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

Monday, August 26, 2013

From Mark and Angel

Words spoke to me today, just in time. link

  1. Breathe in the future, breathe out the past.  No matter where you are or what you’re going through, always believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Never expect, assume, or demand.  Just do your best, control the elements you can control, and then let it be.  Because once you have done what you can, if it is meant to be, it will happen, or it will show you the next step that needs to be taken.
  2. Life CAN be simple again.  Just choose to focus on one thing at a time.  You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it all right now.  Breathe, be present, and do your best with what’s in front of you. 
  3. Let others take you as you are, or not at all.  Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.  By being yourself, you walk your path confidently and don’t expect anyone else to understand your journey, especially if they have not been exactly where you are going.
  4. You are not who you used to be, and that’s OK.  You’ve been hurt; you’ve gone through numerous ups and downs that have made you who you are today.  Over the years, so many things have happened – things that have changed your perspective, taught you lessons, and forced your spirit to grow. 
  5. Everything that happens helps you grow, even if it’s hard to see right now.  Circumstances will direct you, correct you, and perfect you over time.  So whatever you do, hold on to hope.  The tiniest thread will twist into an unbreakable cord.  Let hope anchor you in the possibility that this is not the end of your story.
  6. Do not educate yourself to be rich, educate yourself to be happy.  That way when you get older you’ll know the value of things, not the price. 
  7. Be determined to be positive. Understand that the greater part of your misery or unhappiness is determined not by your circumstances, but by your attitude. So smile at those who often try to begrudge or hurt you, show them what they can’t take away from you.
  8. Sometimes you have to let a person go so they can grow.  Because, over the course of their lives, it is not what you do for them, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them a successful human being.
  9. Sometimes getting the results you crave means stripping yourself of people that don’t serve your best interests.  This allows you to make space for those who support you in being the absolute best version of yourself.  It happens gradually as you grow.  You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do.  So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on.
  10. It’s better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that,” than to look back and say, “I wish I did that.”  In the end, people will judge you in some way anyway.  So don’t live your life trying to impress others.  Instead live your life impressing yourself.  Love yourself enough to never lower your standards for anyone. 
  11. If you’re looking for a happy ending and can’t seem to find one, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new beginning.  Brush yourself off and accept that you have to fail from time to time.  That’s how you learn.  The strongest people out there – the ones who laugh the hardest with a genuine smile – are the same people who have fought the toughest battles.  They’re smiling because they’ve decided that they’re not going to let anything hold them down, they’re moving on to a new beginning.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Running, but not the miles.

Rather a mild case of depression. Which I end up getting into every damn August since I moved to Texas! I can adjust to heat, pretend to get along with it, and even train in it...for a few months, but not for 6 in a row! And when the temps hit 100's for a stretch of weeks with no break, and even walking to the gym becomes a burden - the Universe tends to send me a signal and I get injured...since I can't darn pull myself back off! So, I end up not running because I physically can't, what doesn't help with that depression state - since running is the only way I know how to deal with depression!

Anyway, the hamstring strain is not healing, the sciatica nerve got bunged up inside it and inflamed from knee to glut, I make my morning outings at 11 min/mile pace (I dipped sub-10 on one run for 8 miles and was thrilled! on the road!), the 5 miles of rocky trails we have here (ok, may be 15 miles) are run in the last 4 years across and over every inch (and even that only happens once a week on Saturday, the rest is stuck to flat road loops around house)...the goals get fuzzy, and I am not a happy camper.

I am not too concerned about Grindstone, but may be it's not a good thing. As long as I get healthy by then, I plan to hike it up and jog it down (and pray for not many flat parts I am technically required to run, since that's the hurting part). I need a finish under 36 hrs (cut off) to qualify for Hardrock 100 lottery. I do hope to make it sub-30 - I'll be lying if I say I am ok to walk the whole thing, but if I need to, I will.

Because this winter will be my last time applying for Hardrock 100 lottery. It's just not working out for me here. And you can tell me to get excited, and keep on going, and suck it up...and if you think I haven't said that, or heard that, or done that, think again.

But sucking up still requires at least an inspirational point, which I ran out of. And as I tell my coaching clients, if the goal doesn't inspire you and doesn't mean something personal to YOU - forget doing anything serious and just power through. Like last season, when San Diego 100 turned in by accident and my whole first half of the year lit up all kinds of great colors...ain't happening now. Hardrock is changing, I am changing, my life is changing.

