Monday, October 25, 2010

CSU A meet

CSU held another A meet this fall, just one day of it, as part of the New England Fall Foliage Festival. NEOC held Sunday's meet, and we helped out at that one too, but most of the stress was surrounding the CSU meet. Ed was in charge of everything, because when you're really good at something, you end up doing it instead of someone else who is less competent, and he kept being good at everything, which was great for most of us and not so great for Ed. Anyway, the format was a qualifier race in the morning, and then a final heat in the afternoon, both middle distance races. This made for some headaches for the organizers (Ed), but it all went off relatively smoothly, with music, announcing, live results boards, and lots of other high-tech sort of innovations that other sports take for granted and orienteering is just figuring out. The cutest part was definitely that Saturday's awards were towels, and Sunday's awards were soap. Not like its a subtle hint or anything...

I was on registration. That went pretty smoothly, but it also meant that my head was still in registration mode when I started running, at the end of everyone else's starts. My knee is certainly not healed, but I figured the morning's course was short enough that I couldn't do any real damage, plus, I'm sick of not running. So I headed out into the forest, and actually had a pretty decent run, other than totally blowing #1.

Splits. I managed to pull off a 6th place, despite feeling like my lungs were working their way out of my chest and my legs were exploding - somebody is a bit out of shape. It helped that I orienteered pretty well, I guess that's the main point. I quickly changed into non-running clothes, to discourage myself from doing the second race, even though I had just sneaked into the A-final. No point in pushing my luck with my knee. Back to race organizer mode, who needs a cooldown, anyway?

This is Ali finishing. We can pretend its me, I totally have legs that long.

After finishing, first, you check results (on the awesome live results board).

Then, you post-race huddle and go over splits, talk about your race, and discuss routes. There is an order to these things, a tradition that cannot be broken.
Meanwhile, Ed scrambles to make sure everything is still running smoothly. We need like six Eds for race days.
Ed and Sam worked together really smoothly to get the second start list put together in record time - Sam and I were talking afterwards, and if I had been in Sam's place, or Ross (Sam's fiance) in Ed's place, there would have been screaming and tears from all parties, but when its not your significant other, you aren't really allowed to throw a hissy fit, and things end up going so much more smoothly in high-stress situations.

Sunday was NEOC's meet, out at Baldwin Hill, near Winchendon MA. Luckily there was an indoor area for registration/results/download and for people, because it was windy and cold and raining, unlike the beautiful sunny October day that Saturday had been. I worked registration again, but it was right next to download/results, so I got to hang out with Ed all day, much better.

You can't really tell, but we're playing boggle. Things were so much more relaxed on day 2.

Another A meet is history - next time, it'll be even better! We're already talking about WRE status, inviting over Euros, and making it part of a huge east-coast fall orienteering festival. We have to clone Ed first, though.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

U.S. Corn Maze Orienteering Championships

A couple weeks ago, Peter and Gail and Ali and I were eating dinner at Bub's BBQ, which is near Mike's Corn Maze in Sunderland. Peter mentioned that it would be really fun to do some orienteering in the corn maze, and we were all like ha, ha, funny, good idea (but that'll never happen). And then he went and got the owners all excited about it and turned it into the US champs in corn maze orienteering (if that isn't facetious I'm not sure what is), put up a website, acquired e-punching, ran a contest for a logo, and twenty-five goofballs showed up on a Wednesday afternoon for the US Corn Maze Championships. There were two courses, the classic and the sprint. Both were great fun.

Cristina, Caroline, Ali and I dressed up in plaid shirts, which matched quite nicely with my sexy spandex from Linnea. Having giant diaper-like bandages on my butt doesn't help with the whole running motion, but as Boris caught on camera, I was able to get moving pretty well before the chafing caught up to me. The nurses weren't able to tell that I'd been running when they changed my bandage on Thursday, so I think I avoided any serious consequences for having some good clean fun in a corn maze.

