Where the Magic Came From

And now, for all the fun things in Eugene where I didn’t wear a bib or have Clif Shot caked to my face.

An homage to everyone/thing that made HugeEug Part 2 everything I dreamt it’d be (& much much more)…

  • These Girls; for being the easiest-to-get-along-with roommates equally dedicated to running hard and celebrating hard – and for falling asleep after me if any of you snore

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kelli, robyn, sad kristina, me, meghan, sweaty

  • Oiselle; for making this group of strangers feel like sisters, and supporting our sport so whole-heartedly

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sophia getting a mile 9 five, lots of birds at Ninkasi post-race celebratin’ (source, source)

  • (relatedOiselle Cheer Squad; for brightening up the hardest parts of the course with your endless energy – teammates, friends-of-friends, and anyone with an easy-to-read name on their bib “yeah, Joe! go orange shorts!” 

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mile 16 – bubbles, cowbells, chicken hats, (unpictured) banana suit – (source)

  • Em & Meghan; for your inspirational pints & planks performances, and for cheering your absolute hearts out even though I know both of you would’ve KILLED to have traded your cowbells for timing chips

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yes, we ARE all impressed with the sideplank cowbell (source, source)

  • Pro Compression; for letting me hang out in the booth a while and for making the perfect orange sock to match my singlet

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code “BLG13″ for 40% off  + free s/h on any marathon sock or sleeve

  • Every person that said hi (or shouted during the race), for being so nice and making feel super cool. Also thanks for not making fun of how I sound in person. Loved putting so many @____’s with faces and hearing race reports instead of reading them! Oh and sorry to grey-shirt-girl-at-mile-16, who I yelled “I told you NOT to wear that shirt!” at… I hope you had a great race!

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thanks for taking our picture, courtney <– new BQ’er, btw

  • Nuun; for hydrating so many runners/cheerers/boozers to all-around PR-caliber weekends

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if it’s good enough for a 3:17 marathoner, it’s good enough for me (tell K you want a guest post about her race!)

  • (related) Mason; for another year of perfectly executed and SERIOUSLY HOW WERE YOU IN ALL OF THOSE PLACES AT ONCE magical pacing duties for so many. I suspect you’re already getting requests for 2014…

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with Molly at mile 16 en route to a killer PR (source)

  • The Internet; for “introducing” so many rad people, and for making this group shakeout run on Pre’s Trail happen (& Robyn the former native for guiding us bc I fa shur would’ve gotten us lost)

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Pre’s Trail with new running friends – can this be every Saturday, please!? (source)

  • (related) House 2; for hosting the pre-race carb fest

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Corey, Steph, Molly, Laura, Holly, and Allison

  • Lauren Fleshman; for being an inspiration to women and runners everywhere, and taking the Oiselle “boob heat” off me for a sec.

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she has like, national records, and stuff. and a baby growing inside of her. and obvs I think we’re BFFs now. oiselle bio

  • Meggie & Jocelyn; for being the funniest little glitter tattoo Mary Kate & Ashley twins and providing endless entertainment

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Or as that guy on the course says – “Thank you for being YOU!” (cc: Holly and Monica)

  • Picky Bars; for the awesome post race party and not unsubscribing my club membership after spilling IPA all over your tablecloth.   * p.s. The new flavor is coming! Success! Pre-order/back HERE if you want some

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Steph you’re so cute and no that’s not the speed goggles talking (source)

  • ALL OF THE OREGON BREWERIES; for providing so many delicious liquid carbs, the premium fuel in which OUaL runs best on

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some of the Day 1 haul

  • (related, sort of) The VooDoo Donut worker, for “donating” that late night we’re-lost-trying-to-find-our-car-but-hey!-here’s-voodoo!-let’s-go-in! snack when I didn’t know it was cash only and only had card

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whatever it was you let my no-cash-carrying mouth have was delicious (source)

  • Verizon; for honoring an early upgrade so I can replace my nuun-soaked dead iphone

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until then ol’ Flippy and I are getting our T9word on

  • My Photo Memory (ok, w Mason’s help); for memorizing the course map and clocking 13.09 miles garmin distance (NO I’m not claiming the course was “short”, I’m claiming I ran fucking awesome tangents)

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  • And the biggest ‘thank you’ to Kristina; for being the best training partner, travel buddy, and friend. Running that last 1/4 mi with you into the chute was probably the best part of my weekend. I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to see what you do now that you actually know how damn fast you are. And I’m tearing up again…

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(source, source, source)

And thank you everyone from HugeEug, for unknowingly letting me steal all of these photos.

Have a nice weekend – good luck to everyone racing, long running, cinco de mayo’ing, whatever!

