Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Team Trials Middle Distance

I woke up rested, and within about 5 minutes of consciousness I realized I was nervous. Crap! I thought I could avoid being nervous! Alas, no. Luckily, it was a long jog to the start, so I got enough of a warmup to calm my nerves, and I had a plan and was in the zone when I started. It was still humid, but some thunder in the morning had made things a little less hot, so that was nice. This time, I had Ali 3 minutes behind me, and she's pretty speedy, so I just hoped to hold her off as long as possible.

The race started out on the wrong foot, though, when I bobbled #1, and then whacked my kneecap really hard against a log I was jumping over on my way to 2. That left me hyperventilating enough that I couldn't breathe for a bit, but eventually I got some air in my lungs, determined that nothing was broken, and let the adrenaline take care of the rest. Unfortunately, this extra minute that I spent lying on the ground meant that Ali had basically caught me as I was leaving #2, but I tend to race better when I'm trying to hold someone off, so 3-4-5-6 all went pretty well, with Ali just behind me at each control, both of us taking slightly different routes to each one. That area of the map was technical enough that she just couldn't run any faster, which is the only reason I could still see her for that long.

I started bobbling and hesitating more on 7-10, culminating with a bad route to 10, but I finished strongly, and because Sam had had a horrendous day, I took 2nd. I don't think I've ever done that before, so I was pretty pumped. I didn't know if that would be enough to get me onto the team - it would take the other girls making some big mistakes to help me out, but luckily, that's what happened! The points were really close. I snuck onto the team by 0.3 points, ahead of Pavlina, and just 3.4 points behind Hannah. The men were also really close on the bubble, as is always the case.

So I'm going to France! Weaseling 3 weeks of vacation out of my advisor was not fun, and nearly brought me to tears, but I am really excited to represent for CSU and USA at WOC this summer! I don't have any aspirations, but if I can pull out three (or however many I'm allowed to start) solid races, I will be pleased. I know that I have a lot of room for improvement in my orienteering, but as long as I'm not an embarrassment, it's all good. Now, about that wine and cheese they have over there...

Ian working on the breakfast of champions - Cheerios, in a humongous bowl.

Peter recognizing the folks most responsible for pulling off this meet - super skeleton crew that did a truly amazing job.
He also called up our ski-o relay team, so we could have a photo op and get recognized for general awesomeness. I love that when I stand next to Ali, I'm miniature.
Milling about waiting for awards.

A very inspired-looking women's WOC team.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Team Trials Long Distance

After yesterday's flop, I was hoping for a better race today. It was the long distance, with a predicted high temperature of 88F, and what felt like 100% humidity, so I was hoping that my general mental toughness would triumph over wimpier souls. Before the race, Wyatt Riley pointed out to me that because I had an A-meet ranking, I was definitely still in the game, despite it being not a great ranking score. I decided that it didn't matter what my various scores and rankings were, I was going to go orienteering and focus on what I needed to in order to get around the course as fast as possible. I was starting 3 minutes behind Angelica, 3 in front of Cristina, 6 in front of Hannah, and 9 in front of Sam. Definitely hoping that I would see people out there, although ideally, I wouldn't see Cristina or Hannah, as they are fellow bubble runners and I'd like to beat them.

Things started out alright, and I discovered that the map was very technical, lots of knobbly stuff, but also some nice big features to catch you if you made mistakes, so none of my mistakes were all that huge. That said, I managed to bobble on 3, 4, and 5, losing about 4 minutes to Hannah just in those first 5 controls. Then a long leg to 7, and that went relatively well, although I did some goofy stuff in the middle of it, and Sam caught me somewhere along the way. I couldn't run as fast as Sam, but had her in sight for the next couple controls, which definitely makes it easier to find them, and I passed Angelica just before control 8. I was pretty clean for the next few controls, but the heat was starting to get to me, and by #12 I was walking all the uphills and starting to struggle. I managed to hold it together, though, and continued to be aggressive, pushing hard. Pain is only temporary, after all, and I hear chicks dig scars.

Blurry photo from the spectator control in the Long distance.

