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, March 10, 2012

We are in Oregon again, Toto!

And it sucks ass! I mean, when on Thursday evening the thunderstorms rolled in to Central Texas, and weather predicted non-stop rain for the next 4 days, it didn't deter me to go and run, it just made me adjust my plans. Instead of shooting for sub-5, I promised myself to push it as close as I could, and run every step. Since I am a known self-proclaimed "I am not a runner, I am a power-hiker and a downhill coaster", until this day I was yet to run every step in an ultra. Really. Swear to God. So, as we rolled into the start at McAllister Park in San Antonio, I told Larry (who were to run a 10 mile tempo sometime after we left off) that I am going to try for 1:40 a loop and see what happens. I saw John Sharp, Joe Prusaitis, a handful of other regulars at races I attend, and a bunch of either local trail runners or road runners trying to convert. Yeah, that was the day for christening, indeed...
Joe and I at the start, where the mood is high and hopes are too.

I knew that we file into single track pretty quickly, and went out very close to the front, as I didn't want to deal with passing. the rain wasn't bad, and in 15 minutes I took my wind jacket off. I seemed to have been going some too fast for me and didn't feel comfortable from the get go, but kept not being able to pull back. So there I was, having a handful of people passing by, but in general, wallowing in self-pity questioning why am I here. Nothing was clicking today. Just nothing. Yes, it was wet, muddy and watery, but I am from Oregon, and while I am out of practice, I wasn't complaining. It just felt off, my whole body did. And then at mile 5 or so the real bad section began. About half of the trail was either in standing water, trenches or simply slippery wet, but the section between about 5 and 7.5 is one covered in a special kind of clay type of stuff, and was not only sliding (and it was that stupid 3% incline), but it would cake up on your shoes and would make you carry about an extra 5 lbs easily with every foot, so the hip flexors really screamed for mercy. I was bored and hurting about everywhere, and I, as Larry pointed out later, often have no plan for contingency, so my gels and salt were numbered. I was not having a good time. On top of it, at around mile 5 Brian Rickets was passing me with some guy and said hello, and the guy turned head and exclaimed "So you are Olga who ate my cake from my tent at Cactus Rose 2 years ago!". I was kind of out of it, and truly thought it was his way to be funny (I have my own questionable ways of sarcasm), and responded with "Yeah, now I am suffering" (not very witty, but trust me, I was surprised to not bite his head off, and it wasn't because of him). To my total awe, he said something like "it's ok", implying it actually happened! In his mind anyway. The rest of the way that phrase bothered me a lot...

But back to the race. Having gone about 8 miles (and having been passed at mile 7 by a woman who looked like she knew exactly what she was doing, and the only way I stood a chance would be a miracle on my side and a serious disaster on hers), I finally stopped that pity party and waffling on the decision whether or not to drop. I told myself to not be a complete pussy and not whine, and that I had to finish that damn thing, time goals be gone, and stick with running every step no matter what! Yes, mud and all, I WAS running. I knew all I had to do is to enter loop 2 (race is 3x10.33M loops) and I am golden, because once I am done with 20, I am crawling my way to the finish.

Loop 1 was completed in 1:43, and I took a minute to re-supply...confirming that I am extremely low on gels and salt. Oh, well. Having used to be self-relied, the thought of going to an AS and taking a gel hasn't even crossed my mind. yeah, I am that smart when I race in a bad mood.

The second loop actually went ok. I finally backed off that pace (or effort, because it is hard to call "pace" something in tune of 12 min/mile sliding and gliding) and became feeling more comfortable, more at peace. I know, races are not supposed to be comfy, but I decided I rather make something out of my miserable day instead of killing myself and doing stupid things. I was very upright and while sliding was a given, I never came too close to falling or even catching myself. Believe me, I bet 80% of today's field ended up on their rear numerous times. By mid-loop my gels were over, so was my last salt tablet, and I was doomed, with gloom on a horizon. I did what I could, and caught up with that Brian finishing 2nd loop.
Finishing 2nd loop.

