22 December 2011

Transition, Adaptation and Compensation

Having the physical side in mind, my transition period went well. I could take it easy for quite a while and had a good rest from systematic high volume training. To this time span I could fit various out- and indoor activities that spiced things up a bit. Among the traditional training tools I was biking, swimming (more like bathing), climbing and paddling. I used a flat based sports kayak for the first time in my life, which is pretty difficult to handle for a beginner like me. Guess how long it took before I was upside down in the flowing cold autumn river water? The correct answer is 10 minut... oops, seconds. But with proper gear, this was fortunately not a problem and hours of wet action was guaranteed. After this period I felt recovered, incredibly fresh and hungry for training again.

It took a two week cycle to adapt to a proper level of training regime again. I began with the already traditional KoKu race - a long team competition (duo/trio), using retro maps. 24 very enjoyable kilometers teamed up with my brother. We tried to find out which one of us could tire out the other one; this time it was a tie. Results, map 1, map 2, map 3, map 4, map 5, map 6.
A week after that, I took a step into the wild and had a long hike-jogging journey through the beautiful nearly untouched nature in Haanja highlands. This region just amazes me! Just when I though I was having the time of my life, I met a very-very rare species in Estonia (and elsewhere) - a wolverine (ahma)! Not at a distance, but just about 5 meters. Thankfully, we parted our own separate ways peacefully. This made my day! Map.
And then, the most prestigious event of the year: TuMe-Võru-Meridians Club Match! This time on home soil. The individual event was held on one of my favorite terrains in Estonia and I didn't have to disappoint. The only downside was a wrongly placed control, but shit happens. Results, map.
I applied for Võru 2nd team in the relay and after finishing the first leg, I continued and ran through almost all three legs and witnessed the tight battle for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. Results, map of the first leg.
The competition was even tighter in the overall, Võru won only by 1,5 minutes (0,33%)!
KoKu race prizegiving

Since then I've tried to follow a basic routine, but it's been difficult to get a grip on myself with a lot going on. School takes up a lot of time and because of it, I've occasionally had to alter my plans on the go, just to compensate from the main trainings. It's pretty darn annoying when it's going smoothly, but something else stirs things up. Studies have quite a high priority, so compromising is not much of an option. I'm really hoping to finish my bachelor studies this year, so there's more work ahead. I guess this is one of the big differences between a pro and an amateur. Nevertheless, I'm laying a good foundation for the upcoming season and now that the autumn semester is thankfully done with, I can put more effort on training and sufficient recovery.
Anyway, the last cycle included a camp near Helsinki, with some map trainings in Jukola relevant terrains. Also, a very long quest by Mr Pete Forsman, where I aborted my mission after 2 hours and 37 minutes of freezing.
Night mass-start map
Line, cut areas and butterfly map
Quest map 1, map 2, map 3, map 4
Jukola night training in daytime map
Best swimming style for the Predatorius aquatilis (pictured) is the "dead swan"
Now I'm beginning a new cycle, but this time with a different approach that I want to try. How it works for me, will be evident in a few weeks' time or maybe not before the season begins!

11 October 2011


The season ended with one of the technically easiest races at 25manna (map), where our team finished 3rd! Now it's time to look back and ask myself if I'm satisfied with the course of events during the last year?
Photo: Olle
Duel with my good friend Jonas
As a young newcomer it was very difficult to set any measurable goals for this season, so I focused more on just introducing myself to the world elite and prove myself that I'm able to reach the desired level if I put my mind to it. I'd say that I managed to do that and can be satisfied in this aspect. I guess the most spectacular highlights would be Jukola, WOC (middle final map, relay map) and also Finnish Championships in September (middle qualification map and final map; relay map). These races weren't perfect, but in a way they helped me find where I am as an orienteer and that's just what I needed.
Photo: from organizer's webpage
Hanging with some world champions
To be honest, I did set some measurable goals in the spring, when I filled a questionnaire for Delta. For the short-term goal column I squeezed some numbers out of myself and wrote: "reach top 25 at WOC long- and middle distance; reach top 3 at Jukola; become Estonian champion at an individual discipline". As a prediction I'd say I was pretty accurate: two out of four came true. 50% is a good optimum in reaching goals, this way there's joy in accomplishment and still leaves the wolf hungry. As for the two goals that I didn't reach, perhaps the easiest of them was also very close: right after WOC I was 2nd at Estonian long distance Championships with a rather crappy run and lost 1:15 to my brother (map). The other unreached goal was indeed a fail: everything fell apart at WOC long distance (map), which was one of the poorest performances this year. Psychologically it was too big a bite to chew: mistakes in control areas, wrong route choices and not being ahead of myself. Also, I wasn't in shape. Was it the wisdom tooth ache and the painkillers that took the power away? I can only suspect that it was... I didn't even consider this option until the World Cup in Czech (middle map; long part 1 map, part 2 map), when I had the same symptoms and the same problems during the races.