In the end I finished in just under 90 minutes (10.6km of running, 8.8km straight-line), a minute clear of Hannah, but 15 minutes behind Sam and Ali. It was good enough for third, which was cool, but I wish I'd just been a little better on those first tricky controls. I guess that's why we keep doing the sport - no such thing as a perfect run. I got a decent score from this race, and suddenly it's apparent that I'm still in - barely - but, still within reach. The clump of Pavlina, Hannah, Cristina, Angelica and I were pretty close, but to move past them, not only would I need to run really well tomorrow, they'd all have to run pretty poorly. I was about to get all stressed about it, but then remembered that there's no point to stressing about what I can't control. I know how to orienteer, I know how to run a middle in technical terrain - I just have to go out and do whatever it is I do to find controls tomorrow. No biggie. And if I don't make the team, it's totally legit - I just wasn't fast enough. I can live with that.

So with that in my mind, I had a really great afternoon playing boggle outside, hanging out with a lot of my favorite people, and in general, having fun. Because that's also something I can control =)

About 25 people were staying in a huge cabin near the race site; it was a fine situation except for how stuffy it was inside, and the occasional snorer. I slept maybe two hours the first night, but at least that meant I slept like a log the second night!

Due to the stuffiness, we moved mattresses outside in order to play boggle. Also, the ice cream truck stopped by the campground, and that really made my day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

US Orienteering Team Trials: Sprint

We finally have hot weather - summer has arrived, with all the humidity, bugs, and thunderstorms you'd expect in the NE. Just in time for team trials! The way it works in US Orienteering is that to make it onto the team representing the US at the World Orienteering Championships (WOC), you need to be the top five runners based on three of four possible scores - the first score is your scaled ranking from A-meets around the country in the last 6 months, and the other three scores are you points from the sprint, middle, and long distance race at Team Trials. So, Team Trials is sort of a big deal if you want to make the WOC team. You are allowed to petition if you're already ranked in the top 5 in the US, but I don't fall into that crowd (yet).

Earlier this spring, Sandra Zurcher and Erin Neilson announced that they weren't going to try out for the team this year, for various reasons. Last year, we had one of the strongest women's teams we ever had, with Sam, Ali, and Sandra all qualifying for A-finals in various races, and Pavlina only a few seconds out from qualifying for the A final in the middle distance. I don't belong with those runners - they're legit elite orienteers, and I'm a scrub who plays ski-o. But, I've been getting faster, and when Sandra and Erin announced they weren't going to go this year, I realized I had a shot at the team. A very legitimate shot - I'm among six "bubble" runners who are all pretty close, but a ways behind Sam and Ali. Unfortunately, given that I've done the bare minimum of A-meets to have a ranking, my A-meet rank isn't very good. In fact, I'm ranking last among all the ranked women who were contesting Team Trials. I needed three solid races to make the team. So, I buckled down and... didn't really do anything special. Because in my head, I knew I had the least international experience of all the bubble runners, and life is stressful these days, so I didn't want to build my expectations.

Adding to the stress, I got rear-ended last weekend, and I'm still dealing with tying up those loose ends. So I didn't have a car for the weekend, but Ian bailed me out, and our car-ful of Ian, Greg, Caroline, and me headed down to Purchase, NY, for the first race of the weekend - the sprint! We arrived with plenty of time to spare, and I did a great warmup, although I probably lost too much water just warming up, because it was so hot and sunny and humid. I felt good, though - relaxed, speedy, light and snappy and smart.

But a minute before the call-up, I felt the fluttery heart thing start, so I sat down. It didn't go away, so I told them I couldn't start. Here's the other thing about Team Trials - like a WRE race, you can't reschedule your start. If you miss your start, you're SOL. And if you aren't ranked in the top 5 in the country, you aren't allowed to petition them to include your time. This may be harsh, but it also keeps things completely objective, which is good in a sport that can allow for a lot of subjectivity if you don't follow the rules. Even knowing that, I was sort of hoping that maybe I'd be allowed to petition anyway - this was clearly a medical situation, over which I had no control. And I couldn't run in the state I was in. The fluttery-heart-feeling is my term for this cardiac arrhythmia thing that I get maybe a few times a year, since age 16 or so - I have seen a cardiologist, and he didn't seem worried that I'd die, so I've just been carrying on with my current lifestyle. This was probably the first time it happened at a really undesirable time.

After 16 minutes of sitting in the grass in the shade, my HR dropped from 238 to 85, and I felt perfectly normal. Well, like 98% normal, maybe a little weak. So, I started the race, since they would at least let me start it - I would deal with thinking about the whole Team Trials thing afterwards. For now, focus on the orienteering. This is what you do: go.

