Sarah Oual

A personal Blog of a runner :)

Decorating My New Master Bedroom

Hey guys! So, I’m pretty sure the actual words of this post are going to be pretty lame. I’m a great procrastinator and one too many social media feeds informed me that Gilmore Girls is on Netflix now.

Gotta pick your battles I suppose. However, our master bedroom is finished and I’m excited to share it!

My design direction has completely changed over the past few years. I’m in the process of scaling back our things and the Fall in Love Room Challenge was such a great opportunity and motivator to do so.

We’ve accumulated way too many things over the past 8 or so years and it was getting kind of ridiculous. We were surrounded by things that had no meaning to us and weren’t beautiful. I don’t feel like I can say that now. It’s minimal, that’s for sure, but everything about it feels right. Over time I would like to add a few more pieces, maybe a proper bed or at least a headboard. I’m also thinking about swapping out our nightstands.

This Painting from my photo is made by

Another pretty awesome thing about this new set up, less to clean and easier to clean! I can dust and run the vacuum in less than 10 minutes. That has never happened and it just means more time for things I actually enjoy! I’m also pretty happy about all of the white. It’s so refreshing compared to what we had before.

We have pretty low ceilings on the second floor and I really think that getting rid of the visual breakup that carpet/wall colour/ceiling colour can have was huge for us. The room feels seamless now with the wall colour and ceiling colour being the same. And Zeke seems to be okay with it all too, just as long as he has his toys. So there you have it!

My poorly narrated version of our bedroom changes. Like I said…Gilmore Girls. Now is the time for me to tell you to go check out the rooms of some awesome ladies! I really don’t know what I would have done without this Challenge. I’ve been putting this off for too long and their support and having an actual deadline was exactly what I needed!

My Best Friend is Having a Baby, and it’s Freaking Me Out

A little over a month ago I turned 30. Undoubtedly exacerbated by everyone and their brother’s inquisitions about if I felt older or wiser or if I’d signed up for AARP yet, it felt like a big deal. A new decade! New era! The last time my age had a 0 in it I couldn’t legally drink!

When I was 25 I was excited to be approaching 30. So adult-like, making a cush life with two dogs, a good job, and a husband in a swoon-worthy beach town. Kid-free because we just weren’t quite ready yet, not because they weren’t an option or part of the plan.

When Brian and I split, it was easy to think of everything as a loss or setback. Losing a partner, a second family, someone to share every big and meaningless moment with. Regressing on the “ideal” adult timeline after getting so close to binkies and daycare phase.

After a while though, those “losses” started looking like opportunities. Freedoms. More time for me, and the things that were important to me. I didn’t have to share my time or my thoughts, I had the freedom to do with myself whatever I damn well felt like. Take off for the weekend on a whim? Buy an expensive pair of jeans I couldn’t really afford? Spend a meaningless night with someone meaningless?

The independence was intoxicating and addictive, and before I knew it I was regressing down other adult paths at the sake of dignity, finances, and probably personal safety. (I did get a handful of really great stories from it all at least.)

Looking back, this sudden swing to erratic behavior was clearly some part of the coping process. I was bingeing on all of the things I felt I’d been deprived of during my relationship, and sitting on the cusp of a new decade, it hit me clear as day like my optometrist smashing a pile of bricks against my forehead and suddenly knocking me into 20/20 vision. I’d been playing so hard in the “I can do whatever the hell I want!” sandbox that the novelty of freedom had lost its luster. One-night stands and impulsive purchases began feeling mainstay, the period of shame or regret afterwards shrinking with every instance.

A week before my birthday I’d been back in Ohio doing my usual visit home things; running with Mom, drinking beer with dad, talking about mom and dad with my sister, soaking up time with both sets of grandparents (who I realize more and more how lucky I am to still have around,) and dinner dating with my two best girlfriends.

This visit was different though, as our usual scandalous stories and alcohol-fueled laughing fits were replaced with ultrasound pics and ultra-sobering accounts about human anatomy that my almost-30 self still just wasn’t ready to accept as reality.

Seven months prior I’d been back for another visit, and again Lauren, Shea, my sister and I were out for our ritual dinner date. We evenly poured a pitcher of margaritas between the four of us, and Lauren raised her glass offering a toast. “To Sarah being home, and me being pregnant!” I didn’t know how to react (other than calling dibs on the glass she’d just pushed to the center of the table.) There were hugs and cheers and maybe squeals, and I just sat there with my jaw dropped, firmly gripping two margaritas.

