If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Personal ruminations on a Saturday trail run

I have lots of things going on, and 99% of those are super-exiting, super-positive and taking up a lot of time for what I don't mind - because it is all SUPER!

But one thing dampens - and still takes time - with its 1% negative, and that is something brewing in Hill Country Running Club, a Board Member (VP) of which I was for a year and the new election of which is coming up in 8 days. We say, one spoon of poo spoils a bucket of honey? It really IS literally one spoon, one person...I can't speak of it while I am still a Board Member (and yes, I was urged to become President by each and every member, but have a reason to step down for a year - see SUPER stuff above taking up my time and energy), but I can say it is UGLY and I was so stressed conducting an emergency board meeting n our backyard while Larry laid sod in - I ate a BAGEL after I finished! With PBJ! I don't even like PBJ, and I can't have wheat/gluten due to numerous GI issues, not to mention Paleo life style!

So, anyway, I did do a long run this morning, and I had a great thought process in my head, which I had emailed to the club. I figured I'd put it here as well.

Then add photos of Larry's work on our backyard (and board meeting).

I am a solo runner. In my 13 years of running seriously I had belonged to a number of groups, often simultaneously, and ran with folks here and there, did speed workouts with groups, hill repeats, some long runs. In Portland I had two best friends and running partners whom I ran with the most - for 2 reasons: they were always agreeing with what I propose and would always go at whatever pace I set, slow or faster. The conversations were precious too.

But in general, contrary to popular belief, I am an introvert and groups overwhelm me. And due to my constant life's stress and press for time, I run by myself. I like this way. Even in a race, I never "team up", nor do I have crew or pacer - I love running "into" friends, hooking up for a quarter of a mile, and then part ways. I love running into an AS and being cheered on loudly and by name, but then escape into solitude...

I am also a mountain runner. Well, I used to be, before I moved to Austin. Why am I saying it? I had a great run this morning. I don't run Barton Creek SuperHighway more than twice a year, and I usually have a good reason for it. It's flat (what doesn't mean it's easy, it challenges me with not being able to switch the muscles) and kind of unexciting (just personal opinion, nothing more). The thing is, those twice a year make this Super Highway a great path - because I get to see about 2 dozen folks I know. I run alone (see above). I do run with music, but since English is my second language, I can barely understand choruses and it's simply a background. I use it to down the noise in my head and let the thinking flow. I often don't even realize what the hell is playing (I haven't change the selection in 8 years). But because I choose to run the trail in the opposite direction everyone else seems to be doing it, I get to see so many people, my jaws hurt from smiling and saying hello's.

I saw HCTR groups today at large. Reminded me I am a part of a large club! Reminded me, in 4 years living in Austin (and an extra year that Larry had signed me up for the list ever since started dating), I grew relationships. Friendships, even. I often say how with age it becomes more and more difficult to find new "real" friends, even in beloved sport. But I surely grew some friends here, and absolutely made very awesome relationships as well, whatever you call them (my definition of a "friend" is extremely strict, again, just personal). 

I was in such a happy place. I get to talk to all of them, twice! And see some Rogue folks, and random other peeps I met at the races in Texas, and even bikers - by the way, I never had a single problem with a biker on a trail here, ever. Only positive experiences. All's great.

Some folks I know very well, like, very very well, and love a whole bunch. Some know briefly. Some hardly recognize a face and no clue on a name. But it doesn't matter. It still feels like a family.

My last stop was going back up HOL and into 2 ladies - longest conversation of the day. Brought memories on how I started. 13 years is not such a long time, there are people on this list had done longer or so. But the thing is, 13 years ago the number of trail ultrarunners was so small and intimate, we knew each other's names across the country. And those who had embraced me 13 years ago - they still stay. So, my family hasn't changed. It expanded some. And in recent years it expanded a huge deal. I have mixed feelings about it, and as someone who speaks my mind, I voiced it always - no reservations. From one point, I was "allowed" to step in and accepted, and taught a lot. So, my passion is to draw people in to this wonderful niche, and share the knowledge further down. Truly a great thing to see someone getting "hooked" and falling in love. From another, it gets over-populated and main stream. And as an introvert (see above), it frightens me and make me feel very uncomfortable. Just sharing personal feelings here, no judgment passed. The soothing thought in it is that my family that had taken me in 13 years ago is here - still here - regardless. Some new people come and go, some spark, some fly, some finish and never come back. My "old" family is constant. That is soothing. That, and those new ones who develop a real zest for it, one I can't quite put into words, English or Russian, and who just feel real. The family I have is ever growing, indeed. To some extend, I "birthed" a number of members:)

