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

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Another crazy Texas summer month is behind. Gosh, it never ends! I did my best to keep my running gear, though there was a week (3rd of the month) when I feared it's about to revert backwards, again. But I held on, sub-10 or few seconds over, and did my 5 runs a week for a 30-plus miles steady. That, and my 3-a-week gym workouts. By the end of August the In-Body machine told me I gained 3 lbs of fat and 0.5 lbs of muscle - what was fine, after all, I can't expect to be emaciated as I was for the last 2 months of insane (by my new standards) training, especially at the top of heat and humidity (I am not even talking about what was left of me after the through-hike). September challenged me to stay there - I fought mighty, it is a hard battle. Something is triggering the fatigue, again. By the last week of the month, I took even harder look on the calorie intake (I never stopped logging) and resolved to get a grip. I really like my new pants. Call me vain. I also really, really want to get into "training shape" - so that by the time we move to CO, I can start adding real workouts and sign up for races, from shorter building up to what feels approved by my body. For now, the most important thing on my physical radar - to keep that "running gear". 8 months (well, minus July when I hiked then recovered) - is the longest stretch since 2013, most consistent, and I grasp at it with all I got. In the words of the latest World Marathon record holder Eliut Kipchoge:"Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions." It worked, proving once again such popular wisdom as "Body is made in the kitchen" and "You can't outrun your diet". To paraphrase, the numbers on the scale and the clothes' fit are direct correlation to what and how much is on my plate. In-Body machine showed at the end of September a 0.5 lb gain in muscle, and a steady fat content (which dropped overall fat percentage, in case anyone keeps track, barely sub-12%). I can definitely live with these numbers.

The month began by seeing our friends Janice and Gabe - at a new Eastern European diner. The food was so-so, but the company made up for it. 
I also celebrated 25 years - quarter of the century - since I came to USA. It’s official, I have lived on US land longer than on the Land of a Firebird, one that gave me birth and shaped me up as a human. It is both sad and exhilarating. I miss the simple hardships of daily life that is Russia yet grateful for the opportunities living in America afforded me – things to try and do and experience…and life here was anything but easy. Sometimes I wish I had those "Russian daily" difficulties vs what transpired here, not to mention the ease of regular, routine life (boring! where is the fight?), but really, it's what is, that life thing. I can't compare where I like "better", it's a silly question. It's not like I lived SAME periods of my life in each country in parallel. In Russia (of Soviet period, to add) I was young, vibrant, whole life ahead, but I was also stupid (read: young) and didn't look at many things in any way, with no eyes at all. I was just surviving, and I didn't know any other way. In US I matured, got some hard earned wisdom with years and mistakes and cumulative experiences - yet I also am not looking like a thrilled puppy who expects miracles. I calmed down. I made choices. I lived - and doing my best continuing doing so, may be, hopefully, with fewer mistakes.
A couple of days later we crossed the point of being married for 9 full years. Every romantic photo of the two of us is in the nature’s setting, from the meeting day, to the wedding day, to any day of our lives. While it represents exactly who we are, what we love, and what united us in the first place, one day, I hope, we get to wear proper clothes and celebrate our union with friends and family. Dress, suite, and the whole nine yards! I already made a list of who I'd like to be around us, on a sunny early morning (our favorite time of the day) in mid-September of 2019... For now, I really enjoyed digging through archives for the sappy pictures. Here is to making it to start our #10 together as a husband and wife, a year ahead with many wonderful changes.
We had a couple of fun dates, changing from just afternoon coffee (though I still had a cup of Joe). We even ordered a dessert for our wedding anniversary - something neither one of us remembered last time we had done! We paid for it, though, with restless night...getting older and not accustomed. While we went out for dinner a night prior the wedding date, on the 19th we went to a movie theater (my annual trip, I am really not into going to movies). As usual for my seldom appearance at the theater, it was a rare one-day showing of an amazing athletic/endurance stunt. This year it was The Dawn Wall. Absolutely breath taking!

