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

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Training at the Hagg Mudfest

Well, it was quite a fun day, and I am tired, but if I don't write now, I won't be interested to write at all.

I am not sure if I mentioned (I think I did), but I sent in my application for Hagg Lake run earlier this week. I figured, I am up to about 30M in training on the weekend, and this way I could do it with aid and friends. Not to mention I get to see some great legs wearing skirts – and not female legs at that.

It's been raining all week long. But honestly, after finishing 3rd Hagg in a raw with all the different years from driest to wettest, I would say – Hagg course just muddy and wet no matter how you cut it. It's not better or worse from year to year, it is relatively the same. This year it might have had more sections with mud and more water overall (and rain falling from 7 am to 12 pm), but at the same time those clay-muddy sections were watered down to the point it didn't stick to the shoes. It was a slow day, however, prepared runners left with close to usual results (Bushwhacker and Tom R., both of whom wore skirts, included – Tom actually ran exactly the same time as last year).

OK, where was I. I had gone to my chiro on Friday after taking Oleg to the airport and he said interesting phrase: he is a believer if an injury isn't debilitating and doesn't halt running completely, one (injured runner) may continue running while seeking treatments and adjusting. I guess this is a road I am taking…

Friday night Maura and Stan came over with their dog Killer, and we had good talks. I woke up at 4 am (an hour ahead of time) and thought – I could tell myself as much as I want about training run, fun time, "don't care" part, but once I pay that entry fee – my body just knows and gets nervous. Other than that I was fine. It took us an hour to get to the start (at first we dropped Alex and Stephen at Gail's AS#1 around the loop), and the rain was steady and annoying. But it wasn't as cold as I feared. We got numbers, said hi to all (how embarrassing, Paul Curran, our Montrail team rep, walked to me, and I didn't recognize him! After spending a day before WS100 sharing same house last year! But then again, I hardly remember faces and names I meet at the races, body's response). There were 5 men who accepted the challenge to wear a skirt for the run. Seam Meissner won the "best" award – he had a real skirt on with flowers and all! The other 4 had those new-hits lady's running skirts (Nike?), but boy, did those legs look hot! Bushwhacker is always first in my heart, but Ken practically shocked me too!

OK, forget the fun part, we were actually planning to run 31 miles, 2 loops around the lake with out-n-back on the dirt road first 3M. I'll be short. I planned to be deliberately slow (I've done it before, it's not new for me), I was at the back of the pack from get-go, had an OK first loop with very mild hip flexing area pain and a somewhat shooting behind-the-knee pain (same as last week), which I decided not to give into, and it subsided by the end of first loop (mile 17). I walked hills on first loop, played with fueling (and tried Nuun electrolyte tablets for drink, and liked it a lot). Feet were sliding lots, I fell 5 times total, but bum and side slides were benign, I only hurt myself when went face-plant after tripping over the root. The only concern for falls was that my gloves were muddy (try and wipe your nose now!), and so were my bottles (and I'd spend a few next sips sucking on dirt and spitting it out).

By the middle of first loop 25k runners began to pass me, what surprised me – usually it happens on the last 3 mile section and only by 4 first guys, not like with still 7-8 miles to go and by numbers! But after Paul ran by and rubbed me on a shoulder I felt better and forgot all about it. They were nice, most of them anyway.

First AS was served by Gail, and second – by Liz, Kamm and Kyly. Girls were awesome to see, always, and especially when I am not in any rush. I did contemplate if I want to run a second loop, but not seriously, and as if it was heard aloud, at the AS 3 Ronda (a co-RD) met me with words – "Don't even think about it, ultrarunners rock!" Did you really think I'd stop?

Second loop I felt better. I actually ran (whatever pace you are allowed to call that, but it wasn't a hike) most of the uphills, and had some physiology working, though I didn't have an "oomph". The trails were beat up much worse (as usual for the second time around, with over 200 pairs of feet digging on it), yet I had an even split – may be I should focus on that. As I said, I felt energetically and mentally well, my "hurts" were mild, but I couldn't pick it up – nor did I want it. I figured for me my race happens in my head ahead of time. Of course, there are thing "happen" as you run, and then it's unpredictable, but overall, the way I plan to run it – I run it, whether it slow or pushing.

Last couple of miles I just wanted to be done. I was a good amount of time over what I thought I would be (even as a slow training run, and even with mud and rain slopping), but surprisingly I was in a good mood (just as I was at the Mac 2 years ago with Glenna and Walter, or at the Chuck last year, or at Greenbelt a few years back – I choose those runs to be like that and enjoyed them happily).

