Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nobscott Night-O

How to make orienteering even more crazy?  Do it at night!  I feel like a few years ago CSU was doing a lot more night training than we have lately, but part of that is the major movers and shakers have either moved away or decided other things are more important than orienteering training, and moved on with life.  So, less actual forest training these days.  This showed quite blatantly when I raced last Saturday, because I was just very unfocused and sloppy.  I took 71 minutes for a 5.4km course (running ~8km in the process, mostly in circles I think).  Without mistakes I think I should have been closer to 53-55 minutes, but I'm not really into playing the woulda-shoulda-coulda game.  It should have helped that I'd designed the course and put out the controls, but I think all that did was make me over-confident and sloppy in my orienteering.  I hear it helps to look at the map.

As you can see from the map above, I had a major disaster on both 9 and 11.  Both times, the disaster was related to ignoring my direction, and not clearly looking at the map before moving forwards.  Although it's embarrassing to orienteer like a total goofmuppet, it's also good to get a kick in the ass occasionally.  I didn't orienteer for most of August or September, and that showed.  I'm motivated now!  North Americans are around the corner, so it's time to get focused!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September DPTT

Time for a fitness check-in.  With a summer of running under my belt, a month and change of ski training, and fall finally starting to make itself felt, it was time to see how the t-rex arms were doing in terms of propelling me down a ski track.  Thanks to the achilles tendonitis I have been doing more rollerskiing than I had expected, but not nearly as much as when I considered myself a serious skier.  Not sure what that makes me now... a ski coach who can't stop racing?  Or just a pure racerhead who'll take endorphins any way they come?

The double pole test is four times up a steep lil' bugger of a hill in Concord, and you add all your times together to get a final result.  This is a good measure of fitness, because it's not just one sprint up a hill - it tests your strength endurance, as well.  Can you keep up the speed on your fourth time up that mountain without your technique falling to pieces?  Our juniors do the test about once every two months, interspersed with other fitness tests like the 3k on a track, and the no pole time trial, which is evil incarnate, but I've managed to avoid doing any double pole tests all summer.  The last time I did a  test was last November, and I set a new PR at 12:28.  I figured that probably wasn't going to happen just yet, as I don't consider myself all that strong right now.  Except my core, that seems to be alright.

After a solid warmup, I started the test with one of my juniors, but quickly left her behind.  I felt really good today, snappy and strong through the core, which was a nice change from the achy and sore feeling I'd had earlier in the week.  I'm coming off an inadvertent rest week, since I sprained my ankle a week ago Tuesday, so got a couple extra rest days last week, and made the strangely mature decision to not push recovery too fast.  I had felt good on Tuesday during bounding intervals, too, so I guess it wasn't too surprising that the feeling lasted.  Going up the steep part I had "I'm so strong!" on repeat in my head, trying to lie myself into speediness.  At the top, I saw 3:06 on my watch, and though I wasn't super winded, my legs were burning, and I was a little bummed, since usually times just get slower after the first one of these.

The second rep I started behind Frank and Andy, two other coaches.  They started a little faster up the initial steep bit, but I was keeping pace, mostly, and thinking about getting a good forward position and then rocking on my heels.  Around the corner and suddenly my right pole starts slipping.  What's going on?  I look down and notice that the ferule has rotated by 90 degrees, so I pause, grab the tip, and rotate it back with my left hand.  Damn, apparently that pole grip needs some glue.  Then I realize I've rotated the tip so that it's 180 degrees off!  D'oh!  I grab the tip again and rotate it back to the correct position, cursing under my breath.  This whole operation has taken maybe 3 seconds total, but feels like forever. gah!  The brief pause in forward momentum has actually given me a break, and I attack the remaining hill with gusto, to a time of 3:06 again.  Well, I guess fixing the pole didn't affect my time that much.

Third time up and I'm still chasing Frank and Andy, this time closing in a bit as the hill flattens out and I up the tempo.  This is starting to really hurt by now, it feels like somebody has replaced my legs with jello.  Strange that it's my legs dying and not my arms, but I hope that's a testament to how much I was using my core rather than the arms.  Frank and Andy are done now, having starting one rep earlier, so I have to do the last hill on my own, but there is a big gaggle of juniors that started about a minute ahead of me.  Rabbits!  I resolve to leave everything I've got on this hill, focusing hard on getting the poles into the pavement early and applying power with my core.  I'm raggedly out of breath with my entire body shaking by the time I finish, but I managed to keep the times consistent, so I'm pleased.  I do a quick calculation in my head - 3:06 + 3:06 + 3:03 + 3:04 = 12:19!  New PR!

I'm suddenly feeling a whole lot more confident about this upcoming ski season.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bicycle scavenger hunt

A few weeks ago, NEOC hosted an "urban ROGAINE", (ROGAINE stands for something like rugged outdoor group activity involving navigation and endurance - basically, a multi-hour orienteering race.  has nothing to do with a hair product), that could be completed either on foot or on a bike.  There were two categories, either a 1.5hr or 3hr time limit, and cyclists and runners were scored separately.  Naturally, I was interested, and so was Ed.  Unfortunately, I had to head out to Littleton for some rollerski action first, but the organizer was very accommodating and let me start out and time myself as the last finishers from the mass start in the morning were trickling in.
Ed opted for the foot approach, but made some key navigational mistakes.  oops.  I was on a bike, which obviously let me cover more ground, and the final results have me in the lead.  Results.  However, Joe and Jeff cleaned the course, and if it hadn't been for a broken chain causing them to come in way overtime, they totally should have won.  

It was a neat format - instead of hanging controls, you had to answer a question, that was written on a clue sheet you had to carry with you.  I quickly realized that the whole deal surrounding answering the clue would be the most time consuming part of the process, so I came up with a strategy.  We got 15 minutes to look at the map and plan a route before the clock started, so once I'd decided on a route, I wrote down the order of the checkpoints on my control card.  This would help me figure out which one I was going to go to next.  I also wore my ski-o map board, so that I could read the map while on the go, and also, slide the clue sheet in and out from the map board as I rode along.  This being urban riding, I didn't want to have to take my hands off the handlebars for very long.  I had a pen and a pencil in my bike jersey pocket, as well as the usual emergency stuff like a spare tube, allen wrenches, and dried figs.  I would memorize the clue for the next checkpoint as I was leaving the existing checkpoint, and pull out the pen or pencil as I approached the next checkpoint, looking for the right telephone pole or fire alarm box, in most cases.  This did make for a bit more strategy, but it was manageable.  

Answer sheet.  It was large and cumbersome, but slid nicely in and out of the ski-o map board, as did the clue sheet.  

15 minutes to study the map and plan a route.  

Map board did not interfere at all with riding the bike, except in terms of aerodynamics when I was in the drops - it doesn't fold up under my chin as well as I'd hope it would.  But it didn't seem to make riding a bike any more dangerous than usual.  

This is the map.  The blue line is my route, drawn in.  What do you think is the most efficient route?  I knew I was operating with tired legs, so tried to avoid any hills that looked too big, but I also knew that higher-numbered checkpoints were worth more points, so I wanted to make sure I hit those ones.  

In the end, I think I won (not counting Jeff and Joe's broken chain and overtime) not because of cycling speed or a good route, but through a mix of minimizing time losses at the controls, and comfort in riding through traffic.  Local knowledge definitely helped, too.  I think if I had been riding a cross bike or mountain bike rather than my road bike, I could have picked up a couple more points - I didn't feel like going too off road, and some of the higher-point controls were in parks on dirt trails.  The one time I did ride off road, it was sketchy as hell and very slow, so I didn't bother doing that again.  Road shoes also don't do too well on rocky hiking trails!  Oh well, next time.  This was a thoroughly entertaining way to spend an afternoon, and I'm glad I went!