100k WC 2011

100k WC 2011

Gagarin Half Finish

Gagarin Half Finish
Gagarin Half Finish

Awards Gagarin Half

Awards Gagarin Half
Awards Gagarin Half

Cosmonauts give out the awards:)

Cosmonauts give out the awards:)
Cosmonauts give out the awards



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mile Winter Cup 23-Dec WT...?

Well, after a speedy 800, by all means my indoor mile should be worst case scenario high 5.30s to 5.40 ish. This is assuming I don't screw off and sandbag like I seem to love to do as of late. Truth be known, I do not like to lead because I feel like I'll be the ass that everyone sits on only to get passed in the end. I don't have enough time in a mile to open up my trademark gap in the mid to late stages of things like I do in long races. Lena and Anya and Nadya were all there and I pretty much figured out that screwing off the whole race only to kick in the final 200 was dangerous since the last time we ran top 3 were all on top of each other at the finish. I figured at the very least I needed to run 5.40 and Lena would likely be the only one who could keep that pace with me. My plan was to go out 2.50-52 and then either park it or try and pick up a little.
ONCE AGAIN EPIC FAIL in the opening. Anna led us the first lap-45 eeiew- slow. Lena and I were right behind and Nadya also tucked in behind us. 400m 1.33 Oh, for the love of Christ this is a mile not a 10k and God help me that I don't get swallowed up by all 3 ladies in back, but this is NOT my pace and IAM OUT OF HERE before I lose anymore time! I risked it and went up front and ran MY pace. I needed to do that. I knew Lena would try and hang on but I just dropped things lap by lap-2.15, 2.57 (YUCK that's how I sandbagged last time)...each lap I just kept picking up by a second or so or maintaining til I was running where I SHOULD be which is more like 82-3 for the 400s. As soon as I picked up and Lena went along, the other 2 ladies dropped back. I just kept hammering as I was annoyed with losing a sh!tload of time in the beginning. There comes a point when you go out TOO conservatively and it costs you. In hindsight and Coach said the same, I should have just gone out at my own pace starting at 85 for the opening 400 and racheting down from there. It's tough to guess since things are not going to be as fast on an indoor banked track as they are outdoors. So Lena and I just duked it out to the finish she got me by just a little 5.41/42 we finished. Ana busted her tail for 3rd finishing just ahead of Nadya but some 23 sec back today.
...Or so we thought....I went to check the results after my cooldown and saw some other girl with a 5.42 in 2nd and me in 3rd and Anya in 4th? WTF? I wasn't the only one who said WTF. Lena asked how the hell I could be 3rd if we finished together! Anya had no idea she was listed in 4th either. It turns out they mistakenly put someone in to run with the 29 and under group who was supposed to be with us! Of course she had the advantage of seeing how Lena and I ran beforehand so she had a goal time to go for to try and bump one or both of us. Ummmmmm wait a minute.....

Lena said that's ridiculous. 2 yrs ago when she had no one to run with, she asked to run with the under 30 group so she could go for a faster time and they said, "NO!" Last year, we both wanted to do that and again a NO. They have always been strict about not letting people run outside their division and today they just up and allowed it? That's what got our goats. Let her run with us, if she beats us , fine, but at least it's fair. Coach was not happy either. Well sh!t Lena and I want to run with the youngsters too if that's the case. 3rd youngster was 5.44 but the leaders were mid -high 5.30s so she had a nice rabbit or 2 up front. Yeah the handicap seems to be close to 7-10 seconds since the youngsters were about that much slower than they were outdoors.

Lena said if you run outside your category, fine but then it shouldn't score and most everyone agreed with that. Some divisions run 2 heats but they divide up slower and faster runners in which case this girl would have ended up with us where she should have been. So when they called us down for the awards Anya found out only then that she wasn't 3rd and her husband wasn't too happy either. Hell, they let a lady run in one of the men's heats too and I can't tell you how many times I asked to run the 3 and the 5000 with the boys at the masters meets because I knew I'd be damn lonely. They never allowed me to do that (most likely the boys were afraid some of them would be chicked).

