Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May O' week

Last week marked the third stay-at-home training camp week of the spring, where I try to orienteer every day of the week.  I think this was the most productive week yet; I felt like I got a lot of technical help out of each session.  Though by the end, I was certainly tired - 52 miles is a lot for me, and I had plenty of quality this week, too. 

I started the week with a day off (well, a bike commute, but no running), deciding to "count" the training I'd done at Rocky Woods on Sunday as part of o' week.  I ran the blue course first, and then a contour-only training exercise (see maps in last post), and I found the terrain physical enough that I was pretty tired by the end of the day.  I had some training buddies join me for various days last week, and that definitely helped the motivation - Tuesday morning, Brendan met me at the Fells for some early morning window training on a map with no trails on it, and that definitely stressed my brain.

(Brendan's map, not mine, but you get the idea)

Tuesday afternoon I was coaching, so while the juniors did their tempo workout at Hammond Pond, I ran through the woods, at an aerobic pace, but still bashing through blueberries and reading a map (from Finland, prepping for the long distance race there!). This wasn't too tiring, thankfully, and was specific to orienteering, too. Best way to do a tempo!

Wednesday morning it was back to the forests, this time in Franklin Park. I thought that Brendan and Anna were both going to join me, but it didn't quite work out. I did a warmup on a control-pick exercise, where the focus is on direction changes and keeping your head up reading features, and that went well. Then it was on to some "o'tervals" - basically, 6x~3min intervals, where the first leg gets you moving really fast through open terrain or on a trail, and then you have to use your brain. This was great, and despite the rain, I felt super strong and the orienteering went well. That's how you're supposed to do your intervals!

Thursday was the CSU park-o, another high-speed activity, since this one was at Mystic River, which is pretty open and not too technically challenging. I couldn't get my legs to run fast enough, despite wearing obscenely bright knee socks (shouldn't that make me go faster? come on!), and three boys beat me. Darn!

Friday was pouring rain, so I had to cancel junior practice, which would have involved lying on the grass in the rain doing core exercises. Unpleasant. So instead, I went on a mini-adventure, this time with the company of Ari. The plan was to do an evil corridor training at the Fells, again on a map with no trails. The pouring rain only added to the fun, right? We jogged over on trails from the T, then started out together, with Ari following and trying to glean some wisdom from my narrations as I toodled along. The exercise started with a line-o, so just following aline on the map, but with full information on the map. Then it transitioned to a corridor, where you only have the information within the corridor. And then it transitioned to an inverse corridor (evil!), where you only have the information to either side of the corridor, but you can't see the actual features you're running on. The rain did not make things easier, though it does let you slide past greenbriar a little easier.

This was super hard. I didn't do all that well, and by the time we finished the inverse corridor and started a control-pick, my brain was pretty well fried. Eventually we abandoned the control pick, both too cold and hypothermic to continue, and ran out to the road to catch a bus to anywhere, find some hot food, and bail out to home. brrr. The rain made that slightly more epic than was strictly necessary, I think.

Saturday Ed and I headed out to Nobscot Reservation, for the NEOC meet that Ian and Ali were hosting. I wasn't feeling too full of energy, so decided to just cruise through the course, focusing on direction leaving the control and sighting big features so I could simplify. This went well, but Ian F snuck ahead of me in the results, by only 12s! D'oh. Brendan crushed us both by 12 minutes, so I guess I should just shut up and get faster. But it was so nice to run in terrain that was easy running, no greenbriar, and simple to read, and open to see, making the whole ordeal quite enjoyable, at least compared to Friday's ordeal.

Sunday was the last day of o' week, and I managed to convince Ian, Ali, and Brendan all to come play at Lynn Woods with me. We hung some streamers, then did a warmup on a corridor, to get the brain engaged, and then it was time for more o'tervals! We staggered the start by 30s, and it was super fun to race against people in such great technical terrain. I think we were all pretty exhausted by the end, but it was a great training.

I'd have loved a nap just then, but I was coaching again on Sunday afternoon, and it was the long run practice, so one trip around the Skyline trail at the Fells, and THEN I was done for the week =). Beautiful day for running, so I certainly didn't mind!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wrapping up spring o' season

With June right around the corner, we're basically wrapping up the spring orienteering season.  The next big races are the World Championships, for me, in early July.  This leaves me with a solid training block ahead of me, and I'm trying to take full advantage of that!  Looking back on the spring season, it was over quickly, but here are some extra photos I haven't posted yet...

