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, July 17, 2016


The last time I ran this marathon was in 2011 when the leaders were misdirected and ran an extra 3km! After that snafu, swore off the marathon and just started doing the 10. I'm honestly not sure I'll run a marathon this year. I've actually seriously been considering retirement after this season. If it's the beginning of the master's cliff , then it's time to retire. I always said I would when that happens. I will keep running and training because I don't want to morph into those freaks you see on the people of Walmart site, but I will not race.  I'm not sure that it's the master's cliff yet though, although since the pneumonia bout in 2014, my times have been crappy by my standards. One thing I will not do is lower my standards of what I see as acceptable performances for me personally not do I want to dumb down my running.

This past spring was just a mess with the lack of tune up races I desperately needed to get into racing shape. I do not forsee that situation improving anytime soon in the future. The other factor-incredibe demotivation because the cost of ever getting out to 100k WC/EC is beyond my pay grade. It's not going to happen without some kind of sponsorship- period. The desire to train for it is there, and qualify I could, but getting there from Alaska- not financially feasible. The last carrot I was hoping to train for- Daugavpils 50k/100k which was moved to May and I subsequently missed it by a couple days as it was the Saturday after school got out. That is something I can get to easily when I'm off school and in Moscow. Random trips to Europe in the middle of the school year- yes I have the personal leave to do it, but not the greenbacks.That whole nasty compendium of things screwing with my running has got me thinking.

My speed is still least to be desired by  my standards and I'm not sure what is going on. I have not been ill since the pneumonia and didn't get sick at school last year despite a whooping cough epidemic in the village. I did have a booster vaccine for that one though. So, there have not been major viral issues recently.I'm healthy- no injuries touch wood. Blood- not great but not the end of the world either. Lack of racing opportunity half the year is a big factor, but I think it's just a combination of all of the above. Despite all the crap, I still have the discipline to manage my time effectively so I can continue to train. The problem- really hard to train through knowing there is not much left to train for.

So, since I'm not sure about marathons this year or later on, I figured I'd do Belochka maybe one last time. It was my first Russian marathon back in 98. I've run it seven times now and won it 3 while podiuming at all the others. The ski club now helps with the course markings, volunteers on the course now  so I decided to give it one last try.

 Belochka is usually damn warm and often hot. Today, it was 32C in the shade and the start is at 11:30. There was  not a cloud in the sky. I just went out slowly and put it into autopilot which was fine save for 2 unplanned pit stops at 11 and 24km. Dammit-I suspect I got some bad cheese at the supermarket yesterday. I had a sour stomach in the morning. This course is the same ol same ol 1x 4k loop followed by 3x 12 and change. After the middle of the 2nd loop, I was on my own for 3 and 4 save for when I would pass people. I am so glad they had tons of arrows painted on the ground ! This was indeed a step up from last time. They also had volunteers on some of the tricky turns and FOUR aid stations per loop. Leonid was out there feeding me Vitargo bottles at the end of each loop. I drank like a fish and lost 3.6kg :( Again not good. My training run got me a 2nd place finish. Not bad. Our times were slow but we weren't planning fast in this heat. I felt like shit after I finished. I sat for a bit and drank then hit a very refreshing cold shower. I was ok in the shade, but when they called us up for the awards I started feeling the lightheadedness and after we got done I had to sit before attempting to go home. I have had this happen before where I barely make it home in the subway on days like this and have been close to blacking out.NOT FUN!

We were promised prize money. Ok, it wasn't bad , but the kicker was that the MEN got paid the amounts listed but the WOMEN got less. The top lady got half of what she was promised. That's just messed up and very sexist. We all agreed on that. They did that in the 10k as well. That put a damper on the day to say the very least. I did get a cool book with the history of the Olympics and top Russian athletes at them-something I may use in class for supplemental reading for the kids.

Next race will be in about 2 weeks...it will be shorter.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Racing- FINALLY!

As soon as school was out, I hit the bricks. Our summers are short because we finish later and start sooner than the rest of the schools because of the number of holy days off during the year. So, I wanted to scoot and make the most of said summer. The first thing I did the next morning after I got to Moscow was hit the lab for a blood draw. I wanted to rule out anemia and or chronic fatigue/Epstein Barr similar to what I had in 2007-08. Honestly, with my history of low ferritin and falling off the cliff back then so bad I was sidelined for 2 years before I was able to make a comeback, I need to be doing  lab tests every 4-6 weeks to prevent this from ever spiraling downward again. Well, yes,  Anchorage has a lab where I can just order the tests I need, walk in no drama and get it done. There is no such animal near me and it's a big hassle of going to a crapton of doctors just for a damn referral to get the tests I damn well know I need. Yes, the US medical system is least to be desired at times. So, needless to say, my last blood tests were in January before I left Moscow. Not surprisingly, things did come back on the low side but not the basement bottom low I had in 2007. Ok - I have ferrochel to take for a couple weeks, no need for injectable iron. Ok, this is under control...

