2005 (most recent are listed first, so to read in order you need to start at the bottom)
65. WCOC local meet (Green course) at Sessions Woods WMA, Burlington, CT, December 10, 2005. 5.0 km, 220m, 77:40 (14.6 min/km). Took a 20 minute break, then tried the Green course. Not surprisingly, still lots of snow, though this time there were a few tracks, definitely made it easier.
One aspect of the orienteering that didn't occur to me until later was that it had a similarity to orienteering at some of the big European meets with regard to the tracks -- they were definitely faster, but you were never sure where you would find them and where they would go. The secret is to use them as much as possible but to keep track of where they are going, since they certainly aren't mapped. So to 3, for example, I stayed on the following the trail too long, an earlier track branching off diagonally to the left would have been better, since I ended up doing the last 100 meters through unbroken snow. To 4, I just started following a track, seeing where it would go. Picked up the trail after a while. When it crossed the stream the tracks split, one staying on the trail, another climbing to the SW, just the direction I wanted to go. Followed the latter, led me right to the boulder which had a control on it, and then went a different direction, so the last 200 meters I was on my own, but I'd still benefitted.And to 11, the last bit up the hill, there was a track leaving from the junction, but I didn't like the looks of it. So I waiting, and bingo, there was a better one heading up past the boulders right to the control.
I remember doing the same kind of thinking many times at the O'Ringen, especially when I had a late start. Always found it a fun challenge, though it seemed to drive others nuts (how do you tell which trails are mapped? -- have to read the grass and the mud, they look different if the trail has been made that morning).
I think this is the deepest snow I've orienteered in. A little too deep....
64. WCOC local meet (Sprint) at Sessions Woods WMA, Burlington, CT, December 10, 2005. 2.1 k,m, 90m, 28:23 (13.4 min/km). Hit everything right on, but 12-14" of new snow made for very slow going, except for big trails which had been skied/walked a little and were just somewhat slow. Legs didn't have much bounce. First time in significant snow this season, though I'm not sure it would have been much easier at the end of the winter -- just a little too deep to run in at all comfortably. Don't know what I could have run it in with bare ground -- 16 minutes? Might have to try sometime....
63. NEOC Club Champs (part 1 | part 2) at Townsend SF, Townsend, MA, December 4, 2005. Blue course, 8.8 km, 200m, 91:25 (10.4 min/km). Pretty good run given the conditions (a couple inches of new snow, upper 20s, lots of wet places) and the vegetation, as junky as ever.
Only real mistake was at #2, circled around to the north after I crossed the trail because the direct route was flooded and looked very uninviting. After I crossed the third little stream I ran up what i thought was a reentrant, but rather than finding a control in it I spotted a control up on a knoll just to my right. Checked it out, not sure why. From there I could see the marshy area to my west, so I figured I was too far south. I shortly came to the stone wall (which I had almost completely covered with my circle), and then the correct reentrant. Don't know if the map was funny or not. I do think I turned a little to the right after crossing the third brook instead of continuing straight, and that was the problem.
The next bunch were ok, except that 6 took forever to get to, a lot of laurel in the low area partway, and then again in the last couple hundred meters before the control. Walked a lot....
Then ok again up to #11. Wasn't sure which boulder it was on, checked the lower one since it was on my way, in fact it was on the one right by the end of the cliff. Except the code was wrong. Quite distinctly wrong, 337 instead of 111. I looked at my map a bit, and then decided I was in the right place, and just went on. Spent maybe 30 seconds there. No big deal.
Except when I got to 13, same problem, wrong control, this time 111 instead of 333. This one cost me some time, mainly because I wasn't 100% sure on my approach of where I was, I spotted the control from 50 meters away, ahead and a bit to the right, but there wasn't the same sense of knowing exactly 100% sure where I am that I like to have. The clue was a boulder, and I looked at my map and there was a boulder in the circle, not quite in the center but still in the circle, so I said to myself, well, there should be a cliff just to the southwest. No cliff there. Ran around a very little bit. Everything else looked right. And the only other boulder in the area was a good bit further down the hill and sat completely differently in the terrain. So back to the control, look at the map some, decide this has to be it, and move on. What didn't sink in until later was that the control was actually hung on the cliff (the clue was wrong about the feature as well as the number), which just happened to look exactly like a boulder from 3 sides. If I'd looked up the reentrant a hair I'm sure I would have seen the other boulder. Probably spent 2-3 minutes there.
The rest was ok. The routes to 18 and 19 may look a little odd but that's because the whole area in there had been logged, so it was just a matter of going where the running seemed less bad.
62. Training at Mt. Tom, December 2, 2005. A line O', rather good practice actually.
61. NEOC meet at Mt. Tom, Holyoke, MA, Novenber 26, 2005. Red course, 7.3 km, 350m, 77:14 (10.6 min/km). Good run except for a relatively modest miss at #17 when I didn't see the control as I was climbing up from the trail bend (and the spur was not particularly well defined), so I climbed a bit higher. Decided I was definitely too high, then saw it on the way back down.
Otherwise, pretty much in control -- I do have a lot of local knowledge here -- except for leaving 16. On the map it looks like no problem, but I was thinking of taking the upper trail. Forget to check my compass leaving the control. Went to the left of a knoll, and while I was trying to figure out what I had done I found myself running on a trail dropping down a reentrant. What I had done was suddenly obvious, as was my new route.
The one thing local knowledge doesn't help with, and maybe it hurts a bit, is the memories I have from making the map 28 years ago that have to do with runnability. "White" and "green" forest can cover a wide range of conditions, there can be good white and no so good white, and the same for green. Over the years the forest has gotten a little slower due to fallen trees (many of them hemlocks dying from the hemlock disease), and places that used to be really good white (like the spur above and SW of 18, or the slot SW of 16 just to the NW of the two elongated form-line knolls) now have fallen trees scattered about. It's not that the running is bad, but it's not as good as it was. And yet I still head for those places instinctively.
A very nice course by Phil Bricker. Even in the 3-4" of snow, which made things a little slower but still just fine for orienteering. Though I would have been a minute faster if I hadn't worn a hat, had to go back and retrieve it several times after it was plucked off by a branch.
60. Blue Hills Traverse (part 1 | part 2), Milton, MA, November 20, 2005. 13.3 km, 580m, 2:11:29 (9.9 min/km). Good run, orienteering was pretty solid except right at the end when I missed both 23 and 24, though I'm not sure the map was right around both. But I was getting very tired and maybe my brain was little gone too. But overall I was in control most of the time.
Some good routes in the middle when I was by myself -- 9-10 I think was ok, 10-11 I executed very efficiently, but it may have been just as quick and much simpler to take the road to the left, 12-13 I took the higher trail, made me a little fresher starting the climb to 14, 14-15 was fine. But the some shaky routes -- straight over the top to 16 is faster, as long as you nail the control(!), the little trail going down along to stream to 17 was really just a rock field, and straight to 18 would have been better.
An excellent course by Dean Sturdevant, by the way, good orienteering, less crappy terrain then some other Traverses.
59. US Long-O' Champs (part 1 | part 2), Fair Hill, MD, November 13, 2005. M55, GreenX course, 9.1 km, 330m, 67:47 (7.4 min/km). Excellent run. Finding the controls was generally easy. The challenge was to get the best routes and then execute them well, which I think I did. Or at least there's nothing that I would do differently in retrospect.
Overall, a great weekend of O' put on by DVOA, including perfect weather!
58. DVOA A meet (a little less than normal distance), Fair Hill, MD, November 12, 2005. GreenX course, 5.1 km, 90m, 36:33 (7.1 min/km). Another good course. My orienteering was much shakier, though no disasters. Partly it was just bad preparation on my part -- somehow I assumed we would be running in open fields most of the time and so I wasn't ready for a course in the woods. So I was struggling to stay in control.
Went around to #1, figuring it was a touch slower but much easier. That was OK, To 2 was also OK although it took a while to get acrosss/around the fences. To 3 I was very shaky, sort of knew where I was but not really, missed it a little but was lucky it was not worse. The rest of the way was sort of the same, nothing really bad, but a lot of little errors -- should have stayed on the main trail longer to 4, then just run along the slope; not in control approaching 6, lucky to see it, got off line near 8, ditto to 11, ditto to 12. Recovered well in all cases, but left some time out there. Nevertheless, better than I've been doing recently.
57. DVOA sprint, Fair Hill, MD, November 11, 2005. 2.65 km, 80m, 15:49 (6.0 min/km). First race of a 3-day weekend hosted by DVOA on their new Fair Hill map.
A good run, in control -- meaning knew where I was and where I was going -- almost all the time, plus looking around sufficiently, both on the map and in the terrain. Nice course. Took the right route to #3, seemed no worse, plus easier. To 6 also went to the right, as I was a little concerned about the runnability of the trail through the dark green, but that way would have been a few seconds faster. Good to 7, cut the corner on the trail, but not good to 8, just sort of going without a plan (didn't get burned by it, but bad technique). OK to 9, but didn't see the control right away and lost a few more seconds. Excellent to 10, saw the control just as I was leaving the trail which made it pretty easy -- sometimes you just have to really look. Overall, maybe could have been 20 seconds faster, no more.
56. Sprint at Tarrywile, Danbury, CT, October 30, 2005. 1.5 km, 55 meters, 10:31 (7.0 min/km). Took at 10-15 minute break and then ran the sprint. Pretty good. Only real problem was arriving at #7 without having planned a route to 8. Knowing it was down the hill, I just headed that way. Not a bad route, actually the best route acording to the map, though the forest was a bit brushy. But it would have been nice to give it a bit more thought in advance.
