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



Friday, March 22, 2013

8 March Women's Day 4k

I had intended to get this posted ages ago but have spent the last two weeks in burning in Bureaucratic Hell. Each year, when you renew a Russian work visa or residency permit, you have to do a crapton of medical tests which include HIV, just about every form of VD, leprosy(yeah isn't that a bit archaic) ,TB,and a drugs test. In the past, this has been a  fairly simple streamlined procedure I have been able to do inside an hour or so at my local clinic near the house and a convenient 400m walk from the indoor track where I workout. All the docs you need to see are there and you just go down the hallway to visit each one and get your tests done. In a couple few days your medical certificate is ready and you are set for another year. Well, this year, I went to my friendly neighborhood clinic after a workout at the end of February as it was time to do my meds about 6 weeks before the actual visa extension. I was told as of Feb. 1 they no longer have the authorization to do this as they do not have the new blanks that immigration is now demanding and it all has to be done in the state clinics . F#CK! State clinics suck because you can't make an appointment and you just have to show up and get in the queue. Translation-major time killer and lots of ass chasing. I also knew that the whole process could take upwards of 2-3 weeks even if I was good about going to one clinic after another. It now involves going to three separate clinics (VD,TB,and the narcotics clinic)to have it all done. You have to start at the VD clinic then collect your results a couple days later and then hit the next 2. It's a goddamn nightmare. Oh and in Russia, you can usually pay a "fee" to get out of crunches like this, but this time was a no go since three different clinics are involved. I would have happily paid a nominal"fee" to avoid what's been 2 weeks of ass chasing and major disruptions in my routine. Juggling ass chasing and spending hours at clinics with work and training has been a royal bitch and the result has been sleep deprivation much like I had when I worked shifts and I now feel like hell.I'm sick of waiting hours to have blood drawn and to pee in a cup.  I finally finished this mess yesterday and now my visa renewal has to be rushed to make it by the mid April deadline. Nice! I fly out for 100k Euros on the 25th but was assured I'd have my paperwork back long before. So, that's what I've been doing since the March 8th 4k.

So, back to the race, by the time the Women's Day 4k rolled around, my legs were feeling the stress of high volume+ the 2 previous races earlier in the week. I took the whatever approach here. The wind was howling and temps hovered at -10-12C. Air temperature wasn't so bad, but the WIND was horrible. I ran a good 6k in my warmup and was still not "warm" because of the wind. I was considering just running in my subzero jacket form Running Skirts because it's the only thing that can keep the damn wind off my neck, but Coach took it just before the start and immediately gave it back after the finish to prevent serious freezing of ass. Last yr, I was 14.49 on this course also after the tiring double earlier in the week. We were off and right into the wind! My pace was definitely in get stuck mode and stuck right around 3.40/km I really wasn't up to picking it up  with the wind but rather just kind of el stucko. I ended up 4th in 14.30 cutting 19 seconds off of last year's time despite nasty conditions. I was a bit surprised when Elena Sipatova    http://www.all-athletics.com/node/145760 (this is her race she helps put on actually)handed me one of the slips of paper they give to people for the awards at the finish . I had thought this year they were only doing top 3 or at least that's what I had read, but they actually did top 10 women. They had us wait a little bit before they did the awards(no time for a cooldown) so I was uber glad Coach at least had my jacket as they told us not to leave yet(uhhhh not to even get some clothes on in the locker room??). We all just kept moving to avoid freezing. Running ok standing-cold  BRRR.

This race had a record turnout this year. Although it was on a holiday, I have to say, I was a bit sad. The state of serious racing in Moscow is about to head south I'm afraid as are many others. The March 8th race was always the season opener and one of the Luzhniki races. The Luzhniki Marathon has always been about the third weekend in May and the summer cup series runs from June-September. All of these races have been quality events especially the summer series. They attract top runners and less serious runners as well. The organizers have always done the best they can given the resources they have had, and no, I'm not going to lie, the prizes have been quite good especially in recent years. I first started running the Luzhniki races as a young grad student in 1998 and was hooked.

Last year, new organizers came in and did a decent job especially with the summer cup. They were still working with the person who had been the main organizer of these events since their inception in the late 90s.  Well, unfortunately, this person has been shoved aside this year and the Luzhniki races and summer cup will be no more after 16 years of quality events! The other issue, is that folks on high refuse to close city streets to traffic. Are you kidding me? In any other big city around the world, they can do it so what's the problem with Moscow? We aren't some small rathole in the sticks! Can you imagine the reaction if London, Berlin, or Chicago just up and cancelled their marathons??? Get real! This is clearly an indication of things going all to hell. So, in order to have a reason to train and stay motivated post 100k Euros since  we are losing our BEST QUALITY PREMIER RACES in Moscow, I am just going to have to race more in Latvia because at least in Latvia, they still know what quality racing means! I am tentatively planning to run the Rezekne Half on April 6th, but it's contingent on my being able to take care of a few things here and finagle my timetable so as not to have to miss tons of work. I need to work now while I have lots of work because come July, work tapers off and can get inconsistent til the fall. So, I've signed up for the 5k here in Moscow on April 7th as a backup if I end up not going to Rezekne. Meanwhile, it's high volume, ass busting training, and loooooong runs 40+km or so at weekends.
Pix Maria Shalneva:

                                                              trying to "warm up"
                                                  hiding under my hood because it was freeezin' in the wind!

