A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn....

It's gonna get harder before it gets easier. But it will get better, you just gotta make it through the hard stuff first.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another kind of ultra.


Left bottom CW: best blood award; Joe and I ready to glow-stick; no wusses allowed!; 2 radio guys and Jim-the runner; Liza Howard doing Bulgarian squats while helping out; mash-field; "feeling great for now!".
I think I am getting old:-)...too tired, hard to go on practically 48 hrs non-sleep and on my feet. In fact, working/captaining an AS (or 2 at once in my case) I always found to be much more difficult than running a 100 miler even if it takes 46 hrs (like Hardrock). My feet were killing me when I finally got them up in a propped chair sometime Saturday evening when things started to spread out and Larry was helping me by making grilled cheese sandwiches (something he is famous for at Cactus Rose race and does an excellent job at). I drove to Bandera Friday straight from work, set up an AS at Equestrian built-up by Marc and Joe and team (the AS meets runners at either 5 and 15M into a 25M loop, or at 20 and 20M on other direction), and at 10pm, when I was about to flop on bed, Joe discovered the first 5M section wasn't glow-sticked. So, the two of us went out. My injury on the foot wasn't happy at all, and after a mile and half jogging we were power-walking, what was still awesome, talking away with the sky full of stars and even the milky way, and coyotes howling and yapping loudly. We put out the glow sticks and around midnight got back to the lodge. 3 hrs later the motion began and we worked the start area - I was a designated "why do we need a megaphone when we have Olga?" check-in person. 30 minutes after sending runners off we were at the first 5M AS (yours truly) cheering them off, and then the real work began. I had a great help from everyone who happen to hang around waiting for their runners, and from my radio people, setting up, filling cups and making PBJ's! (the 2 jobs I don't like much at AS). I gotta say, what I put as my logo on top of the tarp at AS is true. If you expect me to fill your bottles - you found a wrong person. Unless it is late into the race and you're struggling (and I have no other responsibilities at the time), or you're racing for a course record (in which case you usually have a crew) - I will not do this. Do it yourself. It's a good practice. I will, however, ask how you feel, figure out what your problem is (stomach? either less salt or more salt, or switch to water from any food. heel blisters? why are you walking downhills? feeling funky? calories. dizzy? water and coke. well, you got the idea...). I will also, as one guys from San Antonio put on their local group running page, "question your manhood or womanhood" if you decide to quit. Quitting at my AS is not an option, unless you have an injury that will jeopardize your health in a harm way. There is nothing you can complain about I haven't gone through in my own ultrarunning life. I will tend to you, yell at you, kick you out, flirt with you, kiss you, wipe your tears, dress your blisters, give you my knee and ITB straps, my warm clothes off my back, give you a hug, listen to your story and tell you plenty of mine...As one woman put after the race "we were warned you are mean, but you are actually a sweetheart". I am both. To paraphrase, you will hate to love me:)

A tremendous thank you to Larry who stayed behind at home for a bit before coming to make sure kids are not miserable for too long (truth is, our kids don't really like being there for more than couple of hours, although they did have a grand time playing football with 2 others for exactly that long, so survived OK before night sleep), he took a shift from 10:30pm and 2:30am cooking hot soups and flipping best grilled-cheese things in the world, what allowed me to get a couple hours of napping in, he brought me a french press to make best coffee in the morning, and then in the morning he took the kids back home. It may not sound lots, but it was the best help possible - I didn't have to worry about kids' duty and was able to be completely submerged into supporting runners. Another huge thanks goes to my 3 radio guys, who not only got any info I needed, they took great interest in what we do and kept me up and entertained. Marc, Joe's right hand for the weekend (in my humble opinion) had never stopped working all the odds and ends he was thrown into, from setting up, taking down, buying and delivering, I can't even name it. Luis, Billy, Glenda, Kuss - the Tejas Trails family comes to the call so grand, it is the best community I had ever witnessed, truly, no bull. Joyce came in the morning with fresh breakfast. My radio guys and a couple of runners' husbands saved my ass when I locked my car key inside the car just before leaving! Thank God they were there! It broke me down, I was so exhausted and felt it was so unfair (so much for helping, AND for recycling and dragging a full car loaded with crap back to Austin!). They exercised their breaking in skills for an hour and were finally able to get me in. Thanks to all the guys (half of whom ran in some capacity the day before in races) for breaking down the tarp and all the metal pols in my two AS's! I hate doing this too:) Thanks to Joe for putting a first-class events and bringing best people in, whether running or helping. Thanks to the runners and their crews for their great spirits and not forgetting to thank all of us who help them reach for their goals.

Steve Moore broke his own CR but by mere minutes (I believe he went out with the relay/50M guys and kind of bonked by last loop, but held strong). He had nobody close in to chase him, what doesn't make racing easy. Rhonda Claridge from CO won the women's race, but hasn't shaken down Liza's CR - I heard rumors she said she raced lots of mountain courses yet this one is the most technical she's ever been on (there is a reason it has a rating of 5/5 in Ultrarunning magazine). Lots of feet, legs and other parts were claimed by sotol and rocks. A rude awakening to anyone who comes to the website and shrugs off "less than 2,000 feet of elevation climb per loop" description. There were many outstanding performances by local runners, not in terms of extremely fast times country-wide, but personal achievements to be proud of. Thomas Orf finished a 100 in sub-23 hrs for 4th male. Chris Russel finally chased the monkey off his back by beating my time at a race - something he tried for years on any course, and here he is, moved by this goal and done it right! David Jacobson had a  fantastic 50, and David Land finished his first 100 - after not being able to do so last year. Brad Quinn did a fast 100 (to his elate) in sub-24, and Josue Stephens finished - finally! - his first, humbled by previous approach of going out too fast. Respect the distance and the course! Melissa Heggen is back from nursing a baby and kicking butty, but mainly her positive attitude shined! So many first-timers chose this course and doing well! I am sure I'll add more bits as they come to me, but in general there seem to have been more folks getting what they come there for than previous years. Rumor is I was happier than I was last year - must have something to do with Larry's help, general settling in, and you, guys, the runners and your crew, being happy, helpful and grateful! Thanks, ya'll, for the great times! Get ready to hate to love me next year!

