O Log - Older Archives
[27-Oct-01]  O in the Oaks, CA [Blue, 10275/590, 105:34, 10.27/6.52, 10/29]
[26-Oct-01]  O in the Oaks, CA [Blue, 6050/395, 73:07, 12.09/7.31, 12/27]

    I don't have time to write too much this week due to all the work involved with the A meet this weekend.

    O in the Oaks was an excellent event, although directions to the packet pickup would have been nice. In other observations, I was not permitted to board my flight with fingernail clippers, of all things, but was permitted to board with spiked O shoes and a fist.

    The terrain was the beautiful "golden hills of California", and the weather was pleasant. Day 1 had an obscene amount of climb, including an inexplicable downhill walk to the start. One leg had 25 contours of climb. It was stated that they wanted to show off this interesting area of the map, but I did not find the O particularly special, at least not special enough to justify almost 7% climb. It was my kind of O though, lollipop features and excellent mapping.

    I boomed the first control, as usual. Three minute error. Otherwise I was pretty clean. It was hard not to be clean, given how slowly the physical terrain forced me to run. I was disappointed in my speed, well off my goal of 65 minutes for a fairly clean run in my kind of terrain, and well below people I have beaten before. Though I train on hills, it was not enough today. I was happier with my place -- middle of the pack on blue at an A meet is a good race for me, but I feel on perfect day I could have hit 65 minutes if I really pushed. I didn't really push. Most importantly, though, I was fairly happy with my orienteering.

    Day 2 was the IOF sanctioned WRE. I don't know much about how these work, but I liked the idea of early starts, the woods to myself, running with the best, and a world ranking, though I'm not hung up on rankings. After I find what my ranking is, which Vladimir estimates at 626 points, I'll explore what it means, if anything.

    Anyway, back to the woods. The day 2 map was much more interesting and fun. There was still 5% climb, but it was much more spread out, except for an obscene hill late in the race. It was intensely beautiful and open terrain, meadows, rolling hills, which I enjoy running thru.

    My goal was to stay in contact with the map the whole race, no matter what, and not take chances. I also had a goal of around 95 minutes. I managed to meet my first goal, but not my second. I was slow. Same story as day 1, unhappy with my time, but happy with my place, missing the upper third by one place and finishing ahead of a couple of people I've never beaten before. One of those runners made a 6 minute error, though, according to the splits, so it doesn't really count.

    I was wrong about the course. It was long short O, with none of the 25 legs greater than 800m. I pay a bit of a penalty at each control, so I know that slowed me down. It was an enjoyable and well-set course, though, just not what I expected. There were also these clusters of black rock features, with the flag hung on one of them. I could not read them, except sitting down in my office. They seemed bingoish at the time, but if you had a magnifier or laser eyes, all but one or two was not. Number 11 definitely was (and Eric agrees); the clue does not describe a unique feature.

    I found the orienteering much more difficult than on Day 1, as there was no micro-orienteering on Day 1, but you had to keep your eye on the ball Day 2, once in the circle.

    Its worth analyzing my day 2 race, I think. Bags hung low, technical areas, often eat me up, but they didn't today. This is a big positive. Usually one control gets me, but not today. Another positive was that I really paid attention to the contours when I could not read the rock. This is a habit I've been dying to add to my playbook successfully, and it worked well today. In some cases I said forget the rock, just read the ripples to get to the center of the circle and look for something orange. The good news is that it worked. It helped that the map was excellent.

    The other positive was that I handled others well today. I was running with someone else for a few controls, and managed to out orienteer them. Usually I let others bother and fluster me, or I assume they are better than me, and I follow. But I avoided that today.

    On the negative side, I may have had the wrong game plan. I think I was too cautious, too afraid to make the big error. I think also, though, the short O style of the course forced me to adhere more strictly to my game plan than I wanted too. At least I didn't make the big error, all minor bobbles in the micro stuff. I think the pressure of the WRE forced the conservative game plan. They just put a name on something, and all the sudden it changes. Why?

    So my analysis contradicts itself. In the end, I was happy to have two solid, though not spectacular, runs. Certainly happier with the racing than today's writing.

    Splits and comments on AttackPoint.


