O Log - Older Archives

    Jason sent me some training tips from cross country experience. These ideas are a bit different from my routine, which I developed on the fly over the past couple of years. I've been thinking I need more speed training, in particular with the Short O champs coming up in a few months. I think I've been training for long races. I don't know much about track and field or road racing, but I wonder if the 15000m winner is the same as the 1000m winner. I would think it was different training, with different winners, but I don't know. In the O world, are the classic race winners the same as the short and sprint winners? I've got to train for the 26K Highlander and a 4K short course champs. When I started O, my goal was to finish the Highlander, so I have geared my training towards that, and goat races in general, as they are the most fun.

    I do know I would not want to compromise long O to train for short O. I think I'm thinking too much again. At my level, it doesn't make sense to worry about training for long or short races, stamina or speed. It seems a bit much. The problem is I always think about O, so you end up thinking about everything. A better use of time would be to train for O technique, as there is more time to be saved there. Train for physical stamina and fast O technique, and let the rest take care of itself. That seems like a good plan. Interesting how we try to find ways to spend less time doing a sport we love ...


    Some people are talking about putting together a Jukola team for next year. Jukola is a 7 man relay held in Finland each year; it is perhaps the most famous relay in the O world. It starts in the afternoon and runs thru the night (though due to the latitude, the darkness is brief). Next year it will be held in Asikkala, which is in south central Finland, directly north of Helsinki. It is quite an O experience, from what I hear, anyway.

    The website is in Finnish only, and Finnish is one of the most difficult languages for English speakers, so I haven't gotten too far with it, and the Swedish version of the page is out of date. They do have small map samples under the "kilpailuinfo" link, and a picture of the woods, along with the leg lengths. Unlike what I have heard of the Finnish terrain, the woods look super white, almost like the super white woods of Lithuania. Of course, they are probably showing the best looking woods, but they do look pretty and fast. The embargoed area indicates an area of poor drainage, meaning perhaps interesting swamps and other water features to contend with. It looks interesting, but not as interesting as the APOC terrain. I tried to find a club website and bigger O maps of the area, but came up empty in a quick search.

    I want to go, to make up for missing the Relay Champs in LA. I don't know how the team is filling out, and if I'd be able to go anyway if I'm trying to hit APOC and WMOC, even if there would be room for me on the team. We'll see. I hope it comes together whether or not I can be a part of it.

[25-Nov-01]  Camp Mack, Brickerville PA [Red, 6700/310, 73:28, 10.97, 2/8]

    My leg hurts pretty bad but the injury appears superficial besides that. It didn't prevent me from running full strength at Camp Mack, though the hills, mountain laurel, and wet leaves took care of that.

    I like Camp Mack. With all the hills, you really have to think about route choice. I had a decent run, though there was a mishung control that cost me between 1-2 minutes, which was fixed for later runners. As I was only about 90sec behind Mark, it may have cost me first place. I knew I was at the right place, but spent some time confirming and looking anyway. Next time I'll take a split as soon as I get to the feature, look for the flag at my leisure so I can rehang it, then take another split.

    What did cost me first place for sure was a 6 minute error on number 10. Everyone I talked to made a huge error on this control, though it was a fair control, as far as I'm concerned. Everyone took an aggressive approach thru a bland area of mountain laurel off of a dubious attack point. I should know better. Sometimes this works, though, and I generally prefer aggressive choices. But I knew the risk/gain ratio was poor for this one. I think the mishung control affected my race psychology. This seems like a lame excuse.

    Oh well. Despite the big error I almost won the race anyway and have been orienteering well of late, so I can be happy about that.

    Splits and comments on AttackPoint

[24-Nov-01]  Green Lane, PA [Red, 6800/145, 51:53, 7.63]

    I have some fond memories of Green Lane, as that is where I got my first ever win. The fondness ends there, though, as the woods are green, very rocky, and as it rained last night, wet. The map is also tough to read -- in particular, the trails and contours are not easy to make out amongst the green and black. There are also areas of mindless road runs or open field running that are hard to avoid as a course setter due to the layout of the area.

    Today's race was interesting in that they were re-using a map from 2 years ago. I didn't remember it except for a long route choice leg. Not that I had much choice, but I thought it would be interesting to re-run the course and see how much better I did this time around.