That's why sprints are good training. They point out where your technique is lacking, how you can make mistakes on easy legs/controls just because the pace is higher and the decisions have to be made quicker. And you can't afford to fall behind in your planning.
55. WCOC local meet at Tarrywile Park, Danbury, CT, October 30, 2005. Red course, 6.95 km, 400 meters, 57:43 (8.3 min/km). A good run, except I would have been DQ'd if it was a serious event for going into out of bounds terrain. Left #3, heading roughly for the road, looked up and there was a house right in front of me. Oops, I thought, how did I get so far left? Never occured to me that I was a little more to the right than I intended to be. So I skirted around to the right and cut down the steep rocky hillside and, oops, there's another house to my right. Sometime in here it dawned on me what I'd done and where I was, but at this point the quickest way out of the OOB area was down to the road, so that's where I went. Still, pretty stupid. Another case of tunnel vision as far as looking at the map. I'd like to think I was getting these things out of my system, but the trend is not good. Try again next time.
The rest of the run was pretty clean, not just at the controls but along the routes. Knew where I was and where I was going all the time. And really enjoyed the section from 8 to 12.
54. Northeast Sprint Champs - Sprint 3, Trout Brook Valley, Redding, CT, October 23, 2005. 2.2 km, 75 meters, 18:57 (8.6 min/km). Another 15-minute break and then off again, this time in a Brautigam sandwich, Viktoria 2 minutes ahead of me and Joe 2 minutes after. Saw them both, which was expected, though I saw Joe a lot earlier than I hoped.
Actually had a good start, by #4 had lost only 10 seconds to Joe, but then had a meltdown. 5 is easy, up to the high ground, then to the second bump, elementary. I went up to the high ground and at some point on the way up I forget about the "second bump" theory. Checked out every rock face, mapped or unmapped on the first knoll, thought about the possibility that it has been taken, rechecked the rock faces, decided to go on just as Joe came cruising up and by and leads me right to the control, though I'm still mentally on the wrong bump and thinking it's been misplaced. But I've got Joe to lead me to 6 and 7 and 8 and by them I'm back in the swing of things. But I don't think I realized what I'd done until after I had finished.
Unbelievable. Simple control, good visibility, and I just had a wicked case of tunnel vision as far as looking at the map, plus totally forget that I had planned to go to the second bump. Not good, not good at all.
Kept Joe in sight until around 10, where Viktoria happened to appear ahead of me. Took slightly different routes to 13 and just about caught her there, but then she was faster on the way in.
So an unsatisfying conclusion to an otherwise fine day. Try again next week....
53. Northeast Sprint Champs - Sprint 2, Trout Brook Valley, Redding, CT, October 23, 2005. 2.3 km, 50 meters, 16:40 (7.2 min/km). After about a 15-minute break, headed off on sprint 2. Just one little bobble, #7, a little too far left and took a moment to figure out what I had done. But overall a second good run, though again I was feeling dead by the end, walking a couple of times on the huge hill (all of 3 contours) up from 12 to 13
52. Northeast Sprint Champs - Sprint 1, Trout Brook Valley, Redding, CT, October 23, 2005. 2.95 km, 50 meters, 23:34 (7.6 min/km). A triple-header put on by Rick and Susie DeWitt of the Western Connecticut OC, with the results and prizes (gift cards to Eastern Mountain Sports) based on total time for the three sprints.
A good run, other than providing a source for others' amusement as I hustled away from the start, over the stone wall, looked to see exactly where #1 was (I knew which way to start based on earlier starters), and discovered I didn't have a map! Amid much chuckling from Rick and a few onlookers, I got back to start and a minute later was off again, this time with a map. But no problems of any consequence with controls or routes, though my legs didn't let me forget that my training the past few months has been a bit slim.
51. Boulder Dash day 2, UNO A Meet at Beaver Brook, Hollis, NH, October 16, 2005. Green course, 5.1 km, 140 meters, 54:38 (10.7 min/km). Better for the most part, except for another dumb mistake. Just botched #4. Started out ok, heading across the slope for the trail, passed the flat spur, then a flat broad reentrant, then spotted a big boulder, hmm, that's nice, that will fix my spot when I hit the trail momentarily, except it wasn't mapped (though it took me a while to realize that). I tried to make it fit the boulder that was mapped right next to the trail, but there was no trail right after this one. I tried to make it fit one lower down, but I should have crossed the trail by now. Must have crossed it without seeing it. Just turn uphill, the control is on the top of the ridge. A little bit later, hmm, if I really haven't crossed the trail, going uphill is not good. Don't see anything distinct to relocate on. Better go due south in case I haven't crossed the trail yet. Oh, it's getting thick, trail should be just ahead. There's the trail, there's higher ground on the other side. And assuming I was in just the right place, I zipped right across, up the hill, looking for my knoll. Found a little one, no control, must be just the spur NE of the control, turned right, looking for more knolls, found a couple more, still no control. Finally said to myself, I think I'm too far SW, but just get back to the trail and be sure, you've already wasted too much time. Back to the trail,, a handy intersection there to confirm my position, and then the control was easy.
So many mistakes all in a few minutes, and a 4 minute leg took almost 11. Discipline, control, rational thinking, concentration, ... have I forgotten everything?
The rest of the run was ok, nothing special. Little mistakes at 3 and 12, plus I didn't have a good plan for the first part of the leg from 9 to 10, and didn't execute my lousy plan well either.
Frustrating? Well, no so much, or so it seemed. I certainly didn't feel especially bothered afterwards. I don't know why. Maybe it was just that I was really enjoying the weekend socially, lots of old friends and trying to make a few new ones, fun conversations, a couple of edible birthday presents, progress on some team stuff, fun pushing a couple of cars out of the mud, and no serous injuries. But it would still be nice to have a decent O' run before too long.
50. Boulder Dash day 1, UNO A Meet at Beaver Brook, Hollis, NH, October 15, 2005. Green course, 4.8 km, 255m, 62:12 (12.9 min/km). Rather terrible again, plus moving slowly, partly because it was very wet, partly because I was being careful after getting a good-sized gash on my head a week earlier (see my AttackPoint log), and partly because the terrain was a little junky. But also a couple of bad controls. #7, where it may look like I went to the trail on purpose, but I was trying to go straight -- nice compass work and map reading! -- then wasn't 100% sure where I was on the trail when I left it but was lucky I was where I thought I was. The first part was a bunch of weak-wristed compass and trying to make the map match to where I wanted to be, both deadly sins.
And then #12, picked the eastern trail since it looked like an easy attack from the sharp bend, but I read the map wrong, turned off the trail later than I thought and so was one hill farther south. No boulder there, oh, there's a flag by some rock on the next hillside, but it wasn't mine. It was on a cliff, so after a bit I figured out what I had done. Very unsatisfying...
Note that the map scan is blown up a little more than usual, but it is still very hard to see the light green (of which there was a lot). Was also hard to see out on the course, especially when in darker parts of the forest.
49. WCOC meet at Trout Brook Valley, Redding, CT, September 25, 2005. 6.2 km, 62:15 (10.0 min/km). Rather terrible. The first four points were ok, though I hadn't warmed up at all and was running rather gingerly. On the trail to 5 I decided that I could stay on the trail a long time and come into the control from the SW, and then after a while I thoguht it might make sense to see what happened after 5, at which point I determined I was heading to #8. Caught it just in time, took a right on the smaller trail, connected to the other small trail, went by a cliff, a boulder was next, looked around, looked back at the map, misplaced where I was, thought I was where the trail went up the next reentrant, so turned left, over the spur, a bit of mountain laurel, and into Oblivion. Tong a long, long time to realize i was nowhere close to where I wanted to be, eventually came back to the trail, saw where I was right away and then there was no problem. But about 7-8 minutes down the drain. Been a long time since I've screwed up that badly.
Rest of the run was ok, nothing special. A few little bobbles -- thought 8 was on the cairn, didn't see it just to my left in the reentrant until I'd done a loop around the cairn (and I should have been looking left anyway to scope out my exit route...), spiked a lower cliff at 11, did a detour to investigate the possibility of running across the top of the dam on the way to 12 (it was fenced off), and missed the trail on the way to 16. None of those were more than 20-30 seconds, but not the sign of a sharp day.
Note that from 5 to 7 we were supposed to follow the line, with #6 hung someplace along it.
48. US Classic Champs, day 2, Dutchman Flat, west of Bend, OR, August 28, 2005. 9.9 km, 315m, 77:36 (7.8 min/km). Almost perfect. Decent energy, worked hard, and in control of the orienteering all the way. Had only one or two moments, which lasted no more than 50 meters, when I didn't know either where I was or where I was going. The rest of the time I was in control of both. Combine that with the wonderful terrain and it was really fun.
Two minutes behind Ted, but first U.S. for the weekend by quite a bit.
47. US Classic Champs, day 1 (also blow-up of lava section), Dutchman Flat, west of Bend, OR, August 27, 2005. RedY course, 7.4 km, 215m, 65:48 (8.8 min/km). Not a good run. Not terrible by any means, but had low energy and no flow to my orienteering. Didn't make any big mistakes (the worst was at 11, a little too far right but relocated easily on the knoll with a couple rocks), but too much stopping, too little thinking ahead, and not always the best tactics. Ended up first U.S. in M45 (but 12 minutes behind Ted!), less than a minute ahead of Alar.
