The good news is that I'm down to just one blister that's a problem. The bad news is that
it's in a really hard spot to bandage (right at the joint of the big toe), so it's a real
problem. I ran on it for about half an hour this evening and it wasn't too bad. Hopefully it
will be healed up in time for nationals, but it's going to be close.
8/3/07 Slow start
This is pure speculation on my part and could be way off base. I've noticed that I take a
lot longer to warm up than I used to. That might be because I'm getting older, but I don't
think so. I think it's a result of the fact that my diet is much lower in carbs than it was
during my prime.
This morning was typical. I ate a light breakfast and started riding into work. For the first
10 minutes, just turning the 60 inch gear was generating some complaints. Then it started
rolling easily and by 20 minutes I was on top of the 89 (53x16 for you young-uns that
don't do gears in inches). OK, that's not exactly a big gear, but it constitutes decent
tempo. I don't think that my fitness has fallen off any further than I'd expect for my age,
but it sure takes a lot longer to get the motor started.
8/4/07 August is out
My surgery has been rescheduled for August 16. Therefore, I won't be able to run the
Third Thursday meet for August. We'll just move it to September.
8/5/07 44 at 44
Today's my birthday and just by coincidence my morning resting pulse was the same as
my age. It's only recently that I've seen my resting pulse less than or equal to my
I've never been one to have a super low pulse. I had a few days in my late 20's where it
was below 40; the lowest I ever recorded was 37. Generally it's been in the low to mid
40's my whole adult life. From what I understand, the absolute values for resting and
maximum pulse aren't that important. Some people just have higher rates than others.
What does matter is the relative value. If your resting pulse is elevated, it's a good sign
that you should go easy that day.
8/6/07 Get back on it
Yaya got her first bicycle for her birthday yesterday. I was going to wait another year so
she wouldn't need training wheels, but she's too big for her tricycle. Of course, even with
training wheels you can wreck if you're not looking where you're going. Which is
exactly what she did just 50 feet into her first ride.
She landed in some grass so she wasn't hurt. She got right back on and kept riding. I took
that as a very good sign.
I haven't read much about it lately, so maybe the technique has fallen out of favor. It used
to be that whenever you were trying to peak for a long race (long in the "normal" sense,
like 2-4 hours; not 24), you did a carb depletion cycle. The theory is that if you drain all
your carbs and then eat a bunch, your body overcompensates and you wind up with more
carbs stored for the race.
As I said, this theory may have been discredited, but I used the technique a lot when I
was cycling and still do it when I have a 2-3 hour race that I care about. Long course
orienteering champs probably won't take more than 2 hours, but just in case it does, I
went ahead and did a depletion ride today. As it was also very hot, I was careful to drink
a lot and not push very hard.
I think it worked well. I'm not particularly tired and I'm certainly not dehydrated. The
fun part is the next three days when I get to eat a lot.
8/8/07 Ready or not
I can't honestly say I feel prepared for the championship races this weekend. I've not
done any navigating in the woods lately and my physical training has been all base. Still,
I'm pretty optimistic. I'm relatively injury free (the blisters are still present, but not
impacting performance). My weight is a few pounds lighter than target, so I can let it
come up in the next few days. I always feel better when I'm coming up to target weight
rather than fighting to stay there.
I've never orienteered in Colorado, but the open terrain should favor my style. The picture at left is
from Wyoming, but my understanding is that the terrain is similar: fast running with clumps of vegetation
that force speed changes. Transitioning between running through fields and navigating in the woods seems
to be something I do better than most. Probably a result of all the park orienteering I do.
At any rate, there's nothing I can do to improve matters now, so I
might as well think positive about it.
8/10/07 Blowin' it
Today was US Short Course Orienteering Champs (winning time around 30 minutes -
what the rest of the world calls "Middle" distance, but the US is still clinging to the old
terms, kind of like our anti-metric stance). Anyway, I ran M40+ figuring the terrain was
good for me so I might actually win the thing. After a shaky first leg, I ran pretty well to
get into the lead. Then I made a big parallel error getting on the wrong spur on the way to
the penultimate control. Knowing that the race was in the balance, I took a gamble and
guessed which way to correct without truly relocating. I guessed wrong and any chance
of winning evaporated.
I suppose I should be bummed about that, but I'm really not. I was running aggressively,
made a mistake, took a chance, and got burned. If I had spent more time sorting things
out, I might have salvaged a medal, but I really wanted to win. Once I realized my bid
had failed, I turned off the gas to save my legs for the Long Course event tomorrow
(winning time should be closer to 2 hours).
