“You can’t change the fruit without changing the root.” – Stephen R. Covey

A lot has changed around here. Actually, “a lot” might be an understatement. Some I’ve wanted to share, some I haven’t, and somewhere in that limbo I decided on complete radio silence here. Despite that, I’ve actually opened up and been much more forthcoming with my feelings in the last few months, both to myself and others. It’s been a scarily vulnerable, but massively worthwhile process for someone who’s either bottled everything up or had the security of planning, proofreading, editing, and delivering my thoughts through the safety of a computer screen. Handing someone your rawest thoughts with your bare hands while they look you in the eyes is just a wee bit different than through their inbox.

But something I have always been comfortable sharing with the internet is running. (Also because talking for 15 minutes about a 40 minute trail run is a bit of a snoozer bar story.) Even the incredulous misadventures and embarrassing tales have found their unashamed way into the world through OUaL, and I’m ready to open that door again. For humor and connection, creative liberty and therapeutic keyboard banging. There are an insane amount of parallels in running and in life, and maybe you’ll find something between the lines that’s more meaningful to you than mile splits and trail poops.

I definitely have.

Saturday I ran my first 25k, a real life rough-and-tumble trail race. It was equal parts painfully incredible and incredibly painful, and I had the most fun I have in a long time with a number pinned to my shirt shorts. Working on a race recap now, promise not to make you wait too long.

(^ relative, in Sarah posting time)

Until then, hi, again. It’s good to be back.

The Long Road

This weekend I drove over the mountains to Eugene, where equally large amounts of running and beering were promised by Emily. I’ve been in Oregon almost three months and hadn’t made the trip to her turf yet, even though it’s an easy (and crazy beautiful) 2.5 hour drive and she’s been to Bend like 5 times. Oops, bad friend alert.

Anyway, I’ve also been feeling a lot better running-wise, so the time finally felt right to go capitalize on exploring the Eug trails on foot.

(And capitalizing on plenty of liquid carbs in preparation, obviously.)

Mckenzie River Trail

totally stolen from sweatonceaday

I asked for “longish” and “unpaved” and “not up a fucking mountain, you ultra billy goat”, which was a perfect recipe for the Mckenzie River Trail, an hour or so out of town. Also ideal because it gave time for my IPAmigraine to wear off by the time we finally got to the trailhead.

“My watch is almost dead, are you running with yours?”

“I didn’t even bring one.” – the moment I officially relinquished my title of Type A Run Data Diva

We took off at a speed I’m glad I don’t know, and by the first pee break Emily’s watch had indeed, already died. I mean truthfully a year ago this would’ve sent me retreating straight back to the car, waving a little white flag from my middle finger, cursing at technology and vowing to run it the next day. I was a real data whore back in those days, huh? Why didn’t anyone tell me to lighten up a bit?!

Already too trail drunk on the views and extra oxygen (there’s really only a 2,000 ft difference from Bend, but it felt like a million,) I said I just wanted to run until I was tired and then run back. Who gives a fuck over the numbers! The extra oxygen would make up for any fitness downfalls. Right? Totally logical.

Mckenzie River Trail run

a Fern Gully OUaL collage for your mantle or to use as a “it’s still disgusting winter where I am, you dirty Oregon skank” dartboard cover

The base of the MRT is pretty easy terrain, with enough rocks and roots you could definitely wipe out if you didn’t try not to, but not technical enough to take a ton of extra energy. I didn’t even wear trail shoes – just my regular ol’ Launches. It was plush ground and constantly changing views, and only one or two hills that were steep or long enough for me to curse out loud over. There were shockingly few times I caught myself thinking “Is it time to turn around yet?” and after an hour or so we finally did. It was just such a nice day, we weren’t in a hurry to get back to town, and Emily doesn’t make me try to talk while we run. Plus we got to stop a few times to take pics and pet an extraordinarily fluffy dog, which increases my enjoyment of any activity at least three-fold.

Based on a triangulation of spacial reasoning, Emily’s familiarity with the trail, and what time we thought it was when we left, we figured it’d been 13ish miles. I’m just not even going to spaz out over the lack of accuracy, and wrote “12-14” with a big stupid smiley face next to it in my log. It was the all-around best-feeling run I’ve had in absolutely forever, and that’s really all that matters.

And maybe finding out what kind of dog it was we saw.

And how to make my butt un-sore.

Sarah OUaL

In case you’re wondering, yes, I do run in that jacket all the time. It has literally appeared in 100% of my posts so far in 2015. (shhh I know there have only been two…) It’s the Oiselle Flyer Jacket and the saddest part about it is that I lived in SoCal for so long where it went totally unappreciated.

Am I Out of Shape Because Running is Hard, or is Running Hard Because I’m Out of Shape?

Hi. <guilty smile like someone who said they’d call, never did, then bumped into you in line at the grocery store.>

Yeah, things are good here. Work’s good. Oregon’s good. Weather’s been weird though, huh?! How are you? Have you been watching Scandal??? How bout that snow on the East Coast!?

<other awkward small talk rapid fire>

Alright enough of that bullshit.

I was running the other day – yeah, that’s happening, sort of – and was feeling all janky and clunky and wind-sucking… all around pretty shitty, to be honest. I’m out of shape, an unmentionable amount of pounds heavier than I’d like to be, and delusionally believe my lungs are still acclimating to the small increase in elevation. (just under 4,000′ in Bend from 3-below sea level in Newport.)

The problem wasn’t really how bad I felt though. Feeling bad during exercise is part of it, right? Means you’re working hard!

The problem was, I was embarrassed. With how I looked – everything jiggling, gasping for air, a mix of desperation and anger on my face – and how I felt. I let myself fall stupidly out of shape, and all I wanted was a sign to wear around my neck saying “I used to a pretty o.k. runner! Swear!” so everyone wouldn’t think I was just out for a blobby jog to burn off my Thin Mints.

<Don’t think about Thin Mints… Don’t think about Thin Mints… Don’t think about Thin Mints…>


Sorry I uglied up your prettiness with that face, Shevlin. Rough times.

But then I realized, I wasn’t going to get any less blobby by not running. If my pasty, jiggly thighs weren’t out there plodding around for a few miles, how were they going to get any less jiggly? I needed to be out there. I wanted to be out there!

I don’t want to have to stop for a breather 10 minutes into a run. I don’t want to google “spanx for exercise” and mean it. And I definitely don’t want to skip group lunch runs at work anymore because I’m scared I can’t keep up.

So, I’ll keep stuffing my squish into my spandex and plodding around, knowing that each run gets me closer to my old self. As uncomfortable as it is, it doesn’t have to be embarrassing. If anyone actually cares whether I have a muffin top over my tights or I have to walk up a hill to catch my breath, they can go right on and fuck the hell off. I’m doing this so some day I won’t.

Embarrassing would be continuing to carve out this ass imprint in the couch while shoveling handfuls of chips in my mouth and washing them down with beer, and then whining about being out of shape.

So that’s how I’ve been. Good chatting, we should do it again sometime soon! Promise I’ll actually call this time.

Sarah OUaL