A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn....

It's gonna get harder before it gets easier. But it will get better, you just gotta make it through the hard stuff first.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The science is out on whether ultrarunning is good or bad for our hearts—but I'm sure the Hardrock 100 is good for mine

I truly wanted to write a long post on it. I really planned to do it, especially now that's my boss at my main job is out - but life rolled in, and I got busy! So, before I forget, I have to shout out - I ran for 2 weeks now! OK, I ran short runs so far, and while some enlightening and fast (like 8 miles on biggest hills we have here in a time I could be proud of), some were a bit sluggish. I also ran some short things on a TM with hill repeats. The important part is - consistency! I ran 4 times each of the last 2 weeks, despite it still being a$$-ugly summer in TX, and I am ok with it, and I am even excited. And thus this whole "I don't like to walk another ultra" had transformed into "I am going to walk and shuffle Grindstone 100 since I am signed up anyway and still want this last chance for Hardrock qualifier" with Larry's "I fully support your dream". And then it went further - the Hardrock actually started, the buzz online was nuts, and I cried...This IS the ONLY race that keeps me in this sport, the chance to participate one more time - for which I always need to qualify one more time...for which I need to be at least somewhat afloat in shape. because I KNOW I can finish this San Juan mountains circle the right way and in great spirits!

So, not only I am totally psyched about my "walking Grindstone" (sorry, no promises to run it well still, as I said, my return to running just had began and I feel my body's systems just cleared from the mess of CMV infection and whatever hormonal and immune imbalances followed, not to mention, AGAIN, it is STILL summer in Texas!), I am feeling like I may return and do some other shit...I mean, races. Which, the excitement about Hardrock Live that is, was so palpable, my good ol' friend Lori B. and I somehow came to conclusion to get a reunion this Fall - at a 100M race! - and with both of our absence of serious fitness, we managed to pick Javelina 100 and also drag our other ol' buddy Steve B. into this whole ordeal! Heck, there was even online training log created - and those two are beating me to the punch! because, you know, they live in normal place and run normal trails, while I commit to 2 mile stunts on TM and 4 mile road outings...:)

Anyway, in fear of having more souls getting attached to Hardrock, which had already gotten over-populated by my possessive mind, I share this video with you.

There are no words I can use to describe the intensity at which I want to be at Hardrock, daydream about it t any given moment, know every step on a trail and can vividly picture it in my mind as I fall asleep, as I give massages to people, as I stare at the radioactivity in my experiences in the lab...How at any time point I rather be out there suffering and simultaneously knowing there is nowhere else I'd rather be...It gets into your blood like this...And those who "want to do it" - unless you are actually there "doing it" in some capacity, you don't want to do "it".

That's the gist of it (and yeah, I had to forgo all my emotional ideas and thoughts and sharing for how that this post was supposed to be about) -Hardrock 2015, training began NOW! I better get in!

Oh, yeah, this morning my best training partner from Portland Gail called, and she wants to train for Mountain Lakes 100 next year (the one that replaced my Hood 100 I directed) - and I offered to pace! And my other best dude from Portland and I got to chat today on other matters, but of course running too - and he is doing Fat Dog 125M up in Canada in August. And Lisa Bliss and I are conspiring about possible crossing of Badwater course by me sometime next Spring. So, we, old farts, never die!

One last note: there was a guy from a new out-of-garage company I am funny shirts who contacted me with sent me a shirt to check out. They make t-shirts from some tree-fiber material, which is extremely soft (I self-proved it) and nice, and one can wear it for just around, or even running - it's not bad. FYI, I ordered size M and it was way too big for me, so I would suggest a size-down. Lucky for me, I got a race-top, so I just tied the tops of the straps:) Well, if you do want to give these shirts a try, pick your favorite quote (they have some seriously funny ones) and enter coupon OLGA for 20% off!

2 more weeks, and Larry and I are off to NM for 2 short mountain races - Taos 10k (2,600 feet of gain in 3M then all downhill) and La Luz 9M uphill challenge (some crazy stuff, telling you) next day!

OK, my mind is obviously far ahead of my body. But it's better than both are dead. Whole30, Day 4! Woohoo, lets get this life thing going!

“It’s what you do in that moment of facing that problem that really ends up defining you”. Andy JW

Monday, July 07, 2014

Out of control!

