O Log - Good Race on a Bad Map

[24-Nov-03] 

    Here is my Assunpink (DVOA/HVO challenge) map.

    Bad map I guess is too strong for Assunpink. This is the first time I've been here, so I don't know what the map was like new. The map is old; the veg and trails are out of date. We were warned about both. I think the course setter set an excellent course, given the state of the map. I think he had little choice. There was certainly luck -- I was in thick greenbriar that was mapped light green, and was able to blaze thru areas mapped as dark green at times, and "rough open" was to be avoided at all cost. Gave up trying to find trails.

    Good race may be strong also. I was under 8 min/k. which by definition is always good for me, especially with greenbriar and other veg, and on a less than perfect map. But I never saw the results, so I dunno how good or bad it really was. I certainly didn't feel very fast after 4 hours of raking leaves the day before. The encouraging news is I was able to do my post race training run for the first time since my injury, tho my legs had no snap in them. I suppose I'm at 95% and will now set a new goal of Jan 1 to be 100%.

    I did have some issues, but never lost any big time. No boom over 10 seconds, tho issues en route a couple times. The course setter said some trails were gone, and some new ones were unmapped, and the event director said ignore trails and use topography. That seemed like good advice, but easier said than done, for some reason. Again, I think it comes down to semiotics.

    When in the "trail network" legs (13-14) where the trails were to be ignored and "topography" to be used, I found it difficult to work with contours. My mind seemed to have loaded codes to deal with trails. I simply could not make sense of the contours -- the trails leapt from the map and the contours receded. It was just in "use trails" mode because of the symbols seen on the map. I muddled thru, but was a bit wobbly, and probably a bit lucky. I found it fascinating. (looking at a Necker cube or the famous vase/face illusion from psych 101 I think illustrates how the mind does this sort of what I call semiotic code switching, and I'm 100% convinced it does this in O, and that understanding this process, and possibly harnessing it, can make one a better navigator. Today's race, where the event director tells you you have to override or subvert your natural codes, and the difficulty I had doing this, adds more antecotal evidence to my theories. Of course, it also says my codes aren't great -- when in trails, it tells me I rely too much on them and ignore other stuff).

    Leg 1 was sort of interesting. I was parked near the road junction, and saw runners who started before me, and after me, take that route. I went straight, even with this knowledge, at least of the before runners. The woods just looked really nasty at the cut in, and looked fine on the straight route. I'm not sure which ended up better -- I'm sure the entire field was correct in going to the junction, and me wrong, I dunno.

    In any case, I guess overall I'm still concentrating pretty well. And it was encouraging to not have major problems in a dubious map. Orienteering well on a bad map has always been one of my weaknesses. I seem to be dealing with my weaknesses fairly well this season, and least in the second half since Dallaschyle, where lots of things seem to come together.

    I think I have to stop editorializing about USOF matters, and put the sanctioning process nightmare out of my mind. I probably have to resign as DVOA A meet coordinator. Distractions affect my racing, and I really see no point in me, personally, dealing with a broken, dysfunctional process, especially where fixes are obvious and have been proposed. I'd rather try to get lower times per K than deal with the silly politics. I feel I should put work back into the sport, and I don't mind doing "office work", but I can't deal with purposeless hassles. My racing has to come first. (I've noticed my times per K go up by about 5-10% when other stresses are in my life in the past (yeah I keep a spreadsheet)). Its no wonder, tho, that good people with time and talent, who love O and USOF, get so frustrated and decide to direct their resources elsewhere).

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