O Log - Blisters, Briars, and Booms

[21-Feb-05] 

    (note: Portugal maps in preceeding entry)

    Too much of all of the above at this weekend's A meet in Texas, tho the good news is that I think I won, or at least they handed me a gold medal at one point late in the proceedings. Fortunately, Spike may be putting up the maps, so that will save me some time.

    I'll get some criticisms out of the way first -- well, my only real criticism besides nasty terrain (and I thought the greenbriar in Maryland was bad), was that there were too many controls. 26 and 27 over less than 10K each. There was a long leg day 1, but I think the best route was to basically line-O the line. Day 2 offered a little leg variety despite the number of controls, but no real long legs, and a frustrating section near the end of the course. It is interesting -- I got there, and felt like I just didn't want to do it. The oddest thing was that many others concurred. Its not like there was anything really wrong with the orienteering, I just think there was something psychological about a blandish loop near the end going out and back from the start area. It felt, at least to me, that the purpose was to simply add bulk, but of course I could be wrong.

    One thing they did (which I disagree with), was to use alot of different symbols for different vegetation types. There was one symbol that was very green like, but I think it meant fast but poor viz. There was another that meant slow, but good viz, I think. And I think some of the rough open, scattered trees symbol looked kinda the same in the terrain, but was slower (at least it seemed that way in the model). There may have even been something else. It was all too much for my small brain, but the bottom line was that something that looked dark green to the eye may have been fine, whereas lighter stuff, including some white, and the worst, white with green lines (slash), was more difficult. But there was nasty stuff everywhere, so it seemed one big hodgepodge of veg, and I wasn't going to learn to keep it straight at one model event.

    I think I came up with good mental prep for the races, and I think that helped alot. My mental prep consisted of:

    a) the veg will be nasty for everyone, so be tough, and to remind myself that I tend to have relative success in "grunge" terrain.

    b) Ignore the veg types and changes, and don't try to keep it all straight -- the only thing that seemed reliable was that white was oak. When you get to a topologically-bland section of it -- put your head down and carefully compass thru it.

    c) Note that there is always an easy way to the control. At the model, no matter how nasty the veg looked in the field or on the map, there was always sort of a way to get to the bag without pain (even if unmapped or bingo). I didn't know if the model setter was the same as the course setter, but I assumed that the same thing would hold for the race; I just had to be open-minded and observant. (Basically I assumed that the course setter would not put himself thru pain to place a bag, even if it looked that way, as this hypothesis was borne out in the model).

    Well, all of this worked out pretty well on day 1, until nasty blisters developed on both feet (due to a new brand of O shoe; my favorites were unavailable). I managed to block out the pain pretty well until #24, when I could focus on nothing but it. This lead to a 4 minute boom which otherwise marred a near clean race. I still had the fastest time, but only by a minute or two. I 5 minute cushion would have been sweet.

    Day 2 I debated not starting, but since I was in the lead, I taped up my feet and hoped for the best. There is no doubt that painful feet affected me in some way, either mentally or physically, or both, but it is hard to quantify it. I figured I should have ran an 85 and ran a 102. A jury did find a mis-described control (#2 -- I lost time), and I made mistakes (but not nearly that much), so that added in also. I was surprised that with a one minute lead, and that sort of run, that I ended up winning the two day, but there were alot of difficult factors for everyone, I suppose.

    I guess I should write about problem controls a bit. They are starting to take a real toll on me psychologically (and I'm not ragging on the Texas folks, their problem seemed minor, at least to me). It seems like I can't get to a race without some sort of mishung control (there were 2 in Alabama, 4 or 5 in Portugal (tho most in training), at least 1 in Brazil, and even before then -- at locals). I wasn't sure about #2 when I got there, but was pretty sure #16 was mishung. It wasn't: my thinking/reading was wrong, but all the mishungs in my recent past told my brain it was probably mishung rather than me being wrong, because, not to sound arrogant, but recent problems have been more times due to mishung than my mistakes (its simply a probability function -- I look back at big problems, and look back at the percentage of them that are because of a problem control).

    I would have never found it had some kids not yelled "bag", because all I thought was that it is mishung, what do I do? Convinced that I was running a race on one or two mishung controls, my concentration suffered after that, and I'm sure the splits will bear that out (not to mention thinking about the stupid blisters). I guess I need to develop a psychological makeup that deals with mishung better, but its not something I feel like doing.

    Well, now I'll write about #2 specifically, as I don't feel particularly good about the whole situation. I boomed #2, but found it by blind luck when after poking around what I thought was the feature, decided to relocate. I lost a bit of time, but not a ton. Ted asked me about it, and I told him I thought it was a problem, and he decided to protest. He apparently lost alot of time.

    I felt the right thing to do, if the control was found to be a problem, was to void the course. Unfortunately, I couldn't really chime in on this, as I had a big conflict of interest. Voiding the course would give me the win, as I had the best run day 1, and would throw out what was probably a bad ranking day (day 2). They ended up giving Ted an SPW, which doesn't work out too well for me, as I am still saddled with the bad ranking day. I guess since injury, rather than #2, was the primary cause of this, I have no grounds to complain. I'm just not personally convinced that Ted wanted an SPW, but that is what the jury thought. I couldn't really chime in, tho, as Ted was gone, and it would seem like I was lobbying for what I wanted (the course voided). (I didn't protest myself because I felt it would be too self-serving, and #2 wasn't the primary cause for me).

    So, is this a better result than the course being voided? I dunno. At least they didn't throw out the split. Those who read my notes know how wrong I think that is. I wonder if throwing out the split would have affected the placings? I don't think the jury should consider affect on placing when deciding a remedy. The thought that I may have won based on an unfair course sort of bothers me, OTOH, I did win day 1, so maybe not, if we predicate an unfair day 2 which, by definition of unfair, should be voided. Its all a big muddle, especially in light of the boardroom discussion on how to handle this with e-punching the day before. I think the point is that we really need strong, objective rules, that are followed, so that people don't leave races muddled (and I'm not saying rules weren't followed -- I think the rules themselves are a muddle, and you never know what the jury will, or is supposed to, do).

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