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

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A letter to my best friend.

I don't have the benefits of wandering in the mountains on a single track, so lately I am the most peaceful sitting on a chair in my back room, by myself, knitting. I like my backroom, it has only a bookshelf, a chair, a loveseat, and lots of yarn in baskets.

Slowing down and not running/training is proving to enrich my life. Occasionally, I still struggle - and so does Larry. Especially because for me it kind of came as a decision made by my body and its illness, but for him - who knows, he supported me may be at first, then we both turned the corner that racing and ultras are not important, people going crazy about it is not important, that we both came from backpacking experience and background, and are going back to our roots as a normal way of life...The life's truths come out, and while it is understandable, it still stings. When your Facebook friends (yes, THAT FB we used to talk about as evil, well, it is, but nobody even checks emails anymore, I can send 5 and get no answer until I message through FB!) peel off once you stop awesome running updates and pictures...and instead talk about normal happenings, or knitting, or yoga...and I thought I kept my "circle" to a minimum of real people. When your (mine) "business" of coaching goes a little stale because I don't "shine" anymore, don't fight, not in your face...When your boss tells you in no certain words that you're not worthy (and at 45 you are feel you have to hold on to his job even if the boss is an ass) - and you go back to thinking clinging to running as your at least some kind of expression of excellence, and it's gone...no admiration, no respect, no career, no kids who grew up far off the way you tried to bring them up on...

But slowing down still enriches my life. I can spend more time thinking. Taking yoga class. Tonight, I am going for a walk. We both are looking forward our hiking trip in Utah with Harrison, and then our backpacking around Rainier in September. We talk to people when travel slower - there is no rush, no timer clicking. We bagged the 2nd planned run/hike in Oklahoma, because we spent a slow morning with B&B owners chatting and living, then drove through the area instead...We can spend money from registration fees on paying down mortgage, traveling to new places (where no race management can gain access to), and eating healthy food.

It's a process, that still hurts. I know you understand, because it's been a few years for you, but it still hurts, anyway. May be a little less...

It is still a good process. I struggled so much for so many years, more so last couple, about continuing to race, perform, show off, be around so many people...Often I check into FB just to see all those "actions" continuing, my hand raises to type, and then drops...

It's a process same as aging in general. It is sad at times, but there is nothing one can do, and we adjust, wiggle, get a little depressed from time to time, then become (hopefully) a little more happy - or different happy, because it doesn't mean we were not happy before...And we truly begin appreciating the slowness, the calmness, the thinking. 

It is a journey. It can only be experienced.

There was a message recently from a friend who insisted once I turn the corner in health, I'll "rip it" as I have it in me, still. I am not so certain...that I "have it" or that I want to...Am I supposed to be afraid I will be viewed as a failure now? 

There are a few reasons I am posting it. One is - I've always tried to be honest here. Another is - nobody reads blogs anymore anyway. And now that my Sitemeter counter died, I wouldn't even know if someone did stop by.

Time to get out. I haven't run since Whispering Pines 20. This is my last opportunity to have "time on my feet" before Portland and Utah trip. I hate Texas summer...

p.s. 3 hrs of this misery...thank God it is the last time until November!


  1. I don't see a failure...far from it. You may have started down this path not by choice but it's allowing you to discover what's really important to YOU. Looking forward to seeing you next weekend, friend! :)

  2. Hi Olga...

    Your thoughts and words reflect a lot of mine. Between entry fees, lotteries/races filling up in a matter of hours and feeling the need to "train" rather than just enjoy a run or a hike, I'm in the same mindset. Occasionally, like after working an aid station at Jemez last weekend, I get the bug, the urge to do another one then look around and see that everything is full I just want to hang it up.
    Deb and I will be getting out Hardrock fix in by backpacking the course in 4 days, maybe 5. We'll do this the weekend before, starting at 6am in front of the gym like we have for most of the past 14 years. Will we enter next year? I don't know, but doubt it....between the 2 of us it's $500. right now, plus traveling expenses, etc. Our plan now is every hike/backpack is training for an AT thru hike that we'd like to do someday....sooner than later.
    As for the job? Think of me, I'm 62 and still feel the need to work because i can still earn good money. Is that what it's all about? Maybe we should take our retirement funds and pay off the mortgage and be debt free, live a more simple life, retire and spend more time with Deb.

    So as you can see, I'm full of all these same thoughts, life goes on and we do what we need to do, not so much what we feel we have to do. The friends are still out there.

    Time for me to go out on my run in the beautiful Jemez mountains before it gets too hot. Deb's in Texas visiting family right now, a trip she needed.