    I was sloppy, but only 5-10sec kind of sloppy. Under 8 min/k is always something for me to be happy about though. I remember analyzing the route choice leg last time after the race, and today I found what I think was the best route, and it was not what I found in my analysis last time. Interesting.

    I was 24 minutes faster this time than last time. I was 12 minutes ahead of the winning time from last time (Clem McGrath, who I have never beat, and who seems to have dropped out of O, as far as I know).

    Its tough to compare times to last time as it was in September then, meaning it may have been warmer, and it certainly would have been greener.

    I'm not sure being on the course 2 years ago was any kind of advantage. Most of it was short O, and I did not really remember anything. Two legs where it may of mattered where the route choice leg, and the leg I boomed last time (somehow I remembered that). I was careful on the boomed leg and used tools I didn't even have last time. On the route choice leg, I injured my leg just as it started, and I could not run the first 300m, so that perhaps gave me time to think about the leg more and find the best route. It did help knowing the general best approach from before, but I went thru the process of thinking about the alternatives anyway. There was also a mishung control today that was a minor handicap (about 20sec) which I had them fix for tomorrow's runners.

    My leg hurts pretty bad now, but I think (hope) I'll be able to go tomorrow at Camp Mack. I might have to take it easy, but I hope not.


    Winning does something to you, I think. I had so much energy today on my training run -- I blew thru the trails and over the top of Mt. Misery like a chainsaw thru melting butter. On the other hand, perhaps the extra energy can be better explained by my pigging out on a pair of donuts and a healthy slice of pumpkin pie this morning ...

    Now that I have some momentum, I have to confront the nagging issue of increasing my training. I haven't increased my training in the last 6 months. I'm not sure if I even need to. I'm not sure if I should increase number of training runs, length of training runs, etc. I'm not sure if I should go on really long runs every 10 days or so, like Eric Weyman did. Ignoring what Eric did seems like a bad idea. On the other hand, I need speed, not endurance -- it seems like lengthening the runs, and consequently reducing the intensity, would lead me towards the opposite goal. I wonder how I find out about this stuff.

    One thing I know I'll do, when the season ends next month, is do O specific training on Sundays in place of racing. If I don't think of anything better, I'll run around French Creek for 75 minutes with a map doing contact runs. I'm not sure FC is the best place to do technique training, as it is so atypical O terrain, but we play the cards we're dealt. I'll confine myself to one map, so I don't learn all the maps and ruin the recreational aspect of competing there.

    In the mean time, I'll increase my Tuesday run by about 2K and see how I feel, and see if I can find anything about training on the web if I have the time.

[18-Nov-01]  Bubba Goat, Umstead Park, Raleigh, NC [Long, 10750/336, 87:07, 8.10, 1/15]

    I won the Bubba Goat. I don't win that many races so it felt good. I've never won a mass start race before, so I've never had that feeling of orienteering with the lead. Though I felt sick before the race, I felt it was a race I should win. They had wonderful tasting cake for awards.

    The course was fast. I've never been here, and was worried when they talked about the mapped hurricane deadfall. Raven Rock has mapped hurricane deadfall also, and it can be nasty to orienteer in. This wasn't too bad though. I really enjoy the southern oak/pine ridge reentrant forests. I'm not sure if this is what they call "piedmont". I would call it "lollipop terrain", so that helped me. Alabama and Georgia has similar O terrain.

    I felt pretty fast, though I did not orienteer well in the first loop. I had a 10 second lead after the first loop though. When I boomed the first control of the second loop, and lost the lead, I sort of settled down and decided to win the race right there. It was a strange feeling. I was in a "zone" after that and spiked all the controls. I think I had optimal routes also. I was happier with my orienteering than on the first loop, especially when I had to deal with the distraction of thinking about running with the lead.

    I still have trouble at the beginning of mass start races. I think it might make sense to just stand in the start triange and study the course, and forget about the pack. I have no idea how the pack can just start running in the right direction. It takes me forever just to find the triangle, much less plan a route and relate the map to the terrain in the beginning. How do they do that so fast?

