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

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bad races, no races, life

Never bear more than one kind of trouble at a time. Some people bear three--all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.
Edward Everett Hale

Another day gone by, another ultra lottery missed Larry and my name to be drawn. To tell you the truth, it was a relief not to get to MMT 100, and looks like I won't be even close to bother with wait list. I contemplated with SD 100 (application to come in February), and with Bighorn 100...but decided against even thinking about it. I haven't even blink when the time to apply for WS100 came - and passed. Surely not that one.

Crazy ultrarunning world. I signed up for my first 100 miler with a six weeks to go. Well, OK, I apply and got in to WS100 shortly after I ran my first 50 miler, but the 100 I ran first was like that - figured I need an experience, found one, mailed in, came, ran, left straight after finish. Look at us now. We submit our letters, or type our names on the websites with shaking hands, more than 6 months away, we pay some insane amount of money, we wait, we get disappointed, sometimes we get thrilled - and then get injured, life gets in a way, money is tight, kids, spouses, work, school...

I don't like to repeat races, for the most part. I especially don't like to repeat races I had good times at. Like, good races. Sometimes those are the ones I was strong in, ran well, posted results I could be proud of. Sometimes they are those I met friends at, we hung out together, estimating ahead of time it will not be a competitive event, and we laughed, took photos, and encouraged others. Sometimes they are the ones the results are kind of wished to be better...but I never gave up. What brings me to what bad races are for me - those I gave up in, and not only that, but with a huge aggravated feeling on top of it. Like I am pissed off, wish it wasn't happening, I wasn't there, never started, better DNF'ed, and as the end nears, it doesn't let off. I didn't have many of those, but Wasatch and last Western come to mind. I still wish I had a different attitude...but we can't turn back. May be that's why I DNF'ed Tahoe past summer. I surely didn't want to have that heavy disappointment - or to be mean to those around me just because I am still overcoming being pissed off.

I don't like to repeat good races either, and even though there are more than not of those I could have gotten better time results, the feeling I had was extremely pleasant and happy and joyful - and I want to remember that. I think I am afraid to stumble upon the grumpy self, even if it only happened couple of times.

That said, I decided against the 50k this weekend. It's not my distance, I am not in shape to race, and even though I can get through 30 mile run at any given moment, I am not interested to do it in a race setting. Why bother? Besides, I won't be joining crazy crowds at Rocky 50M either, so no need to put any long runs now.

There IS a need to focus on other aspects though. Like family. My son. My husband. My trip to Russia. Work is kind of a side kick too - it does pay the bills:) And massage seems to be ok. I am loving yoga classes. I am being mindful (yet again) about what I put inside my body. And inside my mind. I knit, read and organize photos (Larry asked me who is that and what did I do with his wife). I brought my old rug from my Russian "dowry" and love looking at it - made the whole place homey. I am expanding my horizon. I am in a stage where this is what more important.

But - it doesn't mean running is away. It's just less, more quality, not obsessive. Track and hills were fun, in a sick kind of way. A few folks trickled in to join the pain - I know, it is not a "no-drop run", where you just go, chat and never get out of breath. Who wants to run with me in their right mind? But that's fine too.

Last weekend I spent in Portland. I cried on Wildwood trail in Forest Park and put a fastest 11 miles I had in a long time. Every time I turn my head and see Gail and Mike behind - it's like travel back in time. Like the conversation never broke, about politics, the insanity of technology, horrendous years of dealing with teenagers, love, family, relationships...I went to see my Russian Girls - and despite the party starting 8:30pm, and me being sleep deprived, tired and on a time 2 hrs ahead, I held on (and actively participated) till 11:30pm. Way past bedtime for me:) We went to the Gorge...and did a loop...and had all of what I remember, long climb, even longer descend, icy drizzle at the higher elevations, packed snow around peak, traitorous footing, gorgeous views, frozen fingers - and Mike-made roll-ups for energy (nothing changed, my friends always had to carry extra food for me since I don't care to prepare for the outings). With that - I realized one thing: as much as in love I am with PNW, miss it, feel at home there as the only place so far anywhere in the world - I won't come back. You can't step into the same river twice. Those waters floated away. I am in a new water, even if the same river. I might be even in a different river. Just hope not in a pond:) Time to move on from the past...

I had the most important visit - the whole reason behind the trip - with my older son. He's all grown up. With a beard. Tall, wide in shoulders, slow in talking. Like not my son. Like another adult, only remotely reminding me of a baby I brought home 20 years ago today. One who says I raised him good - and who is my source of strength as I try and bring up another son, who turned 15 today...yep, same day. I gave birth to my boys on the same day. It is a magnificent day, December 9th. Sometimes it's hard, like today. Some days it was easier, lighter. Better? I don't know. What is better? All's life...

Too much contemplating. Too much looking in. Lets go and look outside!


  1. Yep. Running should be a desire and not an obligation. It is okay to not want to race, of course. I think all ultra runners have points where they realize they need time for other things in their life. I'm personally kind of glad to use my pregnancy as an excuse for not being so intense about running! Exciting that you are planning a trip back to Russia!

  2. We might have almost crossed paths in the gorge on Sunday--I started at Angels Rest and stayed low. Let me know the next time you're in town--I'd love to run with you! (although I understand you have lots of folks to see while in PDX)

  3. Hey Olga, I'm seriously considering the inaugural Black Hills 100, same weekend as WS. You two should come run it! Coyote Two Moon too... ;-)

  4. Ha! Now that I'm a forever WS lottery loser and you dissed me when I mentioned Black Hills and now Sue's probably gonna run it? Decisions, decisions.

    I won't comment on the other stuff. You can read my mind, I'm certain. :)

  5. Ha, I have a 15 year old too. Quite a challenge.
    I admire all you ultra distance runners. For now I know I would not be able to find the time to train for such distances. I am just happy to be able to run, enjoy the places I go to run, not to race, just be out there because it is fun. At this stage in my life I would not want to have this activity as another 'I have to do' thing.

  6. As hard and scary as kids can be, being a parent is awesome. Idon't much care that the marriage ended the day we got back from honeymoon. Being a parent saved me on so many levels. It keeps us groundedand prioritzed, doesn't it?

  7. Olga...looking forward to finally meeting you in Bandera...

  8. Olga, what a wonderful post.

  9. Glad you got to visit with your son and spend some time on the trails you love so much.

  10. You do have a potty mouth when grumpy at the races:) Yeah my end of the year was more quality than quantity. I got sick of being out there for 6+ hours. Balance needed to be restored.

    Sounds like a great trip back to PNW and I think it's incredible that your boys were born on the same day. I never knew that. Kind of crazy too when I think of you having a 20 and 15 year old. You seem so young to have kids so old!

    Your upcoming trip back to Russia reminds me I am long overdue for a trip to the Philippines. Been three years since I saw my grandmother and extended family over there. How you feel about the PNW is how I feel about the Philippines and Honolulu. I love, love it when I am back in those places but this is where I am now and I will miss out when I go chasing after the past.

  11. Totally hear you on some of this stuff!! Hopefully we will continue to cross paths on the track :)

    I, too, am struggling with the thoughts of the crowds at Rocky...maybe I should just let it go on a high note? It's a tough decision to walk away from races you run as a standard every year...

    have a great weekend and stay warm, brrr!!

  12. Oh by the way my friend Larissa is Ukrainian not Polish. I double checked. My mistake.

  13. Hey Olga!!!! A long over-due comment here...wishing you and your family a happy holiday and new year! Hope to see you soon.