Sarah Bowen Shea: An Introduction

Sarah Bowen Shea

I come from a long line of readers, not runners, and a part of me is always running from who I was as a child. While I loved exploring the fields and woods surrounding my family’s suburban Connecticut home, I never participated in organized sports and I always brought up the rear on field day. I dabbled in playing tennis in junior high school, but I didn’t make my high school’s varsity or JV lacrosse team (at a school with a supposedly “no-cut ” policy—go figure!).

But a switch flipped when I went to college: I fell in love with rowing, and started running to get into competitive shape. After graduating, I moved to San Francisco, where I could run in a stunningly beautiful setting year-round. From then on, I was hooked on running, both on the road and trail. Yet I only ran a handful of races before training for my first marathon—San Francisco—in 1998. I was hobbled for days after running that 26.2 in 4:03, and vowed I was one-and-done.

But then I ran the New York City Marathon the following year. And four years later, 14 months after the birth of my first child, I ran the Napa Valley Marathon. Since becoming a mother runner (I now have a daughter, 12, and 8-year-old boy-girl twins), I’ve run a total of 10 marathons and countless half marathons. I longed to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but I kept narrowly missing the time cutoff.

Finally, in a steady downpour at the 2010 Portland Marathon, I squeaked in; I subsequently ran Boston in 2012, the year the mercury hit 90 degrees during the race. I’m aiming to re-qualify this fall at the Victoria (British Columbia) Marathon. (I now live in Portland, Oregon, and usually gravitate to races in the Pacific Northwest.)

I’m not a coach, per se, but I’m the co-author of two books, Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother, along with Dimity McDowell. Through the Another Mother Runner community we foster, we provide advice, inspiration and motivation to thousands of female runners online and in person.

Dimity and I selected our cadets from a contest on our website. My cadet is Alison Pellici, a mom of two and a teacher. She actually lives in my hometown of Stamford, Conn., and we met a few years ago when I was visiting my parents.

I feel there’s some karmic harmony going on here: I’ll cross the finish line of a marathon with a woman who is from the place where I never set foot in a running shoe.

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit

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