Peter had set some tricky courses, and I made plenty of mistakes, but so did everyone else. I was hoping to break into the "red group" of Boris, Cristina, Ali, and Greg, but I missed it by just over a minute. Still beat all the old folks, so at least that is something! Stupid butt. Below are the first and second maps of the classic champs (distance: 1.5mi).

After we finished the classic distance (Results), we ran the sprint, which was all of 300 meters long, but devious. I blew #1 by 45 seconds or so, and my chance at a good placement was gone, but I had an awesome time.

Afterwards we all retired to Peter and Gail's house for delicious dinner, a birthday celebration, and boggle late into the night. What a good way to spend an evening! I can't wait for the next corn maze orienteering event, this is getting serious.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Raspberry butt

I was at an orienteering race over the weekend, and because I'm broken, I decided that I would not go into the forest on Sunday, but do a rollerski instead. I planned a loop, but didn't bother to drive it. Off I go, skiing into a beautiful crisp fall morning, not much on my mind other than happiness at moving my body. There were two major climbs in my loop, the second one about twice the height of the first one. The first big descent was perfect - just fast enough to cause a little trepidation, but not so fast as to actually scare me, and it was a nice breather after the mile-long climb. I forgot how much I like rollerskiing in NY, wide shoulders, good pavement, and here there was quite low traffic. The loop.

The second climb was a bit of a grind, 550ft total, and about 3/4 of the way up, I hit an intersection, which caused me to pause and think about which way to go for a second. After making a decision and going left, I managed to forget how much of a hill I'd already come up. The road kept going uphill for a while, and then flattened out into a beautiful, rolling, well-paved, car-less stretch of happiness. The endorphins were hitting me hard after not doing much training recently, I was in a good place. Then the road started downhill, gently. I thought about using speed reducers, but I hate slowing down, so I just kept free-skating. I passed a yellow sign showing the downhill truck sign, but figured that if it didn't say what the % grade was, it couldn't be that bad. Turned a corner and started going downhill for real, wheee! I turned another corner, the road got steeper, and I figured I could just ski it out, but I was carrying a lot of speed at this point and still accelerating.

Then I turned another corner (the road was following a ravine streambed down the plateau), and the road disappeared off a precipice ahead of me. In about the time it takes to say "oh SHIT!", I surveyed my options:

1. Left lane: just as steep, oncoming car.
2. Bail to shoulder? Nowhere to go, guardrail and rocky ravine.
3. Snowplow to scrub speed? Already in a snowplow, wasn't working to lose any speed and the skis were wavering back and forth really badly already.
4. Continue down the hill and hope to come out with the rubber side down? Figured I had another 10 seconds of uprightness with the wavering skis at the speed I was going, and if I got in a tuck (more stable), I'd probably hit 40-45 mph by the bottom, which would really hurt if I failed with the rubber-side-down agenda.
5. Fall, and scrub speed using the skin-asphalt friction.
a. Bail to side/hip?
b. Bail forwards?
c. Bail backwards?

I went for the butt slide approach, which was exquisitely painful (as expected), until I came to a stop against the guardrail. Spent a while panting, then tried to survey the damage, but I couldn't see much. Felt like a hell of a road rash, and my spandex had been reduced to assless chaps. Tied a windbreaker around my waist for decency, walked the rest of the steep hill, and limped on back, cautiously.

I lucked out that I was parked at the orienteering race, because they had emergency medical people set up, so they cleaned most of the gravel out of my ass and bandaged me up. It would have sucked to have to try and deal with a bloodied butt on my own in a remote parking lot somewhere. The downside to being at the orienteering race was that I was in Glens Falls, NY, about 2.5 hours away from Amherst. Ali agreed to drive me home, but she has never driven a stick shift car before, so that was an adventure. Luckily we were mostly on the highway, and fastlane meant not stopping.

It gets better. As we peeled out of the parking lot ("Release the clutch!" "Which one is the clutch?!?"), Ed called - he had been at the Mt. Greylock rollerski race earlier in the day with his rollerskis, and apparently on his way home, the wheel fell off his truck or something like that. He was camped out at the Lee exit off the Mass pike, and apparently the nearest auto parts store was 9 miles away. Ali and I bailed him out, he bought us burritos, then fixed his truck and we parted ways again. I suppose that could have been much worse, too.