The energy problem was nothing new, some days you feel good, some days you don't, but I probably didn't help matter by not drinking near enough beforehand, and then not drinking at any of the water stops. The orienteering problem was similar to what I seem to be doing more often these days, just mentally lazy. The goal is to always be thinking ahead, to always know where you are going next so there is never a reason to stop or slow down, while at the same time take what you've planned ahead and execute it properly. So constant flipping back and forth between the present and the near future (and trying to avoind flipping into the past, because there's nothing you can do about it). It takes a lot of concentration, but when you're doing it right, you can really make good time. The challenge is to do it right for the whole course. And this day I wasn't, the whole thinking ahead part just wasn't working. Mental laziness, as I said.
46. PNWOF - Model for US Champs, Dutchman Flat (just north of Mt. Bachelor), west of Bend, OR, August 26, 2005. 2.4 km, took about 25 minutes. Got a lift to the model area from Phil (though I don't think we were supposed to), then jogged around the course. Headed to #7 first, totally botched it, but then did the course, including #7 again from the other direction, without any problems. Thought the terrain was fine, and legs felt ok despite the altitude (6,000" plus). Only other mistake was on the walk back to the parking, missed the turn right after crossing the road, after about five minutes decided I really shouldn't be going SW....
45. PNWOF - Relay, Lava Butte, south of Bend, OR, August 25, 2005. 4.35 km, 55 m, 28:38 (6.6 min/km). On a CSU team with Victoria and Jon Campbell (Gail had been recruited to run with Valerie and Sandy on a team of female night-O' champs!), me first, then Torie, with Jon as anchor. The terrain was more real forest, lots of big pines, very fast as long as you stayed out of the manzanita, some lava but not too much.
Running first is hard, hard physically that is, because there are always people around, so there's no nice way to dog it for a while. Out of breath the whole time. A few fast guys (Leif, Bill Cusworth,...) were out of sight almost immediately, I was in a group with Alar, Louise, Viktoria, and a few others, part of the time trying to hang on, part of the time trying to catch up, always trying to figure out mini route choices that might be a little faster. Gained some leaving 2, maybe 30-40 meters, getting out of the rocks/mazanita as quickly as possible (others went north to the trail), gained some more getting to the road quicker leaving 4, lost quite a bit at 5 going around the wrong side of the lave outcrops, gained some at 7 by cutting in from the road sooner than others, gained some at 9 when others missed it slightly to the right, lost a lot at 10 when, back in the lead of the group with JP, I turned off the trail too soon. So it was an interesting half hour, not at all just following a group. Though I imagine that's what some of the others were doing.
Torie took over and had a good run, and then Jon did great, and we finished third in the open class (open meaning neither youthful nor experienced!). Another triumph for CSU!
The sore toe hurt quite a bit before I started, and hurt quite a bit as soon as I stopped, but I never noticed it while running....
44. PNWOF - Middle distance, Arnold Ice Caves, south of Bend, OR, August 24, 2005 (in the afternoon). 4.8 km, 100m, 37:48 (7.9 min/km). A bite to eat, a lot to drink (very dry country, easy to get dehydrated without realizing it), drive south of town to the ice caves. Similar terrain to the morning, but different. Obviously no buildings, but similar forest and similar gently rolling landscape, but also the sage was thicker in places. And where it wasn't sage, the ground was very soft, sandy really, so that it was like running at the beach. Tough.
Sergey had set out a few controls on a bit of the map that we could check out in advance (a very nice touch!), and walking there for a few minutes confirmed the feeling that it was going to be much slower than the sprint in the morning.
I had a start just late enough to be able to see Pam finish in just over 38 minutes. Seemed like a reasonable target, although the more immediate goal was to stay ahead of Alar and Daniel, who were starting just after me. By the time I got to #1, I felt exhausted due to the very soft footing, and I missed the control a little, but I felt better on the way to 2, definitely more in touch with the map. My orienteering thereafter was pretty sharp, so that even though I wasn't moving that well, no one seemed to be closing from behind. Things got more complicated after we crossed the road -- the terrain was more interesting, and the butterfly meant it took some effort to make sure you were heading off to the correct control. I also decided after a while that the lower ground, which tended to have less sage and more sand, was still faster than the high spots, which had a combination of sage and lava. That helped towards the end as I was definitely picking faster lines through the terrain.
At the next to last control I checked my watch and I'd been out 36 minutes. Hmmm, going to be close. Past the last high ground and it was 37:15, and for a moment I resigned myself to being a little too slow. But then I remembered that I'd started my watch 10 seconds early, so I zipped down the slope the best I could and made it in with 15 seconds to spare, and definitely faster than I would have if I hadn't known Pam's time. A little motivation always helps! The only downside was that partway through the course I kicked a rock really hard and the second and third toes on my right foot were complaining for a while. Afterwards, the last joint of the second toe was a vivid purple/black color, and it hurt pretty good, but nothing appeared to be seriously damaged.
43. Pacific Northwest O' Festival (PNWOF) -- Sprint, Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR, August 24, 2005. 2.7 km, 65m, 16:48 (6.2 imn/km). This was my first time ever orienteering in Oregon, and like each of the following days, it turned out to be a surprise. A pleasant surprise, that is. The sprint took place at the local college, with the start at the side of one building and the finish next to another, and I assumed most of the time we would just have to keep track of which building was which while we did a tour of the campus. Wrong. Most of the course was in the "forest" just west of the campus -- "forest" in the dry Western sense, scattered trees, scattered sage, excellent runnability. Add to that a variety of lava outcrops, trails going in all different directions, and a frisbee golf course, and the orienteering was much more difficult that I expected. Part of that, of course, may have been because it was a sprnt and I was running as hard as I could....
I had a pretty good run, but only because I got lucky a couple of times. To #1, the visibility near the control wasn't great, and I recall thinking that if I didn't spot the little building (an outhouse?), then I had no idea what to do next. To #3, I was on some trail for a while, then the road was close and I realized again I had no idea where I was. Looked for a boulder in the fence, coudn't see anything, started to head east, oh, there's a control by this tree, oh, it's mine....
Overall, a fine course -- in the forest, then through a bit of campus, a spectator control, a last loop in the forest. Just right.
42. Colorado 5 Day -- Day 3 of the 3-day, Round Mt., Lake George, August 7, 2005. 8.5 km, 65:14 (7.7 min/km). Talk about running on an empty gas tank. Wide-open orienteering except for a tricky area for the first few short legs, but you have to be able to move. I will say that I ran all the downhills, most of the flats, and a little bit of uphill here and there. Certainly didn't feel like a race. Too bad, because it was a nice course and the terrain is great. But as the 7th race in 5 days, I was just worn out....
41. Colorado 5 Day -- US Relay Champs, Lake George, CO, August 6, 2005. 4.2 km, 150m, 37:13 (8.9 min/km). We were back at it again, just 12 hours after the night O', which itself was just 12 hours after Blue Mountain. Getting a bit much for this body, perhaps, and I certainly didn't feel like I had a lot of energy. But what I did have, more more importantly, was a really good team -- Gail, Viktoria, and Suzanne. We were the only CSU'ers here, and we totalled exactly 12 points under the relay rules, and we were set to do our thing, but then a couple of problems cropped up. First there was some drivel on AttackPoint about how the 4-point class was the only one worth anything, that the 8-point wasn't worth getting exciting about and just forget about the 12-point class. So we had to decide whether we wanted to get stomped on in 4, be competive in 8, or be the favorite in 12. And then Ross arrived, apparently a spur of the moment decision to drive to Colorado, so now we were 5 (actually we were 6, but Mikell is still lacking the necessary paperwork). After some discussion, we farmed Ross off to a team of illegals and entered our fab 4 in the 12.
Gail ran first and was Young and Beautiful (that's our team name) and did some awesome O' too; next was Viktoria, also Y and B and awesome; next was Suzanne, she too Y and B and awesome. So when it came time for me to start, I knew I had a lead of at least a few minutes (it turned out to be 14). So I had the luxury of walking whenever it turned uphill (well, as soon as I was out of sight of the start), and just being sure I checked all the control codes and didn't skip any controls. No problems, and another national tittle for CSU, even more special than any others since it is the club's first 12-point title.
40. Colorado 5 Day -- US Night O' Champs, Manitou Lake, Woodland Park, CO, August 5, 2005. 5.0 km, 150m, 49:47 (10.0 min/km). My first night O' (rogaines are different with regards to the pace and the map) since the Night O' champs at Brandywine SP in Delaware in 1998(?), when I slipped on a log at the first control and bashed my ribs and spent much of the rest of the course crawling through thick vegetation (that may be not quite true, but it's what I remember). I have a tendency to fall a lot during normal O', and at night it is obviously worse. So I wasn't really psyched. The weather was still threatening and it looked positively awful as we headed to Woodland Park late in the afternoon. Just before Divide the hillside ahead suddenly looked white, and shortly we were driving through the 4 inches of hail that had just fallen. Very weird. A mile later, no sign of hail at all. Even weirder. But by the time we had had a bite to eat and headed out to the meet site, the skies were clearing, the temperature was a very pleasant 55, and there didn't seem to be any reasonable excuse not to go night orienteering.
