Never ever have I just done a marathon on impulse/whim or cold turkey. My first ultra back in 98 was sort of like that but it was in December and not at a time when I was doing HARD training like I am now. A few friends from the Alpine Runners back near Chicago asked if I'd like to run a 50k at the weekend and I thought a bit and agreed to do it as a long run for fun. that ended in my setting the course record at the time.
After the March 8th race, I did another ez run in the evening for a total of 25k for the day. The next day was an easy 15k then the next I did just shy of 46k on the snowpacked trails. I played the lets see what fits into 4 hours on snow today game. My camelbak ran out at 35K and I was heading back into the part of the park where there used to be kiosks selling hot chocolate, tea, WATER among other things,etc. This winter is the first winter they have been gone which is really stupid because there is a commercial sledding hill that is packed at weekends where these vendors used to be and lots of poeple are just out walking in the park and can't buy hot drinks or eats now. This is some stupidity the new mayor has put into plan closing lots of street kiosks around town but in the PARK it makes sense to have them for people out and about using the park-DOH. I used to buy wwater at these kiosks especially in the summer. I have carved out a 13.5 k loop on the trails and would fill my handheld at the kiosk at the end of the loop. Sure, we have a well, but getting access is like getting access to the president -the line is nasty and it's easier to just buy water along the way. So, just over 3 hours into my run and out ran the water...damnit!
My next loooooong run (minimum 40-50k) was on the menu on the 25th. I was faced with the same dilemma of how to deal with probably not having enough water AGAIN. After that long run, I hit the track 4 days later for fifteen 400s and my legs were flat still...hmmm I was supposed to run the 3000 at the college meet 4 days after that and my raw speed was still off. The next day, I still felt poopy and tiredish on my 20k run. Friday, the following day, I had my first rest day in FIVE WEEKS! Hmmmm my body was trying to tell me something I think. After the rest day, I was fine. On Sunday, I actually set an indoor 3000m PR dropping my indoor time from my Beloit days in Jan of 96-HOLYCRAP!! A little rest goes a LONG WAY!! I just ran the 3000 to get my speed back up after lots of looooong stuff and to get the All American standard. I did this at the indoor track that has the worst awful steep banks too that beat the hell out of the legs and don't produce fast times for me. I was shocked.
Midweek speedwork happened on Wednesday:
5000,3000,2000,1000 down the ladder 5-6k warmup and cooldown and 1k rests between the repeats. This is an asskicker of a workout and I need to be mentally ready when I do this bugger in order to nail it properly. It also usually takes me 4 sometimes 5 days before I feel like doing hard speed again after. 5000 gets done at half marathon pace, 3000 just a bit faster, 2000 gets done at 10k pace and the 1000 gets done at 5k pace-it is not a childsplay workout. I hit this workout spot on. I also did some serious ice bathing that evening! Ok, the rest of the week looked like this:
TH- 20k EZ
FRI- 15-18K w/ 20x100m hard 100mrest.
Sat-easy 15k (got winter series awards for the mile series Nov-Feb that afternoon)
Sunday- 40-50k controlled effort pickup last 8-10k (weekly totals to be 160-170 k)
Wed eve I called the organizer of the winter series to find out what time the awards were to be on Sat. since it hadn't been posted on their site yet only to find out it was moved to April 1st :-( and I'd miss it because it's the Gagarin Half that day!
Hmmmmmmm it had gotten colder and things had once again frozen up during the week and even in spikes the ice walking home that evening was nasty. I had serious concerns about where in the hell to run the long run this weekend. My friend and awesome marathoner Leonid Burikin was orgainzing an official marathon on Saturday for his 50th birthday. Hmmmm the only thing is was was of course 50 laps on the paths in the park...jeez a counting lesson! I do that on the indoor track especially when I have 10-15 k tempo runs and have to keep track of 75 laps! TEDIOUS!!! Well the other thought was that the marathon I'd planned to coincide with my training run the 10th was moved to the 17th and I once again am one of the team captains in our club's marathon match. Hmmmm it won't be fast, but I can "donate" my training run to our score:) I had hoped to do that on the 10th as well but the darn thing got moved back a week. Coach and I decided not to risk me running a fast marathon in Rostov only 3 weeks before the 100k better to do quality long stuff in March.