    Off to one of the meets I've been looking forward to for a while now, the BAOC meet in Morgan Territory. BAOC puts on great meets, so I won't have to worry about shoddy mapping or misplaced controls. I will have to worry about parallel errors and sparse vegetation. I've noticed my better races occur when the vegetation is well-defined and well-mapped. The vegetation most likely will not be well-defined out there -- I'm envisioning lots of "rough open with scattered trees", so I will have to knuckle down with the contours or actually look at the compass. I will also have to relate to the terrain before leaving the start triange, usually not an issue, but it was at Letchworth. I will also have to worry about unmapped "livestock" trails -- better yet ignore them -- these trails often give me trouble.

    Day 1, 6K, 400m of climb, and they are still calling for a winning time of 75 minutes. My personal goal, just looking at the numbers and the Sunol map, would be a time of 65 minutes, so I am not sure what to expect. Day 2 is 10K/600m, but 25 controls. The number of controls concerns me; I think booms are proportional to the number of controls, not the length of the course (although I will have to think about if that assumption makes sense -- it really should be proportional to the number and difficulty of the features encountered, but features mean more near the circle so maybe it does make sense). Anyway, the course setter is from Europe, so they won't have 25 400m legs, rather, there will be a couple of extensive sections of short O in technical stuff. I'll have to keep my eye on the ball. With any luck, the first leg will be a 400m leg in open get-used-to-the-map terrain.


    They've got map samples up now on the APOC 2000 website. This looks like its going to be a great event. The map samples, though small, indicate fantastic and challenging terrain. The following, next to one of the samples, really caught my eye --

    Undulating knob and kettle terrain set in open range land in Central Alberta. Fast running among the thousands of seemingly identical hills. Travel will be fast but errors will be expensive.

    I've only seen this sort of thing once before (in terms of contours anyway), at this spring's A event in Michigan. It ate me up. I guess Lithuania's terrain was in the same vein as well, and I had better races there. Both of those maps were forested, though. Perhaps the open moorlands of the UK are similiar as well, but there are no kettle depressions there. I think hitting the Yukon championships before APOC would be wise, to at least get some training on the stuff.

[21-Oct-01]  ROC A Meet, NY [Blue, 7450/190, 60:14, 8.07/6.45, 11/?]
[20-Oct-01]  ROC A Meet, NY [Blue, 12600/450, 157:28, 12.50/9.21, ?/?]

    Lots of extremes this weekend. The weather and the woods were stunningly beautiful. Sunlight streaming thru the fall colors. The north part of the day 1 map was especially pretty, perhaps the prettiest forest I've ever run in. The day 1 course setting, I thought, was also perhaps one of the best set courses I've run on. Day 1 was at Letchworth Gorge -- lots of steep slopes, hardwood forest with moderate to poor visibility, lots of contour detail and minimal rock; day 2 was Pinewood Girl Scout Camp, which was more of a pine-hardwood mix, pine plantation, and evergreen thickets. There was less contour detail, though there were areas of multi-contour depressions, which are not all that common.

    Day 1 was a disaster. Possibly my worst race ever. Some sort of error on 8 of the first 10 controls. Some of them big. I could not relate the terrain to the map until halfway to the 11th control. I'm not sure why. Some were complaining that there was alot of contour detail left off the early part of the map due to the steepness of the terrain. Perhaps that is why I couldn't figure it out, I dunno. The steepness made relocating difficult, at least for me. 10min/K would have been 11th place in an a very strong field. I could have done that and would have been happy with that result, but I didn't. I ran the last 11K of the course at 10min/K, so I was happy with that, I guess.

    Day 2 was great. Possibly my best race ever. 11th place in a strong field. I guess the map was easier. I finished very close to or ahead of people I never dreamed I could run with. I was very sharp, and reading the map very well, and making good snap decisions. One 20 second error, and another minute lost to confusion about an unhashed out of bounds area. I didn't realise it was the out of bounds area mentioned in the course setters' notes until I got there and saw the equipment that was there. It was not labelled as such on the map. I wasn't sure but played it squeaky clean and went around. People were saying I could not be DSQed if I went thru because it was not hashed. But it was described in the course setters' notes. But what if people don't read the notes? Can that be presumed? Whatever. Its still about running thru the woods, though it would have been nice if they either hashed it, or did not make it a viable route choice. I'm still happy with the run.

    Oh well, forget day 1, remember day 2, and start thinking about the BAOC meet. Day 1 course setters' notes are on the web. The blue course is 6000m with 395m of climb. Sheesh. I like climb, but that seems extreme.

    One thing they will be doing, which I really like, is handing out the control descriptions 2 minutes before start, like they sometimes do at European meets. This is the first time I have seen this in the 'States. I feel I'm at a disadvantage competing against the people who try to figure out the courses the night before. Though it is legal to use all publicly-available information, I've always declined to do that as it seems out the spirit of the sport, and less fun.


