Russia

Marathon done, no friends to tag behind – last day in Russia.

Woke Monday to sunshine, first rays my entire Moscow stay.  Gorged on a lavish breakfast buffet, showered, layered up, grabbed a local map & hit the pavement.  Best guess: no more than 2 miles from Red Square, multiple art & history museums.  Have feet, will travel.

Prospect Mira to Lubyanka Square, up & under multiple street crossings, left on Teatralnyy.  First stop: the Bolshoi [Theatre], iconic home of the Russian ballet.  Point, click, snapped my shot.  Continued thru a park littered with Communist statues, popped out in front of the State Historical Museum.  Attempted to purchase lamb kebabs at an outdoor kiosk; received 2 lamb chops, pickled cabbage, sauerkraut, sweet pickle & a hard dinner roll.  Yeah my Russian is pretty lousy these days…but hey, I didn’t starve 🙂

Slow stroll thru Red Square.  No time constraints, took time & studied the architecture.  Circled St. Basil’s Cathedral (far end of the Square), bridge-crossed the Moskva River – STUNNING view of the Kremlin, gleaming white & gold inside its red brick fortress.

Bridge returned, took a right – and got in some art history.  Self-toured 4 Orthodox cathedrals (one monastery), all garish with religious artifacts, marveled at their dome construction.  Entered 2 Metro Stations…just to see the art.  Finished the day at McDonald’s – yep, McDonald’s.  2 cheeseburgers & a Coke.  Not my finest moment…but appreciated knowing exactly what I was gonna get.

and blink…that was it.  Home in morning – 28 hours & 7 time zone changes later; travelling back in time, would be a day that seemingly never ends.  17 years [after my expat assignment], super thankful for the opportunity to revisit Mother Russia.

My heart is full.  Большое спасибо!

 

до свида́ния Russia

 

 

Saturday — Expo at Luzhniki Stadium (marathon bib pick-up).  Crazy long queue looped wildly throughout the parking lot – in the [sarcastic] words of Dima: We Russians love our long lines.  We line up for everything.  LOL>  Turned in my medical certificate (another unique Russia-only thing), picked up tomorrow’s race bib.  Check, done.  Next up: Red Square.

Carbo-loaded Italian grub at a new Jamie Oliver restaurant, located aside Moscow’s iconic GUM department store.  Great company, great day.  Many many thanks Dima & Natasha.  FULL heart.

connected by sport: language nor politics matter to Marathoners

connected by sport: language nor politics matter to Marathoners

Sunday — Marathon morning in RUSSIA!

Not a lotta sleep.  Been struggling with the huge time difference – days & nights mixed, getting thru on multiple 2-hour naps a day.  Body feels like night but my eyes see morning.  No excuses today.  Been waiting almost a year for this day.

Hooked up with [my former workmate] Dima in the hotel lobby at my digs on Prospekt Mira.  Surprisingly late marathon start — 9am.  Hopped on a nearby Metro, rode the Circle Line, dropped off & switched cars to Moscow University & Luzhniki Stadium.  Exited one stop earlier than Dima – he registered for only the Half today.

Almost a mile walk to the Stadium.  No getting lost, followed a mighty line of runners.  Couple minutes later, spotted a Maniacs cap & heard English (first time in 2 days).  2 Aussies, 2 English & a New Yorker.  Insta-friends.  Half-way ‘round the globe, never expected to meet other Maniacs from my running group.  FAAANNNTASTIC!

Took advantage of bag drop-off & shed my outer layers.  Windy & cool but expecting warmer temps than yesterday’s trek thru historic Red Square.  Rain forecasted later in the day (so skies could stay overcast) – hard to know how to dress.

Started 6 corrals back.  LOVE LOVED hearing the Russian anthem!  Second largest field of marathoners in my 3-year running history (2nd only to New York City).

2 minutes between each corral start.  Crazy excited.  Ready to run Moscow’s Seven Hills!

Quick beginning, few first miles running long flat stretches from the outer ring to Moscow’s Financial District.  With the exception of NYC, have never marathoned a City which closed so many major roads.  Headache for residents – tourist Mecca for runners…Moscow eye-candy!

Popped a pill early (mile 9).  Time difference & a nagging headache, added to race nausea.  That said, the pill did the trick.  All smiles as I ran aside the Moskva River & the tall red-brick walls surrounding the Kremlin.  WOW, WOW, WOW!

1:56 first half.  Soon after, first of 3 large hills.  Hilly yes….but not West Virginia hilly.  No worries, I got this.

