Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jiayo 2007. My Shanghai Marathon

Report. First of all I’m sorry for the delay. It took some time to finish financial report, report on the business trip itself and now I’m writing here my story of Shanghai 2007 race.
I landed in Shanghai airport on Thu, Nov 22nd having the work I had in China done. My only concern was to get to Organizing Committee to get a chip, bib number and to buy a new pair of shoes. I did it all on Friday only.
In the sport shop with brand shoes and catalogues I wrote a note to a salesperson: “Saucony Fastwitch 2” (Coach recommended me this name or any other shoe with a good brand name). As I understood – they can deliver me the shoe I wanted, only a week later. “Xie Xie” (Thanks). I better choose something available in the shop. I started to read their catalogues in English / Chinese (all I know in Chinese is 20 characters :) and suddenly I pointed at “I want this one”. It was Asics Gel-DS Racer VII. Catalogue price more than 100 bucks turned into 65 or so due to some discounts…(indicated price was in RMB, 740 Chinese yuan, I only “translate” into dollars). In the hotel I made some quick Inet research on my purchase, some reviews I read said that my choice (most expensive I ever had) wasn’t bad at all. OK, I want to try it.
With a plan to “work a little bit” with my new Asics I gave them a trial run of 6 easy miles on Fri pm, while doing this I found that this pair is SO-o-o Light and good that I pushed myself to average pace 7:50 or so for all 6 miles. As a result, on next day, Saturday I felt my right quad is slightly uncomfortable. Did I overwork being excited about new Asics? Could be.
Ahh, and last (but super important) thing to buy – running shorts!!! I forgot mine in Kazakhstan. My fault.
I have a friend in Shanghai and actually without her I wouldn’t be able to do everything in time… We visited about 7 stores including a Huge “Sport City” where I found Basketball shorts, perfect for Yao Ming or Shaq, not for me. No shorts!
I even had this dialogue in one shop:
Sales: Season for shorts is over, so we have no shorts to run in.
R: No shorts! But tomorrow, there’s a Race in Shanghai!
S: What? Is there any running in Sh. Tomorrow?
R: Oh man, forget about it.
It’s ok, I have my old running trousers and I will cut it off.
And I did it. Not perfect, but I can run in it, though some internal lining is getting out. I don’t really care. I’m going to run marathon.
I remember I had soup in KFC + all their “junk food”. This is better for me than to go to traditional Chinese restaurant with a risk of having something my stomach couldn’t bear. Don’t get me wrong, I love miscellaneous Chinese dishes, but there’s no time for experiments before the Big Day. So KFC and Pizza from local Pizza Hut on Sat night.
Slept from midnight till 5 am. The length of the sleep could’ve been longer.
Sunday morning. 7 AM. Here we are at the Century Square of Nanjing Road. Personally love to walk there in the evenings. Nanjing road is the same what Arbat street in Moscow is or Broadway in NY.
But now I look at Nanjing road not as at shopping center which is nice and expensive. My running battle will start here soon. Finally I’m here, physically and mentally prepared. I’m ready. I see a lot of “Laowai”. I myself is Laowai here. Korean speech, German, English, Chinese … You can see my video, part 1 to feel the whole atmosphere.