                                             PINK hey -it's WOMEN'S DAY have to be girly!

                                                      Elena Sipatova at the finish handing out cards to top10

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Day After 2 mile xc 3 March

 HA nice cooldown race! It was moved from Saturday to Sunday because of the marathon. With all the cancelling of our major races (I will discuss this more on my 8 March report)and rescheduling them til too close to the 100k (WTF), I would like to go to Rezekne the first weekend in April for a fast half before I wreck my legspeed til late May in the 100k. Some "genius" on high moved the half in Zvezdny Gorodok to the 21st from the 7th of April which really sucks because I will have to sit it out. Running a 1:25 ish or so half 6 days before the 100k is suicide. 8-10 days out would be risky but I might pull it off but 6 is not enough time to recover 100%.  We have 2 halves in May but they are all in early May and I'll have to sit them out too which sucks. I don't plan to race again til the New Balance race at the end of May. If I run the half 2 weeks after the 100k, I'll just make a fool of myself like I did last yr. Pre 100k -1:26 on snow in spots 13 days after 1:34 and should not have even raced-close to a PW and my granny could have beaten me on one leg! A month or so later 1:26 again so it was just a case of not being recovered. I really need 3-4 weeks.  So  that meant gettimg my ass up for the 2 mile on tired legs after the snowshoe. I can miss one race and still win the winter cup but missing 2 is risky. So, if I miss it will be the last race in the series on April 6. I was just planning to sandbag and run close to 14 min not for time but just for the win and the points. As luck would have it, the lady who won the 29 and under division in the indoor mile series showed up and stuck to me like glue in the first 1500 as I was sandbagging that close to 14 pace. So in the final k I had to pick it up to finish 30 sec ahead of her for the win-not fast though  in the 13.30s. It was an I don't care race because I knew I wasn't going to be fast. My legs were tired from the snowshoe DOH! Mission accomplished though. I secured the win in the winter series and have the option to go to Rezekne for the half now. I'll open the summer series in May a week off the 100k....not fast of course but just get some points in the bank for the new season. Moscow International Half is the same day which unfortunately, I'll have to sit out as there is no effing way I'll be in any condition to do that 7 days off the 100.

                              running with Vanya again- I wasn't going to even bother outkicking him in the end this   time-not on dead legs!

SNOWSHOE 2013- 2 March

Save the date!!! When I found out the snowshoe was going to be on the 2nd, I had to scrap my plans of combining a long run with a marathon. The Srichinmoy Marathon is usually on the weekend after the March 8th holiday and held on snowpacked trails . For some reason, it was held much earlier than usual this yr on the 2nd. I'm just a bit tired of carrying the darn kitchen sink with me on my long runs and was going to do this marathon as a long training run for the sake of being able to put my drinks on a table I'd pass on each of the 2k or so loops on their course. I did a 40k training run on the snowpack the weekend before the snowshoe and as usual with the Camelbak, inside jacket pockets crammed with gels, skirt pockets crammed with candy,etc...The eats are not too much a nuisance to carry, but the Camelbak, when full, adds 3 KG! Carrying all the time does get old.  Ah well, looks like the next 40-45k run will be the weekend after the snowshoe and with the kitchen sink in tow as there was no way I was going to miss the snowshoe!

This is my third year at this race and this year the course was the same as in 2012. I really like the course in Romashkovo. This is also where I ran the 8k XC race in January. The snowshoe course is 3k of narrow singletrack that has lots of hairpin turns and ups and downs. The next 6k or so is on the hills, but if you go out easy, you can work this section to pull ahead. The final 3k is back on more singletrack. I really like this course because it's not too easy and boring, but not too technical and hard either. It's hilly, so you don't get to be lazy either! Plus, the organizers do a great job with this and the number of participants has grown since  

