dailymiler of the week – Sara M.

Every week we pick one inspiring dailymiler to be featured on the blog. This gives you a chance to learn the stories of members of the dailymile community. Check out past dailymiler’s of the week. Do you know someone that would be a great dailymiler? Nominate them!

Sara M tipped the scales at 310 pounds the day she visited the doctor and was told she was fat. The shock she felt as she heard that “F” word snapped her out of the state of denial she’d been living in for years. She’d been kidding herself, telling herself and her friends that she was happy, that she was “a healthy heavy”. Her doctor’s bluntness and his suggestion that she start taking medications to control her high cholesterol helped her see the slippery slope she was on. She had to make changes or suffer a long slow death.

Refusing the medication recommended, Sara bought a recumbent-style exercise bike. The back of the model she chose could be laid back to perfectly flat like a weight bench. She set it up in her home, leaned the seat back, grabbed a pillow for her head and got on. For fifteen minutes she suffered. Her legs did not want to pump the pedals. “I will never forget the pain I was in,” she says. “My body was begging me to stop the whole time.” Sore and exhausted, more embarrassed than excited, Sara got off the bike. She wasn’t sure she’d ever get back on. She knew she didn’t want to. She contemplated taking the easy road, popping the pills she’d been offered.

The next day Sara woke. She was completely drained of energy. Doubt flooded her mind. She couldn’t get on that bike again. It hurt too much. She gave up. “I was so ashamed of myself,” she recalls. It was one of her lowest moments.

Throughout the morning that day, every time Sara passed the room where the bike was, she gave it her most intense death glare. Anger grew in her. She hated the stupid thing. She swore at it repeatedly. But things began to change as the hours wore on. By noon she began to wonder if she could ride again, maybe longer. Still she resisted. She did not want to get back on that cursed contraption.

The urge to try again won out in the end. Sara threw on her coziest clothes, tipped the seat back, laid down and began to pedal again. She rode a little longer the second time than she had the first. And the switch was flipped! It was during that second ride that Sara decided she was in it for the long haul. She was going to lose weight.

That second ride was followed by a third and a fourth and a fifth. Over time, the back of the seat came up. The pillow disappeared. Each day’s training was longer than the previous day’s. She began playing with the built-in workouts. She cranked up the resistance. “It was torture and I hated it, but I was starting to love the high I felt after I completed what I set out to do that day,” she reports. “It really sucked at the time, but I am so happy I kept going.”

Slowly, the pounds began to fall away. After months indoors, Sara decided to venture out. She took up mountain biking. After she’d purchased Dirt Donkey, her mountain bike, a friend took her out on her first ride on singletrack. The ride went well.

The following week, another friend invited Sara to join him on a more technical trail. She agreed to give it a try despite warnings from doubtful friends that this was an advanced course with far more climbing and tricky turns than her first foray had been. Once again, the anger kicked in. “The more people doubted me, the more determined I was to go after it,” Sara remembers.

The day of the ride came. Sara was terrified, but she mustered every ounce of courage she had and hit the dirt. Within minutes of starting, she crashed. She took a minute to gather herself, then got back on her bike. She crashed again a short time later. She got up and swung her leg over the bike again even though everything in her was screaming, “Turn around! Go home!”

The trail was a bit out of Sara’s league. She crashed over a dozen times. She flew over the handlebars more than once. She ran into her riding partner. She fell into a giant swampy puddle. Every time she got back up. She didn’t quit.

On the way home from this ride, Sara’s second exercise bike came to mind. She realized she’d come so far from where she’d started. She wasn’t invincible, but she’d passed another test. Though the ride had left its mark and she was bruised and worn out, she hadn’t stopped. Quitting was no longer an option for her. Not on the bike. Not in life.

Her determination is right now being put to the test as Sara faces “Chuck”. That’s the name she’s given to the cancer that’s invaded her body. That old hatred has kicked in. “You can bet your bottom dollar I’m angry about it,” she states as a matter of fact. “I am in the ring, face to face with my biggest rival, but I won’t back down.”

How could she do anything else? She’s got too many “second rides” to take with her son whom she’s setting an example for, too many dreams that she’s got to live. She’s lost 135 pounds, but she wants to lose more. She’s signed up for mountain bike races this spring and cyclocross this fall. At Christmas time she’s got to deck out her bike and trailer in lights and, dressed as Mrs. Claus with crazy knee high socks, ride over to the hospital to deliver gifts. She’s going to ride RAAM on a team someday. She wants to be a MMA fighter and move with grace and precision like Tara LaRosa. “Realistic? Maybe not so much,” she admits, “but still a great dream to work towards. I know I will have a blast trying.”

Life is good for Sara M. Crazy, high-octane, with twists and turns and crashes, but good! Really good!

About Mike N

Mike Neifert is an avid runner and cyclist who lives on the plains of Kansas. He works out mostly in the early morning hours before the sun comes up. He drags his wife and kids along on runs and rides whenever he can. He's run a 50K, but not a marathon. He wants to ride 200 miles in a day sometime soon and plans to run 100 miles in less than 24 hours in November 2012.
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