II Ida-Virumaa Stadium Marathon: more podium!

Before the first start of the day

Before the first start of the day

Last Tuesday (21st of July) I ran a marathon. And a half. On a stadium. 158 and 1/4 laps in total. In one day. And it went very well.

People tend to have fears and misconceptions about new things or things they have not tried before. This is perhaps the biggest obstacle for the Average Joe to get anywhere in life – he hates everything new and loves to live the same old from day to day. So it happens that if you tell anyone that you ran a marathon in stadium, the first reactions you would get are all in the form of “In Stadium? Are you crazy? You would get headspins. Isn’t it the most boring thing ever?”, etc.

However, the fact is, that running a marathon in a stadium is WAY cooler and better than you’d ever think:
1. It’s different. Life is to try out different things.
2. It’s gentle on your knees. With my current weight, I would not have even thought about running 1,5 marathons in a day on asphalt – that would be literally begging for injury.
3. Service stations are every 400 meters. You drink and eat when you want, not when you could.
4. At any time you have close to perfect information about competitors’ positions and state. This enables you to make right decisions competitionwise and know when to push and when to hold.
5. Last, but definitely not least: Since the total numbers of competitors in a stadium-marathon is capped (for the obvious reasons), it gives a good but not great hobby-runner (me) a chance to be on a podium.

Poolmaraton_algasMy half marathon started at 10am in the morning with my marathon scheduled for 11pm at night. The evening before the start, going through the half-marathon contestants (there were 8 in total) and their results on the marathon100.com website, I realised that I’ll win the event, the only question would be how much could I preserve myself for the marathon. The night-marathon had several good runners in the startlist and taken everything into consideration I calculated that (assuming I don’t get too spended on the morning half-marathon) at the best case scenario I would be competing for the places 3-5 (there were around 15 sign-ups).

Therefore I decided to win the half and take it easy on the full, to preserve my legs for the 3-day bike-hike I was to go to a couple of days later.

Poolmaraton_käibHalf-marathon went as planned. I started with quick pace to lap everyone and then continue comfortably. Soon I reached the marathoners (there was a marathon held simoultaneously) who had started 100m in front of us and got to Erkki Etverk who I knew to be a good runner with marathon times regularly between 3:10-3:20. I decided to stay with his tempo.

Rahvapoolmaratoni_autasustamineErkki told me he was to run a sub 3:30 marathon and that suited me perfectly – corresponding 1:45 half-marathon should be enough for a win and yet easy enough to preserve myself for the marathon. So we ran (and chatted) together for the whole of my race and I would just fasten a bit for the final lap. I finished with 1:43:24, easily the slowest half-marathon I’ve ran in the last 8 years or so. But what’s important – I had won and I felt fresh enough to be confident towards the night-marathon.

Erkki, by the way, ran to the end with steady pace and won the full marathon with 3:27:31.

öömaraton_staadionEleven hours later as I arrived at the stadium I was not that confident any more. It was late and my legs felt a bit tired, so I reconfirmed myself that I would take it slowly. But then, as the contestants were introduced one-by-one, I noticed that the guy I was expecting to win the race had not shown up. This meant that I would be in contention to the places 2-4, meaning a good likelyhood of getting to the podium.

And so it happened that just there and then, a few minutes before the start, I decided to run for the podium. I figured that if I did there could be two scenarios happening:

1) I would try to push, but then “hit a wall” at some point of the race, not finish in the podium and my bike trip a few days later would be much more difficult for my aching legs

OR

2) I would try to push, not “hit a wall”, finish on the podium and my bike trip a few days later would be much more difficult for my aching legs.

Öömaraton_2That was fine. I was willing to take the risk. As the gun went off, I started running on 4th place, soon improved to 3rd and then, some 8km in to 2nd. After that it was just about counting the laps I was in front of the 3rd and 4th guy and hoping I would not hit the wall.

I did have some hard times at times, but some 20-25 laps before the finish when I was leading the 3rd guy by 6 laps (and losing to the leader for about the same amount) I was sure I would finish 2nd. When there was around 15 laps left, I slowed down a bit – there was no reason to hurry, for there’s no difference if I finish with 3:40 or 3:45. At the end I finished with 3:43:24, curiously exactly 2 hours (2:00:00) more than the half-marathon in the morning. I lost around 12 minutes to the winner Tanel Leisaly and beat the 3rd place Raul Köster for about the same amount of time.

