A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn....

It's gonna get harder before it gets easier. But it will get better, you just gotta make it through the hard stuff first.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Past mid-way - it's all downhill from here, right?

Today marks 5 years as I rolled in my Honda Civic into Austin, TX, with my younger kid, my possessions and our cat, to unite lives with my honey Larry. As I left Portland in a hectic way after participating in Hardrock 100 2 weeks prior, then putting on PCT 50 one last time, I hardly acknowledged the fact that this is it - I am leaving my favorite place behind, place I called home even for only 5 years, but place I considered to be my only home out of all the places I happen to live in - and apparently I still do, 5 years later...I didn't know at the time what it would mean to me, and I was only hoping for the best. I made my life in each of the places I've had to relocate, why expect different?

I always knew it is a 10-year gig for me in Texas. We are staying here as we share custody for Larry's son, and as soon as he turns 18 and finishes high school to get ready for college - we are outbound. Because it is not just myself who longs for mountains, but Larry, too, all his life wished he lived amongst them (and even had a 1 year experience in New Mexico which he loved tremendously). So, a temporary living arrangement...so temporary it seemed at first, we even decided not to invest into a house and kept rented. But time went, and at our 2-year wedding anniversary we signed paperwork for a home - a home I love dearly and wish we could move it with us...And the stint of Texas continued on. Summer after hot and humid summer, it kept us entertained, it kept us hardened, and often it broke us down (like the last 2 summers did to me). It is easy to run yourself into the ground if trying to keep up with regular training for "regular" country-wise race season that begins in June and follows all the way through November - because after training through Winter and Spring, seasons normal folks rest and slowly pick up, but we here take advantage of due to only temperatures that are tolerable - body decides it had enough more often than not for you, without considerations of fees paid, flying tickets purchased and plans set.

5 years. It actually means there is less time left than had passed so far - at least that's the plan. As the saying in an ultra goes, it is all downhill from here...but as we all know in an ultra, that 2nd half has it all, hills, misery, lack of energy, beaten bodies and spirit, and yet it also has the end line more material than ever before, close yet so far, and still quite some time before we can "smell the barn". So, we plow through...

It's not that it's all bad. Nothing is bad, really. The main reason I had moved here remains a main reason - I love my life with my husband, I have no regrets of coming and trying hard to make it happen for 2 people 40+ years of old with previous 18 years of marriage for each behind, kids, problems, ex-spouses, habits, different cultures, merging relatives, starting financial life together at the ripe age...It's just I still miss mountains, living in a climate that is more appealing for my body, more green around, more places to get a drive in on the weekend - and I miss my friends. Somehow my mid-30's were years I met my best friends...

But I made a life here, for sure. I met new people, I integrated into local running community, I ran every Texas race that existed (except for a couple of old shorter ultras and some new popping on - but I am done with races in Texas anyway, as once you ran two, you ran them all). I volunteer numerous times a year, I learned all the trails here - all few of them:) - and I can get around Austin by foot or in the car much better than I ever did in Portland (I guess I drive more for different reasons than getting to a trailhead...). And our home IS lovely, regardless all the remodeling we keep doing (well, Larry is). I am always glad to walk into it, and it feels peaceful. While the heat in the summer still comes early and keeps me quite miserable, I manage and make do. I love my yoga community, and I love my coffee dates with girlfriends and occasional dinners with friends. I am head over hills into knitting, and that is just so healing at the times I feel depressive and lost and lonely...

And I run, yes, I am running, all those 4 times a week I mentioned in my last blog entry - still happening, not flaking out, despite coming down with some weird viral infection (which I better check for CMV and mono before it's too late!) - and the running is going well, and that always, always lifts my spirits. Funny how that is...a total addiction or a part of life? I fought this identity of mine for the last 10 months, but as soon as it came back - I embraced it fully. I am a runner. It's like I breathe - it just is...

This weekend is our short get-away to the mountains in NM, with not one, but two short (!) mountain races: Taos 10k (ski area up and over) and La Luz 9M uphill (from high and higher). It is going to be way outside my comfort zone, way unprepared - and I am looking forward to it big time.

