When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The heart of the difference is not ability or even talent, but desire

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Discover thyself...

I’ve been doing this running thing for almost 5 years (since my first out-of-nowhere 5k on Mother’s day in 2001) and every time I surprise myself. Every run, every workout, I find out that I am tougher than I thought I am. Not necesarely faster or better, but tougher in my head. It’s quite a feeling, that stays with me for a bit, until the day overwhelms me and I forget how much I can accomplish if I love it and put my mind into it.

The run called for a long haul with built in 1.5M intervals all-out. I was supposed to go with David, who, been a super fast guy, could push me to work harder, but for some reason never got a hold on him last night. So I decided to sleep in (till 7 am!!) and slowly made my way to the car. While driving, I still couldn’t decide where I want to run today, choosing between Wildwood trail with relentless rolling hills or Leaf Erikson dirt road that also rolls, but slowly. I guess my subconsciousness made a decision as I made a turn to the trail head where the road split.

I started on a trail at 8 am. The day had to include 3M easy running with 1.5M hard intervals (well, 15 min, but I don’t like to check my watch that often, so I adjusted, and Wildwood has tree marks every quoter mile, what makes it easy). I went nice and slow, and it seemed I could hold it forever (especially after Saturday’s run with Mike). I was dreading the upcoming necessity to work hard, looking how blue diamonds on the trees notify me of approaching time. How I wanted to just continue to jog and listen to birds and look around! But once I saw 3M, off I went, busting my ass. Only to look up at the running towards me guy in the first 1/4 mile and stepping on a branch, while catching the other foot underneath it. Bam! I smacked the ground hard, and my eyes turned watery. I smacked my wrist, rolling it in with a bottle, and it hurt! The knees and front of my body had less of a hit. I stood up, shaking and holding my hand, contemplating if I had broken it or not. What do you know, that dude never stopped to ask how I feel!! It took me a couple of minutes to calm down and realize I am OK, and I went where I left off, for 1.5M speed burst. Why does it always seems that whenever you have to go faster, it suddenly becomes all uphill? Well, I couldn’t pick up my spots, and relaxed after working it. Next 3 miles went slow and easy again, though when I checked my watch I saw 10 min/mile pace, what there was a time not that far ago I considered it a fast short run on trails! I guess I am improving without noticing it. Second interval felt better, I was exhilarated to know I am almost half way done. I actually find that when I have things like that on agenda versus just a run, miles fly. Probably because I am not focusing on the whole distance I have to go, but think of it as “next 3M”, then “only 1.5", then “next 3M” and so on. This is the same way I approach running an ultra (and many of runners): I never even think about going for a 100M or a 50M, it’s always: 7 miles to next aid, oops, here, 6M till I see a friend, hi, love ya, 8 miles to the river crossing, woo-hoo, it’s cold, only 2 miles up and I pick up a pacer...

I had to add about 3 miles on Leaf in the middle of the run, that dirt road I opted out of, and it made me realize it was a good decision not to do the entire run on it. I hated every step of it! I don’t know what it is for me, despite that roads and fire roads and so on been flatter (on average), wider, not foot twisting and without obstacles, I tend to slow down by a lot on them. A lot! I slogged for about 2 miles, then took an extended walk break of 2 min as I couldn’t make myself go. As soon as I saw the trail coming, despite that my interval was up and it was going to be 2/3 uphill (I took a note on the way out), I was thrilled and took off. The markings on the trees flew by, until I could turn to a jog again. I had one more, and even though I felt tired and spent (I only had 2 bottles of water with me and no food, I am known for been worst eater on the run and joke that I use fat from my thighs), I was happy. I was on my way home, I did it again! I pushed myself beyond I felt I could, beyond I thought I wanted to, and on top of it I had fun! Well, may be not entirely...As I mentioned, I wore a new pair of Montrail Continental Divide for a try, and the minute I stepped out, I had a sensation of tingling in both feet. While this went away at about half-point on the right foot, left one was getting worse. It built up to a weird feeling of numbness and excruciating pain, and was taking way too much of my attention. I even had to take another 2 min walk break before the last interval. I saw a mark to go, collected myself together and ran, blocking pain out of my mind, but as soon as I finished it, I started limping. I tried to entertain myself by making fun that I am adding yet another interesting thing to my collection of running injury, and could it be Morton’s neuroma? Just to clarify, I don’t ever tie shoelaces tight, in fact I can get in and out of shoe without touching them, so it wasn’t a problem. I guess this model is not for me, but then again, I never liked Leonas (its’ ancestor), so no surprise...