8/11/07 Never, never, never, give up
There's an apocryphal story that the above line was the entirety of a commencement
address once given by Winston Churchill. It is good advice in a long course
I had a lead of a couple minutes with only 3K to go today at the US Long Course
Orienteering Champs (40+ class). I boomed a control badly and Ted Good got ahead of
me by about two minutes. I knew this because long course is a mass start event, so I saw
him leaving the control area. It seemed hopeless that I'd make that up in such a short
distance, but I was able to keep my head in the game.
The last bit of the course wasn't particularly technical, so there was no reason to expect
him to make a mistake. Still, I ran as hard as I could figuring anything can happen. What
happened was that Ted started to cramp up and I caught him a bit over a kilometer from
the finish. After the event he told me he made no attempt to stay with me because he
knew if he hit the gas he'd seize up entirely.
So, a longtime goal has finally been achieved: I've won a National Championship. Age
graded and on one of the less popular distances, but a National Championship all the
same. Expect a suitably gloating meet report with maps in the next few days.
8/12/07 Where to eat in Woodland Park
One of the things I really like about traveling to meets is eating at new places. I don't
mind the food at chain restaurants, but I much prefer local fare. I've enjoyed the weekend
at Woodland Park enough that I'd recommend it for someone looking for a vacation at
nosebleed altitude without nosebleed prices. If you do go, here's where I ate and what I
though of it.
Java... The Hut. I thought the name was clever enough that I would give them
the first piece of my business. Turns out they serve some pretty excellent coffee. They
don't have as many flavors, but I'd put the quality on a par with Kaldi's in St. Louis (and
if you don't think that's high praise, you need to get yourself to Kaldi's). I also got a
roasted veggie burrito which was fine.
Joanie's Bakery and Deli. I don't have anything to compare it to because
somehow I've managed to go through 44 years without ever having a kolache before.
This one had cherry and cream cheese filling. It was yum. They also have free wifi.
The Donut Mill. Skip it. Nothing special here.
Primo's Chicago Pizzaria and Broasted Chicken. Well, that's not a combo you
see every day. What the hell is "broasting", anyway? I knew I'd have to check this place
out. Adding to the surreal was the fact that they had an Elvis impersonator performing.
The salad bar was somewhat limited, but good. The pizza was average, but that might not
be fair. The group I was with wanted thin crust, and I assume from the name that the
thicker stuff is their specialty. I also got a piece of the broasted chicken, which was OK,
but not nearly as special as they seemed to think it was. All in all a decent meal for not
too much and only slightly spoiled by the fact that the service was pretty bad.
Grandma's Kitchen. Conventional wisdom is to avoid places with names that
reference maternal ancestors, but this one had a parking lot full of pickup trucks which is
usually a good sign. Their coffee was almost as good as the Hut's and the Garden of the
Gods omelet (veggie) was outstanding. Service was excellent.
Buck's Mountain Saloon and Grill. Pretty standard fare, but you could do a lot
worse than a small salad, cheeseburger, fries, and 2 pints of beer for $8.55.
Fiesta Mexicana. Having never been to Mexico, I have no idea if their claim of
"authentic Mexican food" is valid. It was, however, cooked and served by authentic
Mexicans and there were authentic Mexicans eating there. It tasted just fine to me.
Hungry Bear Restaurant. It was probably a dumb idea to have breakfast here
when I wasn't really all that hungry. The menu was full of things like 4-egg omelets,
steak and egg combos, and the like. I spotted a veggie sandwich for $5.95 that included
coffee and figured that would probably be pretty light. Wrong. It was two big slices of
sourdough toast jammed full of roasted veggies and cheese. I had to eat it with a knife
and fork because it was too big to pick up. Fortunately, it was also pretty good.
Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the coffee.
Definitely gained some weight on the trip, but it was long-O champs so eating hearty was
the order of the day.
8/13/07 Still a girl
Lest anybody be concerned that I'm making Yaya too much of a tomboy, here's her
reaction to the rather girlie birthday present she just got in the mail from her cousins.
I'm not one to either foster or discourage gender roles. If she wants to come camping with me, great.
If she'd rather play with a pink castle, I'm down with that, too. Truth is, I'd like her
to try just about everything (within reason) and make up her own mind. Of course, being that
open-minded as a parent is a lot easier said than done.
8/16/07 Surgery successful
I had my surgery today to correct my hernia and also remove my gall bladder. Kind of a
two for one deal. It was the first time I've had any surgery (unless you count getting
36 stitches to reattach my eyelid after a crash surgery).
I'm not in much pain right now although I do have a lot of
inflammation in the abdomen. I'll be out of running for about 2 weeks. I can ride sooner
if I feel up to it.
8/17/07 Safer is better
Still haven't found time to write a full race report, but in the mean time I'll comment on
two legs that jump out as particularly instructive from last weekend. The first (shown
right) is the one that lost the Short Course Champs for me. The route I intended is shown
with the purple line. It's not a terrible route, but it's risky. The attackpoint (shown with an
X) is ambiguous. If you hit one of the parallel features, you may lose contact completely.