Out to the start, and the omens were not good, at least as far as my preparation was concerned. First, I decided I should warm up just a bit, and I found that my battery pack, which I was carrying on my lower back in a Walkman carrier strapped around my middle, was bouncing up and down quite unpleasantly. It took me all my remaining time before the start to get it tightened up. Suddenly they were calling me. I changed my watch to stop-watch mode and discovered that I had only three splits left. By the time I figured out which old ones I could erase, and managed to do it, the clock had already beeped to say go. I got going without much delay, but it was not the way to start a course. (Though it wasn't as bad as the start at one of the first rogaines I did, a 12 hour in Pennsylvania, where I Fred and I were a several minutes on the way to the first control when I realized I didn't have our control card. Back to the start, where I then realized I needed a pit stop. We finally got going for good about 15 minutes into the 12 hours.)
Much to my surprise, when I did get going I had a good run. Very insecure at the beginning, but I felt better and better as time went on. The only miss was at 2, just a little low, but I figured it out with the loss of only a minute or so. Lots of stops to check map and compass of course (reading the contours at night seemed very difficult, and I certainly couldn't read them on the run). But I was really pleased with how I did on a map that was not easy at night.
39. Colorado 5 Day -- Day 2 of the 3-day, Blue Mountain, Lake George, CO, August 5, 2005. 6.2 km, 300m, 48:11 (7.8 min/km). A wonderful place for orienteering, open pine forest with virtually no underbrush, which could be improved only if courses started at the high end of the map and finished at the bottom. The first 3 legs were great (downhill!), the rest was still fine orienteering, but also a lot of work. My O' was right on, the only problem being that for about the first 300 meters I had no idea where I was, but then a couple of very useful boulders appeared and I was back in contact with the map. This would be a great place to train, both for O' skills and for fitness.
38. Colorado 5 Day -- Day 1 of the 3-day, Buena Vista, CO, August 4, 2005. 6.2 km, 315m, 65:09 (10.5 min/km). Nasty weather, which just isn't supposed to happen at this event (at least not until mid-afternoon when the O' is done with). Raining and very darks clouds on the drive over the Buena Vista, though it was dry at the meet site when we go there. Perhaps we would get lucky. But perhaps not -- it started raining a few minutes after I started and it was cold and wet enough to make things a bit miserable (the wet rocks were very slippery), though of course overheating was not a problem. I'd borrowed a compass from Mike and Merilee Ball, seemed to work great for the 10 minutes I got to use it before smashing it on a rock when I slipped on the way to 3. So I had to pay a bit more attention, especially on legs like 8-9 (did well) and 14-15 (oops!). The latter was particularly stupid, since I had turned down -- why, I don't know -- an offer of his spare compass from Jeff Saeger at #9.
This was the first time using this area just east of Buena Vista. Very interesting terrain, beautiful too. But the course left a little to be desired, mainly in that some controls were too hidden, often tucked around behind a bush so that it was common to find the feature and still not see the control (like #s 3, 8, 14, and 15). And then there was #13, a "saddle" that seemed to be better described as "slot between a couple of cliffs, down low and out of sight" and caused grief/anger for many. It seemed totally unnecessary. On the other hand, some (who shall remain nameless) came to grief elsewhere, such as looking for 2 on the hill mass where 6 and 7 were, and that can't be blamed on the course setter.
37. Colorado 5 Day -- The Chase, Badger Gulch, Lake George, CO, August 3, 2005. 7.5 km, 200m, 50:03 (6.7 min/km). Chase start based on the results of the prologue, with a number of people (though none of the 20 or so ahead of me in the sprint) either sitting it out or making up their own shortened version of the course. Open, fast terrain. I started about 15-20 seconds after Vlad and Vadim and struggled to keep them in sight, mostly successful. Vlad was always ahead, but I got a slightly better line into 4 and 7 than Vadim, which helped me keep up to him. I slowly fell behind at the end, ybut you do what you can do. It certainly wasn't for lack of trying. The only mistake was at the last control, doing just what V&V were doing ahead of me. Shouldn't have missed it, but then my compass had quit working around 6 (huge bubble, needle just spinning), and it would have been nice to have it on the way to 14. The other unexpected happening was the lightning and cold rain that appeared in mid-course. Amazing how fast it changed from the mostly clear and a bit too hot conditions before the start to rather nasty just 30 minutes later. It was the sign of more weird weather in the next couple of days.
36. Colorado 5 Day --Attack Badger Sprint, Badger Gulch, Lake George, CO, August 3, 2005. 2.7 km, 70m, 17:39 (6.5 min/km). The lead-in to the Colorado 5 Day, which actually is a prologue and a chase, then a 3-day event with the US Night O' and Relay Champs squeezed in the middle. Seven races in 5 days in other words, all at about 8,500' altitude. This time the prologue doubled as a sprint in the 2005 Sprint Series so there was a little more on the line. And it was a fine sprint, open runnable terrain, lots of details, controls hung nicely (not hidden!). The only problem was the lack of oxygen. Lots of gasping for air at the finish.
I had a good run, no mistakes though I was helped on 8 by other runners who had missed to the right and were heading back to the control, giving me a nice sense of where to aim. But it was awful hard work....
35.World Masters Final, Fort Assiniboine, Alberta, July 30, 2005. M60 A Final -- 5.5km, 180m 49:27 (9.0 min/km). The usual problem on a big day (one that counts, and one that doesn't come very often) -- keeping the nerves under control, using the right tactics, making good decisions, and running hard.
The tactics boiled down first to finding the routes with the best running, even if they involved a fair bit of extra distance, and staying out of the marshes and thicker areas as much as possible, especially the marshes, since nothing that I had seen (or heard from people at the model) indicated that the marshes were anything but slow. The other general tactic was to be a bit careful. Perhaps I was thinking back to last year's WMOC final, when I blew the first control and made a couple of mistakes later that negated all the effort I had put out physically. I especially wanted to start out in contact with the map.
The last 10 or 20 minutes before the start always go by slowly. Warming up, drinking, peeing, observing as much as possible of the terrain and vegetation, checking out the competition. The last is easy to do since the last ten starters get bib numbers "M60-10" down to "M60-1". I knew a couple of them, met a couple others. The special numbers were actually a bit deceptive. Usually they are used for a chase start on the last day of an event, with the best going out first, and having bib number 1 really means you are leader. Here the previous days didn't count, and the bibs were mostly for show (it was likely the last ten would finish well, but quite possible the winner might be someone starting 20 or 30 from the end who just had a bad day on one of the qualifiers).
Finally off to control one, which looks trivial on the map but which demanded a bit of care if only because the visibility varied from excellent to quite closed in. It was a factor throughtout the course. You would plan a route that connected various spurs, but the visibility at the connection points was often poor enough that you had to be careful with the compass and have a bit of faith that you were going the right way. And then things would open up again and everything would feel ok. I made the right turn to 1, trying to plan a good route to 2, which was not obvious. What I ended up doing wasn't bad, though I should have gone straighter north out of 1. I think I was (too) afraid of the light green. But anyway I executed the route well, getting all the connections right, though I do remember feeling concerned about the amount of time I might be losing to hesitations, the 5 seconds here and there to get a better look at the map or a careful look at the compass when I was feeling less than 100% sure of myself. And I also didn't feel fast physically.
But then I got to 2 and there were M60-4 (I'd caught 2 minutes on him) and M60-6 (6 minutes on him), and, hey, not so bad! They latched on to me as I nailed 3 and led the way to 4. On this last part of the route to 4 I took a look at the route to 5 and decided almost at once on a swing to the left. To the right never entered my mind. The marshes I'd seen so far (granted they were green, not the rough open of the marsh west of 4) looked very uninviting. So I headed south out of 4, taking 60-4 and 60-6 with me for a little while. But the terrain for the next several hundred meters was crappy, "against the grain," and we split up (60-6 went further left in error and finished way down). The white strip of high ground all along the marsh was fine. Towards the end of the leg I changed my plan a bit and took the trail/ride to the west, then cut through the green (really bad, worse than mapped) to the high ground just east of 5, then almost went out the spur to the north of 5 before checking my compass and correcting myself. Just as I reached 5 a runner popped up from my right. Couldn't see his number as he punched ahead of me, but he was dressed like 60-2. I wasn't sure, but it was a bad feeling.
Up and over the hill (I found a little path through the dark green, that's why you want to start late), then made sure I got the right trail to just north of 6. The last bit should have been simple, but the vegetation was thick enough that you had to weave quite a bit and the visibility was low enough to make it hard to really see the terrain. But I nailed it, and moved on, taking a swing to the left to get around the marsh. Out to the jeep road, and I noticed not for the first time that my legs felt dead; when I should have been pushing the pace I was struggling to keep a moderate pace, and on the uphills in the woods it was an often unsuccessful struggle to keep running at all. I knew I was loosing time, but I couldn't seem to do anything about it. Over the top of the ridge, I dropped into 7 just right, then across to the next hillside, along the trail, across another neck of thick stuff, and up to 8, feeling slow as molassas. And just as I get to 8, there is 60-1. And I'm 4 minutes down to him, and he is moving much better than I am.
Very discouuraging, but I do what needs to be done and hook onto his back and ratchet my pace up a notch as he heads down to cross the lowlands. I'm barely keeping up, but I hang a right at just the right moment and am first in and out of the control. The next one looks dicey, the kind of control that could be a problem if the visibility is bad, so I opt for a safer route to the left. 60-1 disappears on a straighter route. I catch the trails and ride just right and get the control. #10 is also dicey, but I read the vegetation right and spike it, and then run as hard as I can for home. But it is too little, too late. I even fumble with my dipstick at the finish line, spending an eternity (a couple of seconds?) getting the damn thing in the hole. A minute later 60-1 comes in, then a couple minutes later 60-2 arrives, and I think maybe 3rd is possible, but a few minutes later the results are clear, and 6th it is.