A few days before the race, I checked to see who was racing and saw that Irina Safronova was back. She won in 2011 and kicked my ass by about 4 min! She's a world class mountain climber and can definitely snowshoe. I last saw her at the half in 2012 in Zvezdniy Gorodok where I was 3rd in 1:26. She was 4th and about 6 min behind, but just because I might have faster road times means nothing on the trails. Back in the day in Fairbanks, I could often beat the ladies on the road who could catch me on a tough trail race. So, my thoughts were....sh!t maybe I should have postponed that 40k long run and waited til after the snowshoe. No, I couldn't because I need to keep my training cycle consistent for the 100k Euros next month. My midweek speed session after the 40k was lighter than usual just doing a dozen 400s and 200s to keep my speed from tanking and I wasn't burning down the barn either- just did the 400s in 83 on average and the 200s 39-40 -yeah speed was a bit dull doing this only a couple days after a long run. I can digest up to 30-35k and it has little impact on my speed in the few days after, but 40-50k training runs can dull it for a few days. Yeah I had better go into the snowshoe on semi rested legs so I capped myfinal easy days in the 18-20k range. On the day before, we finally got FRESH snow and I did a 10k training run in my snowshoes to make sure my Nike lunaracers stayed in the bindings ok as they were the lightest option for shoes to wear and when the flywire gets wet, it doesn't get heavy. Having the lightest racing kit possible would be important.

So, the morning of the race it was still snowing!YEA fresh snow good, but for driving BAD. I rode out with a couple friends and their little girl and we got stuck in slow winter traffic and arrived about 40 min before the start! CRAPTASTIC I'm not going to get in a warmup- not cool. Well, it turned  out lots of people also got stuck in the same nasty traffic and the RD was nice enough to postpone the start another 15 -20 min so people could warm up! I quickly headed out for a warmup. It was -10C this yr-colder than in previous years so I went with a lightweight top on the bottom and midweight on top. The forest was so pretty after a fresh snowfall. As in previous years, there were two divisions, sport and trekking. Sport is the 12k competitive division that attracts more of the professional types. The short course is a 7k for the trekkers. Local TV news caught be for a quick interview before the start. They asked me about my snowshoeing experience in Alaska and what types of shoes people use. I said for most races people have racing snowshoes similar to mine and of legal length and width for competition (no kiddie sized  snowshoes allowed in championship races). Then we have the Arctic Winter Games where you are only allowed to use the old school Native wooden ones.

Off to the start. As we were lining up the RD announced that the men's and women's winners get a trip to Sweden for the snowshoe World Champs next yr! Seriously?! That's the first I knew of that. Translation: I'm going to have to really bust my ass today! That would be so cool to win that! MOTIVATION!  And off we were. I tucked in behind Irina on the first part of the singletrack. She is good at the technical stuff but I hoped not to fall to far back here so I could use the hills to my advantage later on the wider trails. I just stayed right behind her not wanting to pass because I'm so darn used to going out easy then working the second half of my races all out. Just past 3k we came out onto the hilly rollers and Irina and a guy were a few seconds ahead. I caught up and just ran with them for a bit. at about 3.5 k I passed them and then started trying to open a gap picking up to 5 min/km +- a few seconds over the hills. I knew I had to keep picking up the pace  as I go along and that's what I did. I ran with a guy for a while who helped pull me away from the group behind and we ran together til about 5k or so then he dropped back. Crap, I'm alone and I don't know how far back Irina is so have to keep busting my butt to try and open as much a gap as I can. I then got lucky enough to see a guy up ahead and then work on reeling him in, pass and then gradually work on the next guy. I passed 4 guys along the way doing this never letting up on the pace. I had no idea where Irina was and wanted to get as far ahead as I could before hitting the singletrack in the final 3k. When I did hit the final 3k, I started passing some of the trekkers as their course overlapped ours here. With 1k to go I just went eyeballs out and the final k was a 4.47! This is by no means a fast course. While you can work the midsection of you have the legstrength for the hills, the narrow singletrack will slow things down especially the hilly, tight turns along the way. I cut 3 min off my time from last year too finishing in 1:10 for the win! Irina finished in 1:16. I really didn't know how close or far back she was. I ran this after the 2 mile last year but that 2 mile couldn't have robbed me of 3 minutes, I am in a bit better shape than I was even last spring. Results were posted live online as the organizers really have their stuff together and put on a quality event.
                                                            final km on the singletrack
                                                                    skiers xing!

Kasha and tea and sweets were waiting for hungry tummies at the finish! YUM! Also, Sergei the beekeeper had a mountain of honey to sell and I was buying! I won some of that honey in January and got some last year at the snowshoe-SUPER YUM! Will run for honey! In addition to the trip to Sweden, I got some other goodies, one of which was a new pair of ski/snowboard goggles. They must have known :) Apparently there is a ghost in my flat that has my old ones. I tore apart the closet looking for my snowboard goggles in January when I went snowboarding and couldn't find them! They are "somewhere" around here heck knows where.

In 2015, the snowshoe is scheduled to be a part of the World Cup. That will be really nice. In Russia, lots of people ski in the winter and less go for snowshoes. It would be great to see snowshoeing continue to grow here much as it has in Europe and the northern US.

Reports and more great pics!