I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

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

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Cold and Wet Capitol Forest.

Lately I was going between “to post or not to post” and “how long and personal the post can be” a lot. It seems there are more people reading it than I ever expected, and not everyone may understand it’s not a training log or a running blog. My life, as everybody’s around, is a not a simple recount of how many miles/how fast/ what hurts. And though it seems to revolve a lot around it, I can’t start writing and stop with simple facts. Once my mind starts flowing, there is no break on it. There are still few things I rather not put in a blog entry, simply because as whacky as I am, without knowing me personally it’s hard to see the border to where I joke about things or if I am a complete not acceptable society unit It doesn’t help to be European and have a different perspective on friendship between genders either. And if someone doesn’t like the long read or the way it’s done or the topics discussed – my intent was not to entertain people, but to have an outlet in form of a diary, a personal diary, as I love to write, because doing it soothing my mind and re-reading it puts things in perspective and makes me calmer. I communicate better on paper, I feel more open with words, and I understand even myself better this way.

Why am I beginning with that? Because I had fun. And I wasn’t going to just blurt it out like that, but I never know where my fingers typing letters will take me. All I need is the first sentence.

I’d like to complain about the misery of the day, but really have no rights on that one today – people were actually going for the whole 50 miles, and putting an effort into it. But I will not be able to avoid this fact, so my deepest apologies…

Friday afternoon Bushwhacker and Steve picked me up at the house and dropped me off at John’s house (RD). There were already a handful of people there helping with food/package preparation, and I joined the cutting veggies/cooking soup team, blistering in many spots from using dull knife, sipping a couple of beers and pocking fun. John was as crazy as ever, making last minute checks and getting AS boxes ready, with a help of Varner, his ever-present friend and unofficial co-RD. Then a thunder in a sky – an email from some idiot to John. I wish I had a whole copy with me, but I forgot it there. See, Saturday was a first day of bear-hunting season. John had all the permits for the Capitol forest event, but so did the hunters (from a different organization?). Anyway, this dude was obnoxiously stating, that John specifically wanted to sabotage/harass hunters with his race, is responsible for any incidents that may happen due to “lots of men with shotguns been in a forest” (drunk?) and that he (dude) is going to get a group and disrupt his (John's) event. That was not pleasant! Officals were notified, and the email would have been funny had it not been scary. I decided to go with a white jacket and a red camelback to not be mistaken for a bear.

Markus Dennis was there, the new RD for CCC100, we chatted just about everything, from his great-run races to my injuries (and how he may possibly help me out with that); and then the Big Boys arrived: Craig Thornley and Jeff Riley. Where else can you sit next to elite people of the particular field and make fun of them? And feel relaxed and not inferior? We watched the movie “The Runner” about David Horton’s PCT speed-record, talking, laughing and admiring The Man. Having known David personally (he was, by a total accident, the person to introduce me to the whole ultra-community, as he did many, but I wasn’t even his student at the University), it was especially interesting. I met David in 2004 at VT100, while crewing and pacing my friend Nick Pallazzo, not knowing who he is, as well as anybody else, and we had a blast making jokes about each other’s accent. He is just something, and it would have been a whole new book for me to write about him. Heck, even my mere pacing of his trek on PCT for some miles deserves my talking about it for an hour!