I am running low on mental and emotional fuel. The job job, the daily 8-5 one, provides security and stability (and means to run). The other things provide emotional and mental blessing, but little pay off. We can all talk about money in high-spirited terms, but the truth is, I am here, in this country, all with no relatives to help, with kids, future (very near retiring) and responsibilities to my partner in life and his goals. So, floating on dreams is not going to make me feel better if I can't pay for food - at the ripe age of almost 44 - or for those runs that still fill my soul. Lets set aside the "Ah" moments and get into real life. I work a lot and am totally wiped out, and the summer heat makes it worse, and the hard training overwhelms right now. This is THIS moment. I "coached" through this kind of moments my running clients - and I told them to drop me and pull back. So, who's gonna tell me that?

I took 8 yoga classes in the last 12 days, went to my chiropractor for some digging (and have 2 more sessions), got a massage, I stretch, I weight train per PT advice, and I shuffle flat roads to not aggravate the injury. It doesn't get better, nor does it fill my heart.

For a lot of other reasons, my life seems to be upside down right now, and I can't find a course. I will, of course, I always do...that "suck it up" part works like a charm, but right now I need to break down, to be able to re-build.

I wanted to plan on Bryce 100M next summer, and they cancelled a 100M option. No other 100M course inspires me enough in this country (or other country, which I wouldn't go to anyway) to train for. I had the same feeling last year, until, as I said many times, that email from Scotty Mills about SD100 came in. So, if I don't get into Hardrock 100 via lottery, the 100's are over. Should have done it on a high note after SD100, but wanted to give HR one last try, and signed up for qualifier...:) Well, lets make it happen then.

I never learned how to depend on anybody, and I don't know if I ever will. Sometimes I wish I could, actually, I often wish, it would make so many lives easier. But it can't happen at the snap of a finger when for 40 years nobody gave a damn.

So, here is my yearly angry post, take it for what it is. Tomorrow I am going to make 4 hrs of 3,500 feet of climb with hill repeats on trails, and I hope there will be running, but if I need to - I'll hike and suck it up. This could be my only chance to do so as a "long run", God willing. Gotta have one, right? (Actually, #4 for the 5 weeks span!)

Somebody throw some inspiration, or something. If I lived close to the mountains, I could have at least hiked up - and not care a tiniest bit about injuries, heat, training...but I don't, and I won't for a while. So, every summer, by the time August rolls around, and I am done with traveling to the mountains for the year (I only have so much vacation and spare change for that to happen), I am about to scream my head off - although more likely I end up crying my eyes out:)

Deep breath. See you on the other side of this crazy time.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sacred times.

Every time I am in the mountains, it is sacred. Even when I lived near by and was able to get there 2-3 times a week, it was special. I called it My Church, Sanctuary, Soul...It is my life, plain and simple. I can not imagine it without being IN the mountains, seeing them in a backdrop, knowing that whenever I want to, I can be there...

And so past weekend Larry and I flew to Colorado and played in the Front Range. I won't be describing blow-by-blow the 9M hike near Loveland, a 22M full-day in Rocky Mountain National Park with a trip to Flat Top and a loop that included views at many lakes and ever-changing surroundings, or a local short Boulder trail, or the cutest town of Longmont with its Historic District. I will just share that hiking is my all-time favorite activity, a way of life, a most natural way to exist for me. I can walk forever. And when I do, thoughts from the "real me" come spilling out. As the more I re-discover (what I knew always), I rather be in the mountains either alone or with one other person whom I know understands me from inside out. Larry surely fits that description. We talked, non-stop, about our dreams, aspirations, future...and how different they might be from what is often expected. And even though our (well, mine for sure) butts hurt big time from 10,000 feet of climb over 3 days, training was far from the main thought (or the second...).

It was blissful, we ate food without regards what it does to our "athlete's body" or allergies and forbidden items, we drunk lots of awesome coffee, pocked fun of each other, and hoped that our dreams get closer every day. We stayed with good friends, walked lazily around town(s) and ran very little out of so many miles done total. And that felt right.

While I am quite depressed being back, I am an adult, and I made a choice of being here, in TX, right now. For one reason or other (those who know know, and those who don't, well...) we are in Austin for 6 more years. The trips to the mountains shake things up - yet while make us want it more, also make us long it more and be sad more immediately after coming back.That is life, and we make the best of it. Step by step.

While on the 8-hr wandering up high in Rocky Mountain National Park, I came back to my original plan to not train hard for the Grindstone. I am simply not in that state of mind. I know of plenty of quite serious ultrarunners who had gone through periods like that, and the community (at least through the internet) seems to be accepting, although who knows what each of them truly thinks. But it doesn't matter. I don't need a burn out, injury and other possible things arise from trying to do things I don't want to. All I need is a finish within cut off's - and hopefully without much of a second night involved. Ozark will just be a jog too, as well as Hellgate. Bottom line is, I'll keep in shape, and do things in good standing order (and quite frankly, I get bored to "just run" living here, in Texas, and running on roads 5 days out of the week), but I am wearing thin, and would like to do stuff that comes from burning desire, not because that's what I am expected. If it happens to come - great (it did, for couple of weeks, in July). If it doesn't - my body's memory should carry me through.

