O Log - Older Archives
[30-Dec-01] 

    It was too cold and I was too sick for a 4 hour round trip to Hickory Run for planned short O training. I still thought it was a good idea to get some time in the woods so I went up to French Creek North and ran the July blue course I designed.

    I didn't have a plan or a goal for the training, I just wanted to run thru the woods to stay sharp. I felt lousy and ran in sweat clothes rather than my O shirt as it was so cold. I didn't warm up -- I warmed up on the way to the first control. I felt like I was forcing myself to do this.

    The woods were absolutely gorgeous, and the sun was bright. After about 2K I was really enjoying it. The course went to some of the prettiest parts of the park.

    There is one small section of this map I really love, an overgrown residential area with interesting and intricate patches of varying vegetation -- clearings, impassable thickets, rough open, distinct trees, veg boundaries, and pine plantation. It happens to be well-mapped, so I ran the blue course thru it. Unfortunately, someone, I guess the park, when in and mowed the whole thing! I was surprised because it is really far from anywhere. All the rough open and thickets are gone. What a shame, a great technical map reading area gone.

    I was happy as I thought it was a fun course. I boomed one control and ran a little over 8m/k. I felt much better afterwards and was glad I did it. Moral of the story -- if you don't feel like training, do it anyway, you will feel better afterwards than if you hadn't done anything.

[28-Dec-01] 

    I've been quite sick and quite busy lately. Its been tough to find time to think about O. Fortunately I've only missed one training day. I hear its ok to keep training, so long as you don't have a fever. In my experience, however, I find it takes longer to recover from a cold when I exercise, so it is a tradeoff. I have been taking it easy, but not too easy.

    The short O champs are just around the corner in May. I'm not a great short O person, so I think I'll do some short O training this weekend if I feel ok. Short O training seems like a good idea in general, even if it is not for a short O race.

    Hickory Run is the best place to do this training I think -- hopefully I can get some maps today or tomorrow. We are also planning a mini-rogaine up there, so it will be good to park at a place other than the usual, and scout some seldom-used areas of the map.

    I think I'll plot out a 4k course with 15 or so controls and run it forwards and backwards, after taking a break in between.

    I wasn't at the champs this year, but winning time on M35 was 7.39 min/K, and winning time on M21 was 6.72 min/K. Pretty impressive.

[23-Dec-01] 

    For training I ran the blue course I designed at FCW for the A meet. I ran 90 minutes, which would have been a decent, though not spectacular result. I thought knowing the course inside and out would be a much bigger advantage than it turned out to be. I had never run the entire course before at competition speed, though I had jogged some of the legs before.

    Knowing the course certainly didn't help me run faster. The biggest help was that I knew what to expect when I approached the control feature. I made a couple small booms early and a couple route choice mistakes, even though I had the route choice problems pretty well analyzed. I was surprised that I made any mistakes. I knew about what I thought were the poorer route choices at the time, but those were the routes the A meet runners mostly took, so I decided to follow suit.

    A couple of times I changed plans in the middle of a leg. I do this alot during a race, reacting to the actual runnability, navigational difficulty, and how I feel physically at the time. It doesn't seem to hurt me; its become a useful part of my style.

    Comparing the splits, I seemed to notice I was not worrying about optimal micro route choices on the long legs. This can add up on a 2K leg. I have to add controls to the middle of a long leg to force this sort of discipline, and concentrate on hitting them.

    It was an interesting experiment. It felt much more like a real O race than I expected it to, and I did much more navigating and map reading than I expected to. It helped that results and splits for some of my peers where on attackpoint to compare with.

[20-Dec-01] 

    I got a new computer with windows XP. I'm more of a unix person than a windows person, but wanted a windows system so I could teach myself OCAD during the off season. I had an old windows system, and I must say it was a real bear getting my old hardware and software to work with this new windows XP system. I think I like it though, even though I don't care for windows much at all.

    Anyway, one test was of my old scanner and related software. I decided to scan my O maps from WMOC this year in Lithuania. I had meant to do this and write about the event, but never got the time. I don't have the time now, so I'll just write a little, and put the scans on the web.

