Daring to Go for Gold

Back when Kaitlin came to our Bossed Up Bootcamp hosted by The Lady Project in Rhode Island, she was feeling without a community and without a clear direction.

Not only did she leave with a rad new #girlgang, but she set out on a wild journey that’s led her to training full-time for the Olympic Trials in the marathon, coming up next week!

I caught up with Kaitlin to hear more about the big, bold career moves this boss has been making.

Emilie: So you’re on the run, huh?

Kaitlin: You could say that, ha! I’m currently out in California giving marathon training my full focus. After having juggled a 9-to-5 job and running for a long time, it’s been great to finally fully invest in my running goals and put all my focus on my training for the Olympic Trials.

E: Amazing! Tell me more about that – it sounds like you made some big pivots.

K: I have! First, let me say that I’ve been running my entire life. My dad was my high school track coach, I ran at the Division 1 level in college, and I have been competing post-collegiately since then, with my eye on the Olympic Trials.

When I moved to Rhode Island, I found myself feeling isolated and removed. My husband is a doctor and was placed in Providence for his residency, which meant a big move from our previous home and the wonderful community we had in Ohio. I was fortunate enough to be full-time working for a flexible start-up, who supported my relocation by allowing me to tele-commute. While I was glad to still have my job, it was a tough change and made it harder to have the same close connection I’d previously shared with my coworkers.

Complicating all this was the fact that right before I moved, the company went on a growth spree, so my coworkers doubled and I gained a new boss. So now instead of reporting to the longtime boss I had a great relationship with, I was trying to build a brand-new relationship from a distance. Getting to know someone over Google Hangout isn’t the same as in person and can be challenging.

E: Wow, that sounds really tough.

K: Being in a new place and not knowing a lot of people in Providence, combined with working on my own from home, I was feeling isolated, and so was eager to make connections. I was also having a tough time with the recent transitions at my job, so when I heard about Bootcamp, I was quick to sign up!

E: That’s terrific. So what happened next?

K: Two huge things changed for me that weekend. First, I learned skills that helped me better communicate with my new boss. During a video call with my boss shortly after Bootcamp, I had my notes from Bootcamp right there with me, off to the side of my computer screen for quick reference. It was helpful to have those tools in my toolbox. I also gained skills to negotiate for what I needed at work, to be personally sustainable once again.

E: That’s awesome! So glad to hear it! So wait – what’s the other big thing that changed?

K: Well, the vision and goal-setting module helped me to envision the future I wanted for myself, and that future involved running full-time and fully committing to my Olympic dreams (a bit of scary dream, to be honest!). While I had a rewarding career path doing work that I was passionate about, the passion that really ignited me was running.

I’d been competing post-collegiately since I graduated from college, but I’d never focused 100% of my time on running — finances and health insurance meant that I was always working part- or full-time while trying to train at an elite level. But the Olympic year fast approaching, I finally took a big leap of faith to fully invest in my dream — I quit my job this fall, and I’ve been running full-time ever since!

E: Holy wow! That’s amazing!

K: Amazing, yes, and still a bit crazy! It was intimidating to take what felt like this big risk, to invest in myself and my goals, but it’s been so rewarding and was definitely the right decision.

Financially, it was a bit unnerving to walk away from a regular paycheck to commit to professional running (which is far from as lucrative as professional baseball or football!). But, I started up a coaching business, too, so I can help other runners reach their goals. It’s called Training Joyfully and I provide personalized online coaching to runners.

Coaching and running don’t feel like work, even when I’m working incredibly hard. I’m approaching the Olympic year with the same focus as I would approach any job. I’m dedicated to my training schedule, my diet, sleep, physical therapy to keep my body healthy – everything!

E: That’s amazing, Kaitlin! I want to hear how the next race goes!

K: Next up is the Olympic Trials Marathon on February 13, and then I’ll tackle the 10,000 meters at the Track & Field Olympic Trials in July. The top 3 finishers make the Olympic Team to compete in Rio!

E: Incredible. So what do you tell others about this transformation you’ve made in your life?

K: If you feel like you’re the only person going through a rough patch personally or professionally, know that you are not alone! I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly self-assured person, so it was challenging for me to have this crisis of confidence and find my normally-confident self struggling with doubt and uncertainty.

At Bootcamp, I realized that I wasn’t the only one going through this, and that there are resources, tools, and people to help you find your way again. With my newfound community in The Lady Project in Providence, and the tools I gained at Bootcamp, I found this incredible camaraderie with women in the same boat as me, all supporting each other’s goals and dreams.

I also share my story. I even wrote about my experience at Bossed Up Bootcamp on my blog!


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