Sure, I cut 9 +sec from last time, but I was totally effing off last time too. Today, I effed off the first 400 then got down to business. Yes, no doubt, had I had someone to chase from the get go, I likely would have held my own. January will be a crap shoot. I'm going to be back to high high volume and not sure where I will be speed wise. I should still be ok as long as I plan mile week as my rest week I take every 4 weeks anyway. We'll see. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time To Mix It Up A Little-Big 6 Meet-16 Dec, Moscow

Do something different...Yeah the last time I ran in the Big 6 Masters meet-Russia,Ukraine,Belarus,Tatarstan, Moscow, St Pete meet it was right after 100k Worlds in 2010 and I ran the most sucktastic 3000m in my career-a PW. I just hadn't recovered yet and my speed was in the toilet at the time. This time, I just looked at this meet as a nice way to get in a decent workout approach and took the whatever approach. I wanted to run the 800 since this was just a 1 day meet and there would be no 1500/3000 double as an option. I run on team Moscow for this meet and placing  in 2 events as opposed to 1 brings in more points (just like in college meets) I just hate when the 800 is BEFORE the 3 instead of AFTER though. I looked at the schedule and saw I'd have about an 1:20 between the 800 and the 3000 so figured what the hell-for sh!ts and giggles it's time to do an 800 time trial. I just want to have fun and do something different. My speed has been picking up this month during my track sessions and I had a hunch I could put down at least a 2.40 ish smthg. I was 2.40 in June when I ran my 1000m track PR. That ain't great, but for a 50 and 100k specialist will do just fine. I haven't run an 800 since July of 09 and that was a 2.42  in the summer heat. I've only ever gone under 2.40 a couple times and that was ages ago in Alaska-otherwise my speed ceiling is right at 2.40-41 ish. I'm just not good at the short stuff. So after Lena let me know the bad news-that there were 2 women at 2.32 and the good news-they weren't in our division, I just figured I'd try my damnest not to DFL! There was also Sasha who at 49 can still rip off a 2.30 something 800 as well. That's just awesome.

 So after we were warmed up and ready to go, we were told we'd be delayed for the opening ceremony...WTF?! That was the 30 min break that was supposed to be after the 800...and what would give me over an hour to rest between events. Aw sh!t- this is going to make the 3000 a real beyotch with little rest in between. Ah well, I wasn't planning to chase a PR there anyways or I'd have sat out the 800 and this is not the track to PR on as the turns are sharply banked and just kill your legs. 

So, off we were there were 7 of us and the top 4 which was our pack with Sasha closely behind all took turns passing each other along the way. The only crappy thing that happened to me was ending up on the outside in the final 150. Finish 2.38 good enough for 2nd to Lena!  I would not have gone under 2.40 if I didn't have people to push me.  I have not seen an 800 under 2.40 since I ran my PR at 2.35 in 2004 at the Palmer Relays in Alaska! I think on an outdoor track not coming off a long race and in speed shape, I could still go after that if I wanted to. My 1000 would have easily been under 3.20 too good for another PR. Oh dear...I'm going to pay for that in the 3000.....

Funny- our running club has a fun little match we do where your results are scored and ranked in 11 events- 800,1000,1500,mile,3000,5000,10,000,15k,half mar,marathon,and 100k. I have now covered all of these in a year! I've also scored higher than in past years because my times from the top down have improved across the board.

                                                      800 start

                                                    passing Sasha tucking in behind Lena

Finish with Sasha on my heels

3000 time...and I had about 40 minutes between events because the break happened BEFORE the 800 not after as it was supposed to. Not knowing how my legs would respond after an all out 800, I went out behind 2 ladies in the first 400 to keep from going out too fast. No, actually I went out way too effing SLOW- 1.36!? WTF even on pooped legs this is NOT my pace so back to the original plan- just run 3.45 km pace like a tempo run and that's what I did.(AKA 5k pace) I was all alone up front though so that's all I could really make of this was just a glorified speed workout and just lapped people along the way. The next two ladies were a lap behind me. I had thought the lady who ran with me in the 800 would have kept me company in the 3000 but it didn't happen. 
3000 pix - Slava  Degtyarenko
                                                          cruise control in the 3000

