Monday, November 04, 2013
Coming to terms at Ozark 100.
I actually typed 4 pages between 11 pm and midnight on Saturday night, when Larry walked in. I planned to post it all and wanted to put down all the thoughts I had while fresh (there was no internet access, but I could do Word file on my laptop). I didn't re-read it, but driving from Missouri to Oklahoma (we stayed with Larry's mom on Sunday), and then 8 hrs from OK to Austin, I tried to remember what was there (I still have the file but don't want to read it). Larry and I, of course, talked a lot too. There was a lot of anger in those pages. There was a lot of anger while I was on the trails of Ozark, whenever I was alone, not sharing steps with so many wonderful people, guys and gals, talking - that time was precious. But alone, I was in a pretty piss-poor mood. At first at others - those well-meaning wishers of "You may surprise yourself" and "Don't pass Larry until mile 85". Did they really not believe me and thought I am sandbagging? Then I let that go - and was mad at myself for taking those words to heart that way. Putting pressure on myself. Imagining that miracles happen? They don't! I knew that too.
When I said I am looking forward this weird experiment of entering a 100M run with no running behind, no training, and physically not being able to run besides one 20 miler (not injured, not ill, just not able to muster any runs, no matter how many tries I had putting on shoes and getting out the door) - I was wondering if I can "walk it in". Part of me thought so - not sure if I hoped so, but was pretty certain I could, after all, I walked many fallen-apart races, last 40 miler in September including. I am a very good, natural walker, and I was OK walking the whole damn thing. Unfortunately, the only surprise I did get was that even for walking - at least for walking a "good solid walk" when I was keeping up among the same group of runners during the race for all 51 mile - takes some being prepared as well. I wasn't. I hurt more than I anticipated, and it started much earlier than I could have ever predicted, and it rolled into overuse injuries that were not fun - and still aren't (and I am hurt right now more than I was after finishing SD100). I had a great 5M run in the woods, on a single track, in a dark, gliding easily, spring in my step - and that was it, loud and clear.
I won't be listing things, or re-living the miles. I had a smile on my face when came to realization where I am, finally, at mile 19 or so. Ever after that it was bad, badder and worst. I cried a lot. Because the experiment, like I should know in science, gave a result - it did - just not what I sort of wanted. What it showed is that you can't fake a 100 miler. I know some folks don't train, or train so little and poor, it's laughable, yet get through to the finish. I could have too. They hurt. They make it, and proud of it - I could have (and have had) too. But I also during the years had awesome 100M races - when everything clicks, the hurt is very measured, and I rip the benefits of training. That's the feeling I like.
Until you ask "What for?". It sucks you in, like a cycle of never-ending game. One race you nail it - and you want to re-live the triumph. Then you suck - and you want a redemption. And it goes, over and over. I kept wondering when I'll stop. I promised myself last Fall, when my body rebelled in the same way it did this season. I posted about it, how I plan to run un-attached at un-known small home-grown races and just learn new trails. And I did that - and somehow I managed to get in good shape, get into SD100 (which did mean a lot to me), and train for it - and have a blast. I have no regrets, I am thrilled - I even dug out my bucket list and found that "Get myself in 2005 shape" was on it, and I can honestly check it off. And then, before I knew it - I was seeking "Just one more chance to qualify for HR100", and then "add on another 100 while I am at it", and then get passed on it, and still consider a couple of 100's I DNF'ed previously (redemption, anyone?).
It was an awesome result of an experiment that let me know - I can't fake a 100 miler, so I can't sign up for those 100's "just do them for fun" - because I already knew the answer to the other question: I will not be choosing to commit my life to train well and competent to get through a 100M race the way it deserves. And that means - I am not doing anymore 100's. No Fat Dog, no Hardrock qualifiers, no repeats, no new races, no roll-over Grindstone - no more. And then I grieved...
The last 9 mile section was all about "This is it". Life as knew it in the last 10 years was over. Who am I? I am known as "The Olga, The 100 miler, Do what you know how to do". It's real. I wrapped a lot of my life squeezing solid training around every other aspect. I thought I am doing a great balancing act, but the truth is, I don't think so. While I held jobs (plural more often than not), family, household, chores, other hobbies - it all evolved around picking a 100 or two for the year. And I claimed it was healthy, good for the soul (and therefore for the family) and "normal".
Until it was starring in my face: it's not. I am missing out on things I, myself, want to do, for the sake of another 100. I don't do things half-assed. I had to tell myself the truth. I had to not wean myself from my pacifier of being a 100-miler, but cut my arm off so the "other" life can begin. It had been an incredible journey, every step of it. It taught me strength, perseverance, patience, wisdom. It is much more, by far, difficult to walk away than continue. I am extremely vulnerable and scared right now. But this journey is exactly what taught me than I can do even that - move on another journey.
That post on FB generated comments many of which implied I must be leaving ultrarunning. I am not. God, I hope I can, eventually, run again - because I do love running! And I surely do love trails - heck, are you kidding? I am just simply not doing 100M races anymore. I am thrilled to have had an opportunity to participate and have an amazing run at San Diego 100 - my Swan Song. Some may say it would have been great to leave on that accord and not have a DNF tagging behind. I am thankful to have this DNF - because without it I would have still been wondering "What if...". Now I don't. It's over.
Don't feel bad for me. And absolutely, please, don't take it as lecturing! This is where I am, not you, not anyone else. This is the right time for me - and he right place. I am at peace. With a lot of emptiness, and scared, but at peace.
And that's how my last 2 slow miles went, as the darkness fell and the cold air descended (and I had no light). I walked - and smiled, again, tears drying off. I walked into mile 51 AS and as Coleen was about to start her "No dropping, you're looking great" - I raised my hand: Save your energy, girl, I've given this talk more times than I can count. I am done. And then I had another tear - she said: "Well, Larry said it's his last 100 and he is crewing for you". Baby, crewing is cancelled. We are going to do things together. Not sharing passion for something while not actually doing it side by side - no more of that. Our lives are going to be together from now on.
I prayed. Yes, this ex-Soviet girl can pray when needed - I was giving up my life as a 100 mile runner just so Larry can finish his last attempt.
And then, as I was done typing my somewhat angry thoughts on my laptop in a cozy cabin at Ozark 100 - Larry walks in: "Please don't hate me"...
This race was never about me. But as we set together on a bed, we realized - this was not quite about Larry either. It was about learning lessons from every step, needing it to figure things out - make decisions and come to peace. And just as so many times lately - our decisions match. Must be a good sign for our life together huh?
I guess I should say a few words about Ozark 100 in the middle of Missouri. It is truly beautiful. We lucked out - the leaves didn't fall yet, and we were treated to awesome range of colors - on the trees, and under our feet. Yo could still see the rocks on this pretty technical trail in many parts, and it is wet with creeks, small and larger. The organization is awesome, and the volunteers at the AS's are all super-knowledgeable ultrarunners who know the deal well. The local folks are kind as only middle of nowhere people are, and the Bass Resort is a total gift as a race headquarters - or a family vacation destination. I am blessed to have visited and participated.
I am going to take some time healing those injuries I caused myself while still deciding whether or not keep on walking - and yes, I also dropped the Veteran's Camp this coming weekend (sorry for such a turn of events, but I am pretty useless where it comes to moving around, and I also simply need to be selfish and take care of myself), as well as from Hellgate 100k in December (I emailed Horton on that too). I will be still and listen to what my body is asking me - and where my soul is taking me. I know it will be something really wonderful.
Enjoy some shots we took on Friday. There was no better place to spend a weekend.