So after dropping Ali off at her apartment, I had to get myself to the University Health Center, all of like 1 mile away. Boy was it painful to sit in the car and have to operate it. It was a slow night at the ER, and my raspberry butt really made the night for the nurses - they all kept popping in to check it out. Anyway, they put some lydocin on the road rash first, to numb it, and that was nice to have my butt not burning anymore. So another person comes in after 30 minutes or so to start cleaning my butt, and at this point I'm really cold. She gave me a blanket, but I had started shivering quite violently, so she went and got another blanket. At this point I was shaking so violently that the whole examining table was shaking, and lying on my belly, the tremors were making my hip flexors cramp as they tried to pull me into a fetal position. She told me that she couldn't really work on me while I was shivering this much, so brought me more blankets and left me curled up there to warm up. The shivering was way worse than getting gravel scrubbed out of my butt, I was truly miserable. The doctor came in, took my temperature, asked me if I'd ever gone into shock over something before or had a panic attack (nope), and eventually decided that we should clean off the lydocin from my butt, although they were convinced that this wouldn't be an allergic reaction to it. Shortly after they cleaned it off, the shivering abated, and they cleaned out the rest of the gravel. That wasn't an entirely pleasant experience, either.

So now I'm all bandaged up, its like wearing a diaper. They say I'm allowed to poop, but I haven't figured out how that is going to work just yet. Thanks to school health insurance I get to hobble back there each day to have them change my bandaging, but boy does sitting down suck right now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


That stands for the Golden Leaf Orienteering Festival, but I prefer to say GLOF. I wasn't planning on racing here, but then I got one of those emails telling me about a sale Jet Blue was having on one-way tickets from Buffalo to Boston, so I bribed some people with cookies, secured a ride to the airport, and signed up for one day of racing. The reason for not spending the whole weekend was because I wanted to be in Boston on Sunday and Monday, coaching and hanging out with Ed. This seemed like a good solution. Have I mentioned that I'm a pro at making simple travel plans incredibly convoluted?

Ali and I were going to stay with my parents in Rochester, so we left at 3pm, looking to get there by dinnertime. Somewhere near Albany, 2.5hrs into the drive, Ali looked and me and said "we need our passports to get into Canada, don't we." Yup. We'd both managed to forget them. So, we turned around, picked up passports and a burrito in Amherst, and headed back towards Rochester. That made for a short night, since Saturday we left at one of those hours of the morning that shouldn't exist. Anyway, with a passport, the border crossing was smooth, and we arrived at the race site with over an hour before the race. Cake!

The morning race was a sprint, it was billed as a World Ranking Event (WRE), but the women didn't have enough runners with good enough points for the race to count as a WRE, which was a real bummer, but it was still a really fun sprint, with good route choices and beautiful forest. I sort of hobbled through it, never moving all that fast, which was frustrating, but less frustrating than if I'd been hobbling around an urban sprint. After a couple bobbles in the beginning, my technique smoothed out, and thanks to some smart route choices near the end I finished 2nd, behind Ali. Yea CSU! Results, and Winsplits.
Now I remember why Ali and I get along so well.

Folks waiting for the Middle to start.

A quick bite to eat, and the second race of the day was a middle distance. I'd asked the organizers for an early start for Greg Walker and myself (Greg being the guy I bribed with cookies to get me back to the Buffalo airport), so we started an hour early - at least they had the controls out! I decided that since my knee was sore from the morning, I would mostly hike/powerwalk my way through the course, but I would have to have a perfectly clean run to be competitive doing this. So then I made a mistake on the first control, talk about a rough start, but overall I just was moving too slow out there to be competitive. I ended up 6th, in the middle of a good pack of women, but it was frustrating to not be able to attack the course. Results, and Winsplits.
Map 1.