That's what happened to me. I ended up on the spur to the right (red line).
I knew this leg was the type where one might make that sort of mistake and looked for a
safer route, but didn't see one. Post-race analysis yielded the blue route. This route is
slightly longer and adds a contour line of climb, but it is nearly bulletproof. You could
run it as fast as you want because even if you missed the optimal turnoff, you'd get
caught by the end of the spur and only lose 10-15 seconds. I sure wish I'd seen it during
This leg is a happier story. This is the leg that won the Long Championships (or at least
got me back in the game after the boom at 13). Very few people went all the way up to
the trail. Yes, it's longer and it adds climb, but again, you can run this all out and still be
safe. The trail bend dumps you right into the reentrant before the spur you want.
You can attack directly from there. When looking at splits after the race, it didn't
surprise me that I had fast time for this leg
- I thought it was a good route and I ran it hard. I was surprised to find that I had taken
nearly a full minute out of everybody else. The difference between running with
conviction and navigating tentatively is pretty significant. The lesson is clear enough: the
best route is almost always the fastest one that you can execute with confidence.
If you're nervous about it, try to find something safer.
8/20/07 Long Course race report
... is here.
8/21/07 The "real" nationals
I compete in enough sports that just mentioning "nationals" leaves the actual race in
doubt. That's made worse by the fact that Orienteering has six different national
championships. The "real" orienteering national championship is a 2-day combined time
affair. Each day is roughly 75 minutes for the elite class. This year it will be held at
Prince William Forest near Washington DC.
I was very torn between that meet and USARA Nationals, which will be held right here
in Missouri. While I don't have a competitive open team this year, I think I could have
put together a decent over-40 squad. Regardless, I decided to go with orienteering nats
since that's what I've been focusing on this year. It's been a while since I've entered the
elite division at a national championship meet in orienteering. I suppose a little humbling
is in order after the good results this summer.
8/22/07 Vetting Berryman
Jason Elsenraat asked if I'd like to check the course for the
this year. Since entering the race is out (I'm not supposed to lift more than 20 pounds until October), that
sounds like something I'd like to do. I'm glad to see Jason requesting this and wish more AR directors would take
When I used to work as an engineer, I couldn't design anything (or make changes to a design) without a
formal review process. It just makes sense to have a second set of eyes on something that, if wrong, can
mess people up. In the medical profession, getting a second opinion is standard practice and no competent
physician would ever discourage it, no matter how sure they were of their diagnosis. Yet, for some reason,
many AR directors think that asking for a vetter is akin to admitting that they can't set a course properly.
Of course, the reality is just the opposite. Part of proper course design is getting it reviewed by an
independent vetter. I hope many of the entrants in this year's race will tell Jason they appreciate him taking
this step. The only thing that will get more races properly reviewed is pressure from the racers themselves.
One of my skills targets for this year is Orienteering Sprints. I think I've made some
progress in this area, but there's certainly a ways to go. Between the Third Thursday
series and SLOC's summer meets we've had enough local sprints that I've managed a
decent spot in the
North American Sprint Series. If I was going to finals (which I'm not as I won't be
fully recovered from surgery), I'd have a decent shot at winning M40 and a top 10
That's a little misleading, though. I'd be just as likely to tank one of the sprints and end
up a lot further down the list. While I've had some really good runs in sprints this year,
I've also had some disasters. I've mispunched twice and badly outrun my navigation on
two other occasions.
When sprints first started being contested at the elite level, many competitors went with
"all or nothing" strategies, figuring that in a race that short, somebody would get lucky
and win even though they were outrunning their navigation. That hasn't turned out to be
the case and the world's best sprinters are now the folks that are just very good at reading
the map while running at speeds comparable to 5K cross country races.
I've been thinking a bit about training for sprints and decided that this is an area where
it's really helpful to have a training partner. If you've seen the course beforehand, even
briefly, it's much easier to run accurately at full speed. If you've designed the course
yourself, it's that much more so. I think the best way to train sprints is to go to a suitable
venue with a partner, each of you designs a couple courses, and then you trade maps
running each other's courses. I think I'll try to organize some group training sessions to
work on this.
8/27/07 Summer's gone?
Yes, of course I know there are still a few weeks left in what is technically defined as
"summer", but starting the season on the solstice always seemed a bit retarded to me.
Like most Americans, I think of summer as being the time between Memorial Day and
I wouldn't say that summer seemed to go by more quickly than usual this year, but it
certainly did have a lot less "stuff" in it. No buildup period. No bike races, running races,
or triathlons. Only one Adventure Race, and a short one at that. Of course, the Colorado
trip was a high point but, damn, where did the summer go?
