Cleveland Marathon Weekend 2014–Just a Cheerleader

cleveland races

OUaL and the Cleveland Race Trifecta

The Cleveland Marathon has such a big place in my itty bitty heart. My first ever race (half 2009), first marathon (2010), barfy 10k (2013), and I’ve since followed dozens of friends and family members finish their first, fastest, most painful, or happiest races there. Hometown nostalgia, familiar sights, and a top-notch event = swoooon.

This year I attended the race bib-less. I considered registering for the 10k just to participate, but nixed the threat of an out-of-shape slow time in favor of full-on cheer duties. I mapped out a route that would put me all over the course for cheering and pacing, and got excited about everyone else’s races – Mom and Mel’s 3rd(?) 4th(?) halves, and Dan’s first full!

cleveland spectator run route

But as they say, the best laid plans go to shit sometimes. I think that’s how it goes.

Just before 7am I said farewell to the racers as they headed towards the corrals and jogged down Ontario to my first station in front of Progressive (Jacob’s) Field, right at the mile two marker. I watched the African marathoners speed by, caught a glimpse of Volee superstar Heidi running the 10k, and peeled my eyes for my sister, who was planning to run around an 8:00 pace.

cleveland marathon start

A lot of people run an 8:00 pace. A lot of people also wear all black and are 5’6” and completely blend in with the crowd. My sister being one of them.

When the 8:40 pace group went by I knew I’d missed her, but luckily a second later spotted my mom. I jumped in with her, completely interrupting a conversation she was having with some guy, and started jabbering away. Every time she reached for her other earbud I blurted something else out – “oh look that girl’s wearing rogas!” “I wonder who’s throwing for the Indians today?” “So my friend KJ’s sister in law Heidi is running the 10k…”

You don’t get to listen to music when I’m cheer-pacing.

mom cle

“smile! a camera!” are things you shout when you’re high on other peoples’ races

At mile five I peeled off as planned to head towards the finish line, but realized the road I was going to cut through on deadends at the river and I was going to be stuck in a kind of shady part of town. Mom made a comment earlier about how she wished I could be at mile 11 because that’s where she always falls apart, and after studying the course map on my phone I realized that mile six pops out just across from there and it was probably my only way to get back downtown without completely backtracking.

So I sprinted to catch back up (yes I was heaving by the time I go there) and ran another mile with her.

And then we took a selfie.

cleveland mom selfie

“hiiii I’m back! smile!”

The Emergency Plan B Bonus Mile ended up being a good thing, because when we got to mile six Mel was standing there with a police officer. She got arrested for peeing behind a bush and was waiting to be taken to the station…


She was having some IT band/knee issues and had to pull out. She didn’t have her phone, the cop was less than helpful, and she was trying to figure out how to teleport back to the start when we rolled by. I said by to mom and we walked down 45th which intersected the 10k route at mile four. Walking hurt significantly less than running and we made the most of her bummer situation by gabbing and eventually watching the lead half marathoners roll by as we putzed down the shoulder of the bridge. After the 5th person told us “c’mon, you got it!” she ripped off her bib, tired of being mistaken for lead female who decided to slow-walk the last mile of the race.

cleveland john adams

if she’d been running we couldn’t have taken this super excited selfie with the most famous Indians fan, drummer John Adams, at mile 12.9 so I guess it worked out

Anyway, after depositing her at the finish area with Grandma I jogged back over the bridge and surprised mom at mile 11.5. She said she was running on empty, I told her we just had two hills to get through before the downhill finish. We walked up a bit of the first hill, at the top I said it was time to finish strong, “Your brain is saying you’re tired, not your legs!” She wanted to keep walking, I asked if she’d look back at this time and be mad that she gave in. She started running again. I lied three times on the last hill saying we were at the top, as she kept chugging with her head down. When we finally did peak, the downhill brought threats of puking and faceplanting. I told her “just pick up your knees!”, right as a poorly-filled pothole almost sent her somersaulting. We hit the bottom, ready to make the turn into the straightaway and I told her the finish was “just around the corner!”

Actual distance = at least 1/4 mile. Sorry, mom.