In the meantime, we both continue our dreaming of that time 5 years away when we do move to the mountains - this time for good, for our last home...

Getting 11 miles on hilly roads done in typical Texas summer morning.
Bought new yoga outfit - went running instead. In Texas summer I forget shy.

Celebrating Larry's birthday by taking Harrison to the beach - nah, may be not next year...

My logo on an award of a race that required wearing my hand-knitted hat!
Back in the Spring I was approached to knit a hat for participants of a silly 24-48-72 hr event - in the middle of July! - which required runners to wear a hand-knitted Alpaca hat, and you guessed it, I did knit them, trying to allow some air to get in through the multiple holes. The good news - nobody died!!! I am honored to have my logo displayed on the award (a mug)! From the RD of an event: "Folks who went over 50 miles got a mug, which featured the coffee cat (the icon for our race series) with the addition of an Olga hat. We had some great efforts and much fun anyhow. The race became synonymous with the racing beanies and a pineapple (each runner's aid station had to be manned by a pineapple wearing a mustache and speaking in a vaguely European accent). So it was goofy. But my idea was to introduce folks to running long distances on a closed course. Everyone's on the trail bandwagon these days. I just wanted to show them that running is all in your head and not in the course. I think some lessons were learned. One of those being: never run in a wool cap in July, even if a genius knits in the perfect loose knit." That said, if you ever need anything weird knitted - or not so weird - come visit me at www.olgav100.com!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The science is out on whether ultrarunning is good or bad for our hearts—but I'm sure the Hardrock 100 is good for mine

I truly wanted to write a long post on it. I really planned to do it, especially now that's my boss at my main job is out - but life rolled in, and I got busy! So, before I forget, I have to shout out - I ran for 2 weeks now! OK, I ran short runs so far, and while some enlightening and fast (like 8 miles on biggest hills we have here in a time I could be proud of), some were a bit sluggish. I also ran some short things on a TM with hill repeats. The important part is - consistency! I ran 4 times each of the last 2 weeks, despite it still being a$$-ugly summer in TX, and I am ok with it, and I am even excited. And thus this whole "I don't like to walk another ultra" had transformed into "I am going to walk and shuffle Grindstone 100 since I am signed up anyway and still want this last chance for Hardrock qualifier" with Larry's "I fully support your dream". And then it went further - the Hardrock actually started, the buzz online was nuts, and I cried...This IS the ONLY race that keeps me in this sport, the chance to participate one more time - for which I always need to qualify one more time...for which I need to be at least somewhat afloat in shape. because I KNOW I can finish this San Juan mountains circle the right way and in great spirits!

So, not only I am totally psyched about my "walking Grindstone" (sorry, no promises to run it well still, as I said, my return to running just had began and I feel my body's systems just cleared from the mess of CMV infection and whatever hormonal and immune imbalances followed, not to mention, AGAIN, it is STILL summer in Texas!), I am feeling like I may return and do some other shit...I mean, races. Which, the excitement about Hardrock Live that is, was so palpable, my good ol' friend Lori B. and I somehow came to conclusion to get a reunion this Fall - at a 100M race! - and with both of our absence of serious fitness, we managed to pick Javelina 100 and also drag our other ol' buddy Steve B. into this whole ordeal! Heck, there was even online training log created - and those two are beating me to the punch! because, you know, they live in normal place and run normal trails, while I commit to 2 mile stunts on TM and 4 mile road outings...:)

Anyway, in fear of having more souls getting attached to Hardrock, which had already gotten over-populated by my possessive mind, I share this video with you.

There are no words I can use to describe the intensity at which I want to be at Hardrock, daydream about it t any given moment, know every step on a trail and can vividly picture it in my mind as I fall asleep, as I give massages to people, as I stare at the radioactivity in my experiences in the lab...How at any time point I rather be out there suffering and simultaneously knowing there is nowhere else I'd rather be...It gets into your blood like this...And those who "want to do it" - unless you are actually there "doing it" in some capacity, you don't want to do "it".

