Fast and Free – Mountains 2 Beach Half

When I said I wasn’t going to over-complicate things this weekend, I was referring to the running part. And while parking 50ft from the start line ended up quite convenient, I’m not going to pretend it was simple or pretty getting there.

Race Morning All Star.

m2b park

“There’s nothing saying you necessarily CAN’T park here…”

The course is point-to-point (meaning it starts in a different place than it finishes) and instead of boarding a painful 4am shuttle, Margot, Kristee, Robyn and I created a drop off system of our own. I’d drive to the start, leave my car, and Robyn would bring us back out after since her hotel was at the finish. The race instructions said there was “very limited parking” at the start which I thought meant like, a small lot or a plaza a ways away we’d have to walk from.

NOT narrow service road partially coned-off right next to the highway with no civilization for miles and a small gravel shoulder with no markings or signs indicating whether it’s safe or legal to park there.

But that’s what we did.

m2b car

iphone hansel & gretel is dropping a pin to get back to your car (& screen cap’ing it to prove just how far BFE you were)

10 minutes before the start we finally peeled our butts from the warm seats to warm up. Other than worrying my car’d be towed/stolen/vandalized while we were gone, I was waffling ambivalence (erring heavy on the apathy side) about the race. Is this what “uncomplicated running” is going to be like? No nerves or excitement, just strolling up to the start like MEH WHATEVER and waiting for someone to talk me into ditching the race for breakfast sandwiches and coffees instead?

This should be interesting.

A few minutes before the gun Gia said hi – thanks to some mutual (internet) friends I knew she’d be there and was around my speed. Once we took off and I found myself running five steps behind her sparkle skirt the entire first mile I figured it’d be fun and less creepy to just run next to her.

We chatted, laughed, made friends with Amanda from Atlanta who’s 53 a former competitive swimmer and an Ironman, and ticked mile after mile. My legs felt great, syncing up perfectly with Gia and Amanda, and we breezed through the slightly downhill first half. Alright, maybe this “fun running” business isn’t so bad…


new friends Amanda and Gia (credit)

I swore I wasn’t going to look at Garmin the whole race. I’d considered not wearing it at all, but come on Captain Type A needs the data for obsessing over afterwards. So the splits beeped, I ignored the impulsive urge to flip my elbow out for a wrist-glance, and just kept going. Nothing but my legs and breath to measure effort on. No numbers to scare me into slowing down or pressure into speeding up.

m2b splits1-6

accidental negative splits, what?

At mile seven there’s a small hill before leveling off to sea level for the rest of the race. Which, as learned last year, after a steady dose of friendly decline flat might as well be uphill.

m2b elev

257ft net loss – not the screamer downhill it appears to be

After settling into the harder-than-it-should-feel flat, Gia voiced something I’d been trying to convince myself wasn’t happening:

“my legs are starting to feel it – I might need to slow a bit”

Unfortunately this was also the time my first-ever desire for a course porta potty came up. We ran and ran, conversation coming to a halt as we each focused on the hard miles coming up and my internal debate on whether I was dealing with period or poop cramps. Or both.

You’re welcome for that.

m2b splits7-9

And then in the name of “this is supposed to be fun and pressure-free!” I walked through a water station because MAN was I thirsty and also trying to keep bodily fluids inside where they belong. Gia and Amanda pulled away, and after a full cup of water I started trudging again, balancing tough-love “you want this!” with “fun shouldn’t hurt this bad!”

The course was doubling back so I entertained myself watching Gisele, Robyn, and Kristee/Margot run by, cheering on my stupid fast friends (as in really fast, not that they’re stupid. clarification) and trying to drum up a little drive for the final 5k.

Ok, one more water walk-through. THEN we go.

m2b splits10-11

the trick to near-perfect even splits is walking and drinking full cups of water, apparently

Thanks to the rest I’d caught my breath, passed the shit/puke threat, and found a little spring in my legs for the finish. Gia was about 100 meters ahead and Amanda ahead of her. I set my sights on them, wanting to finish what we’d unintentionally started together.

I caught Gia and told her it was time to hurt, grabbing her elbow lightly hoping she’d follow my lead. She did.

m2b splits12

We chased down Amanda, who was running steady as a metronome, as we hit the 12 mile marker. She asked how we were feeling and I threw the only thing I could think of over my shoulder as we dropped pace again for the final mile.

“Time to go!”

We hit the beach path and I switched into track mode. For some reason thinking of distance in meters and laps seems more palatable at the end than miles or minutes. “just a 16 left” – “head down, last 800 YOU LOVE 800s” – “BELL LAP GOOOOO!!!!”

(it should be noted I never actually ran track, but have been watching a lot of Flotrack videos and super fan’ing Oiselle pro Kate Grace so in my imagination I get bell laps)

m2b splits13m2b2

(credit, again – thanks allison!)

The finish finally came into sight and I willed my legs to turn over just a little faster. I heard Alison yell my name and looked up to take in the modest, yet enthusiastic crowd cheering along the beach. When the clock came into focus and I saw a 1:39xx I seriously about shit myself. My face spread into a huge smile and I crossed the finish with a brand new PR, while checking “Sub 1:40” off my goal list.

