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

Monday, March 19, 2007

Unfit for under-6

…but still had a grand time!

Where do I begin? I wanted to leave the house at 3 pm to bit the traffic, but had to deal with a (little) family crisis and didn’t hit the car till 4:30 – the worst time possible! It took me an hour and half to go 20 miles from our house to Vancouver, WA, and my butt was killing me from sitting. The traffic lightened up later, but the damage was done – 4.5 hrs drive turned into 6. I didn’t stop anywhere, until reached Bellingham and Michelle's parents’ house, where Michelle, Eric, Steve and his wife awaited for me before turning in for the night. It was 10pm, and it didn’t take us long to say good night, such a “party-poopers” we are.

I got up at 5:10 am to a quiet morning…one that in about 10 min turned into a rainy one! Guys woke up shortly after, we quickly swallowed what each wanted and got in my car to drive to Chuckanut start – we wanted to get there before 7am to grab a parking spot close to the start. photo by Eric After checking in I walked around some – friends, friends and more friends, people who have become my family, and who I haven’t seen since a year ago with my travel-races! It was so lovely to see everyone! I felt good. I did show a few people a bump I developed on Wednesday from this condition (it started bleeding again), but nothing too worrisome – I trained through it last year and only expected it to bother me on downhill.

photo courtesy of Glenn T
I aligned myself in the middle of the pack and squeezed a few more friends with a hug (Annie-bee, dear, missed you so much, beautiful, tony!, sorry you had little time left for a bigger hug). Off we go…

As may know (or not), the first 10k is mostly on gravel FLAT road with a small 1M section of trail near the start (1.5-2.5). As everybody shot out with a speed, I shuffled, listening to my compartment. Lisa B and her husband David caught up and ran with me a bit until I sent them forward – but I wasn’t worried, it is a custom sign for me to have pain in shin elevating for the first 40 min or so and then slowly subside by the end of the hour. It gets worse on hard and flat surface, so here I had it, and just shuffled along. There is a small out-back after a short loop at the end of this section, and it was fantastic to cheer on all my friends! By then I started to get feelings in my lower legs, and reached 6.3M AS in 65 min – slower than previous years, but I wasn’t surprised or worried. From now on things should be fine – and they were.

Next comes a trail that goes pretty steeply up for a long time, and I had to work more than I thought I would to get into a good power-hike mode, but eventually I did. If in the first stretch people were passing me like crazy, this is where I began to stand my ground more or less. We had some downhill there too, and more up, and AS at 10.4M (4.1M section) came at 2 hrs flat (55min). I refilled my bottles, put a mix in there and moved onto a dirt road straight up for 3.2M. It did have some short (200 yards?) flat parts twice, and I honestly ran them, but mostly it was a good power-walk, I felt strong and began to slowly pull behind some people and even passed a few, getting up in 40 min. Another bottle switch at the top – and on to the Ridge section!

This is where things gotten different from years before. I used to own this section! I mean, it is gnarly roots and rocks, short ups and downs, very bad footing – and I would fly here like a goat! But now something turned around. Somehow (I heard it happened to others too), after been injured (not chronic, but a tear kind of stuff, or say a twist) I developed a fear of ripping something again. I was careful on the trail, and had folks passing ME! Never had it happened before here, and I think it put me in a mental flank on top of been careful, to the point I don’t think my heart rate exceeded 50% there. I wasn’t even breathing hard. I think eventually I decided I can’t dwell on it, and it helped me to pick it up a bit. This is where I cam upon Lisa B. and David as they were making their way down a big slimy rock. Lisa forgot her trail shoes home and ran in roadies, not to mention weak ankles she had to protect for the main project of the year. I bid goodbye, and began working hard again.

Yes, I did put an effort. I ran everything that was no more than 5% grade, and started to finally passing people. Especially when my strongest point came – the Chinscraper. It is a climb straight up for I’d say a bit less than a mile, and I love it. It did take me 5 extra minutes comparing to last year (20 min from bottom to AS at 21.2M), but I even managed to run those tiny sections that is possible to run. photo courtesy of Glenn T, coming off the Chinscraper climb . I didn’t slack off a bit. The whole 7.6M took me 2 hrs. But as I looked at my watch, I realized there is no way I can make it 6 hrs. No way…does it mean, shit, bummer, I can relax? No, I didn’t. I passed on an AS (knowing course has great benefits) and hit the dirt road downhill of 3.6M. I was still gaining on a few people here and there, what meant to me I am still hanging in ok. Last AS at 24.8M was in 5:15 total, and there was no way I could make last 10k in under an hour.

