Here is my US Champs '03, Day 1 map.
Here is my US Champs '03, Day 2 map.
I have mixed feelings about the US Champs. I finished 7th (US), 10th overall,
in a very strong field. That's far better than I expected -- tho I didn't
have any goals, Wyatt told me before the races that the 2 of us would be
competing for 10th US based on ranking and the start list, so I made that
my goal. (I never look at start lists before the race -- I think the
distraction is more of a cost than the benefits). I should have finished 6th,
and with absolute concentration both days, may have been able to finish 5th
and made the team automatically (I think, anyway). Without looking at the
splits its hard to know if I had a chance at 5th. Since I don't think
perfect runs were in the cards no matter what, probably not. So I can
sleep without regret and know I did much better than last's years disaster
On the other hand, I didn't have fun, at least on day 1. Peggy said to
me in the start triangle -- "remember, the goal is to have fun". And it
was only my 5th lifetime race that I can say was not enjoyable.
I think what I didn't enjoy was the terrain, the map, and the course
setting. That doesn't leave much else. In retrospect, I think I have
perhaps whined about the latter two more than was warranted. I was livid
after the race on day 1, but calmed down upon reflection. I think the
map could have been ok, and the course setting could have
been ok, but it was the conjuction of the two that was the problem.
In sum, I think the course setting required demanding concentration and
map reading (which is usually ok), but the accuracy of the map was not
up to this demand in many places. And you didn't know where it was good
and where it was bad. The contour detail was flat out untrustworthy in
places, which meant a fallback to vegetation, which I think the boundaries
of which were too imprecise to be up to the task demanded by the course
setter. Moreover, mobility and viz in the terrain were very poor.
They said in the meet notes that the field checking was "better" in the
circle. This is unacceptable. Some legs required detailed map reading
for the entire leg, especially for those of us who don't pace count, and
big feature navigation was impossible. These legs need precise field
checking bag to bag. And anyway, I don't think the field checking was
all to good in some of the circles. Yes, it was a tough area to map;
in that case, you need different course setting and bag placement to
work around the map's weaknesses.
Probably more griping on the course than warranted, so I'll leave it
there, as my biggest gripe was the actual terrain. I'd say about 7-8K
total out of 11.5 of slash/bushes/whatever. Just not enjoyable. I
think they should have picked a different area. I was almost ready
to DNF on day 1 because I was not having any fun, but I am not a quitter
so I toughed it out. Anyway, it wasn't as tough as the NZ champs
from a physical and technical standpoint, so that race prepared me to
be able to finish this one.
I think I could also whine about the misleading winning time/misleading
model. Just like doing some running before the race to warm up my bones,
I do alot of mental preparation as well. I come up with a game plan
based on the expected winning time, type of terrain, and my experience
in the terrain. The EWT was 80min. That comes out to about 7min/k for
the winner, so I put myself at the 8-8.5min/k ET, which puts me in the
90-100min range. (I ran 147 day 1). So I prepare for a faster pace
rather than more of a goat or long-O pace. I knew from the model that
there was no way they'd hit 80 EWT, but then the meet notes said the actual
was "less green" than the model. So who knew? I thought being an IOF
event that these things had to be right -- like the controller made sure
the winning time was as advertised, and spot on for what was meant as
an IOF classic (which I thought was 90min, but I don't really know
about these things). OTOH, would the world champion have run it in
90min? If so, I'm ok with it, because that is the way I feel
these things should work. But it wasn't advertised this way. Also, the
model showed us lots of vegetation reading, and the first leg was a long
rock reading leg. Totally unexpected (but fortunately my experience
in Kooroyaa, AU, prepared me). Why have a model then? I'm ok
with that also -- tell me nothing, but don't tell me the wrong things.
The one thing I did to properly was prepare myself for "shinny woods",
in contrast with coming out with my 8min/k game. So that helped alot --
I was able to drop out of my fast game pretty quickly, but it had the
effect of demoralizing me unnecessarily -- the thought in my mind that
the field was running this thing at 7min/k did not help morale. They
simply should not advertise grossly wrong EWT's, but I have to learn
to ignore this noise and not factor it in to my pre-race plan. I
only need to look at the terrain and my speed in it, and make preparations
that way. That is all I can control anyway.
Speaking of control -- one observation I had is that I felt I had
very little control. One of my pre-race thoughts is "force a win",
which roughly translates into take control, knuckle down, and read
your way from start to finish. I've generally gotten good at that
in many cases. In this case, tho, there were only a handful of controls
where I felt in control. Much of the time I felt I was simply Zen
orienteering from place to place -- letting fate decide how good a
race I would have. Tho I believe there is a place for Zen O and
that alot of O technique occurs below conscienceness, this does not
add to the enjoyment of a race.
One positive was that the altitude did not bother me. The altitude
was 6200 ft. I am bothered alot in Laramie (8500 ft), but noticed
I was not bothered in Idaho (5200 ft). So my point of being bothered
is above 6200. This is good (tho I seem to remember being bothered
the last time I was here). Perhaps my week in Kamloops (which I
believe is around 4500), helped. I remember feeling bothered there,
tho. One thing I did that was smart was pack 2.5 liters of water on
the flight out, and I drank it all on the plane, plus whatever else they
gave me. I also drank a ton after arrival. The extra hydration helped,
I had alot of energy day 2. This is good. I usually have my day 2
speed, which is bad. I was really gunning for some good luck and
that 5th place finish, seeing as I was going into the race in 6th.
I knew in this terrain anything could happen if I knuckled down and
ran a good race, and that this stuff actually suits me better in a
relative way than wide open, fast stuff. But I ran too hard and lost
focus at points and had problems with the map, as on day 1 (but not as
many). I felt in control most of the time, tho. #3 I have no idea
how I boomed from so close with such a solid attackpoint (probably
because my AP was an unmapped feature parallel to the mapped one).
#4 the consensus was that the field checking was wrong. #13 I chose
a left trail running route which seemed good, but never found the trail.
Others who chose this route found the trail, so what is up with that?
#8 and #19 were my loss of focus, but the time loss was not
a disaster. On number #13, where I did not find the trail, I held
it together and recovered well, and this saved my race. In the
past I may have lost it -- I've improved in this regard.
I caught up with Boris at #12, and then at #13 (after completely
different routes). I was moving faster than he was, I believe. But
I think I let him pace me thru the end of the race rather than
just gunning it, or perhaps I just bonked at that time, or perhaps
my mind said "safety in numbers". But we both played our own game
on all the final controls. But I think it was more difficult to
concentrate with him around. Two of my pre-race preps are
"concentrate at the end of the race", and "ignore others". I'm
good at both of these when I remind myself about them, but the
conjunction of the two problems hurt me. I lost enough focus
on #19 to cost me 6th place, I think.