We start SLOWly. Narrow streets with Too many people and it’s too crowded and I feel can’t move my butt any faster.
Mile 01: 8:05 avg.HR 142
Mile 02: 8:05 avg.HR 142
Mile 03: 8:02 avg.HR 142
My heart and me calm and even relaxed. Gimme some space to run.
Thousand people cheer for us screaming JIAYO, from time to time they beat into traditional Chinese drums.
We dive into a narrow street which is covered by roads above us constructed in several levels up there. Add numerous numbers of skyscrapers close to our “path” – I seriously worry about my Tool. “Please Mr. Garmin, I’ll show you a clear blue sky soon”.
My plan at the moment was to keep closer to 8:00 / mile, as close as possible. I remember some great races made in Ireland and Canada. But I keep no illusions – I’m doing my PR, not 3:30 race.
Mile 04: 7:58 avg.HR 142
Mile 05: 7:59 avg.HR 140
Our way is still covered with roads and other constructions, poor Mr. Garmin – I seriously worry; we see some sky from time to time though.
Mile 06: 7:33 avg.HR 141
Mile 07: 7:59 avg.HR 141
I noticed that one Laowei is having about 8:00 pace, so theoretically I can stick to this “aim” in case I have any GPS problems.
Now in post race period I understand that it was funny – I cared a lot about getting a signal from satellites, I even took my hand to the right or left, so to provide my Garmin a chance to get something from heavens. I sign relaxing old song “Under the boardwalk”, have no idea why…
Mile 08: 8:00 avg.HR 142
Mile 09: 7:50 avg.HR 142
Mile 10: 8:07 avg.HR 143
Finally all bridges, roads and constructions above us over. Clear blue sky is here. I look at the tool. In 2nd window I have “Average Pace” not for last mile, but the whole distance. I see 10.0 miles I’ve done @ average 7:57 – 7:58.
Good. Perfect.
But I keep in mind that this is Marathon.
I run almost effortlessly, breath naturally, look at device: distance I passed 10.04 mi, and it is still. 10.04 a min later, two minutes later still 10.04. BUMMER! Mr. Garmin
– Please!!! Wake up!
(If you decide to look at my Garmin’s route I made in Shanghai – it looks good, Data I have from Garmin – I can trust only first 10 miles and may be some last miles, let me explain why).
I run under the open sky and I know what it means. GPS work is over, now it’s time to listen to my own body (I am not good at that!). Where’s that Laowai who kept perfect 8:00? Ah, I see that guy 20 meters ahead of me. We keep running. I just said to myself that the guy would be a perfect pacemaker as our road divided into 2 ways and I found that marathoners go to the left, those who run half go to the right and the 8:00 Laowai goes … to the right. Half marathon at that pace is not my case. No pacemaker around me, only my Garmin screams something like “Lost satellites … – Enter”. Ok, I push Enter as I have no alternative. I heard and read many times that with all those GPS devices we’re sort of Data slaves. Ok, I listen to my own body only, I breath naturally, I’m close to 20k mark. I never seen toilets on the way, it was shown on the map though. Small “call of nature” made me think of joining 4 runners who stands close to bushes… Also I want to restart the tool. Restarting didn’t work, so I decided to turn it off and then on again. Instead I see info on the screen about software version, current voltage, smth else… One minute for turning my Tool correct way, one minute for my deal in bushes, while Garmin on the grass 1 meter away from me is catching satellites. One old Chinese pedestrian bowed down above my tool mumbling something in Chinese. “Man, Don’t, don’t touch it please!” Another Chinese joined! They want to take it away! I’m a little bit busy but “You Stay away from my Garmin!”. I’m done, I see tool caught satellites, I grab it and RUN.
I pass Half Race mark. Feel good.
The only problem – I do not like what I see on device. It shows my HR, shows Current pace. But it is not synchronized with time, for instance if I keep closer to 8:00 pace it has to look like:
xx.00 mi ~ 0m00s
xx.25 mi ~ 2m00s
xx.50mi ~ 4m00s
xx.75 mi ~ 6m00s so I adjust my running to get pretty close to 8:00 min / mile.
Usually 0.01 mi is equal to 5 sec at that pace.
“Unsynchronized” means that the tool shows you something like:
xx.00 mi ~ 4:26
xx.25 mi ~ 6:32
xx.50 mi ~ 0:14 seeing this I even tried to understand “some logic” in the data I see. And every mile the data is different!
I gave up, Ok what I have to see is my HR and current pace, pace at the moment. I just ignore anything else.
Before the Race I agreed with my friend that she would meet me at 35 km mark . Also I decided that I will use my “secret weapon” at that point. Secret weapon from Paul, running pal from Astana (Kaz capital) is a PowerGel he brought for me in October. Thank you Man for the Gel and a bottle of Gatorade will wait for me after the finish line. It’s impossible to get Gatorade in Kaz, never seen it in China either.
Pass 30 k mark and I hurry to meet my friend soon. Very soon.
Somewhere around those places we ran into a 60 meter tunnel (my Garmin can bear anything) and there was water leaking down from the ceiling – nice shower.
I remember 32 k mark, why they put it there? May be to remind that there are only 10 k left to go. Tall Lawoai with strong American accent stands at this mark screaming and rooting for us:
… doing Good, you’re looking strong, going to finish it soon …
I know I’ll finish the race. I am slower than 3:30 but it’s gonna be my PR. I did think at that time about sub 3:40.
So, here we have couple real long bridges and we run it “uphill”. Tough inclines but I do not attack. I try to take it easy.
Approach to 35 km mark. Open the Gel and “consume” about 70% of that.
Remember Dallen’s story that his stomach couldn’t bear anything on the run, even water? I felt like I could be close to that condition so made 1 sip of water and I run further.
Where’s my friend? She’s not here. Must have been waited for me… This is a real Bummer.
You must heard it many times that a Marathon doesn’t really begin until mile Twenty. I am here and I guess even closer to the finish line. I did hold back in the first half, I had about 2 min rest in the middle, so I don’t really care about Super tough final miles. Not this time. I do not feel any hardness of situation. I think about anything but running a marathon: about hardware I saw in PC Pacific Mall, or How to pay for my Skype account? It’s not easy in my places. Or about unclocked iPhone I had in my hands there (Sales: Yes, it is smuggled, we unlock it here but will give you a guarantee for this model. Price about ~ $ 650 for 8 Gb model). I think of … marketing from Apple / AT&T which force us to crack closed models.
If you tell me that they start selling iPhone in France, GB and Germany since Nov 2007 – OK, but what about us, former USSR with about 0.5 – 1 million potential customers (I am here :) or surely more than 1 million in China. I do think they could sell it unlocked with 200 – 300 bucks higher price.
Let me join thoughts of hardware and passion to running here. Add a hardware twist to my marathon story.
I wasn’t going to buy iPhone this visit to Shanghai but I made up my (crazy IT : ) mind to following:
– If I run any marathon faster than 3:30 I will buy it, iPhone to crack or Googlephone based on OS Android (1Q, 2Q 2008?) or anything else from that class;
– Sub 3:15 marathon, I will buy Nintendo Wii (pretty sporty console, still actual for 2007-08);
– If I run marathon faster than 3:00 I will buy Sony Play Station 3. Yes.
You heard that. And as I really really want to get a decent game console + Blu-Ray player in one device or to change my cheap budget phone for what I mentioned above – I have no choice. But run faster.
Man! Did I said that? 3:30 is possible within 6 month, but Play Station 3 ($ 700+ in my city, Kaz) …, do I buy it in 2009?
Enough about Awards, my race is not finished yet.
5 k to go and yes – I admit I am tired. Remember my last training run in Karaganda, Kaz. Early November, 6 am I jog on 5 inch layer of snow. So cold and so much snow, but my task is easy – 3 miles only, 3 laps in the park covered with Snow; snow produces such a specific sound when you put your leg on it. I will have it again, so soon…
JIAYO!!! 3 more miles to finish Shanghai marathon, I run among green grass, bushes, palms! I see flowers. That is so beautiful. And bad, bad thought crawl into my mind:
“I can have some rest actually. I can stop to drink some water, I already PRed, so relax …” I keep on passing people, I don’t think anybody passed my after the Half way mark. I also play a game I took from one Thomas’ race, game called “Choose a Victim”. This game is a pure fun now: That guy in yellow.. now that fat lawoai, those five runners… May be they didn’t trained as hard as I did. Finally 90 miles a week is a hard task, or may be I turn into a more experienced marathoner. Someone calls me: I see my friend on moto cycle!!!
And you can see me now on the Run