Given that orienteering is a brainy sport, and I'd just spent the last 16 minutes thinking about breathing rather than my plan for the race, I was not mentally ready when I started out. It took a while to get into the map, and I was very stop-and-go, not being aggressive or running hard enough. Things were pretty clean for the first 5 controls, but not very fast or smooth. I then proceeded to do silly things on my way to 6, visiting 7 first (mental note: 6 comes before 7), and getting confused by running past the overhang and the finish with all the people standing around and screaming. I finally found 6, after maybe 45-50 seconds of confusion, found 7, and then came to a complete stop on the way to 8. Stuff had suddenly stopped making sense. Luckily it only took 5 seconds or so for buildings to make sense again, and I found the control. Then things got good - I was into it, focused and flowing and speedy. Too little too late, unfortunately, because even if my time were legit, it was only good enough for 12th, more than 2.5 minutes behind Sam, who won. At least the last third of the race was good, though.

Unfortunately, rules are rules, and there was no way to petition my time back into existence. I wasn't angry about this - if you set yourself rules as an organization, you have to follow them - but I was definitely disappointed. Some things I can't control. Like a heart arrhythmia or ESC rules. I was trying to be all zen about this, but by the time I got back to the car I was biting back tears. I hadn't realized how badly I wanted to make the team until I was out of the running. I was having a real life-ain't-fair moment, bawling my eyes out in a patch of poison ivy in the forest and cursing my body for not being made to spec. My usual rule to myself is that I'm allowed 15 minutes of self-pity after a bad race, and then I have to rejoin society, but this took a solid hour.

After that, time to move on; at least I wasn't completely out, since I did have an A-meet score. It was just a sucky score. There is nothing I can do about events outside of my control, so I attempted to start controlling the things I could for the next race, but man is that ever easier said than done, and I definitely had a cloud of "meh" hanging over my head most of the afternoon. I guess at least I didn't mispunch, like last year. Maybe next year I can have a Team Trials sprint that actually counts.

Speedy! But I think I need a longer shirt.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I was up in Maine last week, setting out some temperature loggers for my thesis in the Sandy River Watershed. It was beautiful, rugged, and definitely still mud season. It was sort of nice to be so totally isolated from civilization, independent and in tune with the solitude, but by the end, I was chattering to the lady serving me coffee, just needing to talk to someone. I was camping, using Ed's bivvy sack, just pulled over on the side of an empty logging road, and then up with the sun.

One of the nights, I camped over near the Bigelow Range, near Sugarloaf mountain. I decided to run the loop over the peaks in the morning, and it was beautiful beyond words. But as I got higher and higher on the mountain, there was more and more snow, and the rocks were more slippery, and there were more downed trees. When I finally reached the col between Avery and West peak, and turned south on the AT, I realized that it would be pretty dumb to continue - the snow was rotten, so you'd pop through to the knee every couple steps, and what wasn't snowy was slippery from the fog and clouds. It occurred to me that while I'd given our field tech my locations for while I was working, nobody knew where I was just then, and if anything happened, I was completely on my own. I realized that doing stuff like this, not thinking anything of a 3hr run in the mountains, not telling anyone about my plans or locations, was just incredibly selfish. It isn't fair to others to go off doing dangerous things when there is a chance that it is up to someone else to bail me out, or search for the body. So I turned around, and made it down without mishap, but feeling a twinge of guilt about my outing. It was worth it though. Every once in a while, I need some misty mountains in my life to recharge.

Luxurious campsite.

My favorite type of trail.

The beaver pond you have to cross had really high water. Wet shoes!

Cool little cemetery I found up near Weld.

Also, it rained a lot. I love putting out loggers in the rain. Clearly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Billygoat

The Billygoat is probably my favorite orienteering race around, mostly because it is so low-key and silly. At least, it's supposed to be like that, it always seems to turn into a super hard, super long, super hilly, super contended race. This was the sixth Billygoat I've run in, and I think last year is still the best I've ever run - I ended up 21st last year, so I got my initials on one of the control codes. Not so good this year, I ended up 32nd, so unless we have tons of controls, I won't get a code of my own again. The U.S. team was doing a fundraiser race on Saturday - a team sprint, that ended up being a whole bunch of fun. I teamed up with Becky, and while neither of us had horrible races, I don't think either of us ran quite as fast or as clean as we could have. Luckily, there were no other all-women's teams, so we won, by default.