I ran into arms of Tom. R, Mike B., Ronda and Stacey (figuratively speaking), and we had awesome time talking. Everybody had a grand time, and as sick as it sounds and as much as we all swear off this course, we most likely ALL be back! Ronda, Stacey and I communicate I believe more than we ever did combined in 2 and half years, and if anything else, that was worth suffering.

On a different note, I have to look the truth "into the eyes" (or however it sounds in English) and may have to re-access my running goals for this year and possibly future too. It was much slower than anticipated, and even though I looked back (as soon as I cam home) into my logs to compare, there was not much difference (I did do much more weight training, I NEED to find a gym and time for that! – but that is it). I don't know if the break I took for the first time in 6 years (between first hamstring tear at the end of June through some slogging to total rest from running from the end of September to mid-November to whatever problems I am having now) played the part, or, by Gail's guess, I have more stress in life influencing body functioning, or there is more to it (no, I won't blame it on getting older, I don't believe in it) – but the fact is I need to spend time to either re-evaluate my running ( a.k.a. training) or my running (a.k.a. racing goals).

And I am fully OK with it.

p.s. posted by my darling Angie


Meghan said...

Uh-oh. Sounds like you are having a mental lull. This is okay, though! If you're motivated to work towards this year's racing goals, I say start with re-evaluating your training first.

That said, our running is always in flux, running the gamut from really good to really bad on a daily basis. Does today represent a reoccurring theme, or was it just "one of those days?"

From an outsider's perspective, it sounds as if your endurance level for the 50K distance is high. If your body was able to put out an even split on degrading terrain, to me this is a sign of good endurance. You speak of no "umph." Does this mean you didn't feel light afoot? Does it mean you didn't feel your usual strength? Does it mean you didn't feel speedy? Or something entirely different?

Sorry to ramble. I hope you figure out what it is that's bugging on you so that you can keep on keepin' on.


robtherunner said...

What, you're not going to tell us your time. I'm superficial you know I want to know what kind of "not expected" time we are talking about. I am sure it's about an hour or two faster than I can run. Sounds like you had some bonding going on.

Jamie said...

I love that bonding aspect of ultras. Glad you had a good time. I must echo Rob's sentiment in the desire to know your time though. :-)

angie's pink fuzzy said...

ok, now i'm back to comment.

sounds like you had a good time - it met many of your needs - social, support, etc. it also sounds like it was tough, but felt good to tough it out. sounds like you are in a good analytical phase of things, ready to really look at where you are and where you want to go. it's true; you've got a lot more mental stress going on in your life right now and that will definitely add to the slower times. ((hugs)) and may you be happy no matter what you choose to do :)

christine said...

one of the things i love best about your blog olga is your hands down no bullshit honesty and personally i could care less about your time. i'm no ultrarunner, still in the 20k range but building up SLOW... but i love the community. you faced less than ideal conditions and both physical and mental hurdles were met by grit and grace. you inspire me so, rock on olga!

Julie B said...

I'm glad you had a fun time, Olga. Good friends and a good day in the woods, we can't ask for much more than that. I miss Stan and Maura..yes, even Killer!

Bob Gentile said...

OLGA SAID:I only hurt myself when I went face-plant after tripping over the root. The only concern for falls was that my gloves were muddy (try and wipe your nose now!),and so were my bottles (and I'd spend a few next sips sucking on dirt and spitting it out).
ahhhh I love that part!!...your only concern when U fall is gloves and dirty bottles (not injury's)-- u know the falls are part of it and so ur not concerned about it...just dang it, stop messing with my gloves or bottles you MUDDY TRAILS :-) I like ya mud but don't need to taste ya...Olga says-LOL

Good Race Report Olga!! and like someone else said sounds like some good ultra bonding with friends...

You are smart Olga you will figure out where your "AT" right now with your limits and that is a good Idea to re-evaluate some of your goals, just keep it more on the higher side though...which I know you will :-)

Sarah said...

I think you did great! : ) Sorry I missed you except for a quick hello. I kept expecting you to pass us. Turns out you weren't far behind.
: ) That was one crazy course, probably the toughest conditions I've raced in. But it was fun and the comraderie is the best!

Best wishes for figuring out your upcoming goals. If everything were always the same, life would be pretty boring.

Backofpack said...

I like how you "don't believe" in age slowing you down. If you don't believe in it, it won't happen.

Sounds like a fun run despite the wet.

Donald said...

I've been amazed in the past that you never seem to have any letdowns in training mileage or race schedules in the time that you've been blogging. The fact that you're in a bit of a mental rut now certainly isn't reason to panic - it just means you're human after all.

Thomas said...

Remember, you're the Energizer Bunny, you just keep going on and on and on and ...