I wish I could say it's a phrase about my running - but it's about my other passion. However, before I get to the main topic, I do have to say - I ran 4 times last week! That is more per week than I had done this year, even if the runs themselves were very short (I ran 4 miles on July 4th and that was my best so far). I am pleased and excited to SLOWLY get back into running, the CORRECT way, the one I promote to my clients and everybody who will listen (and speaking of clients - I know, keep sidetracking - I have 2 spots opened up for coaching, if you're interested, www.olgav100.com).

Anyway, since my creativity comes out in 3 ways: running/hiking the mountains, writing my thoughts, and knitting - the outlet that had exploded lately out of control was KNITTING! Just check out my latest projects, and by "latest" I, literally, mean withing 6 weeks or so!

I am totally having a field day with all my yarn. I still have plenty of ideas - and plenty of yarn (and I even exercised all my will power and did not go to the local yarn store during their Holiday sale), and yet I am in need of your help to keep me knitting through my yarn stash so that I can buy more yarn!

I know it's hot outside, even in our Northern states, but summer WILL be over, and winter will come, and before you know it, you'll need something for yourself - or for the Christmas stockings for your friends and family, for the birthdays coming up past October, for your ski trips, and just for fun! Think ahead, before my "line" gets too busy!


I make various other items per order: hats (the most popular item), scarfs, sleeves, finger-less gloves..Whether you need an item for yourself, or a personalized gift for your loved one - I am here for you, and I don't drag time either. What says "love" better than something warm and fuzzy coming from the heart?

Not every hat or scarf is created equal. If you go to the store, you will pick something that is made for masses. Each of my items is made individually, with you in mind. Knitting is my creative outlet, like running in the mountain. I put my heart and soul into each and every thing I make. It is unique, very involved, and loved dearly in the process.

                                                   This is how it works.

You look at the photo of the yarn I have in my personal stash (more available per request for various colors and types). I don't buy just any yarn at the mass-production chain store, I support local stores and buy best quality available of purest kinds of yarn.

You look at the styles I offer - or come up with your own, or let me fly my imagination!

You contact me through the link on my WEBSITE with your request.

Pricing is approximate and progresses for each item depending on the design:
  • Hats:  1 color ($25), 2 colors or complex patterns ($30)
  • Scarfs:  Simple knitted design ($60), Multi-color, patterns, or shawl/cowl ($70 and up)
  • Fingerless gloves ($30)
  • Sleeves ($40)
Shipping and Handling is in addition to the above prices and, typically, costs $5

Additional information is available per request.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bryce 50M - running is overrated.

It's been a touch over a week after the race happen, and, as always, the immediate feelings had subsided, the words I thought of as I moved along the course had either lost their sharpness, or simply got lost, and it all seems vague and far away...But, alas, let me try and write something up, because who knows if I ever get a chance to participate in another ultra in this life.

Bryce 50 and 100 mile races is located, you guessed it, right on the outskirts of Bryce NP, my favorite of UT parks, and the course goes along so many features I love that it was a highlight of my day. My other highlight was that, though I never checked the entrants list because I wasn't focused on this "race" one bit (I packed feverishly the night before and knew I am not in any shape or interest to do well or even remotely ok), I met so many friends out there, a huge Texans group, many PNW folks, and random guys and gals I ran with in the past years. Ah, the benefits of having quite a long and extensive history of ultrarunning around the country...

So, the morning started (at which I panicked the night prior because the weather forecast said 23F and 40 mph wind and I had Texas outfit - but they lied!), and the 2 miles of dirt road took us to spread out, separate "real from pretenders" (I was a pretender), warm us up (I took windbreaker off by the end of first mile) and see the beautiful sunrise...

p.s. I took 100 photos during this run, so embrace your patience.

The first 9 miles went relatively well, not only I ran flats and downhills, I even managed to run some inclines (because once we were filed onto a single track, I felt locked in and responsible to follow along). My old buddy Beat J. - a crazy Swiss who travels around the world to participate in all kinds of insane things (like, 1,000 miles in Alaska or 500 miles in Alps or 300 miles in Vietnam...) - spent miles and miles with me, and we shared what happened since we last saw each other, our home lives, runs (or lack thereof), and even work. A few runners around us jumped into conversations, some new-comers, some not so much, and it was fun...but by mile 10 I was feeling the effects of my continuous effort to run and just kind of knew, it will be over before I blink my eyes.

