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Training Log Archive: j-man

In the 30 days ending Nov 30, 2008:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Run16 12:07:30 2.2 3.54
  Rowing Machine7 7:40:00 42.51 68.42
  Bike8 6:30:00 33.49 53.9
  Orienteering3 3:06:54 11.52 18.54 39213 /36c36%
  Weight training9 1:43:30
  Cross Training3 1:30:00
  Total29 32:37:54 89.72 144.39 39213 /36c36%

» now

Sunday Nov 30, 2008 #


The perfectionism conundrum

Bike 1:00:00 [2]

Level 8 hills

Saturday Nov 29, 2008 #


Topic: People need thanks

Orienteering in the US is primarily volunteer-driven. Everything that we do depends on the involvement of volunteers. For better or worse, it is the case that most of the work is done by an especially committed cadre. For the purposes of putting on events (my current fixation) there are two marquee roles--the director and the designer--but many anonymous roles. It is really the latter that ensures the success, or even the viability of the event.

It is these people, those who sit at the start, the registration, etc., for hours, often every weekend that makes the whole thing work. Why do they do it? Why does anyone do it?

I am primarily interested in designing courses. I don't really require any instrumental benefit or first-order recognition. It is all a big game and I really derive reward from objective metrics: things like winning time, percentage of DNF's, etc. Subjective positive feedback is nice, but not necessary. Negative feedback would be welcome because it suggests that I missed something. I guess for me, it is kind of like golf. If you shoot a 64, you don't really need a whole lot more affirmation.

Anyway, that is me, and that is for designing courses. As a meet director, I derive satisfaction from everything running on time and accurately. But, there aren't as many salient metrics there (there could be, however) as there are for courses. Subjective things like the happiness of helpers and participants counts for even more.

Other people have different motivations and needs. Conceptually, it is difficult to appreciate how much time is dedicated to this sport in thankless capacities. Certainly, there is probably some intrinsic enjoyment they derive. Perhaps more important is the desire to give back and propagate the sport. Still, when you are doing this so regularly, and are more often subject to criticism than adulation, it seems like a raw deal. So, I certainly appreciate the qualms people have about tolerating criticism. The thought is that since there is so little instrumental upside to all this volunteer work, that anything negative will just swamp the boat.

I want feedback. I think it is necessary and vital to any organization or endeavor that aspires to greatness. (Obviously, not all do aspire to greatness, but anyway.) But, not just the abs(feedback). Or just negative feedback. We really do need to thank people, earnestly and sincerely. The course setters and directors, yes, but at least as importantly, thank the unheralded people who are spending the anonymous hours.


Orienteering race 42:26 intensity: (12:26 @3) + (30:00 @4) *** 6.34 km (6:42 / km) +142m 6:01 / km
spiked:13/23c shoes: Olways

DVOA/HVO dual event 2008, Red course.

One of the worst runs in a while but probably one of the top 3 favorites of the year.

Run warm up/down 8:00 [1]
shoes: Olways

Rushed, and incomplete warmup

Friday Nov 28, 2008 #


The numbers game:

Apparently, Tom and I have independently started a quantitative analysis of DVOA events. My survey looks at the previous five years: 2004-2008 (through Brandywine.)

My objective was to first take a look at the mean and median amount of involvement of people as course setters. I need to determine if there is a way to substantiate my thesis that we really aren't doing much to develop new course setters. (I think some sort of panel study, or more loosely, to identify the first occurrence of a person as a meet director and then trace their history over time would help. OK--that's what I will do next. For now, just summary statistics.)

One model assumption is that during this period, feedback was non-existent or severely constrained. One proxy for feedback would be to cross-reference posts on the eboard with meets. Unfortunately, I don't have access to historical eboard posts. Also, there is no way to assess feedback that occurred elsewhere. (I think Randy got turned away from course setting after Lehigh due to alleged negative feedback but I am not sure what the feedback was, how it was delivered, and if he is no longer course setting.) And, of course, since there is no formal feedback mechanism, I can't do anything more rigorous. Anyway, based on the ferocity with which criticism is stamped out on the eboard, and anecdotal observations of interactions at events, I really do think the "see no evil, hear no evil" mantra really does guide behavior.

The goal would be to examine the counterfactual--what things would look like if there were feedback. It is the vocalized opinion of many club leaders, volunteers, and seemingly the tacit opinion of some others, that feedback would destroy the volunteer culture. If I were to extrapolate from the Randy experience, they may be right. But, Randy is not ordinary, I think, and other data suggests rather minimal feedback that is largely fawning and anodyne in nature.

Anyway, the dataset includes all meets listed in the DVOA results, including ranked meets as well as minor meets like score-Os, night-Os, and some beginner meets. Also, there are things like the Stumble as well as dual events and Mid-Atlantic Champs. It is easy enough to filter those; for now they may as well stay in because they will only make involvement seem more broad-based than it is in reality. Also, I was liberal in giving credit to a director and co-director, and a designer and co-designer whenever there was an indication of multiple people involved. For simplicity, and because commonsense suggests a minimal marginal contribution when 2+ people are involved in one of these tasks, I capped it at two. Still, I think the data is biased towards more involvement rather than less. The data includes A meets. Typically, there would be a different course setter each day of a two-day A meet, but a single meet director. However, I gave credits for each day. Therefore, an A meet director would show up twice.

Over the past 5 years, three were 217 discrete events. We have had a total of 96 unique people involved in putting them on, according to the following (you can read the "Director" totals as the number of meets per year.


(2005 really did have that many events. We had a lot of beginner events, and even a Trail-O of all things.)

