Orienteering15:00  *** 2.0 km (7:30 / km) 4c shoes: 201110 Inov-8 Oroc 280
After breakfast, packing, and dressing, I deposited my belongings at the PEEC and set off on a quick jaunt around the 1:15 model map. It was helpful to adjust to the scale, and I visited a handful of controls. I wonder if in hindsight, given my current fitness, it would have been wiser to eschew map calibration in favor of conserving my stamina. Clearly, the correct decision was to visit the model map either on Thursday or Friday.
Orienteering2:09:22*** 13.1 km (9:53 / km) +600m8:02 / km 26c shoes: 201110 Inov-8 Oroc 280
NAOC Long distance race. Despite a fantastic course and magnificent albeit steep terrain, my performance was very disappointing. The splits tell a coherent story: I was about 30% back throughout the course and on most legs. My orienteering, while not terrible, was unremarkable - I lost perhaps two minutes on the two long legs relative to what I was capable, but even they weren't far outliers from my trend. Physically, I was unable to race and to run fast relative to the field, and the climb was devastating. Controls like 19, which were navigationally easy but included long climbs, depleted any lingering energy reserves.
I began the course with two costly mistakes at 1 and 3. On the first, I tried to navigate using the marshes, but drifted on my compass through the vegetation and skirted the rock wall to the right. I ended up overshooting and doubling back. I refocused and had a good run to 2, but missed control three to the right. On the way to three, I slid down a spur and gashed my right hand on a sharp cliff, but the cut didn't seem serious. As I ran up the reentrant into 3, Brendan came in from my left and punched just ahead of me. I noticed him drifting right on 4, but I stuck to my plan to attack from the saddle and reached the control first. I had a decent string of controls apart from a 30s error drifting left at control 9 before the long leg at 10.
After some consideration of the leftward trail route, I decided to go nearly straight to 10. The route wasn't bad, but I think the trail would have saved me about a minute. I was pleased with my execution at 11, though it was sluggish. I just managed to spot it below me as I marched down the spur; visibility wasn't great. On the long leg to 13: again, after considering the left trail route, I elected to go straight. My execution was acceptable - I stayed in contact and labored my way over the hills and spurs; I saw Ali traveling perpendicular to my route. Unfortunately, I decided to attack 13 from the right along the edge of the marsh, which was very slow. As I was drinking, Brendan came into the control from the left. I was spurred on, and was very focused for the next four controls. I hesitated briefly deciding which was to go around the cliff to 16 and had to fight through a wall of green to get to 17, which was visible from 30-40m on a hill. Control 18 to the end were a death march; I made many little mistakes, like going over small hills when it was unnecessary. My big error was going left at 21 rather than taking the trail to the right. Brendan passed me on this leg, and at the control, I saw Greg, who started three minutes before me.
I spent the rest of the course chasing Greg down. We were both tired, so it was a pitiful sight.
Running warm up/down 10:00  2.0 km (5:00 / km) shoes: 201110 Inov-8 Oroc 280
Running15:00  3.0 km (5:00 / km) shoes: 201110 Inov-8 Oroc 280
Warmup before the Middle Distance race. I didn't leave quite enough time to prepare to my satisfaction; I arrived at the about ten minutes before the first call up. While running along the trail to warm up and reading the map, I tried to get into a race mindset.
Orienteering41:37  *** 4.9 km (8:30 / km) +165m7:16 / km 20c shoes: 201110 Inov-8 Oroc 280
NAOCs Middle Distance race at Adam's Creek in Dingham's Ferry, PA.
In summary, my race was unremarkable. I knew the terrain was technical - in particular, the vegetation was intricate. I haven't run much recently on maps with complex vegetation, or with maps with vegetation sufficiently well mapped to really pay attention to it, so that was a novelty. I would say that I struggled to race, but it's hard to define that: while I was concentrating and running, I lacked the urgency, imperative, and impervious focus that characterizes "race mode." Perhaps I'm indulging meaningless psychological speculation, but it seemed a problem to me.
Apart from not being fully engaged, I made a few costly bobbles - notably on 3, 4, 7, 11, and 12.