Map 2.

Boston was beautiful from the air. Too bad Ed's old iphone that I use as a camera is so worthless as a camera.

So I packed up all my stuff and Greg drove me to Buffalo, I got on a plane, and Ed came to pick me up at the airport. It was just starting to feel like another day in the life, no biggie, its all good. Ed asked if I wanted to go out for dinner to Chinatown, that sounded good, so we parked down at his office in South Boston to take the T back in. I had to use the bathroom, so we opened the door to the warehouse, and I think my exact words were, "Ed, is it supposed to be raining in here?" I've since been informed that it is never supposed to be raining indoors. Apparently, a 3" sprinkler pipe had broken on the 4th floor, and when we went to check out the upstairs offices, there was 2" of water on the floor. That's fun.

By the time we got home, around 11pm, I was starting to feel like I'd had a very full day. Can't figure out why.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Night Weasels

The last two years, Colin has been the race director for the Ice Weasels Cometh cross race, and it has been awesome both years. Granted, he didn't cause the snow to fall, making the course mucky and slimy and awesome, but by now, he's figured out to run a good race. So when I saw that he was promoting the Night Weasels race (yea branding), I was pumped. I've officially joined the UMass bike team (UMBRC), and its sweet, they pay for my entry and give me gas money, so for the first time in three years I wasn't representing International Bicycle. Well, except for the armwarmers. Nat Herz, of fasterskier fame, gave me a ride there, since he's in Williamstown these days and Amherst is on the way to Shrewsbury, and that made the time go much faster in the car. He picked me up from campus at 3pm, and we got back around midnight. That has made for a rough Thursday morning, but the coffee has kicked in by now!

We rolled in to the Ski Ward, and there were four miles of yellow tape strung across the grassy hillside, a gentle rain coming down, Guns N' Roses blaring from the loudspeakers, and cross racers all over looking pumped to be racing on a Wednesday. At some point that I realized I hadn't eaten since lunchtime, and wasn't racing for another 2.5 hours. Whoops. I tried to choose the most digestible food from a typical ski lodge menu (think: hotdogs and fries), and figured puking up burger bits was better than bonking. And then I realized potential problem #2 - how to warm up for this race? It was dark by now, there were guys racing on the course so it was closed, I had no trainer, and no lights to make myself visible on the road. The course started with a 30m climb, in the muck, and I knew if I weren't warmed up for that, bad things would happen. Eventually I realized I could just ski walk up the mountain a few times, and that seemed to do the trick. Only a skier...

They staged the race by crossresults points, and I was ranked 8th. This meant a first-row start, which out of a field of 50, is a good thing! I was hoping to at least place as high as my seed, but I knew that it would be a struggle, since mud requires power, and I haven't been on a bike since Sucker Brook, 10 days ago, except for a 20min jaunt to the train station Saturday. Literally. And two workouts in the 10 days before that. The first week or so of not riding was sort of cute, it meant I was all rested, but by now its caught up to me, and pedaling takes way more work than it should. Thank god I'm good at suffering!

I got a mediocre start, and going up the hill found myself sitting in 8th. Woot, just stay here. But then I had issues, I made three separate attempts to get past Giulia on the downhill and failed all three, meanwhile getting a bit gapped. Finally passed her near the pits, but then I just began pack sliding. The first two laps I had my garmin tucked into my sports bra, because I wanted HR data (dork), but that meant that every time I was in the drops, it would start sliding out, so I was riding on the hoods, and that meant my cornering was sucking. Finally the damn thing fell out and I tossed it to Ed, I was riding better after that, although still slowly.

