24 May 2008

From fiasco to comeback

Week 1, Training
After Tiomila I had a tough training week
- started with a training camp and ended with a 3-day competition. All of this worked well for my so far great shape. We even had the same testrun that we had in winter, but that came too soon after Tiomila and is not worth looking into. One of the purposes of the camp was to getting more used to the 1:15 000 map scale, which I definitely needed. Everything went even better than I expected. As the weekends competition had a 1:10 000 scaled map on the first day, I was confused a lot - everything came so fast and I made a lot of small- and one bigger mistake. Still, I had the best time. What's up with that? But the second and the third day had 1:15 000 maps and I was like an expert with those. But due to the tough trainings in the beginning of the week, all of these competition days could physically be described as "heavy".

Week 2, Baltic Championships - the fiasco
I knew my running shape was good, but these races proved my shape to be even better. Unusually, the relay was held before the long distance. In the relay, the 18 and 20 classes were united and I was running in the first team. I wanted to run the 2nd leg, which I luckily got. The race was technically easy, but physically very hard, due to a lot of climbing, which is unusual in the Baltics. I didn't do any big mistakes and I even had the best time! My performance was good enough to raise our team from fourth to first, but unfortunately our anchor made a terrible run and we finished second afterall, just a tenth of a second ahead of Estonia's 2nd team.
Relay map and results.

The long distance proved to be promising, but this is where my fiasco begins. I started well, but already to the second control I had some navigation problems, but managed. As for the third control, a real adventure begins. Misread the map and wound up wandering in the wrong place. Though most of the map matched with the place I was really at. Finally found myself on the small path and then found the control. I knew that the mistake was big (about 5 minutes), but I also knew that everybody would make mistakes on this kind of terrain and I continued my race as I would before. When looking at the graph (see below), it can clearly be seen that I was "in the zone" and making a great run. But when reaching the end part, I again had some map problems and things didn't go very smoothly. When punching the 17th control, I knew the end was near, but I tried to be focused til the end and not to make any mistakes. I was carefully reading the map, when suddenly I found myself up on the plateau. I was confused. I located myself on the map, and went for the control. No flag found. For six minutes I tried to get to the control from any possible angle, and I still couldn't reach it. Finally when I found myself on a nearby spur, I realized my mistake and went to my control. Now I can say that this was probably the worst race for me this year, not Tiomila.
Long distance map, graph and results.

Week 3, Estonian Championships in middle distance and men's relay - the comeback
I had completely disremembered my mistakes from the previous week and did not let myself to be disturbed by any of the negative memories. This year 18 class had the same course as the 20, so I could compare myself with the juniors as well. The terrain was fast and not that technical, but called for caution in some parts. I took the first control ste
adily, to get the hang of it and then added speed. Only minor mistakes. I won the 18 class overwhelmingly, and beat the 20 class winner time by 1 minute and 11 seconds!
Middle distance map and results.
This year we had the same team as last year, but in a different order due to Markus Puusepp's injury. I was put in the first leg, Markus to the second and Timo (my brother) to the last. My first thought was that it was going to be hard to compete against our elite men, but I did not fear them that much. When the start sounded, I took off like a bullet because there was a ditch in the start corridor and I didn't want to stay fighting w
ith anybody. To my surprise, nobody passed me when running to the first control and that added confidence. I maintained the speed and went on. A minor misunderstanding in the second control, but nothing much. When reaching the open area, I looked behind and saw only one rival behind me. It was Jürgen Einpaul, one of the strongest runners in our men's national team, but he has not been in very good shape this year. He kept getting closer and closer all the way to the 8th control, but he never passed me. There we had forking and I added speed. After that I was ahead of him with a half a minute. By the time I got to the finish, that gap had expanded into 1 minute and 39 seconds! A great run for me! Markus increased the lead to about 3 minutes and Timo just had to make a flawless race. But he made about a 17-minute mistake with the second control and that was that. We finished 6th, 10 minutes behind the winner.
Relay map and results.

Last weekend really boost my confidence. Next week I hope to make a good run at a 4km cross-country running competiton. We'll see what happens!