                                                       taking a nap  midway through


So that was my speed workout for the day. My college coach used to race us 1 event up and 1 event down from what our key event was so that we could get speed fine tuned as well as endurance. That meant if you were a 5000 runner, you got sent to the 3000 and the 10,000 on occasion. I was a 10,000 specialist then and the 5 was my secondary event.Coach had me run the 3000 for speed and sometimes the first leg of the 4x800 relay (first leg so I had more rest time before running the 3 or 5 later on). I ran this 800 more so to give me the confidence to quit screwing off and sandbagging in the mile. I have to run that FAST this weekend!

                                                first in the 3000 2nd in the 800!
                                                         coach at the finish

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Out of Hibernation....Sort of...

Well after a good month of doing plenty of nothing, I attempted to come out of the Hibernation Den. On another doing nothing note, I have been underemployed since roughly August and spent some serious time looking for a part time governess/tutoring job with a little kid which is what I used to do pre 2008. I had the perfect job until spring of 2008. I worked with a boy I had from age 4-6 on weekdays after school from 4-8pm ish. It was perfect not only because I loved the job which was to teach the boy English via play and interaction, and later basic reading and writing as was developmentally appropriate, but because it gave me the ideal work/life balance. First part of the day was set aside for training and the second for work much like I do now.  Long story short, I never would have left this position if not for a sudden and abrupt change in visa laws in late 07. Last year, I finally found a way to go independent and solved my work visa issues on my own and am no longer bound to the crummy corporate language center scene of shift work and low pay that I was inadvertently forced back into after leaving my kid job in 08  simply for the sake of having a work visa.

  So now that I am on my own, I really want to go back to doing what made me happy pre-corporate language school nightmare that nearly ruined my health. Unfortunately, most of the bites I am getting in the kid job department are the full time/live in often way the heck out of town /heavy travel kinds of things. While these jobs pay EXTREMELY well, you do sell your soul and have no life. I could forget about racing and training too so this is not a compromise I'm willing to make. I have lived on my own since I was 17 and could never do live-in anyways. Sooooooo, the search for a part time kiddie job inside city limits during the week is still on and that's what I'm doing these days when I'm not chasing squirrels or counting duckies in the forest. 

Nothing- I've done so much of nothing I even sat out the Zelenograd Marathon this yr after being invited back as the defending champion. Judging from the top women's times this yr, I could have defended that title. Why in the hell would I sit out a great marathon and training run??? 1. I really needed the rest. 2. The indoor mile series opener got bumped back a week to the SAME DAY. Yeah, the mile is so competitive that if you miss one of the four races, you can forget about finishing top 3 in the standings. If I don't have a chance, my motivation will go down the toilet in a hurry and these races help me keep in shape in the winter. 

So what the eff is an ultrarunner doing running an INDOOR MILE you may wonder???? SPEEDWORK! I don't ignore the need for speed and I'm convinced that my track background has carried over into my longer races quite well. That trackspeed combined with my high volume distance training is what allows me to run some bitchin' fast splits late in my long races. My half marathons and 50K races this yr, especially the finish in Chicago are pretty evident that trackspeed does carry over into long races. Even to be a good 100k runner, you need to do speed and intervals both long and short as well as those loooooooong runs. So, I use these indoor track meets to keep my speed from tanking in the winter when I'm sitting on high volume training. Hell, in the six weeks between Valmiera Marathon and the Chicago 50k I only raced a 10k and a few 5ks in between longer workouts for the sake of getting my legspeed back after the marathon. I took the same approach after 50K World Cup too- just a few shorter races up to 10k to get my speed recovered. 

