The first time Sarah Presley jogged a mile around a track, she was hooked.
Within a year, Presley was running her first marathon.
Now, 14 years later, Presley, a community services officer with the Pasadena Police Department has 30 marathons in the books.
“I have a little bit of an addictive personality and it’s channeled into running,” said Presley, 35. “If I like something, I don’t just like it a little. I like it a lot.”
Presley’s goal is to become a member of select group of runners who’ve completed a marathon in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Even a serious medical issues couldn’t keep Presley down for very long.
Fifteen years ago, Presley hadn’t even been a casual runner when joining a friend for four laps around a track.
“I was exhausted,” Presley said. “I was breathing heavy but I was exhilarated. I didn’t even know how far a marathon was but committed to doing one.”
Only after joining Team in Training, a marathon training group, did Presley find out that a marathon is 26.2 miles.
“I had already told quite a few people that I was going to run a marathon, so there was no backing out,” she said.
Presley hadn’t even completed training for the 2005 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, her first, when she signed up for a second marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii six months later.
She completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 6:14:01.
“Well I did California,” Presley said. “I’m going to the state of Hawaii. I should do one in every state.”
After completing Honolulu, marathon No.3 was the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2006, where participants receive a Tiffany necklace when finishing the race.
Presley was in a zone, and in 2007, ran marathons in Phoenix, Nashville, Anchorage and Las Vegas.
In 2008, she added Olympia, Washington.
In 2010, Presley was diagnosed with high blood pressure and was put on medication that impacted her ability to run. Presley later discovered she also had a heart defect, present since birth.
This was the first setback.
In September 2012, Presley had been home watching a movie with her boyfriend, now husband, Chris Dasaro, when she felt “a pop of pain” in her head.
“It filled my entire head,” she said. “Worst pain of my life. It felt like my entire body had just gone completely rigid.”
Presley was taken by ambulance to the hospital and went immediately into surgery for a ruptured aneurysm in her brain.
The aneurysm was coiled with platinum in order to block blood flow into the aneurism. The coil will remain in her brain for life.
But even after heart surgery and brain surgery, the notion of not running never entered Presley’s mind.
“It wasn’t a consideration whatsoever,” she said. “Of course I’m going to run.”
Presley underwent surgery in December 2012.
By January 2013, she was running again.
Presley went on to run seven half-marathons in 2013 followed by more than 21 half marathons and one full marathon in 2014.
“From there, I really got back into the swing of things,” she said.
By 2016, Presley completed marathons in Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and was back on track to running 50 marathons in 50 states, plus D.C.
She’s planning to run marathons in Maryland and Colorado later this year and is mapping out marathons in other states.
“I believe she will get there, said Pasadena Police Officer Donald Sevesind, a colleague, friend and fellow runner who just completed his 100th marathon in Los Angeles on March 24, and did so wearing his full uniform, including the hat, boots and weighty utility belt. “Nothing is going to stop her from achieving that goal.”
She derives inspiration from other sources as well, including other runners who are brain aneurysm survivors.
“Really returning to running is what helped me recover as quickly as I did,” she said. “It was my therapy. It gave me a goal and I just focused on being the type of person I just wanted to meet and connect with.”