Saturday Spotlight- Sarah Thompsen

Name: Sarah Thompsen
Age: 34
Occupation: Mental Health Counselor
Married to: Pete Thompsen, for almost 10 years now
Kids: 2 daughters, Kaylee (6) and River (3)
Pets: 2 cats and 3 snakes (well, the ball python isn’t technically ours.)
First off: Thanks, Lou, for tapping me for WOTW, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, intrepid President! 
OK, this might get long, so let’s see, where to begin? I grew up in an abnormally normal, healthy, middle-class family over in Commack, with a younger brother and a mom and dad who are still happily married. I was painfully shy growing up (something I still haven’t really shaken, lol). I had a few friends around the neighborhood, but mostly kept to myself. Eventually my mom signed me up for some of the usual activities; I did 3 years of dance, 2 years of soccer (which I didn’t like because of all the running! Lol!), 2 years of softball, and then finally a few years of horseback riding, which I loved so much that I later joined the equestrian team at college. I refused to do any of the competitions, though; I just loved simply riding, and to this day I miss it.
In school I did very well academically (I’m a nerd to the core!), but remained pretty socially isolated. I got along with a few classmates, was ignored by most, and was occasionally a target for bullies (an amusing one too, because I can’t help but cry). Added in to that was (and is, lol) a hefty dose of anxiety, and I had a really hard time finding any place I felt comfortable. I never quite fit. Then, through a chain of events that started summer of 1998 with me dancing around the kitchen as I cleaned up after dinner and ended in line for Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure in October 2002, I wound up meeting my husband Peter. With him and his friends, I finally found a happy place; people with whom I fit, I belonged. Other sci-fi nerds who accepted me for all my geekdom! We got married in April of 2006, and in my contentedness, I gained (more than) a few pounds, and so it led me to running.
When I first started in June of 2008, it was hard. Really hard. My lungs would burn. I did run/walk intervals (though at the time I had no idea that those were a thing), and I was just getting to the point where I didn’t need to take walk breaks when in August I found out I was pregnant! Dr’s orders were to stop running because I was still so new to it, didn’t wanna stress my body any more than it already was. Being a new mommy was exhausting, so I didn’t start running again until 2010; but I finally got into a 3x a week habit. And it was a CHORE. I’d spend the whole miserable 2-3 ish miles telling myself “I’m doing this today so I don’t have to do it tomorrow!” Then in 2012 I got pregnant again, and for a variety of reasons I chose to stop running. Being a mommy of 2 is REALLY exhausting. kiki emoticon I didn’t start running again in earnest until 2014, when I had reached 180 lbs and had no energy to keep up with my daughters. Between diet and exercise, by that October I lost the 50 lbs I wanted to… and somehow along the way my relationship with running had changed. It wasn’t a chore, it was a challenge. I wanted to see if I could finish my route faster each time. I’d mustered up the nerve to enter the Cystic Fibrosis 4 miler in July (I’d never done a race, and NEVER run farther than 5k), and somehow placed 3rd in my age group (with a 35:31, lol). That was it, I was hooked on racing. Running became training. I grew to love it, how it made me feel, tracking how I was improving. My goals got bigger. I did my first 10k that September, then the Brewery 10 Miler in January. It had become another happy place, though a very isolated place (even at races, since I didn’t really know anyone). Then I met Victoria Gianninoto on a Facebook running group, and she invited me to the hills in March 2015, the week after she first went. This night-owl somehow became a vampire. I met Shelly RB and Jaime LP and Rob Cosentino and Katy Rice Forman and SO many other amazing people. I NEVER would have imagined myself getting up before the sun, not just for the sake of running, but so I could run with these people. Now I have a hard time imagining NOT doing it. This crew helped me get through my first half marathon in May and my first full at the Suffolk Marathon in September (and then my second marathon at NYC a month and a half later! Lol!). For the second time in my life, I’ve found a place where I belong, and I can’t even begin to quantify HOW MUCH that means to me.
Thank you for you patience with my ramblings, have a lovely weekend! Stay safe and warm and enjoy the snow!

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