                                                       Lena(left) Anya(right) with Nadya and I tucked right in  behind (girl in the green is being lapped)
Just before the finish- if you enlarge you can see me then Nadya on top of each other just off Lena's shoulder

How competitive is the mile? Well, after a month in hibernation, I came out and our usual fast ladies were there-Lena and Anya and this time Nadya moved up too. We all went out realllllly pedestrian. Coach said I looked like I was jogging. No one wanted to make a move. Hell the first 800 was slower than what I do 10-15x 800 repeats in when I'm in good shape and the first km was slower than my closing in the 50k- I was sandbagging and I damn well knew it. I was afraid to move with 350-400 to go because I had just spent a month DOING NOTHING (but running on trails nothing blistering fast no speed). The 4 of us were literally glued to each other and this time Nadya didn't drop off after the first k like she often did last yr. to finish 4th. With 300 to go Anya came up to pass Lena and I who were tucked in together then, with just over 200 to go Lena and I went like 2 bats out of hell closing the final 200 in 37-38 sec after all that sandbagging. The finish was close -very close with just about 1 sec between 1 and 3!!!! I knew someone was on my heels and I thought maybe Anya was holding on-no Nadya clipped her in the final stretch and was going after Lena and I to finish 3rd! Yeah- Lena and I definitely are going to have company this season and I'd better quit sandbagging and start moving my ass!

2mile XC was the following morning. This time we were back to the 1k loop in the forest where we should be and on SNOW! I won this one for my 2nd win in the winter xc series. 

Nothing-Doing Mostly Nothing

Seriously, I haven't posted in a while because I have been doing much of nothing most of November. November is typically my post season recovery month. After the 50k that's pretty much what I did-just ez running whatever I felt like doing. I just head out onto the trails and go as far as I feel like doing. If I felt like 18k, ran 18k, if I felt like 30, I did 30, if I felt like 15, I did 15, if I felt like screwing off and counting squirrels and ducks along the way....well....heck some days I showed up with an old loaf of bread for the ducks! I needed a good rest after what's been a long, but very successful season. I actually only did one itty bitty race in November and it was within less than 24 hours of flying back to Moscow on te 3rd of Nov and 7 days off the 50k-the opener of the winter 2 mile xc series that was moved to the paved path on the island in the rowing channel where I ran the spring half in May 2011. Jet lagged and zombified, I finished just over 12 in windy snain for the win.

                                               WET and COLD!
I actually wanted to see if/how my body races after long haul flights on short notice because I really think this will be my biggest issue when heading to the 100k Worlds in Korea next yr.  After this stunt, I was off to play in the woods for the rest of the month, but not without collecting my medal for winning the summer xc series first:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chicago Lakefront 50/50 27-October

If you intend to break the world record,please inform the RD-love your sense of humor :)

It has taken me a while to get this posted because I was so busy the whole time I was in the States. When I ran my 3:46 in Daugavpils  in August, I set one more goal before the end of the season and it was not just to win the Chicago 50k,  but to go after the course record of 3:49. I knew  that all I had to do was repeat the performance from World Cup in order to do this...yeah and hope for a break from the weather gods especially from the wind god since there is almost always some kind of wind off of Lake Michigan for this race.

I had ideal conditions in Daugavpils with temps not creeping above 15C,overcast, not windy,and great logistics. I slept 500m from the start so no early morning travel was involved and I was able to cook for myself in the final days before the race. This no doubt contributed to my PR there. Improving on that would be tough, but I was pretty confident I could repeat or come close to repeating that in Chicago if conditions allowed. I am extremely grateful to my friend Dasha who let me drive in the afternoon before the race and crash at her place just 20 min from the start (in early morning no traffic). Last year, I had to drive nearly 2 hours from my brother's in the far north burbs in the wee hours of the morning before the start. This affects me and craps me out. The extra rest and avoiding the stress of getting into the city early AM and early enough to drop my bottles at the aid stations really made a difference. I just got up and dropped Vitargo bottles at the aid stations as I headed down Lake Shore Drive before the start- easy peasy. Early morning, the trees were still not moving and the wind was calm....oh please wind gods be kind til lunchtime,eh? Temps were barely above freezing which was ideal for me since I hate heat with a passion. I got to the start, picked up my number and next to me was Jennifer Benitez. Hmmm, I am going to have company today. She was ranked just ahead of me in the world rankings in 2011. She has won the spring 50k a few times usually low 3:50s which is nothing to sneeze at. She had also just put down a solid performance at the Chicago Marathon 3 weeks earlier in just over 3 hours. To my surprise, company would come more from Meredith Reshoft who debuted here last yr in a solid 4 hrs even.

