Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Western MA 5-Day

A while back, the idea was floated that we should have a 5-day event, but we'd actually only take two days.  Being crazy, all five of us in the western Mass. renegade O' club agreed that this was a great idea, and went about putting on the meet, as a fundraiser for the US ski-o team.  Peter, our fearless leader, handled most of the stress of meet directing, and put a nice write-up here from the meet.  Overall, things went great, and we earned a bunch of money to help Ali and me get to Kazakhstan next winter, along with our ski-o teammates.

The first two "days" were both OUSA-sanctioned A-meets, at Peter's new map at Earl's Trails, which also happens to be an amazing place to ride mountain bikes.  And now it's mapped.  Worlds colliding!  Those two events went off great, and then it was my turn, hosting a sprint at the UMass campus.  That went off pretty great too, and then many of the competitors ended up at Bub's barbecue, which was also great.  So far, so good!

Ed did his usual awesome displays, which people seem to enjoy.  He and Valerie, pictured below, are awesome people to have on your side when you're putting on a meet.

Map from UMass.

 Presto was pretty done with this whole running thing after his second race.

I particularly like this one - Brendan is all set to go do another race, and Presto was NOT interested in moving forward.  Eventually they came to some sort of agreement and started out.

Pretty nice arena for the UMass sprint.  stadium seating!

Andrew working on winning the finish split.  

Sunday we had two more days of racing, the first a sprint at Cemetery Hill, in Northampton.  I actually got to race in this one, and I had a really good time, although my legs were pretty pooped.  I was the first lady, but a bunch of guys beat me, and I ended up 10th (of ~50).  From there, we all relocated to Mount Tom, for the last, and hardest, day of racing.  It was basically a one-man relay, with a lot of hills and rocks and mosquitoes to deal with, and by the end I was ready to lie on the grass and never move again.  I tried that for a while, but eventually I had to actually move and do useful stuff.  It was pretty nice to have a three day weekend, if only because we could spend Monday doing nothing at all useful.

Finishing up the Cemetery Hill sprint in front of two of the cutest spectators, who had been charged to cheer loudly.  

They got more animated when their dad came down the finish chute.

Giacomo and Carl sprinting for the finish; I didn't get Giacomo (he won), but I did beat Carl!  Pays to go in the right direction!

This ends the last of my big training weeks - now it's time to sharpen and taper, and then I get to run up a big hill with a number pinned to my chest.  Wahoo!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


A pretty massive effort is put toward fundraising for the US Orienteering Team(s) every year.  Being a volunteer-driven, non-profit organization, Orienteering USA never has much spare change floating around to send its teams to the far corners of the earth.  Or even just to Europe.  The teams get a nominal amount in the budget, but it ain't much.  That doesn't mean we aren't thankful for what they do give us, but we rely heavily on fundraising, usually out of our own pockets and those of our close friends, to get to international competition.  Being on two OUSA teams - summer orienteering AND ski orienteering - I get to do a lot of fundraising.  Wooo!

Last weekend, local Team members who are also a part of NEOC hosted a meet in Breakheart Reservation, and NEOC generously agreed to give all the profits to the Team.  Currently, NEOC members can attend local meets for free, so NEOC also agreed to donate $5 for every runner who was a NEOC member.  Super awesome!  Between entries and the "Additional donations" coffee can, we made a good chunk of money, and the Team is super thankful.  Getting to Switzerland in high summer just before the London Olympic Games is not a cheap prospect, but this got us one step closer to being able to afford it!

I was the meet director and course setter, but definitely couldn't have done it alone.  Ali did some major heavy lifting, in the metaphorical sense, helping to vet control locations a few weeks ago with myself, Giacomo, and Brendan, and then helping me and Meg to set out all the controls on the day of the event.  I had Pete Lane and Jim Paschetto doing their usual awesome work at the registration and download area, and a slew of helpers, including Ian, Ed, and Pete Frykmann, to pick up controls.  The meet went really smoothly, and everyone seemed to have a good time, aside from one guy, who is just a grouch.  I decided it was best to let his criticisms just roll over me.

I had time to get out and run a course on Sunday, so hit up the Green course.  Not my speediest, but still fun to get out and bash through some blueberries.
We had a pavilion to work out of, and that made life very pleasant.  It didn't hurt that it was a gorgeous day!

Me trying ineptly to explain to beginners how this sport works... they made it back alive, so my instructions couldn't have been TOO bad.

Ian just posted a whole bunch of photos from West Point weekend, so I couldn't help but steal some to put up here.  I particularly like the one of my completely exploded car... 

Ed charging to the finish.

My car appears to be growing various appendages and clothing bits. 

Sarah Bjorkman and I comparing routes.  This photo may have been staged...

The ministry of silly walks would like to offer me a position.

Becky and I were having a good time running together; Ian just missed my fantastic leap into the air when I'd seen him.  I love how giggly we look.

This weekend is yet another fundraiser meet, this time to raise money for the Ski Orienteering Team.  Being an A-meet, it's a bit more demanding, but also far more lucrative.  I can't wait to have all this fundraising stuff over with though, and just get back to plain ol' training!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Even more spring orienteering!

The weekend after the billygoat, Ed and I headed to the Hudson Highlands to race at the annual West Point A-meet.  Typically hilly, long, and rocky, we weren't disappointed in any of those regards!  In the first of three races that weekend, the middle distance, I did pretty well, finishing closer to Ali than I normally do, and beating all the mortals who are all competitive with me.  I almost beat all the men on my course, too, but got nipped by a 19yo boy.  Despite making a few mistakes, it was exciting to do well in the results!  

