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, September 23, 2012

Valmiera Marathon 16-Sept-a Very Unexpected Outcome

  Valmiera is a scenic small town 2 hours out of Riga not far from the Estonian border. There is an old church from the 1280s that still stands in the center of town and also at the start/finish of the marathon. It and some of the old fortress remain intact as fortunately they were not destroyed in WWII. Oh, and yes, Valmiera is a HILLY town!
Here are some shots from around town and the course:
                                                                 one of many quad busters
                                                      13th c church at the center of town near start/finish

                                                   view from hilltop behind the church in old Valmiera

I first ran Valmiera in 2010 a month after the Daugavpils Marathon (before it became part of the World Cup 50k) as part of my buildup for 100k Worlds that yr in November in Gibraltar. I finished a paltry 5th on the hellaciously hilly course. I missed this one in 2011 because it was a week after 100k Worlds. This year, I had to fit it in my schedule. It is also the Latvian marathon NCs. This race is very well organized (unlike the pathetic event I did the week earlier as my final tune up going into this) and there are plenty of well manned aid stations roughly every3+k on the course.

Incidentally, thanks to the wanker who knocked me over the week before  my right side was badly bruised at the ribs and my right leg good and effed up where I obviously strained the outside lateral of my right achilles and the area at tbase of the calf. I had never had issues with this area before the fall.   Three days before the marathon, I had the area worked on in depth and still had a huge knot at the base of my calf my coach spent some serious time working out. It actually hurt to walk on for the first two days after the 10k. I wasn't pain free until about 36 hours before the marathon but who the hell knows to what degree this niggle that could have been avoided affected my performance.

 One of the runners who knows me asked me why I chose Valmiera this yr and I very honestly said that a week ago in Moscow the weather was perfect 5C and rain, the course was flat and has now been confirmed 600m short (anyone who ran Moscow International got a free ride and a free 2-3 min cut from their time). Yes, this does not surprise me as another well known Moscow autumn marathon was 2KM short a few yrs ago!  But...yes BUT, organization at Moscow International is some of the worst in Russia. I would have had crew had I run Moscow, but even with crew to hand you drinks and gels etc, you still have to deal with the craptastic air quality in the center and will be hard pressed to do super well. In Valmiera, there is CLEAN air, super organization, but, no, not a course to try for a PR on though it is a scenic course all the well. So yeah, I would rather schelp myself on a 16 hr train to Riga then another 2 hours to Valmiera than run Moscow International ANY DAY! There are no free rides in Valmiera and  no short course(in fact in 2010 and 2012 my Garmin shows nearly 600m long and I wonder if it has to do with the hills).  The course is 4 even loops and you will run in 2 directions along the loops: UP and DOWN most all of the way!

As of 4 days before the race when I last checked the list before I left, on the ladies side I had a shot at a top 3. Anita who won in her debut in 2010 was back and Irina- my 100K teammate was running. Anita would likely go for the win leaving a very even battle for 2nd and 3rd to Irina and I. Irina's 5k and 10k have been only seconds slower than mine this season and our halves just about the same. She can kick my ass in anything under a 3000 though. I had a feeling it would be a very good and likely close race with her much as it was when we first met in Riga in 09. Plus she was definitely fresher as this was her first marathon of the season and I was carrying baggage in the form of 2 marathons, a 100K,50K, plus lots of races up to the half nearly every week, and high volume training. Well, the day befoe the race, I saw Irina at packet pickup and she and her husband Maris (he crewed for us in 2010 at the 100k in Gibraltar) let me know that Dace Lina had decided to run. Hmmm... We guessed she was coming in to try to break her 2:50 course record from 2010. Dace is a 2:38 marathoner who just got back from the Olympic marathon in London! Soooo it looked  like Irina and I would have to sort it out for 3rd and 4th.

