Sunday, June 08, 2008

Doomed. PRed.

Sorry My Dear Reader. It takes some time.
Finally got home Karaganda (?) and here’s my report from Almaty Medeo Half 2008. I was Doomed to be out of Top 10 there, I was also a little bit injured closer to the finish, but PRed anyway. So:
I trained hard a month before the race, at least that was a peak I reached this year, then Tapered with math precision banking last week exact 26.0 miles from Sun, Jun 1st – Sat, Jun 7th. (My original idea was to hit a Race on Sat, Jun 7 so adding 13 miles plus some warming/cooling would have given me 40 mpw. Better not to make such plans with our organizers :(Traveling by train to Almaty.

Organizers announce left me speechless.

It will happen TOMORROW, Jun 8, 8:08 am. Damn, I got a railway ticket for a train on late Sat night. Following several hours were spent to return my ticket to the railway office (for some reasons they didn’t return me money) and I buy another ticket for Sun 5 pm. I wouldn’t do all those things without help of one beautiful lady, my support team, cameraperson and just great friend Helen. Thank you LaLenchik!!!
Being so busy, this time I missed official opening ceremony at the Central Stadium, just got there later. In the gloomy corridor I meet a guy and probably, probably I know him. So I was like, “Tima?”Guy answered: “Rus?” This way I met Timofei (Timothy) Bannikov in real. Cool guy
who used to visit my page so I do the same.
Just a quick PRs comparison:
Rus: 3:38:02 (Shanghai, China, Nov 2007)
Tim: 3:38:08 (Charlottesville, USA, Apr 2008). Take into consideration that Charlottesville is much hillier than Shanghai…
We found a “common language” so felt more like friends and hardly competitors. Almost all participants take seats in the bus and we go to Medeo.
Couple words about this place: Medeo was definitely the best Skating ring in the USSR. Located close to Almaty somewhere in mountains, Medeo skating complex always attracts local residents and tourists who came here from all over the world. While riding to the Pearl of Southern Kaz on Sat eve, we met a guy in the same bus who was obviously American (this time no visitors from Germany) dude – Dave, Peace Corp. volunteer who already had spent a year in Southern Kaz. So three of us took a room in Medeo hotel. PCV guy had a Super Original plan – to Run FULL race tomorrow. In fact Dave never, Never Did it before, but trained hard recently. So he asked organizers to make an exception and let him run more than others. Think of 6400 ft / 1950 meters altitude (that’s what my Garmin says) to realize that Peace Corp can be so proud of this guy.
Sat eve, The Gang: Tim, Dave and me visit a DAM which is higher than Medeo; on the picture where green edge is over.
“Visit” means that we simply walked and tried not to pressure our quads and calves. It was pretty dark but the whole picture is clear for me: next morning we will run along this DAM/Levee –asphalt, then we have 2 or 3 Steep hills, still asphalt, than a real Trail section in the end about 100 meters, route turn around to the levee again. This point-to-point route makes about 4 km, we will hit 5 laps. Everything is clear, we go downstairs to Medeo Hotel.

Physically: absolutely ready to race and PR tomorrow morning.
Mindset: disappointed – we met a lot of almost pro guys from South Kaz, Uzbekistan and Kirgyzstan. Their best Full efforts range from 2:19-2:20 to 2:30. Meet on of them, Mr. Yerlan, real Kazakh from Almaty region, on the picture guy with sunglasses (img from Astana 2006), his best shot ever was 2:19 somewhere recently. Last year he ran Full Medeo, first reached the Top of long hill incline, there fell down being unconscious, some time later he “woke up” himself and kept running at 6th position. Super effort gave him finally 3rd place. (I missed his finish last year, after running Half I ran to the railway station:). This time Yerlan and other Pro guys wanted Full of course, but as Full is cancelled they had nothing to do but apply to Half.

Here’s a question: How to compete with those Monsters? I am a 3:30 guy. Pro guys talk about hitting 1:10 in the morning, all I think is sub 1:40. This would be my personal best time. Period. I am out of their own league. Tim and Dave saw I was disappointed, “C’mon man, we will do our job.”
Sunday morning. Day X. In the hotel I take my marker to write “RUS” above my shorts. Dave looks at me and my uniform:
D: – Decided to show off your abs?
R: – Yes I did.
Dave looks curiously, “Are you Furyhorse?”. – Actually I am. (Funny dialogue, ughh?)
Dave takes marker to write names of his college or PCV mates on his upper body.
Everything is expensive in the hotel so my breakfast is only Snickers Marathon Energy Bar – thanks to Paul Gilmer, btw a week before Medeo we had a Great and slow 10 miler in Astana with a gang of friendly runners from all over the small planet called Earth. Medeo is only Half so one Snickers Bar is enough for me. Tim refused to eat anything at all. 7:10 am my friend LaLenchik got to Medeo by taxi and soon all of us on the top of the Dam. The view and the scenery of Medeo nature Absolutely Majestic. I would stay here as a tourist for some time, but our start soon and my train leaves this evening. Some nervousness keeps me jogging slowly. I make several strains with sub 7:00 min per mile efforts. That’s all. Me and Tim before the start.