The aid stations at this race are rather spread out far (not surprisingly, as the location was meandering through such beautiful places, cars wouldn't drive to them), and one thing for sure, I was consistently running low on water (carrying 1x20oz bottle and 1x14oz pouch) a good mile before hitting AS, and even that was considering I stretched out. But I was fueling and happy and taking photos and enjoying my day.

After the first 10.5 miles taking us through some nice forest and amazing  vast vistas, we refilled (in a line of a few peeps per water jag) and went on some more forest-y single track - and my wheels, slowly but surely, began coming off. I switch to a strong power-walk right away, and even Beat commented that I am the only woman he has some trouble to keep up with and can be commended as a "real European power-walker". A compliment I took with gratitude - and well deserved, because power-walking is, indeed, one of the assets that saved me many of races, this one included.

Another 8-9 mile stretch, and it getting hot outside, the shortage of my water carrying capacity was showing as an over-load of salt consumption, which I didn't catch right away (when taking salt, remember, it is not per hour, it is per water drunk, I didn't follow my own advice!). My tummy had bloated and the processing of gels stopped. It took me another 2 hrs to realize where I went wrong, and the rest of the way I was not taking salt anymore, but could only take gel "every other time" per my usual "normal" intervals, what, on top of (very mild) under-hydration, lead to under-fueling on calories.

At mile 18+ AS I ran into Tanya and Justin E. from San Antonio, and the happiness to see familiar faces (and finally getting water) pushed me out of said AS without my drop bag - even though I was asked by a volunteer "Do you have a drop bag here?" straight in the face. A quarter mile later I reached into a pocket for a gel - and found none, and it hit me - it WAS my drop bag spot! So, I turned around (lucky for me, I was so close!) and picked it up. But as a statement how I was not consuming enough, I had 12 gels left after I was done - and those were calculated for 12 hr run (and I was almost 40 min extra on that).

In this (third now) section between 18 and 28 miles I walked (and shuffled occasionally on some shallow downs) with old buddy Larry, chatted with Canadian gal Heather who reads my blog, and passed my TX friend Thomas on the climb. In fact, my climbing skills and power were incredibly strong, and I was passing folks there left and right the whole way...sometimes I wish the whole race is uphill!

The AS at 27-28 miles came pretty late for me, and while I knew 12:30 would have been my realistic time, I was secretly hoping for sub-12 (and was on "pace" until about 25M?). That AS, coming after a huge climb, in the heat of the day, sun blazing, altitude kicking everybody's butt, was a MASH unit. I refilled and left right away, though set briefly on the way out to get sand out of my shoes (lots of sandy single track on this course!). I walked out, feeling peppy as I always do after hitting the AS (the energy of people and the fact that another mile-stone is past do the magic), past another 3 or 4 guys, and entered yet another amazing stretch of views on the Hoodos.

By now I lost Larry behind (he eventually dropped at 40, so did Heather), and Beat was "in and out" of my vicinity. Frankly, there was a stretch on the road I was very moody with all the boring walking, no matter how strong and fast, and he kept saying I need to re-think my "why I race" and just stroll through. Well, doesn't quite work for me - I come to either do my best, or why pay if I can "stroll" on my own with no time constrains? If there is a clock, I want to shorten my time "out there", if there is no such thing - I never want to leave (my Larry can confirm this, as every hike and backpacking trip I cry and go very slow at the end). So, Beat would be either lagging behind at times when I walk too fast, or running ahead when he had energy (and I, as I said, didn't) - but we were never far away, and talked each other's ears off. At some point Timmy Olson ran towards us all (supporting Krista in her first 50) and I stopped and chatted and hugged - and it was a mental break more than anything. I have to say, explaining about 20 times why I am the way I am and far behind was really time consuming, especially since by now I really don't even know what to say, and I am tired to try and make sense of all this.

There was a cute shirtless young guy running around, moving ahead, falling behind, and I kept wondering what in the world, he has a good clip going, why are we still stride in stride when I am walking? Beat and I did chat with him/about him, the "eye candy" for us, old and crippled and ugly "used to be runners", and that took some mind off the developing by now feet pain.

Which, of course, did come. One downside in my power-walking is my feet. I came to "run a race", which means I came in quite minimal shoes I love (and ran up to 25 miles by now, as I am testing a newly developed Merrell shoe - report to come), and walking, especially walking with sand and quite a lot of rock too, beats up the feet - coupled with dehydration, trouble didn't wait long.

