O Log - Routes and Comments from Alabama Day 1

[20-Jan-05] 

    Here is my Oak Mountain Middle WRE '04, M21 Day 1 map.

    It was suggested that someone write about their Alabama races, routes and notes and the like. I'll write about day 1, which was a solid, tho slowish race. Middle distance -- 42:40 for 4790m, 345m of climb.

    S to 1 (2:38)

    I considered the trail and a straight route. I went straight because I prefer to take lines at an angle if possible, the woods were open and fast, and the differential between my forest and trail running speed isn't particularly great. The reentrant before the control made both routes equally safe.

    1 to 2 (1:25)

    This looked like a risk free leg, and I didn't consider much other than just running there. I recognized the potential for parallel error, but it would obviously be hard to drop 3 lines and not notice it. I did manage to get a line high tho, and obviously lost some time; just proves you need to concentrate 100% on every leg, no matter how easy looking.

    2 to 3 (4:26)

    I considered two routes, the route I took and road to valley and up around. The negative I saw in the latter route was that the running in stream valleys can either be soft, rocky, or both, and while I knew it would be painful to take on that first hill, my route offered good running and an easy read into the bag. I did take the hill at a bit of an angle. I don't have alot of confidence that my route was the fastest, but I felt it was risk-free.

    3 to 4 (2:46)

    I'm spooked by flatish areas, and parallel error possibilities, and it appeared that this leg was risky in both regards. I took this leg a bit cautiously, and I think the split shows it.

    4 to 5 (1:23)

    Control in a big, distinct feature (the slash) bounded by the big hill allowed for aggressive run of the leg, which I took advantage of, picking up the two reentrants on the right on the way.

    5 to 6 (3:03)

    Plan was to drop into the big valley and use the excellent visibility to locate the reentrant, which was both the middle one, and largest one. Unfortunately, I lost focus, possibly from running too hard to 5, and got on the wrong side of the intermediate ridge, losing possibly 20 seconds. This was possibly the worst blunder of the race.

    6 to 7 (1:15)

    The two thoughts on this leg were to either run the flat area north of the watercourse, or get over onto the hillside and follow the line into the reentrant, then the bag. Given the visibility, I was confident I'd see one or both of those features from the flat area, and thus took advantage of the faster running, where there was faint old road bed. Alot of thought for a gain of possibly a few seconds, but that's what its all about.

    7 to 8 (2:44)

    Again not wanting to take lines straight on, or go too far out of the way, I sort of sidehilled along the first hill, then slowed down to make sure I didn't make a parallel error on the reentrants. Part of my technique is to analyze a leg for parallel error risk, and consciously work to avoid them. While the risk seems to appear slight, I've made this sort of error on this sort of leg before.

    8 to 9 (7:43)

    A best route for this leg didn't leap out at me, which to me means good course setting. Up to now, the course had seemed both mentally and physically intense, and I had not had a chance to read ahead (perhaps a trail run on the first leg was warranted after all ...).

    I was able to rule out any rightish routes pretty quickly -- all seemed to have more ridges in the way than simply going straight. I looked at the road, but wasn't convinced, given the considerable distance from the road to the bag, thru terrain where the navigation didn't look trivial. One of my criteria for road runs that go out of the way is that they also simplify the navigation.

    I figured a left of line route that might have less lines than straight, (or at least less stacked), made the most sense, since the navigation was going to be less than trivial whichever route I took.

    9 to 10 (1:28)

    This was another just go there leg. I didn't notice much risk.

    10 to 11 (2:51)

    I made it a point to glance for #11 on the way to #9. This leg was easy to simplify by using the valley. I noted the minor risk of parallel error at the end.

    11 to 12 (3:17)

    This leg also seemed low risk, and seemed more a question of drop into the valley or go around on the trail. I wasn't happy to give up lines to later climb, and wasn't happy to run a valley when a trail option existed, but the trail looked too hilly, windy, and out of the way.

    12 to 13 (4:06)

    I didn't have a feel for the best way to do this leg either, but I wanted to keep moving, so I again took the lines at an angle, and ended up with a bit of an S route. At this stage of the race, I don't feel I could have taken them straight on, and kept up a decent pace.

    13 to 14 (1:33)

    Looking this leg over, it looks potentially high risk. This is the kind of leg where, if you are not careful, you can end up a line or two high, or worse, low, and not really be sure where you are, with mobility and relocation along the side of the hill being potentially costly.

    I considered going back up to the ridge and down, or straight. Back up to the ridge would be good if that option offered a way to reduce the risk, but it didn't; in fact, it looked worse. Not only that, it was not trivial physically to get back up there.

    I didn't have the greatest strategy to force success, except cheat a little bit high, and hope the visibility would offer a view of the riverbed, the other dot knolls, and the ripples on the hillside, and I did end up with enough information to spike the control.

    14 to 15 (1:39)

    I considered all trails, and thru the green. I was tired. Thru the green was probably going to be faster, and I think it was.

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