Sooooo Thursday morning I called Leonid to find out what the surface conditions were on the course and he said pavement with only a little ice that he would have sanded. OK that sounds cool. Ok 50 loops means I can put my Vitargo bottles on the table-no running out of water issues this week, surface seems way better than the crap I have here- icy crusty freeze-thawed trails and or icy roads in the park, and it's more fun when I have company on a long run. OK now all I need to do is get Leonid something for his birthday before Saturday. Coach gave the green light to run the marathon but under 2 conditions:
1. No changing the original plan that means 20k ez thurs and the 15-18 +the 100s on Fri
2. No breaking 5 min/km aka 8 min mile pace( so as not to have any recovery issues)- do it like I do a steady long run on the trails work the last 10k or so if the legs feel good.
My legs were nice and heavy when I ran on Thursday and only just a little better on Friday,but by no means peaked and ready to fly on Saturday. If nothing else it would be a good way to learn to deal with that tired legs late in a race feeling- AKA how to deal with the last 30k or so in the 100k.
Saturday morning I rode out to Solnechnogorsk with Leonid and Sasha. Both were in charge of organizing and lap counting (not an easy task). We got to the start in the park where the summer marathon in Solnechnogorsk start/finish is near the stadium. I failed to mention that on Friday it had SNOWED SIDEWAYS most of the day and night! We were greeted by snow, ice,more ice, and MORE ICE! Ha, you have to be kidding me, I came here to avoid this crap! I just laughed and thought well at least there will be no issues with my running too fast and going under 5 min pace. My next thought was THANK GOD FOR ICEBUGS! The course had over a total of 200 hairpin and slick turns on it. There was a downhill stretch followed by an uphill one that was entirely covered in VERY THICK ICE! There was also a narrow singletrack stretch of about 30m that was full of holes in the snow and waiting to bite your ankle should you roll or twist it in a hole. OMFG nice surface conditions....NOT! This made the Zelenograd Marathon in December look like a cakewalk by comparison!
Pics from Masha Shalneva
So off we were on our 50 lap adventure. Turnout was more than expected and runners came in from as far as Omsk, Arkhagelsk, and some from St. Pete. I actually finished I actually finished just ahead of the guy from Omsk.
At least the weather was nice- sunny and just below freezing. The girl working the table was really nice and brought my drinks out a couple bottles at a time so they wouldn't freeze. Coach usually does this but he's out of town til next week. Some other runners also set their goodies on the table too. There was dried fruit, bananas, bread, tea, and hot water as well. They did a good job with that:) OK round and round we ran and nobody broke any bones! WOW! I can't imagine how others ran without spikes! I would never do this or I would spend all day doing face and or assplants! Lots of people went out too fast. I just parked it on autopilot like I do on a long run running just a hair over 5 min pace all day. My first half was a couple minutes slower than the second, but that's because with 2 laps o go I decided to actually run after having picked up a little with 10 laps or just over 8k to go. Legs felt good-no wall -just a controlled effort on a very challenging surface. I was first woman and 7th over all. I started lapping guys who went out too fast after the first 10k and then some more in the 2nd half. 2nd woman was Galina Eremina who is on the 24 hr team. I finished in plenty of time to get a hot shower followed by 15 min of cold water on the legs. I finished just over 3:30-close to my slowest ever save for the years I ran the Equinox in Fairbanks and Chicago 2007. Actually 3:30 ish was the plan in DRY conditions for a steady training run I wasn't supposed to dip under. Everyone's times were waaay slow because of the conditions. First guy finished in 3:07 to give an idea of the difficulty factor!
pic -masha Shalneva
After the race, we celebrated Leonid's birthday and had the awards. Leonid is also a sculptor and made individual plaster plates for top 3-very beautiful work. The medals were original and pretty too. Leonid is actually a marathon monster. he often runs them VERYoften. I don't know how many marathons we've run together over the years, but pretty much anything I've done in Russia, he has bee there too.A few years ago, he ran pretty much every weekend and most of those were sub 3 hours!!!! INSANE! Major respect to a great marathoner and overall very nice person!