Having said that, my biggest fear is one day to not "walk my own talk". Nobody may even notice, and if they did, they'd come up with a hundred of excuses and explanations, but can I, my strongest judge, look in a mirror straight into my own eyes? This is always a question I strive to answer positive.
There are two things I preach when it comes to ultrarunning. One is - give back to community that helps you become a better you and achieve your goals. Volunteer. Crew, pace, help out. Don't be a "taker", being a "giver" is much more fulfilling than any time in any race you ever do. And the second one - you can't get better unless you get uncomfortable. And you always - always! - want to get better. You do. If you don't strive for it, you are stagnating, not living. Way too many people around us are. Just because we joined the forces of ultrarunners, doesn't automatically mean we are better or striving. There are ways to improve. To try. To reach. And for that - you need to get out of your comfort zone...
I got to put quite some money into my mouth and walk my talk this weekend, and it was a very satisfying weekend, indeed.
Friday after work I grabbed Stephen (Larry had to take Harrison to some boy-scout event, and they, unfortunately, couldn't join us), and we headed out to the middle-of-nowhere to one of Tejas Trails and Prusaitis Co races, Nueces (10k, 25k, 50k and 50M). Out of those, 25k was a La Sportiva championship, and 50M was a USATF championship. Trail ultrarunning still struggles to find it's niche in a national field of running when it comes to official records and such, but it slowly we are getting there (on a side note, instead of trying to "make a new committee" blaming USATF not recognizing differences in road and trail racing, why not get more trail ultrarunners participate in USATF board as members and help them define those? But I promise to leave polictics and my personal opinions out of this particular post). Anyhow, this is only the second year Joe puts this particular race (I ran it last year), and it is already getting "bigger and better". The male field in 50M was rather tight, while nobody was to challenge Liza Howard on the girls side (I was told I need to take off my flip-flops, and go out there in my loose pants and cotton shirt to bring a (smaller) check home, but I really had other aspirations for this race day). We arrived at 9pm, and after chatting with few folks, went to our bunk beds around 11pm.
I ran over a dozen of half-marathons, all before my first marathon in 2002, with a PR in 1:42. This is not a fast time by no means, and just barely sub-1:50 was something of a "training tempo" for me back then. I reached 13M point in my January marathon in 2 hrs flat. Thus my goal was - sub-2:00, and I surely hoped to find extra 5 minutes somewhere on that hilly and windy course of Moe's Better Half in San Marcos. 1:50 was a star to wish upon...
I arrived with an hour to spare, and fell asleep in my car. A loud announcer's voice woke me up saying "Olga Varlamova needs to come to registration table". Holly, why? As I dragged my sleepy butt out of the car, a group of Austin ultrarunners was passing by laughing "They just want to give you a prize now, ahead of time". Right. Funny:) Apparently, I forgot to put my age down.
And we were off. 1st mile clicked in 7:30, and I was "Crap! That's my mile repeat pace!". Back off, girl. 3 miles went in 24-flat. Still too fast. Hills rolled, and I was struggling on the uphills. My weak spot is running up (I am good at power-hiking it for a long time, but not busting it in any type of running form). But I had gone through 6 miles in 48 min flat, still averaging 8 min/mile, and it rather scared me. So it should have. We entered a 3+ mile 2% grade incline (something I am horrible at even more than running short steep uphills), and my energy sagged. Like a train went over my legs. I had a full line-up of excuses: I just ran a 50 miler 2 weeks ago. I jumped back into training right away and had a full 2 weeks of it, no taper-shmaper. I spent 11 hrs volunteering yesterday. I am old and tired and lacking sleep. It went for almost all of those 3 miles, until I spotted a mile marker, calculated that my pace dipped to barely sub-9, and I got mad. No excuses allowed! Dig deep, you crazy girl! What the heck are you talking about? And I did...my right quad screaming, my legs feeling like cotton, my breathing so pathetic and loud, I was afraid the ambulance will get me off course. But I ran. And then I saw last AS and the hill looming at 12.5M. And that was all I needed for a push. Catching up (finally) to a guy we ran together with since the start (and who pulled away from me in that dark 6-9 mile stretch) worked wanders, and I exhaled "Don't you dare leave me alone". He smiled. We worked it together. I picked it up slightly, he fell a bit back - and then caught up right before the final turn into finishing chute, and we kicked it one last time. Together, elbowing, we crossed that finish line and hugged. That was hard!
I forgot to push the button, but he showed me his watch - 1:50. WTF! Yeah, baby!!! I am digging it!
Oh, and it's official - I am an LLC now. Healing Olga's Way. HOW. "A hands on approach to make your life better, one person at a time". A proper website is in order:)