That afternoon we had a sprint, and apparently, I went harder than I'd thought in the morning's race.  My legs were pretty exhausted, and I struggled to find any speed.  I ended up 3rd in that race, but much further behind Ali than usual.  She's obviously my standard, here.  After a delicious barbecue and some good socializing that night, we were ready for the last race - the long!  This was one of the tougher races I've done recently.  
Ali the alligator, with parental units.

I blame most of the navigation mistakes on my coffee-free morning (I mean, if you regularly performance-enhance yourself on a weekday morning, it's not a great idea to un-enhance your performance by not taking said performance-enhancing drugs before an actual race), but things totally broke down around #5, and Becky caught up to me (from 12 minutes back), and found me blubbering on a rock.  She convinced me to eat a [caffeinated] gel, get my s*** together and keep running, and then we ran the rest of the course pretty much neck and neck - fun times.  It was tough going, though, with lots of loose rock, massive quantities of head-high blueberries to bash through, difficult visibility (due to said blueberry), and just a long time to be out there under the sun.  A challenge, and I didn't rise to it particularly well.  Luckily for me, everybody else was suffering, too, and I ended up in third, while Becky won (by quite a margin).  Based on the results, this was probably my best West Point weekend yet, so that is quite encouraging.  It was also Ed's best West Point weekend, so despite being utterly shattered physically, we were in pretty good spirits coming home.  

Results; you'll find me on the red courses.  

I remembered to bring my camera to the park-o race on Thursday, by which point we were both recovered from the weekend to be ready to attack the hills at the arboretum, so there are a couple shots below.  

The hill - yes, it is this steep!

Ed cresting the hill to the final control.

The view!

Ed heading back down the hill.

Pia dancing her way down the hill - she looked way too happy to have just crested that huge hill!

Ari and Andrew, in less of an action stance.  

I did well enough in the results, winning the park-o (wooo!), but didn't feel like I had a very clean run out there.  Lots of goofmuppeting around attempting to make sense of the out-of-date map.  At least I went fast enough, though!  To add icing to the cake, Ed came in second, about a minute behind.  I'm starting to get worried that he'll be catching up to me soon... uh oh!  But our speedy young Italian has gone back to Italy, so I guess I had a little less competition than normal. 

Sunday we headed back out into the deep woods, this time at Rocky Woods, in Medfield MA.  The course was more practice bashing through thick blueberry and going up and down hills, and pretty much everyone who finished the blue course agreed that it kicked our collective asses.  Nice of Jeff to set a long, tough, course, but oof!  Tired now.  Results.  

The orienteering craziness doesn't stop - next weekend, Ali and I are hosting a US Orienteering Team fundraiser meet, at Breakheart.  NEOC is donating all the proceeds from that meet to the US Orienteering Team, so hopefully lots of people will show up.  And the weekend after is the Western Mass. 5-Day, which is five races crammed into two days.  This one is a fundraiser for the US Ski-O Team, and since we made two of the races into A-meets, we have good attendance, so will hopefully raise oodles and oodles of money to help us get to Kazakhstan next winter.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Billygoat 2012

This may have been two weekends ago, but was awesome enough to warrant a blog post.

The Billygoat is this awesome orienteering race that counts for nothing more than bragging rights - but what more is there than bragging rights?  Most importantly, the initials of last year's winners become the control codes for this year's Billygoat, so you want to make sure you're within the top 20-25, as that's the number of controls you'll typically see at a Billygoat.  This is important, man!

The day before the Billygoat, the US Team ran a fundraiser sprint, called the Speedygoat.  Ed and I were on hand to help out with all aspects of it, though really Ed does the heavy lifting here, with work on the results and download side of the table.  Ali was course setter, and she and Ed got all the wrinkles ironed out with plenty of time, so test ran the relay, in full dress rehearsal complete with tagging.

The actual sprint relay went really well - I teamed up with Giacomo, a young speedster who put us into first place on the first leg, but unfortunately, I couldn't hold the position, and we ended up fourth, though the first mixed team.  Below, Giacomo leading out the pack.  

Alex coming in for the tag.

Team giggles!

With all the speedygoating over for the day, the real showdown was on Sunday, up at Moreau State Park.  I neglected to do a warmup, precisely because I had so much extra time upon arriving at the venue.  This wasn't a great plan, and my calves completely blew up on the way to the first control, which involved a 200m climb.  Ugggh.  It took about a half hour of running on flatter stuff at a slow speed for my calves to recover, and by the time they did, I was alone.  After the first drinks control, though, I started to see people, and picked up the pace a little.  I had a loose group of four guys running with me from #8-21, and then disaster struck.

I lost my hair band.

I know, I know, this is ridiculous, but without my hair tied back in a ponytail, I had sweaty long hair all over my face and I couldn't see a darn thing.  I had ducked under a tree, but gotten my ponytail stuck on a branch, which yanked out the rubberband, or broke it, not sure which.  Luckily, #21 was near the finish, so I ran over to the pavillion and begged someone for a hairband, and then carried on, but that meant that I lost my pack, and had to finish the race alone.

Overall, it was a good race for me, pretty clean navigation; I just wish I'd been able to push the pace a little to keep up with some faster people.  Darn.  

Eric, Will, and Boris - the top 3.

Ali took a bunch of scalps, ending up fourth - our men are running scared from her!



Top three men and women.  That girl to my left is Anna Breton, a 15yo - she is speedy!

Attempting to look more presentable.

Adding in 4th and 5th for men and women.  Elina is Anna's sister, and she was the 4th woman!  Can't wait for those girls to get better at reading a map, they'll be real contenders!