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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Year 2013, or how to get from best shape to worst in 12 months.

Now that I am on a mental (slow) recovery wagon and even slower physical recoup, I figured I'd catch up with what everybody else did as their pre-New Year celebration post and go month by month on good, very good, awesome, and some ugly as well.

January. Larry and I both got the flu 2 days before the New Year's eve, so we went to bed at 9:30 pm - such a party poopers - for the first time in MY life. New Year is THE biggest holiday in Russia, and even as I transitioned to become fully Americanized (is there such a thing?), I still stayed up to see that thing drop in Times Square (for the lack of a real Kremlin Clock count to 12). Anyway, the first day of 2013 came, and I was fully resolved to follow through on resolution: Whole30 eating and running every day of the year. I volunteered at Bandera races (as usual), ran a 5k in somewhat almost respectful time, cooked veggies, got awarded a Mask of Dano by Tejas Trails people for helping out the community, and shed 5% of body fat. All was off to a good start.
Bandera award.

Meals of veggies and meat.
February. The running picked up, I shaved another minute and half off that 5k and came within a minute of my best time ever 10 years ago. Larry and I ran Cheaha 50k in Alabama and were treated to lots of unexpected hills and even more unexpected cramps - it was a lot of fun. The results of Whole30 (or 45 in our case) were in, and we both were pleased with results, staying with Paleo-like eating ideas for the next 5 months. We also volunteered at the local city park for trail work.
Cheaha 50k

Trail building

From fat to fit
March. The month started with my (usual) volunteering at Nueces trail races, I ran a 10k in 48:03 and surprised myself by being up in the field of speedsters (as an old lady and an ultra trail runner, last 10k 10 years ago). Larry put new sod in the backyard, while I was solving last-minute drama and giving up my HCTR board position. I also got plenty of yarn in my favorite shop in Tulsa, OK and announced that I will knit for others...and began sending hats away to my friends all over the country.Larry and I traveled with the kids to AK and ran Syllamo races - he had some odd (non)marking problems and was 3rd in the 50k, and I won the 50M a full hour faster than I thought I could run it in. Anaerobic training and fat loss were paying off.
Syllamo 50M

Backyard sod

Knitting happy

Nueces volunteering
April had it all. I began teaching bootcamp in a neighborhood community. I got more running coaching clients than I thought I could handle. I started working at Massage Envy on top of my home business as an LMT. Ran another 10k and took 30 seconds off last month's time - blew my own mind. Crashed 25k trail race and won a personal bet with a number of people - still consider it a dream. Went to Kansas and won a 100k race there while having an awesome time. I was busy, ripping benefits of structured training - and yet meeting challenges on other fronts. This was the month Stephen decided to strike on his own.
Freestate 100k

A fun time in Kansas

Longhorn 10k

Hells Hills 25k
May was still building up fun! I was finishing my 4-months cycle of hard training on the local hills with no excuses, having friends over for Russian Easter party, and culminated with a visit to Portland, where I spent time with my older son Alex, my best friends reminded me why I love them so much - and where I broke 6 hrs at the local toughest 50k with 7,500 feet of gain, even though dramatically cramping within 10 feet of the finish line and being passed by 2 of my good running buddies. I still managed top-10, what was my (other) goal at this race. It proved me so much about myself, and I couldn't remember a more perfect race. It was a great racing year, indeed...
20 Hill of Life repeats on a hot day

Russian Easter with friends
Portland speedsters!

The future WS100 winner...and just an awesome person.

My dramatic finish at McDonald Forest 50k
June came full force - I was running one of my most favorite 100M in the country, San Diego 100. I won't be able to find more words than I did here to describe the experience, which truly stood as my best 100M performance (not time, not place) - and I wouldn't change a thing leading up to this awesome day in the previous 5 months. I got myself from over-training syndrome straight into best running shape of my life, a back to the future type of thing, year 2005 8 years later...After that I volunteered at 2 more local races, generally chilled, did nothing but Bootcamp and easy 2M jogs, and enjoyed life, basking in a well-deserved victory aura...

Sad Diego 100 - the shot that captured what it was

July had its own best time ever! Larry and I spent a week traveling West, visiting Campbell's in SLC and some local Wasatch trails, then Lori and Chris in Jackson and backpacking Grand Teton backcountry in a big loop in 3 days. That was something of a paradise and what I want to do the most in my life - backcountry, alone, no technology...I also volunteered, again, ran a little 18M trail race just for kicks, and began a little organized training for my Fall season, full 7 weeks after SD100. This is when Stephen was also finally making a decision to move to Portland to live with his father. And that was a good thing too.
Full story on the trip.

EBuzz 18M scamper

Tejas Trails night race volunteering
August was still hot in Austin, TX...and was getting on my nerves big time. I was trying to do all the right thing where the training is concerned, overcoming the heat and humidity, putting the miles and the hard days in, but feeling somewhat run-down. We did managed to run away for a weekend trip to Rocky Mountain Park and play there, but coming back was even more difficult. Not much to say, depressed and working through it all. The only highlight - we picked a place we'd like to retire to and our dreams had materialized some more.