Larry was waiting for me there this time (3:38? for 2 loops), fresh off his run and all changed up, gave me my bottles and the 3 measly gels I had left. I downed the V8 juice (at least some salt!) and barked that I am running on empty (especially because he decided to tell me the front woman is about 3 minutes ahead). Who cares? I pray to survive! Here Larry exercised his brain capacity, ran to an AS, made me eat a gel right there and shoved another one in my hands. Things were looking up.

I swallowed a second gel to try and make up on that calorie loss about 10 minutes later, and another mile after that my foggy brain cleared up, and I had enjoyed a good few miles stretch at least mentally. My body was screaming, everything below my waist was in twinges, my left foot was on fire, my right quad and knee (something knew from old days I picked up at the marathon, probably, again, from overcompensating for the left foot pain) were in stinking weak state and stingy pain, I was sliding like hell (by the way, as weird as it sounds, by 2nd and 3rd loop the cake-mud wasn't sticking AS bad, and I figured why I didn't remember it that bad from my PNW days: when it's REALLY wet, the mud gets diluted enough to be slushy and not so sticky, if you know what I mean, it's just too watery to stick), but I was RUNNING EVERY STEP STILL! Damn it! So, around mile 7, in a midst of the miserable section, I smiled to myself widely and said "F&*& it, girl, you are really going to do this shit!" Made me all cozy inside. It was great to realize I am still that tough gal I know myself to be, and I can pull a race out of my ass no matter what life hands me, and I am sticking to it, boring, flat, wet, muddy crap, and to my goals!

Considering I was out of any kind of fuel and salt intake and so low on water I had to rationale every sip, last 2 miles were a pure survival to keep moving in something resembling running, and was petrified to stop and walk for the reason of a big wave of cramping just waiting to seize me up. I sensed it as never before, and on a few slower steps rounding especially sharp 300 degree turns I felt them, like a huge bear, about to jump and hover over me. When I saw a landmark telling me I am rounding last corner, I looked at the watch, contemplated if I wanted to push for sub-5:40, but said "Nah, I might do more damage" and crossed the finish line in 5:40:17, second female (Rachel Ballard, that gal I knew looked tough and fast, and who I recognized at the finish as one who broke my female Tejas-300 time, finished about 3 minutes ahead) and somewhere in top 20 or so. All times were skewed by a good hour and merely a handful broke 5 on a course that sees lots of PR's even in a scorching heat with winning times of 3:20's for guys and lower 4's for gals. Chris Russel, who volunteered at the finish line, said I surprised him with my finish and time because Rachel is considered fast and tough and I am, well, I am not sure, but not a 50 k'er, and surely not after 9 months off running. Made me smile:)

I haven't run a 50k in exactly 3 years. That is one mo-fo distance. I'd like to say I ran out of real estate on Rachel, but the truth is, I don't think in my state on that day I could go even an extra mile. So, all legit, and I am thrilled where I am. The course was marked extremely well, I never had to raise my head up (you know, "obnoxiously bored with no big views Olga").

To add to that odd cake story, Larry shared that he heard same story from some gal when she heard my name mentioned in his conversation with Sharpie. I am pretty pissed by now, and not simply bewildered, and had sent out an email to HCTR and San Antonio group to find the source. I would love to clear my name and have whomever started that to explain how it started and why am I blamed for something I didn't do.
First of, I never take someone's stuff, yet alone go into somebody's tent. Secondly, a whole cake, really? Especially considering I don't even like cakes (I am a meat over anything sweet person)? And lastly, if you ever watched me single-handily manning double-AS at Equestrian, I don't have time to piss, yet alone wonder into people's tents and eat their cakes! Really? Not only the rumor started, seems that it was believed? Is that how I am viewed, that I'd go on and take someone's stuff, whatever it is?

Rounding final turn to the finish, still running upright more or less!

God, is it a smile, or a grimace of pain?

My $14 yoga Capri from target did the job not any worse that an expensive wear. 


Chris Russel is trying to get a chip off my shoe.

My best and favorite combination of Drymax socks and LaSportiva Fireblades  performed awesome as usual, no blisters, great grip.

These are the legs!

Sharpie and I at the finish, all cleaned up.

RD Bill Gardner to give me a huge beer mug and  talking about adding King to my name.