Sarah OUaL

Sophomore Season at #HugeEug (Eugene Half recap)

I’m on the plane home from Eugene (…at the time – it’s now almost two days later. I’m at home on the couch if you want to know), the first moments I’ve really had to digest what happened this weekend. Vacation running with so many friends is an absolute blast – I LOVED sharing HugeEug with all of them – but all the activities and socializing left for little time to personally reflect on my own race.

Which is a cool problem to have, but I’m grateful to finally have had some quiet time to sit down and uninterruptedly hash it all out. Every split, every gut feeling, every overcome negative thought. It was easily my best race EVER and deserves some selfish time in the forefront. At least to me.

(and you, bc you’re here and obvs I’m going to word vomit every detail for you)

Here we go – The Half PR Tale, aka HugeEug Part II

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Oiselle, Nuun, and general Internet friends making race weekend FUCKING AWESOME since 2013 (jocelyn’s pic)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1:38.

That was my original time goal when I began training for the Eugene Half. And this is the first time I’m publicly admitting it.

Half-way through my 12 week cycle things started falling apart – I wasn’t seeing the gains I wanted and my paces were no where near what McMillan prescribes for that goal time. I gutted out the rest of training but rescinded to the fact Eugene wouldn’t be that “Run To The Absolute Best of Your Ability” race I wanted.

So when race week came I adjusted my goals and said all I wanted was to run to my best ability on THAT day. To cross the finish feeling I gave it all I had. If I could run strong mentally and overcome the mid-race self-doubt and unwillingness to hang out in the pain place that’s plagued me before, I’d be one step closer to getting to that 1:3x territory someday down the road.

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Bum Wrap & Pros solidified as official OUaL race uniform

I settled into the corral between the 1:40-1:45 pace groups and listened to words by Steph Rothstein-Bruce and Craig Leon, two top US finishers at Boston this year. As the national anthem played I felt the perfect mix of nervous energy and calm confidence, and knew it could be a great day if I kept that balance and didn’t get in my own damn way.

The gun went off, “Sweet Caroline” poured through the speakers, and we crossed the start.

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emily’s pic

I kept my eyes off my watch at the start, trying to run on feel until we leveled out and I could lock in to something. I really didn’t want Garmin dictating my run, but running without my usual constant monitoring terrified me that I’d either run a) way too fast and crash and burn or b) too leisurely and have too much in the tank at the end.

7:32, 7:26

The next few miles were a blur of trying to find that perfect “uncomfortably manageable” pace. My breath was controlled but my legs were already feeling the work of the hills and long slight incline. I tried not to let the idea of burning for 10 more miles scare me into slowing down.

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Focusing on rhythm and feel instead of numbers worked shockingly (?) well. Each split beeped right around PR pace (7:45), and the consistency I was running at without watch-stalking was super satisfying. Like I finally just let my legs do their thing instead of robotically forcing it, and they performed way above expectation. Crazy.

7:40, 7:43, 7:43, 7:34, 7:44, 7:42

At mile 8 “The Hill” came into sight. I took water from the station (volunteers were stellar, btw) and got ready to put my head down and just go.

But then I heard a yell for my name, and déjà vu to Nuun Kim last year, SkinnyRunner’s mom was there yelling her face off, and then Mason was running next to me telling me to pick up my knees and asking if I’d been hydrating (obviously).

Hearing updates on my friends (he was on super pacer duties for like 10 people) gave me a boost, just in time for the Oiselle cheer force at mile 9. Cowbells, chicken hats, and banana suits are a great distraction from the fact we were running away from the finish line, btw.

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Abby, Lauren, BeckyJJ, Meghan, KMet, Sweaty

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sweaty’s caption : “see, she DOES love running!’

As we ran out towards the river the feeling in my legs turned from “working hard, muscles!” to “rapidly filling with lead, don’t want to move!” I worried I’d blown it by going out too fast and feared the looming wall that was surely just around the corner.

The thought of backing off to keep the pain at a distance crept in – without an actual goal time it seemed so tempting to turn away from it…

“will you look back at this point and regret it? when you write your recap do you want to admit to everyone you gave in?!”

I thought about the 10 miles of hard work I’d be throwing away, how I said I was going to give EVERYTHING, how the beer would taste better if I kept pushing, and committed to the rest of the race.

Still avoiding Garmin, I focused on just letting the effort feel a little bit harder – I knew I had to keep control a few more miles before really getting into the pain place.

7:49, 7:48, 7:54

“Strong and smooth. Strong and smooth.”

When two miles to go hit, I didn’t care about anything other than gassing out what was left. We were running the gorgeous tree-covered river path and the weather was perfect. There were enough people around to chase but not too many to feel cramped. I let my breath shorten and focused on lifting my knees and pushing off.