In this first pass, my objective is to look at the distribution of volunteers. It is not a surprise to anyone that there is great skewness in the distribution. As I am primarily interested in course designers, henceforth we will just focus on that subset of the data.

There were 73 unique people over the past five years that designed or co-designed courses. One thing that jumps out right away (besides the skewness) is that there is a cohort that only acted as a co-designer, never doing any meets on their own.

For now, I will just present the data graphically, and later we'll try to look at things on a granular, and intertemporal level.

Course designers:


All course volunteers

In all cases, the individuals are coded with a unique numeric identifier.


I am seriously thinking of posting this on the DVOA eboard. It would get them all in a fine tizzy.

Cross Training 30:00 intensity: (25:00 @2) + (5:00 @3)

Level 7 hills.

Bike 30:00 intensity: (20:00 @2) + (10:00 @3)

Level 8 hills.

Weight training 10:00 [2]

Three x upper body and abs (ubs).

Thursday Nov 27, 2008 #


For the past few days I have been venting due to frustration with a specific aspect of the club. It is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees when on such a crusade, and I think it is useful to step back and consider why objectively DVOA is really the best orienteering club in the country. There are so many reasons, and this is merely a subset.

* The continuity--there are people that have been in the club for decades and remain indefatigable. The Ringos have been going strong for 40 years and are still a force. Incredible. The Franks, Scotts, etc... All these people and more are continually volunteering, nearly every weekend, in large ways and small.
* The size--being big and staying big is a good thing in my book.
* The maps--we don't have the best terrain but we have lots of maps, and good ones.
* The friendliness--we really do welcome new people and get them engaged.
* The accommodation of competitive and recreational people equally.
* The juniors and support for the juniors--we have a lot of enthusiastic young people and a lot of adults that support their efforts tirelessly.
* Our website and results--So much better than anything else out there.
* Our epunching--Sandy started this and we have new generations of people taking over.
* The support for runners at WOC and JWOC--DVOA gives very substantial competition grants to people on the WOC and JWOC teams. Really wonderful. I will always be thankful for that support.
* The spirit--There is a great DVOA presence at the US Relays and enthusiastic support for everyone on every team. We have great uniforms, logo, colors, etc... It translates into a really special esprit de corps.


I wonder how many new bytes, MB, etc. of data are added to AP every day by the citizenry?

Run 31:00 intensity: (25:00 @1) + (6:00 @2)

Very easy run on Dasha. North side of the Charles, across the bridge, and along Storrow back. She ran a little faster at the end.

Bike 30:00 intensity: (20:00 @2) + (10:00 @3)

Level 8 hills.
Finishing the hour.

Wednesday Nov 26, 2008 #


Dasha thinks that since I have come up with these ideas I should now champion them to the DVOA powers that be. I respectfully disagree.

First, there are people now aware of these ideas who have an official capacity in the club. There are also people aware of these ideas that have a more suitable temperament to communicate these ideas to the leadership. I know my limitations (part of this whole flight of fancy is motivated by acknowledgement of limitations, incidentally.) I am not really able to effectively ingratiate myself with the club leadership as well as some others may be. I also have some scars that flare up now and then.

Anyway, if this is going to fly, there have to be others at least as committed to it as I am. I will do work when it is time to do that, but I can't be the only one who believes in the idea. I think it should be championed by a team. A movement rather than a lonesome quest.


I want to reiterate my opposition to the idea of a course consultant/vetter as a panacea for DVOA's problems. It is a poorly considered bailout; a band-aid at best. It will get us back to where we are, or even further away from where we need to be. If that is what is decided, it is too bad.

Why? Well, I know how hard it is to personally take advice. I always showed my courses to Eric and he always had suggestions. When you get wrapped up in things and slave over your courses, it is hard to change things. I know. But, I would defer to his judgment. Even if I think I know a lot, he knows more. A lot more.

I have seen so many instances of people, and often experienced people, repelling or disregarding advice. Why would someone that has been doing this for 20 years need someone looking over their shoulder? Well, some don't want this oversight. And some of those are wedded to, let's just say, more "primitive" technical standards. This attitude is rife in the club. I am not interested in paying lip service to technical improvement.

Why would I need a course consultant? Why would I need an EXPERIENCED vetter or two? Because EVERYONE does.

So, it would seem that I am acknowledging the utility of this vetter/consultant. Yes and no. It only works when applied to people who are malleable. I think it is easier and better to deliberately select particular people who have a clue, follow the "rules", are amenable to advice, etc., than impose this on people who don't want or need it or don't have time for it.


An upcoming screed will be about the life cycle/development of orienteering clubs. It won't really be original, and it will hew very closely to feet's seemingly deterministic economic musings of a few weeks ago. Yes, neoclassical growth and reversion to the mean. Powerful forces, those. Maybe some Schumpeter and thermodynamics.

Also, I can tie in some of my unpublished investment management thoughts. NNT used his brush on everything. So will I.


Gregory makes an excellent point which bears repeating and additional development. Excellent navigators or a related group, elite orienteers, are not necessarily excellent course setters. However, being an elite orienteer provides an important, though not irreplaceable perspective. Conversely, so does being a strictly recreational orienteer. And being a good navigator in general really helps. Good course setters need to accommodate fast and slow, competitive and recreational, and provide appropriate technical challenges. And be fair. But, too often, course setters they see things through the same lens they use to orienteer. Eric is one of the best people I know at seeing both sides, despite the fact that he was always a competitive orienteer.

