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

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.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Syllamo races, family version.

"Have you ever lead from almost get go and felt the pressure heat?" - asked Larry (read his story on the link) after his misfortune in a 50k rendition of Syllamo weekend. Um, as a matter of fact, yes, honey, I know exactly how it feels...

That was Friday, after the first day of Syllamo 3-day stage race. Since it was a Spring break, and we had both Stephen and Harrison with us, we wanted to each have an opportunity to put a race in, check out new state, and be able to supervise and entertain the kids. Thus came the idea of coming to Arkansas, since Syllamo allowed separate race entries besides running full stages.

Neither one of us felt we were prepared adequately for the advertised elevation gain (7,000 feet in a 50k, and 14,000 feet in a 50M), and especially since dealing with cramps at the last "hilly" 50k 3 weeks prior, the apprehension was palpable. I had consulted with Meredith Terranova, the local nutrition guru in endurance sports, and we had found what seemed to have been a solution. I still felt nervous though - I am not good at hills when they are constantly up and down, more of a "3 miles hike-3 miles downhill" type of runner. However, Larry's race went perfect where physical part of it lays - he felt strong, light on his feet and had his head in a game. Had it not been all that craze with course marking (and over 3/4 of the field getting lost in numerous unmarked intersections), he would have had a race of his life. Part of me felt I had to make up for this. Part of me was inspired by his words "If there was a hill I knew a guy behind would be walking, so I had to choose to run". Part of me just believed it was time to do something in a mind game, enough settling in for whatever.

Of course, since it was a stage race, and every competitor had already put 31 plus bonus miles the day prior, I wasn't racing any girls in a real definition of the word. But I was fully aware of Carol O'Hear's presence (an amazing runner from when I started, it was absolutely precious to see her again), Katie Desplinter, and one and only iRunfar's Meghan Hicks (who was wrapping up her training for MdS and thus racing with a 15 lbs pack, but you never count off Meghan). Mostly, I wanted to go after a time goal - I always repeat time and again, racing is all about clock, and where it puts you is secondary depending who else came to an event and how their day developed. I - I wanted to break 11 hrs and run as many hills as I possibly could without cramping or failing second half.

A few yards after leaving the camping/start area, we filed onto a single track up the gentle hill with some roots and rocks spread over it. I got around a number of people, quietly laughed that Larry was right and my headlamp does not have fresh batteries, and got behind a couple of guys with one right on my heels. The conversation was about yesterday's 50k and being lost, and in a few seconds I realize I am with the leaders from the race - and "oh, shit, I don't belong here" phrase Larry used popped in my head. But for some reason I felt bold today and said to myself "whatever, stay with it". And so I did.

I am not a "morning of the race" kind of person. I don't like chatting prior the start, I don't feel nervous, or anxious, and surely not excited. I can't explain it, but it's more like I want to be by myself, have it started, have first 30 minutes go by, so my mind can separate from everything existing and just be. I love that feeling of first half of the race - just being.

The effort felt nice, we exchanged few sentences with the guys, they offered their "sorry" for how Larry's race turned out, and we moved in that order, 2 guys, myself, one more behind - and a line of the field further back. I ran hills. I listened to music. I breathed. And I checked on the trees - my luck was that the 50M course was marked with permanent tree blaze markers (painted rectangles) and I knew how to read those since I "grew up as a hiker" on East Coast - depending which way the rectangle turned, you go straight, expect the turn, turn, and so on. The lights of the guys ahead were bobbling showing me I am still ok, my legs felt springy, and life was beautiful. Ah, here is what I live for - time past those first 30 minutes in a race...

We popped into first AS at mile 5 all together and bunched up, the four of us, exactly on my pace chart, 1 hr in. From afar I saw Larry - he wasn't supposed to be there, but seeing him at an AS is always - always - a highlight of my runs. He knows how to support - and when not to (I am self-sufficient and have my own way of getting in and out), he is there, he doesn't need unnecessary chit-chat, I am comfortable just giving half a smile as I enter - and once I know I am done with what I needed, I run out and yell "I love you!". Simple. He is there. I got his full support.

We left AS and I got around the first 2 guys. Ha, wouldn't it be funny to run in first overall - I briefly thought. It wasn't a serious thought, but I had a laugh to myself about it, as I "lead" for a mile. 3 guys re-passed me back, all with smiles, and we settled into our positions for the day.

My only downside for the first 10 miles was the side effect of eating some kinds of food I am not supposed to/used to lately, despite my efforts to be as close as I could. Traveling for 5 days before the race, and in some places which were "dots on a map" didn't provide for good planning, even though I carried some baked sweet potatoes and boiled eggs. That said, I had to step to the bushes 5 times (and no, for those who cares, I don't carry toilet paper, so I didn't damage the pristine woods with littering). The IBS reared its head, I swallowed always-with-me Immodium, and by mile 11 or so was in perfect shape.
Mile 9 aid station had Larry there once again - what a high! - and yet again, I was there on predicted time, 1:45 in. Still peppy and running hills. And since my stomach was about to settle in, it was time to begin eating calories. I popped a gel and ran into the woods.