Ed came and helped with results, which apparently are a pain to do with the existing orienteering software. So he's planning to write his own.

Katia and Giovanni tag off and head into another leg of the race.

Becky finishing a leg of the race.

My nemesis from last week! Peter finishing the race.

Uphill finishes SUCK. We got one on Sunday, too.

It was Ross's birthday on Saturday, so Sam made two different kinds of cupcakes, about fifty of them, all told. Peanut butter chocolate (with a reeses cup inside) and coconut. Ross gets excited when he's the center of attention.

Attempting to light a candle, in a windy field.

Peter and Gail guarding the cupcakes.

My calves had been in a lot of pain during Saturday's race, but instead of taking the time to massage them out and try to stretch, I went out for pizza and beer with all our orienteering friends, and wasted half the night playing boggle. Billygoat morning came too soon, and we drove over to Huntington state park in a serious-looking rainstorm. Luckily, the rain stopped by the time we started, but it was wicked humid. Ed had decided not to race to try and fix his ankle, so I left him my camera, and he took some photos of the march to the start.

HI ED!!!!

Ready, GO!

I started relatively fast, trying to hang with some of the fast kids. Pretty soon, though, just about as my heartrate inched towards my threshold, my calves made themselves known, in a burning sort of fashion. Shortly after my trail run to #3, I knew I was in trouble. My shin had gone numb, too, but I could still sort of use my quads, so I kept up with Becky and Hannah a little longer, stumbling and tripping with every step, since I couldn't tell what my feet were doing. But on a hill up to #5, I was done. I wasn't going to finish the race at this speed. Depressed, angry, and frustrated, I started walking, willing my calves to relax.
We chose #2 to skip - not a bad skip, but it was early in the race, so later on, we knew our pack was going to be able to skip a control and we'd have to hit them all.

After walking to #7, I tried running again to 8, and promptly made a parallel error involving marshes and reentrants. So I walked a little longer, and finally by #9, I could run again without my calves blowing up. Woo. I started jogging towards 10, and a group of old-but-accurates caught up with me. I decided that I didn't feel like running with them, so tried to run away, but the problem with orienteering is that it's really hard to open a gap, since your competitors can see where you're running, and they'll be able to run faster because they don't need to navigate as much as you are, if you're in front. So, the group stayed pretty together, and then Becky reappeared, from behind me. Turns out, she'd just turned her ankle and had a pretty negative spell, and was thinking of dropping out of the race. Since we are pretty similar in speed, I convinced her to keep running, if only so that we could both have company for the rest of the race.

So, we started running together, and chatting to each other, and life got a lot better. By #27, I was feeling spunky again, and so was Becky, so the pace went up, and my calves seemed to be cooperating. We bobbled a bit around 29-30, but we were ahead of our group. But, then they skipped #31, and we were behind them, with tired legs. We could see Peter and Angelica and Kseniya ahead of us on the trail to 33, but being tired, neither Becky nor I saw the fast, southern option to 33, and we lost about a minute and a half to our competitors by taking the little windy trail around to the north. Boooo. The last couple controls were fine, navigationally, but I was exhausted. When we finally hit the finish, it was up a hill, an insultingly steep hill, and I had doubts that I would make it up without collapsing. The photo shows Becky telling me there is no way in hell she is going to let me walk up the hill, so I made it up, jogging, but definitely should have taken in more calories around 1hr in.

"Becks, I think I'm going to have to walk this uphill". "No way am I letting you do that!"

Overall, we ended up 7th and 8th woman (Becky let me win the "sprint" for the finish), so not great, but, it was really fun to run with a partner, even if both of us weren't really in it with a fighting spirit for the last two thirds of the race... But now, time to take care of these calves. Foam roller torture time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New 5k PR

Every Tuesday in the non-snowy months, the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club runs a 5k race, at a park in Northampton. I ran this once before, and posted a PR by a good bit, hitting 21:02. I wasn't expecting to do that again, and given my pretty unfocused training the last few months, combined with a lot less sleep than I'd like this past week, I wasn't expecting much speed. But I strapped on the light shoes, did a barely-enough warmup, and set myself a goal: finish in front of Peter Gagarin. He ran 22:xx two weeks ago, and I figured breaking 22 today would be good, so I thought it would be close. The challenge was issued about a month ago, see who was faster at running, and although my times from last year put me in front, you have to be worried, because Peter doesn't take a bet he doesn't think he'll win, and he's fixed the injury that was holding him back last year.

