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

Friday, April 07, 2017

The return of Jedi

Full confession: I never watched ANY of the Star Wars episodes, not new, not old, not even a few minutes, besides commercials on TV, during which I tune out. But this is exactly the phrase that popped to my mind when I thought about writing my next blog entry. I had to ask Larry who Jedi is - some cool sort of creature (in a collective form of it), who has extra powers. That will do! Because on my case Jedi is my RUNNING, and it is BACK!

Now, I don't know whether it is thyroid meds kicking in after a month (even though it is a lowest possible dose, and on top of it, I do not technically have any blood test abnormalities that would point out to a thyroid issue, so I simply talked my doctor into trying it for the heck of it), or is it my usual once-a-year sudden Spring running spur that used to last between 2 and 4 months (though rolling down both in length and speed-related stuff with each year of it), in my 4th year of dealing with unidentified fatigue thing I take my runs at a face value: it's a run, it feels like a run, it's here, I love it, I am going to enjoy the hell out of it! And thus, a mere some 2 weeks ago I texted to a couple of friends that I can't string a continuous mile together non-stop (and emailing my doc that my jogging shuffles constitute of all of 3-4 minutes max), and then - BOOM - last Tuesday, March 28th, I go for a 6M "hill loop" - and run all the downs, flats and smaller shallower hills. And I mean RUN. Like, air in the hair. No watch, but, again, after 4 years of this crazy thing I am dealing with (or life dealt me), I can sense when my Jedi is coming back. It just feels different, even from the times that I can still shuffle, but I know it's going away, again...

Anyway, that Wednesday, on my weekly River Place trail venturing, I busted good portions of the distance running, then on Thursday returned to Hill of Life, our local steepest longest trail hill (rockiest, may I add), all of 0.4 miles and some 300+ feet of gain on ugly-ass rocks sprung around shaky (did I mention I hate rocks? That video is too fast and doesn't do the justice). It was my second trip to HOL this year, first one 3 weeks prior, when I did 5 - and pretty much died during the last one. This time I made 6 of them - I run down, and hike hard up, specificity training, not to mention there is no way I can run up this b&*%$. Each of the 6 was a full minute faster (as a round-trip) than the first time. I'd like to also state that I haven't done repeats on this statue of Austin trail community since 2013 - when I did 25 (twenty five!) preparing for SD100. It boggles my mind to even imagine that. However, I'll take 6 - in fact, this week's Thursday I did 7, faster still! And I ran - I ran! - a 7 mile hillier route on last Saturday at 11 min/mile average, and a flat 6 miler past Tuesday at 10:20 - and that to me felt like flying! I increased my once a week Mt. Bonnell stairs repeats - up to 20 for the last 3 weeks, all 100 steps and 200 feet of gain to the stats (again, I only jog first 20 steps, then hike up and run easy down) for a total of 4,000 feet of elevation gain in 30 min. And I started back on power-walking with my backpack - 25 lbs as a base weight for now 2 x week.

Hill Of Life in its glory

Steps on River Place trail

This Saturday is a deciding morning - if I can run, again, it is, indeed, a Jedi's come-back, for however long. Hesitating, I picked the hills in the neighborhood. Lets see what tomorrow holds in store for me...(Saturday report: it worked! Jedi let me do that averaging 10:30 pace, and if that doesn't sound like flying to you, screw you, because it does to me!)

All of this specificity seems to have started earlier this season than last one - when I actually began my running Jedi happiness in mid-February, and was too eager to run more, hike less. Now, with things being different, specificity is the key, and I am not taking any chances. If last year my apprehension was due to being alone for 15 nights (not days, but nights), and making daily miles to assure I can arrive to meet Larry on time, this year I am striving to simply survive. Yep, it's a whole different kind of scared. With snow pack at over 200% normal, and the highest water/snow content to boot  it means: a) more densely packed snow melting slower, and b) much, much higher water crossings, which in 2011, at 150% snow level, were already plenty dangerous. I am training as much as my body allows me, twice a day, 6 days a week. That's about all I can do for now. Thankfully, I have a geek for a husband, and he LOVES to dig into internet for all kind of information. Me? I found a couple of blogs, read them, printed maps - and now just waiting for the reports on hot Global Warming kind of Spring. Him? Every day he finds yet another account from the past or present of similar conditions, another weather chart, another photo-camera set in Northern High Sierra, sends it to me, peers into maps for possible detours to avoid worst crossings, figures out route finding in the snow and on steep mountain banks...and I love him so much for that (while still trying to not panic). I mean, Larry simply loves the data, to process it, and he's been a map-gatherer since he was a little kid (he was entertained by looking at the maps, he still does it before falling asleep sometimes). My geeky husband even joined a few forums and FB groups to follow all the discussions as the spring/summer progress forward! I think he also sort of wants me to make it through - or make a smart decision to back off when it's too bad. May be he thinks having me around is somehow beneficial for him? Yeah, that, too:)

In reality, I am really looking forward to this whole thing to begin already. I stared at the maps already, put down some predicted mileage (much lower than last 2 years) and accommodated the most eek-y crossings to be happening in the morning hours, when water is low-er (even if cold-est! and trust me, I hate even walking into Barton Spring in the middle of Texas summer, and swimming is far from being my strong trait), and bought and packed my food into a bear can (a requirement for Yosemite, though it adds weight and removes free space from the backpack). I piled stuff together in a corner of the closet, and even weighted each item separate - as I was getting proud last summer that I now know what else I can remove, this season I am actually adding more than taking out. Crampons and ice axe, extra warm layers, pants (2 pairs!), sleeping pad...who knows, if I figure out where to squeeze it, I will consider a puffy.