“Strong and smooth.”

It hurt. I didn’t think I could hold it. I thought again about giving in, and that for sure I was either going to puke or shit my bum wrap.

7:46

But we hit the bridge with one mile to go – crossing the water back towards campus in a very poignant “homestretch” way. I burned holes in the shirt backs in front of me, desperately trying not to let them pull away. We turned past our shakeout run spot, onto Agate, and up the cruel final hill, the sounds of the crowds at the top pulling me up.

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Thanks, KMet… (photo cred Oiselle)

We crested and the Oiselles were there – their excitement cuing my first proud/happy feelings (expression attempt in above photo gets a B for effort). My legs were completely shot and I felt like I was barely moving. The final 1/2 mile to Hayward felt like a fucking eternity and I don’t think I’ve ever been passed by more people at the end of a race, but there was just nothing left to kick with.

7:41, :42s (7:30 avg)

Finally we turned into Hayward, the stands packed and the announcer calling out names, and all I could focus on was picking up my feet enough to not trip and face plant on the Tracktown USA oval where so many world-class athletes have been.

And nearly a minute faster than I ever have, I crossed a 13.1 finish line, with a “hand over heart for Boston.”

… and then collapsed into a volunteer and was put in a wheelchair. For like, a tiny amount of time. Just enough to stop the world from spinning and be able to say (/remember?) my name and where I’m from.

Which I guess validates the “finish on empty” goal?

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Eugene Half Marathon, 4.28.13   -   1:40.45 (*New PR)

Almost even more than the race and PR, I’m proud of myself for not letting that original 1:38 goal overshadow my accomplishment this weekend. I set out to run the very best race I was capable of that day, and that’s exactly what I freaking did.

BOOYAH.

More on race weekend (lots of friends to brag about), the magical city of Eugene, and shenanigans soon. All with stolen pictures since my phone went the way of that old PR – RIP to both of you.

Sarah OUaL

extra thanks to Pro for sponsoring me – is this what I’m supposed to say? disclosure and stuff? anyway BLG13 is good for 40% off and free s/h!

Pass the Duct Tape? My Ass-Kicking Button is Broken.

This will not be your normal weekend recap post. Not that you expect anything normal or regulated around here in the first place, but I felt the need to preface with that anyway for some reason.

Sarah Mac – Oiselle teammate, marketing guru, and sweat-wick model extraordinaire – was in town (the story behind the visit HERE). Despite the trip’s unfortunate circumstance  and my anxiety over ‘OMG how do you entertain an elite runner who’s missing their goal race?!!’ we managed to have a pretty good time.

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Sweat-testing some new threads including YES THE NEW SPORTS BRAS (more on those later this week), lawn games in the alley bc duh you can’t drink on the beach, Nuun mixologizing, brown bagging at a delicious BYOB Thai place, running the pool table AND the jukebox at the skuzziest dive in all of Newport, Vine and driving biking, auditioning (and failing) for a bird model spot, duffy boating and getting to know a teammate a little better.

Solid 27 hours, IMO.

But since weekends are for long runs, lets talk about running for a second.

We’re seven weeks out from Eugene, and my ass-kicking button is broken. I (somehow) ran 49 miles last week, half of which I didn’t wear a watch for and 98% of which I didn’t give a flying F about pace or effort or what type of “workout” it was supposed to be. Just plain old running. Junk miles.

I *hate* junk miles.

This is the heat of training and I’ve pulled my inner “but I don’t wannaaaa” five year old out way too often for someone who usually thrives on those ball-busting workouts. Yes, it’s better than last week where I completely bagged the miles all together, but my lack of enthusiasm towards running hard is slightly concerning. And I want it back.

So I did what every normal person (at least I hope) would do – I signed up for the ultimate pain-fest reality check, a 5K this weekend.

My unofficial “wtf is wrong with you?!” psych self-evaluation during LR walk break #15 is that I don’t have that fear that marathon training instills in you. Like, you better freaking get those 20 milers in or you might really not survive on race day. With the half, I’m all,

“Whatever, I can go run 13.1 miles right NOW, what’s this run going to do? Shave a few seconds off my finish time? pshhh, whatever. Let’s go get froyo.”

(related : Yogurtland has Lucky Charms marshmallows now. all those years picking them out and leaving a bag full of boring cereal have been redeemed!)

Just getting miles in and enjoying the simple act of running would be fine if my goal was just to finish in Eugene, but that’s not the case. I want a PR. I want to run fast. I want to see what I can REALLY do. I want that fighter back.

And this Sunday will be a nice wake up call on how much work I’ve got to catch up on to get there. I’m scared excited already.

Sarah OUaL

ps the RACER Wall Frame winner was Shanna C! (she already knows) Congrats!