Marathon Mali Kitezh
25 july

I have many damn good otgovorki for the delay -
Getting my teeth fixed
Apt hunting/real estate stuff
In process of buying a place-helluva place to be a first time homebuyer huh?!
One job offer after another (Christ - where was I 8 yrs ago..)
Private English lessons
Oh and that thing called a LIFE (a word almost completely absent from my vocabulary during the school yr)

Ok that said - I've only had time for one side trip though I've been here 2 months now. I was going to skip out to Krasnodar a week in July with Sasha because she goes there for work sometimes BUT I was waiting for the final crowns for my teeth.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago Dima and I got back from a long run and as I was dealing with the loss of my big toenail (a casualty of Korolev) and he was nursing a swollen ankle that he rolled on the trail, he suggested we go out to Nizhny Novgorod next weekend to run the marathon and visit our friend Vladimir. I thought he was being a smart alec and kidding. Apparently not. OK - but I'm only doing the 10k because my coach will kill me if he finds out! So the next day Dima finds out that the 10 is for 17 and under or 50+ (crap - I'll dye my hair LOL). Ok I'll run the &^&^&^&^##$ marathon BUT only as a TRAINING RUN! That means SLOW like say 3:20-3:30 really SLOOOOOOW!
Later in the week Vladimir told us the winners get a new color TV. Sooooo I began to think....hmmmmmm if no one too terribly fast shows up a TV would be nice and it would be one less thing I need to buy next spring when I move. I have a dinosaur tv now and though I can see Ostankino from the window, I have every channel but channel 1! So we took the express train out Saturday afternoon from Moscow and got to Nizhny 5 hrs later. It's a little over 400km so it's like driving from say Willow to Fairbanks. Vladimir and his wife Irina took us in and I gave him one of those pairs of shoes from Skinny Raven. He was tickled pink! I've been filling 1 suitcase of those used running shoes and bringing them over for a while now. The other space has been for slowly hauling my own junk here to leave. Anyhow, we got up EARLY to go to the start Sunday morning (left at 7am). We used every form of transport known to man that day but a plane! The marathon was up the Volga in a tiny old town - Gorodets. So - that meant aout? hour ride to the dock and an hour on a boat and about a 2k walk to the stadium. The boat ride gave us more time to catch a few zzzzzs.
Just before the start, they had the flag raising ceremony and playing of the national anthem (which has been changed/revised a few times since the fall of the Soviet Union) where they called up previous winners and asked little ol me to do the flag raising. That was pretty cool. It was hot as hell by the 11am start...rapidly hitting the 30 degree mark (well into the mid upper 80s) and sunny. I decided to just keep it in my comfort zone and if no one challenged GO FOR THE TV! So, I just started out at what I deemed to be putz pace and held back a bit because of the heat. Vladimir had green tea for us the night before which is supposed to help in the heat. Well putz pace was just a tad of Chicago pace last fall where I ran 3:03! Ok "slam on the brakes you idiot," I thought but ran very comfortably at 4:20/k pace (7 min mile) until about the 32k mark when uhhhh I got the urge to hit the kusti (bushes). That will teach me to munch on anything less than 2 hrs before the start... It wasn't dire but enough to get me to ponder...."ok I have about a 7 min lead over the next woman so a bush break would not kill me BUT I'm clocking 4 20-25/k which should bring me home just about 3:10. ...the course record is 3:12. A bush break could keep me from the record," so on I went. At about 35-36k the urge to hit the bushes began to pass and I resumed 4:20 k (6:55-7 min mile) pace again until the finish. I passed several people that had quite a lead on me going up the last tiny little hill (tiny to me because I'm accustomed to mtns but I saw a lot of people walking it).

The course was a 2k loop through the town and 2x20k loops on an out and back. I found the course to be mostly flat and fast though many noticed a slight hill in either direction about 1/2 way on the 20k loop. There were lots of groups and school kids cheering us on along the way. I pulled the last 2k under 4:15 (6:45-6:50mi) pace - translation hauling ass! I didn't even run that in the end at Chicago! I finished at 3:09:03 and surpassed many of my Humpy's times by a tad. So now, I'm thinking if I can just go out on a hot as hell day and run a 3:09 just fooling around for fun, I may very seriously have a shot at a 2:50 smthg in Chicago this fall barring colds/bugs from the kids.

After the race they had a HOT shower and nice lunch for us (kasha, soup, bread). I was starving and woofed it down. I eat like a pig here and still manage to get lean. I got my 2nd marathon passport a couple days before the race. See - you never know when you will need that thing! :-) I finished the old one at Belochka. Well - I got the TV and poor Dima got to haul it allllllllll the way back to Moscow!!! So his arms were more sore than his legs. That will teach him to drag me out to a marathon:-) He ran a 3:23 and is threatening to catch me by next summer. He cut about 20 min from his time at Belochka. Therefore, I MUST continue to up the level of my training:-) Vladimir ran about 3:30 as he's injured. He beat me in Zelenograd by a tad last yr. Irina ran abut 4:30. Yes, the haul back involved an hour on the bus from Gorodets, another hour on the train back to Nizhny and another hour on a bus again back to Vladimir's for dinner before we had to catch our night train back to Moscow. Vladimir said it was about 80-90km from Nizhny to Gorodets - WHAT??? *&(*&^ no way that's like going from Wasilla to the south side of Anchorage!!!!! My place in Wasilla is 80km from the airport in Anchorage and in good weather, I make it in about an hour!
Our next PLANNED adventure is the marathon in Tver 29 Aug. That said, the rumors are's really true...oh my God- I'm skipping the HUMP this yr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!