I fancy myself to be a competitive orienteer as well. That is all I really aspire to. However, I very much appreciate and respect recreational orienteers. One could have a cynical point of view and admit that we need recreational orienteers to support the sport at the top. This may be true, but is only a small part of the story. Recreational orienteers are doing our sport. Granted, with a different mindset and set of priorities, but sharing the affinity for navigation and love for the outdoors. We're the same family. (Then there is Trail-O, which is an entirely different can of worms.)

Having said that, I wonder which segment would place a higher priority on growing the sport? I'll have to think about this more, as I can't come up with a clear answer. If we stylized it and said there are two blocks of orienteers--the elite and everyone else--maybe this is easier. Not sure.

If you are competitive, I think your victories are sweeter if you defeat more people. I think anyone who is competitive would desire to leave no doubt that they are the best, and to best 100 rather than 10, and 1,000 rather than 100, and so forth. I would think that for this reason alone, they would want more participants. However, as they are trying to be the best, they won't do much to proactively develop the sport, aside from maybe moral support.

If you are a recreational orienteer, what will you do? Well, there is no longer the desire to defeat X number people. On the other hand, it is nice to share your experiences with friends so you might want more people for that reason. I do think that is a marginal effect. Orienteering is a solo sport and in practice tends to be kind of cliquish. That said, recreational orienteers won't be dedicating their life to training, and thus their orienteering hours could be directed towards organization and administration. I think that is the more important effect. Some may also simply be evangelists and want to spread the word. (Elites could have the same inclination, but because they have less bandwidth to devote, evangelistic tendencies probably have lesser impact, even if the motivation is indeed stronger.)

Where does this leave us? Well, I think elite orienteers need more competitors but don't do much to get them. Recreational orienteers don't especially need them, but do more to get them.

What is the point of all this rambling? This is my first stab at exploring the extent to which (stylized) recreational or competitive orienteers make better course setters. Or put differently, see the need to be better course setters. In general, it doesn't matter much and I can cite examples of both camps who are good and bad. It matters around the margin, however, and in terms of tendencies.

As a digression, I wonder about the tendency to hide controls. Obviously, this can be done by anyone. Empirically, I have no idea what camp does it more. But, I really don't like it and will explain why elsewhere. Dasha pointed out something that I hadn't really thought about. At the limit of slowness and deliberateness, concealing the actual bag is one of few tricks you have left. The flipside to this is the aphorism that "if the orienteering is too easy, you aren't running fast enough." If you aren't running at all, certain things become more important.


Really looking forward to an HVO event this weekend!

Cross Training 40:00 [2]

Level 6 cross-training.

Tuesday Nov 25, 2008 #


The PLAN (starkly stated; justification and explanation of parameters and assumptions will be developed over time and posted here. Names and numbers are for discussion purposes only.) [Yes, it is completely autocratic and draconian. But, hey--this is my log and desperate times call for desperate measures. This is probably a lead zeppelin, but it is what I would do if I were king. In lieu of that, it is a merely thought experiment.]

Objective: to restore quality standards in DVOA orienteering events.

The system:
Course setting and event directing will be clearly segmented. There will be no overlap between event directors and course setters. Course setters will be drawn from a pre-qualified pool of individuals (the "Pool.") The Pool will initially be comprised of roughly 12 people. The Pool will be selected by an initial committee consisting of Sandy Fillebrown, Tom Overbaugh (the Technical Director--the "Director"), and Clem McGrath (collectively, the "Committee.")

The DVOA event schedule will be finalized during January. Event directors, dates, and venues will be selected by Ed Scott (or other person who fills this role--the "Scheduler"). Course setters will be selected by the Scheduler in consultation with the Director or the Committee as necessary. The completed schedule will be posted online and distributed by mail in January.

All members of the Pool who will be setting courses during the spring season, including members of the Committee, will attend a mandatory review meeting at the winter meeting or at an alternative venue around the same time. The curriculum will be standardized, and the gathering intended to reaffirm best practices.

This process will be repeated in June for the fall season, including the mandatory meeting.

The system will allow for roughly 18 events per year. Other events can take place outside the system, but they will not be counted in the rankings, or have any courses beyond white and yellow. This will require the average Pool member to set 1.5 courses per year.

It is expected that the requisite supporting course staff (vetters, etc.) can be sourced from the Pool, but other volunteers could be recruited based upon the discretion of a given course setter. Such recruitment and attendant apprenticeship will eventually lead to admission of other qualified individuals to the Pool.

*notes on parameters/assumptions:
--The Committee could have a different composition, I suppose, but it should not be larger. It could be smaller if the Committee==Eric.
--The twelve person Pool: Really this is just off the top of my head. I haven't even counted the people in the club that "get it" already, but luckily there are enough. It is easier to count the people that don't get it. I don't want to write those people off, but I have no problem writing them off from setting courses. [this is a point to be expanded.]
--18 events: Again, a jumping off point. Maybe too many. Given our current skill base it may be ambitious. Too few events is better than too many [another point for additional discussion.] In any case, if a qualified person is not committed to an event by January/June, that event doesn't happen. The printed schedule is our bond.
--The Scheduler needs to buy in to the system and have fortitude and diplomatic skill. Fortitude to hold the line, and diplomatic skill to disarm criticism and avoid affronts. (Certainly not a job for me as I could care less about affronts.) The key notion to subscribe to here is that there are good course setters and there are bad ones, who due to lack of judgment, skill, knowledge, or what I can only identify as willful contrariness, will set bad courses. Some of these deficiencies can be cured. Some cannot and I will have nothing to do with trying to cure them. I know Eric came to the same conclusion.

Some people just aren't good at certain things. They may not realize this, but it is the case. That doesn't mean that they can't add significant value in other ways. To me, my last major course setting involvement for DVOA exemplified this. I set courses and Steve did the event administration. What was wrong with that?


