Sport year 2016

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Pushed myself in Tartu Kevadjooks, but the first race of the year proved as difficult as always.

Sports year 2016 was quite busy. In total I crossed 3228 kilometers: running 1100, cycling 1150, skiing 475, kayaking 251 and walking 247. Milage-wise the year was an improvement over several previous years when I did less than 2500. Yet, what has to be taken into account is that this year I did pretty much close to none bodyweight exercises and yoga whereas in previous years I did tens of hours of those.

Haanja Suusa100: 100km FT skiiing, 6:03:47, place: 17/42

Haanja Suusa100: 100km FT skiiing, 6:09:47, place: 17/42

From sports perspective these were the highlights of the year:

1) Successfully completing Võhandu Maraton kayak race.
Considering that the beginning of April was the first time I ever kayaked, it was a great deed that just a few weeks later me and my friend Mart would finish the arduous 100 km long Võhandu Maraton. Yet we finished it and I think we did it in pretty good time for first timers: 12 hours and 8 minutes gave us 183th place out of 609 finishers.

I was expecting <1:35, but not that close to 1:30

I was expecting <1:35, but not that close to 1:30

2) Running a 1:30:14 half-marathon in Helsinki Half-Marathon
That was the closest I’ve been to the 1:30 line in recent years. What makes this result especially satisfactory is that the weather was quite warm and the track pretty hilly. The same day there was another half-marathon held in Narva where many people I know trashed their personal bests in close to ideal conditions. I can only imagine what my result could have been, had I chosen to run in Narva instead of Helsinki.

This win was paid for in the marathon and half-marathon that I had to run shortly after.

This win was paid for in the marathon and half-marathon that I had to run shortly after.

3) Winning yet another half-marathon in Ida-Virumaa Staadionimaraton
Ida-Virumaa Staadionimarathon has become one of my favorite events of the year. Not only for the reason that due to relatively small number of participants (10-30) I’ve regularly made it to the podium, but also for the excellent organisation, camaraderie and cool overall concept.
This year I won the first of the three runs, but due to competition I had to run it a bit faster (1:38) than initially planned. This made the following marathon and half-marathon much harder.

The man on the right is my father who, being 60 years old is still physically active

The man on the right is my father who, being 60 years old is still physically active

4) Successful completion of several demanding undertakings.
In addition to Võhandu Marathon I also skid 100km for the first time in my life, in Haanja Suusa100. Time 6:09 is quite good for the hilly track in Haanja. In addition to that, I ran 84,4 km in 20 hours in Ida-Virumaa Staadionimaraton and in the beginning of June did Helsinki half-marathon (21,1km run) and Tampere Pirkan Pyöräily (134km cycling) on two consecutive days. Last but not least, running Rõuge Trail Run marathon with >1000m total elevation gain proved to be quite a challenge, too.

For this year I have set goals in other areas of life that precede the ones of sport. Yet I do think 2017 a good year to run over my mediocre PB in marathon (3:23) and perhaps run my first official ultra-marathon. Let’s see how it goes.:)

Hike 2016 – kayak trip on the rivers of Pedja and Emajõe

That’s already vol. 5 in our annual multi-day hikes with friends. The previous ones have been:

2012 – 4 days bike trip from Oandu to Ikla (participants: me, Tiimar)
2013 – 3 days walking trip from Altja to Aegviidu (me, Matti, Oskar)
2014 – 4 days bike trip from Ahja to Ähijärve (me, Matti)
2015 – 3 days bike trip from Nõva to Aegviidu (me, Matti)

and now we can add to this list:
2016 – 2 days kayak trip from Puurmani to Kärevere (me, Oskar, Jaan, Cardo)

Below are some moments from this awesome trip.
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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.

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

From Oandu to Aegviidu (75 km) by foot

Matti, Oskar, me at the start - Altja Tavern

Matti, Oskar, me at the start – Altja Tavern

Being in a jovial mood, the decision to start the hike from Altja, instead of Oandu came very easily. Three days and 75km, that means 25 km per day, an added 4-5 km wouldn’t hurt, right?! After all, all three of us, me, Matti and Oskar, are rather active guys who work out on regular basis.

Continue reading

Canoeing River Võhandu

It’s 1:30am and I should be sleeping. Well, unfortunately, I’m not. For some strange reason, I had decided that today had to be the first day this year I made two training sessions. The first one was 8am cycling and the other one 8pm running, both an hour long endeavours with easy pace and low heart rate (<140). I believed my overall physical condition be good enough to recover for tomorrow’s canoeing the Võhandu river, but apparently I was wrong. The devil is often in the details and the detail seems to be the fact that this was the first time of cycling for me this year (on 5th of July!) and I did not have time to stretch after either of the today’s session. And now my thighs are hurting and do not let me sleep. Continue reading