I peeled off and watched her cross the line in 1:59.08, a PR and her first time breaking two hours! I turned around to try and find Mel and Gma, wondering if mom ended up puking like she swore she was going to (she didn’t) and if she’d forgive me for telling her to “suck it up” back there (she did.)

cleveland mom

brb shopping for a “my mom’s faster than your mom” bumper sticker

We all reunited and stood at the finish line cheering in the rest of the halfers, and eventually the marathoners started coming through. I did some math according to the runner tracking texts I was getting for Dan, and at 10:30 headed back towards the bridge to meet him at mile 23. With about seven miles already on my legs they were creaky and not super interested in running six more, but the endless curiosity over what state of marathon misery or ecstasy I’d find him in propelled me forward. I clapped and thumbs up’d all the marathoners en route to their finish as I ran the opposite direction down the shoreway (it was plenty wide so I wasn’t in the way) but after a few minutes I saw a cop heading towards me with his hands up.

cop “You can’t go this way”

me “Oh I have a friend at mile 23 that really needs me!”

cop “There are people on bikes and crewmembers for that purpose”

me “No no, he doesn’t need help, he needs a friend! He’s expecting me! It’s his first…”

cop “Are you a participant in this race?”

me (looks down at bib-less shirt) “Not exactly…”

cop “You need to turn around now”

me “What if I run back and get a bib from someone who’s already finished? Then it’ll look like I belong out here”

cop “You can’t run the wrong direction. Anyway we’re clearing the bridge, no one but runners are allowed on the shoreway now”

me “But I AM running, see…??” (starts dramatically slow jogging past him)

cop (grabs my shoulder and turns me towards the finish) “That way, NOW.”

And that’s the story of how I almost got arrested trying to secondhand experience the late Marathon Pain Cave. In hindsight I realize that race security isn’t something I should’ve been arguing with, and I’m grateful they were doing their job. Even if it meant only getting to see them for .1mi, just long enough to scream “you’re a fucking marathoner!” and high five him and Steph to their big finish.

cleveland dan steph 2

cleveland dan steph

Who has that kind of energy and cheer after 26.2 miles? Steph you crazy

So yeah, another Cleveland Marathon in the books and a serious temptation to register for next year’s race while the full is only $75.

Maybe next time the Indians won’t get absolutely trounced at the after-race game again.

cleveland marathon indians game

Sarah OUaL

FanGirl’ing Continues–Oiselle Wedding, Oxy, Cleveland

May has turned into #FanGirl month, like for real.

After getting a crash course in triathlon and following along with the Wildflower madness, and camping out with a cowbell and hastily-made poster for hours at the OC Marathon, I headed up to the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half for a whole new kind of race day adventure.

A running wedding.


oiselle wedding santa barbara wine half

pink Newtons + technical tuxedo tshirt, natch

I was planning on going up for the race and expo to see and support one of my Oiselle dealers, Santa Barbara Running Company (and duh, have an excuse to visit wine country) so when I heard JJ and Shanna from Ois headquarters would be down hosting mid-course nuptials, I couldn’t pass up the chance to tag along.

oiselle wedding santa barbara wine half 2

Shanna, excited arms, and on-the-run social media’ette JJ.


We ran the first six miles with Erika and Keith, playing on-the-run paparazzo, chatting, and yelling at each mile marker “only ___ miles left as a single woman/man!” Some people along the course yelled congratulations, some looked on like whathafuck is she wearing, and eventually the crew peeled off the course and up to the church. After a little freshen up and passing of champagne, the priest went through a quick (race clock still ticking!) and lovely ceremony. They kissed, we cheered, and the whole crew headed back out to finish the rest of the race.

Shanna, JJ, and I did not, because, champagne. Also because I’m not in that kind of distance shape and they needed to be at the finish to capture the big finale.

oiselle wedding santa barbara wine half 3

this + more photos in the “Oiselle Wedding” album on FB

Anyway, it was a really cool and unique way to spend the morning. Not to mention the redesigned “Runaway Bride” dresses look a-freaking-mazing. If I ever go colorblind I hope that purple is the only color in my life. I guess that’d be monocolorblind. Uno-hue. Whatever. If that’s a thing where you can only see one color I hope that’s it.

The fun’s not over though, because Thursday I’m heading up to LA for the Oxy High Performance track meet! Lauren, FastK8, Lauren W, Lauren P, Amanda W, and Amanda M are all racing, along with pretty much every other big name in distance track apparently because HOLY STACKED, BATMAN —> Heat Sheets (I bet there are at least two names even passive running fans would recognize in there) ((you’ll notice my name is not one of them, contrary to what my impeccable steeple form might lead you to believe))

oxy high performance 2014

* will be webcasting the meet if you want to play fangirl/boy from home:

Oxy High Performance LIVE broadcast

My biggest issue right now is not having a fan shirt for the 1500m.

oiselle fan tees

fleshman flyer /// fastk8

THEN – but wait, there’s more! – I’m off to the homestead this weekend to spectate and support at the Cleveland Marathon! Mom and little sis are running the half, and my buddy Dan (remember him from bourbon chase?) is running his first full. I’m so secondhand masochistically excited to see his pained face at mile 20 already.

That’s a solid month of races without actually running one myself. Someday I’ll hop back on the other side of the cowbell…

* * Anybody else going to be at Oxy or Cleveland??

