Sunday, March 13, 2011

Relentlessly Positive - Sally Meyerhoff

I haven’t written on my blog in a long time. I have come to accept, I just don’t type well or often

To say I received sad news this last week would have been an understatement. Sally Meyerhoff and I worked together off an on for 2 years. After NYC Marathon last year, she asked me to coach her full time and I graciously accepted.

If I am totally honest, it was also intimidating. To have an athlete at her level put her trust in me was a thing I respected very much. With Sally, like ALL my athletes, I never take it lightly when I write their weekly plans. I know for a certain fact that they are asking me to help them with their hopes and dreams.

In the last 2 months Sally accomplishing dreams she had. Some of her major ones:
Win PF Chang’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon – Done.
PR in a 5k – Done
Experience some success in triathlon Two races, two different distances 1st place, and… 1st place. – Done.
Fine peace in her race plan – Done.

Sally and I had a 4 hour conversation together the other week talking about HER goals. I wanted the goals to be hers. Not mine, not her family's, not what she thought others expected her to do – hers. I explained to her I worked for her. I was here to add suggestions but she had to make decisions.

What we came up with was a plan to focus on her running to make money and work on speed through the spring. We decided it would be best to not have the pressure of Ironman this year, and it would be here for her whenever she decided to go after it. So we thought working on skills and get more experience racing triathlon would be done best through short course racing and half Ironman distances. We also decided it would be a good time to cut her teeth in the pro ranks so she could learn where we needed to get better against the professionals she would be racing someday.

After some racing this summer in triathlon, we thought that would give her a mental break, let her body cross train and build a huge base of fitness which would lead into our goal of running 2:28 or better Jan 14th at the Olympic trials. We also decide the time would be our first goal; placement would be a close secondary focus. Sally was looking for return on investment for what she put into her pursuit.

The focus was to be on becoming the runner and athlete she wanted to become. Improve economy, speed, etc. We would relentlessly work on these qualities and pick things along the way we wanted to focus on without losing site that the real goal was to keep becoming a better athlete.

In my experiences there are some AWESOME coaches out there. Not saying this is what Sally experienced, but in my own experiences coaches sometimes get so caught up in the athletic goal, track work, HR, etc. They forget there is a person in there. In my opinion and looking back at Sally’s blog ( her first limiter we needed to address was mental peace and clearness of what she wanted. We didn’t do anything special with workouts leading into January. She and I talked and made a final decision for her to run the marathon Tuesday BEFORE the race! We agreed time and placement was not our focus. Our focus was for her to just enjoy lacing up her shoes and have fun running again. I made her promise me this was her focus.

She won, and really I didn’t care. Yes, I was happy for that. Sure she had ran slightly faster, but she won by several minutes. What I was happier for, was she smiled that entire race. She had fun, and found passion for it again. Next thing you know, she was on FIRE! You can see it in her blog. She was finally happy, and then you know what, she started to win.

Sally was killed on her bike last Tuesday. Our goals were cut tragically short. It really makes no sense to me and I can’t find the “reason” for it.

I was just with her family for the last few days and cannot say enough positive things about them. The Meyerhoff’s have raised 3 amazing children: Sally, Daniel, and Samantha. This fact is nothing but a testament of the parents they are.

To me Sally was a great runner, yes. I loved coaching her. Coaches never know when they will get the opportunity to work with athletes at that level, especially with her character. But my favorite athletes to work with are athletes with passion. For me to write a 5 or a 10 min mile doesn’t really matter to me. What does is the CARING and PASSION which she obviously had.

Sally’s motto was “Relentlessly Positive”. Something she lived everyday with an infectious nature. If you met Sally, you were a better person. I have friends who thought the world of her just having heard me speak of her. It was agreed by the hundreds of people who came to the memorial that she had the ability to relate to EVERYONE.

I learned from her dad this trip her true dream was to own a bakery. The ideal setting was a place people could hang out, indulge in something nice to eat and have a park near by where they could let their dogs run.

Sally was an AMAZING PERSON, who happened to be a fantastic athlete. I will miss her as will many people around the community.

Sally thank you for mentoring me.

There is a foundation being set up in her honor. As I know more details, I will make sure to write about it….. (Disregard opening sentence) :)

---It should be noted that her former High School Mountain Pointe is dedicating their track to her. It will be Sally Meyerhoff

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