Lauren and I have been friends since we were two. Without sounding too cliche, we’ve been through a lot together – deaths, divorces, graduations, promotions, illness and extreme joyfulness – she’s first-handedly been part of more tallies in my life win-loss column than anyone, a lot of them from across the country, none of which would’ve been the same without her.

There are the types of people who you just know are meant to be parents, and Lauren’s definitely one of them. She’s a great human with a great big heart and a selflessness I just can’t comprehend, as made apparent by the fact I’ve been too preoccupied thinking about my lagging behind to see how exciting it is that she’s starting the family she’s always wanted.

This realization finally came a few days after she said she’d been put on the delivery schedule, and a few hours after that I had a plane ticket home. She doesn’t know I’m here, and won’t until I walk through her hospital room door, wine in hand (that’s allowed, right?) and tears in eyes. She also won’t realize how much more this trip is for me than it is for her. (Again with the selfishness thing.)

Mary’s Peak 25K

This morning I’m running the Red Hot 33k in Moab. Hahaha oops. Hi Utah. Also hi I got up early enough to do this.

I’m wildly unprepared, finishing up a round of antibiotics for an inappropriate case of strep (long story, kind of), and still somehow stupidly excited. Road trips to explore beautiful places has been a constant around here, and I hope none of these adveture-enabling lunatics change their minds about them. Even the untrained racing part.

Just for shits and giggles, I finished the last 5% of this race report from my first “proper” trail race back in June.

But perhaps the most shocking thing here (because come on, no one’s shocked by the untimeliness) is that I ran a race at all. According to Athlinks (my only source of information, since I stopped keeping a running log and can’t backdate my brain past last week) it was my first race since the Deschutes 5k last August when I was in Bend for Oiselle Bird Camp, and my first trail race since Haulin Aspen Half, which I ran during Emily’s cross-country move road trip. To cap off the full-circledness, we stayed at the Flomas House that weekend, who own the company I now work for. Kinda bizarre tracing it back like that.

Emily conned me into registering for Mary’s Peak 25K sometime back in May, probably after I said something along the lines of, “man I sure don’t miss running on concrete surrounded by a million people anymore!” which she apparently interpreted as, “get Sarah through the trail/ultra gateway, asap”

Sure, fine, sounds fun, twist my impressionable arm. I hear the snacks are great at trail races.

Race Morning At Sarahoual

The race was a little over an hour away in Blodgett, and Em’s 50K boasted an ass-crack’ing early 7am bus time. To say the rattling of pans and coffee brewing (my alarm clocks when lodging at Sweatspace) woke me earlier than I desired consciousness would be a tragic understatement. I laid on the couch for a while with my eyes half open, not moving, waiting for the coffeemaker to chime, signaling it was safe to come to life.

As soon as it did I rolled over and, half to myself, half to Emily, said (in a gravelly mumble), “I get to wear my new shoes today.”


(continues laying on couch with covers pulled high, a tired, shitty grin slowly starting to creep on my face) “We get to play on some new trails today.” <—- still not quite excitable enough to warrant an !, but a major victory for non morning person OUaL.


We ate, coffeed, and dressed – which in yet another “Oregonian Sarah is completely not at all like SoCal or Ohio Sarah” plot twist, meant dumping 9 tops and 6 pairs of shorts onto the dark living room floor and picking the coveted race day outfit solely by what would match my Picky Bars hat best. Pockets? Chaffing? Possibility of being photographed in spandex? Fuck it all, who cares!

On the drive over I finally decided to address some of the lingering “unknowns” about the race. Here’s what I DID know:

  1. My longest training runs were 1:45, maaaybe 12ish miles (race is 15.5), and also has anyone seen my GPS watch? I clearly haven’t used it in the last few months.
  2. I’d never run a “real” trail race, and the use of words like “technical single track” “hazards” and “muahahaa, this is gonna hurt!” in pre-race correspondence from the RD had me thinking it wouldn’t be the same as the dirt path river loop in town I call “trail running.”
  3. My brand new Brooks Cascadias would probably, hopefully, perhaps not totally demolish my feet. If I was lucky.

If those small factors didn’t already have me concerned for my livelihood, the next few minutes did.


