Closing Doors

I sat on this post because Lauren LBC/HOTR/mom-to-be went and announced the tiny human growing inside her, and I thought it’d be rude to not give her at least a few days of Big Life News spotlight before coming in with my own. Haha just kidding, I actually just didn’t want to compete for attention. Plus my news is way less exciting. SPOILER : No gestation countdowns here.

(dear parents and in-laws, please return to normal cardiac rhythms. promise you won’t find out about any Baby Limes from the internet…)

Before I explain though, lets back up and start from the sensible place.

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The Cali Backgrounder

We came out to California three years ago because of my job. The small company I worked for was opening a satellite office and needed two reps to lay down the roots. I interviewed in January (winter in Ohio? yes, can I leave RIGHT NOW PLEASE?) and just barely a year into my first post-collegiate job, accepted a promotion and put “move to CA” on my calendar for April 1.

Brian was finishing up graduate school, so the timing was perfect. He didn’t have to leave a job, was able to take his boards in CA, and found a job pretty easily. We didn’t own a home (uhh we were 23/25) and had nothing really tying us down to Ohio. Friends and family, yes, but we knew we wouldn’t have to twist arms too hard to convince someone to come visit if we got too homesick.

Our logic was, simply, “why not?!” We were presented an opportunity to do something we’d always wanted to, essentially risk-free. Plus, HELLO, Southern California. We literally had no excuse to say no.


Anyway, that’s all old news. We’re used to the 7-lane highways, legal U-turns, have learned how to pronounce “pho”, and find ourselves almost-sorta calling SoCal “home” now. With no regrets.

But as our time in California, and life in general progressed, I found myself gradually growing more and more restless. Life in Cali was all (and more) I imagined, yet I found myself feeling very unfulfilled. On paper I had no reason to be unhappy – a supportive and loving husband, strong family, full health, and great friends, all enveloped in palm tree paradise – but I wasn’t as happy as I felt I should be.

Does that make sense? Not being unhappy necessarily, but not being happy either?

Finding the Source

Eventually I found the root of my not-unhappy-but-not-happy predicament – it popped up every Monday-Friday from 8-5. I knew what I did wasn’t my “dream job”, but I adored the people I worked with and sought value in the potential of the company and my position within it. The tedium of the daily work was always trumped by the perks, and I told myself I was lucky to have a comfortable and stable career.

But I grew less and less interested in what I was doing, which turned into unproductivity, which eventually (once fully metastasized) turned into an almost remorse towards everything related to the job and company. A really ugly place for everyone involved.

This path, as I’ve now discovered, was sprung into motion and quickly jet-fueled by a few factors :

  2. I had no passion towards what I was doing
  3. The strengths that drew me in initially (people, ethics, company vision, etc) began deteriorating, creating a new, unfavorable work environment and a culture I no longer supported

I woke up every morning for MONTHS dreading going into the office. And to top it off, this disdain followed me everywhere – I was “taking my work home with me” and never completely tuned out to this business that was eating me alive.

But it was comfortable! I made good money, with great benefits, and had a mostly flexible schedule. Everything safe and “responsible” told me to gut it out, that maybe things would take a turn. People had it much harder than I did, after all…


“But some people actually LOVE what they do…”

the other shoulder voice said.

I’d already spent so much of my life doing what I felt I SHOULD do, following the rules, staying between the lines. For what? Hum drum lackluster answers when someone asks what you’re up to lately? What you’ve done with your life? What you want to be when you grow up?

For something taking up 1/3rd of my day, five days a week, I had very little to be proud of, and even less to be excited for. How could I look forward at my career’s future when I didn’t even want to look ahead to the next morning? The next task, phone call, email?

Suddenly “comfortable and responsible” felt like a vice, strangling me and holding me back.

Closing the Door

It finally hit me one day – that I really didn’t have to be there anymore. Nothing was holding me to my job, the same way that nothing was holding us to Ohio when I originally accepted it. Any of my “excuses” had easy answers – Insurance? we could switch to Brian’s. Money? I’d find a side job if necessary until something new came up. What would everyone think? Who gives a fuck? It’s not their life.

Brian and I sat down to look at finances and what changes we’d need to make to get by while I soul job searched. Cancel cable, freeze my “fun shopping” (clothes, shoes, etc), downgrade our cell phone plan, eat out less, etc. We have a decent nest egg built up, and calculated we could float on one income for a few months before having to dip into it. And if the “dream job” search was slow going, I’d put my pride in my pocket and pony up a part-time at Starbucks or something.

We’d be fine. And if we weren’t, well, we’d just figure something else out.