But I digress, back to the pre-race. We went to sleep well after midnight, and at 4 am Varner woke me up for a drive to the start (John camped out, and whether or not he slept at all is a big question). It was not that bad at that time, and the hope for some lucky weather break appeared. I helped out with registration and numbers, saying hi and thinking how glad I am not to go for a race today. I am getting old:) I wasn’t even jealous! It drizzled on and off, at 6 am the solo runners went, and at 7 am – relay people. I went with them., picking up white streamers from the tress.
This is where I have to break the story and say – if anybody ever complains on John’s marking – come talk to me. Jesus, it was insane! The guys had markers that would be enough for 5 race courses! I couldn’t run a step without stopping and taking a whole bunch (not one) off! And intersections – oh, my! If you say you get lost – you are a spacehead!
Capitol Forest is beautiful, it’s a rain forest as it gets, so green and lush, with single track trails, lots of hills and on a good day – great views from the top of Capitol peak, but anybody is yet to see those great views! Because in all the years of John putting up races there he had luck with one – 50k in October, actually, my first race once we moved to PNW, and if it hasn’t been so gorgeous on that day, I might have never fell in love with this paradise:) There were two thoughts I followed on teh first loop that are worth mentioning. For the first time out of many in this park I paid attention to a HUGE area of cut-off trees. I am not much into all the green-peace, but suddenly it just felt so wrong. Everything around is big and colored in green, and then - it's an empty space with tree thumps, a mile long and quite wide field... Another is - how horrible those people are who hunt for fun and "sport". What a cheap thrill, yet expensive for the animals! C'mon, if you need food (and I mean it not only back in time, but even now, if you hunt and then skin and eat it) - is one thing, if you defend your life - totally understand, but just shoot to shoot? I know in my mind there are permits and it's regulated and there accepted limits, but it is cruel - what do you do with dead bears, throw them in a trash? Let them rotten? Is it how you feel "manly"?...Back to race...and the Weather Gods didn’t disappoint on Saturday – 10 am rolled around and the rain poured. Yikes!!! It doesn’t rain in this forest, it spills bucket, “cats and dogs”, cold, and miserable. The temperatures never hit 40s (most likely staying low to mid 30s). And I had lots of walking to do in it – between getting streamers, pain in my shins and following the last relay runner, it was SLOW! So as I was finishing the first loop (15.4M? don’t believe John, he is evil and never had math in school, or been possessed by Horton’s miles) in 4 hrs, I was day-dreaming about a change of clothes in a car. The car with my bags was taken for a course check by John. Ouch! I started shivering non-stop and bitching about the whole thing (with the thyroid dysfunction, once my temp drops, I become hypothermic really fast and it’s hard to bring me back). John’s Mom gave me his sweatshirt, some guy took off his camel-wool sweater, and John’s Dad fixed me 2 cups of hot cocoa. After 25 min I was more or less alive, thinking – how are all the runners dealing with it out there? Man, was I glad I wasn’t racing, and this doesn’t come often to me. What a sissy!!
Then, what I thought at the time, my Savior came along. One guy drove in and said he’d like to go for a run and can keep me company. Yeah, sure! Well, I am not going to go into details, I have no idea who’s reading it and who’s thinking what, but let me just say this – we didn’t click. On every topic we picked it was obvious we had different emotional views (point – not right or wrong, but different), and it was dreadful to continue, so I pretty much shut up (me?! not talking?!). On top of it we were hiking higher up, wet trails and rain turned to sleet and mess, and then to heavy snow. I got frozen again, AND, remember that shin pain on Friday? – it was screaming! The mental battle began: do I have a stress fracture yet or will I? Should I go on - we’re only hiking anyway – or am I jeopardizing my race in 2 weeks? Should I drop or, since I pride myself being a “man of the word” (or a woman in this case, whatever you prefer), just finish this last loop? And then we come upon the last relay runner again (the same guy I followed in first loop, how slow it can be if I spent half an hour at the camp and still caught up with him?). Oh, I don’t mean to be mean, but it was a death march. And I was cranky. OK, you can’t be perfect every second, and I wasn’t in a mood for a “good job” thing. His friend from the top AS, who expected it to be this way, came down to help and walked with us up, saying that the wife of this guy will take him off the course (drive back). Well, by the time we got there, despite the wonderful fluffy snow and perfect winter views around, I was stiff like hell, hurting even more, frozen to the point of staggering, not eating or drinking for the last 2 hrs (and next one as well) and not been able to run a step. And I had just over 4 miles, mostly downhill, mostly inside a freezing stream of dirt water, walking slow…How exciting do you expect this report to be?

