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, February 23, 2009

Hagg no mud.

Pinch me. That’s how it felt. Friday was an emotionally rough day for me, when little things and not very little things rolled in, and while neither one of them was the end of the world, together they put me into a pit of low self-confidence and self-esteem, like I am incompetent in anything I aim to do. By 3pm the realization that I am, indeed, taking an early start at a 50k tomorrow, settled in – and the tears rolled non-stop for the next few hours. Will I even be able to get under cut offs??? Seriously, I had great doubts…

The morning came, and I got in for my 7am start. One thing for sure – you get best parking. Ronda and Stacey kind of laughed, kind of yelled at me for signing up for a handicap, what didn’t help with my “wonderful” mood at all. But we lined up and took off on the road hill…

Have I mentioned it was a beautiful, beautiful day ahead of us? Portland got blessed with weeks of dry weather, so trails were in perfect conditions, and the temperatures were dry, and the sun came out…paradise. Every year I dread coming out to Hagg lake 50k, and every year I am so grateful I did. This year was my 5th, my last, my buckle year. I wanted to enjoy every step of it…

And enjoy I did. There is a reason I write reports as soon as I get home, as later on the exhilaration levels off, but I had lots of stuff on my plate that weekend, so this will have to do. All the words I “lived through” as I ran – slowly dissipated. But the views were gorgeous, as never before – or it felt this way. I managed to “lead” (ha!) the race for about 4 miles, then got caught by Sharon and Eb. At first AS Sid gave me a biggest hug – part from him, and more from Gail. I promised that I am taking my time and not in a hurry, and spend a couple-few minutes there, acknowledging that my split is same as last year.

I tried to slow down, as I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to hold this pace for the whole 31M, and played with my camera some more, wondering when the leaders would start passing me, and hoping not before the AS#2. They didn’t. And that stretch I ran in the same split again. Bewildered, I stopped and chatted with Liz and Kamm, the perennial helpers here, awesome gals, and took off for the last section of lake loop.

Fast dudes finally began to come by. First one was unknown to me (WTH?), but then Rod Bien floated by so quick, I didn’t get a chance to snap a picture. Then it was Sean Meissner in a hilarious outfit for Richard Simpson, wig and all, and he slowed down enough for me to “click”. Then some more guys…and that section, yet again, was accomplished in my “usual” time for it. I was stunned. And still scared I am doing something wrong and shouldn’t, so I stood at AS, yet again, for 3 minutes.

Photo curtesy of Tom Riley
But the second loop was the same. Girls Krissy and Devon passed me here, and some more guys, most exchanging few words of chat (hey, is my butt so distinguishing that I am recognized from far behind?).

By the time Sid’s AS came in, I was still on same pace chart, sans the time I spend at aid stations themselves. I finally caught with Eb (I passed Sharon some time ago) who mentioned we shouldn’t break 6hrs as we won’t be credited with it anyway (penalty for an early start), and decided my 2 new goals will be as follows: number 1 – keep Eb behind (nothing personal, dear); number 2 – break my worst time at Hagg of 6:24. Actually, by mid-loop, despite feeling the pain in the legs beginning to build up, the second goal was in a hat, but Eb kept plugging along right behind, making me work. Thanks!!!

Bushwhacker caught up here as well, yelling like crazy. Stopping at Liz and Kamm AS was short of emotional breakdown – my last time here. I cried. Liz cried. Kelly took pictures. I went for the last stretch…

And every time I’d take my headphones off, the tears would start rolling in, so I had to put my music back and keep focus. Amazingly, all this only added a couple of minutes to this split, and I ran in at 6:09 on the clock…far from my fastest here, but not my slowest either, and definitely much better than anticipated 7 hrs.

I got my 5 year buckle.

And then I started to cry again…

And then a girl Julie came by with warmest words, and crying continued…

And then I drove home, all fuzzy and happy. Life is good. No, it really is. Beautiful. Trust me on that. I know. As long as I have trails to run on and friends to run with. The rest will make sense later:)

More picture can be found here and there by Brian.