First weekend in June, I run what they call a hilly half. I finished top 10 but yup, my speed is just in the gutter where it's been all spring. Coach says I may need up to 20 days to adust after being in the mountains for so long-I'm not buying that one simply because I've had years I've run good races very soon after coming in from Alaska like the year I popped a 1:26 in Zelenograd the day after hauling ass over from Fairbanks!
Tushino Half-

Two weeks later, I hit the track for a 3000....oh dear and it was in 30 degree heat!
 A little side note-
Still on antibiotics and four days after having a dental implant put in , I decided to race anyway. I didn't have any complications from the surgery,  but antibiotics do screw with your running. Back in February, the night before the 50k as I was falling asleep, I felt the crown on my molar come loose. less than two weeks later, the tooth underneath cracked and the crown came out. Now,, because everything in Homer shuts down by 5pm, I had the pleasure of writhing in pain from a severe abscess for FOUR DAYS before I could get help and have the tooth pulled! It cracked Thursday eve and by Friday at lunchtime, I was wondering if I'd make it through the school day. A couple of dentists in town don't work Fridays and the other quits at 3 so there was no way I was getting help until at least Monday! Yup, no one works weekends, not even Saturday! I even called Soldotna and Kenai but the nearest dentist with weekend hours was in Anchorage so I was completely screwed! OMFG! Insurance covered the tooth pull and bone graft, but no shocker here, I'd Just do the rest here in Moscow where I won't go broke. I have been doing major dental at my dentist in Moscow for cloe to 14 years now as it's just not an option in the USA where it's insanely overpriced. My coworkers go to Mexico for the same reason.

 I skipped this race last year as it ended up the weekend before I had to fly out in July. This one has always been well organized and there was a huge turnout. Over the years this one has attrcted national team types a d top men and women. Most immpressive performance of the day I'd say was Vyacheslav Shabunin's 8:38 for second place at age 45. He recently set the 1500 WR in the 1500 at 3:50 for that age group.
The winner in the pic is on the 100k national team. We do need to do a bit of the shorter stuff from time to time :)

Midweek, I jumped into a 15k xc run. This is the second to last race I did this year before I left in July as I had to back out of a couple others simply because I needed the time to pack up and ship stuff out.  Sadly, I won't be around for the 2nd and 3rd races in the series. I have really been struggling in the heat. The temps shot up into the 30s C mid June after nice mild cool temps. I had this issue in grad school coming out of Alaska and then getting slammed with high heat for the summer season. It seems really profound this year though. I've never done well when it's hot, but I'm really feeling it now. I was training in temps rarely hitting much about 10-15C til late May and was having serious concerns about how I'd deal with getting slammed with hot weather I haven't seen in a year.

Off for another 2 week time out to prepare for the next one.....

Well ....I did jump into our 1000m run at Moscow State 7 days after the 15k. I haven't raced a 1000  since January of last year. Our running club has put this on since 2004. Speed still not there totally yet but it was good enough for second. It was a good excuse to see old friends and hang out for a bit :)

Off to train until July 3 for the 30k Moscow Trail held at the snowboard/ski hill in Yakhroma. Now I've always wanted to snowboard here, but if you don't have a car it's a royal PITA to get there with your gear so I never got to go. The total elevation gain over the course is about 1000m . I'm actually pretty used to that except, yeah once again it was hot as holy hell. 11 AM start and 33C in the flippin' SHADE. I was actually trained and prepared for the terrain. The hills and logs, and sticks, and devil's club and nettles on the course really didn't bother me. It was a 3 loop course  with no shade and I actualy was doing fine until about 2 km into the final loop I started losing vision in my right eye. I knew damn well I was overheating. I even went out slow in the first loop to see what the course was like and picked it up a bit in the 2nd. I had been drinking like a fish over the past 3 days and before and during the race as well. Despite that, I ditched 3 kg! That's too much. The dizziness and lightheadedness ensued and I ended up finishing a dismal 4th. Epic fail on that one. I missed this race last year to stay home and pack and ship stuff to Alaska. 
Up and down the hill we go-

Six days later, I did a trail 10 (actually closer to 11 k) in Dzerzhinsk which is a 30 min bus ride from home. This was at a place I hadn't trained or raced since 2007.I'd have gone more, but there is nowhere to leave gear if you don't have a car. It wasn't insanely hot but the sun did come out for this one. My legs were actually ok after the 30k. The organization of this one could have been better. I had picked up my number a couple days before at the store  that was one of the event sponsors. Many did not and a huge queue resulted on race day delaying the start by an hour. Well, Leonid (coach)had come out to watch and then had planned to leave after the finish as he had to be in town by noon for a training session.  Thanks, to the delay, he never got to see the start. The course had NO km markings or course markings and very few volunteers and often none at many turns. !!! I was lucky I got to run with a group of guys who knew where the hell they were going as many people in bothe the 10 and half marathon got good and LOST!  Water happened only 8km into the loop! It was getting warm in the sun....My legs felt good and I did manage the final km in 3.55. I finished 5th overall and 1st master (geezer). However, I'm still waiting on word from the RD who told me earlier in the week I could collect my prize before next week......hmmmmmm

 check out the queue of the day

That's what I've been up to the last month and a half or so....six races in less than 2 months. That's more than I've done since LAST AUTUMN! The fact I'm doing now what should have occurred March- May if I were to rate it on a frustration scale of 1-10 :15!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Off the Grid-Again