So I lined up, they said "go", and I took off - this course starts with a downhill, and I can do downhills. After the downhill I was passed by a steady stream of people as I settled into my pace, it felt easy, in the way the first interval feels easy if you're actually going the pace you want at the track, but you know it's going to start hurting pretty soon. We go up the first hill, and I tried to run within my abilities, just nice and light and relaxed, and by now there were fewer people passing me. I could see that I was the fifth girl, behind Ali, Kelsey Allen, her friend Kristine, and a teenager with an ipod, but I knew the race wasn't really about beating them - they'd either be faster or I would. I was in it for the time, and to beat Peter. Stay focused, kiddo.

I rolled through the first mile in 6:36 - my plan had been to go for 7min miles, because that would put me at something below 22min, but this didn't feel that hard, yet, so I didn't slow down. We did the loop through the field and headed down that first hill again, and I used it to narrow the gap between myself and ipod-girl and Kris. Ali and Kelsey were long gone, but the other two didn't seem to be pulling away very fast, encouraging. Every time I turned a corner, I was checking behind me for Peter, but he was wearing a gray teeshirt in a field of people wearing white and gray teeshirts, so I couldn't really tell if he was closing.

As we cruised along the river, I could feel the work load settling into my legs. This pace was ok, but I knew there was a steep hill coming up just after 2 miles, and I could tell that I was right on the brink of my lactate threshold - wouldn't take much to put me over and into a world of hurt. I hit the 2mi mark at 13:13, still right on 6:36 pace, but I was definitely starting to feel it. Another check for Peter and I thought I saw him back there, just had to survive this hill and the last false flat mile... The shirtless guy I'd been pacing for the last mile dropped me up the hill, but I closed the gap to Kris, focusing on a light stride, relaxed shoulders, just flow. We got to the top and I was solidly in the hurt box, legs feeling heavy with lactic acid burning, but if there's anything I ever learned from racing a bike, it's that you don't rest after uphills - you attack. So I surged, Kris matched it, pulled ahead, and dragged me up to ipod-girl. ipod-girl was looking pretty wasted, but I couldn't help it, I rested a second or two behind her, and Kris got a gap.

The last mile of this course is just stupidly painful. I had passed ipod-girl, and was in full-on fat-kid-with-asthma-breathing mode, with my own phlegm threatening to choke me any second. My legs were burning, and there was none of this relaxed pacing stuff going on anymore. I could see my rabbit, and I was doing my darnedest to chase her down, as we got to the crest of the little bump at 2.7ish, I checked my watch, 19min - less than 3 minutes left, you can suffer through just about anything for 3 minutes! Suck it up and run, bitch!

I made contact with Kris just as we hit the 3mi mark (20:24 - that third mile is tough), and started questioning whether I had the fight in me today to take her in a sprint. I was exploring dark corners of my pain cave I haven't been to in years, and I really wanted to lie down and breathe. But we hit the pavement, and I found some fight, went for it - kicking at the end of a race is somewhat transcendental for me, it takes a massive amount of energy to overcome the first barrier of deciding I'm going to do it, but then, once I do, I haven't been beaten in a full kick, yet. It's this realization that all you have to do is go faster than the other person, and that's purely mental. Booyah. But holy moly was that a painful last 100m, I thought I might actually die if I didn't start breathing soon.

In the end, I finished in 20:59, a new PR, and compared to last August, when I was just 3 seconds slower, a much harder effort (avg HR was 183 this time, and 179 last August). But I ended up as the 3rd woman, and 16th overall, so that's pretty cool, though less exciting than beating Peter (who did set an age-class record, so he was happy even though he lost the bet). Hopefully I don't have to do another one of these for at least a week or two, when the memory of the pain fades. Racing is tough. But it's quite encouraging to see this speed at the beginning of the summer; clearly, I'm fitter than I thought. Woo! Now to just stay un-broken...