Race Day- are you kidding me.....sunny and warm? This is usually a cold and rainy race aka perfect weather for me but I had no goosebumps at the start so it was warm- low 20s C. So off we were up and down the hills we went. I went out fairly sane not pushing the pace early because the hills would beat the crap out of my legs later on if I did. At the out and back turnaround between 6- 7k into the loopAnita was leading and Dace following with Irina in 3rd. I just let them go out fast. One lap later in the same spot Anita was far ahead and Dace and Irina were together. I was a good 2 min+ behind. Coming up on the end of loop 2 Andris, our 100k team manager and the guy who handles all the stuff realted to ultras told me I was 1:45 behind Dace and Irina. That's still quite a bit but it's way too early to push the pace and I AM FEELING the hills so I had better just focus on holding pace and not pushing yet.

At the end of each loop, we are treated to a nice climb in the final 500m on this gnarly, sandy/gravel/pothole HILL to boot. So I just got down to business and tried my darnest to make peace with the hills in lap 3. Midway through loop 3 it was time for the Vespa Jr in addition to the usual nutrition plan of Vitargo and Roctane with a salt stick every hour as it was warm. At the far touraround about 27-28k Dace and Irina were still ahead and I wasn't even thinking of catching up yet. Well just before 30k, I saw a familiar ponytail ahead-Irina? I passed her at right about 30k but figured she would catch me again in the final loop as she is quite good and my legs were beginning to get really tired of the ups and downs on the hills. Now just past 30k I saw another familiar ponytail ahead- Dace?! Ok I might try and stay with her for a bit I thought. Coming up on that gnarly hill at the end of loop 3 I caught her and we ran together for a bit. Going into loop 4 I was a little bit ahead but really didn't want to try and pass because I figured it would be futile. She would likely get me in the last lap anyway. I have major  respect for Dace. She hasn't been running seriously very long and as recently as 2008-2009, had halves over 1:30 when she was starting out. She progressed very quickly getting her marathon into the 2:50s then breaking 2:40 this spring to get the B standard for the Olympics. She is awesome!
                                          starting loop4 (they say the race begins in the final 10k)

So, we headed down that quad busting downhill at the beginning of the last loop. The water stop was at the bottom of said hill just before 32 k. We were pretty much together there both grabbing our bottles and heading off. I could feel she was slowing just a little but really didnt want to try something stupid like try to pass and open a gap. I was pretty sure she could close even a decent gap over the last 10k anyways. There is a very short flat in the first km of each loop-I went. I just focused on the few guys ahead and picked them off. Now between 2 and 3k into each loop there is a long climb. This is about 34 k now and I continued working on this hill and picked off a couple more guys. Oddly enough most of the passing I had done all day was on the uphills where it's tough. I was running 2nd now thought it would be really cool to hold onto that but knew it was a longshot. Dace was about 100-150m behind now.

The thing is I used a lot of gas hauling up that last uphill and my quads were shredded and I was a hurting unit! I still had 7+k to go which isn't much from the mentality of a 100k runner, but it's not a picnic when it's all up and down and you are on shredded quads! At the last out and back turnaround with just over 3k to the finish Dace was about 45 sec behind and Irina about 2 min. Irina would probably not be able to make that up, but over the last 3 1/2 K or so Dace could. I really couldn't pick it up all I could do was tooth and nail hold onto my pace which was dropping to4.40km on the uphills. My quads were about to just go on strike.

 Between 40 and 41K I glanced back and saw the guy on the bike that had been crewing for Dace and she was picking off the guys that were between us that I had passed earlier. She was less than 200 back now and that gap was closing just as I'd turned down the final stretch at 41k and was approaching the final dreaded climb up that gnarly hill. God, I just wanted to crawl up that thing like everyone else was doing but knew this was going to be a pretty close finish. That last hill kicked my ass but once I got to the top I had just 200 to go and went with what I had left to finish 2nd. Dace finished 24 sec behind and Irina 3 min back.

That was defnintely NOT the outcome I would have predicted at all. After looking at lap splits we were all hurting apparently going into lap 4 I was just the one who did the least slowing down and tried my damnest to hold pace although the last 4k was just a sufferfest and all I could do was autopilot -no more picking up but thankfully not majorly slowing down much more either.

