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

Finding a Fix (Hopefully)

After three months of at-home muscle rolling/sticking/abusing and rehab exercises, my hamstring injury is still just kind of, there. Not getting worse but not getting better, and I’m finally just fed up of not feeling 100%.

shitty legs

symbolic “these are my legs, they want to feel better so they can want to run again instead of feeling like the bird poop they’re stepping in” pic

The massage and Active Release Therapy that Dr AJ did back in January made me feel like a new person with a brand new leg – all the crap built up in my muscles was being worked out and put in its place and it felt like rainbows and glitter and happy marathons (<— oxy moron?) Unfortunately as I continued to run and workout, that build up slowly started coming back. It finally became apparent I wasn’t going to clear up this tendonosis shit on my own, so I started the search for a local office to beg healing from (I saw Dr AJ in Arizona on a work trip, ICYMI.)

Friday I pulled out all our insurance paperwork – there is a disturbing amount of verbage regarding whether certain cosmetic surgeries are covered or not, by the way – and tried to translate what might be the most cost-effective form of treatment for me. Other than a sinus-related rhinoplasty or medically-necessary tummy tuck, which are real things I guess. I’m still not 100% confident that months down the road bills for a billion dollars won’t show up, but it seemed a chiropractor was the way to go. If anyone reading works for Cigna in CA and can tell me if “Covered, $15 copay” actually means “you’re about to fuck your financial world up, honey” I’d appreciate it.

Anyway, my first appointment was this morning. I blindly picked a name off the network list based on who was closest and who had anything “sport”-related in the name. It’s early going, but the signed athlete posters (surfers, motocross, soccer, mountain bikers) and casual “former triathlete” mention made me feel in good hands. Well that and my currently bruised, numb, and taped, but pain-less left leg.

I’m going back for more treatment in a few days, and in the meantime he said to just “be smart” about workouts and running. No, there’s no need to shut down. Yes, the treadmill is your friend. Yes, running faster and shorter is better than slower and longer. You said marathons? You look like a 5k or 1500 runner. Thanks dude, I know I have boobs and a body fat % in the double digits, I’d be mad but that metal knife tool you’re digging into my ass hurts more than your words so keep on, man.


now do I look like a track runner to you, doc?

Why is someone saying “you don’t look like a marathoner” the only thing that triggers my desire to run one? Instead of saying I hate long distance and actually prefer shorter and faster, I got way defensive and played my 2-minutes-from-BQ [lame] card like my only goal in the world was to get back to a 26.2 start line.

Tell me I can’t so I will.

[haha jk not running a marathon]

[[… right now]]

Ok I’m going now before I say something I’ll regret.

Sarah OUaL

Ventura Marathon–wk10, the Final Update

This is a day early, but I don’t plan to post again before the race so let’s just get it out of the way now. Formalities first, this is what a very lax, other-things-busy taper looks like :

Week Ten (9/1-7)

Su – 10mi with last 4 at MGP (marathon goal pace) <—no garmin, regular watch + landmarks says just over 8min/mi   |||   M – rest   |||   Tu – 1-4-1 between MGP and Tempo (7:45avg)   |||   W – 50min hard SUP   |||   Th – 5 easy, feels-like-floating, farewell-elephant-legs night miles + strides   |||   F – [planned SUP]   |||   Sa – [planned 4 easy]


= 25 holy-crap-it’s-really-here miles total

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster. I never hit a super confidence high (like, “I’m totally making all 26.2 of these miles my bitch”), but had been holding a pretty steady contentment(?) with my training and abilities. Feeling good, you know. Then two(three) bad long runs tied up any shred of marathon confidence I had, put a gun to its head, and sent me a really mean ransom note.

I’m sure none of you noticed.

But Tuesday’s MGP test and last night’s light and airy, super easy run are swaying my mental visualizations away from Pachyderm In Bum Wrap to someone who might actually manage forward motion for 26.2 straight miles. Here’s hoping.


see the resemblance?

Still need like, 93% of those stars to align for me Sunday AM, including the Mother Nature one, but I’m feeling pretty good. Calm, collected, ready to run for fucking forever. Wring the towel all the way out and see how close to 3:35 it gets me.

Good luck to Kristina running the half; Pam, Jessica, Emily, and Michelle also gunning BQs at Ventura; Jocelyn at Lehigh, and everyone else racing this weekend! Run fast, stay strong, shuffle till you make it, die trying… Pick a few, see ya out there.

BQ twitter party Sunday night? RSVP TBD.

Sarah OUaL