Sarah OUaL

Discovering New Trails, Recovering Old Things*

* Things = Feelings, but that seemed way too melodramatically corny for a title

A significant portion of my daily duress comes from feeling like I’m not making the most of my free time during the day. I know, super spoiled first world problem, right? But one of the main perks of piecing together this hodge podge medley of part-time jobs is being able to hop around town when everyone else is cooped up in offices and meetings. Sunshine! No crowds! You can almost drive on the 405 without hitting your brakes!

This morning after doing some Oiselle sales stuff I stood up, shut down the computer, locked the girls up in a sports bra, and bolted out the door without a single thought about the rest of the stuff on my to do list.

After a 20 minute drive (woulda been 40 in traffic) I pulled up to Quail Hill Preserve with a very vague game plan: explore a few miles of a new trail. I’ve been sticking around 4-5 miles lately, partly because it’s comfortable and partly because I’m scared pushing it any further will flare up my injury again. So anyway, I figured that’s probably what I’d run today.

The trail starts with a pretty gnarly half mile hill, and since I’m in bad anything-other-than-flat shape, I walked that bitch then shuffled into a slow jog once I got to the top.

Luckily in Orange County a lot of our “trails” are really just man-made, un-paved paths, which means there aren’t a ton of road hazards you have to worry about face-planting over if you get a little too caught up taking in the scenery. Which is good, because I did a lot more looking up than I did looking where I was stepping.

shady canyon 1

sweet, sweet dirt, my concrete-abused legs love you

Nothing felt spectacular, not bad or painful, just not OMG LOVE RUNNING GREAT – maybe because I was so preoccupied fretting about all the descending I was doing…

“Uhhh you know we’re going to have to turn around and run UP all these nice little hills, right? Your legs are most definitely not ready for that.”

Shut up, brain.

At mile two where I planned to turn around the trail popped open at Bommer Meadow, with a god-send bathroom and water fountain, which I helped myself to.

shady canyon 2

also a trail map that you can’t see because, hiiiiiii selfie

I decided I’d come this far, might as well explore the meadow trail a little if for no good reason other than prolonging the march back up the hills that brought me here. I’m not sure if it was the bladder emptying or a sudden moment of clarity (or maybe someone was smoking something funky behind the shelter), but I couldn’t stop looking around like, “holy shit is this really Orange County?”

shady canyon 3

shut up, Irvine, get outta here with your cute little bridges

I turned around at 2.5 with an extra pep in my step, ready to tackle the climb back to the car. Another mile beeped on my watch, another hill crested, a nice tailwind joined me and before I knew it I was back where I started, at the top of that ol’ bitch overlooking the parking lot.

But I didn’t feel like stopping yet.

So I ran down it.

And then I still didn’t feel like stopping, so I ran through the parking lot, past my car, and hopped on the Quail Hill Loop which I thought I remembered from the map down in the meadow was a mile long.

“I can run another mile!”

I picked up the pace a bit, said hi to a guy as I passed him, and my watch beeped for 6 miles. It’s been a while since I’ve run six miles and felt this good.

Half a mile went by and the trail didn’t seem to be looping back towards home anytime soon, but I didn’t care. Chug, chug, chug, my stride finally feels natural and rhythmic instead of forced and choppy. Finally a bend, and around the turn a big ol’ hill. Ok, you ran all those earlier you didn’t think you could, what’s one more? Garmin beeped for 7 miles. Pushed up another hill, and at the top – my car shining down in the distance. Just kidding it’s coated in dirt and sand but I refuse to wash it because we’re in a drought and that seems frivolously irresponsible. Regardless, the finish was in sight.

shady canyon 4

I forgive thee, hill, for I know you’ll make me stronger and because you look like you could belong in ohio

I descended that final hill (the loop was 1.8 miles, ftr) and jogged around the parking lot like that stupid OCD watch-hawker everyone likes to make fun of to clock an even 7.5 miles. The last time I ran that far was December 28th – back when I still thought I was training for Carlsbad, before I’d been diagnosed by Dr AJ or became a regular at my chiro, when I was cursing every mile and my rebelling body but was too stubborn to wave the white flag.

Here I am almost five months later, finally back in a place of pre-run excitement instead of dread, where “ah what the hell let’s keep going!” is a mid-run thought, and the post-run basking is in endorphins, not sorrows or frustrations.

If you’re dealing with burnout or waning enthusiasm towards running, I strongly encourage you to hit up a new scene. Search Garmin Connect or Strava for other users’ routes, poll the locals, or just pull up Google Maps and head towards the first decent-size plot of green you see. It’s amazing what a fresh view can do for your outlook.

Literally and figuratively, I guess.

shady canyon garmin

my garmin connect activity for this run, if you’re interested

Sarah OUaL