Running40:00  7.53 km (5:19 / km) shoes: 201108 Asics GT-2150
Ghettotrack. Ran home while listening to Unbroken, a best selling account of a track star's survival in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in World War II. It is promising so far, about 12% through the book. The time is an estimate as I forgot my watch, but my pace was very relaxed and comfortable.
Plan for this week:
While I'm not at a peak in my training, I want to have the best races I can produce at NAOC. My goal is to finish in the top 30 in all three races, with a reach goal of top 20. I can benchmark my performance against the usual suspects - Ken, the Zhyk, Giacomo, Eddie. I plan to have an easy M-W, with 5 mile runs each day; I will rest on Thursday. I shouldn't have any trouble getting enough running in at the end of October to exceed 100 miles for the month. The most important race to me is the long; I need to manage my endurance and my technical focus. While I can't directly control the results relative to the field, I want three solid races - with no mistakes bigger than two minutes.
Running1:00:26  11.84 km (5:06 / km) shoes: 201108 Asics GT-2150
Evening toodle around Cambridge, centered around a trip down my trusty, wind-sheltered Franklin St. Ghettotrack. I ran in silence and contemplated my life. Every step is a victory.
Orienteering54:54  5.4 km (10:10 / km) spiked:6/10c shoes: 201110 Inov-8 Oroc 280
Green course at Boxford State Forest. I arrived at the meet site quite late, and while I intended to help out with control pickup, I was still frantic in my effort to arrive, prep, and start my course. The start box had already been picked up, so I started from the registration tent rather than the 300m distant start.
I had decided to schedule Boxford after Tim Parson visited the site and concluded the terrain was sufficiently interesting. It was understood that the map was ancient and in need of revision, but the contours were adequate - as adequate as they had been when the map was first created, which is to say not very. Expanding the set of maps NEOC uses for local meets has been a goal of mine, and Mika Latva-Kokko agreed to run the meet. His meet at Harold Parker last November was very successful. With Turtle Pond, this is the second old map to be resurrected this fall. Jim Crawford and Peter Gagarin introduced entirely new maps in the spring at Mt. Misery and Earl's Trails, so it's been a reasonably novel year.
Out of the start, I struggled to make sense of the trails. I actually stopped before the start to check out a piece of asphalt before moseying on down the trail. I took what looked to me to be the best route - a trail run left of the line, a push across a set of marshes, and an attack from a second trail. My attack was very poor, and I lost contact quickly. I was pushing too fast and made very little sense of the contours. I bailed fairly quickly, but found relocating challenging; I estimate I lost about eight minutes meandering in the woods. My attack to control 2 was similarly bad for a loss of about two minutes - I attacked from the end of the marsh, but struggled to interpret the contours. Controls 3-8 were improved apart from a small bobble at 7, but I found the area around 9 tricky and lost around 30 seconds poking around before spotting the control. I attacked prematurely to 10 and found myself well south of the control before turning north and hitting the stone wall. I made a 90 second error on the finish leg running down the wrong trail because I lost focus.
Overall, today was not a good day. Certainly some of that is the sketchiness of the map, but the contours aren't so convoluted to justify these big mistakes. Lessons:
1. Prepare for your race. A good warm up and a calm, focused mindset are critical.
2. Have a solid first control. Especially in unfamiliar terrain, it is far better to slow down and be very accurate than to run faster than I can process. Better to lose a minute or two to speed than ten to errors. You can only orienteer on the edge of control if you have first established where that boundary lies.
3. Always have a plan. Both controls 1 and 2 were in part due to poor execution near the circle. Once I had connected with the second trail, the attack to control 1 should have been trivial.
Orienteering1:00:00  *** 6.0 km (10:00 / km) 12c shoes: 201110 Inov-8 Oroc 280
Control pickup. I didn't actually know what courses were being picked up. I had seen a cadre of kids marching out boldly picking up nearby controls, so I reran to Green #1 (in about 8:45, rather than the 18 minutes on my course run), then wandered around on the far end of the map checking control sites. I ran into Dean at the 7th control I checked - green #5 - and received instructions to pick up Green 6-10. Running with less urgency gave me more of an opportunity to explore the map, though I made a remarkably foolish error approaching control 8, which I had executed acceptably during the race. The map certainly was lacking in places, but my deviation from straight while using my compass is unacceptable and only loosely related.