Towards the end of the month we went out with our other good friends, Karyn and Scott - to Pappadeaux Cajun place (conveniently located next to our house, very overprices, but oh, so good). They take the prize for cooking seafood, hands down. Amazing! The company was great, and Karyn got her birthday gift, for which she was so thankful, it made me (and her) tear up. Wish all my friends and relatives had the same reaction, would have made my passion for knitting and gifting so well worth all the efforts:)

On the knitting front I combed through my random 1-skein purchases while flipping pages of the Japanese Stitch Bible and came up with a few cute gifts for my friends' upcoming birthdays. One more of that 1-skein left to make a shawl for my sister - and hopefully I am in a cool-of period.

I also got a couple bigger projects: one finished in the first days of the month, a super-lacy (from same Japanese Bible book) top and using the yarn we got last October in the middle of TX (Nacogdoches). I love how it came out, though considering gifting it as well to someone special.
The second was a long project, took all of September 2018 (on top of all the smaller knits). Not for the difficulty, but for the sheer volume of knitting that has to be done with this fingering weight yarn of 80% merino/20% cashmere. The yarn (first 2 skeins) was a gift from my beautiful friend Amy Coffey during my March visit to Sedona (the extra skein was ordered online at Fabulous yarn). The neck work was done in August as a try-my-hands at Fair Isle knitting, using previously bought in Portland and used in a different knit Alpaca/Cash/Silk/Camel yarn (I call it my Camel yarn). It set as an unfinished neck piece for a while, until I realized I have a matching yarn color, and the idea (inspired by a few pictures) was born! This poncho, aptly named "Amy's Love", is ready for the move to Colorado!
In the spare-change TV time - hat season is underway! Since I found a different company to make my labels (no blue bear, but still a personal touch), and Pam agreed to host my hand-knitted hats in her trail running store, I now have something to occupy my hands with when the mind needs to be free. The first batch of beanies is done!

In the reads post-hike months.
I've been working same hours, but my body feels like I doubled my shifts. I am not sure whether it's the post-effect of the hike exertion, that fatigue is making a come-back, or, it's just this heat and humidity, ever-lasting, never-ending, are soul-breaking.  Every September drives me into some semi-depression in terms of the weather. In March, when temperatures rise and first signs of summer appear, you cringe. In April you're upset, but still full of strength. In May you wallow through and even pride yourself for being "acclimated". In June you suck it up, awaiting for July, and mountains, and fresh cool air at high altitude, dry, high sky...August rolls with the highest of both H&H, but you're trying to hold on to memories of your July respite, and pretending to look forward to September...but the REAL September, the one your body remembers for your whole life (besides the last 9 years) - never comes. And you break down. Nothing happens. We expect "cold front" and 85F. It's a joke. We're still "swimming" on the runs. The air hits you when you open a garage door, smacking the hell into you. I told my mother, when she whined that Moscow is done with Indian Summer and is full-on with Fall - "I'd sell my soul to devil to feel that right about now". But the end is near. That was our last summer in Texas, so help us God. This month we squared out all our finances in preparation for that perfect little dream house in an amazing dream place. 

Motivation is a powerful tool. Every failure, every painful moment, drives us harder. Sometimes it is to thrive. Mostly, it is just to survive, in all kinds of meaning of it.  The only way you can get from where you are to where you want to be is find the motivation deep inside your soul. Ancestry DNA let me know I am 98% Russian. You can’t take THAT out of me.

Found these words by Alex Honnold (dang, he's got a new movie Free Solo that is NOT showing in Austin!!): "I think I define success as just being able to do the things I want to when I want to. Being able to fund the lifestyle. There’s no number that makes that possible. A lot of it has to do with how happy I am with what I’m doing."

p.s. End of September brought a promise of a "cold front". After 24 hrs of tropical rain, we expected cooler temps - high 60's in the morning and mid-80's during the day. It wasn't all it was hyped up to be - definitely still no tank top for the runs, but one day it "dropped" to 64F.  This was enough of a cool-off during my dark morning run that I dreamed about routes in Colorado Springs, both on the city's streets and on local trails, as well as various races that will be at our disposal, all distances and surfaces (images courtesy of Larry digging out numerous YouTube videos). Yeah, I could live with that...:)

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