Frankly, it went to my family. I've been spending a lot more time with Kate and Yaya.
Our Florida trip was the first real vacation we've had in several years. We've been doing
a lot more together on weekends and evenings.
I can't say that I'm at all displeased with that. Aside from the obvious benefit of a happier
home life, my fitness hasn't suffered any. Sure, I've entered fewer races, but the ones I
have entered have gone as well as I could have hoped. Having a break from weekly
competition has just made me more eager to get back in the woods this fall.
There's a part of me that still wants to be competitive in a bunch of different sports.
There's a bigger part of me that's realizing that jettisoning all the stuff I was just OK at
and focusing on a couple things has made life a lot simpler without compromising my
8/28/07 Fun and games at St. Francois
I've taken over course setting duties for the
SLOC meet at St. Francois in exchange for being able to run the 3-hour at Hawn.
David Welsh will be setting courses for Hawn. St. Francois presents some unique course
setting problems. First and foremost is keeping climb under control without setting a
boring course that just follows the valleys. One way to do this is to use just the
southern portion of the park (map below). This area is flatter
and has some very rich contour detail.
The problem is that the southern part is also really small. If you're going to use just that
section, you need a 2-loop course. Once you've committed to that, all sorts of options
present themselves. I've decided to bust out a bunch of tricks that we haven't done at
SLOC meets for a while.
I haven't decided yet whether the overall format will be Farsta or Prolog and Chase.
Either way, the first loop will include some Micro-O. The idea is that people would turn
in their cards at the end of the first loop and the cards would be scored while they ran the
second lap. Then we could do actual penalty loops for the micro-O at the end of the
second loop, which is the preferred format to just assessing a penalty. That also preserves
the "first across the line wins" aspect which is the draw of mass start events to begin
I'll post updates here and on SLOC's site as I get more stuff figured out.
It's been a while since I've written anything about diet, so I've decided to do a series of
posts on carbohydrate replenishment. I should note at the outset that I do not consider
myself an expert on either nutrition or kinesiology. The best I can say for my practices is
that they are largely supported by the research I've read and that I've won a fair number
of long races employing them. In no way am I trying to vindicate my approach, which is
admittedly off the mainstream. Frankly, I couldn't care less if others approve of my
methods. But, for those who are interested, I will present the rationale for why I do what I
To get started, let's look at some facts which I will take as axiomatic because they are not
disputed in current research:
To maintain an optimal weight, one must consume the same number of calories as
one burns. I emphasize "optimal" because it is quite possible to maintain a slightly
higher weight while eating a good deal more than one burns. There's only so much food
your body can process in a day. If you eat more than that and burn what you actually
digest, your weight will stabilize. That's why pro cyclists can get away with eating 7,000
Kc (Kilocalories - what is commonly referred to as a "calorie") a day while burning
"only" 5,000". Problem is, just because you're not using the extra food doesn't make it
go through you any quicker. While it's inside you, you need to haul it up every hill you
encounter. If you're training over 20 hours a week and eating everything in site, you'll
look really thin and have low body fat, but you'll probably be about 5 pounds heavier
than you need to be.
Protein is not a useful source of energy during exercise. This may come as a surprise to
those who get their nutritional advice from the wrappers of energy bars. Your body can
and does burn protein for mundane tasks like heating the room you're in, but protein does
not power the skeletal muscles. There is no (as in zero) scientific support for the assertion
that eating a lot of protein enhances aerobic performance.
Fat and carbohydrates are both used as fuel during all forms of exercise. World class sprinters
can burn upwards of 45Kc/min of carbs (obviously an anearobic effort). World class endurance
athletes can burn fat at 15-18Kc/min, which is better than VO2Max for most of the population,
but all fat burning is necessarily aerobic as there is no mechanism to metabolise fat
without oxygen. Well-trained amateurs are below both of those numbers with glycogen output
typically in the mid 30's and fat burning in the low teens. A six-minute mile on flat roads
requires roughly 20 Kc/min for a 75Kg man (e.g., me).
Onset of exhaustion corresponds to depletion of liver glycogen. And that's the rub. When
your liver runs low on glycogen, you're screwed, period. For a variety of reasons (not all
of which are understood), your body can't keep working hard without liver glycogen
even if the pace is slow enough for fat burning to cover it. Note that it's
just liver glycogen, not the levels in the muscles or blood, which matters.
The ratio of carbohydrate to fat used is dependent on many factors including intensity,
duration, current glycogen levels, and previous conditioning. Like just about
every biological system, your body adapts metabolism to the circumstances it's handed. You can teach
yourself to burn more fat.
In the next few installments, I'll use the above facts to construct the support for my own