September...That was a month with more down moods, more training, and eventual break-down. I wrapped my what I considered to be smart training with the last couple long runs with 20-25 hill repeats inside those, and finished off by mid-month with a 40M race...only that race proved that Texas had upper 90's still, and that I suck at that weather. After first 13 mile loop I walked the rest of it - granted, I am a good walker, so I made it good and passed many of those still attempting to run, but this, I believe, did me in. I hardly shuffled my daily 2 miles for the sake of New Year's resolution "Run every day" until on October 2nd I stopped that as well. On the good side, I joined a new for me yoga studio - Breath and Body - that has Power Yoga Baptiste style. I took Baron Baptiste workshops when I just started yoga practice back 14 years ago, along with Bikram, and this style always resonated with my personality so much better in terms of flow, faster "pace", more variety (I taught this variation when was living in NYC at the Bikram studio, where I also taught Bikram). The B&B yoga teachers and students took me in as their own right away, and I never left ever since, now sharing my time between Bikram studio and Power yoga.
EBuzz 40M race...eh, walk
Practicing crow at home
October held hope for me...I was going to run Grindstone 100 in VA on the first weekend...until Government shut down...then I still hoped as it was moved to 2nd weekend...and then cancelled all together, since our country's officials couldn't come to agreements on anything and closing National Parks is part of their pity behavior. That did me in. The hopes I had to get revived at the race, with the mountains, friends, solitude, doing what I do best - moving for 24+ hours head down - were crashed. Coupled with not being able to put a run together and feeling extremely fatigued every time I attempt a run, shuffling 3-5 miles couple of times a week, being "blah" even in the weight room, on the other cardio machines...I managed to put 2x20 mile trail runs somehow, but after the last one I entered depression and shut down from all my running friends, cancelled my going to beloved Cactus Rose 100 AS (which that year was truly "unsupported" because of that) along with my presence at the RW&B Veteran's training camp in November, and curled in a ball. I have no photographic reports from that month at all. I was knitting a lot though as I had a few large orders for hats for the races - and that kept me afloat.
November came with Larry and I's trip to Ozark 100. He trained for his 3rd attempt at this race like a mad man. It was probably his most consistent and focused training in my memory since we were together, he was slim mean running machine and in his best shape. I was tagging along for the ride to "walk it in" - and I honestly didn't doubt that I could. But, after walking for 51 miles, where I did keep up on that walking pace (yet any try of running was causing exhaustion and would end at 2-3 minute bouts) and had some fun chatting with folks around me, I made a decision to stop. Walking another 53 miles just didn't make sense. I was at peace. Larry ended up having the famous "cloudy eyes" and couldn't see a squat and dropped at mile 76. We actually were in good spirits when met in the cabin that night...until we (now both of us) hit another spiral of depression. Running defined me for so long, it was hard to grasp what was going on. I was angry, making plans with life going on without it, closing my eyes on all my friends' adventures and just trying to get through. While I do believe in balance and healthy approach, I also felt that I am not the one who is making decision on cutting down/off the running part, it is made FOR me. And that was making me mad and frustrated. I discarded all my 12 years worth of running logs and cried a lot, as I went for a couple of walks in the woods.
Ozark "51-walk"
12 years of running in details

December hasn't changed a thing. I couldn't muster energy for walks or run more than half a mile at a time - and we are talking 12 min/mile shuffles. I didn't know what was going on, and eventually went to a doctor to get tested for latent viral infections (CMV, Mono and Lyme) as suggested by some friends who brought up examples of other athletes who in their over-trained state developed these usually asymptomatic diseases as fully blown immune weakness. I got results back while vacationing with Larry in CO and NM - and it crashed me while allowing for a diagnosis to exist and at the least telling me I am not a nutcase who is imagining stuff. We still did a lot of skiing - downhill and cross-country - but neither caused me to feel bad as there was no aerobic condition involved. It was a beautiful week away in the snow...December also marked my younger son turning 18 while my older son turned 23 (they were born on the same day) - which meant I have no under-age children anymore and they are (supposedly) both fully responsible for their own actions and lives. I went to visit them in Portland, and it was a nice but rather sad and sobering experience I will not be writing here about.

Where does it have me now? After not doing much but yoga (both Bikram and Power) 2-3 times a week basically since mid-October- and let me tell you, as someone who LOVES and advocates for yoga, it ca NOT keep you in shape on its own! - I had lost all my muscle tone and muscle mass, replace it with those happy fat cells that keep on growing and multiplying and getting bigger, my clothes do not fit at all, and that includes jeans, cargo pants, running shorts, running shirts (!), yoga attire, and even more personal items. I am quite in a poor state physically and emotionally, despite trying to cheerfully smile and finding other things to do. I do have a lot of things to do, many of which were on a hay-way due to training hard - but, sadly, they do not substitute for what running gives me. I drive around even on the flat boring Austin streets and wish I were out there running...