A couple of things did come out of this sudden burst of training. First is, as always, as soon as I can even somewhat run, my 3-times a week 1.5 hr sessions at the gym are a drag! I mean, I understand that I am not putting even remotely enough miles, and for the lack of time AND scenery/mountains/trails not racking up hiking miles/times either, so all that squatting/lunging/stepping/squatting and lunging some more is really beneficial and necessary. But my God, how much I hate it by now! I used to do it as an add-on, not instead! These 4 years, for the sake of keeping myself in shape, gym has become a staple much more so, and I, a gym rat by forces beyond my control, am going to shoot somebody there soon (just kidding). And on another note, while I am thrilled - THRILLED!! - to be able to start training at the efforts (not paces or miles or even hours, efforts by feel) like before, I am dog-tired. I believe I mentioned that this odd condition of mine had spread from just not being able to run into my "normal" life, a.k.a. other exercises and my job and just existing. This week, which I managed to get 50 miles, including ALL activities (running, backpack-walking, hike-jogging, stair-climbing, and even adding spin class and elliptical/stairmaster cardio stuff as a time per effort divider), but I feel like I am inching towards double of that. And my legs are toast. But - it's a great feeling I miss a whole bunch...

With the tiredness and that weird thing with the client at my job (who claimed to be intellectually stimulated by our conversations - should I be flattered or creeped out?), as well as a number of suddenly often-happening cancellations of scheduled massages (for which I don't get paid, and have to make a decision whether to sit in a very uncomfortable back room doing nothing for 2 hrs, or drive home and then back 20-30 min each way in traffic), I sort of being burnt out on working. Hopefully the trip to Hawaii for Larry's sister's wedding will spice things up, as well as my visit to Russia in May. Generally speaking, I do love what I do, making people feel better and stuff, also the fact that I have no strings attached, no pressure, no particular obligations besides showing up and  doing what I do. But it is intellectually not stimulating for me (what are the odds), neither professionally (I can only be a massage therapist, it's the "end of the road"), nor personally. I feel slightly degrading as I tend to think if I am not learning I am not growing, and that to me is like a little bit of dying. In all honesty, I could study some new forms of massages, but I really don't want to. At the end of the day, deep tissue with all the trigger point and myofascial stuff is what is sought after, and I will be leaving this job once I am out of Texas. So, I read.

After getting through a couple of newish books by Eckhart Tolle, my latest book finished was "A subtle art of not giving a F*". After passing through the first 30 pages or so, where profanities were forced upon the reader about 5 times per sentence (I am not making it up), it slowed down in a flow, and started making sense. The idea is, we give too many "hoots" about way too many things that should mean nothing to us (or close to it), and by the end of the day/week/whatever run out of said "hoots" to give when it comes to important stuff. I also really enjoyed the author's take on Russia. After visiting some 54 countries, where experiences just rolled together, fun and all, in Russia, he hated everything, but especially gloomy and blunt/rude/honest people. The always said what they thought - warts and all. If you sound stupid, or gained weight, or your hair color turned grey - you hear that (I can attest to that). But then he learned to appreciate that brutal honesty. You see, he was told, with our country's struggles for centuries, people need trust to know where everybody stands and where to go next. But you can't earn trust if all you see is smiles, polite political correctness and always-positive attitude. May be that's why I consistently feel like I am short on friends. I can't figure out in this country who my friends are (Marta and Eman don't count, they are not from this country after all, watering the pool:)) when everybody tells me they love me, I am great, smart, looking awesome, and working hard. I mean, I had gotten softer here, Americanized, so to speak, but really, what do you REALLY think about me? So that when I think I am calling for a friend in a dare situation I need it, I don't receive a cold shoulder from somebody who I perceived as one.

And now I am half-way through "Man's search of meaning" by a psychotherapist who survived Nazi concentration camps in WWII. As a child of Soviet era Russia, I grew up on WWII stories, history, pain, heroes and legacy. It is way too close, and will never leave me. But the second part of the book touches on lobo-therapy, and that is a term I haven't heard, even if had glimpses of theory on.

On that note, I will end with a quote by Nietzsche: "He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How." 

Oh, what the heck, let me throw one more (not sure by whom): “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It’s to be useful and have made a difference that you lived and lived well.”


tommie said...

Love it! you know I love how honest and caring you are!! So glad the running is back....I am coming for a visit in June, but I will not be running with you! xoxo

Steve Ansell said...

Congrats on getting you "Jedi" back even if it doesn't end up sticking around for long. I know what it must feel like to just embrace those moments that life gives us. Best of luck and enjoy your continued training!

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