(final sprint 6:08 pace)

m2b official

m2b finish

Gia came in just a few seconds later, and we laughed and hugged, both incoherently babbling something about PRs and Thank Yous and ‘I cant believe it!”s. Complete strangers two hours ago, now bonded thanks to this crazy sport and goals accomplished.

m2b3 gia

Mountains 2 Beach Half, 5.26.13  –  1:39.23 * (new PR)

Am I kicking myself for walking through those two water stops or not pushing a little harder when it got tough? Nah. I mean maybe a little, but I definitely wouldn’t have finished as strong as I did without the breaks. Am I going to race “blind” all the time now? We’ll see. It was definitely nice to run without pressure, and obviously it worked out quite well. But as goals and abilities change and race plans tighten up to more than “just don’t turn it into rocket science” I’ll want it I’m sure.

I can’t quit you, Garmin – but I CAN quit letting you rule the run.

As a nice cherry on top of my selfish sundae, Margot PR’d, Giselle top 10’d, Kristee and Robyn both age group placed. And in the marathon Mason (who paced all the Nuun ambassadors at Eugene) A-goal’d a 2:45 and Nicole redeemed last year’s race with a huge PR AND BQ!!

Perhaps Ojai/Ventura gets to claim PR City, CA?

And as a final note, let’s remember last weekend’s 10K at 7:42 pace that felt like death vs yesterday’s 7:35 average. Just goes to show the person that shows up race morning isn’t always who you expect. Leave that bad race baggage behind like a summy old boyfriend and line up next time with a clean slate. New day = new race.

And soak in the good ones as long as you can.

Sarah OUaL

Oh, and yes, my car was still at the start waiting for us afterwards.

SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK (jk totally I need sleep) aka Cleveland 10K Recap

A few lessons in “how NOT to show up for a race and expect to run fast”

… all mixed in with a, “I don’t care because being home was great and OH<3<3<3”

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

I don’t usually have a problem with the time change when I go back to Ohio – my internal alarm clock is so busted it doesn’t care what time it is. Until this weekend.

I was pretty disappointed when I found out there weren’t any 3am bonfire ragers being planned in my honor and people had “things to get up for in the morning”, but it was good because each night I found myself head-to-pillow at a respectable time.

Like the mature adult I am pretend to be.


what do you expect to happen when there are buschy pops and low-hanging branches??

Except I COULD NOT shut my dang brain off! The whole trip! I don’t care what we’re having for lunch or who’s pitching Sunday or what the capital of Mumbai is or what the course record is or when season two of Nashville starts!


*opens hulu+ app and watches season finale*

For a self-proclaimed “controlled narcoleptic”, it was like my only super power (being able to fall asleep, at will, wherever and whenever) was broken. And as I watched the clock tick all the way through the 1am hour with a 3:30am race day alarm set, I knew I was in trouble.



spoiler : IT’S NOT

Thanks to never committing to full REM sleep, I went through my morning routine feeling alright. Peppy even. Dance-party-in-the-parking-garage and delirious energy had me thinking maybe ZZ’s were over-rated and I’d have a great race as we walked up to the start…


mel, mom, spectator/driver gram, and cousin soaking in the magic of one of the worst franchises in NFL history…

We had plenty of time before the race, so I busied myself chatting with everyone and bumping into 1) an old softball coach, 2) an ex-boyfriend and his new wife who doesn’t like me, 3) a few friends from high school, and 4) the boy I got caught making out with on the back porch with in 10th grade. Luckily mom doesn’t remember that as vividly as he does. (still scarred, he says)

Anyway let’s fast forward – pee x3, half start, pee, warm up, 10k start.

I lined up in front of the 7:30 pace flag, knowing the crowd would undoubtedly be slower than my 7:25 goal pace. I was probably 50m or so from the front? It’s usually a fast field (lots of prize money) so I figured I was good.


We started uphill and I plowed over 100* people in the first 100 meters, and continued throwing ‘bows at WALKERS 1/4 mile in. Excuse me for the F-bombs I littered Lakeside Ave with, Cleveland.

*possible exaggeration but not by much



foolproof way to make sure you don’t go out too fast – a start line hill and front-row walkers

Anyway, the short of the race is this : Feel like crap from mile one (despite eventually getting some space to open up and stretch out), try to believe crazy erratic breathing and lead legs mean you’re doing it right (ignore being :30s off pace),swear off 10Ks forever, swear off Ohio running forever, barter with “you can walk through the next fuel stop!” (which never came, thankfully), and praise the lord race director for a downhill finish, without which I most definitely would NOT have PR’d.


Cleveland 10K, 5.19.13   –   :47.43 (*New PR)

Yeah, there were a couple hills, a seemingly never-ending cross/headwind, the route was boring as shit, and I didn’t sleep. I managed a 20ish second PR and felt like absolute hell the whole time.

To quantify my ”I know I can do better” disappointment, I ran only :01/mile faster this weekend than I did for the half at Eugene. (more than twice the distance) Soooooo YEAH. I’d say “go get ‘em next time!” but truthfully I have no desire to run another 10K anytime soon.

Or run on 90minutes sleep again. Unless it comes with a big white van and slap bracelet.

The good news is, the day was salvaged simply by being in Cleveland. We got to celebrate a bunch of great races including my mom and cousin’s first 10k, I met some cool people (hi Kaitlin, Leah, Christy, and Allison!), and I got to do something I love. Even the not-so-great races are better than no races, which I sometimes frequently need reminded.

Oh and there was baseball. AUTOMATIC WIN.


Love ya, CLE.

Sarah OUaL

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


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

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


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!” 


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


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


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!

eug courtney

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

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


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…


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)


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

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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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)


  • 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…



(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