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

Monday, January 15, 2007

A frozen bum weekend

I liked snowshoe! In fact, the whole trip nobody complained once, what is incredible in our family, and we had a great time.

Saturday we drove to Cooper Spur trailhead where we met with our friends from Seattle: Oleg's climbing partner Alex and his wife, father and mother. We had a late start, around noon, and took up on Tilly Jane trail up north side of Mt. Hood. It goes for 3 miles from the parking lot at 3800 feet up to a log cabin at 5800 feet. The day was gorgeous, and it was so nice to be on a snowy forested mountain! At the beginning I felt like a cow on ice (or someone who just got off hours riding, or a very stupid runner with chafing at some interesting parts) walking on snowshoes and trying to put my feet wide enough, but in 10 min I got used to it. Stephen at first slowed us down - he always takes about 30 min to adjust and stop making unhappy face. Oleg did an amazing job here - after I slogged with Stephen for 20 min or so at the back of everybody, he came to us and made a pact with the youngster: he'd pull him on a sled where it is not too steep and not too slanted, and at other times Stephen would walk. It worked out great! And Oleg got a fantastic workout to prepare himself for the summer Denali trip he plans to climb Mount McKinley. Alex was pulling ahead pretty fast, I could hardly keep up with him, as we passed the Seattle family. He mentioned that he likes to be alone, he likes to push with no stops and he "doesn't hate it all, not worry, it's pretty cool" - the highest compliment from this teen on family offered adventure. I had to admit I liked been alone in the quietness and serenity of the white surrounding, as it only belongs to me and nobody was needed to talk about the feelings it presented me with. So Alex and I spread a bit and were first to reach a cabin in about 2 hrs.

Soon Oleg caught and all caught up with us, and after a brief snack 3 men (Oleg, Alex and his Dad) headed up to see the Elliot Glacier in a lowering sunlight. The rest of us (women and children:)) stayed at the cabin at the fire place, where lots of people were making stops from either climbing, skiing, snowshoeing or snowboarding in the wild. There was even a guy I knew - another Oleg's partner "in crime", and after our talk ("Dude, did you make it up? How are the conditions? Oleg should be back soon. The South side is a walk, take your newbie’s-friends there tomorrow") I acquired a silent respect from the cabin. Ha! If only they knew how I am scared of heights! Alex's wife and I went for a short walk around, picking at the views of the drops on the side of the magnificent Mt. Hood. Soon after guys returned and we took our way back. I went ahead with the kids, Stephen sliding most of the way on the sled, and Alex and I snowshoeing. Since I borrowed the winter boots from a friend and they were 3 sizes bigger, despite putting 4 pairs of thick wool socks my feet were too loose inside and I got a bloody blister on the bottom of my left big toe, but nothing I couldn't handle.

Oleg got in a car with our friends and they went to a local pub, while I drove with kids home to start cooking and take care of Charlie. Charlie was such a good boy! It was his first time staying that long in the house, and he only peed twice at the front door, as if he tried to get out for this but couldn't handle anymore (we were out for 10 hours, and he is still a puppy!). We had dinner and later glintwine ( really, it's pretty much at this point any kind of red wine, better a bit sweet, that you boil with a bunch of freshly cut different fruits like apples, oranges, pears, lemons and such, plus sugar and some spice - hot fruit wine) at the fireplace before everyone retired for the night.

I had plans for Sunday for a long run, about 20 miles or so, so I reserved a block of 5 hrs for myself in the morning. I drove to Forest Park and started on Wildwood trail. Trails were frozen, and not only did they have ice instead of mud and dirt (and twisted footing because of that weird dirt shape), but even on regular parts it was quite unsafe. I was slow and steady, but decided to re-configure the course to let all the tiny stabilizing muscles rest a bit. I took down to a dirt road of Leaf Ericson where, as Sarah said in her latest entry, you don't have to think about foot placement. May be not foot, may be not little inner muscle groups, but running on hard packed almost flat (by trail standard) wide road is surely boring and gets your hamstrings and butt muscles tighten up like a rock! I already wasn't sure if I made a smart decision, but stuck with it, even though all the firelanes and connecting trails leading back to Wildwood were tempting.