[What will I contribute?] I hope to be more than all talk and no action. If there was committment to my scheme, I would conduct/organize the symposia, be a sounding board for the TD, and be a member of the initial twelve, meaning I would do courses for one or two events a year and serve as a resource for the rest. If there was a pronounced, earnest, and widespread committment to technical excellence, to be achieved in some way aside from my scheme, I would strongly consider getting involved in that. However, if the notion is to get a course consultant, or similiar crap solutions, I will continue to offer no volunteer labor to DVOA. I'll still go to events, because after all, even after the fall of the Empire, Rome still had nice architecture. DVOA, thanks to Eric, still has nice maps. They will decay, of course, but for the forseeable future, they are still worthwhile.


Prolegomena to future course setting tractatus. Current version assumes slightly less than A event standard diligence, but likely enough to shock some of our recent local event setters. A little art and a little science. Much more to come if there is an audience. Very schematic to start.

* Select the area
* Hike/run/walk around the area (no map required), to assess the "grain" , texture, topography, and feel of the terrain. Where is it feature rich? Does it feel opaque? Areas of convexity/concavity. Open, tight? How is the footing? How does it sound? Is it remote? Heavy use or wilderness?
* At home, look at the map. How do your impressions agree with what the map shows?
* Assess the map. Age, mapper, style, terrain. Identify weaknesses and pitfalls.
* [Some silly course setting stuff]
* Go back into the terrain to see control areas. Streamer some features. What works, what doesn't? Is there a "hang?"
* Go home. Play with some features. Winnow down.
* Go back into the terrain, if necessary, to streamer more features.
* Get your vetter (#1) into the terrain. He/she will vet streamers and give feedback on aesthetics, visibility, suitability, and vet descriptions.
* Repeat with vetter #2 if possible/necessary.
* ~T-7:
* "Finalize" courses.
* Print courses & descriptions
* Do paper vetting; include another set of eyes
* T-1: Place as many controls as possible. Have a vetter confirm number, correspondence with streamer number, control description, punch existence, etc.
* T-0: Place remainder of controls (ideally not many), along with same vetting process from yesterday. Do existence checks (flag + punch(es)) by vetters #1 and #2 and course setter.

As with any set of rules, judgment and experience influence interpretation and implementation. But, we start with precepts. De jure.


An earlier lead zeppelin idea was to have an online, systematic feedback mechanism for course/event feedback. I think that it is highly important. Of course, that idea was stillborn about a year ago.

I guess it is still DOA.

Anyway, the top-down Pool construction doesn't obviate the need for it, but I hope it will sidestep the objections to it. To me, receptiveness of feedback is essential to anyone in the Pool. If courses are too long, they are too long. If too short, they are too short. If controls are inappropriate, they are inappropriate. Etcetera. We can't mandate that people have a thick skin, but I won't deal with people with a thick head.

Bike 1:00:00 [2] 16.25 mi (3:42 / mi)

Level 8 hills. Noticeably tougher than level 6.

Spent the first 15 minutes reading NNT. I do have to admit this book is more tolerable that the earlier one. He seems to have toned down the arrogance, and like the anecdote he includes about his Italian friend, this is a book that I would have written myself.

Or, as his friend Popper might say (and I paraphrase): to predict the wheel is to invent it.

Monday Nov 24, 2008 #


Some earlier DVOA-inspired thoughts, some serious, some silly:


I wish I had recorded some of my thoughts in the months leading up to the SS finals at Hickory Run. Those were internalized, but unfortunately, not recorded on (digital) paper.

Also, I wish I had recorded some of my grandiose cajoling or calls to arms in the lead up to the the 2000 US Champs. I tend to think that those statements got me initially branded a malcontent and got me in the royal families' doghouse. I might be completely offbase with that, however. Who knows? I do know I was younger and naiver in those years. Today, I am older, no wiser, and no less firey. The only thing that is different is that I bite my tongue a little, and try really hard to just spout off here.


Going to break this into multiple posts. I would like to crystallize my thoughts less they get caught up in the flux and dynamism on the eboard. No ex-post edits to make my thoughts seem more prescient than they should.


Wow--nice self-incrimination from one of the "lost" on the eboard. At least an admission of culpability, but, in my book, full dispensation for him would require several lifetimes of remorse.

Anyway, still a neat control location, clearly across the out-of-bounds boundary on the map. In a rational world, one might think that a rule could be constructed so that people would not place controls on areas marked OB on the map. Oh well. Rules are just so trite! He says: "that a rule would not solve all problems."

I have devised a really neat rule that would solve a lot, starting right there!


Subtopic 1:

It seems like a natural starting point to a discussion of event quality is to consider why we hold events. If we know why we do it, we will have a basis for evaluating success.

I think there are several, non-discrete possible explanations:
1) Generate revenue (and presumably profit?)
2) Attract potential members
3) Serving current members,
4) Furthering the mission/enhancing the brand
5) Entertain ourselves (holding events/setting courses because doing so is amusing)
6) Primal instinct--we just do this and don't know why

Given that we are a non-profit, 1 cannot really be a sufficient reason (legally or philosophically). While pursuit of money can be a primary objective, or the alpha and omega of a person or institution, I think in our case it is at best instrumental. If it weren't, we could charge more than $4 for a quality product. But, this is where it gets interesting. While I have thought that DVOA events are a real bargain at $4, and probably are much more valuable than that, even as currently delivered, I think if profit making were a goal, the quality of the product becomes germane. No need to go into business school cases, and while it is possible to milk the cash cow, the cow eventually dies. Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that I think if profit maximization (or NPV maximization more precisely) were a goal, poor quality events are a failure.

