O Log - US Champs

[04-Nov-02] 

    There was something weird about the map. I'm not sure what it was. On day 1, I felt in control only about half the time. Usually I feel in control at least 95% of the time. I made errors when I tried to read the map really carefully, yet when I ignored totally incomprehensible things, I managed to run into bags with my code on them. It was really bizarre. I felt like I was orienteering in the twilight zone.

    There was some speculation about this after the race. Several people suggested the magnetic declination was off. Others said the contour features where the wrong shapes and sizes, in some cases. I know I was having trouble with something regarding the contour features, but I am hesitant to blame the map. There was definitely something bizarre at work, but it may have been my brain -- my hunch is that it is something I should have been able to figure out and deal with.

    Besides some smallish booms, the effect was forcing me into safer route choices than I would prefer. Rather than take a straight route and read the map as it came, I would take routes that allowed me to count, rather than recognize contour features. This defensive strategy allowed me to avoid disaster, but cost something. My time was lousy.

    On three occasions (2 on day 2), I hit huge contour features that I couldn't even find on the map. I ignored all three after some hesitation, and was basically fine. Runners who are ranked higher than me confirmed 2 of these sightings, so I know I'm not completely insane.

    Day 2 was easier and I did better, especially when I went in with the mindset that I would ignore map problems. I noticed map problems on all but 4 of the legs, which I blissfully chose to ignore, losing only hesitation seconds. I was lucky on bag #9, the one hidden behind a fallen tree if attacked from the bottom, that I only lost 30 seconds. I'm aware of 2 good runners who lost 20 minutes.

    I did make one big mistake on day 2. A parallel error on the way to #4, going down the wrong reentrant en route. I was spooked by the declination discussion of yesterday. The reentrant I wanted was running due north, and the one I took was 10deg off by my compass. I blissfully chose to ignore this discrepancy, and I even thought about parallel error at the time, but the "parallel" one looked off north by about 30deg (turns out its off by about 20deg). I had long since given up on trying to read the small detail, as that often seemed unreliable. Oh well, ignoring anomalies worked all but one time.

    It was interesting looking at my day 2 splits. I was comparing with someone else and was pretty even before my mistake. But after, I was losing 30 to 60 seconds per leg, despite the fact that I was basically clean before and after. The mistake obviously affected my speed or my aggressiveness, without me actually realizing it. I know I was running pretty strong (my day 2 speed, anyway), beforehand. This is something valuable to know that I got out of split analysis.

    I hate to sound like I'm whining about the map -- its really not like that -- its just that, to me, it was a bizarre couple of days in the woods. I was hoping writing about it would offer some insight, but there's none really to be had. I know some people who read this had great runs and/or won medals -- congrats!

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