Found Her!

WARNING: this has potential to be lengthy and pretty emo. TBD how much gets edited, likely indirectly proportional to the # of IPAs (NOT green) consumed during drafting.

; – ; update : two, a nap, and a burned dinner. not sure what that means for edits…

* * * * * * * * * * *

In a desperate attempt to find MIA Competitor Sarah and salvage the next 6 weeks of Eugene training, I signed up for a 5k hoping the adrenaline rush of 20+ minutes of pain and the wonderful “omg I’m going to puke and/or shit my pants” would kick my ass back into racing gear.

Unfortunately, it just kind of scared the shit out of me all week.

I went out for a 3mi tempo run, and desperately tried to ignore how hard the 7:33 average pace was to hold, what that translated to for 5k times (a personal worst by a decent margin), and how painful Sunday was going to be. Cool down was entirely spent convincing myself a race atmosphere would shave some time and also I’m not trying to make a living by running so who the fuck cares if I do PW?

(other than my ego)

But on Thursday at the track, struggling through mile repeats at a pace I could only focus on was slower than my 5k PR pace, I spiraled into a MAJOR meltdown.

I 100% admit to being a Headcase Runner, but hard workouts and sweat have always been a release and outlet for me. After a rough day at work/home/life, nothing clears my head and resets me like a chest-pounding hard run – when the release of the physical pain takes all the mental stress with it and you finish completely empty.

But slowly I’d let my own self-induced stress take that outlet away, just when I needed it most. Running was just another drop in the rapidly-filling stress bucket, and with nowhere left for the pain to come out it flooded lane 7 and Margot’s shoulder when I pulled out 400m into mile repeat three of four.

I guess nobody was lying when they said it doesn’t pay to keep everything bottled up all the time.

A bevy of non-running problems I didn’t realize were weighing so heavily on my spilled out as I word-vommitted all over Margot during our premature cool down. I felt lighter with every step, and once I composed my tragic self we moved the conversation back to where it (sort of) began :

What did I want to run this weekend?

I held true to my no-time-goal plan, mostly for fear of what a hard pass/fail would do to my fragile ego if I missed the mark. I said I wanted to find my fighter, feel the rush of the race, and cross the finish feeling like I gave it all I had on THAT day.

And truthfully, I can 100% say I did that today.


the face of hard work, goal-hitting, and probably childbirth.

The course was tough and my legs weren’t fresh, but I ran strong, didn’t give in when it got hard, and even mustered enough of a kick to pick off a few people near the end including one up the WTF IS THIS GIANT HILL AT THE FINISH??!!


50ft over .2 miles does in fact feel like a mountain at the end of a 5k


concordia university 5k


paul! nice to meet you – you’re in my picture!


channeled Track Party Sarah to pass those two ladies on the curve with 150m to go. they’re 20 years older than me but don’t bother trying to suck that wind from my sail because an 11 and 14 year old beat me. yup.

Concordia University 5k, 3.17.1322:41

I’m really proud of sticking to my race plan and not getting sucked into other pressures on the course. I didn’t look at Garmin, focused on powering up the hills and running good tangents (hello 100 turns), and put targets on backs towards the end. While I don’t love posting a subpar (for me) time, there were more important tasks at hand today, and I accomplished them. My willingness to get to – and stay in – the pain place is returning, mojo is bubbling, and excitement for running/racing is building at a rapid rate.

As we drove home and I reflected on the morning (I know that sounds kind of hooky for me) I tried to pinpoint where all the pressure in running was coming from :

; * Was it internal – comparing to other people, to my past self, to what I felt I SHOULD be capable of? Am I tough on myself in a genuine trying-to-get-better way, or a bullying way?

; * Or was it external – the pressure to report success, openly putting myself and my running out for critique, feeling pressure to uphold a certain stature as a “role model”? (I realize these are all self-inflicted and could be eliminated by not sharing my life with the internet, but that’s not a solution I’m interested in entertaining right now)

I settled on all of the above, but that my main issue is that I take myself TOO FUCKING SERIOUSLY. IT’S RUNNING, SARAH! Just running! It’s not your living, it’s a hobby. You do it for fun, and it should be as such. Your friends will still like you if you don’t PR every race. Nobody’s going to look down on you if you cut a run short or admit you HATE mile repeats. The world will continue to spin if you don’t share every detail of your training with the internet.

Shocking, I know.

But if performing well at Eugene is truly important to me – and it is, believe me – I’m going to have to dive whole-heartedly back into the work of getting there. And not because someone or something is obligating me to, but because I want every ounce of glory possible crossing that finish line at Hayward Field.

And a race worth celebrating afterwards.

So really, gameface on. Let’s do these next 6 weeks.

Sarah OUaL

edit: I just re-read this and realize it’s a little, “wait, what??!” scorcesee-twisted at the end. I want to get better and work harder but will be easier on myself and will calm the fuck down about the world not ending because of running. That’s it the end.

post-script : life is fine, just normal growing-up problems. no need to call in a suicide watch.

post-post-script : yes, I cut my hair again. post (possibly) forthcoming.


27 thoughts on “Found Her!

  1. There is a big 15k in my town that awards hats to the top10% finishers. Because I’m not as fast as I once was, I refuse to run the race….I can’t bare the shame of not earning that damn baseball cap. I wish I didn’t feel this way because essentially no one in my life gives a crap if I am running 8:15 min mile pace or 9. Only me and my dumb competitive spirit. The point is, I feel you, girl.