I talk to Stig Berg, world champ in 1970(?). He has beaten me by one second. We compare splits. He has beaten me by 3 minutes on 4-5. He went right, across the marsh (which was easy running he says, just like a field), then almost all the way on the trail. I talk to the Norwegian who was 4th, beat me by a minute. He ran the whole leg in the marsh, beat me by three and a half minutes. My time for the leg is 10 minutes and all the others at the top were about 7. How could I miss it? I don't know. I was convinced that the marshes were bad and so I didn't even think about it. Perhaps the Scandinavians, for whom running in marshes back home is very common, just naturally assumed it was the best route. In any case, that route choice, plus going all the way around another marsh leaving 6 when straight across it was fine, cost me a medal. But, as my friend Charlie says, it is what it is. You make your choices, you do your best, somedays it's good enough, somedays it isn't.
And what for next time, since too aggressive and too careful seem not to have been the answer the last two WMOCs? Perhaps the solution is just to get lucky and have a day with good legs to go with a good head.
34.World Masters Qualifying #2, Tiger Lily, Fort Assiniboine, Alberta, July 28, 2005. 4.6 km, 140m, 46:26 (10.1 min/km). My goals in the qualfiers were not only to make the A final, but also to finish in the top 5 or10 in my heat so as to start relatively late in the final. With a third on the first day, and times relatively spread out, it was clear that all I needed to do was get around the course without any big mistakes.
This actually made it more difficult to orienteer properly, since I wasn't particularly motivated. The result was a lot of stopping and generally not good O' technique (I've always felt that you should always orienteer at full effort mentally and physically, because otherwise you develop bad habits). And a very unsatisfying run, though it turned out to be good enough for 3rd place again. But one thing you don't know is how hard anyone else is trying. Certainly, the qualifying results are not predictive of the results in the final; I still felt like I could finish anywhere from first to 20th.
The course/terrain was actually very interesting, mainly because there was such a large difference in the runnability in various areas. The yellow was super fast (low grass), as was any ajoining white woods, especially where there were no vegetation boundaries between the yellow and the white. The green was mostly terrible, and the white near it wasn't great either. So route choice, and route execution, was the problem. Stay out of the marshes and out of the green as much as possible, and try to link up the areas of good running. I wasn't happy with how I managed that, especially from 1-2 and 3-4 (4-5 was just right, 5-6 not bad). But sometimes there are no good routes and the challenge is to find the less bad one, and then execute it well. And I certainly didn't execute 1-2 and 3-4 well. But I didn't lose any time at the controls. The end result was another third place and second overall in my heat for the two days. For the final I would start third from last.
33. World Masters Qualifying #1, Medicine Hills, Winfield, Alberta, July 26, 2005. M60, heat 2 - 4.5 km, 140m, 47:21 (10.5 min/km). The WMOC has a format that has not changed since it started as the unofficial World Veterans Cup in Finland in 1983 -- 2 days of qualifying to divide the field into however many finals are necessary, with a maximum of 80 in each final, and then a one-day final. That this format hasn't changed in over 20 years is either a sign that it is just what the market wants, or a sign of the resistence to change that is not uncommon within the sport of orienteering. My view is the latter. In a time when the WOC has added a middle distance and a sprint, the WMOC remains a event that takes most of a week for just one race that really counts. I spoke to David May (I think he's head of the IOF's Foot-O' Committee) about this, and while he said he would take a look at the format, he seemed reluctant to fiddle with a format that "worked" -- in other words, the IOF makes a lot of money from the WMOC, and a lot of people go to it, and don't mess with success. Which ignores the fact that a different format might do a lot better, financially and otherwise. I'd much rather go to a WMOC that had 2 events, with one qualifying day for each, and for which I'd expect the entry fee to be higher. I'm not too hopeful of change. If change does come, I think the motivation will be financial rather than what makes for a better competition. Money talks, as usual.
I also talked to David (this was on the morning of the second qualifier) about the decision that had just been made by the jury, and ok'ed by David, to change the rules for determining how many advanced to the A final. It's straightforward when there are more than 160 in a class, with 80 going to the A final. But with 20-159 in a class, the rules call for the top 50% of the "qualified" runners to go to the A final, where a qualified runner is someone who finishes both qualifying runs. So if you have 100 starters and everyone finishes, then 50 go to the A final, the top 25 in each heat. But if only 96 finish (the other 4 DQ or DNF), then only 48 go to the A final, the top 24 in each heat. So if you finish 25th in your heat, you don't make it, even though you made the top half of of all starters. Randy got nailed by this quirk last year in Italy. But for this year only, they changed to rule to 50% of not just all starters, but of all registered (to make it easier to determine in advance how many from each heat would go to the A final). Seemed to be a very sensible decision. We'll see if the IOF manages to adopt it for the future before a few more years have gone by.
In my case, in M60, there were 120 signed up, so we were split into 2 heats, with the top 30 from each going to the A final. There were a lot of good orienteers entered, but the field was still relatively thin, as is standard as most WMOC's -- perhaps 10 or 20 had a shot at winning, perhaps 30 or 40 had a shot at the top ten. Making the A final was not a concern as long as I stayed healthy and didn't do anything stupid.
One of the bad aspects of this WMOC -- and overall it was a good event -- was the location of the events. The first qualifier and the model event the day before it were about a 90 minutes drive SW of Edmonton. The second qualifier (and its model) and the final (and its model) were about 100 minutes NW of Edmonton. Both out in the sticks, with places to stay nowhere near. So there was a lot of driving. As a result, we opted not to go to the models. A decision that might have been significant, I'm not sure. I certainly spent some time talking to people who had been to the models, and I had a good sense of what they had been like.
The first qualifier, to put it bluntly, was terrible. My opinion may be influenced, and may therefore be a bit unfair, by the fact that I was the first starter in my class. The terrain was partly open range, with grass knee-high and higher, and partly a mix of wooded marshes and dry land with lots of underbrush even where the woods were supposedly "white". Certainly a day where you didn't want to go first; I'd guess the course got at least 10% faster as the day went on and the elephant trails appeared. But there was nothing to do but grin and bear it and find the controls, even if it felt like I was moving in slow motion the whole time. My only mistake was at 3, where I misread the map slightly and thought the control was sitting in the trees, when if fact it was out in the open (but pretty well hidden by the waist-high grass), So I pulled up a few meters to the side of it, didn't see it, did a little loop around to check my location, and then came back and saw it. A little bit nervy. The other thing I remember was just after leaving 7, crossing the small stream and then uphill through the open area. The grass and various other vegetation was waisthigh and it took a good bit of effort to push through it at a walk. I could only imagine how nice it would be 30 or 60 minutes later. At the finish, I was the first male in (three women from much shorter courses had beaten me in), whoopeedo. More importantly, I ended up 3rd for the day, just shows what having a relatively clean run can do for you when the terrain is crappy.
32. Barebones Day 3 at McKenzie Crossing, Alberta, July 21, 2005. 4.4 km, 180m, 41:03 (9.3 min/km). A really fine place, never run there before. East side of the Red Deer River. Varied from gently to severely eroded. The yellow was excellent running, even though the ground was uneven and you had to watch for bumps and holes; the green was very green and definitely to be avoided. A terrible place when it's wet because all the erosion banks turned to mud, but it was dry and fine on this day. The O' felt totally different than the day before. Sometimes not so hard and just run as fast as possible, but mostly much more difficult, so lots of hesitating to check the map carefully, especially in the area where there were a lot of erosion banks, gullies, holes. Took a lot of thinking, and good eyes, to figure out the map and the terrain.
My run was good in the sense of no major errors, though it felt very slow. But it was definitely a day for being careful. First again by less than a minute, and first overall.
31. Barebones Day 2 at SL Ranch, Alberta, July 20, 2005. 5.6 km, 170m, 36:32 (6.5 min.km). Site of the APOC individual race in 2002, where I'd won M55 by about half a minute over Michael Wood of New Zealand on a very hot day. This time it was warm but not uncomfortable. We were on a different section of the map from then, but basically everything is the same, a mix of open high ground and thicker wooded low ground for the most part. And the open areas were good running, firm and not too high grass. The challenge in the O' was threepart: (1) to find the most efficient route, maximum amount of yellow, (2) to keep track of where you were (relocation could be a real challenge), and (3) to run as hard as possible. Since it was easy to read to map on the run in the open areas, there was never any reason to slow down. (Note that reading on the run can be deceptive -- often you don't realize how much you slow down when reading, even if you are still running. The best can do it at full speed, even when the footing isn't great.)
No problems, routes seemed ok, won by about 30 seconds, the physical effort felt just like a XC race.
30. Barebones Day 1 at Beaver Lake, Caroline, Alberta, July 19, 2005. M60 -- 3.7 km, 75m, 28:43 (7.8 min/km). This was my first time at Barebones, an event put on by Calgary orienteers for the last years which puts a premium on good orienteering, good fun, and a minimum of organizational work, although this year the much larger than usual attendance (about 600, mostly Europeans here for the World Masters Champs in Edmonton the following week) meant that the organizational efforts were much greater than in years past. More courses, more workers, even portable toilets. But the spirit seemed the same -- keep things as simple as possible and enjoy yourself in the process. And they certainly succeeded. We had three days of first-class orienteering. We had fun. And even the weather was perfect, sunny but not hot.
