Saturday, June 30, 2012

WOC Training

I always saw this blog as an orienteering adventure blog, but most of the time I write about food. Maybe I should take Alex's approach and have a food blog and an orienteering blog. Then again, I can barely write enough for this one.

This past Wednesday I participated in the Swiss selection races for the World Championships, this summer in Lausanne, Switzerland. The women had 11.3km with 380m of climb, which is long. You can view the map and the splits. If you're planning your own routes, you should know that none of the purple slash (out of bounds) was on the competition map, so feel free to run right through it.

As you can see, I'm at the very bottom of the results. Physically, I was hurting the entire time, even during the warm up. I had this tightness and low lactic acid burning in my legs that was set off just by walking. In these woods you need to be ready to attack, and I just didn't have the energy. This led to lazy planning and execution and I surrendered tens of minutes to mistakes and bad routes during this "race".

For my nonorienteering friends out there, green on the map indicates thickness of vegetation. White on the map means runnable woods. Light green is slightly less runnable, then medium green and then the darkest green (don't even try to go through). On top of that, the green slash, on this map, is briers and stinging nettles and other vines and downed trees and branches. Yellow generally means open area, but yellow with green slash means an open area that has grown up and been filled with briers and nettles. Really avoid these areas! As you can see, if you wanted to avoid all the green on this map, you wouldn't make it around the course. You have to go through it sometimes, but you try to minimize the damage. Stick to trails as much as possible.

Here is that I learned, after looking at my race along with GPS tracking and splits from some of the other runners:

1. The streams/ditches are hard to see, especially in the dense green. It all seemed wet. Possibly I was too high and so ran over the top of the first one. Others didn't seem to have as much trouble. I also ran the trail around the corner out of the start. I should have just bitten the bullet and gone through the bit of green slash.

2. Straightish is fine here. I ran out to the road on the right and that was way too far around. I'm not sure what I was trying to avoid, except that the whole area seemed much greener than mapped.

3. One of the best routes was going right out to the trail and then going north (down) and along the bottom and up the indistinct trail right to the control. What I did, attempting to contour the side of the hill, was a very poor choice. I couldn't tell how far I had gone, I was too high and ended up having to bail out to the bottom anyway. Most people went across the top of the hill and attacked from the green patch. They didn't seem to have trouble from there. I was too timid to leave the trail and enter into the green yellow slash. The map says there was an indistinct trail, but I never saw it. Some others may have found it, but others just cut in somewhere along the way, nettles, briers and downed trees be damned.

4. A few different routes into 4, but it was important to make sure you had a good bearing from the trail above. I thought I was following along the stream, but I ended up almost hitting the downhill trail to the north. Although some people did it straight no problem, the safest and still fast route is to take the trail downhill and then cut in when you see the green and clearing coming up.

5. Many people had trouble in the circle here. I missed slightly, but had people around. Again, it's hard to see far in the low visibility and the ditches are not as obvious as I want them to be. I'm not sure how to guarantee spiking it here. Possibly aim off a bit to the right, pay close attention to hitting the stream ditch and know to turn left.

6. Two good routes, left or right. Right involves staying on trails for the most part, going south of 11, cutting a bit, and ending up south of 15 and running the dirt road. The left route, that I tried to take but didn't see, involves going on the dirt road northeast from the control, taking the small path through the rough open and going down the steep nose at the stream junction. Cross the stream and there's a little trail you can take up the steep bank to the dirt road. Run the road and come in from the bottom. It seems that route may have actually been the fastest.

12. I didn't want to go into the woods from the trail, as they were thick. I should have. Everyone else did. I wimped out and ran up the trail a bit, but then had to come back and I missed the control. Basically straight was the best.

14. The most common route was taking the large trail to the small building at the trail cross, and then cutting up the ride. I wasn't anywhere near the first starter, but even when I got there, I was not psyched about running up the ride. It was so overgrown. But, after the first few meters, as indicated on the map, it became more distinct. Remember, just go for it! The plants aren't going to kill you (in the long run).

16. Running along the large field with the slash in it was fantastic. It was only grass on the edge and it had been trampled. Ten times faster than running in the woods. But, of course, this may not always be true...

17. Leave going west, out the broad nose on the indistinct trail and down into the reentrant. I found it hard to get out of that area once I was in the bottom, even though there is a trail. I ran down along the stream and then cut up on the second trail to the upper one. I stayed on trails the whole way here, and I was surprised by the number of people who cut the corner from the trail along the river to the upper parallel trail. Sure, after the first bit of medium green the map says the woods are white, but you're going uphill through crap. The trail doesn't have a great angle, but hey, no crap on the ground. Based on the number of people who cut, I think cutting is the way to go, but, again, you have to just go for it. Be strong, fight through the green! At the end of the leg, it seems a number of people ran down the trail to where the indistinct trail comes off on the semiopen. I also did that. It's a good attackpoint. I still missed, but at least I was closer.