And on totally not-so-sobbing note, and since it seems to be a trend for all Drymax socks wearers, although at this particular point more of a testament of how dry our Hagg Mud Trails were that day, is a picture of my very white Drymax socks AFTER the race. As well as my feet inside those socks.
And not to discriminate anybody, but to bring home the important point, since I am so very very bad in promoting my dear sponsors – here it goes. I really do not write reviews, or cheerful notes, this blog is about my emotions, my life through the eyes of my running. But it doesn’t mean I am not grateful to all of those who support me by providing me with stuff to run IN. Usually, the way it works with me, if somebody asks me what I prefer - I respond. If you are my friend and even don't ask me - I tell you anyway (and likely give you my share to try). The rest of the world finds out from other runners:)

Drymax socks keeps my feet dry and comfy, and Bob is awesome. Nathan packs have been my number 1 carry-on day in and day out, race in and run out. SportSkirts are the cutest things to make you feel girlie yet to have a comfortable “ride” on trails. Moeben sleeves are THE thing to take with you everywhere. And without Dirty Girl Gaiters don’t even think about stepping on trails, dry, muddy or rocky doesn’t matter. You can find links to all of them on my side bar.

And last, but FAR from last – Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team, those who, even though rounded up the best and most grounded folks, kept me in with my 6 months hiatus of recovery from injury and believed in me, providing encouragements. They are simple, but they are furiously fast. Scrape on!


  1. I guess the good thing about never having been very fast in trails races/ultras is that I feel no shame in being slow or racing cutoffs. And, given that you've had injury issues and haven't been able to train at full throttle, being slower is totally expected. You rock girl so keep on rocking!

  2. Great race and report and congratulations on the Buckle. Keep the emotion level; it keeps it real!

  3. Congrats on your Buckle...I really enjoy how you are honest in your writing...telling what is on your mind and heart.

  4. How many times have I told you...quit messing around in those aid stations!

    Good job for not pushing too hard. We always want to come back too fast then we end up getting hurt again. I think you picked a good pace.

    I got some more pictures of you. I can send if you want.

  5. Congrats Olga. Every time I read one of your race reports I am reminded of how much I love reading them, and am left wondering when I'll get to read about your next adventure.

  6. I meant what I said the other day. You truly are an inspiration. Keep it up Girl! Congrats on your buckle. Hope to see you soon.

  7. Congrats on a great race. I'm the guy in the white patagonia shirt you snapped a photo of.

    Also, congrats on getting into Hardrock.

  8. Olga,
    Glad to hear you had such a great day. Thanks for sharing your running and your feelings with the rest of us, and keep scraping!


  9. Hey Olga. Sorry to hear you are going through more struggles, but positive values are everywhere and you definitely know how to focus on the good in life. Congrats on the buckle and the creation of another beautiful memory!

  10. Hi Olga! I love your last few posts. Great as always. I hope things smooth out soon...they will! Spring is just around the corner.

  11. I'm gonna remind you of the aid station loitering next time you try to kick me out of one. ;)

    Awesome race, Baby!

  12. Ah nothing like good friends to rub it in. You want to hug and choke them at the same time. Well good going hanging in there and getting through such an emotional race in a good time. Nice pictures and what a great buckle. Something very cool to wear around Austin. Love that it says "Oregon Trail" nice and large.

  13. Congratulations on your 5 years at Hagg!

  14. Very cool buckle!
    You inspire us no matter the speed. Ultra running is about life anjd growing. In that respect, you haven't slowed down in the least. We still hang onto your examples and strive to have as much passion for living.
    Hope to see you on the trails this season.

  15. Congrats on a nice solid race. That sounds like a fun one.

    I need to try the Drymmax socks. I have heard nothing but great things about them.

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  17. Congrats Olga on your 5 year SWEET Buckle! way to "tear" it up, lol get it "tear drops" :-)

  18. Eric and I ran 12 summits Saturday with a group of 12. It was fantastic. I'm glad you had a great 5th run for teh buckle.

  19. Congrats on the buckle! I'm feeling sad at all your "lasts" in our area. Even though we'll still visit you via the internet, we're so gonna miss you! In the meantime though, I'll see you at Pac Rim.