    Life is short, live it full and forget all the noise out there :-)

  3. Wow...I guess this is how you actually discover real friends, huh? Thank you for such thoughtful comments! Mean a world to me. "Ran" into a friend I don't see anymore on the streets today, she is half-walking/half-jogging, I do the same...It was good to talk and realize I am so not alone, and what I am experiencing is normal...

    Steve, Larry and I want to backpack Hardrock next summer in 3 days as well.

    That, and visit you and Deb:)

    Sarah, see you in 1 week. As you can see, we will not be "pushing each other". But I will definitely enjoy being in the old stomping grounds and seeing friends!

  4. Hi Olga, i like this post, it resonates with something I am finding - peace in slowing down and perhaps exploring those things which my previous exercise addict looked down upon, realising that once the ego is out of the way, the more important themes of life come to prominence...creating things, being with and meeting people, nurturing the environment and relationships etc....and even finding the value in doing things with a humble mindset of enjoyment rather than one of competitiveness...perhaps one day the fires will be re-stoked but it sure is interesting exploring this new, more peaceful, less egotistical world isn't it? When you are old and retired with friends around, having faced a few hardships in life, i don't think the importance comes from having been a scientist or a competitive runner etc...at that stage of life its all about how you connect and inteact and care for others...? Enjoy this new world of yours with the occasional connection back to what you used to do more competitively, use those moments to witness the changes...i only follow your blog loosely but find you a very resilient, intelligent, multi-abilitied person to read about, enjoy your travels!

    1. That is extremely sweet of you to comment. I think many of us are moving somewhere from a starting point, otherwise life would stagnate. I think of folks talked about it...but we all afraid a little? I do believe people in your life are the most important part, indeed...

  5. I still read blogs!!! I love them. I just don't always comment since many blog formats seem to hate mobile devices. And do what's fun for you...nothing wrong with going a different direction.

  6. I get a little thrill every time I see a new blog post from you. You are one of my absolute favorite blogs to read. I know I will be savoring every thought-provoking, honest, insightful word.

    I think it's a gift to be able/forced to explore who you are and what fills the time running used to take up when you are injured/taking time off. It is tough not joining the same friends you've been hanging out with all along. But I agree our lives get richer with spending time exploring other things.

  7. I still read blogs and have a link to your blog on mine. I definitely understand what your are saying. A few years ago, I had a "Forrest Gump" moment, and essentially walked away from racing. I was in fantastic shape for WS in 2008 and then it got cancelled. The next year, I was fighting an injury, but started anyway and time out early. Since, then, I've entered just one race, and only because a friend asked me to do it. I was slow and my friend stuck with me. We timed out at the halfway mark. You're knitting. I'm fly fishing. I spend more time doing CrossFit than running. A good weekend run is four miles with my wife and my dogs, done as a jog/walk, just to spend time together. The mayhem of lotteries, expenses of races, and cost of the sport was taking the fun away. I still volunteer for three days at the VT100 every summer. I miss seeing some of my friends, but three years after starting my last ultra, I don't miss all of the training and racing. I really enjoy the fact that I never "have" to go for a run because of some event that is approaching. If you're enjoying your life, does anything else matter?

  8. I don't think you should worry about your friends thinking you're a failure just because you're not running the same way/amount as before. From the little I know about you I just think of you as a tough fighter who can manage to do whatever she wants to achieve, regardless of whether that's in running or something totally different. People maybe just don't know enough about knitting, yoga, or other things you're doing to be able to have a real discussion with you about it.

    Did you read that interview with Emma Roca that was just put up on irunfar? In it she mentions completely matter-of-factly how when she can no longer run ultras because of health/time/any other reason, she will do various other things. I thought it was a good way to look at it--not a big deal, just time to move on to something different.

  9. You guys are totally awesome! That is exactly WHY I am honest here - because by sharing we can all feel normal:) Thank you, thank you for helping me keep crawling over this hurdle and may be, a little bit, be a voice and an outlet for you to speak, as well, from time to time. I love the PEOPLE, not names, numbers, results, even beautiful places y'all went to...I love YOU.

  10. I still read blogs, and thank you for reading mine.
    While I am not in the same spot of my journey as yours, I can sympathize-or empathize?
    I am just getting to the point in my life, where, if I want to visit or have experiences, I just have to make it happen on my own. The husband is just not interested in some of the spots I want to visit-and I'm not getting any younger.
    I will be in Silverton also, I will be clearing the course after the race, and hiking around on my own, to get more familiar with the course, hoping of course for a 2015 lottery slot.