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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bandera 2014 - emotional well being.

I never change. I and everybody else thought that since I can't run (or do any kind of exercises) for the time being, that means I'll have plenty of time to lay on my back and knit while watching TV. Well, I do some of that...when everything else is close and it's the last 30 min before bed time - which is still not early enough to get more than 7 hrs of sleep (which IS better than 6 I had had for the last 2 decades at best). Just as I think due to my non-advertising I will get fewer massage clients, running coaching clients, hat knitting clients...they still trickle. And no, I didn't stop going to yoga, and I won't. May be it will take me forever longer to fully recover from whatever hell it is, it's good to move one's body at least that way, I got classes that have expiration dates, and I simply love the ladies (and guys) in the studio(s) I go to. It is nice to feel accepted and liked...I was trying to explain to Larry why do I cherish those yoga folks - and I do realize it is totally my own twisted perspective. It's because I feel that in running I am accepted and liked because I (used to) run well, and I feel (put on myself) pressure to perform well, or nobody will ever like me again, and in yoga I kind of average at best, and still always welcomed and smiled at and talked to and kind of even missed (p.s. I do take it easier these days and sit down whenever either my heart rate goes up, or I just feel I have to take a break).

Well, yesterday at Bandera Tejas Trail races I was proved I am wrong... and my twisted perception is, well, twisted.

I ran Bandera 100k when I just moved as part of Tejas-300 and "Run all TX races as soon as possible so you never have to again" project in 2010. Ever since I volunteered. My steady assignment is
a) take runners of the 50k to their race start (a quarter mile away from the main Lodge) and send them off on time after a short entertainment
50k start

b) single-handedly (with always a help of one or few nicest random folks coming to help out at races) work the "unmanned water stop" for 25k and 50k at their first stop (mile 6 or so). This is where I get to yell "read race documents, water only!", or "you have to drink, it will be hot!", and so on while filling cups and bottles. This year my best friend Eman's son Hesham and Bearded Brother (healthy bars) owner Caleb were my right and left hands, and they were AMAZING!
Hesham even imitated my words and intonation!

Bearded Brothers
c) pack that AS at 10am, eat breakfast at the Lodge and roll into Last Chance AS, serving 25k and 50k at their "Last 0.5M to the finish" stop AND "5 miles to mid-way and finish" for 100k runners. This AS is manned and owned by a great guy Roger Davis, who used to be Texan, but 3 years ago moved to East Coast - yet every January he still buys an airfare and flies to do what he does best: cater to runners with kind heart. Talks volumes about what kind of folks we have in trail ultrarunning scene and how well loved we, volunteers (and runners) feel by Joe and Joyce Prusaitis. Last 2 years his right hand for the first 12-hr shift is Sarah, who is also my right hand at Nueces for the same last 2 years (I am kind of a left hand and a yeller). We have it split perfectly: during a day, when it's hot and runners are either trying to get through aid fast or contemplating dropping, I yell, tend to them forcefully and with authority, help them figure out how to dig out of shithole they get themselves, and, yes, be loud. At night Roger is kindly cooks bacon and eggs and pancakes for slow-er folks on their second loop, lets them sit by the fire and tells them stories. They finish due to this weird team work. John Sharp was there this year helping to yell, poor water, and offer beer and whiskey.
Roger and Sarah
Sharpie and Dave James

d) I get out of that AS as the biggest slam decreases, around 3 pm, to head to the finish line and see folks finish (or come for the loop turn-around) and have some fun just chillin' and talking.

Henry Hobbs (left) - the trail marking guy and volunteer coordinator...well, and everything else.

Top 3

Best top 2
And you can only imagine how much fun ALL of it is!!! (if tiring too). My feet and back are usually killing me as much of not more than when I run an ultra. and since these days I am so out of shape and a pregnant whale...I still LOVE it all!
2 of my coaching clients out of many more - PR's all around.

