Sport year 2016


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.:)


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 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


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.

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

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

Copenhagen Marathon

20 minutes to the start

Last Sunday I ran Copenhagen Marathon.

This was the fourth marathon in my life and second in the last four weeks. Why would I run two marathons in a month? I mean, the common wisdom says that you’d have to recover as least a couple of months and then leave time for preparation and tapering. My answer to that question is: Well, why wouldn’t I?! After all, life is too short to postpone the things you want to do.

When I visited Mexico three years ago, I had to wait in the immigration line for an hour. Just before me stood a tall and slender guy with a shirt “I ran Western States 100 miles”. I asked him: “Did you really run 100 miles?!”. Continue reading