    I have a mild cold. Hopefully it won't affect me too much physically this weekend.

    Concentrate, stay in constant contact, and don't outrun contact. Easy to say, anyway, and should be a good strategy for day 1. Day 2 will be shorter, which may call for more aggressive running, and I'm not yet good enough to stay in contact at top speed in all terrains. Hopefully it will be lollipop terrain and I can be aggressive on day 2. On the other hand, I hear it is mostly pine, which I run slow in due to fear of eye injury. Hopefully it won't be trashy pine.


    ROC A meet this weekend. I'm having trouble getting a feel for what the terrain will be like. I've only ever been in near this part of the country once, and I seem to remember mostly second growth and transitional forest. The park could be completely different for all I know. Day 1 will be long 12K/450m, which is good news, day 2 will be short, 7450m/190m. Rain likely on day one, and it looks like it will be cold (upper 50s), which is bad news, but not the arctic zone I feared it would be. It should be fun, especially if there is fall foliage still on the trees.

    I was out at FCW at 7 this morning. Course setting for the A meet is finalized. I hope the vetters don't find anything weird. Final maps should be back from the printer on Friday. I hope the printing is good. I feel a little weird about 350 people running on my courses. They tell me they are good courses, hopefully people will have fun.

    I need O pants. I've been wearing St. John's Bay nylon trekking pants, which are wonderful, but mine are now getting torn up, and they are no longer available. Everyone always laughs at my O pants at meets, but I like then because they are more protection against thorns than some of the O pants I have seen, yet they are just as light and dry instantly. The trekking pants I saw today at the store are so loaded with zippers and the like that they seem they would be too heavy.

    I'm not sure what to do about it -- my current 2 pair will last a few more meets, but it will be a while before I get back to Europe to shop for some, and I don't care for any O pants I've ever seen, really. I think I like the look of Trimtex the best, but I don't know how they feel to run in, nor how they are with the thorns, and I dislike ordering clothing from a web site without trying it on. Fortunately I am set for shoes and shirts, having stocked up last time in Europe.


    I just received the training map of Sunol I ordered for the BAOC WRE in a couple of weeks. I've never ordered the A meet map before (part of the fun is turning it over for the first time in the triangle), but this is not a map of where the actual event is, and I plan to get there a day early and do a little jogging if I can, and this seems like the best place to do so.

    The first thing I noticed about the map is that it has 7.5m contours, and they are very close together. I like lots of climb, so if the meet is on similar terrain, it could be fun. It would be difficult to set courses on this map without TONS of climb.

    The map is almost all yellow, with patches of white and white bands in some of the valleys and northern slopes. Scattered individually-mapped trees pepper the yellow. It can sometimes be tough to separate these things on the fly, but I don't see patches of "rough open with scattered trees", which would make the problem even harder, like it is sometimes in Laramie. Few "lollipop" contour features, and few intricate technical areas, and less rock than I expected, yet not bland either. I guess there are what I would describe as lollipop features, but they are not as lollipopish as usual as there are several similar looking ones next to each other, so it would be very easy to make parallel errors here. I think the map looks more crowded than the terrain will look because of all the contours, and the fact that they are printed strongly.

    Hard to describe, except its fun looking. Hopefully Morgan will meet or exceed this map, either way, I'd fly out for an A meet on Sunol.

[14-Oct-01] Elk Neck, North East MD[Blue, 9350/375, 97:23, 10.24/7.43, 4/15]

    I seem to be orienteering well again. Today's course was very physical, and the course setter seemed to be into botany, making sure we got a healthy dose of laurel, thick broadleaf saplings, and of course that bane of mid-atlantic orienteering -- greenbriar, which I think is best described as barbed wire with chlorophyll. Amazingly, it wasn't too unpleasant, but it just kept coming and coming; I don't think there was a single 300m stretch of white woods the whole course. Overall, the course was fun and challenging. It was just so much fun out there today.

    The bags were on features in the green and hung low. The course was mentally demanding. I am not a good orienteer in thick vegetation, and it is usually the sort of course good people have some trouble on, and I look back and say -- if I just could have run 10/min k, I could have beat these folks. Finally, today was the day I did it, orienteering well on not my kind of course, and finishing the best I could in a strong field for a local, and ahead of some people for the first time.