Other stuff:
A negative thing worth mentioning: I unexpectedly mispunched for the first time in my life. I've been disqualified for missing a control at 10MILA in 2005, for what I could forgive myself, but this was the first time that I punched at a wrong control and for what I can never forgive myself. It all happened at Latvian relay Championships (map), where I was already too far ahead in my head and wasn't in the moment enough. I always check the codes, but what happened? It's difficult to give any reasonable answer, so I'd just like to apologize to my team mates and my club. I am truly sorry!
A much more funnier thing happened on the previous day, when me and my brother won the middle distance (map) with a big margin and since we both had the exact same time, we both became Latvian champions!

Right after WOC I set a new altitude record: me and Jürgen reached the summit of Le Buet near the border of Switzerland, which according to different sources is about 3100m above sea level. Starting from about 1350m, it took us 3 hours to reach the top and the whole fantastic "expedition" in near perfect weather took a bit over 7 hours. In that time we ascended over 2000m. Good way to relax actively after a tense week in France. Here's the map and photo proof:
image name image name image name image name image name

Despite all the drawbacks during the last year, the accomplishments weigh them over and I can be pleased with the season. Now I can peacefully lay off systematic training, rest for a while and have more fun! Farewell, season 2011!
Photo: Niels-Peter Foppen, Ultimate-Orienteering
Tired after the season

3 August 2011

Shape is a Rollercoaster

Setting goals requires a lot of planning in order to be in top shape at the right time. This is what top athletes strive for over and over again. It is possible to reach top shape with the first try; or it might take years to learn the the individual differences and then succeed; or it might even never be achieved at all. This is the art of sport.
I've always found use of my training diary, from which I've benefited a lot over the years. The combined statistics of subjective and objective aspects can surprise a lot, while making perfect sense. My latest confirmed discovery was my reaction to heat. It doesn't even have to be extremely hot to lose control of a sound body and mind. Of course hot weather makes it difficult for everybody, but there are people who tolerate it better and others who can't handle it at all. I've found that in warm weather I get tired quickly, the muscles are stiff and I make a lot of questionable decisions in orienteering and get overall exhausted. These symptoms usually occur already way before the start. On the other hand, the starts that I've had in cooler weather, have usually been much better. Might even say that especially in rainy weather... Though I can accustomize myself to hot weather and get better, I'll still have problems handling it compared to those who prefer hot weather. One's stronger side will always be stronger than the weaker side. While I must improve the weaker side, I must still cherish the strong half and use that to my advantage. The peculiar thing about the human body is that it can't be accustomized to tolerate hot and cold at the same time - since I handle cold well, it's the opposite with hot. But it can be seasonally manipulated with. While it's far too late to deal with the problem this season, I can start working on it in perspective. 
Don't get me wrong, I can still have a good race in hot weather, especially in good shape and at an important start. At less important events, when I feel that it's not just a bad day, but the mentioned exhaustion, I don't push the limits as I would on important events. I consider the "gunpowder" for that as a resource that is not limitless. This has a lot to do with timing the shape.

The ride of the past two months:

21-22 May, Baltic Championships, Lithuania
The recovering sore knee didn't bother as much as the really bad overall feeling, it was like using only half of my lungs. 
Relay map, results
Warm weather after some period, disappointing results.
The best in the Baltics
29th May, WOC long selection race Nationale Savoie, France
A bit better feeling than the week before, but no reason to cheer. Pulled myself together enough to have a more-or-less OK race and secure my WOC ticket. Check out other France WOC camp maps from the maps page.
Warm weather, modest result.