The course was great, really. It was relentlessly going up or down, nothing too bad (the first 2 sections had seriously hiking sections with steps, but it was over by now), pure single track, coming up the ridge, waving through, dropping to the creeks, and doing it over again. And I ran. The next AS was in 9.5M, but the organizers did set up an unmanned water stop with a time sheet, and it was great - I also saw I was 5 minutes behind Matt (the 50k winner and eventual stage winner) and half-heartedly thought that my goal to not let myself slow down was to chase him. Oh, the things we tell our minds...

I kept on rolling, and as the sun was rising and breaking the heat, I got into Crippled Turkey, mile 18.5 AS, where Billy Simpson, long time friend, was the captain - and I was there 3:45 in, a full 15 minutes ahead of time. (Billy: "Shit, Olga, you're flying!", me: "I don't know about flying, but feeling pretty good, indeed"). It was my drop-bag spot, and Hilario (Lalo), a friend from San Antonio, was there waiting for his wife Amanda to come through. He was awesome with help! Got my bag, filled my bottle, shoved my gels into pockets - efficient, like he knew what he was doing:) and all with great words of encouragements. Don't ever underestimate folks like that - it's not even about saved 40 seconds, it's about that very special support that carries you to the next place.

We entered a dirt road for a mile or so, then turned back onto trail, and soon after I saw 2 lead guys coming back. The trail rolled, I ran strong, Matt came into view and told me that RD turns everyone around at the AS and not a mile past it (so, as I chatted with Steve Kirk the RD after, the course had become 48 miles now, and oh, by the way, there was no 14k feet of elevation gain, may be 10k-11k at most). That said, Matt had about 15 minutes on me now. I wondered if he'd fade...:)

Yes, of course, Larry (now with the kids) was there, and not only that, he brought me ice! The best crew ever. The day was getting hot (it was measured in mid-80's), and the AS's didn't have an ice supply. That was a sweet thing, ice - and a kiss, and a slap of "Way to go!". I was re-charged and energized.

Not to mention all the people I got to see! The course is out-n-back, and so now I was privileged to see about 100 or so runners, all cheering me on, some calling my name, and mostly smiling! I had been running mostly all the hills still, feeling the works by now, but not in legs - just in effort. My fueling, hydration and salt uptake was spot on, I had no problems whatsoever. And with that running - and the fact that course got shortened by 2 miles - I, of course, came with a new goal: sub-10 hrs. Hey, I never said I'd let myself settle!

Lalo at Billy's station was still as great as he was the first time through. Can't thank the guy enough. I was pumped, on the way home, in the heat of the day in so many ways.

Things got warm, and I was so grateful that I carried an extra water bottle filled up from the start in my pack - this is where I got to peruse it. Even with that unmanned AS half-way through 9.5 miles, I drained both bottles in-between refills. Was somewhat sluggish, yet nailed the self-predicted (now new and adjusted) time "splits" to the minute (interestingly, so you don't think I am a number geek, I never look at my "chart" once it's created, I have some kind of "feel", sixth sense or something in a memory. I don't run by pace, or even so much as miles between AS, I just the time it will take). 

As I was approaching "9 miles to go", I heard hollering and yelling my name - and sure enough, my sweetie was there! Dropped my pack I was getting tired of having behind (it was empty now anyway). Filled my both bottles with ice, Stephen got me some pop drink they had at AS, and off I went. Thank God for ice! I drained first bottle within 10 minutes out, then nursed the second. Those 9 miles (both on the way in and out) had bluffs and ran some along the creek, so the signal from Garmin was constantly getting lost, but since it was already happening from the beginning, I never paid attention to miles, just time. Even more-so, that beeping every time "satellite is found/satellite is lost" was like talking to a friend. I was, after all, running all by myself the whole day.

I struggled some on this section with the overheating and mild dehydration (hard to think if I didn't carry that second bottle!), and my diarrhea decided to make a come-back a few times, and I stumbled and fell once (and almost cramped, but not quite), and I walked a few more steps than I wanted to - but with all that I still arrived at the last AS and into care of my darling husband on time.

I showed not only signs of stress, knowing I am 5 miles off the finish line, I allowed myself to speak it out loud too: "I am struggling". "I know" he says, and that's all I need. Got my ice, 2 full bottles, cup of pop - and off with words "See you in an 1:10-1:15". I am still running.

