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

Friday, May 04, 2007

Licking wounds and coming back.

More digest

One of the perks Zane Grey organizers gave us was a 2003 race movie. I’ve watched it on Wednesday, trying to come out of flunk. It was surely a great thing to do. By any and all means, Zane Grey 50 had become my second best favorite race in a country – along with Western States 100. 2003 was a great year to see on tape. It brought so many great runners to it – when would we ever see them running? Karl Meltzer, Scott Jurek, Hal Koerner, Nate McDowell, John Pearch, Ian Torrence, Eric Clifton, Krissy Moehl, Anthea Schimd, Jenny Capel, Luanne Park, Pam Reed…the list goes on. It is a humble experience to see them go for it, to breathe hard, to find out that Karl and Scott do take walks, how focused they are, how they drink and eat. Now, if some Kelly S. Nichols (who travels around long running websites and tells stories on how slow we all are comparing to college runners at 5k competitions) sees this tape, she’d be like: you call them runners? Not to mention Elite Runners? Speed…what is speed when you can see the character emerging through the struggle. And it’s a beautiful site, for everybody alike, slow or fast.

At the beginning of the movie there were two statements that this race is much longer than 50 miles. I’ve heard it before. It claims to be anywhere between 53 and 60 miles (well, may be 60 is too much, lets not think this way). I guess when we are out there, once we start moving, we just put one foot in front of another and don’t stop until we see the finish line. That is a big reason I am scared of aid stations – what if I decide to sit down, will I ever get up? It is “easier” to not let my mind even pretend it is possible…

photo by Steve Pero It is a gorgeous trail, no doubts. I feel blessed to have been able to visit it, and it calls me back already. The organizers do a wonderful job putting it up and taking care of the runners. The trail is marked really extensively – I think this year was even better than last year. There is pasta dinner, finish line food, and then there is a “goodie bag”. It is always a “bag” – a backpack or a huge travel bag this year, it is a couple of technical t-shirts, a mug or a coffee travel mug, a couple of Montrail draw bottles, a bunch of small items – and a buckle. Yep, you get a belt buckle for this 50M! It is such an achievement…

I am already planning my next visit. It was good to see the movie because I could wrap my eyes around the whole course. I will go with a camelback on those 3 middle sections besides two bottles that are sparse and take over 2.5 hrs to make through. I will think of some cooling hat so my brain doesn’t boil. I was fine with calories, really, so this will stay. I took 16 Cliff Shot gels total (7 of them were double-espresso), 5 servings of Perpetium, 3 servings of CarboPro, 1 serving of EFS and 2 packages of Hornet Juice (one in first bottle and one at mile 33 - I think I'll be ordering more). I had 4 half-cups of coke at the aid stations and eyed some orange slices, but forgot to get them. I don’t mind been splashed with torn and brushes and wear those marks proudly – I wish I could wear a skirt to show it off. I will need a more comfortable set of headphones so my ears don’t hurt from wearing them so long. My Montrail Odyssey worked beautifully, along with Dirty Girl gaiters and SmartWool socks. I took 2 tablets of NUUN and 6 tablets of each Succeed!, Ginger and Arnica (once in 2 hrs). I peed twice – once on the first section, and once before last AS when I finally got some liquid balance in the body. I would like to try and run more there, so I need to find some rocky (really rocky) section and practice foot placement. I would like to go out a bit stronger, so I can stay put around people – although somehow I always encounter problems in first quarter of the race…that’s my pure luck.

I liked to hear what people had to say about coming there. They come out to test themselves – against terrain, clock, weather elements, and other runners. Like Donald said in his Big Sur marathon recap, “The real answer is a far different, and much simpler truth: competition is the lifeblood of my racing experience.” If I wanted to be healthy – I would start eating vegetables and going for walks in the parks. If I simply wanted to see friends – I would join some knitting club (yoga works too). If I needed to see trails – I’d go hiking (done that for years). I NEED to see what I am made of. In every day here I don’t believe in myself. I don’t like pretend play and fake smiles we all have to give and receive. I like the raw part of going out there, questioning my own sanity and ability and pushing through it. I feel real. Ever since the first time I compared running and finishing a tough ultra race to been in labor and giving birth (guys, you may want to look for another statement). I still think of it same way – the easy hours, the pain, the agony, the push, and – the beautiful somebody that is yours, only yours and nobody else’s. Since I am not having any more babies and mine are far from babies (although with more pain, yet not physical anymore), I prefer to run long trails and have same elation during the process. Take me as I am. I had never been much of “pretend” person, what you see is what you get.

I will send the tape with the movie to anybody interested (no come back) with one request – you will then forward it onto anybody else who’d like to see it. It has much less (pretty much none) of personal stories comparing to both Western States 100 movies (only a trail story), but it is beautiful and you still get an idea of what is ultrarunning about. See pictures by Luis Escobar here.
update: and the winner for the movie is Julie! now bug her for a sneak view:)

Sorry for turning off comments on last post. Really wanted to be by myself - you know, cave doesn’t have internet access…besides, it is true, our computer got corrupted again and anything that requires log in is freezing all internet access. So I wouldn’t be able to read or respond to anything (I can still read your posts, but have to comment from work). (If any of you are computer wizard and know what to do, please email me – Oleg refuses to fix it again.)