I'd been to Beaver Lake in 1990 when the North Americans and a World Cup race were held there and I had positive memories. My routes on the old maps shower a preference for open land over woods, and a clear aversion to marshes. This time was not much different, other than perhaps a bigger preference for fields over woods, as it had been a very rainy June and there was lots of tall grass in the woods and a good bit of deadfall hiding in that grass in places. I had a late start, so there were lots of tracks, but sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don't. My O' was a little shaky, a little uncertain coming into 1, very uncertain coming into 2. After that it was very solid, but my speed varied quite a bit, something that you would guess from looking at the map. The slowest was the first part of 3 to 4, getting up to the rides. If there was a track there I didn't find it. The grass was high, lots of deadfall, and I seemed to lose the necessary desire. I think I lost a minute to the best time on a two-minute leg, with no mistakes! On the other hand, by 6 I was moving well again, and 7 and 8 were very fast, partly because the woods were cleaner, and partly because I got just a sense of urgency back. It's really easy to go too slow. Sometimes it's good to be careful, but most of the time you just have to buckle down and move.
29. Sprint at Ratlum Mountain, Chase, Canton, CT, June 12, 2005. 1.69 km, 85m, 21:49 (12.9 min/km). Part 2, the Chase. Went out just behind JJ, just ahead of Pavlina. Missed #1, did a slight circle too far east and now Pavlina was on my heeels and JJ was out of sight. 2 was ok. To 3 I came in from behind, saw JJ coming out, Pavlina was maybe 20 seconds behind me. Diddled on 4 a bit, JJ is gone. Cut in too soon, climbed too high to 5, checked out a possible overgrown clearing, checked out another possible overgrown clearing. No idea where I was, but it is very quiet. Not a good sign. Cut back to the west just on "feel" and there is the control. Neil Bostrom is right behind me, having observed my fine O' skills through much of this little loop.
On the way to 6 I lose all motivation. This rarely happens, but today it hits full force. Look at Neil run ahead, good let him go. I jog just enough to keep him in sight through the next few controls and then walk up the hill from 11. Not a sterling performance! But after some food and a couple of Cokes and a couple of beers I was feeling just fine, memories of the day's O' quickly and blessedly fading away....
28. Sprint at Ratlum Mountain, Prologue, Canton, CT, June 12, 2005. 1.47 km, 100m, 13:32 (9.2 min/km). Ratlum Mountain, aka Charlie and Rhonda Deweese's home, offered some excellent orienteering plus an excellent spot for a picnic (and WCOC's summer meeting). Given the oppressive heat and humidity, it could be argued that the picnic was better than the orienteering. Certainly my eating/drinking was better than my orienteering. Actually my run at the prologue was not too bad, a little shaky at 2 and 3, ending up just a few seconds behind JJ though quite a long ways behind Joe.
27. Sprint #2 at the DVOA/Team Fundraiser at the Delaware Water Gap, PA, May 30, 2005. 2.1 km, 75m, 13:18 (6.4 min/km). After an hour of rest and relaxation, spent mostly calculating the new standings in the sprint series (final calculations will have to come from Boris, of course), it was off to sprint #2, with even more negative thoughts about how I was going to be really tired this time. And once again, turned out not so bad, ran hard again.
1 and 2 went easily, but 3 took a bit of attention, turning back and angling slightly left up the hill. Took some concentration to see where we were going next, but then the route was clear, over the ridge, then along the low slot until the open marsh was in sight and then turn right. Got partway there, chasing and then slowly passing Glen Tryson, working rather hard, when it occured to me I had no idea how far I had gone. But I stuck to the plan and just waited what seemed like quite a while before the marsh showed up. A right turn just before I reached the start of the marsh, and the control was right there. Lots of people had trouble on this one, turning up too soon. 5 and 7 were similar, trust the compass and then partway there the hill came into view. 6 was a little dicier, but it was visible from a little ways off (in general, the controls on this sprint were less visible, as the forest was deciduous and the colors much more mottled). The rest were no problem. As I reached 12 I heard someone closing and it was Leif, who had started a minute behind me. Where have you been, I asked. Problems, he said. And then he charged off down the last slope to the finish control. I had no choice to charge after him, not quite keeping up, but pulled along fast enough to once again take Wyatt in the chute! Must be the workouts at the track....
Overall a great weekend produced by Sandy Fillebrown. And once again I was struck by how intense (and fun) the sprints are.
26. Sprint #1 at the DVOA/Team Fundraiser at the Delaware Water Gap, PA, May 30, 2005. 2.0 km, 75m, 13:31 (6.75 min/km). I wasn't feeling especially optimistic before the start, mainly just some negative thoughts about how tired I would probably feel. Usual stuff, sometimes true, sometimes not. Turned out not so bad, ran hard the whole way. Took all my mental powers to stay ahead of myself with the map reading. It sure helped that several of the controls were very easy to see (partly because the course was mostly in hemlock forest and the orange and white stand out well against the dark browns and greens).
Followed Charlie Leonard through #3 (he started just in front of me), then mostly on my own until the end, where I heard a bit of noise behind me approaching 14 and glanced back to see Big Eddie and Speedy Vadim closing rapidly. Mustered up the best sprint I had, plus picked up the trail cleanly (not trivial), but Eddie got by just before the end. But the splits show I still got Wyatt in the "chute," a fine, although very minor, triumph!
25.DVOA/Team Fundraiser at the Delaware Water Gap, PA, May 29, 2005. 8.2 km, 310m, 73:57 (9.0 min/km). Interesting course by Alexei Azarov. I'd been to the Water Gap twice before and both times were when the leaves were down, so I was a bit apprehensive about how slow the forest would be. And the visibility would be a good bit less as well. But nevertheless the orienteering went well for the most part. And my legs felt good, which helped a lot in the thicker underbrush.
It was quite thick around #1, but I found it without much delay, and then most of the way out to the road on the way to 2 was thick as well. Took a while to get into picking the best line through the forest. Approaching 2 I went between the ponds and that was not so good, lots of multi-flora rose (tenacious thorns) made it passable only by going partly into the pond. To 3 I got off my line a little, but after climbing the first hill and dropping into a substantial reentrant, it was clear I was too far left. After that I was pretty clean and I think I had the best routes. To 7 I thought of taking the trail to the right early on to avoid mosst of the green, but it didn't seem like it would get me any closer to the control. As it was, I kept up a decent pace through the middle of the leg, and then dropped nicely onto a small trail running down the reentrant to the stream. Hard to see on the map, but very nice on the ground! To 11 I wasn't sure where I would cut left over the ridge, but when I spotted a deer trail angling up it seemed like a good time, and I read the terrain coming into the control just right. Overall couldn't have been more than a minute of mistakes, not bad especially given that the 15,000 map wasn't easy to read.
24. Ottawa Interclub A Meet, Meech Valley, Gatineau Park, Quebec, May 22, 2005. 12.0 km, 480m, 115:32 (9.6 min/km). Ran the M21 course because I wanted a long run, and also to see a bit more of the Gatineau Park, where I had been several times in the late 70s. But I'd never been to Meech Valley. Map was mostly green and yellow. The green was definitely green, the yellow was open fields, a little wet and tufty and not all that easy running, and the white was, well, light green. The course looks elementary in places, but I was glad that it allowed running on trails and fields as much as it did, or I might have been out 3 hours. The forest was quite nasty, featuring the trifecta of steep slopes, wet rocks, and deadfall. The orienteering was not too exciting, but it was better than it might have been.
One bad control, #2, not sure how I missed it but I ended up too low. Also missed #10 a little, but could have been worse as the visibility was quite low. The only other problem was from 19 to 20, when I couldn't get across the high fence halfway (well, I could have, but it would have been at more risk to my body than I was willing to take). Images of an old Billygoat at Mt. Tom with people trying to get over a snaowfence as the clocked ticked down to 3 1/2 hours....
Hans Fransson was first again, about 97 minutes, so I was just inside my 20%. Actually, I ran ok right to the end, so that was nice. It helped that it was cool.
23. Ottawa Sprint Champs, sprint #2, Lac Philippe West, Gatineau Park, Quebec, May 21, 2005. 2.43 km, 80m 17:37 (7.2 min/km). A little more in the woods, and a little trashier woods, so the times were slower. Not a bad run, though not as clean as the first one. Hesitations coming into #3, plus I think straight over the small knoll at the end would have been faster. To #6 I took the best route according to the map. In fact it was a good bit faster to stay low in the open and then take the control from below. To 8 and 9 it some some willpower to keep running, which lacked a bit a couple of times, but then I was quick at the end and snuck in to second place by a few seconds. Hans Fransson was way ahead. I was shooting for no more than 20% behind, was just under that on sprint 1, just over on sprint 2. Courses by Cherie Maloney, excellent.
23. Ottawa Sprint Champs, sprint #1, Lac Philippe West, Gatineau Park, Quebec, May 21, 2005. 2.37 km, 70m, 15:25 (6.5 min/km). A fun course -- in the woods, out of the woods, in the woods, out of the woods, in the woods, out of the woods -- always trying to keep planning ahead and run as quickly as possible.. Good run, just a few seconds of hesitation a couple of times. Map was a little sketchy, but not enough to cause serious problems.