About a mile after AS my Garmin dies (did I not charge it either?). I laugh - now I don't even have a track of time, yet along miles. Get a little scared that I'll slow down - then realize that it makes me run more sections because of exactly this fear. At one of those "real steep steps hiking part" as I try to swing my leg up - my right inner thigh cramps from the groin all the way down to foot. I grab it and calmly say "OK, stay with it, breathe" - and it goes away in a minute. That was the one and only cramp I had all day! I am careful for a couple more minutes, and then back to running.

Last part of it had Larry written all over, again. He, of the two of us, is the guy who has an amazing map-like memory. He loves maps to begin with, studies them, and in general pays attention to all things around. I am one who "travels in life" (whether running or just daily living) hardly noticing things around me unless there are emotions tied up to them. So, I did remember from the start of the race that I should be finishing on a gentle downhill with rocks and roots. I had no clue how long that was supposed to last and what other "marks" of almost done I should watch for. So, once I stepped onto that trail, I smiled knowing I am almost done yet not sure how far to go. I turned the music off in hopes to hear water in the creek or music at the finish line or at least people. And tried not to trip over.

The view of finishing area pavilion and Larry's "woohoo!" came at the same time. Last turn around a corner - and a sprint to the finish line.
My time for 48 miles with some 10k of elevation gain was 9:46. I ran to half-way in 4:40, so second half took me 5:06. To say I was pleased with how I ran and stayed on top of the "push" would be understatement. I truly enjoyed "coming back to racing". I never caught Matt but I had fun trying - and I did ask when he finished (25 minutes ahead, I believe).

I drunk my Recoverite drink in Coconut water for proper recovery, and put my Drymax calf sleeves on - after standing in a cold creek for a few minutes (and, unlike Larry, I am a wuss after the race is over, you won't make me get deep and/or be in it long). The absence of any kind of cramps during - and after (! I was even able to get my feet up into the sink at the toilet when washing off) told me I had figured out MY electrolyte balance. I had no stiffness even after 6 hrs of drive before we got to our hotel room for the night - and neither for the next day. I was able to shuffle my "streaking" 2 miles each day - low on energy a bit, and my right knee is talking, but no soreness. Whether it has something to do with the way I eat now, it surely not serious training. I might have worked hard in my runs, but not nearly where I have to be for this race, so super-pleased I am. And last, but not least, it is BY FAR easier to carry one's body over hills when there are 10 lbs of useless fat is missing - and by far more fun! I have hopes I might be able to be ok in a San Diego 100 come June...

Photoalbum of both days of racing for Larry and I.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New enterprise seeks help!

You already all know I LOVE to knit. Like that - capital and bold. I do it relatively quick, and since I hate wasting my time in life for any extended period (even in 5 minutes chunks), and I have to take a bus to/from work every day, plus we, as a family, do watch TV at night for an hour or so before bed, my hands are occupied.

The thing is, nowadays I live in Austin, TX (duh). That means how many sweaters and other items I may possible need? So, I started knitting hats and scarfs for my friends - a sudden idea, and I sent them out, and everyone loves them.

Well, now that my best buddies whom I cherish are all outfitted with personalized knitted equipment, I need to find a market for my outlet!

Please help former Soviet with no idea on how to promote and enterprise. I would like to figure out where and how to promote my numerous knitting ideas. Etsy.com is a bit "lost in numbers of offerings". Runners have need for skiing/snowshoeing/backpacking? I can set up a website (working on it), but how do I spread the idea?

Below are some samples. Link for sale and donation.

On the running front, I did a local 10k race on Sunday, after running 12 miles on trails and besting my usual time by a minute. I haven't run a 10 km since 2002 (? or 2001), and had no clue what I should be trying for, so I set a sub-50 minutes with a slight hope of 48 minutes (just sounded like a number for 8 min/mile, forget that 0.2M at the end). It was pretty hilly (especially miles 4 and 5), much more so than my last 10k in NYC, I ran very even and up front the (small) field of folks spread out, caught up a few guys and a girl in those last hills and pushed for the flat/downhill finish in 48:03 (should have checked out the watch, silly, instead of focusing on the ground). I was very happy with results, placed 1st in 40-44 (3rd Master, 8th female, 25th Overall), and actually got a little medal (funny thing is I don't take awards or medals from ultras, but did take that one home!). So, to cap the Sunday I drove 48 minutes, waited to start 48 minutes, ran 48 minutes, waited for awards ceremony 48 minutes, and drove back home 48 minutes. And I don't regret it one bit:) even though I also managed to chafe raw my armpits to blood (I guess when running hard, arm pumping is involved versus ultrarunning shuffle...).

Photos courtesy of MV Production and Michael Bishop

We are now all (with kids) in Claremore, OK, visiting Larry's family, and then heading out to Arkansas to run Syllamo races.