Andris has been trying to get Dace to try the 100k and we all talked about it after the race. She would be really good , but is intimidated by the distance. I told her she'd be fine because in the 100 the key is running one somewhat sane pace all day whereas in the marathon you have to pace much faster and hold on which for me is actually harder.

                                                 Team Latvia- Dace(middle) Irina (right)

After the finish, I headed off for a quick shower. When I got back, Andris invited me to the VIP tent where the race director and other top runners and national team members were hanging out having a beer and bite to eat while waiting for the awards.

So choice has been made- Valmiera it is Chicago Marathon it is not this yr despite having the A start again. I could have chased a PR in Chicago and I'm in shape to do it, but I chose Valmiera as it's an NC and well, there was also a nice paycheck for my efforts. Also, I really want to take a crack at the Chicago 50K course record. In order to do that I need to sit the marathon out and run the 50 on fresh legs which I can do six weeks off a marathon but not if I run another marathon three weeks off Valmiera and three weeks before the 50K which is where Chicago falls. Incidentally, my overall pace was just about the same in Valmiera (garmin showed 4.30-same as Daugavpils but Daugavpils was an even 50k whereas Valmiera showed an extra 600...hmmm). Plus the Valmiera course is much harder than Daugavpils. My legs were fine after the 50k but my quads hated me for a good three days after Valmiera! I prefer to space long races(marathons and longer) six to eight weeks apart if I'm going for a solid performance. After a month usually the best I can do is just repeat the performance I turned in a month earlier. With six to eight weeks between long races, I can take a recovery week, build back up and train, then have time to back down a bit before the next long race. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Manners and Etiquette 101-Epic Fail!

Well, generally I try to be culturally sensitive and accepting, but when my health and or safety are threatened, all that politally correct crap can take a back seat. I have little to no tolerance for rudeness of any sorts and those who know me know very well that I am a no BS person meaning I take no BS nor do I tolerete it in any way,shape,or form. What happened at the start of the 10k was definitely bullshit (pardon my French) in the highest degree.

One of the things, I have noticed over the years is that the vast majotiry here fail miserably at good old fashioned etiquette and common sense. This was discussed a while back on the expat site and what people there were describing was very similar to trail etiquette or serious lack thereof. Anyone who has ever run trails, sidewalks, or bike paths in just about any Western country knows trail etiquette. Most of it is common sense stuff like when a skiier, cyclist, runner,etc. approaches from behind they generally holler "on the right" or "on the left" so you know where they are and move off to the side to let them by;. it's common effing sense.  I can't tell how many times I have been on narrow singletrack trails  especially in the winter and it's rare as hell if anyone yields to anyone else. Sometimes, it's just absurd. Years ago, a group of us were doing intervals on an isolated 1k loop Coach had marked for us in the park where I have trained now for over 10 years. Now, most people will actually step aside on the singletrack when they see a half dozen runners barrelling down at 5 min or so mile pace. In our group at the time we had the female and male Russian national  champions. JFC, in the States if you saw Ryan or Meb barrelling down the trail wouldn't you get the feck out of the way? So one day there was a stubborn old hag that just didn't want to move to the side for just a few seconds and finally it resulted in the top guy in the group first asking her nicely then, to no avail ,finally having to chew her ass out. Same thing goes for bigass WIDE sidewalks. People feel the need to hog the whole damn sidewalk. Moms with prams are the worst. How hard is it to move to the left or right and let someone by? Some time ago, my coach and I were doing intervals in April on a marked 1000m WIDE sidewalk in the park while we were waiting for the snow to melt off the track. Two rude moms with prams just had to hog the whole damn sidewalk and not let anyone by,runners, walkers, dog walkers..... Coach asked them nicely a couple times -no luck trying to reason with these snotty witches so finally, same thing, he had to chew them out. JFC will walking single file for a couple seconds kill you? No, you are NOT God's gift to the Earth, the sidewalk is plenty BIG and WIDE enough to share with everyone else or did they fail to teach you this in flipping KINDERGARTEN?

