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, April 02, 2007


Sunshine. There is no better name for this weekend. And not only does it have something to do with the weather out there, but with a hosting family – as these are the people that shine brightly and share the light and warmth generously…

Stephen, Charlie and I hit the roads on Friday exactly at 9 am, as planned. The drive went by really fast and uneventful, with only one mishap – Charlie puked his guts out the whole way, even after it seemed he had nothing left. The boy has a motion sickness. We made it to Boise in 7 hrs flat, scaring Theresa with our early arrival (although we did loose an hour to a time zone).

A word or two about our Boise hosts. Back when I just moved to Portland, just met a few folks here and just got on a PNW ultra list, an email pops up – I’d like to run with you. Theresa, her husband Jeff and their 3 kids Tanner, Kaitlyn, and Brody lived in a Mecca of Father Clem – Corvallis, OR. Theresa is a natural-borne runner. He may not have time to train much, she teaches a bunch of spin classes, she shuttles and entertains 3 kids and works jobs, they both take great care of kids and a house (and two dogs) – yet she is flying fast! And she was on Montrail team before my time. So we met once for a Gorge run, ran in a couple of races together (I mean, she always beat me, but it was the same race on the same day type of thing) and she lent me her uniform team for Avalon in 2006 when I haven’t gotten mine yet. That was it, as shortly after that the family moved to Boise, ID for good. We kept exchanging emails and making plans for running and racing together (like this year’s Bighorn and SS50 were supposed to be a reunion races), and I was invited for a visit numerous times. This weekend was that very one I had to make it work.

As soon as I walked into the house, I broke my fingernail – and then chipped off my tooth trying to bite the nail off…hmm, what’s next? Luckily, that was all remotely not wonderful happen to me the whole time.

Kids and dogs got introduced, had some pizza and went in to the backyard to jump on trampoline, while Theresa and I grabbed a couple of dogs and went for a short run to get introduced to a trail system in Boise. The town is greatly located at the foothills of mountains, and that cropped outing gave me an idea of Saturday ahead. The vistas are vast – no trees there, unless you climb up above 6,000 feet, and you can see for miles and miles ahead, what is quite scary, and the uphills seem gentle yet they are relentless – add to it elevation between 3,000 to 6,000 feet, and you got me going even slower than usual.

Theresa and I woke up early, but took awhile to get ready for the long run (just imagine – Jeff was not only babysitting our kids and dogs, but also fixing my car and getting ready for b-b-q at night!). Of course, when you have two blonds in the same car (neither is natural though), who hasn’t seen each other in a longest time, it took us half an hour driving through neighborhoods to find a trailhead. But on our way there was a funniest coincidence one can only imagine: Boise has a pizza place that randomly draws a name once a week and the first 5 people with this name get a free pizza. So here it was!
I mean, how many Olga’s do you know in US? And how many of them would ever live in Boise, ID??!! Since I wasn’t afraid to get scooped, we decided to come back after the run.

At 9 am we finally started that gentle upgrade on the trail. In 10 min I was breathing erratically and searching for my inhaler. It took me full 40 min to get adjusted to trying to slog up (don’t even hope, I took walk breaks as much, if not more, as I ran), and Theresa patiently ran behind. I felt so bad making her suffer! But every time I’d look at her face and see a widest smile, I’d realize that pace really doesn’t matter when two friends are out there enjoying the trails and the sun!!

In about 2 hrs we reached the top of our wondering (and even some trees) and ran along the ridge, dodging bikers and motorcyclists along the way. You know how I always say – I love the trees, I can’t live without green, I can’t run in desert setting…there was a very special beauty in those hills, and I could see that yes, I can live here, and I can run here, and I can love it out here too! We took downhills, and then ups again, and some more down, more up – nothing flat in the mountains around Boise! At some point we ran into a gal with a friendliest Golden retriever and stopped to chat – what do you know, she recently ran her first ultra, loves trails, but is moving away in 2 weeks! A potential running partner for Theresa had showed up and was gone just like that…
Running downhill was awesome, we had so much fun, we didn’t realize that first of all, we are out of water and food, and second, the “two blond” played it’s trick again and we were further away from the car than Theresa anticipated! I could care less, I had a grand time, I wanted more miles and more hours – and there I had it! We contemplated for a minute going “cross-country”, but thought better of it and went around – more up, and more up, and finally another long downhill. As soon as we hit a creek, I got my bottle full – yumm!! I drink from creeks all year long, but didn’t pressure Theresa to try it just in case, and besides she felt much better than myself – the altitude adjustment (or rather not-adjusted for me) gave me signs of dehydration. And we got sun tan!!

Finally, out of nowhere, there it was, the car at the end of the trails, 6 hrs later after we started, and while I felt tired and worked hard, I was sad it was over…

We drove to the park where Jeff brought the kids to, swapped duties (Jeff went for a mountain bike ride), and took the kids to that pizza place. Remember, it was My Day? Not only was I getting a free pizza, I got to make it too!! I put on an apron and worked the dove, then threw on it all the toppings I ever imagined to be together, and put it in the oven!

Kids patiently waited for this experiment…
And the end result was awesome!