Why? Well, 2 speaks to that. By and large, poor quality in orienteering events manifests itself in unfairness or unpleasantness. Granted, there is a population that seems to have a high threshold for crap, and we may get some of them, but I fail to see how failing to deliver core aspects of the experience can be sustainable. Adventure racing is a little different and can make lemonade out of some wrinkles it seems. I feel that random adherence to standards very much confuses the value proposition. Orienteering is susceptible to this.

What about our current members (3). Well, they are getting older, but also fewer. I don't like to reason from anecdotes, but much as some volunteers have been turned off by the anything goes attitude, so have participants. Maybe not as acutely in DVOA, but it has happened here and elsewhere. I tend to think orienteering has the wind in its face. There is only so much appetite for organized hiking, which is the limit of bad orienteering. Still, it seems like given the lack of outrage, or at best token disappointment, bad events may not be a problem. But, remember, older and fewer.

4 is the interesting one and worthy of its own chapter. The DVOA brand. Like America, a city on a hill. Like America a brand that has seen better days but still has equity. What is a brand? Off the cuff, I think it is a shorthand for a set of product attributes. It is something that allows a consumer to make a quick evaluation of a product by implicitly adding brand characteristics to salient characteristics. It is a standard. It is an identity.

Orienteering in the US has evolved much as has orienteering in the rest of the world. But, as a frontier country for the sport, we have always been behind. Technical standards here lagged Europe. But, we did other things well, and DVOA did better than most anybody. Our founding families, the Ringos and then the Franks offered a warmth and inclusiveness that made an impression on a lot of people and drew them in. I count myself among those people. However, this was largely achieved on a personal basis, and hence is not scalable. I still think we do this better than anyone and the culture is still oriented in this way. The club has a lot of friendly people in it, and I hope we always do. At the same time, I think that the insularity that affects all of American orienteering (and orienteering worldwide) is present in DVOA. It is the nature of the sport and the personalities involved. I don't think that the DVOA brand can just be about friendliness and openness. Because I think that it is only superficially.

I think that the DVOA brand grew to encompass quality as well (perhaps this is my conceit showing through?) We had the reputation of being like the Yankees. I saw that as a favorable comparison. For better or worse, I think this development was due to lucky endowments. We had an asset (Eric Weyman) that no one else did, and for 25 years he provided a technical underpinning, and in recent years, a structural steel foundation to all we did.

It is the combination of these different attributes: friendliness, scale, quality that are the touchstones of the brand. This brand wasn't fashioned consciously; it grew organically. Anyway, brands are associated with products. I always maintain that our product is an experience. It encompasses the outdoors, the controls, the running, walking, etc., the compass, the course, the prices, the results, etc., etc. We control those parameters. They further or hinder our brand and our mission.

About that--I think the DVOA mission is to promote orienteering as an enjoyable outdoor navigation activity. The Franks and others have been maniacal about doing programs, etc., and this has furthered the mission of promoting the sport. But, there are diminishing returns, and the marginal participant, much less the marginal member, is more elusive than ever. Presenting a strong brand is that much more important.

So, if the goal of holding events is to entertain ourselves (5) -- "ourselves" being the zealous club members who select themselves to volunteer, we may be doing OK. If this is the case, and the circle the wagons mentality suggests it is, all we are concerned about is indulging one another, and by that I mean the others in the "in crowd" of course setters and event directors. Because we certainly aren't focusing on the broader membership and certainly not the potential members. To me it seems obvious that turning off multiple members or participants should count as much as turning off a volunteer whose work or attitude detracts from the other objectives.

Finally, 6. This is the "we do this because we always have done this" mentality. Maybe that is why we are doing this.

Bike 1:00:00 [2] 17.24 mi (3:29 / mi)

Level 7 hills.

Sunday Nov 23, 2008 #

Event: QOC: Avalon


[Reader discretion advised. Circumlocution is over. Innocent eyes will not be spared. There will be blood. The gloves are coming off. This is negative in tone.]

This will be a long post. It will probably metastasize and evolve over the next day or so. I may regret saying certain things, so I may auto-"censor" them and consign them to the electronic waste basket. I will say some things that may be offensive. I may criticize, but I invite criticism as well. If I am giving it, I'll take it. Bring it.

It is not intended to be public. But, I am posting it here. I can't control where it goes.

Of course this rant is motivated by DVOA. (And the flare up by what is likely to flare up on the eboard today. I had kind of gotten over things to an extent.) I had the outside opportunity to attend 4 orienteering events yesterday (SVO, QOC, DVOA, and the Traverse.) I can honestly say, a priori, the DVOA event was the one I wanted to attend least, but logistics didn't allow for any of the others.

Why? Well, 1) Brandywine, never a great map, has aged. (I've had my own personal greatest course setting failures there at the US Night O champs back in the 1990s.) 2) Yesterday's course setter is known to be recalcitrant and to read from the book of anti-orienteering (as I see it.) 3)Finally, (this is an irrational reason), the last Brandywine event I attended was quite frustrating due to at least two misplaced controls and the fact that I attempted to offer private (and I will say completely constructive and positive feedback to the novice course setter) which was rebuffed. This was one incident, of several, that have made me highly sensitive to, and dismissive of the notion that course consultants will achieve anything in DVOA. [need to offer some other examples.]

[Discursion] On the subject of criticism (sorry, here comes a name) I am bemused to see Randy lobbing some up there on the eboard. You go! If it is good for the goose, it is good for the gander! (Randy has prickled at some criticism directed at his course setting efforts. More recently, he went to some length to stomp out the fires of criticism on the eboard, enunciating the prevailing, implicit DVOA mantra ("hear no evil, see no evil.") Well, I guess if the evil (almost) literally bites you on your ass, you will feel it and see it. That is a start.

