“Sometimes you have to put yourself on the front lines and get back out there,” Brown, 29, tells PEOPLE. “It’s important now that I’m not afraid to put myself back out there, and realize that it wasn’t under the best circumstances but I worked really hard for that moment.”
“For me, it was a victory,” adds Brown, who gave birth to her first child, daughter Abigail, in March.
During the 1,500 meter race itself, she was struck by pain in her Achille’s tendon in the last lap. It wasn’t a new sensation – she’s battled tendonitis for four years. But it ultimately ended up being her downfall: She fell behind the pack and finished 25th out of 27th in her heat.
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But despite the fact that she won’t be pursuing her Olympic dream this time around, Brown still feels proud of what went down at the trials.
“Ultimately, I was just really proud that I was able to accomplish what I had,” she says. “It’s been a long road, so for me, getting to that starting line and feeling good about that was a major accomplishment.”
“The moment I was waiting for after the race was to see my husband and my daughter,” she says. “I definitely broke down a little bit when I got to see them. It’s just been such an emotional ride and journey, so seeing them just brought it full circle.”
Her husband, Darren, felt the same, and took to Facebook to share his support for his wife following the trials.
“I’m lucky to call Sarah Brown my wife and the mother of my child. God blessed me with a woman whose perseverance and strength is beyond my comprehension,” he wrote. “For anybody who may think that today is a disappointment, you’ve missed the point. It’s not. This is not an end, it’s the beginning. After everything that has happened, we’ve learned that it’s a choice to press on and one we choose to make.”
However, now that the trials are over she’s not going full-speed ahead back into her racing career. With her Achilles flare-up – after the trials, it was swollen to twice her size – she’s focusing on strengthening her body and getting back to her race-ready state.
“For me, it’s about starting over and restrengthening myself so that I can get back out there and race again,” she says. “I was looking forward to after the trials, but I realized with the flare-up of my Achilles I really just need to get those things under control before I get too ambitious.”
When she’s not training, Brown plans to spend as much time as she can with daughter Abigail, whom she credits with keeping her grounded.
“When you have all these issues I’ve had to work through, she’s really showed me the importance of family through this time,” she says. “The support I have from my family, and seeing her, it’s just such a positive influence in my life.”
She adds: “You realize how much more you have and how blessed you really are.”