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, June 24, 2015

Moscow, the Beautiful.


With Facebook overtaking any other media connection, here are the snippets I posted as my trip to Moscow went along...

Just talked to Olga. She made it safely to Moscow. Right now, she has no way of communicating via internet (i.e. Facebook). Her Sister's internet isn't working, which is the least of her problems since there is no (zero!) hot water due to "building maintenance" occurring this week. The things we take for granted here in the U.S. and the difficulty most people have in understanding the true nature of Russia. If she can't get online, don't expect to hear from her until late next Tuesday. FYI...

This could be my one and only time to say Hi during my week in Mother-Land! Ever since I took Larry King to Moscow a few years back, I learned to discover new places and connect dots of the ones I knew. Moscow has miles of wild parks and amazing buildings, old and new alike. Walked 35,000 steps yesterday, and then lost my step-measuring clip-on as walked another hour. I am inspired and amazed, and summer is beautiful here. So proud of my nation, its rich history (Moscow was built in 1147!) and its people's kindness, beauty, strength and resilience. I will never stop being Russian.

Positive emotion #57: went to run loops around local lake this morning. A young boy (15 yo) fell in stride and began chatting. He is "HLS" (Healthy Life Style, in Russian abbreviation, of course, which he had to spell for me) - no drinking, smoking or drugs, pro-exercise, and in general a great human being. In 45 min we discussed his life in school and soccer and my life in America and mountain ultrarunning and career, with advice on weight lifting and running (he just started), and ending him wishing me healthy kids and parents and a kind husband. Bonus: in this weather, I didn't need to spend too long in cold shower to clean up, sweating was minimal!

It is nearly impossible to choose the photos to share, and I know only a few will see the full albumhttps://picasaweb.google.com/102…/MoscowTheBeautifulJune2015. I had walked more of Moscow than I did in my entire lifetime there, and I am sorry I wasted my youth working, studying and partying (in that order) instead of exploring as I despised the city I moved to when I was 12. Sadly, we grow wise with years. The combination of amazing miles of parks within the city limit and buildings of old town of merchants with churches on every street and newer - the Stalin era, and then the 21st century - is insane. The history, the strength, the beauty. My people never give up and always survive and thrive, regardless what those at power throw at them. And Moscow gets more and more beautiful every year I come. My parents, on the other hand, get older and lonelier, and so is my sister, and leaving them behind gets more and more difficult...what, on a positive side, means I have more visits to explore ahead of me. The difference in two worlds I live in, Russia and USA, is vast, and every time coming back is hard to get back into abundance and entitlement. Yes, they got all that, but most people have to make much more simple choices daily - and, despite being in America for 22 years, I still prefer just that. Life is simple. The rest is layers of stuff nobody truly needs.
The great realization is that I am so blessed I have people in both worlds who love me unconditionally and eagerly wait for me to come, whether to visit or to live. I am blessed.
 Stats on my Moscow visit: 
- I knitted 21 hats (once an addict...but truly, I had an order, and utilized my time in public transportation wisely)
- I walked somewhere in a vicinity of 40 miles in 6 days (I mapped a few of my outings, so this is the best estimate, conservatively)
- I only ran twice, but my average pace was a full min/mile faster
- my favorite weather is 21C (70F), and I feel even 1 degree after that, not to mention humidity (the day after rain the run was much less fun)
- I lost 3.5 lbs - our American portion control is out of control, despite my healthy cooking from scratch and using smaller plates. Also, snacking is overrated, even "healthy" snacking.
- I figured why Russians don't drink water (those who know me always surprised that unless I exercise, the bottle is not coming with me): the public restrooms either don't exist or you better run for your life away from those you find
- I spent only $30 on yarn and 60 rubles on 1 ice-cream. Even with my frugality, I spend way more here: the costs are the same, the wants are less there, even if you do have money. Just different mentality
- it gets dark at 10 pm in Moscow, and the first light comes out shortly after 3 am. At 4 am the sun rays shining in my windows woke me up every darn morning! But the long day allows you to do so much more
- we turned on TV only once (and even that was because my sister had guests. I thought I don't watch the "box" often, but it's on for 2 hrs every night
- my father called me fat. And while the choice of words could be better and I got my feelings hurt, the truth is, our American view on normal is distorted
- a good half of Russian women wear either dresses or skirts, as well as always nice shoes, many with heels. They look beautiful! While I am not jumping at the "heels" idea, the pants all around, comfortable and stuff, really are not appealing.
- no or slow internet frees up time. Why am on FB right now? People actually communicate, even texting is more personal
- Russians (at least those I know) live by the Oz principles: if you need something to happen, you are the one doing it. Don't expect things to fall on your laps or mom/pop/Gov't come and help
- every time I come back, I am inspired for so much in my life