So, I finished, and I was all elated. I was combining this email/post in my head on my drive home (I am a writer, and my muse only comes on the long runs). I was emotional, near tears. I am not the biggest fan of living in Texas (never hid it either), but once I live somewhere, however long or short, I am a proud part and a member. HCTR allowed me to be that better. Bigger. More obvious. I was writing a "thank you" note in my head.

Now, all I say here comes strictly from Olga, the individual. Not a Board member, a runner with any affiliation, or whatnot. A completely and utterly personal exhale.

I came home - and opened up emails. WTH? The endorphin and all the "high" feelings from the long run had began dissimulating. I had struggled with what "club" is for a bit, and voiced it, and withdrew from it, and was invited to re-join and become a board member, and had plans and ideas, and some of them were ok'ed, and some were shushed under the table. I kept struggling, as I get everything funneled through emotions and nothing through rules...and I run into rules, just as I am about to leave. I am kind of sad (remember, this is not a board's opinion, nor mine as a board member, just a personal runner's one). I am not into laws or following much of rules - heck, I can't even follow a simple recipe direction and get lost on that very Barton Creek Super Highway, honest to God, every one of those 2 runs a year! I did today! I hate reading rules, and only do it when pointed - and that's why my job doesn't have anything to do with it. I get to play as I go. I love trail running for the very same reason. I make up routes as I go, as long as I have a start and a finish. That's why I want a race to mark a course - I won't read much of description, just point me the way and give me some water...

But I digress. The Board will deal with concerns, and address them to the BEST ability. Yawn (that is a personal yawn, don't jump into conclusion). I hope to not see attacks and assumptions in a meantime. And mostly, like when we argue over organic food vs hormone cheap production, China labor vs local businesses, coffee vs tea, republicans vs democrats - vote. I encourage everyone to come to voting on Monday, April 8th, at 7 pm at Double Dave, and speak their minds. It's one day out of your year, and if it's really that important, come and show it by casting your vote. And to a little more add-on on by-laws and sticking to the letter: the board is not going through unless voted for at that meeting, even if there will be no "challengers" for positions. Come. Your voice matters. And volunteer your ideas how to make YOUR club better, no matter who the board is.

Sign me out. I just want to be a runner.

Luckily, I had already met close to a hundred of you and made personal connections. I hope they stay.




JeffO said...

Many of the same concerns for me bowing-out of the Denver Trail Runners. I'd choose a run and too many people said it was too hot, cold, wet, windy, etc. I'd say, no one is forced to run - free group, free choice. It's OUTSIDE! for heavens-sake! But no, gotta change the run location! Too many weenies want an indoor run in the hills.
I'll stop there...
Very nice backyard. Glad things are working so well in life. You're one of the few trail-running friends I truly miss seeing anymore. You're so real.

Danni said...

Gotta just ignore the haters.

Sarah said...

So sorry about that 1 percent. What a bummer that the bad apples/haters seem to make the most noise.

But awesome that so much else is going great in your life! :) Loved reading your thoughts about being part of the running community. Reminds me of 2005/06 when I was stumbling around the internet trying to find out more about this ultrarunning thing and came upon your blog..... :)

Chris said...

Olga, I love reading your blog. It speaks to me because we are so similar. I am an introvert and that surprised people. I get anxious and nervous in big crowds. I like to run alone. I am concerned that I'm losing my 'sport' as it gets bigger and more popular. Love, Love to Ya!

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