There’s a place over (behind?) Tim’s shoulder where we will turn back to the Dam.

We START. About 60 runners including a dozen ladies, me and Tim in the middle of the pack, I hear upbeat drums in Tim’s earphones; Dave takes it easy and slowly behind us. Pack of leaders goes forward so fast, let me see, sub 7:00, sub 6:30, sub 6:00 pace. GEE!!! Man, something is wrong here, this is not my pace, “this is Not my pace” so I back off. Tima ahead of me, moves further and further. I don’t care. My heart easily reach 150 and slowly crawls to 160 beats per min. Everything is ok, Sun is shining and I sing classy hard blues, “if it keeps on ‘shinin’, levee is going to break” (by Page/Plant & others).

Mile 01: 7:14 (Night before we discussed that it would be nice to start with 7:40 then approach to negative splits, like each mile 5 sec faster than previous. Man, reality is absolutely different than naïve plans.)
Mile 02: 7:43 I start to count laps, not miles; as we have 5 laps only, one lap is done and I feel good, still Tima ahead of me 20 or 30 meters. We return to the Dam passing 2 – 3 STEEP hills, on of them long and tough. Here’s my mantra:
“I love hills. Will not Attack them.
I do love hills and won’t Attack them.”
We’re back to the dam, lap 1 is done, and I hear voices from my support team and from Tim’s family: “Rus davai Rus” (C’mon) / “Rus is behind”. I do my job. I do not remember other mile splits, though I watch Garmin from time to time. I control HR and pace. All details here.
I realize that splits will never be equal here, some parts we run are super hilly and "I do do Love ‘em!"
Shame on me, but I stick to one young Kazakh lady who runs fast. All the way she’s moving ahead, I try to catch. In the middle of Lap 2, somewhere in mountain hills I got Tima Bannikov. My “girlfriend” is also here. Mr. Garmin says we ran 3.3 miles. I would talk to Tim but I hear some music from his mp3 device. As for me I never run with those things, I watch this Stunning Imagery and listen to the beautiful sounds from Mother Nature – mountain river runs fast, birdies signs so well. I think that we can run together for some time but Tim’s got a hard breath, much harder than mine; 3.33 miles, sorry Bro, I pass. We still run in the pack but I do not look back. Lap 2, Lap 3 done. At half way mark I noticed that according to my Garmin total distance would be shorter than 13.1 miles. Garmin can be wrong. Or not.

