Tuesday, February 23, 2016

WHAT THE FIRE LEFT

There are years in life that float by unnoticed, smooth sailing. There are others that are completely life altering, years on fire. I have been dancing in the fire for months. Changes like sparks on dry kindle. From the moment I saw Penelope's heartbeat on the ultrasound ... spark.

Some things in my life grew stronger in the fire. Or remained untouched. Others caught and warped, changed shape, some became ash. I felt mostly burned down last winter, I craved sleep like cold water. Last February I would tell myself that one fresh April morning I would wake up and realize I had lived. I don't know why April, it was far enough to be believable and close enough to keep me from giving up. To keep me from laying down in the ash.

It wasn't a green April morning that I finally woke up. It was a smokey week in late August. Deep in fire season. It was a hot red sun hanging overhead, and my baby turning one. My feet finally under me. My vision clearing.
A video posted by Sarah Mac Robinson (@thatsarahmac) on

A video posted by Sarah Marie (@oiselle_mac) on
My running stood the fire, a vision of myself from before, a phoenix to ride out on. To fly above the fire. Even when I ran broken down, it brought joy. Like a telephone line to an old friend. Like a bridge to the past and a push to the future.

I saw a glimpse of an old goal in September, I followed my heart to CIM. I ran my dream marathon. I ran from the ashes, I ran in cool perfect rain. I ran for me. And I earned a spot on the starting line I dreamed of since I was 16. It was a big clear win in a hard year.


Other things became clear in the miles I ran, in what the fire left. Someone asked me how I balance it all, and my answer was I don't. Balance is a myth. It's like trying to add up to 115%. Something's got to give. And if you don't say what it is, the fire years will decide for you.

This year (and a half) has brought the biggest changes of my life. Some are more bittersweet than others. After five years at Oiselle, some of the most vibrant, exhilarating, hard and important ones in my life, that chapter is closing. It's hard but ultimately it’s right.

How could I know that one Tweet five years ago would change my life? I walked into the dream factory with Sally and I never looked back. I believed and believe in the mission Oiselle is on. I believed right away. I'll never forget those early days packing web orders complete with handwritten notes, moving the site from Flash (yes, Flash), modeling, coding, directing shoots, writing and dreaming…the years are a blur of thrill and love. I remember sending out email after email asking people to run for our team. Nearly all responses were "no" and "who?”. Last week I watched, tears running down my face, as Oiselle pro-runner Kara Goucher thanked Oiselle for being what I knew it could be all those years ago. Something bigger than a definition.

I am honored to have been a part of Oiselle's story, and to continue to be part of it in different ways. I'll still be proudly running for Oiselle Haute Volée and potentially lending my voice to content and art direction in the future as a contractor. Oiselle is a brand I helped build and it's a community I believe in. It will always have an enormous piece of my heart and of my story.

As for that story, my story, there’s more to be written. Professionally, the ideal is to freelance in my areas of expertise and passion, including content strategy, digital marketing to continue to grow into opportunities in art direction. Personally, I want to be present in Penelope’s life. And I’ll be chasing fast times on the roads with Steph Bruce as my coach. I am loving the process of training and racing right now, I’m excited for what’s next.

And (most importantly) on social I'm now @thatsarahmac on Twitter and Instagram. Same me. Turns out my first name isn't Oiselle. Just plain old Sarah.


Ultimately years of fire are the hardest and they are the most important. They make us who we are. What the fire left is me. Intact. The parts that are most me. The things I will carry. The rest is ash not to mourn. My wings are out.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

OLYMPIC TRIALS MARATHON Q & A

Having a hard time processing the Olympic Trials Marathon experience...so many layers. In the meantime here's answers to your Twitter questions!


What are changes u make to your diet when training that you know for sure make a difference?
Jenn 
I give up alcohol and sugar for 4 weeks before a goal marathon. It's more mental for me and forces me to replace empty calories with more quality ones. I doubt anyone eats more sugar than me though...

Late to seeing yr tweet, but would love to hear about USTF support of race as it has been criticized.
— Lea 
Honestly, that was depressing to read. I went in so starry eyed I didn't see the flaws. After reading the account, they was hard to ignore. It put a pit in my stomach I wish wasn't there. But I'm refusing to let it tarnish my memories of the experience which were shaped by my family and friends. I hope the support improves, I hope people are trying to do their best.