By mile 30 I felt 'em both, by mile 40 I would have loved to kill somebody - and even short 100-yard shuffles on downhills were shut down for good. Thanks God Beat kept me company - kind of almost yelled at me for my piss-poor attitude (lasted about 5 minutes), then Hal Koerner came by (crewing Carly in a 100), and we stopped and talked, and hugged (and another "can't run anymore" story followed), and he made me laugh, and I finally made it to mile 40.

40 miles was a good spot. I walked out (yelling to my "eye candy" to run faster and catch up, and "why are you around me when I am walking?") strong, passed those who over-exerted themselves big times and were not running anymore, and who's walking techniques were not developed (everyone hopes in mid-pack to run the whole 50? really?), and got back onto a single track under the trees...but sadly, not for long. We entered a 5M climb to the highest peak on the course (9,500 feet), ALL on fire-road with rocks, rocks and rocks, and no views! That sucked! On top of it, my Garmin was over-shooting the distance, so when the road ended (and the first guy from a 100 miler came towards me on his trip back) - I still had a rocky field to climb some more, worrying where the AS is!

That AS (where I met my old buddy Jim Skaggs and shuffled with him some) and the 5.5 miles "downhill" back to finish were my lowest, where, as I told Hal at the finish, if someone offered me a gun, I would have taken them up on it. My feet were trashed - and the down was rockiest dirt road yet, technically the grade was that I could have kind of ran, but I simply couldn't. Have you walked on downhill? It really sucks. The 100 milers were coming back up (I thought kind of late comparing to where I was), James Kerby, Suzanna Bonn among them, and at least I had to pretend and put a smile on my face and cheer them o. Both Beat and Jim finally had enough of my down-walk and ran on, and I was left alone with my misery, and even as the road turned onto a trail, it was still rocky - though it did provide a few views.

The course was longer, and thus my 12:30 got ditched...nor did I care. The "eye candy" finally caught up with me just prior the final turn, but let me finish 10 seconds ahead - and then he (his name is Stephen, by the way) asked his wife to take a photo with me. Oh, the fun we have in those ultras...12:38 was what it took to walk 50.5 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation gain.

Hal at the finish asked me how much would it take for me to turn around and go back 50 miles. I glared and said: "Not any amount of money would make me do that". He laughed and apparently felt the same:) Hope he makes it to UTMB, new daddy and all!

And that concludes my story, moral of which is: unless you're seriously aiming for a top-10 (or 20?) position, please learn how to power-walk! While my time seriously sucked where my personal goals are concerned (I am not obnoxious, I am talking about personal abilities here), I was 8th female and 41st OVERALL (results) out of 131 finishers (and some 200 starters). That is NOT a good thing to be proud of. That just shows, yet again, that ultra-"running", for the most part, is experience, resolve, ability to manage one's fueling and hydration, and never stopping moving forward.

On (only!) one negative note, the "finish line" for 50 milers completely sucked. There was no real food (it was simply an AS to turn-around), it was remote - with no cell service (I did carry my cell with me so I can call Larry once done, waiting for me back at the start area), the crew were discouraged to drive and pick runners up in this very remote area (thus while Larry was at the start), and the bus was doing 1 trip every 2 hrs - and when it finally came (1.5 hrs after I was done, frozen and hungry) - it stood for 30 min to wait for more finishers (understandably, but why do I have to sit?). Anyway, it just has to be arranged a little better. The RD's gave us THE best trails per mile, indeed, thank God (otherwise I would have never enjoyed my walk), and this one thing just needs some attention (more mini-vans instead of one bus?).

Overall, I loved the race, and if it has to be my last ultra (as I mentioned, who knows what is going on with my running, it's absence, my body's refusal to cooperate, not to mention Texas summer is upon, and no way am I going to try and solve it right now, and I am kind of done seeing doctors and pretending to solve this puzzle) - this was a place to have that "last ultra" with an accord of irresistible beauty.

We spent a week vacationing in UT, visiting national park, doing hikes in the mountains, with Larry and his son Harrison, and the albums to various photos can be found HERE (everything from Bryce 50 and from there on forward).

Fully back to crazy work schedule, we will be sitting quietly in TX for the next 5 weeks, until our August 1st trip to NM for the weekend. We need a break, our house needs a lot of tending, and the jobs don't pay us just because we're cute.

Have a great time, my friends. Regardless whether you're running - or walking! :)