But there is hope, of cause, and I am not giving up. As Geoff Roes said in his last post, the return to running is imminent, even if return to competitive racing is not in a picture for many reasons: partially because it has been so hard to be away for so long and then try and gain the level of fitness back, and partially because this long time off allowed us to gain perspective on things. On January 14th I had run a continuous (without stopping) one (1) full mile, and today I walked my usual route to work (5.8M) in my usual time (1:18), but what was much more important, without feeling pooped and exhausted (as I was last time, 5 weeks ago, on the same route, where at mile 3 I broke down and set on the curb, and at mile 4 I hopped on the bus). There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I believe I had hit the bottom (with all my 138 pounds of white and brown tissue mass) and now ready to claw back, methodically and slowly and to a possibly some completely different end result that I knew of prior.


Sarah said...

Back in 2009-10 it was only once I hit rock bottom that I could start clawing my way back. What you've been going through sucks. But the exciting part is that things will improve. And as you mention, you may end up in a completely different place than you could have imagined a year ago. And very likely even a lot better. All my best to you!

ultrarunnergirl said...

Good to read your year summary of your highs and lows. Sending you hugs and all good wishes for you to heal and bounce back, whenever that occurs.
Are you doing Whole30 again or just doing your own thing?
So glad I found your blog last year, I love following along with your thoughts and experiences!

SteveQ said...

So familiar! I have a total of 7 miles so far this year. Last year, I had 150 by now.

Olga said...

I am Paleo, not Whole30, though I really have no clue what is the difference sometimes...that I don't do grass-fed meat and eggs and butter? But just as I said last year, you can't outrun your diet, I will say now: you can't out-eat (smartly) your non-exercising. It just HAS to go hand in hand. Thank you!

Olga said...

7 is almost huge! I am planning my long run this weekend...all of 2 miles, and if I feel fancy, may extend it to 3!

Olga said...

Sarah, I often think of you, that year-plus of half-diagnosed half-mystery thing, and how your struggled and exercised patience, and I kept hoping for you - and it happened! Look where you're now - by far further than anyone could imagine! I also think it's an awesome idea to run fast and short for a bit, keep it fresh - your last year was exemplary in many ways in both distances. Way to go!

Lisa B said...

I use the same RW log books! I still have mine. I converted last years to cycling miles but it wasn't the same. I ran at least 1 mile/day every day in Nov and Dec but had no intention of continuing as a streak. I've made progress on discovering the source of my leg weakness (my back) but I'm not positive and therefore not sure what to do about it (surgery). I've done some slow 5 mile runs, even 9 mile runs, and am thrilled to be out there, but my running is a ghost of what it used to be. I understand completely your emotions surrounding that. I have them too. I will get back on the bike when the weather permits. I have no desire to bike indoors now because for me "training" is not about training but about my love for the outdoors. I so wish we lived close, Olga! I imagine we would totally enjoy some long hikes together, maybe even some shuffling runs, maybe even a bike ride, but most of all, we would enjoy spending time together outdoors as friends. Love you tons no matter what you are or are not doing. In other words, love you for who you are and not what you do.

Olga said...

Gosh, dear...we could SO enjoy time together! Mostly, we would enjoy walks and talks and share memories that we didn't get to share when we DID live (somewhat) close or at least bumped into each other, opinions on medical and running world, relive so many years we crossed paths and talked about friends we both know and those only one of us was blessed to have...I am glad some mystery is a little clear-er for you, and I know your friends and patients are so blessed to have you around. I know I am blessed to have you even that far:) Love you too, exactly, regardless what you do, but for who you are.

Julie B said...

Oh my dear Olga, I feel your pain..your depression..the weight gain..all of it. BUT it will get better! I am finally coming out of a downward spiral that I wasn't able to control. Hysterectomy, herniated discs, coming around and then a fractured ankle and broken ankle. Oldest son away at college, youngest son ready to leave the nest in July to attend college..many other personal things . NOW I am clawing my way out of this as my ankle is quieting down on while trail running and then everything else gets better. I, too, have found I enjoy yoga very much. I've been making it part of my weekly recovery two classes a week-vinyasa yoga and i love it. Your hats are awesome!! I'm glad you are knitting and that it kept you sane while not running, they are beautiful! hang in there, Olga, it will get better. It will get better!

Olga said...

Julie, honey, thank you so much for your support! It is insane how many of us, long-ago runners, are going through various things, and often we're too scared to share as it is like giving up who we are. But we are more, and we are not done, and we are needed regardless of that anyway! I sent you a FB request, hope we can connect again!

Carilyn said...

Olga, I'm sorry you've had such a tough end of 2013. I read recently that life is "brutiful" (combination of beautiful and brutal) and I thought that was a very appropriate description. I'm glad to read you are on the mend. I so understand your emotions about running - it is such a big part of our lives, and now that we are hitting a different phase, what do we do? I know you will run again - it is in your blood - but taking the time off is something we all have to do once in awhile. You still rock!

Olga said...

"Brutiful" is awesome!

Matthew @ The Lasik Method said...

Thanks for the motivation!

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