Öömaratoni_autasustamineI finished around 3am and when I got back home at around 6 there was still too much adrenaline in my blood to be able to fall asleep. So I just looked at the splits and figured that I really got the maximum out of the races – with Ist and 2nd place cups on my table there is absolutely no reason not to be satisfied. Also, right there and then I decided to participate next year, too. No matter how many eye-rolls do I get when I tell people I’d run a marathon on a stadium.

I am Euroloppet Champion

DSC_0362Done.

In 2007 when I achieved my Worldloppet Master title, I decided to go for the “smaller brother” – Euroloppet Champion. Now, 8 years later, it is done. I just received my Champion medal, crystal plate, badge and diploma.

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Euroloppet: (Marxa Beret) & Vuokatti Hiihto

IMG_0005_2This year I had planned 2 Euroloppet Marathons: Marxa Beret and Vuokatti Hiihto. Marxa Beret is the largest ski marathon in Spain, it takes place at the end of January/beginning of February in north Spain near the Andorra’s and French border. Vuokatti Hiihto takes place in northern Finland mid/late March.

Marxa Beret

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Book Review: Red Notice by Bill Browder (10/10)

Red_Notice_book_coverRed Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice is a story of a Stanford graduate who against all common sense went to work in Eastern Europe just after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. First he worked for Boston Consulting Group and had his first project in Poland, then transferred to Salomon Brothers where he landed another project in Russia. This is an amazing story of how he sensed the business opportunities in Russia, built up his business, Hermitage Capital and how he fought oligarchs and corruption. The story is written in such a thrilling way that you can’t put the book down until you have reached the end and learned his story, and also the story of his lawyer, the late Sergei Magnitsky, and about how the corruption in modern Russia works. Continue reading

New personal best in Marathon

diplomIt has been exactly a week since I ran a new personal best in marathon distance in SEB Tallinn Marathon.

I was not going to write a blog post because I was not satisfied with the result. Yes, 3:23:15 is indeed 19 minutes better than my previous personal best of 3:42 run in Antwerp two years ago. But the thing is, this was the first time I really *tried* to run a good time. In 2012 when I made an easy jog of 3:46 in Copenhagen I was capable of doing a 3:05-3:10 marathon (derived from my 39:03 10k and 1:27:28 half-marathon), but since I did not, this is still just on paper and 3:23:15 is the reality. Nothing to be ashamed of, for sure, but not a result that I would volunteer to brag about, either.

Four weeks earlier in Rakvere Ööjooks I felt great. Continue reading

Hike 2014 – Matkatee Lõunarada

yldpiltIn the beginning there were supposed to be 5 of us. Then, as the annual hike got closer, people started to drop off. Some for the medical reasons, some for the fitness reasons. A few days before the start it was clear – it would be just me and Matti this time.

In 2012 we (me and Tiimar back then) cycled through the Trail the Estonia’s (Matkatee) northern track in 3,5 days (read here and here). In 2013 me, Matti and Oskar walked through the first 80 km of the northen track in 3 days (read here). This time, the plan was ambitious – cycle the recently-opened Trail the Estonia’s (Matkatee) southern track, start in Vara (by first cycling from Tartu to Vara, 20km) and finish at the end of the track, Ähijärve, cycling from Ähijärve to Valka 35km to get to the train back Tartu – averaging 120km per day. What made this plan even more ambitious, was the fact that the southern Estonia is quite hilly and with all the equipment all those uphills would be demanding. Continue reading

My first podium in 4 years – 2nd place in I Ida-Virumaa Staadionimaraton half-marathon!

All the food...I didn't eat

All the food I didn’t eat

The inaugural Ida-Virumaa Staadionimaraton was held this Tuesday in Iisaku.

The event was special because according to the organizers, this is the first time there’s ever a marathon event being held in a stadium in Estonia. So when I heard about the event and learned there’s also a half-marathon distance, I was intrigued to participate. Sure, my physical condition is not optimal at the moment, but with the contestant limit of 40 (there’s only so many people you can fit in a 400-metre track to run tens and tens of laps) for two distances combined there should be reasonable enough chances for a podium finish for me. In the running events in Estonia I usually finish among the first 10-20% of the contestants. These bigger events always have the elite participating, but in an inaugural event with limited number of competitors and event time during the work week it could be possible.

So I registered and a few days before the event took a look at the starting list to find out about the competition. Continue reading