Two years ago, if you would have told Sarah Hammer, a member of Eden Prairie (MN) Moms on the Run, that she would not only be a runner but an ultra-marathoner, she would have told you you were crazy. With the help of Moms on the Run, Sarah has completed five ultras and her goal of finishing a 50-mile race by the end of 2019. We found her story so inspiring we named her October's Most Inspiring Member. Read on to learn more of Sarah's inspiring journey, in her own words.
"First of all, I want to thank you for picking me. I am sure there are more well-deserved runners than myself for this honor, but I am thrilled that I was picked. I have never considered myself an inspiration to anyone so when I received the email that I was picked, I think I called everyone I knew. I would have never thought in a million years that my new-found passion for running would lead me to where I am now."
I joined Moms on the Run at the end of summer and beginning of fall 2017. I joined because I wanted to start running. I was just starting to add an exercise routine in my life. We had also just moved to Eden Prairie and I wanted to meet new people. So, I posted on a community board on Facebook and Patty, our coach at the time, replied with 'join us' and I tried a class and loved it. Everyone was so welcoming and positive and beyond supportive.
Before Moms on The Run, I was never a runner. In fact, I did everything to avoid it. Patty worked with me and help me get my form down and before I knew it, she had convinced me to sign up for my first race, just three months after I joined. With her support and encouragement, I ran Icebox 480 — and from that moment on I was hooked. Patty even convinced me to sign up for Wild Duluth 50k, which was to take place that following October 2018. I ran my first ultra with her and finished. I had also found my new challenge. From that point on, I was committed to training more and had set a new goal to run a 50-mile race by the end of 2019.
So, I trained harder, added more miles each week, signed up for more races. Because who doesn’t love to run for bling and free swag? And I added three more ultras under my belt and my goal to run 50 miles was even closer. On September 21, 2019, I had my second 24-hour race and that was the race where I hit my 50-mile goal. I did it, I ran 50 miles. That race was everything that I have been training for: All the hours away from my family, all the tears I cried while running, all the self-doubt I had going into this led up to this point and once again, I had my friend and coach Patty, along with our friend Kari, cheering me on. They walked/ran laps with me and gave me the boost and encouragement I needed to finish. This race had tested me physically, mentally and emotionally, but I was determined to finish and to prove to myself that if you work hard, train hard and replace 'I can’t' with 'I can,' you will finish — and I did.
Running has become my therapy; when everything else in my life is going wrong, running has been the one thing that I can control. It has made me stronger both physically and mentally. And for once, my kids cannot keep up with me; I have to slow down for them. Most importantly, running has given me my life back. For so long, I was lost being a mom and wife; I had nothing that was just mine. Through running, this became mine. I am now a mom, wife, daughter — and a runner. I am part of a small group of people in this world who support you when you feel like you can't go one step further, who have that person running beside you, and past you — all cheering you on. Where else will you hear so much positive support from strangers? Only in the running community.
I am always talking about Moms on the Run; this group has been there for me when I needed it the most. You have unconditional support from women who understand how you feel and what you are going through. When you are having a bad day, you can always count on your group to be there. It does not matter how fast you are, if you are a new runner or old, if this is your first run or you have been running for years. This is a group that comes together to uplift, empower and embrace our differences. Who would not love to be a part of that?
I have been married for 10 years and currently live in Eden Prairie. We are a blended family with six kids — yes, six. Our kids' ages are 20, 20, 18, 16, 14 and 12. We also have two dogs that we joke are our kids together. Lizzy is my running partner and often joins me at Moms on the Run. She has no problem barking at us when we slow down and walk or stop to talk; she is right there barking at us to get moving. I work full time in Minneapolis and go to school full time to finish my degree in education. I really don’t have any hobbies other than running, as that is all I have time for between work, kids and school. But I would not change anything about my life. I am so grateful that I took that chance, went to my first class and joined this amazing group. If you would have told me 20 years ago I would be a runner or even an ultramarathon runner, I would have laughed. But it shows you with the right encouragement, the right support and if you have the dedication and drive to never give up and keep pushing, you can accomplish anything to which you put your mind.
This is one of my favorite quotes that has helped me when I feel like I can’t, or when I get the look of 'oh you run,' this is my go-to that I hope also helps someone else.
“There are many people out there who will tell you that you can’t. What you’ve got to do is turn around and say, ‘Watch Me.’” – Jack White."