5th June, Latvian Championships long distance
Very nice terrain, this was something that should have suit me really well. After quite a good beginning, the tremendous heat got me after 2 controls and I suffered til the finish. Lost 15 minutes to Timo. It's not so much fun with this kind of feeling. After the race I felt like being ill. 
Very hot weather, very poor result.

Til this point I'd tried to find out the problem. All the activities in aerobic zone were just like they were supposed to, even some strenuous trainings were fine, but when it came to competing, the outcome was 0. This couldn't have anything to do with fitness. During the week I went to see my loyal physician to find out what was wrong with me. We suspected of some virus, possibly borrelia. Over some time, we found nothing, everything should have been in order.

11-12 June, Suunto Games, Finland
Again hot weekend with fantastic terrains, I burned totally (again). On the middle distance I could keep cool for some time in the beginning, until it struck again...
1. middle map, results
2. shortened long map, results
Very hot weather, very poor result.

After this I withdrew myself from Delta's 1st team at Jukola. No point in risking a good team's result...

15th June, Tallinn Championships in relay, Estonia
Last intensive training before Jukola. Ran the 1st leg and beat Timo, who ran a different forking on the last leg. Since he had a good race and I had over 1 minute better time on an easy course, he suggested that I run instead of him at Jukola. We would talk it over with Ahma, The King of Lohja and decide after the last trainings on Jukola terrains.
Map, results
Cool rainy weather, good result.

18-19 June, Jukola
And it was decided - I run the 4th leg instead of Timo. The feeling on the race was nothing supernatural, it was just good. The mind was set to be my own master, make my own race, switch off the rest. The result made me and my club happy. And a podium finish to top it off with! Though I won my leg with 2 minutes, let's face it, it's the easiest leg of them all...
Map, GPS trackingresults
Cool humid night, good result.
Leo is missing
25-26 June, WRE Middle + 100KP, Estonia
Now it was time for trainings again. These two competitions were a lot of fun: nice middle distance and a long distance with 100 controls. First day I felt well, too bad many of the best in Estonia weren't present. Second day was difficult already from the beginning - running was hard and orienteering didn't flow (which is crucial in this type of competition).
WRE Middle Map 1, map 2, results (rainy weather, good result)
100KP Map 1, map 2, map 3, results (warm sunny weather, modest result)

1-3 July, Kāpa 3, Latvia
Again very hot weather and fantastic terrains. Planned to run first day ~100% and the others ~90% of power. After very bad beginning, I decided to take it easy and not to strain the organism. Instead I ran ~100% on the second day, when it was shortened distance. The last day was great running weather and even taking it easier I had a good run.
1. long Map, results (very hot weather, powerless feeling)
2. shortened long Map, results (very hot weather; powerless feeling)
3. long Map, results (good running weather, good feeling)

11-16 July, FIN5
Trainings continued, with the plan of taking it seriously on days 1, 3 and 4, the other days easily.
1. day, middle: The race can be titled as: "Hot water kettle." The first half went well, I was at 2nd position. At controls 7-8 the first bubbles started to appear. Then it reached the boiling point. And what does the kettle do when it starts to boil? It switches itself off of course. I recommend taking a look at the GPS trackingMap, results (hot weather, poor result)
2. day, long: Good training. Map, results (rainy weather, OK feeling)
3. day, sprint: Stiff legs, felt a bit tired. Otherwise an interesting race. Map, results (warm weather, good result)
4. day, middle: Quite good race, didn't exactly get the rhythm, but I can be satisfied. Map, results (rainy weather, good result)
5. day, long: Wanted to have a good technique training on my own, but I got some company all the way. Tried to get rid of my companion and I did at the 6th control (check the GPS tracing), but he caught me quickly again. Map, results (cool and humid weather, good feeling)
Enjoying the rain
24-29 July, O-Ringen
Now it was time for a serious effort, I was thinking I could get in top 15. Hälsingland terrains have been difficult for me, this time it went a bit better.
1. day, long: Average feeling, quite OK orienteering, 15th place. Map, results (good running weather, good result)
2. day, sprint: Very fast sprint, with an interesting last part. I'm satisfied with my race, especially with the tricky part. Lost some time with the last controls though. Map, results (cool weather, good result)
3. day, long: Crashed and burned after 20 minutes. I just couldn't withstand the heat and just wanted to get to the finish. Map, results (hot weather, pathetic result)
4. day, middle: It was time for an experiment. Before warming up, I first cooled down in a lake. Laying in cool water doesn't make things better for the muscles, but it sure has an effect on other processes in the organism. I felt tired and fresh in the same time. Tired enough to lose 1 minute and fresh enough to finish 2nd. At least the mind worked! Map, results (hot weather, good result)
5. day, long: It was starting to remind the 3rd day. Even if I wanted to be in top 15, I didn't care much if I was 12th or 18th. So I didn't step into a man-to-man fight with anyone. Map, results (hot weather, modest result)