  2. I’ve had to tell myself the same thing a lot these days! I’m not a pro so who cares if I’m first or last? I run for fun and that’s all it should be :)


  3. Hills at any point in a 5k are just rude. Not okay. And I think all of the feelings you have are totally normal. Obviously us readers don’t know *everything* but I definitely identify with having running go from “yay totally awesome, when I’m done I’m not stressed anymore” to “omg, I have to run and this is making me totally stressed out and I don’t know why”. But basically you still rock.


  4. I think this is something that all runner’s struggle with – but recognizing it is a huge step right… How many steps is the program is the next question I guess. ha.


  5. Congrats on pushing through a mind hurdle, you are most assuredly not alone in not being super excited about mile repeats and uncomfortable running stuff. That’s why I never do speed work or hills, because I don’t feel like it! (although I should probably change that.)

    Also, as you well know, It’s OK to not always PR, the blog world will be happy either way. Or at least that’s what I tell myself!


  6. Oh my goodness, I could have written so much of this post myself. I’ve been in a slump since NOVEMBER- when I ran my first full- and I’m down to the wire with a half (Nike Women’s DC) and a 10 miler (Philadelphia Blue Cross Broad Street Run) coming up on back to back weekends starting 4/28. It’s so frustrating!!!


  7. I get this soooo much. Recently I had some stuff going on that took me majorly out of running, right when my friends suddenly started to do some serious ass kicking as part of training for spring marathons. I started to really panic that the people who I ran with wouldn’t be my friend any more because I couldn’t run as fast or as well. Ok, firstly that is really stupid. It’s not like the fact that I ran x pace makes me a nicer or less nice person. Or, whether I used to run x and now run y says anything about me. Running is supposed to be fun, and it’s supposed to make us feel good about ourselves. Anyway, obviously my friends did not give up on me and call me a loser, although I have not yet tested this theory long term as I came back to running last week and ran my first half in 9mths on saturday. Ok, now I’m rambling. Moral of the story – we love ya.


  8. uggg, I’m terrified of this feeling. Still relatively newbie and tackling my first full this fall. Don’t want running to start to feel like a chore instead of my outlet. I mean, I don’t always look forward to every single run, but in general I look forward to it and I stay motivated but don’t get pissed about non-PRs. Sounds like that fast run knocked you back into hungry mode though. Keep it up and keep writing about it (if you want to …..) your hilarious REAL perspective on this crap keep us all coming back!


  9. i can totally relate – i definitely feel the internal pressures of being at a certain fitness level. i keep comparing myself to last year when i set two major PR’s and this year, it feels like i’m light years from hitting the paces i ran a year ago. my big “A” goal is to BQ at grandma’s in duluth in june this year and believe me, the pressure is definitely there. i completely derailed on a 10 mile race yesterday that was suppose to be ran at GMP….yeeahh…that didn’t happen. i’m trying to stay focused and not let doubt creep in. i also have to remember that the reason why i run is because i love it, and maybe that’ll bring me back to “home base” :) keep up the good work and you’ll do great at eugene!


  10. Thank you for being so brave and putting this out there on the internet! I think it’s something more of us experience that we realzie, but are too scared to admit. This is exactly what I needed today following a “failed” workout on Saturday morning for marathon training where I really started questioning my goals, why the heck I want to run 26.2 miles again and desperately trying to understand where my competitive side is currently hiding. From one headcase runner to another, we are in this together!


  11. Dude, you have got to take it easy on yourself! Also, love the short(er) hair. Short hair seems to look totally kicking when it is REALLY short and on someone who can pull it off. Looks great.


  12. I think it’s so important to not forget how unimportant running is. I love it, I love reading about it, I love running blogs and it gives me so much happiness! But it’s not important in the grand scheme of things. Remembering that helps me keep it in perspective!!

    At the same time… Well done on a great race!! You ran well!!!


  13. you’re totally not alone in this! sometimes its nice to remember why you began running in the first place. back then, it wasn’t about if my outfit matched, or if I had cute shorts that made my butt look good, or what my current pace was, or what my splits were, or if i PR’d or not. back then it it was all about how it made me feel, even with my oversized t-shirt and 5 year old running shoes from target and cotton shorts that were two sizes too big. inspirational people are never perfect, and in this particular case, never run the perfect race every time. admitting weakness is just as inspiring as reading about huge PR’s. you’re gonna crush Eugene, I just know it!


  14. Thanks for the shout out Sarah! It was nice meeting you as well and sorry I ruined your picture. Congrats on a well executed race and 1st place in your AG!


  15. Epic. All this mental turmoil… it’s exactly what I go through during and after races. And sometimes after training runs. And sometimes after I eat all the doritos.

    STOP looking so amazingly cute with your short hair! You’re making me itch for a haircut! I flipflop back and forth day to day on whether or not to get a buzzcut. Uuuugh.


  16. Pingback: Random Things (Why Don’t I Do This More Often?) | Once Upon a (L)ime

  17. Hi Sarah- I met you last year at Ragnar and love reading your blog. You always say what i’m thinking/how i’m feeling about running. Thanks for the great perspective in a world where PR’s are the name of the game. Thanks for always keeping it beyond real. Ps- you make short hair look SO cute.



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