CIM–The Race & The Aftermath

What’s the protocol for recapping a race you didn’t actually run? Can I write 57.25% of a post?

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Running aside, I had a great weekend in Sacramento, and am grateful for the opportunity to travel and spend time with the great friends this sport has brought into my life. On Saturday Kristina and our menfolk (aka BriLee) did the whole fly/drive/get lost looking for parking/etc before hitting the expo and getting down to Race Eve business…


K inspecting the swag, detailing spectator plans (yes that’s me in a kayak flowing downstream), and liquid carbing at Pyramid Brew Co

… and then meeting up with some friends of the hydration and bird variety I love so much…


me, Arielle, Megan, Paulette, Jen, Stacy, Allison

I went to sleep feeling calm, excited, and nervous. Despite the weather and the drunk guy knocking on our door inviting us to the “lingerie party next door” (which the cops eventually broke up), I was EXCITED to wake up and run a marathon. For like the first time ever.

After a fitful night of sleep and waking up in a cold sweat (probably a sign of the cold I’m currently fighting), we did the typical pre-race thing and then made our way down to the lobby for the 5:15 shuttle.


We got down there early, saw the busses outside, and went inside to grab some breakfast. As I was waiting on the toaster, saying something to K with my back to the windows, she suddenly got this horrified look on her face directed just over my shoulder.


Luckily they had to circle the building in order to get out of the parking lot and we were able to jump in front of them and board before they left, but WTF?! Who’s idea to leave 10min early without notice?? I wonder how many runners ended up having to take a $100 cab to the start…

Anyway, an hour later we were parked at the start, terrified of getting off. K had informed me the forecast had somehow gotten worse over night, calling for 100% rain and 35mph winds. My attempts at “maybe it’ll be wrong!” optimism finally died as we sat on that bus, rain pouring down and the wind howling like the special effect sounds from Twister.


30min before the start we finally summoned the courage to hit the portapotties and seek wind refuge in the corral. Donned in our trash bag vests, we puddle jumped to delay the inevitable soaked shoes and distracted ourselves until the gun.

By some miracle we ran into both Margot and Madison in the corral, and right at 7am we took off into the rain.


as close as we’ll get to an actual running pic. just me in my (non-oiselle) throwaway

Truthfully the weather wasn’t AS BAD as I expected. Despite my attempts at relentless optimism, I expected it to be completely miserable. The wind wasn’t constant and there were even a few brief moments of tailwind. The rain was steady but not brutal, and it was warm enough (mid 50s?) that it wasn’t chilling. My Nuun hat got an A+ keeping my eyes dry and mascara in tact, and the trash bag vest kept my singlet dry for 5 miles until I could bear to part with it.

* update: I don’t mean to downplay the conditions, I’m sure if I’d run the full 26.2 they would have affected me more, just simply stating I was expecting worse. those that finished/survived definitely earned their badass stamp. *

It wasn’t long until I felt the tightness in my lower leg. Each downhill tugged a little more, and when we hit the downhill S-curve with the FLOWING RIVER THROUGH THE STREET at mile 10, I attempted a side-step/leap over the rushing water and felt the final blow.



Luckily Aron, Page, and Marjorie were right around the corner and their surprise cheers were a great distraction. The pain wasn’t unbearable, but it was affecting my gait and I knew then I wasn’t going to finish. I convinced myself to just get to Brian and Lee waiting after the halfway point, and adjust there.

“At least run 20 to make all the carb-loading worthwhile! Be strong – you said you were ready to run in pain! Make it worth it.”

But when I finally found them a little after mile 15, I knew I was done. There was no point in pushing myself through a pain for no reason, not to mention risk setting back recovery even more. I had to be smart in the long term, no matter how bad another DNF hurt my ego.

So I hopped in the car with BriLee and tagged along chasing K around the course – we saw her at 21 and then again just as she finished, blowing away her goal AND pulling in a big BQ on her debut, despite the terrible conditions. Just like Mel’s first half last weekend (the other DNF), I beamed with pride and happiness for my friend’s great race, smiling through the tears (second-hand happiness and first-hand sadness).


pictures of pictures until I can pull them off the camera…

Despite feeling content with my decision and the affirmations from others that it was the right thing to do, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of “mourning” towards my CIM cycle. No matter how bumpy the road and disappointing the outcome, I was still sad it was over.

But there will be other races, and I WILL come back faster AND stronger. I’ll learn from this, and use the disappointment as fuel for the next.