22. WCOC local meet at Ansonia Nature Center, Ansonia, CT, May 15, 2005. Special "Middle" Course, 4.5 km, 39:08 (8.7 min.km). An extra course produced by Greg, so of course it had to be done, even though my legs were toast. Managed pretty much ok, but would have been a lot more fun, and better training, if I'd been fresh. Note that the control numbers are not in sequence. Also, did not have to punch, just touch the bag. That was really nice!
On the way from 5 to 4 is where the hawk just about removed part of Clint's scalp. Clint was just a few minutes ahead of me. Should I feel bad that the hawk didn't also view me as a tasty morsel? No, I can live with that....
21. WCOC local meet at Ansonia Nature Center, Ansonia, CT, May 15, 2005. Red Course, 6.9 km. 225m, 57:24 (8.3 imn/km). A really nice area, good woods and interesting terrain, plus fine courses by Sergei with help from Greg and Boris. Was quite unhappy with my orienteering yesterday, so the plan for today was to let the running take care of itself (i.e. try to go at a moderate, sustainable pace), and focus on "flow" -- good movement into and through the controls, actually good movement throughout the course, always knowing where I was going and where I wanted to go.
Worked out pretty well. It's something I've gotten very lazy about, and there were many times today that I had to remind myself to look ahead, think ahead, plan ahead. But I managed to concentrate and for the most part do as I wished. Still several small mistakes. For example, to #4, dropped down to cross the main trail, figuring the terrain on the west side of it was so distinct that I would have no trouble knowing where I was for sure, but when I got there it didn't really make sense, and I didn't really want to keep going without being sure. Probably stood there for 20-30 seconds. To #6, I was a little too low, or more accurately, a little lower than I thought I was, Before long it occured to me that I was getting too far from the trail, so I started to go back and then saw the control above me. But on the whole it was a good run in terms of getting back to the proper way of moving through a course.
Only really annoying thing was I seem to have left my map (and splits) at the meet site. But Greg sent me an electronic version, to which I have tried adding my fashionably pink route, also electronically. Seems complicated, but also seems to have worked!
20. WCOC local meet at Osbornedale, Derby, CT, May 14, 2005. Red course, 6.27 km, 300m, 63:08 (10 min/km). Another nice course, this one by Clint Morse. Hit the controls mostly ok, but a couple bad route choices and one bad route execution. (Had the choice of running the sprint first or last, depended on whether you wanted fresher legs or a bit of map knowledge, I opted for the fresher legs theory.) No problems until #8, where I thought about going left and around but opted for a little bit right and over. Dropped down a bit to the right of the control, but corrected easily, don't know if the relative positions of the trail bend and the cliff are quite right as I was on my compass reasonably carefully. Meanwhile I'd decided on a round-about route to 9, mainly because I saw the green on the north side of the pond and it scared me off. Judging by splits, it would have been a minute faster.
I had plenty of time to think about 11 and 12. First thought was completely around on the trail approaching 11 from the north. Next thought was that sometimes the dark green had gaps and straighter at the end could be a lot faster. Next thought was that if that was the case, then the best route to 12 might be back out the same way and then trail and stone wall right to the point. Next thought was I ought to check the straight route on the way in to see if I wanted to use it on the way out. Next thought, as I'm hung up in terrible vines and briers in the first hedgerow, is this was pretty stupid. Next thought, as I'm hung up equally badly in the next bit of dark green, is that this was really stupid. Get to the control, punch, and see Charlie 30 seconds ahead of me. He'd probably been a minute behind halfway to 11.
Catch up to Charlie, trying to move as well as I can, sort of lose contact, surprised the hillside is as extended/uniform as it is, go through some thicker stuff, pass above a stone wall angling down, cross a trail, cross a stone wall, hmm, contours don't look quite right, hmmm, why am I at the top of the ridge? Whoops, at least I correct pretty quickly. (Dashed line on map is where I thought I was going.) But not good. Bad route choices are going to happen, but bad execution can get you in serious trouble.
19. WCOC Sprint at Osbornedale, Derby, CT, May 14, 2005. 2.5 km, 100m, 22:21 (8.9 min/km). A nice course, with a lot of thinking needed. Legs weren't there, and neither was the brain at times. No so much in the way of being dumb, just not forcing myself to look ahead enough, and finding myself at controls without a plan already made for the next leg. Mentally lazy, and if you keep doing it, it gets to be a habit.
No problems early on, though I should have gone a much straighter route to #2. Thought I'd found the best route to 9, run along look for openings in the green, if there weren't any, cut up just before the houses. Didn't see any openings that I felt good about. Cut up before the houses and see the stone wall, which is about 8 feet high. No better to the left or right, and now a dog is barking at me and I hope it's tied up, and I hope the owner doesn't show up. It's actually an amazing wall, and quite a scramble to get up. To 11 the plan was to run edge of the white to the field corner, simple. The white was a little junky, but the last bit of dark green was sporatic and I cut through and popped out in the field. Lots more going on than on the map -- a road, piles of construction debris, patches of nasty looking briers, with the briers especially in the area where the control should be. Plunged into what I figured was the right spot, where there was something that could be interpreted as a ditch, but no control. Back out, check the map, control is about 10 meters from the treeline, plunge in again a little closer to the trees. Again no control. Out the other side this time, I happen to look off to my left where the control sits in plain sight about 30-40 meters from the trees. Arghhh! The rest is ok, but I still need a moment after punching at 13 to determine my route to 14. Routes to 13, 14 and the finish should all have been planned well before I got to 12. Live and learn, one hopes.
18. West Point A Meet, day 2 at Deep Hollow (used to be called Long Mountain), West Point, NY, May 1, 2005. RedY course, 8.6 km, 405m, 77:18 (9.0 min/km). A pretty good run on another fine course (course setter was Andrew Komm). A small mistake at #1, again went to the women's control first (another boulder, a little further up the slope). Only other real mistake was #8, dropped off the top of the hill at what I though was just the right place, but there was no control (not even a women's one) at the cliff I was at, but there was one about 50 meters back along the slope. The rest was pretty clean. Took a bunch of falls, including one on the way down to #5 which had the potential to be serious (a face-plant on the rocks), but I chanced on a soft spot for landing, and another part way to #12 that seemed trivial (foot slipped on a sidehill and I landed on the side of my hip), but in this case the landing spot was a rock. It hurt pretty good at the time and is real sore now. The kind of fall that at some point in the future would break a hip.
As I was coming back to #8 Katarina Smith punched in. Had a chance to watch her a bit, for even though she had different controls for 9, 10, and 11, they were close to mine. In case anyone is wondering why she does so well, I will say that she runs well (including uphill) and she orienteers well. That's usually a good combination. I asked her afterwards if she had been to the USA back in 1992 to a meet at Northfield, MA, which included the 1992 US Relay Champs. Yes, she had. It wasn't clear if she attributed all her success in O' to that trip, but I did look up the the names of the team of 10 Swedes who showed up that weekend, and they included Karolina Höjsgaard, Gunilla Svärd, and Jimmy Birklin, familiar names among the Swedish elite in the years since. I don't think we knew how good they were. And it's something (visits by some top foreign orienteers) that we should try to make happen more in the future.
The weather today was pretty close to perfect -- cool and overcast for running, with the sun coming out and almost balmy afterwards. Thanks to the cadets for a nice weekend.
17. West Point Sprint at Camp Buckner, West Point, NY, April 30, 2005. One course, 2.9 km. 100m. I was course setter/meet director, which the cadets graciously allowed us to hold as a Team fundraiser. I thought the course was mostly good, but I wasn't happy with the last bit. In retrospect I would have preferred a couple controls lower down between 14 and 15 to cut out some of the big hill, but the problem was that I hadn't field-checked the points on my one trip there and I didn't dare use something sight unseen. But the rest of it I liked. Thanks to JJ for doing map corrections, Valerie Meyer for printing the maps, Bob Turbyfill for putting out the posts a few days in advance, Valerie for doing all the e-punch stuff on the computer, Kris Harrison for doing registration, WCOC for map cases, and Cadet Andrew Komm for helping with all the arrangements. We ended up raising $460 for the Team. Too bad it was cold, rainy, and generally miserable out, or I'm sure we would have done better. But it was still definitely worth doing.
16. West Point A Meet, day 1 at Bull Pond, West Point, NY, April 30, 2005. RedY course, 7.7 km. 365m, 79:21 (10.3 min/km). I had the image, as I was leaving the start, of Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comic strip, who is forever trying to kick the football but at the last moment Lucy pulls it away. In this case I was Charlie Brown, forever showing up at West Point expecting to find orienteering that made the best use of the the terrain and avoided the worst of the steep rocky slopes, and once again, who are you kidding, this is West Point. And this was the day that was supposed to be much less physical! Added to this was that I surely did not have my own act together -- after a late night the night before dealing with municipal finance and various other local issues at Sunderland's annual town meeting, an early departure for the three-hour drive to West Point, and being somewhat stressed out by arrangements for the afternoon sprint, I wasn't exactly ready to orienteer. For example, I had on my heart monitor, but the watch/receiver was still back in the car. Plus it was wet, cold, foggy.