And I got to talk. Before all the madness (we arrived at 6 am, an hour and half before the start), at the AS's, between, to runners, to volunteers, to organizers, to people I have no clue who they are...I was pretty much embraced in an ocean of love, care, and support. What a dumbass I was as I un-friended so many nicest people when I was "crap I am no runner" one. Didn't show up for the events to offer my knowledge and support. Didn't reach out...I love these people, from fastest and elitite-est to mid-pack great friends to slowest "first time on trails" kind of peeps. I am sorry for being so self-absorbed in a pity-party. I am back. I need you in many more ways that I thought I do - and I am thrilled that I seem to be in need and "like" regardless whether I run next race, or next step, or not.


That said, part of my being busy (first paragraph) is due to actually taking care of myself, going to see various chiropractors, rolfers, LMT's, to tend to those little (and not so little) naggies we all have but dismiss as we train, and also to even indulge (I got a facial!). I am seeing my general physician and taking a new blood test on 21st, and plan, if all is well, to run as soon as I get results back - little, mind you! 10 min at a time twice a week! So yes, the Mt Mitchell 40M on February 21st is a bust (despite getting through lottery, paying entry fee, booking 2 flight tickets and a hotel) - in a few weeks, I will exchange those tickets for a flight to San Francisco, and take Larry on a vacation trip to see a few of our good friends. That' be good for the soul.

As for now - be good to yourself, cherish when you can be fit and strong, every step of it, live balance, and enjoy other aspects of life!


Will Cooper said...

Giving back is what makes ultras...ultras. it's great to hear the reward it is giving you. thanks for sharing this story and go easy on yourself. enjoy the time off of your feet!

Sarah said...

I'm glad you figured out what the rest of us already knew. :-)

Julie said...

People may know you because of all of the exciting races you ran, but they appreciate you and love you for the kind-hearted woman, coach and mentor you are. Glad you are getting more rest and taking care of yourself. Hope to see you soon!

Carilyn said...

I did something similar when I took that extended break from running after my husband's accident - I shut out my running friends because they felt too closely associated to something I couldn't do anymore. It was a mistake. I missed them dearly and it made me realize they loved me whether I was a Runner or not. I'm glad you made it out to Bandera - they needed you!

Jill Homer said...

Sounds like a fun event! I never even had the slightest inkling of an interest in trail running until I headed to Hawaii to crew for Geoff in the HURT 100, in 2009. The atmosphere and community were so energetic and fun, and seemingly more all-inclusive than mountain bike races I had attended. It was that aspect that first lured me into the sport. I can imagine you've enticed a lot of newbies to either start or stick with the sport through your enthusiastic volunteer efforts over the years.

I recently became friends with a woman who is venturing back into the sport after many years away. She was once fast, but now she just wants to be part of the community again — volunteering, pacing, and joining friends on group fun runs. It's been inspiring to me, to witness a small part of her return to the fold.

Hopefully you bounce back too from this issue, and when you do, you'll have renewed perspective and experience.

Jonathan F said...

Olga, I cannot express how much you mean to people in Texas. I am indebted to you for what you've done for me at races, Saturday in Bandera included. You gave me the kick in the butt I needed and the loving concern only an old-school Russian can give. Sharp was excited to see me at Crossroads 2 and promptly kicked me out. It is always great seeing you and I know if/when I'm in trouble you will get me back on track and any other runner who needs attention. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do - I owe you my first buckle.

Olga said...

Tell Ann hi. I am happy to see her making way back in these ways. I hope I stay "in" throughout...

Olga said...

That is so nice of you to say! Every time after a race I get tears of your guys' kindness in expressing your gratitude - and the thing is, it makes my day and life so much better than a buckle I could have ever earned myself. Congrats on a 100k!

Olga said...

You are so right.

Olga said...

The only problem is, when I get submerged is own self-pity party, I will forget that again. I guess it's worth figuring out every time, huh?

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