Eventually, that came to an end at AS 6, mile 27, with people, warm cars and MY CHANGE OF CLOTHES!!! What I had to be helped with, as I couldn’t move a single part of my body.

Well, whatever, as my “surprise sweeping partner for loop #2” kept saying, we are endurance athletes, right? Right...at least in a race there is a satisfaction and reasoning...Human mind tends to forget the bad memories and keep happy once, so lets move on to something I do enjoy and love and keep coming for more – the people.
Despite the nastiness of the day, runners posted great times! There was a serious race for the top 3 with close times (was it 7:40? – insane!) Mike Burke had a fantastic day and turned in 9:02 – wow! May be I’ll get better with age too, just like wine…Varner was happy with a total smart race approach and had 8:30 (all times are approximate, I am not a math wizard to remember numbers, check the website later for results). Van Phan, crazy girl, got first in 9:47 – this woman races every weekend from marathon to 100k, never lets up, runs hard every single one of those as it’s the last time ever, wins many things, and not just by default, but by posting really fast times, even comparing to man’s field. Christel, only been into all this for a year, came second (like an hour later). Tom Riley is ripping benefits off his high mileage training for WS100 and ran 9:27 – woo-hoo! Team “Squirrels” (Justin Angle and Sean Meissner) beat team “Eugene boys” (Craig Thornley and Jeff Riley) while having a total blast doing this relay – guys know how to have fun. Jeff Riley won my personal award for best looking legs (yeah, this is where my European heritage comes out, and where I get most grief on quite often), we spent 4 hrs mingling and enjoying each other’s company, swapping stories, discussing planned races, while waiting for Tom to finish (we had to drive him to his motel). I was pretty seriously limping and still in pain in my left shin, my mind overwhelmed with possible nasty injury. Eventually, after driving for 3 hrs in a pouring rain - thanks, Mike! – and sleeping most of it, I got home at 9:30 pm. Whew, what a long day! Yep, stupid, but I’ll say it again – seeing all the faces worth all the pain, so whatever! I’ll take one day at a time…

I know it’s a long post, but I have something else to add – not for everybody visiting.
Dear Anonymous! If you have something to do with Lisa, Lisa’s coaching and Dreamchasers, why don’t you send me a personal email to discuss matters? If you are just by-passer – what do you have to do with my training then? First of all, as I said in the beginning of this post, this is NOT a training log or running blog, so don’t look for it here. Second, I am one horrible teenager at heart. I can be sweet-talked into things, fooled into, suggested to and given a space and choice to decide, but if I am TOLD – ther is NO WAY I am following it. The more you try to be superior and intimidate me, the more I rebel, so you get an opposite effect. So unless this is your personal intention, how about we stop that? While I welcome any comments, even form un-identified readers, I don't appreciate patronizing. I am not stupid, I know what to do to train better and how to do it and why to do it. Whether or not I choose to do it is MY PERSONAL CHOICE! And I don’t owe any explanation to anybody but my immediate family, even if I pay for those suggestions – this is my personal choice to.

Case to the point: I will never become an elite runner. I have neither genetics (the most important part of equasion for me) nor time/willpower/desire to train hard and specific enough for that. Even though I do want to run somewhat faster, breaking my records probably wouldn't make a top ten on my list. Falsly making me believe I am capable of some kind of break through makes me spend too much precious energy on that, then getting angry of things not happening, and mostly - making me not being who I am, a different person, someone may be better, but by no means myself, and I struggle with that. I am no spring chicken and had seeing enough in my life to identify my own personality for myself and be just fine with that. There is too much in life to enjoy besides a pure focus on workouts, not that they are bad. The reason I write so much and remember so well every minute of my day(s) is that I live every minute of my day completely submerged in it, and I wouldn't take it any other way.

And now I am done. But hopefully I’ll be back…


robtherunner said...

