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, August 09, 2009

Where is the air?

And no, I not talking about Colorado today. I think now I understand Larry's once written post on similarity about high altitude running and running in high temperatures and high humidity. While I stand by my explanation of the physiological differences, the physical feelings are certainly pretty darn close. I should know, I just came back from Hardrock...

It's been 10 full days since Stephen and I moved to Austin, TX. As one local friend put it, "what possessed you to move from OR to TX, in the summer, and worst summer in almost a century that is?". Yeah...I wonder:) It's been some 45 days with mercury rising way above 100F. You get to choose - run in early pre-dawn hours with temps may be in upper 70's - low 80's, but humidity hitting almost 90%, or go out in the evening, when it is kind of dry (by local standards), but thermometer is stuck at 104F and it feels like oven, even if a breeze passes by - oven it is. I think Badwater thoughts started popping in my mind, and it is scary like hell that I even think about it...

So, I stopped running some time in the beginning of June. Well, may be I went on some Gorge outings, and even visited Forest Park, but it was little of the reminder of running. In fact, within a year since my hip stress fracture, somehow, somewhy, training as word in my vocabulary almost disappeared, being replaced by "getting out for fun". Attempts to revive some left-over of speed finished before I could even fail at that.

I made 100 miles of High Country in Silverton area with 2 days before Hardrock. It was the highest mileage since May 2008. Ouch. Was it a smart idea to put, granted, not running, but hiking, yet still that many miles and hours at effort of breathing little oxygen, and actually pushing myself (I manage to be pretty much in the front on our course marking days) - I don't know, and frankly, I don't care. It was the best time I spent in years, many, many years...I kind of not doubted I can finish Hardrock - it's a Hard Walk after all, and that's where I am very good at - I can walk days, miles and ages non-stop and not get tired. Well, ok, not get tired very much. I promise I will get back to my story, soon, but for now, just for status facts, let me just point out - after I was back from 2 days worth of drive, I haven't run a step in OR. Little and not so little things occupied me, not to mention PCT 50 prep - which, by the way, despite what seemed from RD's point of view had had a bunch of glitches, from runner's reviews sounded like it was a total blast - and with that I never made it out. Then it was another 3 days of driving 12 hrs a day, and finally here we are, in the heart of Hill Country, Texas...

My first veerings to roads were really sad. I couldn't make my legs move, even on downhills. Well, actually, going down I could at least pretend to "run", flats and inclines were simply out of questions. I decided not to give up. Gym is right inside the complex we live in, so at least I was back "playing" with tiny dumbbells I could muster to lift nowadays. On Saturday, August 1st, Larry was to run a "night" trail 60k. Boys played around (did I mention Stephen and Harrison hit it off in 10 minutes like they've been friends forever? not only it is delightful, it actually was almost frightening and totally unbelievable), and I volunteered at an aid station on this 6-loop course. Standing still in-between work, and especially even so slightly moving produced pouring sweat. I saw people suffering. Jeez, it's a measly 60k! I sure didn't want to run it...

So, yesterday, we "signed up" ourselves for hill repeats. I died in about 20 minutes. We started almost 10am, and the sun was high in the sky, burning skin and lings mercilessly. Not sure how Larry managed to run it, I crawled up the hill each time in twice the time and was bending over just the way he was after a hard effort. Icy water was my hallucination of choice and a long time away. I stuck with proposed time, no matter what, even though I walked over 70% of those 2-plus hours. Who cares? If I learn how to run in Texas heat and humidity, I will be golden...at least that's my motto for now.

So, today was 4 hrs, and Larry kept me company, since I know nothing about trails here. They are not nearly as easy as Portland's, when you just get out, go for miles, turn around and come back. Bikers, hikers and runners criss-crossed so many little paths, in such close proximity, I am lost within 15 minutes. So, we stayed together. I guess Larry needed an easy day...but in some 30 minutes, after a complete break-down of being self-conscious and disgusted with myself and wallowing in self-petty, I suddenly felt good. I started to run. Don't take me wrong, my jaunt were probably 5 minutes the most if counting continuously, but they kept coming one after another, interspersed with only short breaks, and I even managed inclines for a while. It was delightful! Oh, how my mood was changing for good, especially seeing that Larry has no desire to go any faster, and even struggling a bit - yes, of course he did some mo-fo workout yesterday, while I walked in a fuzzy dehydrated glycogen depleted mode, but hey, I'll take this improvement for now! There we were, still dreaming of icy water, but I felt good. I really did! There is a hope for me, I figured. I can't just suddenly stop being a runner, even if I claim I never were. I love this crazy stuff, man, how I love it...so I'll keep trying, slowly, little by little. It's ok to be happy about 12 min/mile, it's ok to walk when I feel like it. I just need to keep moving forward, and everything will be just fine:)


  1. Wow, congratulations on surviving HR and for a successful move. That's a lot of stress in a short period of time. Plus the challenge of heat (it IS a lot like being oxygen deprived) and new places. I hope you cut yourself some slack, take it easy and enjoy your new life! Sounds like it is going great!

    Best of luck!


  2. Olga, It's so good to hear from you! I'm glad the move has gone well, sorry for the messy heat you moved to though.

    These last two sentences from your blog sound like you took a page from my life:

    "It's ok to be happy about 12 min/mile, it's ok to walk when I feel like it. I just need to keep moving forward, and everything will be just fine:)"

    I couldn't agree more! I am sure that once it cools down there and you adjust to your new climate, you'll be back to old paces in no time.

    In the meantime - enjoy!

  3. Glad you are getting to know your new home, heat, humidity and all. Knowing you it will no time before your tearing up Austin's trails and dreaming about a good sweat...once you acclimate to it. :)

  4. Hey Olga ! So glad the move went well. Keep in touch.

  5. Mmmmm Austin has fried avocado. It's so good. I love Austin.

  6. Sad to hear you moved from Oregon but happy to have you in the Midwest. Even though Texas doesn't really claim to be from the Midwest. As for the heat and humidity thing I have only two words for you. Spring and Fall. I'm even having trouble with high mileage weeks as far north as Kansas. We're only in our second week of 100 plus on the scale so I shouldn't be complaining.
    Enjoy Austin having you there certainly didn't make it any less weird. LOL... Now though maybe we'll get to see you at some of our races out this way. 3 Days of Syllamo is a lot closer for you now. Maybe we'll see you there this year? Take care and good luck in your new surroundings.

  7. We had a string of 113 degree days the summer I moved to Texas back in 1980. Glad you are enjoying your first outings here.

  8. welcome to the heat! Hope to see you on the trails soon!

  9. Congrats on your strong showing at Hardrock. Awesome job! Also, I'm glad to hear that you are happily moved to your new home. I hope all goes well. You will adjust to the heat. Of course, you can also choose to follow the many Texas runners who show up at our Bay Area races during the summer months :-)

  10. Olga,

    I wrote a long comment yesterday that got erased (long, stupid sotry), but here goes again. First Rasmus and I are just so happy for you two that you have found each other and so glad you can finally have a home together! Thanks so much for continuing to write and allowing us to follow the great story. It is just so hard to picture Portland without you! Just know we're thinking of you and if you ever need a break from the heat, please come visit us in Denmark. You and your family are always welcome.

  11. You'll get used to the heat before too long and then the heat will let up. Thanks for dragging me around on Sunday for 4 hours. I needed that! :)

  12. You're awesome Olga. Just a BIG 8).

  13. I can't believe you are really in Texas now, but it's obviously the right place for you to be! : )