There are some more GPS tracking links on the maps page. Unfortunately, the tracking wasn't very good at O-Ringen, especially the first day.
Participation fee
Anyway, this is my way of looking at some statistics that need thinking about. Now it's time to tune in for WOC middle and long distance and see if I can shape up as planned.

19 May 2011

Estonian Champs: Middle and Relay

After 10MILA I was feeling pretty good and I was starting to make final adjustments before the above mentioned event. But the last week before the race turned out to be pretty difficult. While the easy trainings gave only good signs, the difficult trainings showed otherwise. I tried to rest as much as I could, but for undisclosed reasons, this was not that easy to do. The last interval training felt perhaps the most difficult this season and the performance was very low. After that I could rest easily and so I did. On Friday, the feeling was already better than on the training, but far from a good-shape feeling.
Wazzup coach!?
Middle distance warm-up was quite OK, seemed like the last days were put in the right place. I was so concentrated before the start that I almost started 1 minute before my starting time. I didn't let that push me over the edge and started carefully, but the control was easy and I didn't hold back. 2nd was as bit shaky already. To the 3rd I was generalizing too much and found myself on the wrong ridge. No time to waste and quickly ahead! Easy to say... For some controls I did run as I could, but not for long. I felt that the engine was running well, but I had no feet underneath me. When given the possibility to run fast on the road to the 8th, I just couldn't do it. I wasn't moving like I was supposed to and when it came to climbing steeper slopes, I wasn't the man for the job either. Now I could just count on smooth orienteering. I sensed that the 10th could be tricky and I was especially careful. After crossing the ridge, things didn't add up. As if I passed the hill from the right but came out on the left? I seemed really strange... All the medallists came out too far left also... The mistake of the day is yet to come, with the 14th. I was doing well until I reached the control circle. I got confused (and I mean really confused) by a big clearing on the right. These was none on the map. What now? I must be in the right place, so I continued. Fighting in the green, I wanted to reach the spur with the ditch. Instead, I wound up at a corner of a clearing. Where am I? There was a ditch on the side of it and the land was dry, so I figured I was at the south-east part of the circle (in the white area). When I realized that the clearing was the light green east of the control, I was already too far. 1 minute lost like that! After that it was an emotionless running to the finish. I was 4th in total, 50 seconds behind the winner (Timo), 7 seconds behind the silver (Peeter) and 1 second behind the bronze (Olle). I wasn't sad about losing the bronze so closely, I didn't even think about that. I really liked the terrain, but I was rather disappointed in myself and a bit with the map. I felt bad losing the gold, because I was able to take it... Nobody ran without mistakes that day, I left 2:50 to my mistakes account.