Yes, it's been a while AGAIN. Well, the fact of the matter is that there has been nothing much to write about since my last post due to the lack of racing events for a good THREE MONTHS  following the 50k. So, what's been going on? Save for ONE RACE in mid May, and my return to Russia for summer racing- absolutely nothing, nada, nichevo, dead as a bloody doornail! I touched on this issue briefly in my last post but, now I'm going to elaborate as it has begun to really bother me and as winter bled into early spring, and has been slowly eating at me like a cancer for some time.

 The truth is, I'm healthy, injury and niggle free, etc. There is one serious issue, that may be putting me into early retirement though and it is indeed, the complete lack of any racing opportunities on the Kenai from October until the middle of MAY! If I step on some toes as I expand on this topic, good perhaps it will motivate the community to be a bit more active during this time and, hell, even if we had just ONE race per month, it's better than nothing and enough to have as a barometer race to assess fitness and or tune up race before the season gets going.

I consider myself pretty well travelled and have been a part of many different running communtites throughout the world. The sad fact of the matter, is that I have never encountered a completely dormant one for such a darn long period of time. Homer, Alaska is an awesome place to train. You can have your pick of mountains and elevation, or drop down to a totally different climate and hit town at sea level where you can run flats and where you may find bare pavemement or even the track a good chunk of the winter. I had my ass on the track from February on trying to get in shape for the upcoming season. The fact that I could do that (ok February can still be hit or miss as well as March for a clear track)was pretty amazing. I certainly couldn't in Moscow, or other places I've lived in Alaska like Fairbanks and Wasilla. OTOH, I never had trouble keeping sharp in those places especially in Fairbanks, where just about every weekend the running club had some kind of run or snowshoe going on REGARDLESS OF TEMPERATURE. Come April when the track got plowed, I just needed some little tune ups and I was ready to go. Homer is so much milder and conducive to winter training.There are so many possiblities. I was also pretty shocked that nearby Kenai and Soldotna had zeeeerow for spring races! I honestly don't get it, we are on the road system and these are all decent sized communities.

Despite my being in Alaska and my coach being back in Russia, there has been communication daily. This was the first time since 2005 I had to do long distance coaching, but it works if you have the discipline to follow through and that's never been an issue for me. I was separated during the school year from my coach in Russia from 2002-05 and posted some career best performances then. However, I was doing stepping stone races to sharpen things up. I trained, did my usual workouts , but the key component to tie all that together was missing- RACING! March, I knew I was in trouble when I was struggling to hit times that should be mundane. April, I'm still not feeling the necessary training response, all alone and not a soul to push me- still I could always push myself whenever I've been in this situation in the past to knock down solid workouts. Late April, early, May- I feel I'm beginning to get a response, but I'm so behind the 8 ball I feel that my season is in jeopardy. Something is not right, something has not been right for months, everything is sub par by my standards. The fact of the matter is that since January, I've raced just once and it was the 50k on snow. I've never been on the bench dormant and dead this long in my entire career and the consequences are becoming apparent now. My coach also knows this isn't me and something is up. After 9 years, he knows me too well and I can't fake it and say things are peachy keen and don't even try because there will be accountability anyways when I show up in Moscow for the summer and suck.

Actually, there are races, really good quality ones generally well organized, and just about every weekend and most of the winter too,but they are all in Anchorage which is a 5 hour drive from my house and required finagling an overnight at friend's who may have a couch for the weekend. In the winter, the road is just too unpredictable to mess with, and then the cost of getting there must also be considered. The other major drawback is most of them are on Saturday which would have me racing zombified after driving after school, getting in late, and up early to race on no rest. I was able to do the 50 k because I had holy days off from school that made for a 4 day weekend.

So, three months after that 50k, I finally got to do ONE race before skipping off to Russia for the summer. It was the Migration Run 5k. This one was well organized on a fast point to point course on the Homer Spit. I won this one and a lady came up to me after the finish and said it was a CR. I should be pretty pleased, but I was not. Objectively speaking, this was a sub par performance. I ran nearly a minute faster one year ago almost to the date in a downpour in Pavlovsky Posad. I was over a minute off of where I'd typically be at this time of year for a season opener in a 5. I knew things were not right and had been off. I'd give myself  a C- the win was nice and supposedly the record, but the performance itself was off.

nice home brew to the winner and beautiful hand painted rock :)

My next post will include the stuff I've been up to in Moscow so far.....