Anyway, leaving him alone now... it is easy to criticize. Dasha notes I am good at it. But, despite my aspersions, and antipathy towards DVOA, I really like it and want the best for it. I am not sure (yet) that the best solution is euthanasia. (As I was running my course, for the first time, I kept thinking DVOA sucks. That was disturbing, and a first.)

I decided I was going to send an unsolicited (nice) letter to the DVOA officers from the perspective of a consumer of product. But, my quill is still too sharp, and I will try the shriller version of things here. Perhaps the vitriol can be diluted by a factor of 100 and then the solution will be suitable for their consumption.

I am going to put down my draconian ideas here, so that the intellectual solvency of my ideas can be judged as harshly as necessary.

I was going to pounce on the eboard. I resisted. It will go here.

Ed Scott writes: "I don't think the problem will be fixed with a rule." OK--I agree with that. The problem will be fixed with judment and common sense. Since those are in short supply, a rule is a good start.

Rules are important. We impose rules on our children before they are granted lattitude. It is easier, yes, but justified until children develop judment, discernment, and common sense. There is very little judgment evidenced by DVOA. Eric epitomized judgment. DVOA is doing a 180.

Run warm up/down 5:00 [1]
shoes: Olways

Really short warmup.

Orienteering race 58:30 intensity: (33:00 @3) + (25:30 @4) ***
shoes: Olways

Brandywine Red. [No need to comment here on the deficiencies of this event. From a personal perspective, my diminished expectations were exceeded. I enjoyed it. From a DVOA perspective, they were yet again dashed.]

I knew one control was mishung and one control was missing. I found the mishung one OK and did not attempt to invite myself in for tea to punch the missing one.

I found everything else mostly OK. Did a lot of 90 degree bails to trails. I was on trails for most of the course, and maybe should have used a trail to 1.

Ran pretty well, but got tired of pushing towards the end, and with my thoughts consumed by noski, I kind of jogged in the last two controls. Still, a solid hour of exercise and with a map.

Saturday Nov 22, 2008 #

Run 51:30 [1]
shoes: Salomon XCR

Very easy run with Kolya, Teressa, and Dasha at Tyler. I ran home solo.

Friday Nov 21, 2008 #

Rowing Machine 1:00:00 intensity: (10:00 @2) + (40:00 @3) + (10:00 @4) 14.35 km (4:11 / km)

A good row. Strong.

Averaged ~20.67 spm. I would always bring it down when I hit 21.

The hands suffered but they were overcome.

Thursday Nov 20, 2008 #

Run 57:30 intensity: (26:30 @2) + (25:00 @3) + (6:00 @4)
shoes: 9 2007 Adidas

TNT. Got there late and did my own warmup and slow laps. That took 1833.

I then ran with Tom. He is a machine. He basically in lane 1 and me in lane 2. He said he was going to run slow. I guess he did--slightly slower than last week. But, his pacing is very good.

It did feel pretty good; I felt better towards the end. However, he did run his last lap hard, and I was pretty much done after trying to hold him off. My final two solo laps were 150s.

Representative segment sample?

Run 2:30 [1]
shoes: 9 2007 Adidas

Bounding and twisting for one lap.

Wednesday Nov 19, 2008 #

Rowing Machine 1:00:00 [2]

Easy row. This time at 24 and above. It is neat how acclimating oneself to row at <20 makes the higher spms feel so light. I wasn't working that hard (but did do a 10 minute period at 30 and around 200) but it did feel decent.

I actually wore gloves for this, as I did the night before. Majorly lame. While they did allow me to overcome the most acute blisters, I got alternative ones.

Should be the last rowing for a little while, so the hands should recover.

Thinking last night about the possiblity of achieving my erging goal over the winter...

Tuesday Nov 18, 2008 #

Rowing Machine 1:00:00 [2]

An easy row, probably at 22-23.

Monday Nov 17, 2008 #


I'm recounting my experiences of the taleb truncheon elsewhere.

Rowing Machine 1:00:00 intensity: (40:00 @2) + (10:00 @3) + (5:00 @4) + (5:00 @5) 13.47 km (4:27 / km)

A generally easy row. First 50 minutes were ~19 spm and whatever splits felt natural (appeared to be high teens.)

For the last 10 minutes, however, I let nature take its course. Average over the last 10 was 30 spm and 158 splits, although the second 5 was faster yet, in spm and splits.

Hands were not happy.

Rowing Machine warm up/down 5:00 [2]

Sunday Nov 16, 2008 #

Event: WCOC Hoyt

Run warm up/down 20:00 [2] 2.2 mi (9:05 / mi)
shoes: Olways

Windy. Legs never got primed.

Orienteering race 1:06:34 intensity: (40:00 @3) + (26:34 @4) *** 9.3 km (7:09 / km) +190m 6:30 / km
13c shoes: Olways

DVOA Fair Hill Blue course.

A bear market rally of an event. A really fine one. In the olden days, events such as this were not uncommon; they now may be fated to be truly exceptional.

In any case, it brought back memories of happier days.

My run was OK, but the 3 minute error out of the gate was inexcusable. Without it, I would have been respectable. I think I was just not mentally warmed up.

Run warm up/down 4:00 [1]
shoes: Olways

A feeble warmup before the sprint. Didn't get warm and the legs remained dead.

Orienteering race 9:24 [4] *** 1.9 km (4:57 / km) +60m 4:16 / km
shoes: Olways

Fair Hill Sprint.

