O Log - Jukola

[15-Jun-04] 

    Off to Jukola for the first time. This will be the biggest race I've been in. There will be at least 7000 runners there, and I think they will have a Jumbotron and real-time results, and all that jazz. I'm presently scheduled to run the last leg, which is about 15,7K. I haven't done that sort of distance on a course in a while. I don't expect the terrain to be very physical, but I expect the orienteering to be mentally demanding.

    There is more pressure because, having 6 teammates, a boom is 7 times as severe. There is also alot that could go wrong -- distractions that I am not used to, but need to me mentally prepared for are elephant tracks, tons of people, spectator controls, announcers, the Emit punching system, forking, following, controls close together. Additionally, the last time I was at this latitude (Whitehorse), my compass acted funny. It seemed to take longer to settle and be less reliable. This will, of course, be at a different longitude, at perhaps a less awkward angle to magnetic north, but I'm not sure. It will be important to look at this in the training.

    In addition, sleeping and eating arrangements could be awkward. It will probably be cold, especially at night (anything below 24C or so is cold in my book). I'm picky about eating and sleeping right before races. And I'll pretty much have just stepped off the plane.

    With all that could go wrong, and the pressure, how does one mentally prepare? The first thing to remember is that I've encountered all of the above problems at least once, so I don't think there will be shock or panic. Sometimes there can be so many things that can overwhelm you at once, that that paradoxically makes it easier to block it all out. I think that was at play in Kazakhstan, where there was also a ton of distractions.

    Eric Weyman gave me some advice. He reminded me that the expected excellent visibility will be my friend. He said words that will force me to remember to simplify, slow down, change speeds, expect change of pace, and take the first controls easy.

    On the positive side, I am really looking forward to this. I think it will be fun. I seem to do well in pressure races, and do well in relays. I just have to remain in contact, and that is something I should be able to do. Let the running take care of itself. This is sort of opposite my philosophy, which is to run hard, and let the contact take care of itself, but when I have had to do the former, it has often worked out. I also have been migrating to the latter more and more over the years. The one fear is the lightning fast terrain (WT expected < 5/k) and the temptation to let it fly when I get out there. I absolutely cannot do that until I get comfortable with what is going on.

    Even if I have a perfect, fast race, I expect to lose places for our team. I have to accept that, and not worry about it. I can't control the start field. I have no ultimate goals other than to have fun, only proximate goals of eat and hydrate well, stay in contact, run as hard as possible under the constraints, and be mentally prepared for all of the above.

    I've been sick lately. Local results in the last 2 races seem down by about 10%. I'm not over it, but almost am, and expect to be by tomorrow. I hope it is not a factor. I don't think it will be.

    Maybe I should not over analyze things so much ... but I can't help it. It is my nature. Anyway, there is so much going on this summer that this will probably be my last update at least until the end of July.

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