    WMOC has a 2 day combined time qualifier and a 1 day final. Top 80 in the qualifer make the "A" final, next 80 the "B" final, and so on. There were 132 starters in M35. I could not find results of previous WMOC races on the web, so I had no idea what sort of time would be needed to make the "A" final, so that was my ambitious goal, being pretty clueless about these things.

    The terrain in the qualifer races was unbelievably fast. Pine forested sand dune terrain, no underbrush, no limbs on the trees, no deadfall; it was like running on a golf course. Hardly any climb, like about 1%. Some controls were even on the dunes on the beach. Pretty neat stuff. Terrain was very technical in places and there were a ton of trails. 2.5m contours with form lines.

    Anyway, I orienteered pretty poorly, but still ran in the 9min/K range. That is how fast it was. Things that got me were that there were lots of people, several controls within 20m of each other in the circle, and "gaurds" near the controls who were posted to prevent theft. Apparently that is a problem in Lithuania.

    7.5min/K was what was needed to qualify, as it turned out. So I had a decent run in the "B" final and finished 8th out of 52. Terrain was more to my liking, much much hillier, more lollipop features, and slow undergrowth.

    Here are the maps. They ran out of M35B final maps, so I had to draw my course on by hand over another course. They are all about 600K or so.

    WMOC 2001 Qualifier Day 1

    WMOC 2001 Qualifier Day 2

    WMOC 2001 Final

[16-Dec-01] 

    The trim course at Hickory Run is only about 4.4K. I only had time to run it once, and hit 8.5m/k. Not great, though I felt I orienteered better than that. I ran thru the technical areas at decent speed, which was the goal. It is a good place to train, so I might train here instead of FC over the winter, despite the far drive.

    After training I spent the rest of the day walking a new base map up there with Eric and Chris Gross. I've never walked a base map before, and it is a different experience. The map is not oriented to north -- I took a bearing on some straight trails that ran the length of the map and used them as a reference. The map is 1:5000, which took alot of getting used to after running the 1:15 trim course. There is hardly any detail -- contours, streams and ponds, and vegetation blobs representing evergreens or other evergreen bushes such as mountain laurel and rhodos. It is surprisingly difficult to remain in contact.

    On the other hand, I was impressed at how much contour detail the base mapper is able to put on. Tiny reentrants, form line knolls, etc. Most of the field work would be dealing with things other than contour detail. Eric said that this map was about as good as they get, others would require more field work on the contours. I noticed that it would be difficult to maintain a frame of reference when field checking, and that it would be important to establish strong reference points off the bat.

    There were a couple of times I had no clue where we were. We walked into this flat, bland area of mountain laurel, with a couple of form lines lazily meandering across the map. I don't think anyone knew where we were. Eric, of course, had the best idea. It was alot of fun, and I think I learned alot about making O maps.

[14-Dec-01] 

    Looks my season ends a week early. Eric envited me to walk around on a new base map in the Poconos, so I have to choose between that and six hours of driving to Northern Virginia. Its tough, because N VA is my favorite O terrain, and it is the last meet for a while. It would also probably be a chance to see the Vasquez Rocks maps.

    To make up for the missed meet, I'll run the trim course at Hickory Run forwards, and then backwards before meeting Eric on Sunday. That will be about 10K or so, and will be a good opportunity to train on a difficult map that is usually too far a drive just for training. I'll try to get under 9 min/k.

[12-11-01] 

    I'm impressed that results for the LA A-meet and relay champs were available within 24 hours. SVO had a down year, finishing 6th. Hopefully, DVOA will have a team next year in Vermont. I've only orienteered once in Vermont, and it wasn't my favorite terrain; I guess I'll write about that next year closer to the event.

    Its a shame that the off season is arriving just when I was feeling like I was getting half decent. I've felt very sharp lately. I've never done any training with Eric Weyman, but somehow just being in his house working on the French Creek A meet improved my orienteering. I cannot explain it.