In fact it gave me some boost because I’m being recorded on my budget photo camera. I have to look better : ) my running is “not that shabby” now.
If you ever decide to run Shanghai, remember – there are many crossroads on the way and Police stand there trying to stop cars and pedestrian from crossing your marathon way. But sometimes they can’t. Too many Chinese in China! So don’t be surprised seeing a hundred cyclists and dozen buses from the left and from the right on the way to cross your road of International Marathon. I never stopped due to that but I saw guys behind me who had to stop! I did speed up on such crossroads; I even showed one finger (not good in American interpretation) to the bus driving on me from the left. I won’t stop and I won’t slow down. There’s one big cross road 100 m before the finishing line. I read in Internet that several years ago one leading Kenyan was hit on this road by bus, he lost about 20 seconds and chances to win a race. He got second place. But I’m lucky here.

I cross the line and see something about 3:4x:xx. I don’t really care. I did it. My placement is (now I know it from Internet web site) #424 out of about four thousand runners I guess. I meet my friend. I get my certificate and “award” stuff for a finisher.
Do not feel any super pain, my neck is good (oh, Omsk), I feel some pain in my quads but it’s quite normal. Even next day, flying to Kaz I felt good without limping walks and with no serious pain stepping downstairs as it usually happens.
I love Shanghai and I’ll be back to this marathon.
To make a better race… … and to buy better gadgets.

P.S. No running this week Sun, Nov 25 – Sat, Dec 1st. Coach provided me one week to have a rest.


Andrew said...

Great video!

Thomas said...

Ruslan, I must have missed your race report earlier. Either it didn't show up in bloglines, or I missed it. Anyway, I loved that video of you running the last 2km. You looked really good and strong, and blew past everyone else. Your training certainly payed off. Sub 3:30 is definitely on the cards for 2008.

olga said...

Man, you cracked me up! First - the shorts story...dude, next time put 3 pairs just in case! Although I am a minimalist and take only one of each, and if something happens - oh, well:) Then that Garmin slavery...shoot, you spent how much time playing with it? And mental energy and focus? Throw it out! Loved the video - I rarely view and click on those, too time consuming, but sure glad clicked on yours. You passed everybody like they were standing still! And some of them were:) I think you had more in you and you just didn't push enough - you looked too smooth. BTW, I, too, love when been taken on camera, always run faster. In fact, my friend Lisa Bliss (Badwater 135 winner) said she did so well this year because our most prolific photographer-ultrarunner was on her crew (check out pics from Glenn Tachyama).

Congrats again!