So, after four years and two months, I left my first post-collegiate job. Where I learned about (and started) my 401k, guerilla’d my way through the sales ropes, made a few “omg my life is over!” mistakes amongst (luckily a few more) “cha-ching I’m the SHIT!” deals, and built a career. I packed up my desk, said goodbye to my coworkers, and on the drive home it slowly dawned on me :

‘I’m finally out. … Now what??’


Searching for that “Window Opening” Everyone Talks About

It’s always sad closing a chapter, and quite scary when you don’t know exactly what the next one holds. That proverbial door slamming shut behind you can be a real wake-the-fuck-up call. Trust me, I’ve had a lot of quiet alone time to mull it over. Questioning whether it was the right thing to do. Wondering where to go/what to do next. Stressing over whether Brian resents me being at home all day while he’s pulling in the only paycheck (he swears he doesn’t). But the main piece that I keep rounding back to is that life is short, and singular. We’ve got one life to live, and I am refusing to make a soap opera joke out of that.

(Bear with me while I get a little philosophical here…)

We don’t know what our purpose is here, and the only thing I’ve come up with is to live the fullest life possible. Instead of beating our heads against the wall looking for an answer to a rhetorical question (“what am I SUPPOSED to be doing here??!”) maybe our job is to just blaze the fullest, wildest path on our way to whatever our final chapter winds up being. It could be tomorrow. It could be a hundred years from now. You could be living the Fast and the Furious saga of lifetimes and just keep freaking going despite everyone thinking “for sure this must be the LAST ONE how old is the Rock anyway?!”

I’m a realist in that I know I’m likely not meant to totally change the world – I didn’t leave my paltry desk job to tackle the cure for cancer or poverty in third world countries. My career change will likely affect nobody but myself, Brian, and the guy who does our taxes and has an extra W2 to enter. But I have talents and skills that were being wasted, and a pretty well-functioning brain that hasn’t been challenged in far some time. I know I can contribute to something- someone- somewhere, in a much more beneficial way than I had been, and I’ll be a happier person when I get to do that.


I don’t know where I’ll wind up or what I’ll end up doing, all I hope is that it’s something that wakes me each day with a sense of passion and purpose. To spring out of bed ready to tackle the day’s hurdles, and go to sleep at night eager to do it again the next.

In the meantime, rather than stressing the process, I’ve vowed to enjoy this adult summer vacation of sorts. Do things I’ve always wanted to but haven’t had time (volunteer! sit at a coffee shop all day! take the train somewhere!) Attempt to make sense of all the moments that have lined, barricaded, and carried me through this trail I’ve started, and prepare to blaze the path ahead. To use my time and energy towards things that might in some small way add a little good in the world.

And who knows – maybe my one-in-seven-billion drop in the bucket will make a difference somehow.

Sarah OUaL, unemployed

Damnit I Said I Wasn’t Going to do This…

Things I said I wasn’t going to do on 12/31/12 :

  • Post an “Annual Recap”
  • Make Resolutions
  • Get drunk and not be able to enjoy my first run back from Zero Month tomorrow

Things I am(/probably am) doing :

  • Posting something I’m convincing myself is “definitely not an annual recap”
  • Making a “To Do in 2013” list
  • …TBD.

I swore I wasn’t going to do a Year Recap post this year. I did last year, spent a lot of time on it, and actually still like clicking over to it and seeing all the cool things I did in one nice little spot permanently etched in the internet until I stop paying for this domain.

But I’m an in-denial hipster and don’t like doing things everyone else is doing, and you’ve read so many of them by now you’re probably not even reading this right now. Plus it’s kind of like “look at me! look at me! look at all the cool things I did!” and I prefer keeping my boasting for in-person because I’ve got a great fake nonchalant look that exudes just the right amount of humility and inexcusable self-pretentiousness.

But (again) in light of yesterday’s Revive the Fire post and realizing on my commute to work this morning (YES I HAD TO WORK TODAY) what an incredible year it really was, I realized I just HAD to do something to pay homage to my favorite things from the year.

But it’s my blog and I want a trip down memory lane for when I get Alzheimers start asking myself why I put myself through the things I do. Because life is fun and live it to the fullest and remember that time so-and-so did this and we went there? Wasn’t that so awesome?

So, here’s my 2012 brag sheet. Enjoy.

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“Not an Annual Recap-Recap”


January – March

Rang in the New Year in CA with friends & my new’ish bro-in-law and his fiancee  *  Spectated a kinda-sorta special race in Houston which sparked a year of run-cationing with my Type Z other half  *  Brian returned to running and I earned my first podium finish (2nd overall female)


March – April

Checked off a baseball bucket list item at Spring Training in Arizona  *  Hiked Camelback Mountain between games  *  Perfected Downward Facing Dog (not really, just thought it was too cute a picture not to share).

