Sarah Sellers, an LDS nurse anesthetist from Utah, recently took the running world by surprise with a second-place finish at the Boston Marathon, beating out many prominent professional runners. The behind-the-scenes story of Sarah's faith and resilience, however, makes the story of her incredible race even more compelling.
During the last half of the race, when the 26-year-old from Utah was struggling and tempted to ease up her pace, she would look at the crowd and throw a fist pump or wave. It was their enthusiasm and encouragement that gave her the strength to keep going.
She says the feeling she felt is analogous to the human experience.
"We’re in the elements, we’re suffering, and we feel the pain at the moment. But really there are cheerleaders on both sides to buoy us up the entire time. If you are looking at the pavement, focused on the fact that you’re getting freezing rain from all angles, it’s easy to get down on yourself and feel alone," Sellers said in a telephone interview with the Deseret News Wednesday. "In the spiritual sense, we’re never alone, even if it feels like it. It’s probably because we’re looking down at the pavement. We need to face forward, focus on our goals, think about the reason we are there, and draw upon the support of our faith and our people."
Discovering this parallel for running the race of life was just as meaningful to Sellers as her second-place finish in this week's Boston Marathon. It helped to put all the adversity she's experienced into proper gospel perspective, including a serious injury in college and years of training in extreme elements, said Sellers, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Far from the crowds and the finish line in Boston, Sellers recalled suffering a navicular stress fracture at what she thought was the peak of her college career at Weber State University in 2013. Not only did the injury mean the end of competing in college, but the risk for long-term damage seemed to signal the end of competitive running all together, Sellers said.