Monday, April 25, 2011

Running in the woods

I've been doing a lot of running in the woods lately, and it's been wicked fun. This, combined with being out in the field a couple days, combined with the end of the semester, has kept me sort of busy. But it's fun. I just need to come up for air occasionally.

Two weekends ago, I headed to Pawtuckaway for a day, in the company of Giacomo and Alexei, and confirmed my belief that Alexei may be a robot - he wasn't slowing down, even four hours and 35km later. I was pretty trashed, and Giacomo's legs were cramping to the point where he was falling over and whimpering, luckily we stuffed him with some Mcdonald's and a couple hours later he was able to walk again. It was a beautiful day to be in the woods, and we did a re-run of the long distance course from the World Cup at Pawtuckaway in 1992.

The map was at 1:15,000 scale, which made it a bit hard to read, because Pawtuckaway has so many damn features, but once you got moving it wasn't so bad. I did make a 22 minute mistake, which was humbling - nothing like a trip to Pawtuckaway to put your ego back in it's place, I knew the orienteering last weekend had felt too easy! This map is a bit tricky to read, because it was printed for putting in ONA, with the routes of the winners on it, and both the men's and women's courses printed. I made it through #8 on the women's course before I realized I had to go back, if I were to meet Giacomo and Alexei in time for the next group training.

We ran this one together, trading off who was leading. It went really well, and I was feeling all smug, so I headed out on the next course expecting similar results. Unfortunately, I was more tired and dehydrated and hungry than I thought, and after about the third control, I was just walking. Not fun.

After a day of doing absolutely NOTHING (sometimes, you need those), I was recovered enough to jog down to Comm ave to watch the marathon. Our friend Chris was running, and we managed to find him in the throngs of people, but not to take any photos. Instead, I took a photo of the fast people: They were really speedy. It was impressive. Also impressive was the guy running 26 miles in a full gorilla suit, with the head thing. No way can you return that suit after that...

After some frantic fieldwork, attempting to get to all my sites in the Westfield in one week, I was feeling a bit worn down, but ready for the next adventure. And really, when this is work, how can you complain?

So, last weekend, a bunch of CSUers headed to Western Connecticut and Harriman, for a training camp and a local meet. The local meet was Saturday, in the pouring rain, but it actually wasn't as bad as I feared - just wet, not too cold. Although things had the potential to get cold when all my dry clothes were in Ali's car, and she and Ross took her car to get the far-off controls while I was running a second course. I came back to no car, and was about to collapse in a little heap of cold tired wet Alex, when Sam poked her head out of her car and invited me in. Phew. Disaster averted!
Route and course from the long race. I was slower than I wanted to be, but didn't make many mistakes, just one goof and one really bad route choice.
The second course - meant to be done against someone to make it fast and exciting, but everyone else had already started, since we had gotten there a little late.

We spent the night at Ali's parents' house in Poughkeepsie, which was great, and then headed down to Harriman Sunday morning. It was sunny and warm, which was pretty wonderful after the deluge on Saturday.

Ross and Sam's reactions to Sunday's sunshine:

First exercise was a control pick, and then we headed straight into three intervals, of about 5-7min. We ran these interval start, so that you were always chasing or being chased, and that made things really fun. I jumped over a snake at one point, and made a very girly noise. I was surprised!

As tends to be usual at our training camps, we picnicked in a parking lot, just loving the sunshine, and trying to guzzle enough water that we could finish the day's training. The second exercise was a corridor training, where you're supposed to use your compass to go straight. It's a lot harder than it looks.

After that, we headed out one more time on a route choice exercise - run in pairs, and meet at each control to discuss which way you're going, and see which one is faster. This was really fun, but I was really tired at this point. Too much fun for my own good!

You know it's a good day when legs and shoes look like this at the end...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Winter's last gasp

Sunday was the last day Magic Mountain was open, and Ed was dead-set on skiing it. Twist my arm, why don'tcha. Ed pointed out that as long as you manage your expectations, anything is awesome, and that meant I had a really good time. There were some runs that weren't going to make it through the day, but we managed to not have to take off our skis at any point. This is normally not a goal, but then again, there is normally snow all the way down the runs...

This was one of the better runs, in terms of coverage. I went with the under-the-tree line, didn't lose my hat so it's all good.

Looking up...
Looking down.

Since springtime in Vermont means the sap is flowing, Ed has been up there helping his cousin Rob boil water pretty much constantly the last week. Rob re-built the sugar house, and now there is a bench for sitting, and a bigger evaporator. And many fewer drips off of the roof.

Louisa and her puppy.

A good weekend! Now back to chipping away at the list of impending doom...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CSU training weekend

One thing that some of the national orienteering team members are trying to do is to hold more training camps, especially those of the weekend variety in easily-accessible areas. The Western Connecticut folks held a training weekend while I was at Ski WOC, and this last weekend, CSU hosted a weekend, basically by compiling some of the already-existing options. Saturday everyone met up at Breakheart to run the "semi-permanent" course that I'd set for the month of April, and then gathered at Brendan's house to have lunch, and then run some sprints at Tufts on Brendan's new ISSOM sprint map there. Sunday, Ed and Ian were hosting a local meet at Rocky Woods, in Dover, so we all headed down there. The weather was awesome, so we had good turnouts.
My route from Saturday's training at Breakheart - it felt so good to run in the woods! I guess I missed orienteering.

I missed Brendan's sprint in the afternoon because I had to go to the CSU junior end-of-season party, which was awesome. Those kids are great, and I got all sorts of warm fuzzies inside watching the seniors get their "athlete" certificates from Rob. *sniff*. The skiers had decided that they wanted to have an energy bar competition at the party, and a whole bunch of them came up with different recipes for energy bars, which we judged (the distinguished panel of judges was Jamie, Rob, myself, and Amie) based on taste, nutrition, and packageability/presentation. Although there were some that weren't bad, I can't believe I skipped dessert to eat energy bars. Even with just a bite from each one, that's a lot, and some of them were pretty bad. oof.

Sunday was CSU's local meet at Rocky Woods, and Ian and Ed did a great job with it, attracting 85 people. I ran the red course, which was 8.3km, pretty long for the first real orienteering race of the year, but Ian designed a fun course, and I didn't realize I'd been out there for so long. Things were pretty clean on the navigation front, just a couple bobbles, but I felt really in control of where I was going. Such a nice feeling! I ended up finishing pretty well - I managed to beat Ali, since she decided to spend an extra 9 minutes on #12, but Peter still got me. I think he's my nemesis this season, luckily he's old, so sometimes I can outrun him, but not on Sunday. Results for the red course with splits - I was the second woman, but Sam beat me by 19 minutes, so that actually wasn't that impressive.

Ed and Ian running the show.

Ian decided to run the white course (easiest one) while picking up its controls, and he did it in 11 minutes - the previous first place person had taken 39 minutes.

It was a sleepy, sunny, sort of day. Brendan and Ross took full advantage of the sunshine before heading out to pick up controls.

I also finally got some new orienteering shoes. My old shoes were starting to completely disintegrate, after 680 miles (yea training logs and OCD logging...) in the woods. I was impressed they lasted so long, and I had thought maybe I could get another season out of them, but I decided this weekend that enough is enough. And the new ones are shiny!