I took a look at the hillside going to #1 and decided I didn't want to deal with that, so I took the road around. Dropped down at the end, spotted what turned out to be the women's control to my right, thought it might be mine, nope, back the other way. Not a good start. Climb up to #2, climb a bit too much, study the map for a while before dropping back down. Head off to #3, it's a bit surrealistic crossing the road where half a dozen folks are wandering around in the fog. They spot me, "Peter, where's the start?" Apparantly their truck had broken down. I start to explain to them there's an easy way (coming in from the wrong direction) and a hard way, but then another truck arrives, and I head off. Get this one, top of the hill, But then I blow #4, too far left. Correct pretty quickly, but as I get close to the cliffs I'm getting pissed at myself for not cutting to the right to get an easy way down to the bottom of the cliffs. But I spot a way down, and just as I'm about to take it I see a control at the top of the cliffs out of the corner of my eye, and, well, sometimes it good to be lucky. Somehow that straightens me out and the rest of the run is pretty clean.
And what strikes me as the course goes on is that it is actually a really good course. Choices, variety, interesting legs, different kinds of problems, including one control (#12) that you sure don't want to miss, and which the fog isn't making any easier. The only thing I would suggest is that next time they print the map on the diagonal (with relation to north), that they align all the lettering to north, and don't put a border around the map. There were a bunch of times that I had to double check which way north really was. See the 2004 Billygoat for an example of when this was done right.
15. WCOC local meet at Macedonia SP, Kent, CT, April 17, 2005. Blue course, 6.7 km, 350m, 65:14 (9.7 min/km). A remarkably good run given how depleted I felt before the start due to the exertions of a 16-mile trace race yesterday. But my orienteering was very solid and I was moving pretty well (i.e. reading the map well on the run). The only uncertainties were approaching 5 (lots of patches of laurel, I went a bit high early both for better running/visibility, and also to have the boulder cluster as a backstop in case I was too high), and 10 (where I was pretty sure I was on the right line, and I was, but there was more laurel than mapped and it was easy to lose confidence). The only other problem was spotting the controls, sometimes a little faded -- two or three times I was right there (within 10-20 meters) and just didn't see the flag. Stop, another look at the map to make sure I see how the terrain lies, look again more carefully and there it is. The kind of place where having someone a bit in front of you is a huge help.
Which is just what I was doing for someone else. Got caught up climbing out of 3, then got shadowed all the way to the finish. Didn't get pissed, just used it as motivation to concentrate and was quite pleased with how good my navigation was. Got compliments afterwards, though no apparent guilt at having had a free ride around the course. Perhaps he was just training for the Billygoat, which may be here next year.
14. Billygoat at Mt. Norwottuck, Amherst, MA, April 10, 2005. Comments are on Attackpoint.
13. Flying Pig (and Women's Team Trials) Classic, Red course.
12. Flying Pig (and Women's Team Trials) Short, Red course.
11. Flying Pig (and Team Trials) Sprint.
10. WCOC Sprint A at Hoyt Boy Scout camp, West Redding, CT, March 26, 2005. 2.54 km, 45m, 17:15 (6.8 min/km). Good run, feeling the effort of the first one, but ran hard all the way anyway. Didn't hesitate to go through the green this time. Overall, a really fun day, sunny, upper 40s, run a course, think/talk about it a bit, then get to do another one and see if you've learned anything. And lots of good socializing before, after, and at "halftime." Thanks to WCOC and the DeWitts for putting it on.
9. WCOC Sprint B at Hoyt Boy Scout camp, West Redding, CT, March 26, 2005.3.3 km, 90m, 24:17 (7.3 min/kn). Ran the B sprint first. A good run except for one bad route choice (8 to 9) -- didn't hear and/or notice that the green wasn't bad at all, was afraid I'd get hung up in some terrible thorns if I went straight to 9. Leaving 9, I thought I'd try it, and the green was just about as fast as the white! Cost about a minute, a lot in a sprint. Otherwise a good run and good effort, variable amounts of snow, enough in places to make it tougher going.
8. Route choice training at Nolde, Reading, PA, March 6, 2005. Eric Weyman set up a short course with the goal of testing different routes. To make the numbers meaningful, the effort had to be the same (which I tracked with my heart monitor). It was pretty interesting. The only drawback was the snow -- some routes got faster after 10 or 20 people had done them and beaten a track in the snow.
The map shows my routes and split times, red for the first time around, blue for the second. I was surprised that the straight route was faster to #1 because the snow was pretty deep (I did run the whole way). To #3 it was about as expected. To #4 the right route was faster, partly because there was a beaten exit path by the second time around, whereas going to the left was unbroken deep snow the first time, and partly because the downhill on the trail was a lot faster than down through the white (but rather junky) woods.
One other thought -- a route is only good if you execute it well. A simpler route that you can also use to plan ahead has some advantages even if it not faster (or even is a little slower).
7. DVOA sprint #3 at Norristown, PA, March 5, 2005. 2.75 km, 33m, 18:34 (6.7 min/km). Course is really longer than the stated distance -- the shortest possible distance is about a kilometer longer. Really took some concentration to find the best routes, which I think I did. No mistakes. Also took some concentration to keep track of which control you were going for.
6. DVOA sprint #2 at Norristown, PA, March 5, 2005. 3.1 km, 39m, 17:44 (5.7 min/km). Another good run, just one mistake -- going into #4 I cut into the woods from the clearing, hit the bit of white woods, and didn't immediately see the control, which was about 20 meters to my left. Had to look at the map (while standing still!) to see the situation. Should have had an image in my mind before I got there of just how the control sat. The sprints really highlight any wasted time, meaning any time you're not running just as hard as you can. The rest of the course I orienteered well.
5. DVOA sprint #1 at Norristown, PA, March 5, 2005. 2.9 km, 21m, 16:56 (5.9 min/km). A day of three sprints with Randy Hall as the course setter, each one with its own character. #1 was relatively straightforward with one longer leg, #2 had sections of forest plus one even longer leg, and #3 had several "traps" where you had to look ahead and read the map really carefully to make sure you didn't end up in any dead ends and have to backtrack. All had lots of route choice, with some extra micro choices offered by the snow, which ranged in depth from 0-6". All were very intense efforts, both physically and mentally. And the whole day was really fun.
Only mistake was at #4, was sturying the map for my route to #5 and ran right past 4 by 10-20 meters or so. That's one of the challenges -- always planning ahead so you never have to stop or slow down, while at the same time not screwing up the leg you are actually running.
4. Sprint at U.S. Team Fundraiser, Oak Mt., Birmingham, AL, Jan. 17, 2005. 2.9 km, 130m, 19:48 (6.8 min/km). I did a sprint at Iron Hill in Delaware a month ago and it had the same feeling as this one -- very intense effort, and a real challenge to keep thinking fast enough to mentally stay ahead of where you were physically (i.e. to always know where you were going and what features you were looking for).
The large scale maps are great for anyone with not so good eyesight, but they add one bit of difficulty -- all the lines on the map are thinker than usual, and it can be hard to see where the controls circles and numbers are. Several times, especially towards the end, I had to look extra times at the map to make sure I was doing all the controls, and in the right order. This is not a criticism (though sprint organizers should check to be sure the course overprinting stands out enough), it's more the nature of the sprint -- lots of controls coming at you very quickly, not so hard if you are going slowly, but at a higher speed it can be very demanding.
Anyway, this run was pretty much flawless. No mistakes at all with the navigating. As far as the physical effort, I was determind to run all the hills (especially after listening to Spike the day before saying how easy it was to run up even the steepest ones!), but my resolve faded on both steep hills (up to 4 and to 5) and in each case I walked for about 2 lines. And my legs were a bit wobbly the last couple of minutes. But it was by far my best effort of the weekend, and very satisfying.
3. Classic at U.S. Team Fundraiser, Oak Mt., Birmingham, AL, Jan. 16, 2005. Red course, 7.7 km, 380m, 71:05 (9.2 imn/km). A really good course, lots of variation in terrain and types of legs, lots of choices. The first four legs were really fun, hit them all right on, though there was a moment as I was getting near 2 when I couldn't say for sure where I was (the features were pretty subtle), but then the control popped up just ahead of me.
Didn't quite get the best route to 6. I think the first part was right, cutting over the spur instead of going along the valley bottom to the road, but at the end I should have turned off the trail a little sooner and gone up the spur. It would have broken the climb up a bit. I think the rest of my routes were the best choices, especially to 12, where staying low made finding the point much easier (using the second big reentrant on the left as the place to leave the valley bottom), and to 15, where it took a bit of thinking to be sure that it was OK to go right of the out-of-bounds area even though the line was draw to the left. It was ok, and it definitely was faster.
2. WRE Middle distance at U.S. Team Fundraiser, Oak Mt., Birmingham, AL, Jan. 15, 2005. Blue course, 4.8 km 345m, 48:32 (10.1 min/km). No problems with the navigation, but a tough course physically. Lots of walking up the hills, which made the orienteering a lot easier because I had lots of time to study the map. But it was a good course, lots of choices. I think my routes were ok. The only one I'm not sure of was 8-9 where I went quite a ways around to cut out some climb. I don't think it was any worse. (Note that the best route can vary from person to person, depending on their strengths and weaknesses. Going straighter may well have been better for someone stronger on the hills.)
1. Training at Oak Mt., Jan. 14, 2005. Took a relaxed stroll around the course, going 5-4-3-2-1 instead of the normal order, just for the hell of it. Conclusions -- orienteering was easy as long as you knew where you were (but if your concentration wandered, mistakes would come), visibility was excellent (lloking way ahead and way to both sides really helped), and the hills were bigger and steeper than I remembered from being here 20 years ago. Most important was the visibility.