Sarah Greim returned to running in a way that is familiar to many people in their mid-30s. She spent her teens and early 20s active in sports, including hopping into a few races with her mother. However, as she got older, life got in the way of athletic goals. So after the birth of her son, Greim signed up for a couch-to-5K program.
But she wasn’t content to just run one 5K. Along with her mother and her best running friend, Greim set a goal to run 14 5Ks in 2014.
“We actually did 25 5Ks,” she says. “But then it just kind of snowballed from there.”
Greim, 38, who lives in Davenport, Iowa, has since turned to longer distances, completing 10 half marathons and one full marathon. She has her sights set on five more 13.1s this year. Throughout those races, Greim’s positivity and determined attitude has allowed her to connect with fellow runners.
During her first half marathon, Greim met a new friend at mile 1. Over the course of the race, they shared life stories, pushed each other and crossed the finish line with arms overhead.
Before Greim’s first marathon—last year’s Haunted Hustle in Wisconsin— her training partner backed out of the race. That’s when a group of friends she met through the organization Fellow Flowers came together to support her. Greim dressed as a “Runaway Bride” with a special shirt and white tutu. Her friends threw a pre-race party, wore matching bridesmaids shirts and jumped in at various parts of the race to give her a boost. The hilly course was tough and Greim was the last person to cross the finish line. However it made her realize how many people wanted her succeed.
“It was the worst run experience I’ve ever had because the course and how grueling it was,” recounts Greim. “But at the same time, it was the best because of the people supporting me through it.”
As much as running has given to Greim, she pays it forward as a chapter leader for a Moms Run This Town group. She is a mentor for new runners at her local Fleet Feet. Recently, she made a deal with her stepsister: Greim would pay the race entry if she joined the couch-to-5K group. They trained and ran a Race for the Cure.
Greim has countless friends who have told her that she has inspired them to become runners.
“I would get messages like ‘Sarah, you really inspired me. Now I’m doing couch-to-5K.’ And for a long time that was really hard for me,” says Greim. “But in the last few years, I started to own it.”
As she continues to complete her own racing goals while motivating others, she wants to set the example that anybody can be a runner.
“I am a slow runner. I am not an elite runner. I am not fast,” she says. “As much as I try to be fast, I am still a solid 12-to-14-minute-per-mile runner. That shows people you don’t have to be some super-fast elite runner to run a half marathon or run a full marathon.”
Greim has a busy race schedule for the second half of 2017. She is running the Remix Challenge at Rock ’n’ Roll Chicago, the Madison Mini Half, the Quad City half marathon and the Detroit International half marathon. And she still has her eye on a few more races.
Tip for New Runners
Find a training group, says Greim. “It’s the accountability of other people. They know what your goals are and they are not going to let you back down. If you have enough people in your corner, you can’t use it as an excuse not to do it.”
What Happens When You Finish Last?
Despite being the final finisher in her first marathon, Greim is already thinking about another—mainly because of her amazing support group. “This time we’re going to do it together,” she says.
Why Parents Should Run
Her advice for busy parents worried about their schedule is to just do it. “It doesn’t matter how old your child is. They are always watching you and always learning from you.”