But I can’t be in a cave long, I miss you and I love you all. It is especially heartwarming how many of my friends emailed – I mean it is easy to click “comment” button, but to go out of the way…it just makes me cry. A good cry – didn’t we talk that I am a cry baby?

So where I am? I am better, little by little, and I am not going to burden you with details of mental letdown. Lets talk running…of which I have not much, but it’s supposed to be a running blog. My left hamstring has a big knot right smack in the middle, and I can’t stride out (I have a pretty long stride, especially considering short legs of mine). My left hip joint has a pain at the crease and again, doesn’t let me open up, but mostly bend/tilt over it. My left shin is hurting differently than in regular compartment syndrome attack, and I am kind of nervous about it. Oh, no, this dirty laundry list is not for you to feel sorry or to tell me to get rest/see doctor – I don’t ever use excuses, nor do I want to hear them. It is just a list. Because I am still out there on my runs, which are by a third turned into walks, and for the rest of them go at HR in zone 2 (yes, I actually wore a HRM to see how slow I am since I can’t measure the distance/pace) – I hardly break sweat on my outings, but lets consider them my “recovery week” (what I didn’t plan on, I wanted to actually taper next week for Silver State 50M, but swapping plans and adapting is one of life’s lessons), and besides, as I told Angie, I truly believe in building a habit and holding on to it: wake up at the same regular time, put your running clothes and shoes on, grab a bottle and head out.
My massage was wonderful, I even signed up for membership, dude seemed to have known what he was doing, and I was very optimistic: he spent a whole hour working between my waist to the knee part, all on the back. You’d think at least the knot would go away? Na-ah. Oh, well, time heals everything, I know this one for sure, I am patient.
The Bikram class on Thursday was a HUGE step back again, but what was interesting was my reaction to heat: while everybody complained and asked the instructor to open windows (Bikram goes at above 100F and high humidity), I was snapping not to – it felt cold, my hair didn’t even sweat!

I had a much better run this morning (Friday). The pain eased off, the shin didn’t hurt (thank God, I was about to panic!), and I ran the whole hour, even picked up pace, what allowed me to “travel” further than I did on any mornings of this week. I told you I’ll be fine, I’ll get through it, I am stubborn, my body has nothing else left to do but to comply.

I lost 5 lbs somewhere on the course of Arizona;s trails, and while I realize it's only water, I like the scale number dipping under 130. I also lost appetite, what is unheard of for me - I've always been a great eater, death bed and all. May be there was a touch of depression, but I am not the one who'd be concurred, right? Not when I have so many great supporters anyway!

We had a pretty cold/windy/rainy/hailing and even snowing week so far, but the coming weekend is promised to be gorgeous! With that – I’ll be out in the Gorge, making my long miles, and if I can’t push through repeats, the best I can do is get a dose of love from my favorite place around.

To all who is going to Miwok 100k this weekend – wish I were there, have a run for me, smile lots and push hard, and remember – never look back!


  1. I chose to leave in peace in your cave :-) Next time I'm gonna flood you with emails! Not that you'll be able to get them of course *sheepish grin* Sounds like hubby needs a new computer! Yea, that almost gets me as excited as racing! LOL. Recover well and recover strong, your Ultraness. Eat! We all need you to not dry up and blow away...

  2. Olga wrote: "I NEED to see what I am made of."

    You don't know (or maybe you do!) how much that paragraph speaks to me. I sit here at work and just cannot stand being normal and doing everyday mundane, normal stuff. I love ultra running because it fulfills my need to do at least one thing in life FULL TILT...to see what I'm made of...to be a bit extreme. And the analogy to childbirth is right on. The struggle, effort, elation and then the hormonal letdown. I feel it too. I can't wait to get back out to the trails this weekend. I hope you have a great time getting your love from the gorge this weekend! : )

  3. Olga, I feel much the same way after a good hard race. I long for the feeling of the struggle, the comaradrie of the runners, the victory of doing what I could. Then I come home and reality sits in. I'm sorry that you are home sick, this only adds to the post-race depression I am sure. I am glad you massage went well and you are looking for more. Onto your next race. Oh, I'd LOVE to see the movie of Zane Grey.

  4. Now you make me feel guilty for not e-mailing, but that's all right I understand the pretend part very well. I am not sure what I am made of at this point. I am about going nuts, but I need to get back and e-mail another 100 volunteers :) And Yes, that is a literal statement.

  5. Hey lady, glad you are feeling a little better, physically and emotionally. You keep talking like this about ZG and I might just join you one of these years. I've never been but I recognize the love and passion for a race coming from your post. Speaking of which I will miss one of my favorite races this weekend, you just reminded me of it, Miwok 100k. Love that race.