Tulsa, OK - Aquarium, Loops, lunch.

Visited favorite knitting store in Tulsa, Loops, went for a little spree and had a great time.

Monday, March 04, 2013

One more Nueces.

I spent Saturday at Camp Eagle 3 hrs away from Austin - for the 4th time in a row - at Nueces races put on by Joe of Tejas Trails. First year I ran the 50M race (and it was kind to me), and then I volunteered, managing the Main AS (start/finish/loop end). The set up here is the best for racers and volunteers alike: cabins and dorm style heated rooms with mattresses (bring your own sleeping bag), showers and toilets, covered area, river, zipline, trails with hills and amazing views. Not much different this year from years prior - it was a USATF National Trail 50M championship, what usually attracts about 5 runners vying for spot on each male and female side, and over 300 local folks running a variety of distances: 50M, 50k, 25k and 10k. Nobody gets messed up, lost (well, almost) or misplaced.
I served, poured cups, cut PBJ's and bananas, gave advice on electrolytes, food, water and stretching IT bands, hugged and talked and even knitted as the biggest waves wounded down. Henry Hobbs, a volunteer-extraordinaire, was my right hand and a leg and together we sizzled - with a step in from a couple of girls smashing those PBJ's.
EnduroPhoto, with Henry and "little English lady" Ann - both always at TT races.

EnduroPhoto - action shot for AS.
RD Joe - photo courtesy Scott Dunlap.

In the 50M Cody Moat won (coming from behind on the last loop), with Paul Terranova 2nd and Jason Bryant 3rd (again:)). On girl's side Michele Yates almost closed on boys, with Melanie Fryar 2nd and Pam Proffitt Smith 3rd.  Both men and women set new Course Records, Paul improved his course PR by 30 min (he lead for close to 40 miles).

A few local guys and girls are going after Tejas 50 - running every 50M in Tejas Trails events - and they all finished.

My best Texas friend Eman, whom I took on her first trail run 3 years ago, had completed her first 50k - and I couldn't have been more proud. Way to celebrate an important birthday (wink) and a freedom coming with a Greencard! This course is special, as she ran her first 25k here as well.

Another hat, anyone? Photo JoAnna Brand.

Eman celebrates with mentor - photo credit Eman.

That's my girl Eman! Photo JoAnna Brand.

Other than that, things are moving along. Last week I gave my body time to recover and allowed it to dictate the pace is it felt - some days were ok, some much better. Today I ran a great hilly 6M tempo and felt springy. This week will be squeezing a lot in terms of training, as it's the only one I got before Syllamo 50M. Basically, as bad as it sounds, every day is planned to be either a quality workout, or moderate effort run (track, 10M "negative", hill repeats). My plan on easy is for Friday only. Sunday is a flat 10k race after Saturday's longish trail run (just because I haven't run a road or other 10k since 2002 and because I am petrified of short races and discovering how bad I am now - but truth is always good to know and to overcome fear.

We'll be leaving Austin next Tuesday with kids for Spring break. We'll drive through OK and visit with Larry's family for a couple of days, then drive through NW Arkansas to Syllamo races location. Those will be killers. Abandon all hope. I better figure out that cramping thing - and Meredith had agreed to chat with me this week briefly to see if anything strikes out. 50M with 14k elevation gain, and not in big climbs/descends (although those seem to be there as well), is something I am not certain I am ready for. Never thought I'd say that, but despite that I feel great and train hard, where mileage and serious hills come - I lack both of those big time. Do the best you can with what you have...

On other fronts, I will be in Portland in May! Every year Portland is THE most exciting trip of the year for me, more so than any race. It is HOME. Every nook, turn, trail, view, even road and street...friends I was blessed to meet...strengths I found in myself, discoveries made within...pains and aches nevertheless...dreams, hopes, shuttered and new ones... Planned that trip today. I won't come back for good (we say "never walk into the same river twice"), but I will always visit with heart full of love. I have a fully tight agenda scheduled literally by the minute, with Friday morning run in Forest Park with Ronda S. and Amy Sproston (hope they are kind to me, those speedy gals!), day with Alex (who had just moved in with his father, keep your fingers crossed it's a great step forward for good!), evening dinner with Monika and Stan (family), with additional trip to Corvallis for McDonald Forest 50k - another one with 7k feet of elevation gain (my 3rd take at this local monster and a greatest training for my new summer goal!), where I'll stay with Pam and Mac Smith and then party after the race with all my buddies (bonus to see so many friends at once!), then a trip to Bend to see my best friend Gail and run some Smith Rock park with Maura. Phew! Thrilled every time I think about it.

Some things I came across and wanted to share - or moreso to remind myself of. Click if you'd like.

6 things to love about yourself

7 truths we forget often

7 ways to stop hurting yourself