Friday, December 19, 2014

Remember the awesomeness

And now we've reached the end of another year here in Uppsala. And what an amazing year it has been - both orienteering and otherwise for me. Although I feel like I had my fair share of ups and downs this year in orienteering, I actually think it was my best year since 2010. I tend to remember only the bad things (especially now, sitting here injured for the first time ever and feeling like a big slug). So here is why this year was awesome - yep, a list of my awesome year :)

Tenerife! This was one of the few vacations I've taken with only Ross and with no orienteering (but lots of running!) It was awesome.

The off-limits (due to snow) Teide in the background.
In the spring I set a new 5km PR, 18.10 at Blodomloppet.

The IESU work team
I competed in all the Silva League races, which meant lots of traveling to new places in Sweden and running on new maps.

Silva League in Småland. Photo by Matija
10mila I was on team two, and I ran second leg. Before running, I was super nervous, so I didn't eat a lot for dinner the previous night or breakfast. This led to a very upset stomach for another 24 hours and puking on the van ride home (not in the van!). I was a bit hesitant in the beginning of the race, getting pulled a bit by others, but then found my own stride. I remember running uphill at one point with no one in front of me, but turning around and seeing a never-ending steam of women behind me. Team two did an awesome job!
Linné Team 2!

Handing off to Elisa. Photo by Ken Walker
Since WOC was in Italy, I traveled down to Treviso in the spring where I did some sprint training and spent lots of time exploring that adorable city.

I went to Venice three separate times this year, mostly for training but also snuck in some site-seeing with Cristina and Melissa the first time.

Jukola was far north this year. Our flight was delayed and we took a long team-bonding bus ride north. I ran first leg on team 2, and I had an awesome starting spot, since team 2 did so well last year. I had a really good race, spiking my controls and staying ahead of most of the pack.

Oh, Finnish, you funny language you.
Ross and I were invited by the Luis family to spend a week with them in Provence, France. I cannot say thank you enough for having us. It was an amazing week, and those hill intervals that Cristina and I ran in the heat I think fine tuned my race-mind and race-legs like nothing else could have.

If you are ever here, buy ALL of their cookies!
sunshine and views
At World Orienteering Championships, after a fairly panic-y qualifier race, I squeaked into the WOC sprint final. Although I've made finals before, last year at WOC was hard for me, and it felt so good to redeem myself. My final was a solid race, but not as awesome as you want your WOC race to be, but I got to sit on the top-three victory couch, which has been a life-long goal.
Over the bridges of Venice. Photo by Ken Walker
Victory couch! Photo by Ken Walker
I then got to run the lead leg on our 4 person sprint relay team, which is the newest discipline at WOC. I was so nervous before the race I had a bit of trouble breathing, but it was awesome. Crowded, fast, twisty and I finished my leg in 10th.

Finishing my leg in sprint relay. Photo by Ken Walker
My forest relay might as well make it's way in here too. I got very lost in the beginning and came through the arena in absolute last place. I can still feel how frustrated, embarrassed, disappointed, and low I felt running through the arena. And I cannot describe how important it was to hear my family, friends and teammates cheering for me. I didn't feel that I pushed extra hard in the end, but looking at splits I kept pace with the lead pack, and I tagged off to Alex, our second runner, in 17th place. It means a lot to me that everyone still supported me, and that I was able to mentally pull off a solid end of a race that started out as one of the most horrible of the year.
Tagging off to Alex, who had an awesome leg. Photo by Ken Walker
Then the traveling! Traveling with Mom and Dad was amazing. We stayed in beautiful places and went hiking running, mountain biking and siteseeing. Northern Italy is beautiful.
Mountain biking in the Dolomites 
Trying on local fashion
Villa Carlotta
Sunset over Lake Como
Dinner on the porch in Bellagio
View down to Bellagio
Swiss O week continued the awesomeness. Ross and I stayed with Cristina and Melissa in Zermatt. I had three awesome races at the beginning of the week, and enjoyed that elusive feeling of full speed, no mistakes.
Look at the view! (This happened a lot)

But we also had days like this!

Running in the shadow of Zermatt
Hanging around with my besties.
At the middle distance Swedish championships I ran another smart, but not fast, race. I relished in that feeling after the race, assuring everyone that I had a good race for me, but of course I wasn't in the final. I had a slow heat though, and I made it to my first Swedish Champs final! I swear, these things are harder to get into than WOC finals. I ran a fine middle race in the final, despite some early mistakes. I was really just proud to be there!

Swedish relay championships were another opportunity for me to run first leg again this year and use the speed that I worked so hard to build this year. I cut too sharply in front of someone near the end of the race and they stepped on my shoe, pulling it off. I lost a bit of time trying to get it back on again, but then got to run hard to try to catch back up again!

SM Relay. Photo by Lars Rönnols
The season finished off with North Americans. I had some strange stomach bug for half of the weekend, but the NAOC long is the race I am most proud of. Besides some wandering to #2 I ran a really good race. A race to be proud of. And it's wonderful to be rewarded with a gold medal and a earned spot at the WOC Long this summer in Scotland.

The Björn Kjellström trophy, with the female gold medalists from the weekend.
To top it all off, even better than all those awesome races, I got to marry the most wonderful, kind and understanding person ever.
photo by Chris Joyce, our awesome photographer
2014, I'm going to miss you. As one can tell from reading this, I love racing and traveling. 
I love competing. I love feeling fast and strong and focused in the forest.
But more than all that, I love Ross :)

2015, you have a lot to live up to. Looking forward to it!

1 comment:

Ian Smith said...

Absolutely spectacular, thanks for sharing, Sam. It is very cool to be a vicarious part of your adventures.