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Blog Archives

5/1/06 Vetting

Today, I spent several hours vetting the courses at Hawn for Team Trials. It's a slow and painstaking process. My technique is to first run into the control like it's a meet to get a feel for how well the map represents the approach. Then I stop at the control (which is just a piece of surveyors tape at this point) and check that it's in the right spot in relation to the feature. Finally, I go back to the edge of the circle and make sure that all the likely attack points are properly represented. It took about two and a half hours to check 25 controls (covering about 7K).

This careful checking is one of the things that separate true orienteering from its endurance cousins (Rogaining, Adventure Racing, etc.). It's also why the world's elite can blast through a course at under five minutes per kilometer. Good maps and perfect placement make some really impressive runs possible.

5/2/06 Tuesday Night Stamina is back

Today I did the workout that served me so well last year. I rode to the Tuesday night bike races, did the race, and then rode home at tempo. I don't know that the physiological benefits are that much greater than any other tough workout, but I'm sure the psychological benefits are. Forcing yourself to push after you've already finished a competition requires fortitude. That pays off in long races.

5/3/06 Too much?

Those who follow my training log will have noticed a rather sharp uptick in training time. I've been averaging around 15 hours a week for April, but have put in closer to 25 this last week. Some of this is fieldwork for Team Trials, which doesn't really affect recovery, but a lot of it is real training.

I'm pretty sure that the increase is manageable. At the very least, it's temporary. I expect to be back in the mid-teens after this week. Big increases in training can lead to injuries or burnout. So far, none of either, but it's something to be mindful of.

5/5/06 What me, PC?

So, I browse over to Planet Adventure's forum to see if there are any post-race threads of interest and find this posted in response to our race report:

Re: Splits
Posted by: Guest (IP Logged)
Date: April 14, 2006 12:02PM

By the time we get back to the main TA, Vicki is getting a bit fried. She apologizes, but really, who could have expected anything else when she's riding with three male bike racers?

A very sexist comment if you ask me.

In case you didn't read it, the first paragraph is from my race report.

Now, I don't generally respond to people who don't even have the courage to identify themselves. There obviously isn't much conviction behind an anonymous statement. But, what the hell is that? Have we become so sensitive that observing the fact that men who race bikes ride faster than women who don't is now deemed offensive? Would it have been better to say, "Vicki was toast" with no explanation? Or, perhaps the reader would have preferred I write, "one of our teammates was getting velocity challenged."

I'm just having fun, here. I couldn't care less what "Guest" thinks of me or my race report. Those who have read more than one of my reports know that I'm not shy about pointing out when I slow things down. I don't spare my teammates either. I don't do this to point out flaws, quite the opposite. It's when somebody needs help that you find out what your team is really made of. To leave that out of a report misses the biggest part of adventure racing.

It's really important to not get hung up on things like gender roles and stereotypes when trying to get through a course. If the woman is slowing the team down, do something about it. If she feels humiliated because she's being towed, kick her off the team and find someone else not so full of themselves. This is about limiting weakness and sometimes you have to swallow your pride. It's not always the woman, either. Doug received a tow from Amy in last year's Goomna and it saved second place for us. At 2004 Nationals I had to tell Yvonne and David to get off the gas when we were riding on roads � and that's supposed to be my strongest discipline!

In the end, this sport is a lot more fun when you can laugh at yourself afterwards. Being able to do that during the race is a rare and valuable talent. Vicki's got it and that's why we love having her on the team. Next time, we just need to remember to bring a tow for the bikes.

5/6/06 Negative racing

Today's bike race in Marine, IL (strange name for a town several hundred miles from the nearest significant body of water) was a bit frustrating. Two of the bigger teams were employing a lot of negative tactics. Negative tactics don't try to make your position better, they attempt to make others' worse.

Basically, they would only let a break go if it contained their riders and nobody else. Since they were the two biggest teams in the race, it was difficult to put together coalitions to chase. When we would get a chase going, they'd get in the line and mess up our rotation.

There's nothing wrong with racing like this, but most good riders consider it amateurish. Of course you never want to chase down your own teammates, but the usual thing to do is to simply sit on while other teams chase. You still get the advantage that they're working while your not, but everybody gets to participate. Letting the race unfold naturally is more fun for everybody. It's not like anybody's house payment is on the line here. Interestingly, the pro riders (who really are riding for their supper) hardly ever engage in this type of negative riding. They know it annoys the other riders and you might need their help to make something work another day.

It's all part of the game and though I don't like it, I'm not really complaining. It certainly was a good workout if nothing else. I just hope as the season progresses I find myself in some races that are a lot more aggressive.

