacing up my running shoes for the first time, I ran across the finish line and felt like I could do anything!

If you could run any race in the entire wold, where would it be and why would you pick it?

My dream race has always been the Boston Marathon.  I mean, running the world's oldest annual marathon, a race that has been around since the late 1800's is pretty amazing.  I have been on the sidelines cheering the runners on for year, so I hope that in April, I can say I successfully ran it!

Your training for Boston, if you could pick one thing about the upcoming race that is the part your most looking forward to in the race, what is it?

Wow there are so many things I am looking forward to; I don't think I can pick just one thing.  Boston has such a great crowd support that every other race I have run will seem minuscule in comparison.  The crowd is truly incredible and I cannot wait to experience on the runner's end this year.  also, this will be the first race that my Mom has come to, having her there; knowing that I am running for her makes my heart swell.  Also, being around such incredible athletes, Boston attracts the top runners from all over the wold, how amazing and motivating is that?

Have you experienced any trials/injuries/health issues that you have had to overcome?  Tell us about them.

Absolutely, thankfully, my injuries (past and present) haven't taken me completely out of my running, just set me back at times, so I always tell myself that it could be worse and I need to be thankful that I can still run.  right now I am working closely with my PT and he recently just changed my marathon training plan to help me recover better from my long runs and hopefully help with the nagging calf problems I am dealing with.  I wrote about all my current problems HERE.  So far, I am really enjoying this change in plan.  It has me focusing more on cross training, which I wasn't doing with my last plan.  Focusing on the positives of my new plan has kept me upbeat and energized.  It's really all about perspective.  I would rather look at the positives rather than dwell on the negatives.

Tell me what goes through your mind when you cross a finish line?

Honestly, I am usually thinking, "Thank goodness I am done" followed quickly by, "Where are my warm clothes?"

Do you have a specific distance and PR that you are proud of?  Tell us about it.

I think the PR I am most proud of was my very first 5k, which was a few months after I had my son.  I went into that race hoping to run in the high 9's since I was definitely not in the best shape and I ended up running a 24:58, so an 8:02 pace.  I was SHOCKED when I crossed the finish line and saw my time.  I will never be super speedy and I'm okay with that, but I literally felt on top of the world after that race.

Are you racing for any charities or special organizations you'd like to talk about?  

YES!!  I have been looking for ways to make my running matter, not only to myself but to others.  I've recently gotten involved with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF.)  My mother was diagnosed in August 2010 with this incurable blood cancer and I am helping to raise funds for research to find a cure.  I am running the Boston Marathon with the MMRF's PowerTeam.  If anyone wants to get involved and help make a difference you can make a tax deductible donation here: http://www.active.com/donate/2014mmrfBoston/sarazwicker

Have you run races in any other countries before?

Not yet, but I would love to.  I was bummed that the last time I was in Germany for work, the day I was leaving there was a half marathon, I SO wish I would have known about it before, I would have extended my trip to run it!

What is your favorite kind of running, solo running or running with a friend or group?

I LOVE running with friends and would much prefer to do it in a group.

Do you listen to music while you run?  Give us the top 2 running songs on your playlist.

Yes!  My favorites change a lot but currently my top 2 songs are Paramore's Still Into You and Gavin DeGraw's Best I Ever Had.

What is your favorite chat food, or snack you enjoy or reward yourself with after your long runs?

I actually reward myself with my "cheat food" before my weekend long runs (after my runs I always crave healthy food?!?)  Friday is pizza night in our house, so we order out every Friday.  I always have a few pieces and it's worth every bite.

In your spare time what other hobbies or sports do you love to do?

I am pretty much up for anything that gets me moving.  I regularly do yoga, strength train, spin, I love to hike, kick box and be outdoors.  I love to play soccer, basketball, kickball.  I'll try anything fitness related at least once.  Outside of being active, I LOVE to read and read at least 1 book a week.

What type of things motivate you and push you towards success in life?

My biggest motivator right now is my son.  I want to be successful and healthy so he has a strong role model to look up to.  I think I have always been motivated to try and be a little bit better than I was yesterday.  I know the power of hard work and with hard work comes success at work, in fitness endeavors and leads to personal growth.  I just want to push myself to be the best version of myself.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for someone who is thinking of starting up running?

I would tell them not to underestimate the power of proper nutrition, a good training plan, stretching and proper sneakers/clothing; these things can make all the difference in your experience!

Do you have any goals you are working on right now that you'd like to share?

My current running goal is to get to the start/finish line of the Boston Marathon healthy, and then, do my best to PR it.  I know this is an incredibly difficult course, so I am training to the best of my ability and doing my PT exercises everyday.  That's the best that I can do and my only focus until after this race.  Then I will re-evaluate and pick a new goal.  I have also committed to running 1000 miles in 2014, which I am well on my way to achieving.

You are a fitness instructor, what is your favorite part of that job?

The best part of that job is helping others reach their goals and helping them realize they can push past what they previously believe were barriers.  When a participant in my class tells me that coming to my class is the best part of their week or when they thank me for pushing them and making them a better person of that they would have never thought they could lift what I just challenged them to lift, there is nothing better than that feeling.  When I teach, that workout is not about me, it's about those in my class and it helps me feel like I am giving back and making a difference.

Do you have a great accomplishment you have achieved in life?
I think one of the accomplishments I am most proud of was getting my MBA.  I was really scared about taking that leap when I had been out of school for so long.  When I got into my top choice school, I was ecstatic.  Then, I found out I was pregnant, so my first year of school I was pregnant and the second year I had a newborn.  Balancing working full time and commuting 3+ hours a day, school, being a first time mom and everything else that comes with being a wife, daughter and friend, there were many times I thought I was crazy for not taking some time off, but I pushed through (with a lot of help and support from my husband) and graduated on time with a 3.5 GPA.  I am incredibly proud of myself for sticking with it and working hard, but also SO happy to be done with school for good!!

What are a few of your dreams or bucket list items?

Right now my bucket list has about a dozen places I want to travel to with my family.  My husband and I love to travel and did it a lot prior to having our son and we want to show him all the incredible places that are out there.  We have some pretty big trips we are planning for the future, once he is a bit older.

Tell us something unique about you.

I was a redhead until the age of about 5, like Annie red and then my hair darkened to auburn.  I wish it would have stayed that vibrant red!

You can find Sara blogging at:
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