Billygoat at Baldwin Hill set by JJ Cote. It was much warmer than I'm used to: perhaps 24 C. I woke at 8:30, ate a muffin and a banana, caffeinated and hydrated, and arrived at the meet site at 10:30. Quickroute
Strategy: I have a tendency to go out too hard on mass start races and fade, so I wanted to avoid getting out to an early, solitary lead. Contrarily, I expected that the green would favor me, and my familiarity with the terrain would give me an advantage if I could break away from my three chief competitors. My worst fear was ending up in a pack near the end without my skip with competitors who could still skip.
Upon flipping the map over, I saw that 1-2 were far to the south and the correct route was the long N-S trail. In my eagerness, I exploded into the woods and stupidly crossed the stream. When I reached the start of the trail, slower competitors were already ahead of me. Fail. I moved to the front behind Ethan and Adrian and settled in. I debated skipping 1, 3, and 18 before settling on 1 because of the out-and-back distance cut. I was alone halfway to 3, and while I didn't really want to try to lead the whole race, the time advantage of skipping 1 outweighed any tactical considerations.
I ran pretty well for the next few controls, though I dropped a minute on an uphill slog to 4 (after apparently dropping the hammer to 3). I didn't see anyone else until control 8, when I ran into Will running to control 6, about 7 minutes behind me. But then, disaster: out of the spectator control, 10 was an easy trail leg to a control in a green reentrant; I zoned out and read ahead while waiting for a 90' right turn. Unfortunately, the turn was gentler than I expected, and I overran my attackpoint by about 200m. Then, stupidly, rather than doing damage control and returning to a solid attackpoint, I speculated and attacked into thick green without a reliable fix on my position. I was pretty sure I was in the correct reentrant, but I couldn't find the control; I wasted 7 minutes and was passed by Ethan before I followed Will into it.
Eager focus turned to urgency then to despair as I fumbled at one of the easier controls on the course. Coming out of 10, I almost quit the race; I was furious with myself for throwing away my lead. Though I didn't know it, Ethan had already skipped, so I was in comfortable position. But, I don't quit races when I'm physically able to finish them, and this was a great opportunity to practice refocusing and recovering. Plus, my competitors could make a mistake and give me an opening.
Will took a better line to 11, but I passed him en route to 12 where I met Ethan. Speedy, Will, Ethan and I all converged at 13, though only Will hadn't skipped. Still, my worst fear of late pack running was realized. I lost a little time at 15 due to microroute. Running to 16 was brutal; I was totally hosed on the uphill slog. Ethan pulled away, Will made a mistake, and I ran into Wyatt at the flag. I beat Wyatt and Speedy to 17, but Wyatt pulled away from me on the torturous slog to 18, which I lethargically spiked. I was quite surprised to see Ethan and Wyatt take 18, as I figured that was the likeliest skip, but only Will skipped 18. While I saw Ethan and Wyatt at the flag at 18, I had nothing left to chase them down, and ran the rest of the course in clean, slow solitude. I finished 5 minutes behind Will and 3 behind Ethan and Wyatt. This is my best finish, but my race was so frustratingly bad - with poor execution, a huge mistake, and physical inadequacy.
- Though the heat was painful, I don't currently have the speed to race a long course. I fade in the last third of the race; I think long tempo-ish runs and race efforts are suited. As my crew coach said, it doesn't hurt less, you just get faster.
- I botched 10 because I let my attention wander too much. You can't hope to keep laser-like focus for two hours, but knowing when to check back in is critical. I don't do enough orienteering practice; I don't take enough controls to be solid enough in my technique for a clean race.
- Ethan is in way better shape than I am now, and it showed - especially near the end of the race. I'm just not fast enough to compete effectively; I was not ready for a head-to-head battle for the last few kms.
- In long races, I need to start more conservatively. I love the idea of pulling away and holding a commanding lead rather than racing tactically, but trying to lead immediately leads to burnout. Skipping 1 was correct (7 minute gain), but I must manage my stamina and effort better.
- Thanks to JJ and company for putting on a great event!