First though, it’s time to recover.

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Rundies say it’s time to rest

I’m ready for a break. To heal, physically and mentally. The roller coaster ride running has taken me on this year – both extraordinary highs and meltdown lows – has been exhausting.

I have a huge respect for those of you that lace up every day excited to run, simply because it’s something you love to do. Because it brings happiness, calm, joy to your life. But that’s not why I do it.

I’m not a happy love-every-step runner. I run because I like the work, the challenge, pushing myself. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and structure to my daily life. I like analyzing workouts, drawing up plans, watching progress and getting a kick in the pants when the numbers say I’ve been slacking.

Obviously running is not my job, but it IS work to me. And just like anything that consumes your time, effort, and outside life, a reprieve is always welcomed after a long tour.


felt like this post needed another beer pic

It’s no question I need the time to heal physically, but mentally I may need it even more. I’m sickly prone to burnout – no doubt due to the “work” approach to training – and am almost grateful this silly injury is pulling rank and forcing me into a mandatory break.

The (rest of the) month of December will be run-free. 0 miles. I’ll consult with a doctor to make sure my recovery is on the right path, and commit to getting better. I’ll cherish the extra free-time and get all those odd jobs done I’ve had on my to-do list forever. I’ll spend more time working on my relationships and less on my fitness, and soak in every second of the holiday season. I might actually cook a proper meal for once.

Who knows. Things could get crazy.

But once 2013 rings in, it’s time to get back to work. And damnit, I’ll be ready.

Sarah OUaL

CIM Week Ten–Zero Week

Let me SPOILER ALERT this monotonous recap nobody cares about anymore weekly recap by saying I cheated on Zero Week.

Just once, and it was like, 12 hours from the “technical” end of the week.

And then I ran again, today (sunday). Not as far as my pre-tib injury plan says I was supposed to, and it wasn’t magical or ‘maybe CIM isn’t a total bust afterall!’ confidence-boosting. But I ran. Pain-free.

I opted for the treadmill since I wanted an easy out if the pain came back (learning from last week’s 2.5mi walk back to the car) and because I figured if I couldn’t PHYSICALLY train how I needed to be, adding a MENTAL aspect of the boring-as-shit TM had to count for something.

photo 12

And then I doubled up the mental pain threshold by ellipticizing for 40 min afterwards. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, this belongs to Week 11. Let’s get back on track…

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CIM Training – Week #10

Su – 45 min elliptical, 25 min recumbent bike. Good God this is going to be a boring week.

M – off. Got all the way to the yoga studio with my mat rolled out and got an emergency call from Brian. The “emergency” was that he was stuck at Time Warner getting a new cable box and wasn’t going to have time to go home before softball, and the dogs needed to walked and fed.

The fact that I ALMOST chose scrubbing pee out of the carpets for my 90min power yoga fix probably says something about our childbearing timeline.

T – Showed up for 6am spin all padded-shorts’d up, and it was full. 60 headphone-less minutes on the elliptical instead.

10min warm up, 40min of 2min HIIT-like intervals, 10min cool down.


* HOW TO SURVIVE CARDIO BOREDOM : Instead of thinking, ‘OMG 58 MINUTES AND 21 SECONDS LEFT KILL MEEEEEE’, and watching my life tick away second by second, I used these really profound thoughts to keep me motivated :

  • Pretending I was at the track running 400s, or out on the beach path fartlek’ing, or something else that would be fun because it was running but also much more painful
  • Thinking about all the crap waiting for me in my inbox and that anything would be cooler than spending an unpaid hour in the office
  • Staring at people behind me in the mirrored wall and looking away real fast when they caught me. JK that was just embarrassing
  • Picturing myself in the “it feels like you’re running at an incredible rate, Harry!” scene from Dumb and Dumber. Pump those elliptical arms, baby

refraining from blanketing the rest of this post in Harry & Lloyd quotes

W – Yoga! Finally! 60min of Hatha bliss. The bright side of a running hiatus is that I was finally able to “sleepy pigeon” without crying into my mat.

Th – 60min Spin. Almost got kicked out because apparently you have to register and get a ticket thing, but she let me stay. I wore a marathon shirt hoping it’d give off the right message of

“I’m in shape but not this way so please be nice to me and please don’t call me out for faking it 50% of the time you say to add resistance. Oh and have mercy on crotch”

F – Rest. Begin freaking out that Zero Week is almost over and OMG WHAT IF IT STILL HURTS??!

