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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Past mid-way - it's all downhill from here, right?

Today marks 5 years as I rolled in my Honda Civic into Austin, TX, with my younger kid, my possessions and our cat, to unite lives with my honey Larry. As I left Portland in a hectic way after participating in Hardrock 100 2 weeks prior, then putting on PCT 50 one last time, I hardly acknowledged the fact that this is it - I am leaving my favorite place behind, place I called home even for only 5 years, but place I considered to be my only home out of all the places I happen to live in - and apparently I still do, 5 years later...I didn't know at the time what it would mean to me, and I was only hoping for the best. I made my life in each of the places I've had to relocate, why expect different?

I always knew it is a 10-year gig for me in Texas. We are staying here as we share custody for Larry's son, and as soon as he turns 18 and finishes high school to get ready for college - we are outbound. Because it is not just myself who longs for mountains, but Larry, too, all his life wished he lived amongst them (and even had a 1 year experience in New Mexico which he loved tremendously). So, a temporary living arrangement...so temporary it seemed at first, we even decided not to invest into a house and kept rented. But time went, and at our 2-year wedding anniversary we signed paperwork for a home - a home I love dearly and wish we could move it with us...And the stint of Texas continued on. Summer after hot and humid summer, it kept us entertained, it kept us hardened, and often it broke us down (like the last 2 summers did to me). It is easy to run yourself into the ground if trying to keep up with regular training for "regular" country-wise race season that begins in June and follows all the way through November - because after training through Winter and Spring, seasons normal folks rest and slowly pick up, but we here take advantage of due to only temperatures that are tolerable - body decides it had enough more often than not for you, without considerations of fees paid, flying tickets purchased and plans set.

5 years. It actually means there is less time left than had passed so far - at least that's the plan. As the saying in an ultra goes, it is all downhill from here...but as we all know in an ultra, that 2nd half has it all, hills, misery, lack of energy, beaten bodies and spirit, and yet it also has the end line more material than ever before, close yet so far, and still quite some time before we can "smell the barn". So, we plow through...

It's not that it's all bad. Nothing is bad, really. The main reason I had moved here remains a main reason - I love my life with my husband, I have no regrets of coming and trying hard to make it happen for 2 people 40+ years of old with previous 18 years of marriage for each behind, kids, problems, ex-spouses, habits, different cultures, merging relatives, starting financial life together at the ripe age...It's just I still miss mountains, living in a climate that is more appealing for my body, more green around, more places to get a drive in on the weekend - and I miss my friends. Somehow my mid-30's were years I met my best friends...

But I made a life here, for sure. I met new people, I integrated into local running community, I ran every Texas race that existed (except for a couple of old shorter ultras and some new popping on - but I am done with races in Texas anyway, as once you ran two, you ran them all). I volunteer numerous times a year, I learned all the trails here - all few of them:) - and I can get around Austin by foot or in the car much better than I ever did in Portland (I guess I drive more for different reasons than getting to a trailhead...). And our home IS lovely, regardless all the remodeling we keep doing (well, Larry is). I am always glad to walk into it, and it feels peaceful. While the heat in the summer still comes early and keeps me quite miserable, I manage and make do. I love my yoga community, and I love my coffee dates with girlfriends and occasional dinners with friends. I am head over hills into knitting, and that is just so healing at the times I feel depressive and lost and lonely...

And I run, yes, I am running, all those 4 times a week I mentioned in my last blog entry - still happening, not flaking out, despite coming down with some weird viral infection (which I better check for CMV and mono before it's too late!) - and the running is going well, and that always, always lifts my spirits. Funny how that is...a total addiction or a part of life? I fought this identity of mine for the last 10 months, but as soon as it came back - I embraced it fully. I am a runner. It's like I breathe - it just is...

This weekend is our short get-away to the mountains in NM, with not one, but two short (!) mountain races: Taos 10k (ski area up and over) and La Luz 9M uphill (from high and higher). It is going to be way outside my comfort zone, way unprepared - and I am looking forward to it big time.

In the meantime, we both continue our dreaming of that time 5 years away when we do move to the mountains - this time for good, for our last home...

Getting 11 miles on hilly roads done in typical Texas summer morning.
Bought new yoga outfit - went running instead. In Texas summer I forget shy.

Celebrating Larry's birthday by taking Harrison to the beach - nah, may be not next year...

My logo on an award of a race that required wearing my hand-knitted hat!
Back in the Spring I was approached to knit a hat for participants of a silly 24-48-72 hr event - in the middle of July! - which required runners to wear a hand-knitted Alpaca hat, and you guessed it, I did knit them, trying to allow some air to get in through the multiple holes. The good news - nobody died!!! I am honored to have my logo displayed on the award (a mug)! From the RD of an event: "Folks who went over 50 miles got a mug, which featured the coffee cat (the icon for our race series) with the addition of an Olga hat. We had some great efforts and much fun anyhow. The race became synonymous with the racing beanies and a pineapple (each runner's aid station had to be manned by a pineapple wearing a mustache and speaking in a vaguely European accent). So it was goofy. But my idea was to introduce folks to running long distances on a closed course. Everyone's on the trail bandwagon these days. I just wanted to show them that running is all in your head and not in the course. I think some lessons were learned. One of those being: never run in a wool cap in July, even if a genius knits in the perfect loose knit." That said, if you ever need anything weird knitted - or not so weird - come visit me at www.olgav100.com!


  1. I love the hats, especially on the mug!

    Hang in there. I love where I live in Ohio, with my rolling hills and green lushness. Could I be just as happy somewhere else (like the San Juans?? hell yes!!!) but the husband loves it here. If we ever move, it probably would just be south, to the Kentucky hills, but I can still dream..

    1. That's why there is a travel fund, right, Kimba? :) The good thing is, my husband does want to move, always did, so it will happen. For now we're living in today - and I am trying my darnest to be in a moment and find great things wher I am. Most of the time I succeed (and travel does help), and when I don't, it's usually due to my over-scheduling for jobs and my piss-pour attitude. Now pass half-way, I will keep my attitude in check better!

  2. Halfway done, that's a good progress marker!

    There's always travel when it gets to be too much. Come visit us in Virginia anytime, we are a mere hour and change from the Shenandoah mountains and we always have room for you!

    1. Kir, I will see you so soon! I am so excited about it!!! And I'll keep in mind the travel part too:) thanks!