I got to the car feeling I had yet another good run. My timer said I did all my intervals in 12 min flat, what I had to check on again as I couldn’t believe it. 8:00 pace for 1.5M on slanted, with lots of blow-downs, muddy (OK, they were relatively dry today with only pockets of dirt and water), up-and-down trails, inside a 21 mile run, when my track 1M go in 7:30? Good golly! Love my trails, really do...Total time was 3:20, I changed and made it home for a plate of hot omlette and a cup of coffee.

To the question why do I try different shoes. I think I ran in most what is out there, trying to find a perfect match. Most of shoes are made for overpronating feet, I have neutral to underpronating. I like them light, but with cushing. First year I went with Adidas and Nike trail version, but found them bulky. Then I got Masai and loved them. In-between I wore Inov8 (great light shoe for up to 50k, but had its’ back to high and caused blisters above my heels) and Brooks Cascadia (the all time favorite, but been on Montrail this year rules it out for racing). So it seemed I should have stuck with Masai, and it’s wonderful. But - small but - every shoe, including Masai, so far allowed for blister forming on the balls of my feet as soon as I hit hard packed ground downhill, be it road, dirt road, jeep road, fire road...And since practically every race has it to some degree, I keep experimenting. Besides, I get one pair free and huge discount on others this year, so it’s good timing to try. Right now I think I’ll settle in with Odyssey for longer stuff and Highlander for shorter.

My left hamstring is talking louder and louder to me after every run, and it's time to see Master John. John is a magician, he worked his hands on my every injury and always brought me back to life. He is a DC, Graston certified, does great deep tissue active pressure techique, is a great runner (2:30 marathoner), is my psychologist and a FRIEND. I am desperate to see him again.

I don't have a digital camera anymore, as we busted it last September in sand dunes, so this is the last one we could recover from it. These are my boys:)
I do still have some files with old pictures, so I'll be inserting those for fun once in awhile.


  1. Olga, That's a great picture! It looks like a professional shot. Good job on the run today - how does your wrist feel?

  2. Great picture of you and the boys in the sand. I've seen you do that on downhills on trails as well. Nice job on the intervale packed inside a 21 miler. You're an animal.

  3. Shoot, I just checked out John Vonhov's blog (the foot guy, see side bar), and it looks like I might have developed Morton's! Hopefully it will go away in a different shoe.
    My wrist is ok if I don't try to turn it around, just sore tendons, thanks. I am moving furniture right now though...

  4. Brilliant photo!

    Just reading your blog makes me feel mentally tougher. Let's see if I can carry some of that chutzpah (said in the best sense of the word!) with me to the gym tomorrow. You're an inspiration -- and like Rob says, an animal!

  5. nice workout.....except for the ballerina part at the beginning! Hope you heal quickly!

  6. Good workout. I'm envious because of all the trails you've got to choose from.

    What a fantastic photo!

  7. Awesome pic!!! I'm really enjoying your detailed descriptions--thanks for sharing with us!!
    I just bought Montrail Hurricane Ridge shoes yesterday--thanks for the recommendation. And they're powder blue--how cool is that!! I'm ready for trail running!! Do you use a backpack or hip pack? I'm buying that next.

  8. so envious of the places you able to run! Lovely pic

  9. Great job hanging in there and doing some good work. Your work ethic is inspiring.

  10. I'll say you know how to push and challenge yourself even after a fall like that. Great picture.

  11. I'm impressed that any ultra runner can do interval workouts without getting injured. Hope your wrist and leg heal quickly.

  12. Olga,
    First visit for me. Love your work and I love your pespective on life and training. Keep up the hard work and never stop growing. I look forward to more great posts.

  13. That is a wonderful shot - so filled with exuberance and joy!

    I hope you get a new digital camera. They are pretty reasonbly-priced nowadays. Minolta is phasing out their camera division, so you may find some good close-out deals if you look around.

    BUT I cannot BELIEVE that other runner didn't even bother to stop when you fell. Usually fellow runners are such fabulous people in those cases. I guess he was the exception that proves the rule.

    Watch out for pushing that furniture! Give yourself at least half a chance to heal!!! ;-)

  14. Anonymous14/2/06 14:09

    Hey Olga,
    I'm a fellow MM, why don't you send tony! a link, I bet we'd all love to follow your posts!

  15. I know I'm late commenting (still trying to catch up) but I loved this post!!! What a blast that run sounded like! Too bad about the foot - hope that get's better. I hate fire/dirt roads too - something about the trails is just so much more engaging! Love the picture, too.