Sa – 4 miles on eggshells. Not the magical reunion I envisioned since every “eeeee I’m running again!” thought was trampled by “OMG does it hurt? how does it feel? is it going to start hurting??”

= 4 miles, cleared to [slowly] resume running. No hills, no “extreme” speedwork. Mileage is most important right now. And my mental well-being.

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It helped that I was able to sort of stick to my plan base (Tues speedwork, Thurs tempo/hill, etc) and keep some structure to my workouts. Like I wasn’t totally sidelined and going to lose all the work I’d put in, that I might still get some gains out of week 10.

I’m not totally in the clear just yet, but I’m really happy with the direction my recovery is headed. I’ve got 3 weeks until Ragnar and 6 until CIM.

I’ll get there.

In even better news, it was Kristina’s birthday this weekend! We went out and did things that didn’t require a sports bra or Nuun! Ok, the next morning did. Woops.


Sarah OUaL

CIM Week Seven–Brain Training

Holy crap, single digit weeks left til CIM. It feels equal parts forever away and like tomorrow. This whole full-length training cycle is really messing with my head.

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CIM Training – Week #7

Su – Rest day in San Diego. Long walk + cardiac therapy watching our Brownies come almostthisclose to winning/looking like a proper football team (against the *other* worst team in the league) ((minor, insignificant detail))


M – 6 easy

T – 7mi w off-track speedwork (6×800) – 3:08-:13. This was meant to be 8 sets a little slower, but I was on a bike path next to a new-to-me laundromat, which I failed to realize was not in the best part of town. So instead of exposing myself to dirty catcalls, dodging packs of Spanish-screaming kids on scooters, and leaving my laundry unattended after its spin cycle, I made it shorter and faster.

And then I ran two more miles during dry time just so I didn’t have to hang around and get peddled for quarters.

(I’ll stick to our reg laundry spot from now on)

W – RestGirls Night Out went a little later than I expected, and the 6-7E I planned to run fueled on cupcakes and champagne didn’t happen. Dangit.


orig from Sheila

Th – 11mi total – first Double in a while. 4 easy AM (yes really I got up on my own) and a two-lap trek on my “big hill” loop after work for 7mi. I wanted a good ass-kicking (literally, buns were BURNING) and made it my mission to negative split the second lap. 25flat, 24:09, BOOYAH.



btw, the Distance shorts? pocket heaven. even my giant clunky keys fit and stayed put – no bothers.

F – Rest. Thought about some shakeout miles (greedily bc I wanted 50 for the week, not bc I “needed” them) but opted out.

Sa – 21 miler, solo, music-free. Yes, you read that right, and yes, I’m still here to talk about it.


Since I’ve been doing most of my long runs with friends, I felt like I needed to get through one on my own since race day isn’t going to be filled with distracting chit-chat.

My weekday runs have been going really well and I always sit down afterwards feeling GOOD and STRONG, confident about CIM. But never fail that weekend long run comes and my brain is suddenly full of nerves and polluted self-doubt. I need to sort out this dang mental game to avoid yet another late-miles meltdown on race day.

While I still battled some of thoselet’s just slow down, it’s fine (running slower doesn’t feel any easier),ugh isn’t it over yet?” (look how many you’ve already run, not how many are left), and this hurts and is stupid. why are we doing this?” (it’s supposed to hurt! be ok with it. think of the finish Dec 2nd!) thoughts, I can happily say that I finished this run feeling strong physically AND mentally.

I started conservatively, checked in with Garmin occasionally but didn’t obsess, stayed hydrated and fueled (3 refill stops), and had enough at the end to kick the last 3 miles.



Ok really the promise of champagne brunch at SR’s is what got me through. Thanks for feeding the hungry long runners, friend.

= 45 miles

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With the start of the new month, a race on the horizon (hello LB half in 7 days) I’m really excited to dive into my new Believe I Am training journal to start recording some of these running thoughts completely un-censored. My spreadsheet log is great and a TypeA dream for analyzing quantitative data, but I think writing honestly about the emotional side of running is going to improve my game big time.



Embracing visual cues, addressing mental barriers, and building a path towards my goals – could this be the missing piece to take my training to the next level?

Along with BIA’s other “Sisters in Sport” I’ll be sharing bits from the journal periodically – like raw, un-edited, terribly handwritten feelings and things.

Be ready.

  * Do you log your training? Is it numbers-heavy? Diary-like? Has anyone else’s handwriting deteriorated a billion points since school?

Sarah OUaL