Congrats on being one of the top 100 female marathoners in the country! What's next? What is your next goal for your running?
Amy Abrew 

Also, what's next for you? Olympic Trials long been a dream so time to think of another. Congrats!

Lea 
My goal is to get stronger from the base out and keep racing. I'll be signing up for local races to stay near my family.


Q: do you consider wings on your shoes a fair advantage? _ Awesome to see you run in person.

Dennis Ryan 
Ha! I know an athlete whose coach wouldn't let them race in the Shwings. I passed her in LA and saw he finally let her race in them. Obviously they are a huge advantage, but a bit of extra weight. ;)

How amazing was it to see so many badass teammates on the course? 😍
kaprian 
The Oiselle cheer crew was unreal. And to have the honor to race in the kit with women I've admired for years was unbelievable. Every time I saw my women out there I cheered for them. Kara was a huge focus of my day, I wanted to see her dreams come true. 


I'm curious what the race setup was like! How were the logistics/procedures different from other marathons?
Jenna
Very similar to my few previous elite experiences. I'm such a nubie on that front though.

More geared toward CIM, but when you're running a race that's so time focused, do you find yourself checking your watch too much?
Jenn 
I really tried not to obsess my watch. I find I run faster when I run smooth and by feel. CIM was also amazing because we had a pacer. I left him at mile 22, but as long as he didn't pass me back I knew I was fine.

Now that you've achieved such a huge life goal, is it difficult to think "what's next"?
Nicole 
It was at first, after CIM I felt so completely satisfied. After LA I have more I want to do. More inside.

How do you juggle it all-family, work, running? What was the hardest thing that day? And congrats on your race! All the s(Miles)
Mandy E
If I have to be honest...I don't think I do it very well. But I try to do my best to balance. But I want to be the best at everything, and balance can mean not feeling great about anything. Feeling good but not great. I would say naturally I have too much energy and that helps. But I can count on one hand the amount of times I've made dinner for my family in the last 3 months, and can't count the amount of nights I had frozen waffles at 8pm for dinner. Things drop.

The hardest part of the race was accepting that I wasn't going to be a surprise success. My really smooth, great feeling blew up huge around mile 21. I had to walk through a water stop and I started to have a legit panic attack. I could feel my throat like a pinhole. I had the very clear vision that this could end with a DNF. That floored me on all levels and I could barely breath. Luckily my dad was right there and he talked me down off the ledge quickly, because we speak the same language.

Maybe I'll ask you questions I'm asking myself...what was most unexpected about the whole experience? xoxo
Allison Maxson 
I didn't expect the melancholy feelings. I was fully ready to run slower than I wanted, to just celebrate getting there, but around mile 10 I started to get cocky, I thought I might crack the top 50 or higher. I thought I might have a secret in me. Then at about 17 miles the wheels were falling off. I was shocked. And left the finish with a feeling of wanting a re-do.

Congrats on your great race! How do you deal with the mental demons that sometimes emerge in the marathon?
Erin Jones
I thought about my family and reminded myself to tap into our hereditary stubbornness. ;)

Was there a mile in particular that you just loved more than the others?
cecille joan 
Honestly ... complete blur. Any mile with family or water!

Single favorite moment? Was it everything you hoped it would be? Are you sad it's over? What's next for you?!
Marilyn Keys 
Single favorite moment...when my baby finally recognized me! And when Trisha, Shal and I cruised through the finish after mile 3 and the announcer gave us a huge shout out. When I made that fourth lap and high fived my family and my Oiselle family.

Ready to run another?!
Emily Bumbulsky 
Yes!

How did you fuel for the days leading up the the race? How did that affect your race (esp bc it was so warm)?
Karissa K. 
Added Pedialyte to hydration. Not much different. Should have taken more of my bottles through mile 15.

#womanupLA #runningstarfishblog Since ur tumble&scare of injury, r u back 2 eating broccoli? :P

Wendy Hetherington 
Never! Trust no broccoli. Only brussel sprouts.

The classic...but a goodie...What would you say to the you of 2 or 3 years ago when you really decided to go for the OTQ?
Amanda 
You're doing to make a like a Dixie Chick and take the long way around, but hang in there and enjoy the ride.

Also, are leather shorts as uncomfortable as they sound??

Leila Zelnick 
No! They are like buttah!