    Of course, in this case I studied the map and found the first control skip was the best, so I guess it worked out, though I was a little shaky and distracted momentarily by the instinct to follow the pack against my better rational judgement.

    Splits and comments on AttackPoint


    Bubba Goat this weekend in North Carolina. Tough choice between this and a local event at French Creek East. I haven't run at any of the main French Creek maps this year, even though I set courses a couple of times, and feel bad about it. They are very nice maps.

    On the other hand, I've always wanted to go to Umstead Park, which is near Raleigh. This seems like a good opportunity to do so. I'm going to drive down the back roads of the Eastern Shore and explore the little coastal towns along the way. This will be a beautiful drive, and will give me a chance to get some clear thinking time on this course/class business. Although I like the S and L classes, it just seems too much.

    I'll have the same game plan I had at Rocky Ridge, concentrate and force a good race. I have no idea who will be in the field, but I won't worry about it. Don't follow, don't worry about place at the first 2 controls, but concentrate on a clean run and finishing strong.


    I've become quite involved in this F50 green/brown controversy. I feel the board did the wrong thing by putting F50 on brown, despite some good arguments for it by some smart people. I think what people want trumps good arguments, sometimes. I'm really sick, though, of some of the accusations some board members have had to deal with. The fact that the board is mostly male is irrelevant. I'm in the same boat, forced to "run up" to run the course I feel is appropriate for my age. I've never made a big deal about it, but I understand, perhaps, what some F50's are thinking. I'm male, and can relate. I'm sure other board members can relate also -- they just used other factors and gave them more weight when voting. While it may have been the wrong vote, such as decision is not so bad to have to deal with accusations.

    Somehow I landed on the committee to rethink the course/class structure. I think that is the answer to try to make everyone happy, without a band-aid. I think it is a potential snake pit, though.

    I find writing helps me brainstorm, so I have brainstormed some thoughts on a course/class structure. Its garbage, but it helps me to think. My thoughts, observations, and speculations are online here. This will open a new browser window. Totally unoffical and off the record, whatever that means ...

[11-Nov-01]  Rocky Ridge Park, York, PA [Blue, 8345/335, 75:13, 9.00, 3/11]

    It is just such a great feeling to orienteer well. Staying in contact with decent speed, though I felt I could have been a touch faster. I'll take 9 min/k at Rocky Ridge, with 4% climb, any day of the week. About 4 minutes behind Eddie, and only 90 seconds behind VB. This guy is superman, I don't think I've been within 10 minutes or 15 minutes of him before, but this is the second time in a row Eddie has beaten him. Eddie estimates a six minute error on #14, so its really 10 minutes off the lead, but still a medal on blue at a regional championship (no physical medal, it just sounds more impressive when spun that way). The important thing is that I think I'm still getting better. Very incremental, but better, I think. (Eddie, I think, is getting better at a faster rate than I'm getting better, which is a scary thought considering how fast he already is ...). Of course, I think it also helped that the physical terrain cost the real fast people more than it cost me.

    I was very good about seeing the big contour picture and my position w.r.t. slope changes today, especially with all that laurel. I think course setting at French Creek has taught me something.

    DVOA, as a club, also pulled down a medal in the club competition, which definitely sounds more impressive, as there are only three clubs. QOC was first, and SVO second. DVOA scored lowest on participation, but made up some ground on course points. In terms of course points, I think I would have won red, based on min/k anyway, but the points would not have mattered, so I am glad I stuck to blue.

    We were tied with SVO going into the relay; unfortunately, we could not even field a single relay team, until 3 of us at the last minute came together. I ran the first leg in order to give the rest of the team a chance to get ready or recruit replacements. It was a comedy of errors, everyone assuming everyone else was looking at the map, with everyone following everyone else. I didn't really read the the map 'till the third control -- I should have, as everyone followed everyone to a major parallel error and a treasure hunt in the wrong group of rocks about 300m away. I figured it out late and our team ended up 5th or so. I got heckled at the spectator control, and deserved it. SVO's team of Eddie, Mihai, and ?? took the relay, less than a minute ahead of QOC's team of Peggy, VB, and ??. But SVO was penalised 5 minutes for having an all-male team.