I got to Aspen trailhead and walked half a mile up, resolved to call myself officially from now on a Turtle of the Year. But since I had nothing else to do, I recalculated the soon-to-be-done total mileage...and again...and again - and was delighted to find out I am actually making it 21M! Whether this news, or walking up hill stretched the back of my legs, or been back on real trails - I began running again. Nice! May be I don't have the speed, the power and endurance I once used to, but I still got the mental resolve to make it through.

With 2 miles to go my cell rang - it was Oleg. While getting it out, my left foot slid down and I slipped with it outstretched forward in half-split position - with my left formerly injured hamstring pulled away to capacity! Forest Park heard every insanity on both English and Russian for the next 2 minutes. I got up and my eyes welled up. No, I can't tear anything anymore! I can't handle another injury, another break, another try to come back to at least some kind of form! I think I was scared more than hurt, because in about 3 min of walking I started running again. I am fine now, but this was a moment I don't want a repeat of. I was also quite mad. How many times I told my family I carry a cell phone on the long runs for emergency only? What includes two items: either I get hurt and need help, or someone in the house gets hurt (God forbid). There are reasons for it, you know: first of all, I don't hear it most of the time with my i-Pod music, second, it's in a pack and very inconvenient to get to, third, I need to stop, and it is hard to get going again, besides, what can I do to answer to: I need help with homework? or can cat go outside? or do you know any good brewery in the NW Portland?

Never mind me, I was out of steam in not time and finished in fine mood. For locals who know the park, I started at 53rd Ave (mile 9 1/4) to Firelane 5 (mile 17), took firelane down to Leaf (that puts you at 6.5M on Leaf), went out for 1.5 miles, then all the way back to mile 0 gates, road to Aspen trailhead for 0.5M, Aspen to WW and back to 53rd. WW plus Firelane give 8M, Leaf had 10.5M, road 0.5M, Aspen plus WW 3M. I messed up with out-back on Leaf and did 0.5M extra.

It was more than I bargained for after only doing 16M as my previous long run, and on one day off for the last 2 weeks (MT driving) was hard. My shin bones were aching during the night from pounding, but other than that I survived fine, in a time of 3:50 - what makes me pretty happy because I allowed myself up to 4 hrs for 20M. Just in case, you know. Gosh, I am a Turtle!! Oh, yeah, and my behind didn't feel a thing from been frozen. Also that thing about weakness in my left lower leg - still there, with waves coming later in the run more often and stronger, but not lasting for more than a minute. Why do I end up having a weird pain? I can live with it though, having a perfect practice of running with Chronic Compartment Syndrome for over 4 years.

I called Oleg back and met with everybody at the Rogue Brewery for a nice meal and a beer. It was good weekend.

Today my body demanded rest. Rest, I said!!! Aha, when did I ever listen to it? Oleg was going to Columbia River Gorge to climb frozen waterfalls with his friends, and I was supposed to drop him off at the meet point. Well, since I am up anyway early, and it's a shame to waste a day off from work, as well as another perfect weather day, I ended up doing 6 miles on Wildwood. Slow. Very slow. But it got the lactic acid out, and nothing aches now. However, a yoga practice is in order for tonight! By the way, I did a 90 min Bikram yoga on Friday morning at the local studio only 2.5M away. Good stuff, no wonder I feel personal about it - my back felt the juices flowing again, and it was very peaceful.

I will post pictures once I get them. I am out to enjoy the sun!

p.s. This weekend at HURT 100 Karl Meltzer ended up dropping with some issues at mile 60, yet his last year's course record was broken by over an hour. Bev Abbs' record also fell to - who lese - but Krissy Moehl by a lot. I think we got a new Ann Trason!!!! Read some short intro to falling records at Matt Hart's blogsite. Our Dirt Diva Catra had to stop at 100k option (hmm, who says it's whimpy throw a rock at me) because of complications from her bladder infection medicine. I need to make it out there one year! Hawaii!!!

p.p.s. Tuesday. Speaking of Hawaii - we have almost 1 foot of snow here, in Portland, OR!!! Schools are closed, and I am not risking driving to work (I tried, I really did). More days off, and it's white and gorgeous outside!


Wes said...

Damn cell phones! I really would like to chunk mine into the lake... But then, how would my wife be able to reel me in :-)

Backofpack said...

Olga, what a great weekend! Hope your leg continues to feel okay. My cell phone rings every now and then too, and by the time I fumble around getting it out,they've usually hung up. Especially hard to get them out this time of year with gloves on.

I clicked on the wine link - couldn't read a thing! I bet you are laughing at that. I like the name of it though.

