O Log - Pond Mountain A Meet

[27-Oct-03] 

    Another quality A meet. Minor complaints include short courses (well below the USOF recommended winning times) and occasional course setting that took you down the hill then made you climb 20 lines straight on the next leg or so.

    This was the site of my first A meet 5 years ago. Its still one of my favorite places in O land. Back then it was about enjoying the fall colors on a crisp afternoon in the woods, now it seems to be about sports doctors and ranking points and times per K. Alot has changed, but I still enjoy reading maps. I guess that will never change.

    I've never had a good run here. Friday nite I did something I've never done much of before, and that was study the old maps intently for a couple of hours. I analyzed some probable route choice legs. I studied the locations of trails and big features. I figured out where the start was from the meet notes. I always thought of this as cheating, tho legal of course. I've always figured the more I did of this, the less prepared I would be for maps on new venues, which are generally more important races, and the less fun the thrill of discovery was. (One of the reasons I got into O was because it was incorrectly promoted as treasure hunting and the thrill of discovery, and I am still a treasure hunter at heart). But I figured what the heck.

    I had the map memorized down to point features. I still have an image of it burnt in my mind. It is sort of amazing. But I think it hurt me on day 1.

    Day 1 had an easy oG control (which I figured out beforehand), so I went out pretty cocky. The viz was good. The route to the second control (which was really the first control in my playbook) was long yet looked fairly easy. Everything looked easy and I felt pretty good. But I wasn't calibrated yet. And right out of the gate this other guy was with me and seemed to be shadowing me, even tho he was on a different course. I couldn't get any space. I lost contact and could not think of anything but getting some personal space from this person. I got frustrated and could not relocate and lost a ton of time. I don't blame him it was just one of those things. After that I took it easy so as not to worsen my injury further, and eventually walked the course. Just like old times.

    I think one of the things that happened was the map study. I went into an area thinking 'I know this area' -- the course looks easy and the viz is good so I better push it. But the 'I know this area' was the problem. Normally when I know an area its because I've been thru it with a map, and recognize the map and the terrain. I can safely apply a different, more aggressive style in such areas. But in this case I only knew the map, not the map and terrain, yet went in as if I knew both. I lost contact, and coupled with the frustration of not having any personal space for 600m, could not relocate on the fly, and later could not do traditional relocation (whatever that means, but it is wholly different from relocating on the fly -- the former I am fairly decent at, the latter horrible). After that it was all over. And I kept overruling parts of my mind that in retrospect had the right answers to my problem. My race wasn't as bad as the results indicate, but a drop is a drop, so I figured I'd then take it easy.

    Day 2 I finally got my good run on this map. The first half of the race was the portion of the map I didn't study, so I don't know if there is anything to that or not. Except for a couple of obvious contour around situations, I basically did a line O to build confidence, and did fairly well at it. I think I lost 45-90 seconds max in booms. I was in a zone. 11 min behind winner.

    Its very weird. After day 1 I just moped in my room watching movies and (sadly) the Yankees lose the world series. I was not in a very good frame of mind. I could not wait to get to day 2. I just kept thinking -- what am I gonna do when I start to get slower. Will I even want to keep doing this anymore. (I actually think I am getting slower physically, but I am making progress mentally still, so my O speed is faster).

    Then I said I absolutely will force myself to concentrate day 2 and force a good race, and I did it. But the key question is how? I often force good races, but don't know how I do it. But it tells me there is a way to force absolute concentration. Hopefully I'm fairly close to finding it. I think you can turn it on like a light. Just like the last day of the Colorado 5 days. The key may not be in figuring how to turn it on, but in recognizing when it is off. I know most good orienteers don't have this problem, so by demonstration it is solvable.

    Some other notes -- before day 1, I felt relaxed, confident, good, ready to go, and before day 2, felt nervous, had no confidence, my leg was nagging a bit, but day 2 was the good race. Do the bad feelings force concentration, and the good feelings lead to unhealthy cockiness? Did the map study have an effect? Is it because I had my day 2 speed and didn't outrun my navigation (I don't think it works like that -- topic for another day)?, was the day 2 course easier? or is it all luck?

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