These hills will kill me, my pace goes down to 9:00 or so!! Whatever:
“I love hills. Will not Attack them.
I do love hills and won’t Attack them.”
Dave is running slow but steady. I move back to the Dam, he’s moving to the ultimate point of return, our directions opposite. We support each other and this time he screams, “Rus. You’re the Man, the Man!” – “Thanks! You too!!!” I see beautiful sky above and our screams fly to the Universe. Down back to the track. My “girlfriend” bothers me and runs smoothly. I try too. On the way downhill I noticed my heart rate is… incredible 140bpm!!! I am shocked and I got it – my heart acclimatized quickly to these circumstances. “Rus, you’re lazy assh..” (correct word “slacker”:) – what else I could say to myself? Pro guys pass me like rockets, they do their final lap so I put down the accelerator too. My wheels responds. I only try to pretend I am as almost pro as those rockets. No damage for me.
4 laps done. I scream and support old Mr. Pavel Sirotin (Ultra from Karaganda) – his next mad race is “Moscow – Beijing” pretty soon. Screamed a few words to Tim, not sure if he heard. One More Lap. My “girlfriend” is behind, have no idea where is Tim. I definitely do not feel good, but this Beautiful Nature… as its Creator made it. I dream on day I’ll get a fat, pro SLR camera and spend some time here to take a bunch of great photos. Good dreams always got my pace going well again.
All I need to do now is to “love” 2 or 3 hills on the way to the Ultimate point of return, then 2 or 3 hills on the way back and I’ll get to the Levee! Mr. Garmin says I passed 10.6 miles, I am tired and losing control, but I’m going to make it. Better than ever. There’s a ledge of the asphalt at the border of the road, an inch or 2 difference. My right leg step on it and I twist my ankle! ……… (some unprintable words here). 10.6 miles. I can jog, …. I still can jog. I have had such twists for about a hundred times since early 90’s. This one is not really serious, but it hurts. Horse wounded. I try to switch into another jogging mode, I shuffle between several patterns, one of them: “Run like sprinter, they almost do not touch the ground”. I think if I’ll be really slow, my “girlfriend” will catch me closer to the finish line or I can finish with Tim, who’s about 3 min behind me. Passed limping this strange way the ultimate point, Mr. Garmin says I’ve been doing my job for 1h 30 min. Good. Couple hills ahead, one of them is Super long, tough and steep. I approach.
“I love hills. Will not Attack them.
I do love hills and won’t Attack them.”
Here’s Dave moving opposite directions, he knows I’ll get to the line soon and he screams out load, “…(you) Hit the (this) Hill Hard, and you’ve got it!!!”
“Kop Rakhmet” David!
And this is my final Mantra:
“I love this hill.
I’d love to Attack it hard.I do love this …. hill and I Attack it now.”
After final hill, there’s short downhill section (do not kill your luxurious Asics here!) and the DAM. I got faster, Tim’s family supports: “Rus Davai!” I also hear a loudspeaker “… runner from Karaganda”, blah-blah. FINISH. My pace is sub 5:00 (!) at the moment. A minute or two later, my “girlfriend” finished. I talked to her, she’s seventeen and been training for a year only. This young lady “from Taldyk” (Taldykorgan city) was 1st lady who finished. Amazing!A-ha, and here he goes – Tim’s finishing. I shake his hand and hug him,
“We did it, Man!”
I did it up there.
And that is all to report. As one diplomat from other side of Atlantic or Pacific said: “This Race is a joke.”
Let me Sum up the day: – I was 6th last year (supposedly 5th) and only 16th this year. What a progression! But I made my PR 1:36:59 (Garmin’s result) competing with tough guys; I doubt it was 13.1 mi though.
– Organization was shitty, everything else was Superb; I can not recommend such race to anyone; but if you’re a reader from far away, suddenly find yourself in these places, I do recommend to visit Medeo, Chymbulak, local Grand Canyon (I myself never been there).
– Real winners (1:09 1:10 guys) were truly disappointed. Mr. Alim, race in charge was like, “Sorry but sponsors sneak away in the last moment, so only medals and sertificates…blah…”. Winners bowed down, took their trophies and were moving away saying half loud some unprintables about the race. They were stepping down to Medeo steps, when I stopped ‘em: “Man, so they didn’t pay you anything?” – “I’ve got nothing”. Andrei Petrov, poor Russian guy from Uzbekistan. A thousand bucks for any guy from Uzb or Kyrgyzstan means much more than it is here. Their avg. salary several times lower.
So, can I recommend this meet to anyone? If you live here, try it for fun.
– Hero of the Day:
Dave. Mr. JFK would be proud – Peace Corp Rocks! I wouldn’t do Full race on such day.
(some carboloading after the race, couple sips of beer)

I want to thank my family, my readers, all my friends here, in Almaty and everywhere for your Love and Support. Thank you guys!

All photos from the Day must be here.
I will make decent video later, it’s not easy to edit these HiDef clips.
I need several days off to leak my wounds. Shall start thinking seriously of Omsk or any other Full marathon.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Almaty Medeo Half 2008. Preliminaries.

Today, Jun 7, 2008 I got to Almaty early am to get to their Stadium to be registered with tne famous Karaganda Ultra runner, Mr. Pavel Sirotin. We both were standing still and amazed, WTF.. jaw down seeing Announce paper that Medeo race to be held on NEXT DAY, Sun, Jun 8, 8 am!!! Holy ..... We talked to organizer – yes, the Race is tomorrow, absolutely new route, not far from Medeo sport complex. It’s going to be a flat race… you say this is advantage??
How about racing at 2000 meters altitude? (have no clue how many ft’s it is, will check later with my Garmin Training Center). So organizer recommended to spend this night at Medeo place “to acclimatize over there, otherwise you’re dead young man”.
And that is all to report now.
Rus, from Almaty, former Kazakistani capital.

P.S. Full marathon is cancelled. All of us will run Half tomorrow.