Anonymous said...

Close "call" on the hamstring huh? Glad you are ok. I had a feeling snowshoeing would be just the kind of torture you crave.

Phil said...

Happy to hear that you weren't hurt in your fall. I've stopped carrying my cell phone. This summer I got a call from someone while running 7 miles from nowhere in the Arizona desert. The last thing I needed to do was stand around in the hot sun yammering on a cell phone. You need to tell you friends and family, "if there's no blood, don't call".

Can't wait for the pictures. Your trip up Mt. Hood sounded awesome.

robtherunner said...

It's awesome to be out in the snow. I wish I could head up to the mountains and do some snowshoeing.

I'm also turtleing right along with ya. We'll get back up to speed one of these days. We're young.

Sarah said...

From you description I'm very glad now that we didn't try Wildwood on Saturday! That frozen mud can sure be an ankle breaker. Hope your leg stays well!

Bob Gentile said...

Olga said: Forest Park heard every insanity on both English and Russian for the next 2 minutes.

ahhh Cell phones--ummm that had to be kinda funny ...OK only initially, Glad U are OK and didn't get hurt... and yes get ur butt to Hawaii and run that HURT race...I looked it up looks like a very fun & wild course.


DawnB said...

I just took a look at your results. Girl, I can't believe you wanted to run Ultras after your first marathon!!! outstanding!!!

Mike said...

Nice that you were able to squeeze in some solid running between all the fun you had this weekend! Just don't scare us with any mention of injuries- not good! (glad you are ok!)

rick said...

Only one blister, that's nothing for you. Anyway it's that's great that you were able to go out for the long run the next day after snowshoeing the previous day. I'm sure you went out with some soreness.

Well I'm glad you didn't get hurt. It seems like all that Yoga has been paying off. I bet you would have gotten hurt had you not been back to Yoga.

Eudemus said...


Sounds like a great weekend. I've always wanted to try snowshoeing, but don't get to the snow much. Your wine sounds a lot like "mulled wine" which I have had and is very good.

robtherunner said...

Wow! Amazing pics.

Meghan said...

Hi Olga!

Oh these pictures are amazing! It looks just like at my house here in Wyoming! I started snowshoe running just this year and I was a gangly, bumbling fool the first few times out also. Now I love it because it is such a great workout with little impact on the body. What an awesome weekend!

Meghan said...

I guess blogger doesn't link to websites anymore if you put them in the identity fields.

Just so you know who I am:

Lisa B said...

Inspirational stories and beautiful pictures, Olga. Nice job with the weekly mileage.

Go to HURT in 2008. If anyone could do it, you can.

Jamie said...

Glad the slip didn't turn out to be a serious injury. Great pics! Looks like a fun time for sure.

Backofpack said...

Olga, I want to go hiking with Oleg and have him tow me! That looks like my kind of hiking. Great pictures!

Anonymous said...

That's some serious snow. The post is even better with the pictures. And this is two comments on one post in case you are counting.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Great family photos, Olga. I go to Rogue, every time I'm in Portland.

By the way, thanks for all of your help getting Caleb noticed so that he could be on the Montrail Team. That guy rocks the trails!
Get some rest, woman!

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Jack said...

Wow, I haven't see snow like that since I was a teenager (that was a long time ago). Glad you weren't hurt with your fall.

Ryan said...

Very nice post and pictures Olga, what an adventure packed weekend you and your family had. We have a few snowshoe races here in New England but they’ve all been canceled because we have no snow, a little snow to play in would be nice once in awhile!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

the photos are fantastic!

and yay for 20 miles and yay for yoga and yay for family time and yay for snow.

matt said...


i have been having a lot of trouble leaving comments on your site that last week or so. i hope this goes through. it is a real pleasure to sit and read about your family adventures like this. the pictures perfectly compliment the stories. i feel the need to get my wife and son out for some experiences like this. just another way you inspire me :)

rick said...

Great pictures! I especially like the one with Oleg pulling Stephen. Those kids are lucky that they have parents who enjoy the outdoors.

Love2Run said...

What an awesome weekend and great pictures. I get tired just reading about your adventures ;-) Keep it up!

Julie B said...

I am glad you enoyed the snow shoeing!! I can NOT imagine pulling someone in back of me though, Oleg is very very strong! And climbing frozen waterfalls? I didn't know people did that!!!

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