Kelly (Sean’s girlfriend) was there turning around from her run with Sascha-the dog. She made me company. Thanks, Kellbelle!! I downed one gel right after AS and one with 3M to go – I think it worked wonders on me! We ran together for 3M, and I only broke into short 20sec walks 3 times, then she had to stop, and I kept running! OK, it is a stretch calling “running” a 10 min/mile shuffle, but I did run the entire section with only one tiny hill walk (a mile to go) non-stop, what is unbelievable for me here! I was so darn proud of myself. I passed another 6 or 7 folks while was passed twice myself. Finish line was crossed in 6:20:xx. I had a near perfect day, never a bonk, great fueling and hydration, positive attitude and good effort run.
photo by Michelle

Michelle was there taking pictures, and Kendra who worked the chute gave me a biggest squeeze! Was I happy? Hell, yes! I did work at this run as promised, most of the time anyway (I’d say 70%), and if it resulted in a 6:20 time – so this is where I am. I had the biggest smile (rumor has it I won a spectator’s award for it – thanks, Maniac Hippo!) and felt happy! Not “happy it’s over” and not “happy with the outcome”, but just plain highest “happy” possible. I also felt great as if I could go another round of it. Does it mean I didn’t push enough? Nope, don’t think so. This is my speed, and my gift is endurance. While I still can’t understand why I lost so much fitness on my time off as I did keep active with other thing – is beyond my comprehension, but this is where I am now, and this is where I have to work up from. Can I get where I was? By now I am not 100% sure, but I will strive to be may be at least half of it. It’s a challenge I have no choice but to take upon. Did I enjoy it? Oh, yes!! Every moment of it! Was I disappointed? Not a bit. My only concern is for folks who came at the start and after hearing my “goal” of breaking 6 hrs said “sandbagging”, or those at the finish who immediately asked “anything happened?” I know I do same thing – and now I know why I shouldn’t. See full results here.

I had the best-est time ever talking at the “eating” area. Hiding from the rain (that never let up), we had famous burritos made by Krissy's family and talked, talked, talked…Annie, I love you so much! Guys and gals, all of them, smiling, hugging, sharing…this is my family, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I just wish I could stay longer…These people, Mr. G, Don M, Annie, tony!, Mr. Prez, Varner, Sean and Kelly, Dave T. (finally I got to me you personally!), Kendra, Bushwhacker, Van, Eric, Steve, Michelle, Clem, Marty and Chris…OMG, the list will never stop – these people deserve to be called a “family” for one simple yet most important thing they possess – unconditional love to each other and to what we do. How can I bottle up this love and carry it with me throughout every day’s life?

I drove to Seattle with Mike W. and his cousin, dropped them off, and after 6 hrs in the car yet again made it home, where I got the biggest hug of the day from Alex and Stephen.

p.s. There is a reason I try to write a report and hopefully post it the very moment I get back home. Just as any regular drug, endorphin release from trail ultrarunning brings you unbelievable high…and just as that very drug, it drops you later to the very bottom. It happens not only after bad days, but even after successful runs, and it is normal…Sunday was still very evenly happy for me, but last night I woke up to a dream where I was sobbing on Rob's shoulder for my running. I got ready for a run, felling damp. As the first half went in a dark, so were my thoughts, but as light began to squeak and the birds to chirp, my mood brightened up as well. So what I need to step back, so what if I have to work hard and not even know if it’ll help me, so what if I will be adjusting my race goals one by one as they come – I am not giving up, and I’ll have a helluva fun time doing it!


  1. Nice report Olga! Glad you are happy and had a good time.


  2. Wish I had more chance to chat at Chuckanut. I didn't have as good a day as you did and wimped out with my first ever DNF. Such is life. When you were at the table and trying to talk to me briefly, the background noise was such that I couldn't make out what you were saying. My hearing is not so good when there are many conversations going on and that was certainly the case at the finish line. I'm glad you had a good run and hope to see you at another event soon. KRK

  3. I like that 10 minute a mile shuffle! LOL. That's my race pace there girlie! On flat ground and concrete no less! Nice race report and great job. You are making good progress and it will keep coming, I hope.

  4. Hi Olga,

    I'm glad you were happy with how the weekend went!

    I like this line, "...so what if I have to work hard..." Perhaps the hardest part of working hard physically is getting yourself mentally psyched for it. You've got that one covered. Now go out there and git' er' done. :)


  5. Great report, great race, and great to see you there with a huge smile, Olga!


  6. Ahahaha look at you. I don't doubt you had a great time. Better smile like that for my pictures lady, not that you haven't of course. Great to hear you had a great race and that you were happy in the end regardless of the outcome. I can see it your face in these pics.

  7. Great race report Olga. Sounds like a fun race ... 10:00/mi shuffle indeed.

  8. Congrats on a great race! Your "high" is contagious. : ) Lately I've really been feeling that endorphin high and big drop. How to keep the high going? I guess just keep running. : ) And like you said...not giving up. Great job! : )

  9. Great Attitude and sounds like a great day for you, congrats!

  10. Hi Olga, I'm sorry we didn't get to connect more than one quick hug at the finish line. I stood in one spot for ... 7 hours? And created quite a bog under my feet. I have never seen such rain in my LIFE. The fact you barely mention it shows what a tough cookie you are - it barely fazed you at all! Hope to connect when you're in Seattle. By the way Krissy & I ran the Ridge and the muddy back section & Chinscraper to pick up signs so I still got a taste of the mud and the fun you went through. Congratulations on bagging another rewarding race experience despite uncontrollable factors. :)

  11. Great job Olga. In the grand scheme of things it's the feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish. What ever struggles were brought upon you, you overcame. You will get even stronger and be back to full strength. Everyone eventually has their share of injuries, it comes with the territory. You have accomplished some great finishes at all distances, which many would only dream of ever attaining. Tennis great Andre Agassi once told his coach after he won the grandslam at a young age, " coach, if we never do this again, we've done it all." However he kept getting better with age, but his quote sums it up pretty well.