    I think that was the first (and last) time I ever followed to that degree in a mass start event. I was tired, having done my regular course, then a course with my family just before that.

    Splits and comments on AttackPoint


    I'm going thru all the French Creek West stuff and I found Eric Weyman's old map from the 1982 US Champs, day 2 of which, at least, was also held on FCW. It is really cool to find old pieces of O history.

    It is interesting to look at the old map, and it surprises me how little has changed. The trail network is identical, except for the grading of some trails, and more of the 1800's indistinct logging trails are mapped now than then. There is only one shade of green, but the green patches are basically in the same place today as they were then, with a couple notable exceptions.

    Contours, of course, never change (it took me a few meets to get this thru my skull when I was learning, and running on less than up to date maps), but there is more contour detail, platforms, and rocks on the new map. Rootstocks were mapped with green X's, and some distinct trees are mapped in the middle of the woods 20 years ago that are mapped in the same place today (although I looked for one of these using the modern map and could not find it in the woods).

    The M21 course keeps pretty much to the edge of the map. One control is even hung well in private property, and another couple are in that real interesting plantation area in the southwest corner that is mapped white and yellow on the old map, but was too green for me to use for the recent meet. The M21 course was 11K, and the F19 course, which I am figuring was the women's elite course in those days, was 7.5K.

    In those days, apparently, they printed maps with the winners' routes (like they do in Europe in some races). I wonder why they don't do that these days? I think that is really neat. The M21 winner was Ted de St. Croix of Canada, with a time of around 72 minutes. They have the third place runner, Chris Hirst, at 80 minutes, and Eric in 7th place, at around 89 minutes. It is amazing how these times align pretty much with the times on my course the other day. Eric once mentioned Ted as a brilliantly fast runner in those days, who had a particularly good WOC race in Australia in 1985 (on the same map that one race at WMOC 2002 will be on, incidentally).

    The women's field was topped by Sharon Crawford, who I guess would have been about 36 at the time, running for NEOC with a time of 67:04.


    Mid Atlantic championships at Rocky Ridge this weekend. Rocky Ridge is a physical map -- lots of climb in places, rocks, and mountain laurel. Not as physical as Mount Alto, though.

    Unlike other regional championships, the MA's are a club championship -- the winning club takes home the coveted Broken Compass award. QOC has won 3 of the past 4 years, with DVOA winning 2 years ago. Club points are awarded for percentage of members who show up; individuals can win points for their clubs by where they place on their course; and there are club relays in the afternoon.

    Since you are not required to run your age, it occurs to me that I could score more points for DVOA by running white and winning, than by running blue and finishing middle of the pack. I could legitimately run red, though, and have a chance of winning, but since most people run their normal course, I'll run blue and consider 3rd or 4th place a great race. I think I finished 6th last year on blue at Bowie. The park is so far away from DVOA land that we will probably be at a handicap anyway on the participation points, so not to worry about points.

    I'm not sure about this "game plan" business. I have my best races when I have an "aggressive" game plan -- not surprisingly, though, this is when I have my worst races also. I don't know if it is the terrain, or me. Sometimes the terrain suits an aggressive style, but sometimes I "have it", and some days I don't. I have no idea what influences when I "have it". When I have my "contact"/safe route choice game plan, I'm usually happy with my orienteering, but not my time, which seems about a min/k higher than what I am capable of. I've been in this muddle before -- its cyclic -- as my times get high I get more aggressive -- then have a turkey eventually -- and fall back to the slower game plan. The game plan ought to be to change game plans on the fly as the terrain and course dictates, and I have done this in the past, but have not done it lately, I think. I think I'm thinking too much about this.

    That is the beauty of O, though -- after three and a half years, there still seems plenty to learn ...

[04-Nov-01]  Daniel Boone Homestead, PA [Blue, 8210/155, 83:57, 10.23, 14/24]

    I'm certainly more at a loss for time than things on my mind right now. I might as well write about each one so I don't forget ...