I was hoping for a better feeling for the relay and was put to the 3rd leg. Nothing extraordinary happened overnight, but I felt better than on the previous day. Jaagup and Timo opened the competition well for us, I went out in the lead, with 1 minute ahead of Olle (EKJ SK). I tried to take it easy in the technical parts and push harder on roads, not to compromise our lead. Already after the 2nd control, it felt as the forest was against me. I couldn't find any good "paths" in the forest and got constantly stuck. I wanted to go straight to the 3rd, but when I reached the small ugly marsh, I decided to follow the small path instead. It didn't seem faster and I let the forest guide me instead of being the guide myself. The last green before the control area was especially fighting against me. I felt that I was losing much time and when I was reaching the control, I saw Olle leaving it. This was one bad route! I knew I could catch up, so I tried to be in control of the situation, but the forest just didn't let me do that. I had to alter my route very often, especially to the 5th. I was approaching the control and all of a sudden I was lying on the ground. I got up quickly, but I couldn't run. I had hit my right knee hard and the instant pain took me swearing. I walked-jogged to the 6th and the pain was relieving. When I got on the road, I could run again, but not full speed. I couldn't catch anyone like this, so I just tried to maintain our position. My forking (4-5-6 controls) was 150 m longer than Olles + falling + not being able to run very fast = 2:33 behind Olle in the 7th control. After some time I didn't feel any pain at all, but I couldn't push very hard (the heart-rate was pretty low too). 13th control area was strange like on the previous day, so I knew I was too much to the left and I was right! The rest was pretty OK, except for the 17th. Having "rested" on more than 2/3 of the course, I was able to have a really fast finish (without pain). Olle's good race insured victory for the army guys and we came in 2nd, 2:22 behind.
The Three Musketeers
(I don't know who the guy on the right is)

While on the course I thought that I just slightly hit my knee, than after the race I took a look at my knee and it wasn't pretty. It wasn't cut or anything, it was just a lot bigger than it usually is. It looked like the kneecap was dislocated and there was a big apple underneath the skin. No pain, but it looked very ugly. When the body cooled down, I couldn't move my knee anymore. I got laser treatment already on the same day and hoped that my knee wasn't broken. Fortunately, the doctor said that my knee was in one piece and it's just sore because I hit it and there's a hemorrhage on top of the kneecap. 

Not feeling any pain (yet)
Since then I've been laser-treating myself. I didn't even try running at first, so I went swimming instead. Now I went out for a testrun: at the beginning the knee was just sore, nothing more. After having warmed up, I felt basically nothing. I kept the effort short and ran some intervals. Even the overall feeling was much better than on the previous week. It looks like I'll be able to run the Baltic Championships in two days after all. I've got good memories of the beautiful terrains in Nida from last year's BJC. It's going to be awesome!
Operating my knee
By the way, I usually update the maps page before the news page.

3 May 2011

First Block

The first block of competitions is over. Without getting further ahead, I must say that I'm pleased with my physical situation so far, but the technical side needs more work.

I shall run like this the whole course!
The season opened with my first WRE (in 21 class) in Latvia, with Kurzemes Pavasaris. The terrain was really fast and open, while the countour lines were basically only 1 m. Furthermore, the startlist looked very strong. For the first start I was eager to push hard and so I did. I managed to make a good race, just one notable mistake with the 6th control, where I saw various rootstocks, but not the right one. Also a bit unsure with the 5th and 14th, but no real mistakes. The tiredness feeling which I was expecting, arrived on the way to the 13th. At that point, running fast became pretty darn difficult, which can also be noticed in the splits. Johan Runesson's impressive ending cost me (and others) a minute with the last part of the course... I was 2nd and very pleased with it. Map, results/graphs.
The second day didn't go that well technically, but went even better physically. I still have to learn how to take those annoying controls in flat empty areas. As the season had just begun, the "o-gut feeling" hadn't yet developed and the mistakes just seemed to be unavoidable. After 7 minutes of mistakes, it was hard to motivate myself to run as fast as I could, but I gave it a shot and I didn't have to disappoint. I felt much stronger than on the middle distance and I lasted til the end. I'm especially pleased with the long leg, where I wasn't afraid to take the long way around and I beat the second time with 1 minute. Map, results/graphs.
In total I was 3rd, with 2:29 behind winner Vilius Aleliunas.

The next weekend continued in (still) snowy Estonia. Not very difficult terrain, but snow up to knees made running difficult. I felt pretty strong and won with a big margin. The prizes are always good at this competition: I got a 55€ (sports)giftcard and 1 kg of cheese, while my brother got a case of beer!