Friday, May 15, 2015

Revitalizing in Oregon.

There is no iff's, and's and butt's, and we all know - Oregon is the place I love so much that it hurts. And while I do have new friends in Texas, and plenty of great people scattered around the country, there is no place like home, and not many people make me feel like part of the family as 3 of my dear friends and families who hosted me past week during my trip in Oregon: Monika and Stan in Portland, Pam and Mac in Salem, and Ronda and Bill in Bend. And because I actually spent 6 full days this time back in my favorite place on Earth, and wasn't running any ultra, I was able to see my children lots and spend quality time, and insightful talking with my hosts and a handful of more very close friends.

And yes, I ran a 15 miler at Smith Rock. Originally, I signed up for a 50k, but as my (non)training kept down-spiraling, I switched - and couldn't be happier. It allowed me to participate in a race setting, get out on a single track, be in a race which, out of 2 options, had more elevation gain (3,000 feet in 15 miles vs 1,500 feet in 50k) - which played to my strength, see more friends, and feel truly alive. Because despite complete non-running in Texas by any means of my standards, I managed to have a great run - yes, RUN - in Oregon. I shuffled single track, keeping my position in the middle of the conga-line, and when the 1,500 feet climb in a mile came around, I dusted everyone around me like they were standing still - climbing is still my best skill! - then held the grounds on a 1.5M downhill (not MY speed, but speed nevertheless), and, to my full surprise, stood a chance to not be passed on the last few flat miles! Last minutes (which also included jumping over a rattle snake) my eyes kept welling up, until I crossed a finish line - and cried openly. Yes, no matter what, fast, slow, long, short, I am a mountain trail runner, and this is forever be the only thing that makes me feel truly alive, in the moment, exhilarated. Not yoga, not any other thing, but moving under own power on a single track high in the mountains.

Coming back to TX, I am renewed and excited about the future. 4 more years, and mountains are calling.

Few very important things are confirmed, yet again:
- we will only live in the small mountain town (Bend was so lovely!),
- I have best friends in Universe and don't know how did I deserve them,
- I love my kids unconditionally, and they love me back, regardless where they are in their often (for now) whacky life,
- knitting is my passion, and yarn stores are a black hole for my finances,
- if I keep up my fitness level and stay healthy in the ways I can (and may be try to get back to figuring out my hormonal imbalance), once moved to a place that inspires me - I will be back to running well. I just know that!


Monday, May 04, 2015

Conversations on the table.

Some pearls of fun from today only. I love my job!

-          You had kids early
-          No, I had kids at the height of the reproductive age of a Soviet female

-          Seems that we are about same age. I am 55. You?
-          Your only excuse is that you’re in a dark room, face down on a massage table, stuffed and can’t breathe, so the oxygen to the brain is cut off. I still can hurt you though.

-          Ouch, why are my shoulders where the stress usually sits are not so bad today, but the gluts hurt?
-          I guess today’s stresses gave you a pain in the butt.

-          I had surgery on this shoulder, isn't my range of motion great?
-          It is great, for having a surgery. Actually, it is great for any sample of a male population over 50.

-          You are funny, anybody told you to write a humor book?
-          No, usually it is called sarcasm and is taken defensively.
-          Then you've missed on a career of a comedian.

-          We are so alike! I am an optimist too!
-          No, I am a realist. I just refuse to die yet.

-          You are great with people’s skills.
-          Imagine I was shoved in the lab for 20 years with no human connection!
-          How come? What about other scientists?
-          Scientists are not human.

-          Yikes, that part hurts.
-          You want me to help with your pain or professionally apply lotion all over?
-          Can we do a little bit of both?