Despite the absence of a track program for girls in her high school, Sara Freitas, 50, of Nevada City, Calif., inevitably gravitated to the sport. She began cross-country running, somewhat inconsistently, in her early 20s.
On a dare after the birth of her first child, Sara trained for a 20-km run. After a surprisingly good performance, she asked herself, "How much better could I do if I knew what I was doing?" She was hooked.
Sara continues to compete in races and has boxes of trophies to show for her effort. At 45, she ran her fastest race ever, competing against a former Olympian.
“I can't control what other people do in a race, but I can control how I perform," she said. "In this race, I felt invincible and was thrilled to race hard and hold on to the pace."
A soil tester by profession, Sara also coaches a high school girls' cross-country team. She lives with her husband, Mark, and is mom to two sons, Matt and Daniel. The sports-minded family enjoys mountain biking, skiing, snowshoeing, golf, and cross-country running.
Sara typically runs 40 to 50 miles a week in a plan that consists of two or three workouts, a couple of recovery runs, and a long run of 10 to 13 miles. "I run on trails rather than roads and use hills more than the track," she said, "to be nice to my body.
"People ask me," Sara offered, "how I manage to keep improving. I just work at consistency—making small, gradual improvements." Progress, not perfection, is her goal. "In addition to improving myself," Sara added, "I love coaching individuals who want to learn the sport."