O Log - CT Races

[ 5-Apr-04] 

    Here is my CT Day 1 short M21 map.

    Here is my CT Day 2 M21 map.

    Race was billed as day 1 "short", day 2 "traditional length" courses. Very high quality meet, only complaint was day 2 was oo short, WT about 20 minutes below low end of proscribed range. That was unfortunate, with day 1 being a short. That said, I have to say WCOC is one of the best clubs at putting on A meets and I pretty much enjoyed every aspect of this meet. (I think I'm in a general bad mood about USOF sanctioned courses being too short, more on that later if I have time before the NCAA final starts).

    I should complain about the quality of my racing. I guess not entirely bad, but certainly not good. I dislike short races and running in wet, rocky terrain (after two past visits to the ER from same), and was out of sync for day 1. The organizers talked me into the trail on leg one, by talking up the brambles and saying be careful to look for a good place to cut in. I fell for it by running the trail before finding the course and planning a route, and ran to the end of the brambles, when the best route was straight. Not that I lost alot of time doing this, but I was off my game from the getgo and not thinking straight. I did not have good mental flow at all. (and this was my fault, not the organizers).

    I did not talk to myself about not booming controls, which was my game plan. I had no game plan, I was totally out of sync. Despite that, I found the first 6 controls with no issues (I'm not sure if they were true spikes or not), but still had no confidence. I boomed the 7th for about 2 minutes. I thought it was low and in the green and the map was wrong. Others agreed, others disagreed. Those who disagreed tended to be higher ranked than those who agreed. I was certainly wrong. I made the mistake of looking only at the veg and not the lines. There was some sort of evergreen veg in a leaf-off forest and I most likely took that for the green and thus was off.

    I boomed the next control because I was pissed. From then, I only boomed #13 which was hung high on an identical feature some 50 meters away. I think that is against the rules, but it is not something that personally bothers me. I made about 4 min of mistakes, and was about 5 minutes off the WT. High 8s per K on a hilly course.

    Day 2 I had confidence and felt pretty good. Course was longer which is what I enjoy. Managed to make a 3 minute error right off the bat on #2. Parallel error, never saw it coming. I talked to several other people who made the same mistake. Nice course setting. I usually avoid parallel errors by anticipating them; I did not anticipate this one, and once I realised it, the trap was already sprung. Relocated off of #17, tho I figured it out before then. I thought it was important to go there just to get 100% confidence, since I knew the rest of the race would be good. Didn't want a 2 minute mistake to turn into a 10 minute one if I was wrong.

    Rest of the race was basically fine, decent speed and flow. Only other problem was booming #17, ironically, on the way back. Didn't see the feature when I expected to see it, and ignored my compass. I even looked at my compass and said to myself: it must not be settling right. Total loss of about 4 minutes, high 7s per K. We always take that, tho I've been hitting that alot lately, may have to bring my target down to 7.5. I really think the interval training is helping, but who knows? Are the woods just faster this season?

    Well, my errors did cost a few places both days, due to the courses being short. But I feel faster, so my year over year are still better compared to races with less time lost. I dunno. I think I have a touch more speed, but my concentration hasn't caught up with it yet. Its all too confusing.

    Fortunately, not much time for a rant about USOF "classic" courses being too short. But there is some time. I used to think running M21 here was like running my age in Europe. But now, I feel USOF M21 may be getting somewhat shorter than age courses in Europe, forget the fact that I sometimes run M21E in Europe now. So far this season there have been 3 "classic" blue courses, all much shorter than the proscribed winning time. This really seemed like a red course (and Eddie, now M35, ran it in 60, the proscribed winning time for red). I ran 67 with at least 4 minutes of errors; I should not be able to run a blue that fast (and I should be closer to Eddie, but that's another story ...).

    The point is not to rail on the organizers, who did a great job (in both meets, and when I set an A meet, the WT was 4 minutes short), but to be concerned about preparation for racing in Europe. I guess the top American orienteers can handle it, but I need the long races here to be ready for the long races there. You can train as much as you want (and I train as much as I can), but there is no way to simulate and train the concentration at the end of the race skill without actual taxing races (IMHO anyway). I think we need to stage the sort of races here that we will be seeing in Europe. It seems silly not to, as the best training is doing.

    I guess more on that line of thought, while I'm here, is that my first ever sprint race may be the WC race at EOC. Hardly the best way to prepare for the WC, by not having the sort of races I will encounter. I think it is something USOF needs to look at. We may not like the format of racing in Europe (and I'll admit I personally don't, I mean the long, middle, and sprint), but that is the reality we have to deal with, and I think USOF is a bit odd to not try to find a way to prepare our people for these sorts of races. And one of those things would be true IOF length classic races, forgetting the other stuff (which would also be good preparation, of course). For my part, I'll try to organize an A meet quality sprint in '05, if the politics isn't too prickly.

    And now to watch UCONN win and continue my incredible record of picking national champions in the NCAA. You have to be good at something ...