Decent run. Could not have done any better in current state.

Orienteering warm up/down 10:00 [1] ** 1.0 km (10:00 / km)
shoes: Olways

Picking up some controls from the sprint.

Saturday Nov 15, 2008 #


"The team is only as strong as the commitment of the least-accomplished person on the team."

Rowing Machine 1:00:00 [2] 12.51 mi (4:48 / mi)

This was the current definition of an easy row--of paddle pressure. Just slightly harder than going through the motions, but not much, and decidedly short of any sort of real pressure. 12,513 meters.

Also, definitely averaged under 20 spm. Probably at 19.

Run 29:00 [2]
shoes: 9 2007 Adidas

When Greg showed up we went on a jog over to the track, did a lap, and came back.


I don't know how to log enduring Baltering, but I endured a lot today, and it was definitely hard work. I feel like I have been run over or beaten.

Friday Nov 14, 2008 #


I went to NYC this evening and didn't get back until 2AM. I considered a short row afterward, but it would not have been on Friday anyway. And it would have been silly.

Thursday Nov 13, 2008 #

Run 59:00 intensity: (29:00 @2) + (10:00 @3) + (20:00 @4)
shoes: 9 2007 Adidas

TNT. Thought I would enjoy a nice, easy run. But Tom ran away from us immediately from the cars. I ran about 2 miles with Jim, until I got tired of Tom lapping us, and then I ran with him.

Initially, I accelerated around the turns and opened up a little gap on him. But, he eventually started closing the gap, and with his finishing sprint, he almost completely erased it. I did another two hardish laps after that, and then a cooldown.

Tom, in addition to being one of the featured contributors to the premier American journal of orienteering, is also rather fast.

Wednesday Nov 12, 2008 #

Rowing Machine 1:00:00 intensity: (54:00 @2) + (6:00 @4)

Easy row. Did not feel like an athlete today. However, I did 6 x (1 minute on, 1 off) at the end to let myself know that my feelings about things aren't the final say.

Weight training 5:00 [2]


Tuesday Nov 11, 2008 #

Run 1:35:00 [2]
shoes: 9 2007 Adidas

TNT. All of the up/down Forbidden Drive segment. Time is from/back to Sandy's.

Weight training 5:00 [2]

A couple push-ups and abs.

Monday Nov 10, 2008 #


While the hostile takeover would be absurdly facile, it would be self-defeating and yield a hollow victory.

So, no choice but to continue wandering in the wilderness. Maybe I can get some tailored hairshirts to make myself comfortable.

If I start to style myself as Diogenes, which may be apt, I should afford myself time to think. So, I did.

I devised a solution to the problems. It is draconian, autocratic, and would be a bitter pill. But, I would be fine with it.

It addresses the adverse selection issue and many other issues. Still, it is all for naught. Merely a thought experiment. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.


It has been suggested by a wise person (who will remain nameless to protect the innocent) that we need to change the culture.

I wholeheartedly agree. That is ultimately what I want as well. My reforms would not pass unless the organization sees the need for them. It is like AA, I think. You have to acknowledge a problem exists. And we are so not there.

Still, on the subject of culture change, I think I will turn back to Gramsci. I haven't read his stuff in its entirety, and it is important.

Anyway, probably time to squelch my political/philosophical/organizational dynamics rants here lest people get turned off.

Rowing Machine 1:30:00 intensity: (50:00 @2) + (35:00 @3) + (5:00 @4) 20.46 km (4:24 / km)

A good row. One of the better long, slow ones recently. I did a very good job keeping it at 20 spm or below. It would creep over for a stroke or two before I brought it down. I did a good enough job that I rewarded myself with 5 minutes left. Then, the strokes went to 30 and then 35 and the splits went to 200 and then 156. There was some gas in the tank I see.

Rowing Machine 5:00 [1]


Weight training 5:00 [2]

45 pushups and 100 ab things total, divided into 3 sets.


One of the most rewarding things about being an athlete are those moments when your legs are springy, when you are lithe and limber, and when your muscles most certainly do not suck.

At one point, and admittedly for but a sliver of my life, I knew those moments well and saw them often. Today, and in recent years they have been fleeting and sporadic. Yet, they still occur, even if they are more often latent.

It is this potentiality, however, that makes it all worthwhile. Knowing that that feeling can still be summoned. It may take longer, it may be harder, but it can happen.

One day, be it next year, five years, 10 years, or more, those moments will be no more. It may be unrelenting injury, decrepitude, or something else. I really hope it is not due to mental weakness, but that is also a possibility.

But, it is not this day. [At this point it seems like I need a passage from Lord of the Rings, but I think I'll spare that for now.]

Sunday Nov 9, 2008 #


"Shealy believed that all people sought symmetry and purpose in their lives, something that lifted them up and made them feel better about themselves; and here were eight oarsmen, having worked so hard and sacrificed so much, catching something magical and doing race after race, each oarsman making the others better. The feeling made them not just confident but also complete, and it was magnified by the knowledge that what they were accomplishing was pure in its amateurism. They were doing this because they wanted to, for no reward other than the feeling itself."

Run 1:00:00 [2]
shoes: 9 2007 Saucony

Run with Dasha. Down toward TJ's.

Weight training 30:00 [3]

A very good circuit. Probably the best possible with dumbbells.

Saturday Nov 8, 2008 #


"It was in its way a very macho world. The egos were immense--they had to be for so demanding a sport. Men of lesser will and ambition simply did not stay around. The oarsmen were almost to a man highly individualistic and exceptionally compulsive."