5/7/06 Small world

I drove up to Chicago to borrow CAOC's electronic punching equipment for Team Trials. On the way back I ran into Team Infiniterra at a sub shop. They were traveling home from the Mighty Mo Expedition. They seemed to feel it was a good race. I'm glad to hear that, because having an expedition race in Missouri is certainly a nice thing.

I think we'll try to field an entry if they have it again next year.

5/8/06 Big week

Seven races and 36 hours of training in 10 days is a pretty big week even for me. I don't think I've had that much duration and intensity since I stepped down from cycling in 1993. All went pretty well. No great results, but good efforts in most of the events. More importantly, the fieldwork for Team Trials is now done.

Being back at work today was a bit mundane by comparison; especially since they don't have much for me to do right now. I won't get started on my new project until Wednesday. I wish they'd told me that, because I would have happily taken another day or two. This was the first week I've had off since the Italy trip over a year ago.

5/9/06 Chicago sprints

I was up in Chicago for the sprint meet on Sunday. My primary purpose was to learn how to use the electronic punching equipment that we're going to use for Team Trials. As long as I was there, I ran the sprints as well.

Sprint 1, Sprint 2

My head was definitely not ready for the first sprint. I was still thinking about running the epunch equipment. I forgot to tape my laces, so my shoe came untied on the way to the first control. After fixing that, I started off again in the wrong direction and took a long time to relocate. I then made a 180 error leaving the first control and misread the contours into control 3. I had given away about 10 minutes due to errors in a little over a kilometer of racing!

I actually got myself back together pretty well, and had fast time for the second half of the course. The second one went better. Although I didn't win any legs, I was more consistent and finished fourth in a pretty good field (Chicago gets much stronger competition at local meets than St. Louis).

As you can see from the maps, the courses were more like short advanced courses rather than typical sprints. The legs were 300-500m long and most of the navigation was through fairly thick woods. Winning times on both courses were considerably longer than the 12-15 minute target for sprints.

While I didn't have much in the way of results, it was an excellent opportunity to work three of my season training objectives: speed in light green, sprints, and flat terrain. Once I got myself concentrating on what I was doing, I felt I handled all of those pretty well.

5/11/06 Meet notes

I spent my writing time today completing the meet notes for Team Trials. If you're interested, they're posted here.

5/14/06 Mother's Day

I'm generally not a big fan of Hallmark Holidays. Seems the world of 24-hour orienteering isn't either. In 2004, World Championships were held in Arizona on Mother's Day. This year, US Champs stepped on the date. Rather strange for a sport that prides itself on being family friendly. I went to worlds, but sat out US champs this year.

Today, I put aside all my concerns about Team Trials and just had a family day with Kate and Yaya. I made breakfast (that's normally my job anyway) and dinner. We had lunch at a winery after church. Yaya's insisted that we go for a short hike in the woods (I take that as a good sign). And, yes, I did contribute to the fluffy part of the GDP by getting Kate a couple cards.

Although the day was nominally for Kate, I think the break from all the other stuff I've been doing did me more good than her. Sometimes you have to live a normal day to realize just how far off from that your own life is. I don't think my life is bad, but it's certainly not the way most people spend their days.

5/16/06 The burn is good!

I probably won't be writing much this week as Team Trials has me pretty busy. However, here's an interesting article on lactic acid from the New York Times. You have to register to read it, but it's free.

Unfortunately, while interesting, the training implications aren't particularly profound. The article states that many coaches and personal trainers recommend training just below anearobic threshold. It's true that a lot of recreational trainers do suggest this, but serious coaches and athletes know that the best training is just above threshold (intervals). The other good way to improve capacity is endurance work. Again, I think most aerobic athletes already know that.

5/19/06 Sprint results from Team Trials

Results from today's sprint event at Team Trials are here.
Splits are here.
Map.

The weather was just a bit warm, but conditions were generally good. People seemed pretty happy with the course.

5/20/06 Go Boris!

Boris Granovski won the Blue course at Team Trials today, beating some pretty stiff competition from both the US and abroad. With his win in the sprint yesterday, he's pretty much a shoe in for a spot on the US Team. This isn't a big surprise; he's been training hard and running well. It's still quite outstanding.

I probably won't have results posted tonight since they are on a different and much older computer and we have no common input device. I'll post everything tomorrow.

In the mean time, here are the maps for Blue and Red.

5/21/06 Go Suzanne!

Suzanne Armstrong made the women's team with a strong run today. She was a fixture on the junior team when she lived here in St. Louis. This is her first time on the open team. I suppose it was particularly nice for her to do that in front of all those who remember her running though the woods as a kid.

