Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Moreau Lake training camp

During the US orienteering champs last month, Hannah, Ali and I were scheming how to get back together to train somewhere awesome that somewhat replicates Scandinavian terrain, before the World Champs.  Moreau Lake State Park comes pretty close to the knobbles and bobbles and low-relief terrain over there, apparently, so we went ahead and scheduled a training camp, put out the word, and attempted to get ourselves organized enough to provide a great training experience.  The weather cooperated, and it was thankfully cool, breezy, and sunny, making for a really fun weekend of training, camping, and socializing. 

 I brought my camera up to the plateau, to take some photos, but it's tough to make the forest look as gorgeous on film as it was in real life.  We had some local folks show up on each day, which is fun, but requires a bit more coordination.

I told Will (on the US junior team) to dash through the woods as an orienteering model.  I sort of like this photo, he's moving so fast the terrain behind him is blurry!  

The major drawback to this map is that the good parts are all at the top of a 250m climb up to a plateau.  It's a nice hike, though steep at times, but you just don't feel like doing that hike more than once or twice, so by my fourth time up the hill, I was about ready to be done.  I think that increased fatigue levels, despite not having too many super long training exercises.  The camp was exactly what I had hoped for in terms of training - high intensity, head-to-head, high-stress race simulations.  Important stuff when your sport is 50% mental; things you just can't practice when you're training alone.

Sunday's crew (missing a few who were still out in the forest), after the first training.  We didn't *plan* to all wear US Team gear, it just happened that way.  The hikers who were picnicking on the same look-out were intrigued by the whole idea of orienteering, but I think were more amused that we all matched.

The weekend started with a major executive function failure on my part, as I left all the training camp supplies (maps, controls, streamers, control descriptions...) at home, and didn't realize until we reached Albany.  Um, guys? Now what? Luckily, Ian hadn't left Boston yet, so could pick up the maps from Ed, who had managed to put a copy of the maps online so that we could print the Friday maps at an OfficeMax, so it wasn't a complete disaster, but for a while it was looking like things were heading in that direction.  Maps are one of those crucial, can't-do-it-without-them pieces to orienteering... and of course, instead of running the night-o, my headlamp broke.  It just wasn't fated to happen.

Saturday and Sunday were great, though!  Camping at a state park really gives you a look into a different demographic than I usually associate with, and honestly, I was happy to spend most of my time up on the plateau rather than at the beach, but it sure was nice to be able to go swimming at the end of each day.  Saturday morning we started by re-running the brown courses from the middle distance champs last month.  None of the runners there had run brown last month - we had all done red or blue - so it was a new course, and they were just the right length to have enough oomph to do two race efforts in a row, with a short break between.

The afternoon started with a partner simplification exercise, where you run with a partner, and the person in front runs to the control using only his memory of the route, while the person behind follows along and simplifies and memorizes the route to the next control. Once at the control, you hand off the map and switch roles. It's a really great exercise to force you to simplify the terrain, which on Moreau's plateau, is no easy task, and it also forces you to read the map as you run through terrain at a slightly faster pace than usual, since the person in front tends to run faster if they aren't reading a map. I teamed up with two junior boys, since we were an odd number, and Will did his legs alone, while I ran my memory legs at the same time as Nathan, sort of keeping tabs on him since he's a bit less experienced. Thankfully, we always chose to go the same way!

After the partner training, I took a stab at the marsh training that Neil had designed for me, to practice running straight through crappy terrain, but the marshes were just too wet for me to run through, and I was getting tired, so I called it quits and headed down the mountain for a swim and a tasty spaghetti dinner courtesy of Ken.

Sunday morning's training was "o'tervals" - orienteering intervals. We ran these in two groups, and the idea was to take 3-4 designated controls above race pace, then regroup at the last one and recover on the way to the next start. My group separated ourselves by 30s for the starts, so you couldn't see the person you were chasing until you had truly made up some ground. This was great fun, and I navigated really well and nailed the workout, which always feels good. I need to remember that feeling for when I get to Finland!

After a picnic on the lookout, it was time for the final exercise of the weekend, a control-pick, and then time to pick up all the flags we'd put out in the forest. I was happy to move a little slower through the terrain, assimilating what I had learned over the weekend, applying the good practices and full confidence, but happier yet to get back to the campground and take a shower! The weekend was capped off with happy when Ali and I got a chance to meet up with Jess and Graham for dinner in Albany, as they headed west and we headed east. Perfect!

Now I just need to keep that feeling of confidence and aggressive running!  One more week of training and the taper can begin... 

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