17 comments:

  1. Olga, I cannot thank you enough for your advice, IT band strap, and the jacket off your back for my last five miles. I followed your words to the letter and crossed the finish as strong as my body would allow: no feeling sorry for myself, kept moving through the cold, and all with the eye of the tiger. You're awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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  2. Pacing/crewing/volunteering is way harder than running -- I truly believe that. I appreciate others filling my water though -- it's the one thing I hate more than anything by the end of a race (filling my water) -- that's what a pacer is for I guess :p

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  3. Danni, CR 50/100 is a self-serve race as advertised on the web. Normally, no help at any AS's is provided, so the fact that last 2 years I "run" double-AS at Crossroads/Equestrian is an extra bonus. Also, personally, I don't like waiting for volunteers to fill my bottles - it takes longer for them to do that than for me, and I like to be quick. And last, but not least, officially, I am the "only" single person running 2 aid stations at CR (with lots of help, of course, when possible). I have far more duties than filling their bottles, which is minor. As I said, "unless it's late in a race and I have no other responsibilities". I am old school. You came to an ultra. That's why Joe puts me there - not to pamper but to keep them moving:)

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  4. When you are running, you are focused mostly on yourself and the runners you see on the course, at aid stations, etc. The AS volunteers, any crew you might have, pacers, etc are all focused on you and the other runners. It's a lot fo responsibility to volunteer at an AS, especially at a 100 where you are staying awake all night making grilled cheese sandwiches. That isn't probably something most people do in life, make grilled cheese snadwiches for hours throughout the night! Of course you are tired. Throw in a few kids and you might might as well turn up the volume to 20! I am so glad to hear you helped so many acheive their goals and were appreciated!

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  5. I got worn out at CR just watching Olga command the action at Equestrian. Having run the 50 last year, I nowsay that manning (or womaning) an AS all day and night is in many ways more challenging than running the race. Good work out there, Olga. You are probably responsible for at least a couple of finishes that wouldn't happen if you weren't around to "encourage" the runners.

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  6. Great seeing you and Larry. Thanks to you, Larry and the rest of the volunteers at Equestrian and the Lodge.

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  7. Anonymous1/11/11 19:20

    Jim Dobson: As the dumbass who managed to fall on his head, let me just say how much I appreciated the concern expressed when I got to Equestrian after having fallen. A certain semi-official race person told me, "You must stop . . . . so that I can take your picture! [click] Okay, get back out there, and no whining!!" Thanks, Olga! You are the best!

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  8. Anonymous1/11/11 19:22

    Lynnor Matheney:
    The best bit of CR this time (besides Olga fixing food at Eq!!!) was whoever sang,"Who Let the Dogs out?" and the whole conga line responding,"Woof woof!!" Also, I could hardly believe it when I went to get my drop bags Sunday morning and there was Olga, still going strong at Equestrian aid station. Now that's some endurance.

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  9. Anonymous1/11/11 20:39

    Ben Drezek: No whining!!! Thats Olga!

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  10. I love, love, love that sign! Thanks for being out there doing your thing, your way. That's really what ultra's are all about, imo...finding it within yourself to get out there and get it done. Sometimes a kick in the pants or a little tough love is just what you need! :-)

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  11. Anonymous2/11/11 14:37

    from David Jacobson:
    I got into Olga's Station (aka Equestrian) and was on my best behavior. Those who have met Olga learn to behave themselves around her. Earlier in the day, when she was giving my friend Brian a hard time, I told her "I still love you Olga." She said "I know you do. You have to." Even though this race is officially a self-supported ultra, I was amazed at how many helpful volunteers filled up my water bottles for me, etc. Olga lovingly told me not to eat anything, I only had 4.something miles left, and to get the hell out of her aid station. It was fun and energy-charging seeing friends like Larry King, Bridget Clark, Gordo (Gordon Montgomery), etc. at Equestrian.

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  12. Hi Olga, thanks so much for your help all weekend. It was a blast out there.

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  13. Anonymous3/11/11 10:36

    Mer T:
    Olga - I read your report and just wanted to tell you that while I was walking with Melissa on Tues morning she went on and on about how great your attitude was at the aid station. She loved that while you meant no dropping at your aid station you did it with such a calm confidence that people knew you meant the best for them and just wanted them to continue. The highlight for her was when you went to your car and got the knee brace, didn'task the girl ifshe wanted it, but just put it on her and sent her on her way.

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  14. You were awesome as always Olga. No one epitomizes the spirit of Cactus more than you. You are the perfect AS captain for that race!!

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  15. Ditto what Chris said. You are wonderful and I was so happy to get to spend a bit of time with you.

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  16. Thank you so much, Olga! That aid station was quite the beacon of hope in the rough parts of that race.

    ~Justin

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