That's the gist of it (and yeah, I had to forgo all my emotional ideas and thoughts and sharing for how that this post was supposed to be about) -Hardrock 2015, training began NOW! I better get in!

Oh, yeah, this morning my best training partner from Portland Gail called, and she wants to train for Mountain Lakes 100 next year (the one that replaced my Hood 100 I directed) - and I offered to pace! And my other best dude from Portland and I got to chat today on other matters, but of course running too - and he is doing Fat Dog 125M up in Canada in August. And Lisa Bliss and I are conspiring about possible crossing of Badwater course by me sometime next Spring. So, we, old farts, never die!

One last note: there was a guy from a new out-of-garage company I am funny shirts who contacted me with sent me a shirt to check out. They make t-shirts from some tree-fiber material, which is extremely soft (I self-proved it) and nice, and one can wear it for just around, or even running - it's not bad. FYI, I ordered size M and it was way too big for me, so I would suggest a size-down. Lucky for me, I got a race-top, so I just tied the tops of the straps:) Well, if you do want to give these shirts a try, pick your favorite quote (they have some seriously funny ones) and enter coupon OLGA for 20% off!

2 more weeks, and Larry and I are off to NM for 2 short mountain races - Taos 10k (2,600 feet of gain in 3M then all downhill) and La Luz 9M uphill challenge (some crazy stuff, telling you) next day!

OK, my mind is obviously far ahead of my body. But it's better than both are dead. Whole30, Day 4! Woohoo, lets get this life thing going!

“It’s what you do in that moment of facing that problem that really ends up defining you”. Andy JW

Monday, July 07, 2014

Out of control!

I wish I could say it's a phrase about my running - but it's about my other passion. However, before I get to the main topic, I do have to say - I ran 4 times last week! That is more per week than I had done this year, even if the runs themselves were very short (I ran 4 miles on July 4th and that was my best so far). I am pleased and excited to SLOWLY get back into running, the CORRECT way, the one I promote to my clients and everybody who will listen (and speaking of clients - I know, keep sidetracking - I have 2 spots opened up for coaching, if you're interested, www.olgav100.com).

Anyway, since my creativity comes out in 3 ways: running/hiking the mountains, writing my thoughts, and knitting - the outlet that had exploded lately out of control was KNITTING! Just check out my latest projects, and by "latest" I, literally, mean withing 6 weeks or so!

I am totally having a field day with all my yarn. I still have plenty of ideas - and plenty of yarn (and I even exercised all my will power and did not go to the local yarn store during their Holiday sale), and yet I am in need of your help to keep me knitting through my yarn stash so that I can buy more yarn!

I know it's hot outside, even in our Northern states, but summer WILL be over, and winter will come, and before you know it, you'll need something for yourself - or for the Christmas stockings for your friends and family, for the birthdays coming up past October, for your ski trips, and just for fun! Think ahead, before my "line" gets too busy!


I make various other items per order: hats (the most popular item), scarfs, sleeves, finger-less gloves..Whether you need an item for yourself, or a personalized gift for your loved one - I am here for you, and I don't drag time either. What says "love" better than something warm and fuzzy coming from the heart?

Not every hat or scarf is created equal. If you go to the store, you will pick something that is made for masses. Each of my items is made individually, with you in mind. Knitting is my creative outlet, like running in the mountain. I put my heart and soul into each and every thing I make. It is unique, very involved, and loved dearly in the process.

                                                   This is how it works.

You look at the photo of the yarn I have in my personal stash (more available per request for various colors and types). I don't buy just any yarn at the mass-production chain store, I support local stores and buy best quality available of purest kinds of yarn.

You look at the styles I offer - or come up with your own, or let me fly my imagination!

You contact me through the link on my WEBSITE with your request.

Pricing is approximate and progresses for each item depending on the design:
  • Hats:  1 color ($25), 2 colors or complex patterns ($30)
  • Scarfs:  Simple knitted design ($60), Multi-color, patterns, or shawl/cowl ($70 and up)
  • Fingerless gloves ($30)
  • Sleeves ($40)
Shipping and Handling is in addition to the above prices and, typically, costs $5

Additional information is available per request.