Christine Fort caught me going up the hill, and recognizing a pack slide when I see one, I suffered mightily to stay on her wheel. She bobbled the steep thing at the top of the hill, and I was able to take the lead going into the downhill, which opened enough of a gap, but then next lap Catherine Sterling went past me up the hill like I was walking. Then she mechanicaled, and got the pleasure of passing me again the next lap. By now I was praying that Meredith Miller would lap me and shorten my race by a lap, but it wasn't to be, and with two laps left, I could see that I was being reeled in by a small group. Pedal, bitch! With one lap left, choking on my own phlegm, wheezing loud enough to scare even me, Libby White was within probably 5 seconds of making contact up the hill. I did everything I could to dump her on the downhill, railed the barriers at full speed, and tried to go faster. Why was there so much uphill? Aaaauuuuughgggghhhh. I was dying a slow death, but thanks to enough slippery corners, I came through ahead, in 10th.

That was good enough for 2nd cat 3, and in the money, since they paid out 19 deep. I wish I'd been able to pedal as hard as I had last week, but you need fitness for cross, and mine is fading. At least my knee didn't hurt any more by the end than it had beforehand, so as long as I haven't set myself back, its all good. But boy do I have a post-race hack - that race, despite being awesome, took quite a toll on my body!


Ooh, I know what this thing does.

Bike racing! I think that's me on the right about to pass the person taking a mud bath.

Ed met me at the finish line with a beer. What service!

These photos are mostly of me, although its tough to say, really. From Ed's iphone, the HD stuff is cool. Too bad it can't do movement.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On potentially dangerous situations

So, the other day, I noticed a flyer on the wall of the building I work in for a $30 hour-long massage. That's like half the price of most massages. I was intrigued. And a bit skeptical, because if you're only charging half the price, what is the catch? Are you a serial killer? Rapist? Pervert? So, I didn't call the number.

But, the thought of only paying $30 for a massage was sitting in the back of my head. It turned about, pushing its way into my consciousness as I laboriously worked on a foam roller and tennis ball to remove knots from my legs and hips. Called out to me as my shoulder clenched up from racing my bike while unfit for it. And so last week, I called the number. A guy answered, and we set up an appointment. I'll admit, I was nervous, mostly because I couldn't find any information about his place online. These days, if you don't have a website, you aren't for real. I called Ed, and asked what he thought. He informed me that I have good claws, he wasn't that scared for my well-being.

So, I drove down to the guy's house. Having second thoughts. Almost turned around twice. I've never actually gone to a masseuse that wasn't recommended by someone before. I actually had a nightmare last night about this. But eventually I found myself in his driveway. eek. Knocked on the door, and Mike, the masseuse, answered. He was an older dude, maybe 60, heavyset and had his gray hair in a ponytail, which for whatever reason made me think he was some sort of homeopathic freak and maybe that is why he didn't do internet. Anyway, we talked for a while, basically I was evaluating if I felt comfortable around this guy to take my clothes off and let him touch me. He was a licensed masseuse, but still, I'm a 26yo female, I've been taught my whole life to not put myself in vulnerable situations. Am I just paranoid, or is this normal?

Anyway, long story short, I got the massage, he was a good masseuse, and I've decided I like him. I might go back. His reason for undercutting competitors is that it attracts clients, and he says he doesn't really need the money. Hmm. Regardless, I don't feel violated, and I do feel much more relaxed and limber. This time, it was a risk worth taking.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hudson Lowlander

I basically took two weekends this weekend. The first weekend started Thursday, and I headed to VT, because Ed was there, and it rained like five inches and we spent two days getting his truck unstuck from some serious mud, but mostly hiding inside reading books and avoiding the rain and damp and cold. Overall, a good time. Although attempting to pull out the truck in the dark, in the rain, with a jeep that had an electrical problem so required constant jumping every time it would stall because the clutch was dying, that wasn't exactly what I'd been envisioning, but its sort of part of the package that comes with Ed.

So Saturday I headed south, dropped my car in Amherst and took a train to Hartford (woo! trains!! I was excited), where Ross and Sam picked me up and we ended up in White Plains, at Neil's house, and Boris and Ben joined us for some delicious lasagna courtesy of Ross, and many games of boggle and that stupid dice game that Neil really likes. Woke up early and we headed to the Highlander, in Harriman state park, on a gloriously sunny, brisk fall day. I elected to do the Lowlander (half the distance), because I'm broken, and it seemed like less of a bad idea. The best idea would have involved staying in VT and maybe doing a 20min jog, but orienteering at Harriman is too much fun to miss. Second best idea would have been dropping out after the first map, but then I didn't feel like I'd have gotten my money's worth.