Apparently this is a Russian thing. I was running trails in Vilnius last winter and on several occasions I observed the same trail and or sidewalk etiquette practiced just about everywhere else. Walkers, moms with prams, etc. yielded to skiiers, runners,cyclists without question. Hmmm so just cross the border I guess to find good ol' trail etiquette and common sense. It's also basic common sense from a safety standpoint. Same thing in Latvia, people move aside if they know you are coming.

Lack of etiquette ruled at the 10k that is run in conjunction with the Moscow Marathon in September. Actually, I DID NOT want to run this race. In fact, anytime  a foreigner asks me about the Moscow Marathon I always give them several reasons not to waste their legs on it and suggest other better races in the area in the fall that are better organized. I wanted to run the 6k the day before but it was unclear if or how they were going to set up a spot to leave your stuff while you ran. I had better things to do than risk some a-hole jacking my stuff (street bums do hang in parks ).

This year, the Russian marathon national championship was part of this marathon. Now the way the start was organized was just pathetic especially for a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! I typically start up front, but decided to use a little common sense and respect and position myself behind the runners in the national championship. Tanya and Julia were slightly in front of me and they were also doing the 10 so I figured I would just position myself and run with them once we got going since we have been running together or not far from one another most of the season. Again COMMON SENSE. A couple minutes before the stert, they packed us in like effing sardines. I have been in many many large mass races like Chicago, Boston, and Riga to name a few and Chicago gets 40 some thousand out and I have NEVER EVER had issues at the start. Part of this is because based on qualifying I've always had sub elite starts at these races and am in an area with people running my pace, the other part is that at these races people don't behave like goddamn animals (or at least not from where I have ever started). Most use common sense and respect each other. They have started doing a corral or estimated pace system at some of the races in Moscow and it tends to work well. This was a great move on the organizer's part.

So, after packing in your national class marathoners and everyone else in like sardines, they starte the race. Worst start I have witnessed at a national championship anywhere in the world and I thought, do they have no respect for these elite runners? I have never been knocked over , sure, I've fallen on my ass usually on icy trails in the winter, but never had some asshole knock me over. All hell pretty much broke loose at the start. Yes, a fatass asshole got me but I was very lucky someone quickly scooped me up from behind or it could have been much worse. Glad to know there are still SOME decent people out there. So now bruised and bloody, I was off and mad as hell. At that point, I just took the eff you all approach and plowed my way through much like my girlfirend on the US 100k team had to do last winter when she ran a half and had elite seeding but a bunch of assholes in the crowd wouldn't let her to her corral. It was a Rock n Roll half and I have heard lots of negative feedback on how those events are organized depending on the city-not the best place for serious runners apparently.

Do I really need this sh!t a week before my own national marathon championship in Latvia? I was just using this race as a final tune-up.I remember years ago when I fell running on icy trail in Krasnodar as a college student and had to have stitches in my chin(still have the scar 18 yrs later) and my friend's mother telling me it's ok to fall and have stitches, but NEVER break a bone here or they will never set it right and you will be screwed. Now, sadly, this is still somewhat true depending on what doctor you get. I know someone who had to have his finger REBROKEN THREE TIMES before they finally set it right but then another buddy broke his leg in 3 spots and got decent care as did my boss who busted 6 ribs a few yrs ago. It can be a scary crap shoot though. Luckily, no busted bones, but if I hadn't been scooped up by someone, I'd have been fecked plain and simple.