Map and HR graph.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Orienteering headcam

Ed was swayed by the awesomeness that people have been producing overlaying maps with google earth and headcam footage, and bought a headcam. I tried it out last Thursday night at the park-o at Cat Rock, and discovered that while it's a bit annoying to have on my head, there are a lot of good training opportunities to be had from it. For example, I discovered that I bash through branches head-first, mostly, and that I breathe really heavily. Of course, the problem with running with a headcam is that you know people are "watching", so you are trying to run really, really fast. And this leads to more heavy breathing. I attempted to narrate my way through the video, but it's hard to talk when you're going at race pace, so mostly it's just heavy breathing, and some wheezing near the end, for good measure. Luckily all that heavy breathing was good for something - I was second on the day, just over a minute behind Ross, which will probably never happen again in history. Granted, I think I was working harder than everyone else out there...
Results, Ed was directing the meet, so he didn't run.

Click here for the map-video-google earth integrated awesomeness. It's pretty darn cool.

Monday, May 2, 2011

West Point A meet

This last weekend was an A meet down at West Point, and we had great weather, great courses, and a really fun time. Ed and I drove to Poughkeepsie Friday night to stay at Ali's parents' house, and along the way found THE worst Chinese restaurant I've ever been to. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when the name of the place is "Tasty China restaurant". Well, we didn't get sick...

Saturday was sunny and pleasant, and we had two races on the agenda: A middle distance and a sprint. The terrain around the campground (nice central location, and most people were camped there) was pretty crappy, I thought - lots of dead trees down, lots of knee-high woody shrubs, and lots of rocks underfoot. But the maps were alright, and the course was nice. I had a really crappy run, just couldn't get my body to cooperate with what my head was telling me to do, and while I did have some decent legs out there, mostly I was just not thinking very hard, and paying for it by hemorrhaging minutes to the winners. Sigh. More whining and more details on my training log.

Soon after finishing, it was time for the sprint, which really was just a shorter middle distance - not all that high-speed except for the end. I made a horrible mistake on #7, basically messing up the scale of the map and way overrunning the feature, but managing to make things make sense in my head anyway. That put a damper on the rest of the course, because when you lose 5 minutes in a 20min race, you're out of it. Kind of disappointing, but the day was so nice, and it was so much fun to hang out with everyone, that I was in a good mood by the time we left, anyway. To top it off, dinner at Ali's place used 11 avocados, for 9 people, so life was pretty good, all in all.

We had a very large crowd of CSU runners at this meet, so tried to get a photo of everyone. Unfortunately, we couldn't round up a couple - this photo is missing Peter, Ken Sr, Ken Jr, Brendan, Pia, Mark, Tor and Lukas, Bill, Dean, and probably a few more. Still cool to have so many from the club all there!

Ken is a crazy old man, so he brought his rollerskis, so naturally Nikolay went out skiing too, as well as a couple others who would fit into Ali's boots. Mixing sports! Ahhh!

Much lounging about on the pavement, as per usual.
Clem took it to a whole new level, but in his defense, the pavement was wonderfully warm. Of course, pavement lounging can quickly be interrupted when a cadet comes over and tells you that a Hummer is coming through so we'd better move. Right, we're at West Point. Actually, you could hear the firing range from all the points on the course, kind of a reminder not to get TOO lost...

Some photos from the sprint, courtesy of Ed. I don't look very fast compared to Ross or Ali, but I guess I wasn't that motivated after my 5min mistake.


The Ali-gator.

The Kens.

Ed finishing the middle race in the morning, with his fancy new headcam. That he won't let anyone watch because he doesn't want anyone to see all his mistakes.

Speedy Sam finishing the middle.

Giovanni made himself a chocolate sandwich - two pieces of bread and some chocolate in the middle. Why haven't I thought of that yet?

Sunday was the long distance race, and it certainly did feel pretty long and hilly. Luckily the terrain was a lot nicer - more open, with many fewer rocks. I had a much better race, very solid navigationally, if not exceptional, and only made one questionable route choice. On paper it looked good, in reality, the terrain over there was just slower. Details.

I ended up 5th for the weekend, which isn't too bad, but that's the trouble with expectations - they keep rising, while your performance has ups and downs and just won't keep pace with those expectations. Ah well, I have some time to train between now and the next big race, at the end of May.