This one is from an early spring meet, chit-chatting with Pete and Jim.

Anna and I teamed up for the Speedygoat sprint relay the day before the Billygoat.  We won!  It was a tight race between our team and the husband-wife duo of Wyatt and Angelica, which made things super fun.  Above is the start, then Anna coming in for the finish.

This is the famed Billygoat prize doorstopper.  I got to sign it, with all the other big names on there.

Ali came to town!  Just in time for a park-o, before West Point.

At West Point, waiting on awards.

OMG shoes!  So many options!  The bright yellow ones aren't so bright yellow anymore... marshes have taken care of that =).

Ed decided to bring a bicycle to warm up on at the US champs.  This worked well, and gave his knee a chance to loosen up before running, and he could run without any pain.  But he got a lot of funny looks for it.
 Kseniya and Tereza
Tereza, Hannah, Evalin
Anna and Tereza
Me and Anne, after the junior course review
Melanie and I after course review.  It was super fun to go over courses with the juniors, hopefully they enjoyed it, too.
The boys comparing splits.
Erin, the USA junior team coach, surrounded by juniors of all ages, doing what he does best and inspiring them to want to get good at this sport.

This is Ed's setup from a local meet that we were running, down at Rocky Woods reservation last weekend.  Jeff Schapiro set courses, Ed ran the results, Larry and Sara Mae did registration (below), and I picked up controls.  And ran a few courses.  I couldn't keep pace with the speedier guys; that terrain is thick and requires a lot of strength, but I felt good during my course, despite two HUUUUUGE mistakes.
The blue course, with my route, and the contour-only course, done after the "real" courses. Splits. Got beat by a lot of guys.

New shoes!  Inov-8 is coming through, and all sorts of awesome trail and orienteering shoes are coming my way!  Stay tuned for some shoe reviews, real soon.

I think this is my scary smile... leading a death march sunday long run through the fel

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Spring 3k TT

As part of the U.S. Orienteering Team, I submit an annual training plan with some goals in it.  Most of those goals are about orienteering, but there are some fitness ones, too, like 3000m time trials.  Generally a painful distance, I decided last year that I was done with doing these things alone - it's just too much of a mental struggle.  But when Anna suggested doing a TT after the Champs, I figured it wouldn't be too bad to join her.  Plus, my training plan says I should do one of these.  Bah.

Yay women's team!  Missing Sam and Alison Campbell.  It's going to be difficult having two Ali C's on the team... 

Anyway, I may not have been too excited, but I went through my pre-race prep and tried to brainwash myself into being a badass.  It was a nice day, low 70s and sunny when we started, which is a bit warm, but made for the first shirtless running of the year, which feels awesome.  Brendan, Anna, Ian and I stood on the start line and got ready for the pain, and about two laps in, SGB and Presto showed up.  Oops.  They decided to just pace me, and that was nice to watch Presto bounding along, took my mind off the pain.  There was much pain, and I started too fast, and didn't have much in the tank to finish, but managed to do it in 11:40.  Not a PR, and not the 11:20 I'm shooting for by the end of the summer, but not terrible.  I'll take it, and hopefully my next race is on the trails or in the woods!  

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.

Monday, May 6, 2013

7 Sisters trail race

I've had this race on my radar for a while now, but unfortunately it always seems to conflict with West Point or some other important orienteering race.  This year, West Point was a week earlier, though, so I could finally come thrash myself over the rocks and roots of the Holyoke Range!  It almost felt like I was coming home, and definitely felt weird not to be bringing an orienteering map, but I was excited to do a regular running race; it's been a long while. 

I didn't know where to start myself, especially given that I'm still sort of recovering from Lyme disease - I feel good, physically, but I had no idea how my body would respond to being pushed up and down hills with lots of rocks in the way.  I figured it was probably best to start conservatively, but that would mean passing a lot of people once I got going.  From a training run I'd done here to the Summit House and back, I was planning for a more or less three-hour race, though hopefully less - looking at past results, it seems the ladies tend to win this thing in 2:15-2:20, so it would be nice to be closer to that end of things.  The forecast was calling for a high of 73F, and it was bright and sunny, so staying fueled and hydrated would actually play a role today.  Given the rocky, technical, potentially brutal nature of this course, I was armed with the best tools available - a sticky-soled pair of Inov-8 X-talons, and an attitude that was focused on having a really great time out there. 