Noticed a young runner struggling to hold pace – his t-shirt read ‘I am a Runner’, his first marathon.  Encouraged him to keep moving to the 30-kilometer marker.  Connected today solely by sport, utilizing limited Russian & broken English.  He’d walk, I’d walk.  Frustrating as it was, I can be persistent.  He finally understood I would not run ‘til he was ready.  We soon stopped walking altogether.  Ran 2k, grabbed water/sports drink/a banana…and ran another 2k.

Either his English or my Russian got better.  Coincidentally, his name: Dmitri (Dima).  Seriously?  Like going back in time.  University student studying Finance.  Moscow resident but no longer lives at home.  Getting married next May.

40k (only 2.2 to go) & young Dima took off…but a bit too early.  My old legs caught him & finished STRONG.  Overcast, cold temps, folks bundled.  High-fived spectators lined near the end.  Runner’s high.

Marathon SUCCESS!  My 71st finish, first outside North America.

 

K R, поздравляем с участием в Промсвязьбанк Московском Марафоне 2016!

 

Ваше личное время на дистанции 42,2км — 4:40:44.

 

Предварительные результаты доступны на сайте.

Результаты представлены официальным хронометристом — швейцарской компанией TAG Heuer.

 

Оргкомитет Промсвязьбанк Московского Марафона благодарит Правительство г. Москвы и Департамент физической культуры и спорта г. Москвы за содействие в организации марафона.

 

Промсвязьбанк Московский Марафон

 

Bid farewell to new Dima, then met-up with old Dima – for dinner & final goodbyes.  One more day of sight-seeing for me, but Monday’s a workday for most.  пака моего друга [goodbye friend].  Memorable, absolutely unforgettable visit!  Brain etched forever.

 

 

Moscow Marathon (Russian Nat’l Anthem)

 

 

2 hours up, 2 hours down.  Crazy way to log sleep hours but by noon Saturday, had successfully completed the process 🙁

Met Dima & his wife Natasha in my hotel lobby; super excited to see Russia’s capital city.  Have metro ticket, will travel.

Whole lotta marble.  Metro stations in Moscow arguably are among the world’s most ornate.  Early Communists pillaged the country’s cathedrals & imperial buildings and moved its art, marble & statues to where the people could see & enjoy.

Marathon bib pick-up at Luzhniki Stadium (site of the 1980 Summer Olympics).  Next up: Red Square.

Haven’t been to Russia since my expat assignment ended in 1999.  (if ever I ever) Two places I wanted to revisit: Moscow’s Red Square & the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.  Winter Palace, another trip, another time – but today, Red Square would be reality.

Passed by make-shift kiosks celebrating Harvest Festival, temporarily stationed in front of the State Historical Museum.  The museum, a massive 18th century crimson structure (commissioned by Peter the Great), creates the northwest corner of Red Square.  Walked the brick cobblestone between the Museum & Nikolskaya Tower, one of multiple towers which surround the Kremlin.

In Russia, a “kremlin” is a Russian town’s fortified stronghold, and Moscow’s was built in the 1150’s with a low, wooden wall. It now features high red brick walls 2.25 km long, with Red Square on the eastern side.

Can’t believe I’m really here — Red Square.  WOW, WOW, WOW!

St. Basil’s Cathedral straight ahead, Lenin’s Tomb & Spasskaya Tower to my right, GUM (State Department Store) forms the Square’s left edge.  Each May Day, the Soviet Union would flex their military strength, parading tanks in front of the Communist nation’s supreme leader.  That’s the history portrayed by American media, influencing our collective history – just as Russian media structured their peoples’ views.  Fair & balanced?  Certain WW2 battles never made our history books…Germany’s Eastern Front/Russia’s Great Patriotic War. Cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin & Valentina Tereshkova both orbited space before the U.S. moon landing.  Musicians, like singer Alla Pugacheva, mega-stars/multimillionaires completely unknown to us.  Hmmm.

Chilly September day, glad I brought my coat.  After snapping shots at each landmark, retreated inside GUM, warmed up & completed my souvenir shopping – matryoshka [Russian nesting] dolls for all 🙂

Tomorrow a.m. running my first marathon outside North America.  But tonite, I’ll continue to cat-nap (2 hours on, 2 hours off) & watch Russian TV – game shows, reality, crime dramas & the Voice.  Sadly, our countries are really not that different.

 

 

 

Moscow Revisited 2016

 

 

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