I watched the Highlander folks start, and then clumped together with the Lowlander racers, mostly West Point cadets, shivering a bit because long sleeves really would have been preferable. My goal was to mostly hike the course, with some jogging on trails and roads if my knee felt good. Off we went, and I was running. Dammit, stop running! Luckily there was a cliff to scale early on, so I stopped running, but with people around, its just so hard to walk! The first leg was a long one, and by control 1 I was with an Army runner and an older fellow who was breathing quite heavily. I figured I'd drop the heavy breather at some point soon, at least I hoped so because loud breathers can be really annoying when you're barely cracking a sweat. There was a beautiful stretch along a hillside to 2, and again I couldn't help myself, I ran. It felt so good, made me so happy. 3 was a downhill leg, but thicker vegetation, so I convinced myself to walk, and my knee was starting to ache a bit. That would have been a prudent stopping point, but I am anything but prudent.

Things went smoothly until the route from 8-9, I was starting to catch some of the slower Highlander competitors (they'd gotten a 30min head start), and that got me excited. I was also sort of racing the Army kid, he was definitely faster, but then he'd stop to read the map, or zig and zag a lot more, so my slower pace, probably 2/3 aggressive hiking and 1/3 slow jogging, kept up with much less effort. Anyway, I lost contact with the map for a brief second, and when I connected again I was heading up a parallel rocky reentrant, and lost 4-5 minutes searching the wrong hilltop for a flag. Three more army kids caught up during that mistake, and pulled away depressingly quickly on the road run heading to the map exchange.
Map 1.

Intellectually, I knew it would be a good idea to stop at the map exchange, in the parking lot. Nobody would blame me, my knee would thank me, yadda yadda yadda I am so f***ing bad at listening to reason. I decided to carry on, the pain in my knee was dull, not sharp, and it had sort of plateaued, so since it wasn't getting worse, I'd just do less running.

I hiked up to #22, and found the three army runners who had caught up after my mistake at 9. They zigged and zagged a lot more going down the hill, and caught me again at the stream-crossing, but then I didn't see them again as I speed hiked up to 23. A little hesitation in the circle as I was lining things up, and then on to 24. Again, the terrain was just too beautiful to not run, so I found myself bounding down the little valley. Then I found a cadet lying on the ground holding his ankle and whimpering, so I stopped to see if he was ok. He couldn't remember if he'd heard a pop, so he probably hadn't torn through any ligaments, but he was whining about how he couldn't stand up. He did knew where he was, and he was very close to a trail that would lead to a road, so I handed him a sturdy-looking stick and told him to hobble out to the road and hitch-hike. By then his three teammates showed up and wanted to carry him out, so I left them to it.

Leaving 24, the same army runner I'd been competing with on the first map passed me, obviously unfazed by his teammate's brokenness. I out-navigated him again up the hill to 25, but then made a mistake at 26, and he caught me again. Luckily he was confused, too. We were cat and mouse to 27 and 28, although I got off my line to 28, lost contact, and probably lost 3-4 minutes standing in one place trying to make things match up. Dummy. Then the army kid made a huge mistake on 29, compared to my relatively small 1-minute error of examining the wrong cliff, and he didn't catch up through 30 or the finish. Woo! I ended up first woman, but I don't have the full results yet to tell you how many guys I scalped. Not a fast race, not perfectly clean, but I thought I executed most of my routes pretty well, which left me feeling satisfied. Was it worth it? Tough to tell, the knee certainly hurts more now than it did Saturday. Hopefully it'll heal fast. Dammit, body, fix me!

The Highlander racers looked really dead as they were coming in, even Will, the winner, was caked in dried sweat and shaking a little. That is a real race, I can't wait to be healthy enough to do it.