Ultra Crewing: Lessons From Cascade Crest 100

Over breakfast tacos and possibly some residual intoxication (endorphins, exhaustion, and beer make for a delicious post-race buzz, FYI) I rambled off three pages of anecdotes about my experience crewing Cascade Crest 100 as Emily furiously scribbled them onto the back of a page from her Runner’s Manual. Some serious, some funny, some just for an excuse to reminisce on the whole EMILY RAN 100 FUCKING MILES thing.

Because you know, that happened.

Conveniently, I think I can tell most of my side of the CCC100 tale through these lessons, albeit not in much of a chronological fashion. So that’s what I’m giving you in lieu of a traditional recap. (Plus, Emily’s is a much better read than mine would’ve been. Check it: Cascade Crest 100 Race Report)

I left the list in its original form, to preserve the randomness in which barely-caffeinated, recently ultra-devirginized Sarah found them most important, with postscript elaborations for each. Keep in mind that means absolutely nothing to the actual validity or importance of them, and that actually you should really never take anything you read here very serious at all.

Here we go!


Lessons Learned from Crewing my first 100 Miler

1. Crewing is equal parts hard work and really fucking fun. Like babysitting at a party. But you know, less “call child protective services.” Being responsible for someone’s well being is stressful. Sitting around waiting to see them once every few hours is boring. Staying up all night is exhausting. But you get a secondhand high from their progress, make friends with the other runners’ crews, and get to run around in the dark wearing a headlamp. What’s not to like?!? Might as well have fun while you’re out there, you know. Plus it turns out most everyone out there is down to have a good time.

2. Never ask “How are you feeling?” I knew this was the #1 no-no and then did it anyway. Somewhere around four miles into a six mile climb at midnight during pacing duty, after repeating to myself all day “don’t ask how she’s doing… don’t ask how she’s doing…” I blurted it out. WOOPS. Sorry, Em. [good news: she was actually feeling really good at that time. Or she was lying. I believed her if she was.]

3. Ultra runners love junk food more than anyone. You want to go back to the days of eating whatever the eff you wanted? Go hang out at an ultra aid station. Pop, potato chips, all kinds of candy, white bread ham sandwiches with mayonnaise, donuts, entire bags of bacon… There was even a mention of Cheez Wiz at one point during the weekend. Whatever works I guess, but seriously, gross guys.

4. Read the driving directions and/or at least put them in the car. It was probably less beneficial for me to read the Runner’s Manual six times cover-to-cover than it would’ve been to look at the crew instructions and driving directions… at all. (To be fair they were in a separate document I didn’t see on the website.) Had an unnecessarily tough time getting to a couple aid stations, but hell if I didn’t know exactly where Emily was supposed to turn at mile 43.5 and what kind of hot food they’d have at each aid station. [sidenote: most times there were enough people heading out when we were to just follow the train, except for you know, the real hard to navigate ones, when I was alone, in the dark, deliriously tired… directions would’ve been helpful then.]

5. There’s no Stranger Danger in ultra running. It’s totally normal to bump into someone on a trail a few weeks before race day, discover they’re also running it, Facebook friend them, invite them to stay in your cabin, and then become best friends forever. And if it’s not, we’re well on our way to making it the new norm. [Hi Gordo & Dan!]

Pre-Race And Preparation

Shuttles for the 25K from Blodgett Elementary were 90 minutes after the 50K, so I had a solid amount of time to get ready (shed sweats, body glide everything), decide how to pin my number on (folded tiny, on left leg of shorts, because that’s how Em did it), and dick around on social media. Apologies to anyone that already saw the above photo 10x on every channel the internet offers.

We boarded the busses and I inadvertently did my best “seat’s taken” bitch face (thanks for the training, Southwest Air!) which produced a lovely solo seat free of any awkward pre-race small talk obligations. I stared longingly out the window watching the landscape go by, thinking how cool it was to get to explore a new place this way, and dreaming up the unknown adventures – good and bad – that lay ahead.

And also kind of wishing I had someone to talk to.

Mike the race director gave us a short briefing at the start, most of which was coated in inexcusable enthusiasm and genuine excitement over the course he’d built and the amount of times he was “going to make us hurt! <evil laugh that only endurance athletes can get away with before being accused of sadism>”

I heard him say the first 10k was pretty friendly, the middle was going to suck in the funnest way possible, and that “if you have anything left, the end is pretty gentle.” There would be two aid stations, and a neutral water stop (an unmanned table with jugs of water for refilling handhelds/hydration packs) right after the first gnarly section of climbing, around mile 7.


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