Didn’t write about any of it.


March – April

Swam boated with the dolphins  *  Ran my first relay, Ultra-style at Ragnar SoCal  *  Toasted to huge 26.2 PRs on Hayward with favo runner girlfriends and vowed to make Eugene my next home


May – June

Some of my favorite Ohioans came to visit  *  I co-piloted the Inaugural Nuun Mile  *  Trophy Pulled at a 5k back home with little sis, scored my first Overall Female win


June – July

Weaseled our way behind home plate at an Indians game with all my fam & inlaws, got caught picking my nose on TV  *  Returned to Eugene with Em & Oiselle for the Olympic Track Trials, bird-style  *  Satisfied my hillbilly heart with boots & flannel at my first Jambo experience


July – August

Got to rep our Cleveland gear in Anaheim for Tribe vs Angels  *  … and do it again in Seattle… (are you sick of seeing Em yet?)  *  … before tackling Runner 5 of the legendary Hood to Coast Relay with Team Nuun


August – September

Battled Jurassic Park the at-home version  *  Became an “official” bird  *  Took advantage of beach life and actually stayed dry this time


October – November

Got more bad news from the dermatologist, told cancer to get the fck outta here  *  Ultra relayed, again, and cleaned up at the awards ceremony for Ragnar Vegas  *  Watched (from DNF sidelines) my little sister demolish her first half and get bit HARD by the distance bug


November – December

GOT ANOTHER SISTER!  *  DNF’d my 2nd race at CIM but got to watch my training partner and new marathoner BQ and fall in love with the distance


December – Now

Got to spend the holidays at home in Ohio with both Brian & my families  *  Enjoyed a healthy dose of winter (& wine) and happily returned to SoCal and my flip flops

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So there it is. My year in a (much longer than anticipated) picture post. Hope you’re up for the challenge, 2013 – You’ve definitely got your work cut out for you.

* What was your favorite memory from 2012? Anybody get married? Pop out a kid? Discover the world’s best cookie recipe??

Sarah OUaL

Household PR Derby – the 26.2 showdown

aka the one where I admit to having non-internet-fabricated running relationships

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You may not know this, but Brian actually ran a marathon before I did.


my third half, Bri’s first full (& BIL Sean’s first half) – Columbus 2009

And when I decided it was my time to graduate from the half, he jumped on board for a second.


Cleveland 2010 (recaps)

And then as a birthday “gift” I signed us both up for our third (I’d run NWM as my second). I ended up dropping to the half, and B crossed the finish line straight into retirement, swearing like so many others,


Vegas 2010, where Bri swore off 26.2 and I swore off RnR (recap)

Neither of us knew anything about running and relied on general athleticism and stubborn drive to get through. No specific workouts or fancy technology – just running the same speed all the time and gradually building long runs. A pretty basic “train your body to cover the distance” plan.

It worked fine, he had a nice 3:38.43 PR to show for it, despite never running further than 16 miles in “training.”


faking it at Vegas mile 25

As I started learning more about training and running, and in turn my times dropping, Brian’s interest seemed to pique, but remained steadfast in his anti-marathon stance.

And then I beat his PR by 90 seconds in Eugene (I truthfully had no idea until he told me later that night) and he graciously handed over the “fastest spouse” title. Even when I publicly announced to a party I was faster than him or used the PR card to get out of dishes.

(not really. I mean I would if I thought it’d work…)

But for some unknown reason, after standing out in the pouring rain chasing K and I along the CIM course and shouldering my DNF cries, the itch apparently came back.

Well into our 3rd round of pint sampling after the race (Pliny on tap yes please), Bri admitted to wanting to give another shot at 26.2. That these “real workouts” he’d been hearing about sounded intersting and he was curious what a shit-trained 3:38 could equal if he put in some proper training.

So right there, on the Pangaea bench, we registered Brian for the Surf City Marathon and drafted a tentative 9 week plan.



an homage to K’s rookie registration text

There are a few curious points in this whole tale – other than Brian’s sudden competitive desire to reclaim the household PR title and our belief in scheming rash plans under the influence….

(no morning-after regrets re: signing up, although I suspect when he sees the Pliny-inspired custom bib he might have some words…)

  • This is a terrific distraction for me during Zero Month. Having a direct outlet to focus all my displaced running energy is keeping me sane. Also, Brian’s agreement to “do whatever I say” for 9 whole weeks!? YESSSSS
  • That said, if by chance something goes badly, I’m going to feel terrible and completely responsible.
  • … and on the flip, if it goes really well and he completely crushes my time….

Here’s to new fuel for 2013 and the Household PR Derby…

Sarah OUaL