18. Still not sure about the best route. Not what I did. (I ended up running on the trail to the finish...) Possibly swinging a bit to the south to stay in whiter woods.

So, those are my thoughts :) Interesting only to me, and boring for most of you, but it's good to document what I learn :)

And, because all blog posts need pictures, here's the view from Sandra and Marc's balcony.
A bit too cloudy to really see the mountains.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not forgotten...

There was a period this winter when I stopped writing on the blog because I couldn't think of anything else to say. Sure, I could have told you about how we were using fabric softener for about 5 months thinking it was laundry detergent, but somehow that wasn't enough to write a whole blog post about.

And then, things started to pick up. In April we spent every weekend orienteering. I was in Göteborg for a long weekend at the Swedish team sprint camp, and then Stigtomta, followed by Silva League races in Stockholm and Cristina and Melissa visiting during Valborg. May was even busier, as I headed up to train for EOC and then spend a week racing. My parents were here during the EOC week and then they came back to Uppsala, where they were joined by my aunt and uncle.

They were here during the most glorious week so far this spring/summer. Sunshine, 20°C, cool breeze, just perfect. We spent two days in Stockholm, and it was a nice change from the last time I was there when my toes went numb in my shoes. My two favorite things that we did there were:

1. Morning run around the perimeter of Djurgarden. Mom, Dad and I all started out together from our hostel on Gamla Stan (Best Hostel - Gamla Stan Skeppsbron, it was quite nice, clean and quiet). Mom cut across the island and Dad and I kept going. It was quiet and beautiful.

2. Dinner at Hermans. It's a vegetarian buffet restaurant that our friend Andrew told us about (thank you, Andrew!) and it was absolutely fantastic. It was a beautiful evening and we sat outside until sunset at 9:30 just admiring the view.

We also went to the Nobel Museum and Drottningholm, both of which were 100 times more interesting because we had a tour. The tour guide in the Nobel Museum was especially good.

Dad, across the bushes in the gardens at Drottningholm

The next week, when my friends Ellen, Steph and Ann visited, I made sure to take them to Hermans as well! It was unfortunately a complete weather change from the week before, and they had a rather chilly stay in Sweden. Also, the trains caught fire both to and from Stockholm, adding unnecessary time and stress to our trip. I swear they never break that frequently (or maybe they do?). It was really great having them here, although I wish some things went a bit smoother. It's so nice just to relax with friends from home (and drink 4 bottles of wine while playing Taboo).

Then it was June! Jukola was just as fun as everyone said it would be. I ran the third leg for Linné's third team for Venla. Elin and Lisa R. both ran well and Lisa handed off to me in 12th place! I ran really hard and only made 2 small errors, but I had a hard time keeping up with the girls around me. We finished in a very respectful 30th place and we were the best 3rd team. Linné 1 was 7th and Linné 2 was 21st. A pretty good day for us girls, I think.

That evening 7 of us Linné girls had another adventure and we rocked the men's Jukola race. Jukola, for those of you who don't know, is a 7 person relay that starts at 10pm and runs until about 8am the next morning. I ran the fourth leg, which is the dawn/day leg. I was worried about having to get up at 2am for my 3:45am race start. I went to bed around 10pm and could hear the start of the men's relay. I never fell into a deep sleep, which was good because it made getting up at 2am that much easier. I didn't feel that sleepy, which was surprising because I was crashing earlier in the day after my Venla race (I ran that race harder than I've run anything in a long time). I almost missed the hand off from Sofie as my magnifier wouldn't tighten on my compass, but I made it with about a minute to spare. I had a good race. Not as clean or as fast as the previous day, but still pretty steady. I really, really enjoyed it. We ended up coming in 301st and we were the first all woman's team. Fantastic.

Ok, that's as far as I'm getting for now. I'm currently in Switzerland staying at Sandra and Marc's place until just before WOC. They are great hosts and I love being here.

It should be mentioned, though, that Ross tried to jump a fence last Thursday and caught his foot. He landed badly and broke his elbow. He was hopefully going to hear more today if he has to get surgery to put everything back in place, or just a cast. So, I'll keep you updated! He's strong, he will heal fast.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Happy Summer!

To enjoy this beautiful summer weather today, Ross and I went to Sigtuna for some siteseeing and fika.