Rumor has it there's video footage of you doing some fierce Rio dancing at the welcome dinner...care to comment?
Shaluinn 
My moves speak for themselves.

Were you able to be in the moment and enjoy it?
Shannon McCarthy 
Most of the time! But I still wish I could hit re-do on the whole thing.

How often were you getting fluids in and how much at a time? Did you stay on top of dehydration? How is recovery going?
Renee Harden
Every 3 - 4 miles, but I didn't take it seriously enough. I was taking sips and tossing bottles through mile 17, BIG mistake. I should have carried them and finished them ... and filled them higher.

Hi Mac! did you have a time goal for the race? Did you feel more pressure to perform since it's such a high level race?
MEK
After seeing the forecast my goal was to hit 6:20s though 10k and take it from there. I was in it for place. It didn't go well at the end, but I did what I could.

What did you tell yourself to get through the entire race in those conditions?
Running 'n' Reading 
My mantra was 'do it on the day'. It's something my old coach would sign off on emails. I didn't get it until later in that race...I think it means do what you can on the day. Adjust but don't make excuses to punk out.

Wow there are so many questions already! 1: what did you/how did you explain it to PJ, 2: how did you stay so smiley?
Anne O 
Well smiling makes me feel better and all my smiles are on camera... taken by people cheering for me. Hard not to smile. There were plenty of pain train faces, just escaped documentation.

As for PJ, she totally understood the importance of the elite badge. Snagged that up right away. She was oblivious, but after the event ran around the AirBnB yelling GO PJ!!! GO PJ!!! Something sunk in.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

OLYMPIC TRIALS MARATHON - ONE WEEK COUNTDOWN

Time flies when you're training for your unicorn race.  In just 7 days I'll be standing on the starting line of the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon in LA. (knocking on all wood reachable). I feel that LA air. Midmorning, the day still cool but warming. And over a hundred woman jam packed, silent, fingers on watches and lucky necklaces, ready to start. My teammates here and there around me, ready to fly. 

OLYMPIC TRIALS TRAINING BLOCK BY THE WEEKS
Nearly nine weeks since I crossed the finish line at CIM on December 6th, running a 2:42:36 and qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon. 




Eight (and a half) weeks since the standard changed from sub 2:43 to 2:45, meaning I was in by more than skin of my teeth. 

Eight weeks since I started this training block with a 3 mile hobble. 


Four weeks since training semi-paused and moved to the pool for a week to deal with old person walking to work problems (slipped on ice causing epic fall and barely could walk knee issues). 
Hospital shorts are so hot right now.
Two weeks since I danced around my house in my top secret Oiselle elite kit. 

One week (four hours and 7...6 minutes...) until the gun goes off in Los Angeles!!

OLYMPIC TRIALS TRAINING BLOCK BY THE NUMBERS
Weeks in block: 9 (8 as of today) 
Average weekly mileage: 49
Highest mileage week: 62.7
Lowest mileage week: 34.6
Worst workout: Lap swim on Friday night January 8th. You know you're a shitty swimmer when the lifeguard yells down, "Honey, do you know the breast stroke?" and you (while trying not to throw up all the pool you've been drinking) have to admit that yes, you do but your knee won't bend that way. 

The other hard workout that wasn't soul crushing in the way that the pool is, was 2 x 6 mile tempo with a mile jog between on January 27th. First 6 goal pace: 6:10 - 6:05, second 6: 6:05 - 5:55. Actual last two miles ... 6:07, 6:08. Cold and gray, and by the end very hard. But mostly my mental game was weak, and it reminded me that while the last 10 feet of every marathon is THE BEST. The 26.1999 miles are hard and my mental game needs to be primed. 

I used the 4 mile shakeout at 7pm in torrential downpour to sharpen that mental game. I also bribed myself with picking up a cheeseburger on the run home, the bag practically disintegrated in the rain. The tough days are grow days. 

Best workout: 8 x mile at cruise with 1 min jog rest on February 3rd. Started at 6:11s and cut down to 6:05s. Just felt smooth despite cold and wind. This workout should feel smooth. It was a relief after the week before. 
-------

This training block has had its ups and downs and MRIs, on race day I'll be the collection of these miles and my story so far. I keep reminding myself I can only be me and it's enough. I'm going to be present in the experience and collect the moments as memories from that time I ran the Olympic &*$^ Trials. 


"We will take the best parts of ourselves and make them gold." 
CHVRCHES