    Only one real error, 5 minutes, spooked by an unmapped trail I thought was a mapped trail, and did not pay attention to the contour picture or my compass. I hate repeating mistakes, but I'm so happy with my run today I'll forgive myself. My win was executing a tough straight route choice on #8. (Yeah I know 5 minutes is alot, but it didn't feel that way today ...)

    Unfortunately, there was a mishung control, only by 20m but in the green 20m is alot. Mark Voit spent 25 minutes looking for it, but we were about equal up to that control on splits. Looking at the other splits, I don't think it affected anyone else enough to matter, but that is something I need to remember to check.

    Now, if my concentration can remain as strong as it has been lately, I can work on something else, like route planning or relocating. It is amazing how may skills there are in this sport. How do you practice route planning? I don't ever want to be in a position to practice relocating ...

    Splits on AttackPoint.


    I've finally got my writeup on the Highlander, along with many others, on AttackPoint.

    Its interesting that many people thought there was a problem with the trails on the way to 32, but I was the only one that let it turn into losing contact with the map and a 7 minute error. It was mental fatigue, a lack of confidence, and more worrying about placing in the race than other more important things, like contours, which never change. Although I did pay attention to the contours and rock detail, my mistake was trying to relate them to the problematic trails, rather than relate them to the map in an absolute sense. They were also not obvious features (to me), where I could say -- ok, that is that. It did not cross my mind that the trails were mis-mapped, so I assumed I was lost and panicked. There was also an obvious way to simplify the leg that Greg Balter pointed out to me after the race, that my fatigued brain did not see at the time.

    Enough dwelling on the mistake as I had a good race. I followed my pre-race goals, but I should extend that to not worry about place at all during the race, and just worry about the map. I didn't eat enough at the map exchanges, I know I ate more last year -- for next year, remember that half a small jug of Gatorade at each break is not enough. I could have used more energy in the last loop, but for my brain, oddly enough, which needs carbs and water also.

    My min/k was 10.27 vs 9.92 last year, but there was more climb this year by my count (985 vs 775), and the average time was about .8 min/k more, so I guess I'm improving. The winning time was 18 minutes slower this year, (but still impressive at 214 minutes), so I think the course was harder than last year, at least by the numbers.

    Best case was improving my time by about 20 minutes, most of which I lost on the last loop, due to jogging and errors. Stamina is my long suit, as it allowed me to finish ahead of better orienteers, so it is interesting that I can improve on that area, of all things. Eric Weyman suggests 2 hour runs with the map keeping contact the whole time to build orienteering stamina. I've never run more than 40 minutes at a time and only a couple of times done O specific training, so it is worth pursuing, but when will I find that kind of time?

    Oh well, next year it will be up against WMOC in Australia, which I am planning to attend, so unless they move it, I won't make it, sadly. They are also talking about having it every other year from now on -- I know its alot of work but I hope they find a way to have it annually, and work around WMOC, but I'm just too greedy I guess ...

[07-Oct-01] Hudson Highlander[26310/985, 270:09, 10.27/7.47, 8/69]

    All I can say is fantastic! The weather was absolutely stunning, some of the most beautiful fall sunlit forest I have ever run in. The race was well organized and run, with no gimmicks and no problems.

    Ken Walker Jr. was the winner at about 3.5 hours, with Eric Bone 1:42 behind. I hit my goal of finishing in the top 10, finishing 8th.

    I'll write more and post to Attackpoint when I have the time.


    Had a nice long score-O today, 9 and a half hours in the woods hanging streamers for the A meet. The woods are fast and bland. Unfortunately, two of the most detailed areas are too overgrown with thick blackberry brambles and blueberry bushes to be usable.

    Hanging streamers is hard. There is so much to think about. Forget finding the feature in with no flag in bland woods, that is the easy part. There's vetting against surrounding features, making sure the map is correct, looking for better features in the area, getting the number right, getting the description right, looking for a good place to move to when your primary site is unusable. Sheesh. And there is no water on the course. That's the biggest problem.

    For the Highlander, they are calling for "highs in the mid 50s". I could go for "Highs in the mid 70s". 50s is too cold, and it will be even colder at race time in the woods. It was cold last year also, perhaps even in the 40s. Its been 80s lately, and I've been loving it. I guess the party is over.

    Anyway, it will be sunny, and still be a fun race. The field has been announced and there are some good runners on the list, including some first timers like Eric Bone. Unfortunately I did not see Eddie or Peter Gagarin on the list. Hopefully everything is ok with them.