Anyhow, it's done and over, I am babying my foot, but mostly awaiting the soreness of all those intrinsic muscles that didn't know what the heck is happening today to kill me tomorrow and Monday. Life is good, I am hungry, and I need some cake (or at least a big pot of meat stew) to get my hands and mouth on right now!

Breaking news on the cake front from a friend:

A lady baked a guy name XX a birthday cake and somehow it got left at Equestrian (I don't know if XX accidentally left it there or if the lady left it there) and then it somehow was put in the public consumption area. So the other runners started eating his birthday cake as they went through (and I was one of them!). XX found the whole incident hilarious (he knows you didn't steal it out of someone's tent and eat it all...only that people were eating the cake at your aid station). As I said XX found the whole thing hilarious and I'm 200% sure he was joking (he has a big sense of humor) and was simply trying to be funny when you ran past him. Not sure who the girl was who made the comment about it and or why she would phrase it that way (steal it out of someone's tent). Not many people even knew about the cake.

These photos are by race officials downloaded from HERE as courtesy to runners.


Pam said...

Nice job, Olga! But just admit that you stole the cake- haha! Fireblades are my favorite, too, but I didn't think they had enough grip for the mud at Hagg; glad they worked well for you. Recover well and keep healing up!

Danni said...

Awesome work. Especially stealing the cake :p

Steve Ansell said...

Cake theif! Cake theif! :-)

Great job on a tough race.

Sarah said...

You could have had my gels! You've got seniority. I was done by the time you saw me and dropped anyway (yell at me later). See you next time.

Olga said...

Didn't you read the part I am not thinking outside the box when racing moody? :) Thanks, sorry to hear about your drop, I will yell at you for sure! And it was great to see you elsewhere besides AS table making PBJ's!

Thomas Bussiere said...

Welcome back and good to see you kicking some ass in your not so normal running condition. No doubt you would have won 1st if injury free. Another awesome report, and love your conversations with yourself. Do this often myself when it gets tough! Hope no damage done and the soreness passes quickly.

Got Cake?

Sarah said...

Funny about the cake! Of course, you're still that tough gal! No one can pull a race out of the hat like you. Hope you are still flying high today! :D

Carilyn said...

I love, love, love that you always finish these tough races! I think of you when I am really trying to gut out a run (because I am a big baby) and it always helps. Again, awesome report and awesome finish!

ALM said...

Great job and congratulations! Sounds like a suffer-fest indeed with mud and rain and such. Glad to hear you are racing again and feeling good. You're an inspiration Olga!

Lisa said...

Great job! What a muddy mess....Olga, if you guys were hungry, and my birthday cake sat lonely and forgotten....I wouldn't care if you guys ate it. Nom Nom Nom.....

Steve Pero said...

Good run on a nasty day, Olga! Remind me to never cross you on a bad running day ;-)

Rick Gaston said...

The part about the gels gave me a flashback to when we ran Bighorn together. You ate a gel and promptly yakked it out a minute later and I told you the bad news that you'd have to eat another one to make up for the one you donated to the trail - good times. Good to see you are still running and churning mud under your feet. I can picture that game face of yours.

Speaking of muddy, a good number from my running crew are running Chuckanut tomorrow. Uh-huh, glorious muddy goodness for them. I'm glad I didn't sign up though, need to save $ but even if I had the $ my heavy slow ass is still too heavy and slow to be racing. I'll only finish and bitch that it could have been half an hour faster:) Even the word "cake" makes me gain weight these days and my friends who don't run think I burn off everything I eat.

Anyway welcome back to the 50k.

Olga said...

Those were good days. I repeated the event you fondly remember numerous times at other races:) Bear stands out, and Cascade Crest. This puking happens often enough, I don't break stride anymore and don't blink when squeeze another gel. Thanks for reminder of good times, buddy.
Yeah, Chuckunut is a mudfest for sure. Awesome field. I can hardly imagine so many people on those trails...nice course, but how are they getting around single track sections at 700 people? Well, good luck to all.
My behind grows when I look at any food, or smell it. Eating simply triples it:)

RunningWatchesReview said...

That is amazing. I do admire you that you always finish all these tough races! You did a nice just job out there. This is another awesome report, and I personally love your conversations with yourself. Hope no damage done. Good luck to more of your races!

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