On a technical side, I wore Perl Izumi's M2 shoe, and while I don't need motion control, and they are pretty beefy, they felt great for what we did. VFuel gels always deliver, and EnduraFuel was out choice for recovery (as Pam Smith smartly said in her WS100 win report, as long as you get something after a hard/long run, you're golden, even if it's Gatorade with Whey protein mix, but in my case this one works just fine). I am off Epo-Boost until further notice. The SJ UD pack (I wrote the review on at EnduranceBuzz) worked fine, but when I did run/jog downhill, despite all the tightening I did, it still moved around too much. I am getting a hang on drinking it though, reminding taking it out, and hands-free is sweet for picture taking and waving your "wings". Larry took a whole bunch of video material with our new GoPro camera (delivered courtesy of Teva) and I hope to figure out how to link it up.

We had  horrible (most horrific in my life) experience at P.F.Chang for the first night's dinner - and my gut is still plugged with all the corn starch they put in every dish in amounts enough to kill a horse. Serving sucked big time as well, but the price was obscene. It was so bad, I wasn't even obsessing about overpaying - I had to laugh. We ate huge portions of ice cream from DQ to shove the taste buds dead. In general, I ate a lot of ice-cream:) A little Thai place next day restored our faith in food industry.

Lots of coffee and latte consumed (I learned a new term, Breve: anything with half-n-half instead of milk, in your coffee drink!) and various scones too. I gained 5 lbs, and have no regrets - although do plan to get back on a horse once get around shopping and cooking this week...not for anything but I do feel ill right now.

I need to learn to cut down on my tasks. Reduce "other" work hours. And (God, I've been talking about it since the beginning of the year!) begin those various hobbies that get swept under the table with ultrarunning training. More house projects to be done as well - though, honestly, it is my man's territory, and he does it well. I just stand there looking pretty:)

I am in a good state of mind (even if sad of coming back to TX). Good for so many reasons. My therapists would have been so proud. I know I am.

Link to all photos.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The "gentler" gender.

I work at the University in an academic science environment. For my real-life job I do basic research in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the bench with a bunch of PhD's and PhD students. We have weekly "meetings", where a couple of said "scientists" report to the rest of the folks on their progress, break-through and problems, as well as discuss various lab business. So, today, at the beginning, a manager talks about some new equipment coming, and, looking DIRECTLY at me, says: "And we need all the strong guys in the lab to participate in moving furniture and heavy stuff around to make sure this new machines fit in to spaces". I turn to the girl sitting next to me and ask "Why me? Why even the Boss is starring at me?". She lowers her voice and whispers: "Look around. We have Science guys. You are our only chance to move this shit around". (p.s. when the push came to shove, we all moved stuff together. They are funny this way, guys I am working with. As my previous boss in Oregon used to call himself, SNAG - sensitive new age guy).

Funny, yet true story...and no, the state of Science is not that bad, but in my lab even a student whom I personally coached (as a Personal Trainer designed a workout and nutrition plan for him to build serious muscle from skinny Jewish/Irish boy) comes to me when a bottle cap froze and needs to be opened or when something rolled over under the fridge and it has to be moved...I think it's their way to actually make fun of me:)

This just happened, and happened on a tail of me breaking out of Facebook silence (so much for the previous post!) about an exciting news - a GIRL is breaking/had broken an unsupported record on PCT today! Heather Anderson (trail name Anish) is at the Canada border today, hiking from Mexico in less than ANY man (male or female) ever had done! That is to add to the last year's Jenn Parr-Davis supported break-through record on AT! Girls rock!

HERE is where I heard first of Anish' through-hike, but the Facebook is buzzing (although I am back on "vacation").

THERE you can learn all about Jenn Parr and her inspirational adventures.

I have to be honest and tell you that not to be outdone by ladies, Matt Kirk (a guy who won Umstead 100M the year I won it, 2004) had broken the UN-supported AT record yesterday, and another guy, Josh Garrett, is finishing his PCT supported record-time hike today.

Records are made to be broken.

These particular things inspire me by far more than any 50k in 3 hrs or 100 milers in 15 hrs ever did. I had come to the sport of trail ultras from a backpacking background. With a family and a full time job I could never "afford" the luxury of doing such things. When, in 6 years, we move to the town of our dreams, I intend to work part-time per my own schedule, and hope to do some of the "shorter" fastpacking through-hikes. I don't see full-blown 3-months at a time PCT, AT or CDT in my future, as Larry will still be working (plans to) full-time, and leaving him behind feels unfair, but 1-2 weeks trips into wilderness is what keeps me cranking 8% hill repeats at 6 mph (like this morning, when, I think, I managed, with my loud breathing, get a guy next to me  become interested in this weird sport of ultrarunning).