    One more QOC event in VA this weekend, then there isn't much 'till march, except for a sprinkling of QOC events 3 hours away, and the Georgia Navigator Cup. The GNC is great, breaking up the winter doldrums. The QOC events will be good training for the champs next year in Virginia.

    It will be important to stay sharp during the off season. I will try to run at least a 10K course of my own making at either French Creek or Brandywine on the off sundays when QOC has nothing. Doing this is hard; the motivation of competetion just isn't there, and that is a factor. And it will be cold. Perhaps I can find someone else to run with me.

[09-Dec-01]  Brandywine, DE [Blue, 7960/225, 60:42, 7.62, ?/??]

    Brandywine has tons of climb, some of the most beautiful white woods anywhere (almost like Northern Va woods), but not huge unbroken patches of white, tons of trails, decent contour detail (for DVOA maps) and areas of very technical rock detail. Were it not for the trail network, which makes it difficult to set advanced controls, it would be the perfect place to train.

    The course setting was especially runner-friendly today, more so than usual. I knew I was in trouble when I looked over the map and saw about half the course dead trail, road, and open field runs, and most of the remainder of the controls having trail runs as perhaps the best route choice. I usually do not to well here, because I'm not that fast, and I always make a 5 minute boom in the rocky area.

    I didn't boom the rocky area. I had one boom elsewhere of about a minute, where I could whine about the map being wrong, which it was, and the bag being hidden under a log, which it was, but no big deal. I was keying for a ride which wasn't there, and when I noticed this and switched to contours (which thankfully is now second nature), I was half-hearted about it, so the lack of concentration killed me. I still turned in a respectable 7.6m/k pace today, adjusting for a mishung control, which seems pretty good in the steep terrain, I suppose. Its often good enough to win, but not today.

    My clock was cleaned by Sergei, at about 6.75m/k. I just can't run that fast. I've beaten this guy a few times, when I was running much worse than now, actually, but lately he's been clocking incredible times, faster than VB was here last year. He clocked close to 5m/k last week. Very impressive.

    The good news is that I have been orienteering very well lately, about as well and as fast as I can. I've never even dreamed of being under 8m/k consistently. I don't know if I can get under 7. We'll see. Its not something I'm going to break my back to try to reach, just keep very slowly increasing the training, and continue to enjoy running thru the woods.

[04-Dec-01] 

    Kent Shaw, DVOA's webmaster, developed a system called "Zap!" that gets results on the web instantly. They used it at Washington's Crossing on Sunday. Supposedly, results are on the web site as soon as the runner finishes. When I got home from Maryland on Sunday, at around 5, the results of the meet were already on the web site, so I guess it worked pretty well. I think you need three wireless-enabled palm pilots for it to work, and I suppose you need a compatible server-side results processing system and/or database similar to the one DVOA uses, though I am not sure.

    I wish they were using such a system at the relay champs, as I don't think I'll be able to tune into SportsCenter for all the action.

    I don't know much about the technology, but the Zap! homepage is here.

[02-Dec-01]  Bowie, MD [Red, 7000/82, 54:08, 7.71, 5/22]

    I have mixed feelings about today's run. Happy with under 8 min's K, and basically clean orienteering, but felt I was slow anyway, placing 5th. Running fast (for me) and clean I thought I could finish higher. Happy being within about 2 min of Eddie, but 10 min behind VB, who ran close to 6 min/K. I was smoked on the 700m run-in, which is basically about running speed.

    Bowie is a runners park, you are never far from a trail, and there isn't too much climb. The viz was also excellent today. The map is 1:7500, and the course was almost like a short O style. There was a premium on quick decision making. I did ok with that, better than usual, as that is one of my big weaknesses usually. I drifted off line on the longer legs, not to the point of booming the controls, but it did cost time to go off the straight route.

    So I orienteered about as well as I can, and my butt was kicked. Life goes on. Just learn to orienteer better.

    Glad to see Spike finish the Possum Trot. I was hoping to be at that race, perhaps next year.

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