Lisa B said...

Men running in skirts. Niiice! I LOVE this sport.

caroline said...


I'm glad someone (Tom and Bushwhacker) had times close to their normal Hagg times. Mine sure wasn't, nor were those of several others I talked to. We were 30-40 minutes slower than "normal". And I've run Hagg five times and this was by far the muddiest and wettest I've seen. Yes, you're right, the water helped keep the shoe-sucking mud from Tanner to Sain from sticking, but the whole course had mud, which is not "usual", at least not on the first lap. So I suggest that a big part of the reason you were slower than you planned was due to the quantity of mud and water. At least that's what I'm telling myself!

One more thing, I am sore all over. Quads, hamstrings, glutes are all fine, but the muscles of my core, arms, and little muscles here and there that I never feel are talking to me and asking "what did you do to us?" Must have been all the balancing. A full body workout! Woo hoo!

I'm sorry I couldn't stick around longer at the end to enjoy the fun crowd longer. Had to get home.


Eudemus said...

Olga, congrats on the race, even if it was slower than planned. An ultra is still an ultra and we should celebrate every single one our bodies let us finish! From the description (and others comments), it sounds like the course was probably more brutal than you let on. While I am one of those people who is ALWAYS re-evaluating, I think it is still pretty early in the season and you may surprise yourself as things progress.

mtnrunR said...

Sweeeeeeet shoes!!!!! Send Montrail a little hint. You need new ones. Hey, you could have just stole some of the demos that they had hanging there. Nobody would have noticed I'm sure. They were too busy looking at Bushwackers nice legs.
see you soon, tom

Anonymous said...

Get a load of those wet, goopy trails--you Northwesters are TOUGH! Yesterday, my husband and I were complaining about our trails here in northern Arizona, but they're nothing like that. Pass the humble (mud) pie.


Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

I can't wait to get back to Oregon and run at Hagg lake. Sometimes it can be tough to plan a trip down with small children, but Sometime I gotta do it. I kinda enjoy the mud. It makes me laugh when I run. Great report!

Mike said...

Olga you are one tough girly! That rain this weekend was non-stop and I know Hagg is muddy on even the clear days. Seeing that mud in the second to last shot brings back memories of the mud...and NOT good ones!;-)

Awesome job doing the double loop!

maniac hippo said...


It was great to finally meet you, if only for a moment. Everything I was going to say in response, Caroline has already said above. I may be a newby at this, but that was slow going and I'm more sore than I expected.

Maybe we just need to stick it out, like a mental low spot in a race, and trust that it will get better.

See you soon Olga!

Scott and Karl said...

c-ya a Big Horn and maybe Zan Gray,
Happy Trails and stay healthy !!

Catra said...

Hi Olga-
I know stress in life can cause all sort of problems.
Try thinking positive and be thankful you are still able to run even if it's slower right now. You are an amazing runner. You are one of my heros. I will never forget how you walked most of RDL 100 and finished smiling.

Ok, guys in running skirts. hmm..I think they were copying me ;)

DawnB said...

I'm sorry your race did not go as well as you expected. Remember you weren't 100% and your time wasn't much difference between your previous one!!my motto there is always next year!!!!

Steve - NW Runner said...

A few thoughts from someone who couldn't run for 2 1/2 years after 35 years of running. I have now been back running for 14 months and hope I learned a few things on the way. Last year I ran several ultras while ony able to run once or twice a week (including the long weekend runs). They all seemed very slow to me and I was way back in the pack and far behind my new running buddies. It was hard on my ego to not be at my best. Slowly, my running improved over the months and while I gained base milage (Lydiard) and improved pace or managed the same pace with more hills. This year I am starting to feel more like the old runner I was. The ultras we do take a lot on base milage and completely healthy legs, lungs, heart, and spirit. It takes time to recover from injuries and life's many stresses and demands. Be patient, reset your expectations, and then rebuild steadily and sensibly. Compare with the recent months, not the past, and things will be more positive. Better times and progress will come naturally when the body and mind are ready. You have been a fantastic influence and inspiration for many. Take it easy on yourself (for awhile) and enjoy the pure wonder of doing something most cannot or will not do.

Your friend and fan,


rick said...

Ohhh nice pictures. Look at those smiles. C'mon you needed that break from running, you weren't smiling like that anymore...just crying, more crying and even more crying and that was just the last 30 miles of Rdl:) Now look at you.

Those skirts are pretty, even prettier are the legs connected to those skirts, fast ones too.

OCRunnerGirl said...

Way to go Olga! You are one tough girlie! I always LOVE reading your posts. Great pictures from your run...full of smiles! I love it!

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