Having nurtured a plan for the past year, I’m finally ready to get the word out: I’m launching a coaching business and will begin working with clients starting January 1. You can find out the details about my services, qualifications and approach to coaching on my newly redesigned website, sarahlavendersmith.com.
I’ve always loved being an informal mentor and coach to others, offering whatever help and advice I can to motivate others to train and reach new goals. I got more serious about the idea when I wrote this Trail Runner article, “Get a Coach,” last year. Then I took a two-day course last spring to become certified by the Road Runners Club of America, and I’ve since devoted time to studying the coaching methods of others and enhancing my knowledge base.
I’m approaching this venture as if it were an ultra, meaning I’m going to get as organized and prepared as possible, commit to the long haul, and then start slowly and pace myself. That means for the first six months, I’ll take a very limited number of clients, ideally split between locals whom I’ll work with in person and clients out of the region whom I’ll coach virtually.
2014 has been a transitional year professionally, and I’m feeling excited and motivated for 2015. My energy and commitment to develop new projects stems from a realization I made earlier in the year. I realized I was stagnating and holding back from starting something new, because I lacked confidence and courage. I confessed the following in my Miwok 100K race report, An Ultra That Became a Midlife Crisis and Catharsis:
During Miwok and in the days that followed, I recognized that I develop strength and talent as a runner in part to compensate for shortcomings I feel in other areas of my personal and professional life. At times and to varying degrees, I literally run away from challenges or opportunities that frighten me. … During Miwok I realized I had to fundamentally change my attitude; otherwise, what good is being a hard-core runner who says “you can do anything you put your mind to” if that persona runs and hides once she gets off the trail? … I vowed to take on that challenge and other opportunities—to “lean in,” as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg advocates, and to ask myself, “what would I do if I weren’t afraid?”
Becoming a coach dovetails well with my ongoing interest in covering the sport of trail/ultra running. As I cut back on marketing work for Cogent Legal earlier this year, I rekindled and tried to build on my journalism and new-media skills. As a result, I’m writing more for Trail Runner and occasionally co-hosting UltraRunnerPodcast with Eric Schranz (which is so much fun!). This Saturday, at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-mile Championship, I’ll be live broadcasting and providing commentary at the start/finish line for UltraSportsLive.TV. Tune it at 4:45 a.m. or throughout the morning to watch!
Aside from those running-related endeavors, my main “job” (which is volunteer) is serving as a trustee for The Thacher School. This year, I stepped up to chair the Development Committee and be one of the leaders for a major capital campaign. I also continue to work a few hours weekly for Cogent Legal.
And, of course, I have these two teenagers! The funny thing is, they seem to do best when I get out of their way. They need me, but in smaller doses. Whereas parenting used to feel all-consuming, now it feels more manageable but every bit as meaningful.
So, that’s my update and how I’m winding up 2014. I spent the past couple of weeks updating my blog and personal site, sarahlavendersmith.com, to a new, cleaner, mobile-friendly design to mark this personal and professional transition. I’d welcome feedback on the sites.
Bonus: Mini Race Report
One week ago, on Thanksgiving morning, I lined up with some 2700 participants at the Piedmont Turkey Trot, a hilly 3-miler through the neighborhood. As detailed in this archived post, “The Toughest 20 Minutes,” I have a significant amount of fear and hang-ups about this race. It’s crazy, isn’t it, that I’m more nervous about a 5K than a 50K?
My nerves stemmed from the fear I would not be able to squeak under 20 minutes, as I have always been able to do in years past. Given my training, which has focused on endurance instead of speed—and the fact I did a 100-miler three weeks prior—I didn’t know how in the world I would be able to run sub-6:40 miles to break 20. In training this fall, anything under an 8-minute-mile felt fast, so 6:40 miles for three miles straight seemed impossible!
I told myself: “Get over it. Just do it. Do the best you can on this morning, given your training, and be happy with that.”
And so I did. I ran at high intensity from the start, right to the edge of burning up anaerobically, and I didn’t look at my watch until the end. The final stretch is on an uphill, and as I approached the finish, I saw the clock in the 19:30’s. I gave it everything I had but crossed in 20:02, 5th place female. Ack! No more sub-20. But, I was really pleased nonetheless. I believe it was the best I could do on that day, given my training level and the lingering fatigue in my legs. And a 6:41/mile average pace is much better than I expected!
It was a blast to run fast again, and I plan to get back to the track regularly to tune up my speed.
Next up: Tarawera 100K, just eight weeks away!