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, July 04, 2010

On trail addictions and wide horizons.

While doing all this trail running, distance training, and other crazy stuff, sometimes we might forget simple pleasures. Like – why we choose trails, what they mean to us. Well, not quite forget, but not appreciate the sense of novelty (I don’t know, I think I am mumbling, because I never lose that sense…but bear with me for a moment, please).
Since the precious Sierra Nevada week, we are back in Austin, and I am using this week as my “sharp-n-go” only training week before the next 100. With much work and other obligations, as well as fitting weights workouts and intervals/hill repeats on roads, track or treadmill, my recovery runs were done on the roads during a week as well. Heck, I even had to run to work on Saturday as part of my weekend run! But on Saturday night it was about to flip a switch…
I work with this gal, Eman. She has a PhD in Molecular Biology, she is divorced and a single mom to a 7 year old boy, and – she is from Egypt. With the whole 9 yards of Muslim culture, religion and clothing. And she runs. She started running to help her deal with the divorce, then I joined the lab – and she finished a 5k, then got challenged to sign up for a 10k, which she did and finished as well. Now, she never saw a picture of my trail runs, although she heard a number of my blubbering of how wonderful mountains and trails are. So, she is planning to do a 10k on trails. And I promised to take her on a trail run for the introduction…but you know how it is. Life is always on the way.
Saturday night we met at the trailhead. I – in a sportsbra and a running skirt. She – wearing long pants, long-sleeve shirt (my SD100 one) and a head scarf. Off we went…and from the first step, to the very last one, she never stopped saying “wow”. It was all I needed to make my day, heck, my week memorable! This is why we do it! To share it with others! She may had some troubles climbing the “goat hill” on the rope and grabbing the roots, she may had to walk every hill and was slipping on the “snot rocks”, but she took on the challenge wading across 4 creeks, she skipped and danced over the rocks and roots, inhaled all the ridge views the loop had to offer, and just was so generously happy, I couldn’t stop smiling. Yep, these are my trails. Yep, this is WHY we do what we do. And boy, not only I am thrilled she liked it, I am certain she is a future trail runner! Expand your horizon. Your next running body may be closer than you think, and more different than you ever imagined.
Besides that 10k road race in April, she never ran more than 3.5M. The loop I took her to was 5.5M with 1,500 feet of gain. It was hot, although after 7:30pm the sun set down and it was rather pleasant by Texas standards. Her cheeks got red, she carried one water bottle (a gift from your truly), and she walked quite a bit after descending to “lower flats”. But she was still smiling. And hollering. I always wondered why in Austin runners don’t yell out like they did in Portland. She did. She was real. I wish I had my camera. My pacer’s instincts kicked in. I kept talking. “Run 50 yards, we’ll walk after the turn. 1.5M left. This quarter mile we should move, and then we hit a small incline on slick rock and walk. Hike with a purpose. You are doing it all by yourself”. I laughed when realized what I was doing. Guess I missed it, huh? Oh, may be, that’s why I am a good pacer? But we made it – in 1:20 all. Much faster than I anticipated. Exactly how long it takes a local Sunday group, or Tuesday group, or Wednesday group to make through 5 miles. She is a trooper. And a trail runner at heart…
Next week I will slow down on miles, but will throw in a couple on interval workouts – and a couple of weights/plyo sessions. But I want to “chill off” a bit more than before SD100. May be I need smarter recovery. Today’s longish outing was quite miserable. I accepted it as it was and just went with the flow. Some days are just like that. I had a solid week and nothing to complain about. I’ll take one not-so-stellar run.
I was thinking about Tahoe 100. This is a 100 miler above 8,000 feet. With my luck, this year it also added 3,700 feet of climb to the existing 19,300, to make it a round number of 23,000 feet of climb. I wasn’t aware of it when booked the ticket, and with my non-existent vacation at this job have a flight at 4pm Sunday night. What means I better finish before noon. What gives me 30 hrs (plus an hour to shower and such). I don’t know, man, it is not my “goal race”, and I am getting nervous. It’s a 2-looper, and I am hoping to get through first 50 in 13 hrs, and then have 16:30 for the second half. I am a bit stressing out right now…but trying to learn to get to a good head-space from all the WS100 blog-recaps, from folks who’s races might have not gone as planned, but they managed their mental energy and adjusted wisely. It’s going to be alright, right? I am banking on it!


  1. A few years ago I did the Tahoe 50k version of that race with a similar quick in and out to save vacation time. I flew out of Austin Friday night 6pm after work. Thanks to the two hour time difference I was still able to get enough sleep to feel good for the start Saturday morning. Ran the race about as well as most of my races. There was a hose I used to shower at the finish, and then straight to the airport for a red-eye flight Saturday night. It was a little rushed, but do-able. I was happy to get the experience and take in the scenery even if it was a quick trip. You will be fine.

  2. If anyone can pull off the 30 hour finish you can. That is really fun and exciting for your friend! You are a good trail ambassador.

  3. Of course it will be alright! I'm confident you can pull it off with time to spare. :)

    I remember my first trail run...up Eagle Creek in the gorge. Didn't know any better that I probably shouldn't have gone alone. Almost poked my eye out by a random branch, slipped on my bum and almost slid down a high creek during a crossing and with less than a mile to go (thankfully), took a nasty spill and had to make a stop at urgent care for some stitches. Yep, I was a silly newbie, but I was hooked! :)

  4. Olga, congrats on helping your friend discover the beauty of trail running! I will see you at TRT. I am running the 50 miler. You will do awesome as usual. I can't wait to see you in action!

  5. how very cool to have been able to plant another trail loving seed...you make a fine trail guide and know just the right amount of push and give...not an easy task.

  6. I'm glad you are inspiring someone to go outside their comfort-zone. I wonder if your friend might be interested in Irshad Manji? (Google her!) But then, she might think Irshad is a bit too much. I think she's a genius, and whether I agree with everything she says or not, she's an amazing woman who makes me think. So even if your friend maybe doesn't jive with her, maybe she'll at least read what Irshad says, make up her own mind, and be stronger?

    As for you, you are a master juggler of life. I don't know how you do it.

  7. Remind me to loan you the video of TRT from a few years ago on Sunday!!

    The views are spectatular! I was there the year with John F. and he got the most fantastic pic of me on top of the peak. (the 50miler catches up to the 50k at some point)

    You will love the challenge!

  8. Love the blog design :) I dot know who changed first as I haven't had a chance to get on here as much as I'd like to recently (all that watching TV...) - but great minds...

    For a non-native English speaker you have some great quotables... I know I am going to have to use "Life is always on the way"

    But on your actual post... it really is something special to introduce people to this world we love so much. It makes it all new again and we maybe see something we had not before or had forgotten.

    Good luck... you can do it and like you say those WS race reports have tons of inspiration!

  9. Hi Olga
    This has nothing to do with your post but about the Bear 100. I know you ran that race a few years back and I wanted to get your impression of it compared to other's you've run. I'm thinking about running it this year (as a Hardrock qualifier) but have the Lost Soul 100 miler on Sept. 11th. I know 2 weeks isn't much time in between 100 mile races but I'd like to apply for Hardrock next year and I need a qaulifying run since my Leadville 2008 race won't qualify me next year. Anyhow I'd appreciate it if you had the time to drop me a quick email with your thoughts about the Bear @ booneldog@gmail.com
    Thanks Sue (I see that Larry is signed up for the Bear)

  10. Love this story Olga! It's all about sharing the trail love.