    Your Bighorn timer is scaring me! 41 days left, really?! Time flies.

  6. How's our little hottie Russian sweetheart doing? Sick? You probably still look terrific.

    By the way, that's a dried up streambed, not a trail that you have pictured on this post.

    I'd love to see that ZG video. In fact I need to buy one of the WS tapes just so I can see the different areas described. I can read for months but I'm a visual learner so the video will help.

    I'm running a loop of Mt. Peak with Rob and Steve on Sat. morning and then heading up to Vancouver BC for the Marathon on Sunday. Going for an extra MM star!


  7. Kelly S. Nichols4/5/07 15:22

    I ran cross-country and track in high school and college. I had a successful high school and college career. I'm a fast and talented runner. I only admire and respect runners who ran in college like I did. I really like Anton Krupicka. He ran in collge (like me) and I think that he is fast and talented. I look forward to seeing what he does in the future. I'm not going to stoop to your level and say the things that you expect me to say. Remember, I'm way more talented then any of you. There is nothing you can say or do to change that.

  8. Anonymous4/5/07 15:24

    collge= I meant college

  9. I think I trust your ability to bounce back more than you do. The strongest thing about you (and the most beautiful) is your emotional resilience. I've always admired that even more than your sexy legs. :)

    Greetings from Sausalito! wish you could be here too. As a matter of fact despite being "neighbors" I probably won't see you until PCT.

  10. Olga,

    As you know, running ultras can cause huge mood swings. Don't worry. Get through it. You'll be fine in no time!

    Kelly, on the other hand....you need some serious help!

  11. Welcome back. Glad you had a good run at ZG. We had a great day at Captial Peak. My next fun run is the Watershed 12 hour in Redmond with Eric, my Dad, and maybe Rob. Thanks for being yourself.

    P.S. Kelly, grow up, there more to life than ego. I was also a fast runner when young, so what. That was then and I enjoy myself and other people more now.

  12. Peoples, my apologies, I slipped, but really, this what crossed my mind when I saw Karl and Scott walking and gasped - do they ever break 7's if they average 10s for the course? Truly, guys, weekend-warriors, shufflers, joggers, and wanna-be's, chill, no need to crowd comments, it was just a sentence in a whole post:) Now lets go out and walk! The weekend is here!

  13. Olga,
    Glad to hear you sounding more cheery. I guess I'm lucky - I haven't experienced any post race depression. I did have a little trouble with it when I couldn't go the long distances though. Anyway, have a great weekend!

  14. glad the vid was inspirational!

    and of COURSE i'm DELIGHTED to hear that you want to come back to ZG!!!

  15. I love your race reports and I really appreciate you posting a picture of a rocky Arizona trail. I've tried to describe how rough some of these trails are with limited success, but in the future, I'll just point everyone to your post.

    I wish you the best getting ready for the Bighorn 100M

  16. Olga,

    I'm so late in congratulating you on gutting out Zane Grey! Congrats! Congrats! Congrats! You really revived in the end. Probably everyone you zoomed past in their death march was happily cursing you. :) You are one tough lady! I hope you begin to feel like your self again soon!

    Hey, I just noticed that it looks like you aren't coming to the Teton Races. For some reason, I thought you were coming my way for those. I'm not going to Bighorn afterall, as I have to go to wedding that weekend. I guess I'm not going to meet you this summer! :( That's sad.


  17. Keep thinking ahead to that next race! Neat about the movie, I'd like a copy and will send you my address over email soon (running out the door now to go fishing).

  18. Olga I'm learning so much from you. How could you have been in such a funk!!after the outstanding job you did!!!I would be on cloud nine still. Your last paragraph in your previous post sound like my "I want to be free speech". But do you know that since I've started running I've never felt that way again!!! Running have made such a difference in my life and I've thank God every day!!!

    sorry you're not out there running as you'd like but that jogging/walking may be doing more good than you realized. You are such a strong person and there is no doubt in my mind you'll be back before you know it.

    PS. stay away from that Kelly S. Nichols, sounds like the devil in disguise

  19. Olga that Post from the Cave... it shows that you're still such a romantic person and yes, you're young at heart. Not sure what made you want to lock inside the cavern for some time - Spring or meeting an old friend, memories of youth and that country we lived in, country that doesn't exist anymore. I don't know. I just want to say that Life was Great many years ago. (I remember 90th in PostSoviet Union - it was incredibly Hard Time, Stony Pass, many years of struggle and loosing a lot of frineds who immigrated for a better life, most of them I lost forever). Anyway even 10 years ago when we were young (well, younger) and didn't have a lot what we have now it was Great. Life was Great thousand years before us and will be thousand years after. Wherever you are - in general, Life is a Great Thing! Hardly science could explain it. (Oh Man! I feel like preaching :) Have I cheered you Up?! I'm Glad you're out of the cave! Smile and be with us!!!