WOC 2009 Long Qualifier, Miskolc, Hungary at Hollos-Hegeyk. A heat.
No chance in hell of qualifying in this race. And, barring force majeure, I will never make a WOC final, even if I run in another WOC. And that would beg the question of why I would run in another WOC. A question better tackled separately, and certainly later.
But, oddly enough, I am not bitter, dejected, or despondent. Not even resigned, really.
There are some positives to be taken away from my race: it wasn't terrible, and I had a reasonable chance of reaching my (somewhat arbitrary) goal time of 75 minutes. (This goal was calibrated off of a long qualifier winning time of 60 minutes--which it was in my heat.)
It would have required a very good, but not perfect race for me to run 75. A pretty objective assessment of my mistakes yields about 6:30, which puts me roughly there, without running more aggressively--physically or technically--which would have been required for a perfect run. A perfect run might have been a handful of minutes faster. Maybe close to Ross's very good (but not perfect for him) run in his heat.)
The reason I had no chance in hell, or alternative realities, of making the final was that you had to be under 64 minutes to qualify in my final (or within 3:22). My endowments and my capabilities at birth may not have enabled me to get there. And certainly not considering I have misapplied my life from an orienteering perspective until this point.
But, why am I not despondent? Well, for the first time since I've been to WOC, I didn't feel like a complete poseur. Physically, I could run with a lot of guys (for at least a while, and especially uphill.) It was encouraging to be able to stay in contact with Emil for a bit; to run with a German for a couple controls; with Ross from NZ. That is nice.
The problem is this: this terrain was brutally easy. I felt like I was running an orange course. In all honesty, you could prepare for all the technical challenges of this place by running at Iron Hill, French Creek, Valley Forge, and some of the SVO maps. There is nothing new here. There will never be a WOC that is more suited or easier for me technically and physically.
Just thinking of some of the places I have orienteered--WOCs, WCs, or even in the US--orienteering is much harder than this.
I am in pretty good shape this year. Not in the shape I had hoped to be, but probably better than I have been at previous WOCs. As mentioned previously, the past 5 weeks, rather than being a crescendo, were a denouement (apologies for the mixed metaphor). Still, that would have amounted to a ~5% delta in physical capabilities.
My regret is that I will never likely be again in a situation like this when I had minimal (though not non-existent) work constraints. This was my one chance to improve my physical toolkit, and the fact that I didn't is the largest disappointment.
Still, like I said, no chance in hell of making this final. a 10% physical improvement, which is all that would be possible with an unconstrained and focused physical program, would not have done it.
So, about the future: not sure. I never answered feet's question. I still can't. The depressing thing is that I recognize that I had a great opportunity for success this year and I underachieved. I had the best chance ever of hitting my goal time, and didn't.
On the other hand, as sad as this may be, this was by best WOC run by time back and by WRE points. By those measures, all my previous WOC runs were underachievements.
But, is it harder to have a good run at a WOC? Probably a little. The only solution is to do what Patrick has done--make your bad run good enough to qualify. Unfortunately, that is no longer possible for me.