by. Sarah Lewis
Bakersfield, CA

Sarah has been running for about 15 years and enjoys racing the marathon. She is currently helping some girlfriends train for the Santa Barbara Wine Half Marathon in May and plans to compete herself. Her pre-race ritual includes listening to "Chelsea Dagger" by Fratellis to help get her pumped up!

My love for running began after a major automobile accident in 2004. I had always been a recreational runner. I ran as a way to escape stress during college and had done the occasional 5k to support different charities, but I had never trained for a race before. The day before my accident I had decided to train for a marathon. I had gone out for a training run following a plan I had found in a book.  I felt great. I felt as though I had made a commitment to myself to do something that few people I knew had done. And then everything changed.

After leaving work one afternoon, I headed to the local mall and on my way I was stopped at a red light, when it was my turn I made my left turn and in one second my life and my training plan was forever changed.  I was hit by a large truck that had ran their red light.

I don’t remember anything from that day, but I have been told that firemen pulled me out of my car and I was unconscious for over two weeks. I was in a medically induced coma because the trauma from the accident had caused my brain to swell and the doctors were worried about brain injury. After the swelling had gone down in my brain I woke up to complete left side paralysis and short term memory loss. Even with this stacked against me I still had the desire to run.


Through intense physical therapy and with the support of my family and friends I was eventually able to recover and begin walking again. A year later I finally began to train for that marathon I had started to train for before my accident.

My father has been my running buddy through all of this and I don’t know if I would be where I am now with out his encouragement. He has motivated me when I was down about my running, when I struggled because of residual issues from my accident. He gave me confidence in my ability when I had very little.


In July of 2014, it will be 10 years since my accident. During that time, I have run one 50k ultra marathon, 9 marathons, countless half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks. I strive to pass on my love of running to my friends and anyone who will listen. Recently I have convinced some of my other teacher colleagues to join me in my love of running. Several have now completed half marathons and few who have been hesitant have even begun to train for their first 5k.


Running has given me confidence and mental toughness when I needed it the most. It has never left my side when the going got tough. When I am running I feel free. I feel as though nothing else matters and I can do anything!

Atsuko Tamara