Run 1:00:00 [2]
shoes: 9 2007 Saucony

Run 30:00 intensity: (26:00 @2) + (4:00 @4)
shoes: 9 2007 Saucony

Accelerated at the end.

Friday Nov 7, 2008 #


"The harsh weather, which drove off most of his contemporaries, drew him in. He had always felt comfortable in such weather. From the start he had a sense that this was a sport in which he could excel, for it required only strength and dedication, not skill or grace or timing."

Bike 30:00 [2]

Level 6

Run 30:00 intensity: (22:00 @2) + (7:00 @4) + (1:00 @5)
shoes: 9 2007 Saucony

1 minute on, 1 minute off, from 10 to 25 minutes.

Last minute fast.

Weight training 3:30 [2]

About 180 crunches--for the duration of Radio Nowhere.

Thursday Nov 6, 2008 #


"There had to be a form and purpose to life. That was one of the interesting things about rowing. Those who competed at this level did so with a demonic passion. Yet there was no overt financial reward at the end, nor indeed was there even any covert financial award, a brokerage house wanting and giving special privileges to the famed amateur."

Two today because they are so good.

"One could understand the son of a ghetto family playing in the school yard for six hours a day hoping that basketball was a ticket out of the slum; it was harder to understand the son of Beacon Hill spending so much time and subjecting himself to so much pain to attain an honor that no one else even understood. Perhaps in our society the true madness in the search of excellence is left for the amateur." [emphasis mine]

True dat, as they say.

[editorial cheap shot]: The search of excellence may be the domain of the amateur competitor, but certainly not that of the amateur event organizer. There, benighted mediocrity is the coin of the realm.

Run 1:00:00 [2]
shoes: 9 2007 Saucony

Good run.

Weight training 10:00 [2]

Intense circuit.

Wednesday Nov 5, 2008 #


"In truth, deep down, he liked this aspect of the sport because it permitted ordinary and not particularly talented young men and women to reach beyond themselves. 'I think,' he once said, 'that what I like about it is the chance to be a hero. Every day in what seems like a very ordinary setting there are heroes in every boat, people reaching down to come up with that much more energy to make it work. I like that, I honor it and I think that it is special in this world.'"


I so want to not besmirch my AP log with anything political (aside from orienteering politics) but it is hard to stand up to the gale force exultation going on, so much in the same way that I had/have to howl at the moon to cope with the heavy hand of the market tossing me about, I guess I have to say something to release the tension.

I guess I should be happy for the 99% (ok maybe 90% if I am generous) of the people I interact with or whose sentiments I can't but be aware of. They deserve to be happy. Me, well I am no happier (well maybe just a little if I allow myself a binary comparison, largely due to stylistic considerations) than I was under the Ancien RĂ©gime . I am largely insouciant, maybe bemused, possibly nonplussed. I have no idea how much feet and I agree about, but his reaction is at least one I can relate to.

Bike 1:00:00 [2]

Gabe called me out of the blue, and I had dinner with him and his brother Larry. They are out of the blue, and even Canadian, but they voted red.

We were undercover though; in hostile territory. Gabe, bless his heart, didn't even know who Ron Paul is. Larry did, though. I knew he was the smart one!

Tuesday Nov 4, 2008 #


"He was able to pull more weight than men far bigger and stronger than he, and he was willing to punish himself to an uncommon degree to achieve his objectives."

Run 1:00:00 [2]
shoes: 9 2007 Saucony

Rocky II was on while I was doing this. Not an especially good movie, or not really good at all, but it does have a few moments/themes which were redolent (not that kind of redolent) and therefore I find it worth watching.

Monday Nov 3, 2008 #


My thought for today is again inspired by DVOA.

I must live on another planet. Maybe the goose is living here, too.

Note to myself--breathe. In, out. That's good. Maybe if I really am on another planet I'll begin to forget what the letters DVOA mean. Maybe it will assume a different denotation here. Perhaps, Dang! Very Orange Apricots.

That would be nice.


Going to try to dig up some Bob Marley for my IPod. "Redemption Song" seems appropriate for today. I think he says "How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?"

Only abstractly related to my current thoughts, but it is a good groove, and that can often be enough.


Rather than despair about the denouement, decline, dotage, or desultoriness of certain things or entities, and rather than come up with my own thoughts, I will initiate a project to offer notable excerpts out of the book I just finished (The Amateurs). They will go in order of occurrence.

The first: "If the loyalties and rivalries were narrowly balanced, the loyalties almost always won out. One reason for the adhesion was the pain. It was a critical part of the bond. It was part of the oarsmen's unwritten code that one did not mention the pain. That was considered unseemly and, worse, it might magnify the pain and make it more threatening and more tangible. It was as if by not talking about it, the pain might become less important."

Weight training 19:00 [2]

Circuit, but not intense because there were some other people using weights.

Cross Training 20:00 [2]

Hopped on here because the treadmills were full.

Run 25:00 [2]
shoes: 9 2007 Saucony

Easy run.

Sunday Nov 2, 2008 #

Weight training 16:00 [2]

Brisk circuit, with focus on legs. They were sore.

Run 40:00 [2]
shoes: 9 2007 Saucony

Saturday Nov 1, 2008 #

Bike 1:00:00 [2]

Level 7 hills.


Played golf today at George Wright. It was awesome. The weather was beautiful and the course was good and in good shape.

Even better, we walked and played in 4.5 hours. I like golf, but it is much better when walking.

I didn't play that well, but considering I had at least 10 strokes in penalties due to losing balls and was playing with rental clubs including one of those antique mini-metal drivers, I can't complain.

I also finished with more balls than I started with. I bought six new balls to begin and never opened them.

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