    I had fun at Boone. Yeah, the green was nasty, but it was fun, in a perverse sort of way, unlike Hibernia, for example. The map has an interesting character, with the maze of clearings and trails and thornbush thickets. I had 3 booms for about 6 minutes, costing me almost a minute per K. All of them related to lack of confidence although one bag was well hidden really. I was also slow, having spent 7 hours in the woods the day before course setting and carrying water. I'm not sure how much of an effect that has -- perhaps I am using it as an excuse. Despite my slow time, I again was happy with my orienteering at Boone, given the number of opportunities for error, which was perhaps twice as many as a normal course. The results on M21 were in some senses bizarre; I think 70 minutes was hittable by me on a good day -- it would have been nice to hit it. Since my excellent race at Camp Pinewood, I have been below goal in three straight races, though orienteering fairly well. I need to explore this topic soon.

    Splits and comments on AttackPoint

    Course Setting

    Its over. What a relief that the event went well. Most people seemed to enjoy the courses, and I got lots of positive comments (most people of course hide the negative comments, I think). I was pleased with the winning times, with the exceptions that the times on yellow seemed a bit low, despite the fact that I thought the yellow course was harder than normal, and a couple of the advanced courses were smoked by exceptional runs, notably Eric Bone hitting 6.25 min/k on blue, when the rest of the field was right on target in the 7.5-8 range. The DNF rate on WYO was very low, if any, which is nice.

    The woods lived up to their fast and bland billing. Very low per/k times for the winners, with a couple of people complaining about "bingo" controls. Typical French Creek, really. Eric Weyman and some other good orienteers reassured me that the controls were not bingoish, and it was something I tried to avoid. I was quite upset by one of the comments, but Peter Gagarin had some positive words about his course on AttackPoint, so that makes me feel better.

    It seems worth exploring what a "bingo" control is. I'm not sure really. The USOF course setting guidelines call for "skill, not luck". What exactly does that mean? Some of the legs were set, so that if you went straight at it, it could be considered bingoish. You might hit it, you might not. At French Creek, you cannot mapread right to things in general, on the straight line. The woods are too bland. On the other hand, safer, yet slower route choices to attackpoints a safe distance from the flag existed. So you have introduced luck. Chancy fast routes vs safer slower routes. I know golf is like this, but is it acceptable in O? I've certainly seen it before, many times. I guess I will have to live and learn, or turn down course setting opportunities on French Creek. I do know that some of the legs had solutions that perhaps were not obvious. I was happy to see that they were found by some runners. I think I feel ok about it. I don't think I would change the courses, given the overall feedback and winning times, though I would lengthen yellow back to its draft design.

    But I think I'll give some time for my O skills to mature before setting courses again.

    US Relay Champs

    I'm saddened that I'm hearing no buzz around DVOA about the relay champs. Perhaps people are burned out from the A meet, or the economy and other events are dampening the enthusiasm for travel. I'd really like to go, and the mapper, Claire Durand, has convinced me that the terrain is interesting and worth the trip. I just don't want to go alone, and am not enthuasitic about being on a pickup relay team. I want to be on a club team. That seems so in the spirit. I think if O is ever going to have spectator appeal, it will be in the form of club relays. SVO, my secondary club and defending champs, are much smaller but will be sending perhaps two teams. I can go and root for them. I can run a red course an hour before the mass start, then find a bluff to sit on and be a spectator of the sport myself.

    It is interesting to speculate on what relay teams could be put together. I think SVO could face some challenging competition if some clubs were able to get to the event. Imagine the team CSU could put together. I don't know their ages, but with Suzanne Armstrong, perhaps they could put together a really strong 4 point team. If she and Ross are under 21, thats 4 points + 2 strong M21s. What about a BAOC team of James Scarborough, Syd Reader, Wyatt Riley, and Penny DeMoss, for example. There are many other possibilities I can think of, but I do not know if these teams can come together or not for various reasons. I do not know all the whys and wherefores of the club relay rules, so perhaps I am off base.

    I want to go, but probably will not. Alternatively, I could go to the Possum Trot weekend, but I hate the cold. It sounds like a fun weekend in any case, but I will most likely miss both, staying home to rake leaves or something, and reading about the results in ONA a month later. I'll save my money for Jukola someday if I ever get good enough.

    I have many other things on my mind, in particular -- what am I going to do improve, and the course/class structure debate in USOF, but I have no clear thoughts on those topics right now.