Oh Baby, It’s On

So how about instead of a melodramatic (like, SO DRAMATIC) tale about my epic journey through running in which I put one foot tragically in front of the other over and over again while trying to change the course of my life and therein the way the world spins on its axis…

<intervention time>

Let’s start talking about running how we used to like to talk about running.

destination races temecula half marathon

Temecula Wine Country Half Marathon

Rev your engines, ladies and gentlemen, it’s on November 15th!

(Well, “it’s” is a little hazy since six weeks isn’t really a ton of time to graduate from current turtle speed, but go on and rev ‘em anyway, for shits and giggles)

Motivated by finally putting a race on the calendar, my auto-pilot five miler last night turned into an unintentional progression run, and let me tell you, IT. WAS. AWESOME.

10-6 5mi progression run strava

8:41, 8:32, 8:17, 8:04, 7:21 of late-night painful bliss

Seriously, I forgot how great it is to come out on the other side of “OMG I can’t make it… I can’t keep going this fast… I’m going to puke… c’mon let’s just slow down a little!” That last half mile took all the juice, as I’m sure everyone I ran past could see on my face. But fuck if it wasn’t the best/worst feeling in the world. I told myself over and over “you’re good for it… you’re good for it…” and guess what, I was right.

post run dirty clothes

ahh, a victorious pile of sweat-soaked running gear on the bathroom floor… #art

Even if the splits aren’t impressive compared to past-me and that average pace for five miles is slower than my old marathon pace, finishing a run with that burn in my lungs, fire in my legs, and grit in my teeth feels badass no matter how fast or slow you’re going.

Because all that matters is you’re going forward.

Here’s to a new training cycle and many more frantic cool downs begging my stomach contents to stay inside my body!

Sarah OUaL

p.s. This means you’re allowed to ask “What are you training for?” again…

“What Are You Training For?”

socal runners

the question is short-lived when none of your running pals have races coming up. shockingly we found other things to talk about at dinner the other night.

“What are you training for” is the running world’s version of, “Have you picked a major?” “How’s business?” or “Is the baby sleeping for you?” Most times it’s used out of genuine interest, sometimes politeness, and other times out of not having anything else to say. I’ve asked it a million times and have been asked it a million more, and each time it feels different, somehow. It’s a very ambiguous question for being so seemingly clear-cut.

In my case, the feelings are determined by my current situation:

1) training is going great but I don’t want to brag too obnoxiously

2) training is meh and I don’t know why/want to make an excuse why

3) training fucking sucks and I now immediately need 10 drinks to wash away its memory

4) not training but feel like I should be/haven’t committed to race yet

5) not training and don’t give a flying bat shit in hell about it

The problem is that for the last two years or so literally every single one of those situations has spawned a feeling of guilt. (Self-inflicted, obviously, no fault at all to the inquirer.) Guilt for appearing boastful, guilt for “wasting my time” not working towards a goal, guilt for failure, guilt for traveling to a race and leaving Brian at home, guilt for running healthy when others can’t, guilt for being a buzzkill when I was the injured one not running… So much undue, bullshit guilt!

It’s maddening because this is MY hobby, yet somehow I’ve let – the people around me? the pressure? the internet? – unknowingly shame me into running too little, too much, too fast, too slow. The fuck! This was NOT what I signed up for when I ran my first non-mandatory mile ten years ago.

Yes, I openly share my stories and talk endlessly about running to anyone who will listen (or doesn’t want to but is forced to…), so there’s no one to blame but myself. I’m just mad that I fun-sucked the joy out of running by letting something that was so purely MINE get tangled up in everyone else’s crap. (ahem, I mean, everyone else’s ‘special journeys’…) There’s a difference between being a supportive comrade enjoying the road together, and picking a fight over something that’s not yours.

I was so wrapped up in the pandemonium around me I didn’t realize I’d completely laid down and given up on my own battle.

guilt

when you find yourself wanting to ninja kick running in the face every run… or feeling like you got kicked… or not caring about kicking at all… something needs to change

I daydreamed about the early days running laps around the indoor track between classes just because I had a free 30 minutes to kill. Of early mornings sucking in the brisk air of the metroparks thinking “I can run one more!” instead of “I have to run one more.” Of days I’d grin with pride at someone calling me a “crazy runner” instead of slinking away, deferring it with a story of a skipped run or DNF. I missed those days of running for athleticism, fitness, and just because I wanted to so damn bad. When I’d say I “needed” a run it was because I needed the release that came from it, not because a schedule was telling me I did.

I needed to rid the guilt. Get back to why I started running in the first place.

guilt2

hi, self! what do you feel like doing today? running? cool! nothing? ok well how bout at least a walk so we don’t keep getting fat. alright cool, let’s go.

After months of easing back into ‘fun running’, I was starting to feel like my old self again. Running when I wanted, how far I wanted, and shocking everybody that even kind of knows me by long running “just because.”

(Ok, that’s only kind of true. I was bribed with brunch and long-lost friends and you’re damned right those two things can convince me to run 10 miles for fun.)

I was finally seeing running again for what it used to be – a healthy habit, a satisfying release, something to look forward to. But yesterday I had a reunion with a side of running I’d forgotten about.

After a particularly trying day, undoubtedly the culmination of a few stressful weeks I’ve been stifling, a wave of anxiety finally bubbled over. I hastily grabbed my shoes and headphones, storming out the door, hoping that a walk and some fresh air would clear my head and set me back straight.

I started angrily punching buttons on my phone trying to get some distracting music to play, and before I knew it I was running. Hard. I really hadn’t intended to – I was wearing old shoes I don’t run in anymore and a bra not up to the challenge a sprint down the boardwalk requires – but my brain said go, so I went.

Minutes flew by as I let all the things that were bothering me just waft around in my head. Not trying to shove them out or force a fix, I just listened as I let them roll around my mucky brain. A mile past, and then another, and before I knew it I was out of worries to sort through and out of pavement. I sat on a rock on the jetty catching my breath, a proverbial suitcase full of neglected problems finally airing out next to me, and let a few silent tears stream down my face.

guilt3

I didn’t come up with any solutions when I finally stood up and jogged back home, but I felt a million times better having at least let myself consider all the things that had been weighing on me.

So welcome back, therapy running. Thanks for being such a supportive and guiltless listener. Next time I’ll wear a proper bra and maybe we can hang out a little longer.

Sarah OUaL

Renewed Vows

Please join hands, and with your hands your hearts, and repeat after me.

I promise to be true to you in good times and bad, even at mile 20 when I’m cursing your name and howling in pain on the foam roller…

To have and to hold, with copious amounts of Body Glide for those parts holding a little extra tightly, from this day forward…

In sickness and health, unless it’s below the neck or a niggle that needs rest…

For richer and poorer in the name of $100 shoes, race registration binges, and a grocery budget blown on Shot Bloks…

To love and to cherish, including the ugly chafe scars you left on my boobs that time you and sports bra teamed up against me (I know you didn’t mean it)…

Till death do us part or my watch craps out mid-race, whichever comes first.

running vow i do

Thank you for sticking with me through these past few months of dark days, believing our relationship was worth the fight. The nights I blew you off, blamed you for all my pain, and told you I was leaving… you knew I didn’t really mean it. Now that we’ve been through this injury together I know we can get through anything – I’m ready to start rebuilding what I’ve torn down. (And you thought the strain of marathon training was bad, ha!)

I love you, Running, and I’ll do my best to make sure you know that every single day.

Yes, even on long run days.

Yours forever,

Sarah OUaL