Later in the evening Jeff cooked great b-b-q while kids went crazy again .
As the presence of my family wasn’t enough, Sam Holmes drove by from Aspen to Corvallis with his friend and a dog and they stopped by for a meal, a bear, a guitar playing and a sleep over.

Sunday we decided to squeeze another run in, it was a beautiful morning with rising sun and a fresh smell of sage bush, and the five of us (Theresa, Sam, myself, Sam’s dog Betsy and Charlie) ran for an hour of gorgeous Boise trails. I couldn’t get enough of it! But finally it was time to go…sad when fun comes to end, but now I know where to head for more of it!

The drive to Seattle airport was long, I was falling asleep, and the only thing that kept me awake was chewing on food – I intend to not step on scale for another week. About 60 miles east of Seattle we hit snow storm (wild! from sunny 60F to snow and then rain and then back to sun), and I realized what a drive we made through time zones and weather changes. We got the SeaTac exactly on the spot with not a minute to spare – and no wait time either – to pick up Oleg and Alex from their trip. The boys were glowing from their own fantastic vacation, and I’ll post pictures in a few days to not overwhelm you on that.

It was great. It was awesome. It was worth every minute of drive and every piece of tooth and nail that ever fell off me. Thank you, guys! You helped me finish a week on high note with 90 miles and mighty incredible time, what felt like a real vacation and a treat to cherish.


  1. Olga,

    So glad you liked Idaho. I ran this weekend in snowy Idaho mountains; it looked nothing like the mountains in your pictures! No fair! :)

    A 90 mile week, great job! I hope you're feeling great!


  2. You got to run then got free pizza? Sweet! Doesn't get any better than that :-) And the kids seemed to have a great time too, which is a bonus!!!

  3. You are a true trail and road warrior! The trails in Idaho look really nice. I'm sure the altitude training was good for you as well as the mile you managed to get in with your friend. All that running combined with a drive to Seattle? You must be very very tired today.

    Yakima really didn't throw much pain and suffering at me. The canyon road has a heavy camber to it to allow water to drain off the high speed road. I'll admit that my feet were sore due to the workout the slanted road gave me however that was everyones suffering. I had to put the hammer down the last mile so I could make a 3:30 with a 7:28 pace downhill with the smell of the finish line just ahead! I'm still considering running the Ridge Rumble in Sisters. Rob thinks I should. It's that or running 12 summits. Rob thinks I should add another race to my MM total. Besides adding a race to my MM numbers I would be able to see you at the race! I'll have a decision made by Wednesday of this week.

    Get some rest!


  4. Olga, what a fantastic weekend you had! I love ID too...it usually does a number on my breathing too, but I enjoy running the terrain too.

  5. What a fun weekend you had! Thanks for sharing it and all the great pictures. Even making your own pizza! I can hear the laughter from here ;-)

  6. Dude, that pizza looks good.

  7. Sounds like a great time and a great running week for you. And look at that fabulous pizza you made. I am getting hungry now, but I need to watch my figure:)

  8. What a deal Olga - great running, free pizza! You looked like a natural in the pizza kitchen too!

  9. Sounds like a great weekend. I love the picture of you making pizza wearing an apron, but with you running shoes, shorts and hat still on...classic! A 90 mile week! Totally awesome!! You just turned my "mileage envy" into "mileage fantasy".

  10. Hi Olga, you made it so I could smell the sagebrush and feel how beautiful it was - thank you. It's amazing how you can just tell whether "this is a place I could live" even if it's a totally unfamiliar terrain. What a wonderful friend you have in Theresa! The skeptic in me wonders if the Olga/Pizza thing was truly a coincidence but okay, okay, I believe you. ;) And in any case, CUTE! :) Looking forward to hearing about the other half of the family's vacay.

  11. Wow sun! Looks great! Are you sure that pizza thing wasn't rigged? ; ) : )

  12. Olga- great post and great pics...I'll take a slice of that pizza please! ;-)

    You had me cracking up too:
    "I was falling asleep, and the only thing that kept me awake was chewing on food"
    Funny stuff...I'll have to use that excuse one day!

  13. Sounds like you had a great time. It looks like a wonderful place to run, thanks for sharing the pictures. Your pizza looks pretty good too!

  14. You have the most wonderful running experiences. Most of just run the same routes over and over. Your runs are amazing. Thanks for the pictures.

  15. Wow. Sounds like you had a fantastic time. And making pizza too, what more could a girl ask for?

    You know what? You sound happy.

  16. What a fabulous weekend, Olga! What a wonderful way to get in 90 miles, too, gotta like that!! Running, kids friends, sunshine..pizza and dogs, doesn't get much better than that :)

  17. Olga, Have you always had the same quote in your blog header? I love it! I think Charlie and Bonnie are related. She used to get sick in the car too...but that is not why I think they are cousins. : )

  18. Great week!! Lot's of miles in a great place and pizza... I'm not sure if it gets any better then that.

  19. Olga's Pizza Palace! sounds like your calling!! looks good(: great images and sounded like a very productive weekend. Would have loved to explored that. Thanks for the reply. I'm a stickler (: