Tuesday, May 14, 2013

U.S. Orienteering Championships

Last weekend was the U.S. Individual Orienteering Championships - three races, three days, three champions. Going into this, I knew something terrible would have to happen in one of Ali's races for me to win an individual championship, and since I don't really want that to happen (It feels better to win because of your own oomph, and not because of someone else's failings), I had my sights set on 2nd place. Ideally three of them. But 3rd would be ok, too, since it's still a podium. These races also served as the Team Trials for the U.S. Orienteering team, to determine who will be representing this summer in Finland at the World Champs, and it also served as one of the important ranking races for the Canadians, so there were some heavy hitters lining up on the start line.

The first race was a sprint, at a Boy Scout camp near Fort Ann, NY. The weather was gorgeous for sitting on the beach, but entirely too hot and muggy for running hard through the woods. I'm not trained for this! I also hadn't been in the woods to train for two weeks, because of the whole Lyme disease deal, so I wasn't feeling super confident, despite having sharpened my mental prep as much as I possibly could. Eep! Knowing that the sprint would be a forest sprint, thus slightly slower speeds than an open campus sprint, I developed a race plan where I would start a little slower, ease into the map, and focus on the navigation first and foremost - if the legs feel good, they will go fast, but the key is to not make any mistakes with the navigation. Seconds count!

Aside from one extremely questionable route choice to #2, the race went according to plan. I never felt super speedy, but checking the heart rate graphs after, this body wasn't going to be moving much faster. It was good enough for third place, with Hannah sneaking ahead of me by 1 second. 1 second! Ali crushed us by over a minute, but I beat all the Canadians. At least, the female ones - some of those M45+ runners are just too fast for me still! Splits, and results by class, scroll down for the F21+ class.

Middle Distance Championships
Saturday dawned chilly and rainy, but thankfully not too chilly, and by the time I started, the rain had petered out, and the top of the Moreau plateau was above the clouds; pretty cool to hike up through the clouds and gradually have all the corners of the world sharpen in front of your eyes. I had a good race plan for today, but unfortunately, I kept running too fast. Normally this is a good thing, but my brain was unable to keep pace today. So while I had some very good splits, it was clear that those speedy splits were followed by a catastrophe, as the lactate levels in my brain passed some critical limit. Oops. That had not been in my race plan, but the terrain on top of Moreau is so awesome that I just got way too excited. I ended up losing about 5 minutes to mistakes, not at all how I'd envisioned this race would go, and I was pretty disappointed when I finished. But, I got to the download tent, and Valerie Meyer, awesomest person ever, handed me a pair of super duper bright socks! Thus, my day was turned around, and I was a cheerful person again. Splits, results by class, and map:

Long Distance Championships
The rain cleared, the humidity dropped, and it was almost too cold for running in short sleeves by Sunday morning - perfect! After the disaster of the Middle distance, my plan was to start conservatively, and again focus completely on the navigation, letting the legs keep up with the head, instead of the other way around. I knew it would be hilly, and I knew it would be rocky, but I wasn't quite ready for the thickness of the terrain - all the leaves were out, and the area had been recently logged, making it a fight to move forward at any respectable rate of speed.

Things went decently well for me out there. You can read the play-by-play if you're into that, here, but the gist is that it was time to get my bash on, and bash through that young green rocky hilly forest like I was making it my bitch. Get aggressive, get angry, whatever works to get yourself from point A to point B as fast as possible. I had a scare about halfway through - I was leaping out of the forest onto a trail, when I kicked a stick, that slammed up into my achilles, which wasn't feeling too good to begin with, and that really hurt. My mouth started making whimpering noises, and my eyes started tearing, and my brain started whirring - you've hurt yourself, you dumb body! But, I reached down and ascertained that the tendon was indeed still attached to both muscle and bone, and even though it hurt a bunch to push off that foot, pain is temporary, it's the brain telling me that I've injured myself that I have to deal with. So I started yelling back at me "YOU'RE NOT INJURED! YOU'RE NOT INJURED! BITCH, YOU'RE NOT INJURED! YOU'RE FINE!" while hobbling along the trail. Some poor M-10 was up the trail, and he took off bolting... oops. Anyway, this convinced my brain that I had not actually injured myself, and I started running again, and managed to stay angry and focused and aggressively attacked the rest of the course.

I had a good song in my head, and though I did make a few bobbles here and there, the run was good enough for 3rd place, 2nd US - one sneaky Canadian got ahead of me. Very importantly, I was fast enough to beat all the young men (M-20), and all but four of the old men (M40+). This is an improvement! Splits and results by class.

It was a lovely weekend, and very fun to see all my friends. Although I was bummed to be such an idiot in the middle distance, I still raced well enough to put myself into third place for the U.S. Team heading to Finland this summer! I will be running with Ali Crocker, Sam Saeger, Hannah Culberg, and Alison Campbell. Time to get back to training!

The only action shot I got all weekend, Ed swooshing by to the last control.

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