Now, in order to do what I set out to do, I had to hash a plan which I did after World Cup. That plan meant making some big sacrifices. If I want to go after the record, I need to do it on fresh legs. I had fresh legs in Daugavpils not having done races over the half in a good 3 months but still on high volume training nevertheless. In order to be fresh, it meant having to sit out the Chicago Marathon for the first time in 10 years. That was a tough pill to swallow because I finally got the A start, was in PR shape, and as Murphy's Law had it, good weather. Fresh legs means spacing my longer races 6-8 weeks apart to allow for full recovery, buildup again, then a nice taper. Do it right or don't do it at all. Running Chicago 3 weeks out would have been a gamble not worth taking. I ran Valmiera six weeks before Chicago-perfect timing.  I then just stuck to my training and threw in those 5ks and the 10 from Gzhel for speedwork but even sat out the Serpukhov Half 3 weeks before the 50k in favor of a 3 hr long run so I could build my reserves.

Oh and for the record, just before I flew out to the US, IAU/IAAF invited all the athletes to the World Cup final in Italy on October 20th who hit the standards in the qualifying races over 2012 (3:50 women 3:20 men).There were only about 40 of us from around the world.  I was offered a full paid trip to this final but it was too late to change my stupid tickets on Delta without losing most all of the face value. My coach was booked too so we were stuck. My manager was told they were only going to take the winners of the 2012 World Cup series and gave me the green light to book Chicago. Well our guy Gunars who also qualified opted not to go because he was coming off the 24 hr Worlds so I was kind of off the hook anyways, but yeah, it was a damn shame to turn that down. Back to plan  A- try for the record in Chicago.
                                                 pics from Rich Limacher

                               me warming up back there. I love the NO WHINERS ALLOWED rule!

On another note, 2 days before the start of Chicago, I screwed up my lower back. I don't know if it was from lifting my 3 yr old nephew too high or what but it was bugging me and I could feel it before the start as I was warming up. Sh!t, not cool. So off we were on a cool, crisp morning. I just went out according to plan- tasking myself with not running faster than 4.35 km in the first half so I would hopefully have a reserve in the 2nd. My pace was 4.30 at World Cup so not going out faster than that was the way to go. Meredith ran the first 8k or so with me to the first turnaround the took off. I went with her a bit but seeing she was going at 4.15 pace AKA 3 hr even on the marathon pace, I deliberately backed off. That was really close to what Marina Zhalybina paced at early on  in Daugavpils finishing eventually in 3.29. There are only a small handful,count them on your fingers, ladies in the world running anywhere near that time. I let Meredith go and off she went. It was a risk because she did get quite a BIG lead make that a HUGE lead! Just before 15k I had to hit the little outhouse to pee that thank god is right on the pathway so no stepping far off the trail involved. Well there went 10 sec. A couple kms later I repeated this at the next outhouse...11 sec gone...dammit are u kidding me. There are no bushes on this path which sucks.
pics-Rich Limacher:
                                                            there's Meredith
                                                                  yup, it's the pottie!

 At the end of loop 1(we run 3 even loops) Meredith was over a minute and a half ahead!!! I sat back and headed out for loop2. The wind had really kicked up heading north! Holding that 4.35 pace was not easy into the wind and I was beginning to drop to 4.38 in spots. 25k came in just under 1:55-still pacing overall much like I was in Daugavpils so I kept plugging along. Meredith was so far ahead I could no longer see her. That was not encouraging but my 2nd loop was almost a minute faster then the first and I came through in just under 2:31. Meredith was still holding pace now close to 2 min up on me. Well, I could see I had my work cut out for me. I can make up 2 min but this wind was not helping the cause. 33k down as a formality now it was time to get my ass to work. At 35k Leonid was out there with the spare Vespa and backup Vitargo bottle in case I didn't get what I needed at the aid stations. I took my usual Vespa just before 30k to prevent that wall but was really beginning to have a helluva time against the wind and took the spare at 35. Smart move. I started feeling better and I could see Meredith and 2 guys that were running just ahead of us most of the day getting closer. I decided to just maintain my pace accelerate a little but no sub 4.30km just yet. I was doing this INTO the wind too mind you!  That pack up ahead kept creeping closer and closer and at 37k I caught up and decided to run with them-behind them to get a rest from cutting wind. Jennifer was only a minute behind me at the beginning of the 3rd loop. Meredith and the 2 guys were running 4.40s already. This is not my pace and I knew it and slowing down was too risky because 3rd woman could catch us.

