O Log - California Hangover

[25-Sep-03] 

    I injured myself at the US Champs. Strained calf muscle. Not a big deal, but it hurts pretty bad sometimes. Doctor says I can do what I want if I can bear the pain -- but I can't. Training down to 50% and I'm babying it a bit, had a pretty blah race last weekend, which if I was smart I would have blown off, tho today's training run was the first somewhat positive one since I got back, even tho a bit on the slow side. See how it feels tomorrow. Bad timing with 2 of my favorite goat races coming up, the Stumble and the Highlander. High ambitions down the drain, tho Advil is really a miracle drug, and come Saturday, I could feel alot better. More incentive to get to the Trot this year.

    There's alot of chatter on AttackPoint about the US Champs. I'm still thinking alot about it also. Too many low quality meets in USOF to write about it much anymore, but I'm wondering if this was or not.

    I guess what it comes down to, was 'was it fair?' I'm not sure I buy 'the field is always right' doctrine or not. It certainly has alot going for it, but logically, it presumes something about the field. Is it possible that it was fair, but out of reach to our guys? I think we're used to seeing alot of easy course setting/terrain in USOF. I was actually happy that it was hard, as I often do better relatively on hard courses with slow terrain. It was hard, but certainly not nearly as hard as the NZ champs, where 50% of the field DNF'ed (and perhaps with better athletes, as they have the M21A class for the marginals).

    So, to answer the question of 'was it fair?', I guess there needs to be a definition of 'fair'. I'm not sure if there is one. Like the bachelor problem from psych 101, where we all know what a bachelor is when we see one, but cannot define the word without counter examples to whatever definition we write down, it seems like a tough task to come up with a definition.

    I will try anyway -- a course is fair, if for each leg, there exists at least one technique or combination of techniques, that if executed correctly, a world champion runner can use to force a spike, and the appropriate technique(s) can be determined solely by information provided on the map.

    I think one problem with this definition is a leg where there is a long, safe, trail route that costs 5 min as opposed to a bingoish cross country route. But certainly we allow aiming off as a fair technique as opposed to going right at it, where the aiming off may cost 15-30 seconds. So this quibble is just a line drawing problem. I think its not a perfect definition, but it has some things going for it.

    So if I accept this definition, I have no choice to arrive at the conclusion that I have no idea if it was fair. There was no world champion present on M21 to tell us. I guess we have to trust the IOF controller. And I think it is reasonable to arrive at this conclusion. I know there is thought and technique available to people I compete against, but not me. I know I've set legs that people complained where bingo legs, until I explained technique I would use to force a spike, and they see it and realise this thought was not available to them at the time. So it is possible that the thought and technique needed to solve the course existed, but was not grasped. How likely is that? I just can't know, and can't really whine further about it. I can whine about the laser print at 1:15 when I would have gladly added $10 to the cost of my cross-county trip for offset, but that is about it, I guess.

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