Anyway, on a much smaller scale, Larry and I reviews on Ultimate Direction new pack line has been published in EnduranceBuzz.com. A spoiler - I wasn't very thrilled, but the idea is nice. The design requires more work though.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Social media and life.

I took a break from facebooking. I didn't, like in 2009, shut down my account. I actually managed to simply stop opening the page every 5 minutes, as often as I sit down, and to keep it open when I am working at the desk. And strangely - really is - I didn't die or miss it that much. And the longer I keep the break (5 days? 6?), the less I want to jump in. Funny, since I didn't get any scared emails, I don't think anybody even noticed. Did I miss anything out there? Well, according to Larry (who took his break a month prior that) - not really. The world rotates as it did, the rah-rah is still the same, the groups are exchanging advice, and runners, well, run the races. And just like when I cancelled email subscription to Listserve Ultralist (the GrandDaddy of ultrarunners' emails) and visited it, daily at first, then weekly, then may be twice a month, until finally I realized it's not what it was - for me, doesn't mean much for me, not anymore. Not that running, or ultrarunning, or trails don't - but the list doesn't.

So, the Facebook thing...after 3.5 years of absence, I came back - actually, partially by accident, and partially to keep up with my grown up kids (or sneak on their lives kind of thing). And while I cut my "friends" to bare minimal number to only those whom I know in life AND had have a real conversation about life (not simply "How was your last race?" type of thing, what hurt a lot of folks trying to be-friend me), I was still getting overwhelmed. Yes, I, myself, made poor choices and got sucked in. I do get addicted rather quickly. Part of my side-business is all about being loud and visible. It was nice to support runners and be supported, too. It still is.

But in a meantime, while staying away, I think I am re-learning valuable lessons of "splurging" on all that social media stuff only on occasions. Re-learning on getting back into more "personal" level of support via, at the least, emails, those that can only be seeing by a receiver and a sender, not their 500 friends...meeting with few folks here and there...and thinking so much, it hurts! I'll be back on Facebook, absolutely, there is a value to it - but I will do my best not to be a Facebook wh#$*e. I will do my best to use it wisely.

So much time happened to be freed! It is amazing! And I slowly figure things out for myself, without the pressure of "performing" for others, impressing clients, and having Fear Of Missing Out! And I still love working hard!

I managed to make a decision to pull out of my scheduled 38M night race at the end of August - I suck on rocky twisted trails, and at night the danger of getting injured is grand - I am still not even half-recovered from the hamstring pull at 22 miler I ran 10 days ago. I also made a very difficult choice for me to NOT serve Cactus Rose 50/100M one and only aid station I have had at this "unsupported" race for the last 3 years (and one that runners hit a total of 8 times and which I "ran" practically single-handed). That race falls on a weekend 3 weeks after 2 sleepless nights at Grindstone 100 and 1 week prior 2 sleepless nights at Ozark 100. Sometimes we need to be selfish. This is my time...Besides, as I corresponded with a couple of old-timers, only "vets" will miss me, as my personality, and newbies wouldn't even have a clue - although they could be ticked off for not having aid they heard exists...Oh, well, hopefully they read the race document:)

And so here I am. Some things are changing in life as well. There was a decision made of having Stephen move and live in Portland with his Dad. I am not sure how this will go, but it is final, and it is a very good call for all involved (Stephen, first of all, and then all of us adults). That took a lot of mental and emotional adjustments, regardless that it was basically my push for that - and was the only choice that existed in a state where Stephen was. The workload at my real job is big, or, may be, I am paying more focus to it now that I don't have to be overly worried about my kid(s) (or choose not to go crazy about it would be more proper way) - and I don't Facebook up a storm. Other things are making my life filled to the brim too.

And I train. While my hamstring is doing quite poorly, and I need to heed my own advice, I only backed off for a few days and had completed a weekend's back-to-back and workouts this week so far as well, plus 4 Bikram classes, 1 massage (for myself) and a lot of rolling and stretching. I got plans, but while my brain re-wires to take care of ME, I simply go through the motions of doing what I know how to - train.

I had my favorite nutritionist have a chat with me and scold me for a lot of things too, and that's another thing on my list to take care of. Thanks, Meredith! Sometimes it seems I know a lot, but information for oneself often gets buried, and I need a reminder, a refresher - often new knowledge, and absolutely certainly a kick in a pants.

I am learning to take care of me. For the first time in the last 22 years (and 9 months), I am at least PLANNING to begin thinking of me first.

And to celebrate it, Larry and I are going to visit this weekend our possible dream future, that even carries an awesome name: Loveland, CO. No races, nothing crazy. We are going to dream on...