Off we went, and it took a solid minute for my part of the pack to actually reach the trailhead and start climbing.  Oooh, look at all those people running, that looks like fun! Very frustrating to stand still and watch other people go, but I'd told myself I'm not allowed to go crazy passing people, just stay calm, and you have 12 miles to reel them in. So, as we climbed I passed people where the opportunity presented itself, and sometimes where the opportunity wasn't *quite* there, and kept the effort more or less under wraps.

By the top of the hill, people were at least a little more in single file groups, and that made them easier to pass. I continued to make an effort to not kill myself, and by the second or third climb, which I was content to walk in a conga line, I was running and hiking with some folks who were at least moving closer to the speed I wanted to go. Then I'd pass them on the downhills. Some time after the first water stop, which was near the top of the Earl's Trails map, I started seeing a lady in a running skirt who I was having a bit of trouble running down. I got her on a subsequent uphill, but she did not disappear into the rearview mirror as fast as everyone else. I guess this was Debbie Livingston, and she's fast at this stuff, but it added a bit of urgency to finally be racing head to head with a woman, instead of all the men.

The downhill from Summit House to the turn-around was utterly lovely. Lots of slickrock (X-Talons were TOTALLY the right shoe - I've never been so happy with a shoe choice), mostly runnable grade, some pointy rocks, and amazing views. When SGB (fellow CSU teammate) passed me coming back up, I think my words were - "GOOO Squib!! This is AWESOME!! WOOOOO!" I got the news that I was the first lady on the way down the hill, and though I didn't really believe them, it turns out some of the usual suspects didn't bother to show up today. When I finally got to the turn-around, and hadn't seen any ladies, I realized I was indeed leading, and that was nice because it meant I didn't have to push so hard - I have team trials on my mind.

The climb back to Summit House was pretty relentless, but I was feeling good, and totally ok with hiking. I was really enjoying the day - any time the climb started to hurt, I would just think about what an awesome spring day it was, and I'd start smiling again. Passing loads of people on the way back, but for the most part they were polite and encouraging and I never even came close to running into anyone. At the cement blocks I knew I only had two climbs left, so picked up the pace a bit and reeled in two guys. No sign of Debbie behind me, but some hot spots under the balls of my feet meant that I was very happy when I started the last descent, picking off one more guy along the way, and finishing in 2:25 (watch time).  I like to think I could peel some 5-8 minutes off that if I'd pushed the return trip a bit =)

In the end, I was totally happy with the day. It was gorgeous and sunny and there were amazing views and that trail is totally awesome and I felt good and peppy and more rested than I have in months and to top it all I won the race and then we had ice cream! Though next time, I'm starting further forward, because if there were more ladies showing up to race, it would be hard to make up that 1 minute wait.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lyme disease

Most ticks in this part of the world carry Lyme disease.  What with running through the woods on a nearly-daily basis, I find a lot of ticks on my clothes, crawling around on me, sometimes even attached to me.  I conscientiously check for these things, and when I find ticks on me, they die a cruel and gruesome death. Most orienteers that I know have had Lyme disease at least once, but so far, I've been spared.  No longer - after the Billygoat, I pulled one of those bloodsucking monsters off my rib, and a few days later developed some swollen lymph nodes.  Could be nothing, but when I noticed a hard lump under the skin near the tick bite last weekend, Dr. Crocker was convinced, and put me on antibiotics.  The day I started the drugs, I also had my jaw lock up on me, and couldn't really open my mouth or chew.  That was unpleasant.  Anyway, things are looking up already, and my energy is coming back.  It's sort of nice to have an excuse for feeling so physically crappy all weekend. I'm hoping that I feel good enough this weekend to do some actual training, and am 100% ready to go by the US champs in 9 days.  Catching Lyme this early feels a bit like dodging a bullet, and I'm glad I did.  Keep checking for ticks...