  12. Olga,
    I'm sorry too that we didn't get more time together. One of these days it'll happen! Even our drive home felt long and we only went 2.5 hours. Must of been the rain. I'm glad you had such a great day - that's the way they should all be!

  13. I missed you this weekend and wish that I could have joined you up at Chuck. It would have been like old times at Hagg with the compartment acting up the first 45 minutes of the race and then working into a groove. Of course you kicked my butt there.

    Family indeed! Glad that you were happy with all. It sounds like it was a good time.

  14. Thank you for the ride to the big Chucka-muk run in the morning. Most importantly your previous experience at Chuck scored us a parking spot really close so we didn't need to walk very far to get our timing chips. How crazy is that?

    I enjoyed watching you having fun with your extended family of friends this weekend. Even more astonishing is that somehow Michelle and I have become a part of this family. I remember meeting you for the first time at Lord Hill about four years ago. Rob convinced me to run two laps since I had a 20 miler scheduled that day anyhow. This was the day that I met this incredible group of runners. These guys and gals were in a whole new league that I had never been exposed to. Rob and I took off way too fast and on his third lap you caught up with him and dragged his body for a few miles so he could finish. I couldn't imagine how anyone would want to attempt a third lap. I blame Rob for my new obsession. Perhaps thanks would be more appropriate.

    I really didn't get a chance to talk you you after the race so I'm extremely happy to hear that you enjoyed yourself and were satisfied with your performance after working through the compartment pain. I've run with the Mt. Goats that leap down those root and rock filled downhill’s at breakneck speeds. I think eventually that is exactly what will happen. After watching Steve fall on a training run up on Tiger and roll like a log until he hit a big fir tree I try to pick my footing with some care and less reckless abandon. Hopefully the fond memories and progress made in this race will last for a long time and the 12 hours of driving will fade from your thoughts quickly.

  15. Awesome Olga, Glad you had a great event and Closed strong ...
    Your a Winner!!

    Glad you got a good feel on where your fitness is at and are Happy with it AS you improve on your times... but most of all you ENJOYED the TIME you spent with your Ultra Family... very SWEET!

    HAPPY, Happy pics !!

  16. Awesome to see you again Olga! And that smile you had for us at the finish? Perhaps the finest vintage I've ever seen.

    I think a lot of us had rough days on Saturday. I thought my day was a slow and easy "fun run" effort, but now after two days of recovery I'm contemplating dropping some races from my schedule.

    I think a lot of us have more faith in your comeback than you do. I know that talk is cheap until it's happened but I'm still planning to see you zooming past me in the late miles.

  17. You are looking great at the finish line, congratulations on your finish.

  18. Congrats Olga,
    sounds like an outstanding run, and for the record, I definitely consider 10 min/mile "running". ;-)
    I see your posts on Michelle, Rob and Eric's blogs regularly, and I met you in Portland last year, so I figured I'd stop by and say congrats! I especially love to hear about runners loving their races and training runs. I can hear your enthusiasm with every word, and it's so encouraging to me.
    Have a wonderful week!

  19. Olga, you sound like you had so much fun! And in fact, you don't just sound it, you certainly look like you're enjoying yourself in those photos.

    Well done, and don't worry too much about your fitness. If you're able to train properly again, it will all come back.

  20. Nice race report Olga. Congrats on not only finishing this race but finishing w/a smile!

  21. Anonymous20/3/07 15:26

    Hi Olga just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your encouragement on the interurban! I was the woman who could barely utter a grunt and you were so awesome at supporting me and uttering those precious words "less than a mile, go for it"! What a day! I love trail running for all the obvious reasons, I love doing events because of being surrounded by people like you. Keep it up. gwen

  22. Olga awesome congratulations!!! what a fun time you had

  23. Great race Olga! What a fun day out there sharing the trails with friends and having a great time as well. Keep up the hard work out there.

  24. Olga - glad you enjoyed your race and had such a good time out there! That's what its all about I think.

    Who are you pacing at WW this year? I'm planning on running that if my training cooperates. I am signing up soon.

  25. Awesome job Olga! Great positive attitude! 8) I think that we are both dealing w/ long layoffs and getting back into our *mode* but I believe that the time off did more good than harm. It WILL come back.
    Seya out there soon and recover proudly. 8)

  26. Great repot! Congrats on an excellent run. Throw times and all that junk out.. the way you felt at the end is exactly what this is all about. Well done.

  27. Smiling to the end! Great work, and a wonderful report. A perfect opening to the season!


  28. Thank you for such a wonderful race report. I love reading your stuff, Olga. RD

  29. .. and I was having a Great fun time reading it! Which is much easier :) Bravo Olga! Voobsche kak eto vozmozhno, chto khrupkaya zhenschina boretsya 6 chasov i bolee?! Prav byl starik Nekrasov!