So, after all the bullshit, all I could come up with was a slow but even pace which put my 10k at 39.15. Dammit- bare bones minimum was to go under 39  but more realistic Coach and I were thinking 38.30-40s ish. The legspeed was definitely back after the 50k as I'd done 10x 800m on paved hills in the low 2.50s three days earlier without seriously busting my ass but giving a decent effort so as not to be too tired before the weekend. So, that was my lovely tuneup going into NCs this weekend. I know the language in this post is somewhat harsh, but it does truly reflect how I feel about people who have sh!t for brains!
                                                     Pic by Nadya Arinushkina
                                                              Tanya and I after the finish-pic Andrey Sedin
                                                     Pic- Masha Shalneva
                                                    (sleeve eff up in the fall too apparently)

Speeding Again 1000m 30-08 and 6.1k 1-09 AND 2 mile xc 2-09

Yeah- that's a busy little schedule. I took an ez week after the 50 just doing easy runs in the 15-20k a day range but easy and on soft trail. Just did whatever my body felt like so I could recover. The following week on day 8 after the 50K, I tried 20 quick 200s to try and see how tanked my speed may be. I was hitting them on the paved hill in the park in the high 30s so seemed like my speed was coming backon schedule. Not 100% yet but at least 85%. So, on the 30th-11 days after the 50k I ran the final in our 1000m cup series and came up first woman with a 3.26. Yeah it was worse than my 1000 in June on fresher legs but for being still not 100%speed wise it was ok. I was using it as a tune up for the 6.1k two days later. The 6.1k was the final in the Luzhniki Summer Cup and at this point it was just a formality to show up and run to keep 3rd. Same for the top 2 women- just show up and run the final so as not to lose your spot.
                                                          1000m series winners

                                                           top3 ladies in the final (at Moscow State U)
                                                                  being a smartass

                                               fast ladies- Tanya up front, me trailing, Julia in yellow and Anna in the white top

Saturday morning up for the 6.1k. I was hoping for a 5k split sub 19 but not sure where I was yet speed wise. I have never EVER gone much under 19.20 after just 2 weeks off a fast hard marathon much less a 50k. When I regularly ran high 18s back in the day in Alaska, i generally needed a good 3-4 weeks before I had that kind of speed again. Weather was perfect -cool barely 10C. Off we were and I just hung with the fast girl group with Tanya P up front and me sitting on her heels. Julia K was next to me and a new up and coming lady-Natasha P hung with us the first 3 km or so. I wanted to go about 3.45/km pace if my legs were recovered. I decided to risk it and run with Tanya. Even if she had a stronger finish, she would pace me to a good time. Ok heading into 4k tanya picked up and I decided to go along because the only way I could maybe hold off the other girls would be to gap them in the middle. My ultra legs are not great at sprint finishes. 5k came through in a blistering 18.42 but I was feeling it in the last 600 before the finish-no sprint but all i could do was hold the same pace. Still-that was not bad considering my PR of 18.37 from 97 was ages ago for one and on fresh legs. How did I pull off an 18. 42 on post -ultra legs? Holy hell! Tanya really helped pull me along though.

Prizes- good stuff! I was surprised. For the 3rd overall in the summer series I got a new iPod!!! Yeaaa! I also got enough tea for the year. I have wanted a new iPod for a while since my classic is 5 yrs old. The nano is great for a run because it's tiny and fits anywhere. For 2nd in the 35-39 gp in the summer series I got an entertainment system. This is the first yr I didn't win this category because Oksana-overall series winner and I are only a few months apart. Fro the 6k, I got another large water boiler for said tea. Tanya was 2nd in the summer series.

Ok, the next morning, I went out to do the 2mi xc race as a workout. Lots of us were running on tired legs as many had run the 6k the day before. The first 2 loops I just went through in 4 min- my legs were not budging after yesterday's effort. I was also very just stuck in 4th behind Tamara S who ran the day before just ahead of me and a fast Katya who was on fresh legs today and a new girl who was also far from slow. So I see 3rd lady getting closer and I pulled up behind her going into the last km. With 800 to go I picked it up and dropped her to close in 3.49 for the final km -overall result a slow 12.37 but ok for a 2nd day effort. had the race been evening as opposed to morning it would have helped. I can recover in 36 hours pretty well from short races but less than 24 is tough esp since I was not sandbagging the 6k.