Complete results for Team Trials are on SLOC's page. Also, the team selection scoring is on Peter Gagarin's site. Mikell Platt, the high scorer on the men's side declined the spot as he is meet director for the 1000 Day the week after World Championships. Thus the teams will be:

Men

  • Boris Granovskiy, Cambridge Sports Union
  • Eddie Bergeron, Susquehana Valley Orienteering
  • Eric Bone, Cascade Orienteering Club
  • James Scarborough, Bay Area Orienteering Club
  • Clem McGrath, Deleware Valley Orienteering Association
  • Alternates: John Fredrickson, Hudson Valley Orienteering, Greg Balter, Deleware Valley Orienteering Association, and Joe Brautigam, Western Connecticut Orienteering Club

Women

  • Pavlina Brautigam, Western Connecticut Orienteering Club
  • Samantha Saeger, North East Orienteering Club
  • Sandra Zurcher, Up North Orienteering
  • Suzanne Armstrong, Cambridge Sports Union
  • Hillary Saeger, North East Orienteering Club
  • Alternates: Viktoria Brautigam, Western Connecticut Orienteering Club, and Kris Beecroft, Quantico Orienteering Club.

5/22/06 Ticked off

Everybody was picking up ticks at Team Trials except me. I don't know why. Ticks haven't shown any particular aversion to me in the past. I spent around 20 hours in the woods of S-F and Hawn in the last few weeks and didn't get a single bite.

Strangely, the ticks really seemed to like the windshield of my car. Every time I'd drive my car around the field by the start in Hawn, I'd notice some ticks on the inside of the windshield. Maybe they were getting sucked in through the defroster vents. Fortunately, they are very easy to kill when they're on glass.

My preventative measures were the usual standards: insect repellent and tucking my pants legs inside my socks. Perhaps the fact that adventure-racing clothing fits a bit tighter (particularly the cycling-style top) than the traditional orienteering "pajama suit" helps too. Yet another reason not to wear that goofy outfit.

5/24/06 Switching to competition

Technically, I'm still in my base period. However, 4 of the next 5 weekends have races and they're all events that I care a bit about. I'll be training through them, but this much competition in the base period does present some challenges with respect to the training schedule.

The main difficulty is getting in the training volume without being dead for the hard efforts. This is made particularly difficult by the fact that the long race (Muscatatuck) comes first.

The most intense race (Conquer Castlewood) is the following weekend. The running section of CC is brutal. I'll be doing it with Vicki, so we've got a real shot at the win in mixed. That means no backing off. The combination of hard following long means I'll have no choice but to take an easy week next week.

Things get simpler from there. The next week is Missouri Cycling Champs and I never have much trouble training through bike races. Then there's a two week gap before Goomna. I should be able to get back to normal base volume and still do OK there.

Another wrinkle in the overall plan is that it looks like I will be able to do the 1000-day this year. That's 10 days of racing (one race a day, not straight through). The distances are relatively short (most of the races are around an hour) and the final weekend is US Orienteering Championships, so tapering looks like a good idea. I had originally planned on just a single peak in November. Now, I think I'll do a short buildup and peak for the 1000-day in August as well. It's been a while since I've done a build up specifically for orienteering. I'm going to have to think about the best way to handle that.

5/15/06 Mission: Defend

Tomorrow we'll be traveling to Indiana for the Mission: Adventure Race (I still usually refer to it by its original name, Mission on the Muscatatuck). We had a particularly good result last year when both our mixed and all-male teams came in together tied for first. I expect the field will be a bit stronger this year because it's a USARA qualifier.

We just have one team this year: Doug, Vicki, and myself. I think this roster has raced together enough now that we should be starting to think about results. Not that we haven't had any up until now - 3rd at Raid the Rock and 4th at Planet Adventure (with Brad) were decent performances - but we've been focused on just getting through the courses cleanly and working together as a team. It's time to start treating these things as races again.

5/28/06 Mission: Accomplished

Well, OK, we didn't win, but we certainly did race for the win. We fought back and forth with the Wellsport team all day long; taking the lead after each navigation section only to have them come back on the bikes. We finished a very close second, qualifying for Nationals and demolishing the rest of the field in the process.

More importantly, we were really racing the whole time. We made mistakes to be sure, but we stayed focused and pressed the whole way. It was pretty inspiring to see Vicki and Doug stepping their games up like that. I'd say this was as good a team as I've ever raced with.

I'll have a race report in the next day or so. There are certainly some stories to tell.

5/29/06 Spreading the load

I don't want to give away one of the better stories from the race report, but for now I'll just say that one of the lessons from this weekend is to have the tasks spread out among team members as much as possible. I blew it big time by taking on too much and making a huge mental error.

It wasn't what I would call an "ability" error. That is, it wasn't a mistake made because I lacked the skill to do it right, it was simply a lapse because I was thinking about too many things at once. I'll be more careful to parcel out more of the work in future races.

5/31/06 Mission race report

This was a fun one to write. I hope you enjoy reading it. The report can be found here.

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