Sounds like fun to me. I will have to check the results when they are posted. Sorry I missed your call.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Sounds like crazy, miserable fun! Yes, I think one can have miserable fun :)

Too bad about the hunters, the guy with whom you didn't get a long with and the anonymous commentor to whom you now need to defend yourself against. That's not fun!

I can't wait to "meet" you in two weeks at Zane Grey!!!

Hilda said...

I would love to be able to express myself the half way you do writing. There is so much energy always in this page!

You have so many events, wow!

Anonymous said...

Olga, if you're writing is your release and not for others', why not write it in your native tongue. Just another silly suggestion from *tc.

olga said...

because I even dream in English nowadays:)

rick said...

Full day indeed. I was thinking about you and Capitol peak as I worked in the comfort of my own apartment. Warm and with hot chocolate. Hope the shin recovers in time. If you're not already doing it, I would ice it daily and you should take a couple of days off, maybe even three...gasp!...I know, I know but like you said big race in 2 weeks and another the week after. Heal baby, heal.

Johnny Lyons said...

Olga, maybe you could create a "running" blog in a different way. Have new t-shirts for each race or big run with your latest "blog post". Then maybe people following you might not stare at your butt too much, but read the post on your shirt. Oh wait, I forgot you're European, you like people looking at your butt ;)

Sarah Elaine said...

Good post. Like you, I express myself better in writing... and like you, I feel I get to know myself better through writing, too.

I enjoy your blog. The fact that you share your ups and down and thoughts with us is what makes it especially enjoyable.

Oh yeah... and I also admire your running, you crazy woman, you!

Lora said...

Why do I have such fun reading your blog?? Keep on writing in your own style...that's why we come back.

And by the way, my Grandparents are European....so getting to know your way of thinking brings me back to them. We're all from somewhere else...that's the beauty of America!! Keep on sharing!!

Anonymous said...

I believe you misinterpreted my questions/comments due to a possible language gap. Please accept my apologies. They were merely probing questions to ask yourself and not meant to raise your ire, cause angst or ill will. Also, I am not associated with your coach or her club...just know folks who are and who have been successful.

I do disagree with you on a couple of things you wrote. In the field or ultrarunning, you are a "spring chicken" and as you are a supported runner (gear, etc) this moves you to the near elite class. You have natural talent and the inner drive to push past pain. Both are rare commodities to be found together. In any field, individuals such as yourself are rare.

I've been running for over 40yrs now. I hope this makes me a "summer chicken" as ultrarunners can get better with age and experience. Time tempers most humans and for us runners "the trials of miles and miles of trials" serve as another form of tempering.

Please do not work yourself into a frenzy. We just want you to be healthy and moving down the trail for many years to come. We do want you to be like fine wine and to be out on the trails as move from being a summer to a fall and to a winter chicken thru the passage of time.

Once again, apologies, I will not ask anymore probing questions. Take care. Happy trails and healthy body.

Donald said...

Wow...drama! I need to stop by here more often.

Like everyone else, I enjoy your writing. I also enjoy your fire. Oh, yeah - you're a pretty fine runner, too.

Keep doing whatever you want to do, with this blog or anything else.

backofpack said...

Olga, it's your blog and therefore, you get to write whatever you want, however you want. Each of us makes a choice to read it or not. Personally, I love reading it!

psbowe said...

Wow Olga, got a whole debate going on here...but I won't get into it!

yes, we've been having some crazy weather lately, got colder too.

Hopefully your shin pain will be gone by race time. Best wishes.

Bushwhacker said...

Like Anonymous I will no longer try to "tell" you anything. As you know I too have taken damage for making that mistake but it is kinda fun to see the fire in your eyes. I have found "Sweet Talking" ya is a lot more fun anyway. It gets me what I need. You are one Wild Mountain Flower. Hope to see ya this weekend.

Joe said...

Thanks much for your help. This was my first Ultra and I enjoyed it immensly. I was the guy that wandered in about 10 minutes after Van Phan. That was a cold sob up on that peak.

Anonymous said...


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