At 38k I did something ballsy.....I passed the group into the wind. I also did this from a psychological standpoint-took off late in the race into the wind when for most life was getting tough.  I didn't want to wait until the turnaround almost 2k ahead because I didn't want to get swallowed by Jennifer. I had doubts about the record though because if I maintained where I was I would be about 3:48 ish but the damn wind was really chewing up time on the out and I was waiting to hit the back for my final surge.

 At the final turnaround with just over 8k to go I went, eyeballs out into the Pain Cave as hard as I could. I saw Meredith was about 30 sec back Jennifer just less than 2 min at that point. I decided to max out and see what I could really do if I did not hold back or fear I took off too fast. If I am going to do this I need to open the biggest gap I can and hold it-eyeballs out no holding back, just go. What's 8k left when you run 100s? My pace parked out in the 4.12 range then dropped to 4.10/km as I got closer to the proverbial barn (6.50 miles then 6.40s). The 2 guys that were a little ahead of Meredith were also quite a ways back but I really did not know how far back the next lady was so I just kept trying to open that gap as far as I could. Also, when I hit the final 8k I did the math, If I maintained, I could still get the record 3:48 ish maybe 3:47 if I surge well in the end. The wind robbed me a bit on the out in the final loop. The RD reported the gusts at 30MPH...yeah that's not fun. 3k to go and I'm now down to 4:08/km 2k just over 4 min (holy sh!t that's half marathon pace) but the final km was just frightening. I saw it drop under 4 with about 1500 to go then the final split was a 3.33 (5.40 mi pace)!The course was accurate to the meter too!! HOLY SH!T!  I sat out Chicago Marathon, I default missed World Cup Final, I specifically trained to go after this record and damn, I really wanted it. I had no idea I even had that kind of reserve in me. I just let go what whatever was left and gassed it running a hard effort mostly by feel. Holding back early was very wise. If I'd have gone out at 4.15 I'm sure I would have had problems, but who knows. I finished in 3:44 and a new PR. I really wanted to just keel over in the grass. If I can go that hard that late in a race, then there is still some serious  reserve in me that I need to try and tap next season. Meredith finished in just over 3:48 also under the old record. She is very talented and also finished just over 3 at Chicago 3 weeks ago. This is only her 2nd ultra. I think she's going to do very well if she keeps  training.  Jennifer came in at 3:53, so indeed I had some tough company.

As for my darn lower back- it gave me grief yet for a good 4- 5 days before it worked itself out for now. Lifting  anything heavy was and is  a no no.
                                                            BIG WAVES -windy? on Lake Michigan
                                                             coming up on the last 400m

                                                                Leonid grabbing me to keep me from keeling over!
                                                             Meredith-cut 12 min from last yr!

                                                                   Top 3

Big thanks to Vitargo for keeping me supplied! It does make a difference!

Beth's rice and beans were awesome at the finish. They totally hit the spot! She did the 50miler. Pat put on another great race. Of all the running clubs I've been with, the Alpine Runners are by and far the most sociable. I always had company on long runs with them as well as at the weekly speed sessions at the track. Thanks bigtime to the guys at the water stops for getting my bottles out in time too. Beth is quite and accomplished marathoner and ultrarunner. Crud, when I was still a high school brat, she used to kick my ass!!! I remember running my first 10k at the Alpine Runners 10k when I was just 16 at the end of my senior xc season  and finishing just over 50min while Beth was down in the low mid 40s and I thought, yeah low 40s for a 10...like from here to the moon for me. Yeah, and just 2 weeks before the 50k, I went to my 20 yr high school reunion. Ugh, not a spring chicken anymore!