O Log - 1000 Day/Team Trials '04

[ 9-Aug-04] 

    First, congrats to all who made the WOC team! On paper, this looks like a strong team for us. The biggest challenge, IMO, for the team will be opportunity for relevant training. It would be interesting to know how much training our "peer nations" are doing in Sweden before the races, and correlating that back to the results.

    As for my performance, 10th overall according to results on Attackpoint; my pre-trials thoughts were "lucky to finish in the top 10", so I guess I met or slightly exceeded my goals, tho this is clearly positive spin for an overall disappointing week of racing.

    Good races include the prolog, chase, day 1, and the relay, and I was also happy with my classic qualifier navigation-wise, tho I just didn't have the speed. One boom of 3 minutes over 15k isn't too bad, tho I think the course may have been a bit more speed-centric than nav-centric, which went against my pre-race thinking. (Certainly not a criticism of the course, but the viz always made the en-route big feature nav seem easy). It was one of these things where in the beginning I told myself I'd better pace myself, but when I decided to try to kick it into high gear, it only lasted for 100m or so. I kept telling myself to kick in the speed, and kept fizzling. I estimate I should have 10-15 minutes faster if I had the speed I had later in the week. Very frustrating. Not sure if it was the altitude or not. I did feel better in the altitude this year than in previous years, and did not get noticeably sick like I usually do, but still could have been down and not really noticed it.

    I also racked up an alarming number of bad races (4). I am in a serious slump since the APOC classic in May, despite a decent collection of good races in there also. I am in quite a funk about it. I wonder what the best way to write about it is? I guess just focus on the actual problems rather than the abstract/excuse/touchy feely stuff, and hope something constructive falls out, tho I am not too optimistic about that happening.

    The races that really come to mind are day 4 and day 5 (both, in effect, DNFs). This is the first time I can remember great races turning into absolute disasters, and back to back to boot. Moreover, while I'm not the most consistent orienteer, I never really tended to have massive blowouts like these.

    Day 4 parallel error; red actual, blue imagined. Rookie mistake in terrain I'm used to ... mistook my head for a brain ...

    I had good speed and was spiking controls. And then, bam, parallel error, cannot relocate, double digit time lost. In both cases I analyzed the leg and acknowledged parallel error as a risk. In both cases I thought I solved the problem. In both cases I had warnings I ignored. In both cases my damage control was horrible. The latter is particularly disturbing as one of my strengths, historically, has been damage control in parallel error situations. I think the latter falls out as "didn't heed the warnings". I think in the past I usually heed the warning signs pretty quickly, and thus have had decent damage control.

    So why didn't I heed the warnings? Day 4, the warning was that my compass was saying I was going the wrong direction, and I ignored that. The reason I ignored that was other times in the week my compass was saying the same thing, and it turned out that I was right and the compass was wrong. A couple of others reported similar experiences. Don't know why that was, but it was. Perhaps the compass hadn't settled yet those other times. But had I not had this experience earlier in the week, I probably would have been ok. This was actually a case of coming in and expecting to see the control and not, and I think I figured it to the tune of a 2 minute boom, but I boomed again on the re-attack, and that is when I got hopelessly lost. Well, I guess nothing really constructive falls out here on damage control after all.

    Day 5 parallel error; red actual, blue imagined. I climb when unsure. Serious map bending ... still got that hook

    So, on day 5, I give myself alot of coaching to not make the same mistake again. I analyze the leg and note the parallel error potential. Crossing those swamps is a pain in the @$$ and I've made that kind of error before. (The problem with them is that it seems sort of random where you come out, and I have no confidence that the beavers (or whatever works in there) hasn't changed the features since the map was made). I see the rock on the spur I want to be on, and see a rock on a spur in the terrain, and that is my solution. Just make sure to come out of the swamp on that spur. But I didn't see the rock on the other spur on the map. So I think I'm fine. I see elephant tracks where I come out, and as much as I try to ignore those, I know my mind noted that as a positive confirmation.

    En-route I notice things that don't add up. I see a rock in the terrain I don't see on the map. The veg in the drainage doesn't seem right. The side veg and some of the side contours don't look quite right. I note all these things. But enough of the veg and topography look right up ahead, and my compass looks correct, so I press on, and things do begin to look ok, including rock and contour detail right into the control, until there is no flag. I have no idea what is going on, and eventually see a flag. Ok, one minute boom, until I see to my dismay that it is not my flag. I look for it on my punch card, and it is not one I have visited (turns out it is #12, but I never looked at codes I have yet to visit. Why?)

    I spend alot of time attacking, relocating, etc., but cannot sort it out. I have no choice but to retire without being able to find the flag. I never once reconsider the possibility of parallel error. My mind marked that as solved earlier in the leg, and did not re-open the possibility. I don't figure it out until I see the road to the finish. While I should have, at that point, turned around and finished the course, after losing 20 minutes, I was broken. Again, nothing really falls out damage control-wise in this case either for the future. I suck and that's life.

    I've spent alot of text looking at this from a damage control perspective, but what about avoiding parallel errors altogether? I guess I just don't know how to do that. I've estimated that 90% of my problems are parallel error related, so I've developed the strategy of anticipate/confirm/damage control. But it didn't work this time. The failures were actually on the confirm phase. Arrogance perhaps? I doubt it. Stupidity.

    Snapshot of many uses

    I don't know how to solve the problem of avoiding parallel errors outright. I think it comes from the fact that my mind naturally simplifies and abstracts everything, and with that process comes a loss of information. In the day 5 case, we abstracted to "big rock on spur" rather than noting "rock of size X some Y meters from end of spur". Information compression and abstraction leads to efficiency, but also can lead to failures. I wonder if this is a discipline problem, or if I am perhaps making the right economic decision for the long haul, just getting burned once in a while. The trouble is that my brain does this automatically, but perhaps writing about it will help me be more aware of size/position of things in future parallel error contexts. We'll see. We can only hope. I certainly don't feel I have control of this situation, and it may make sense to ask some smart people about it.

    Well, I guess I've analyzed this more than enough. Its frustrating as it seems my technique, in general, is as sharp as ever, and tho my speed is down, I'm not in disastrous shape in that regard. So why all the bad races and this rash of inconsistency? I have no clue.