Billnäs middle distance finish
Then it was time for more technical terrains in Finland. The plan was: Billnäs middle distance on Friday and Finnspring long distance and relay on Saturday-Sunday. I wanted to take it a bit easier on Friday, to prepare for a serious 100-minute long distance, but apparently I'm not good enough to get into the M21E class and was put to M21A2, which was about 4 km shorter. So I didn't hold anything back on Friday and had a fine race. Although my route wasn't smooth, I was more or less in control of the situation and won the 42-minute middle distance with 1,5 minute ahead of Olle. Map, results.
Though I still wanted to run as well as I could at Finnspring, the thought that I was running M21A2 sat in my spine and unconsciously didn't let me make a satisfactory performace. Already to the first control, through the green thick area, the will to have a good race, was gone. The terrain and the map were nice, something that should suit me very well, but nothing seemed to fit and I was almost running without looking at the map. One last baffling 4-minute mistake secured a 13-minute loss to the winner. Map, results.
Unexpected changes in the relay teams had me running in DELTA 1, 3rd leg (out of 4). Unfortunately our 1st leg was disqualified. I didn't let that bother me and I was ready for a good fight for top places. I was running too much on the edge and therefore can't be too satisfied with my orienteering. Too risky running cost two ~1 minute mistakes. Fortunately I managed to catch the leader IKNV's Dima Tsvetkov and pass him on the way to the last control. I came out as the "leader" and sent Valentin Novikov on the last leg, only to let the opponents go their own way and not to interfere in the fight. Even so, positive emotions! Map, 3rd leg results, total results.

For the first time at 10MILA I was in a team that was capable of reaching top positions. This put a lot of pressure on me and forced to run a lot more carefully than I have before. After our team's fairly good start, Timo and Petri didn't succeed in their races and we dropped far behind. We carried on mainly alone and the gap with the leaders was getting bigger and bigger. It was still dark at the beginning of the 5th leg and I started off quite well. Physically I was feeling OK, but technically I was maybe being too careful, checking myself too often I didn't let the orienteering flow and take its own course. Daylight broke pretty soon, but I was still making night routechoices even if it was totally safe to go straight. I was too hesitant to make a choice for the long leg and finally decided to take the safe way around. Now I would surely have gone all the way around til the control, but it's amazing what decisions one can make on the course: I decided to take the small path at half way. Right before the control I was sure where I was, but I also knew that the compass didn't work in that area, so I wanted to approach the control very safely. Instead I lost sense of direction and made a mistake. After that, the orienteering started to go better, but now I was stiff in my legs. It was as if my body was saying that at this time I usually sleep! It turned out to be a crappy race, but fortunately without any massive losses. About 5 minutes was lost with mistakes, rough orienteering and bad routechoices. 7th place on the leg might seem as a good result, but it was far from it (check the 5th & 6th leg results). It's also very difficult to meet the best times running alone, but that's no excuse. As for the total position, I even climbed a few places... We continued gaining places and were 22nd in the end. I guess none of us was pleased with the result, but that's how it turned out this time. Life goes on, well be back at Jukola!

While I was trying to sleep at the hotel...

Now it's time to analyze and gather up all the important information to prepare for the first important starts of the season: Estonian championships (middle, relay) and Baltic championships.

11 March 2011

Marathon Cycle

My last 3 week training cycle was dictated by the previously mentioned Tartu- and Haanja cross-country skiing Marathons. This meant lowering the training volumes and having two really tough training-competitions.

On the first week I trained only as much as I needed to maintain the fitness level and just kept the body mobilized. Just for the sake of trying and finding out my body's reaction, I tried a short tapering. While reducing the amount of trainings, I had a very rich protein (and very low carbohydrate) diet 4-3 days before and a very rich carbohydrate diet on the last two days before the Tartu Marathon. This was supposed to create an increased need of carbohydrates on the first two days, then "overload" the energy depots on the last two days (especially on the last day), which eventually would create a longer lasting energy reserve. As for the race itself, I was rather skeptical of improving my last years 53rd place, since the competition was tougher than last year and I basically hadn't done any special trainings for this. I still had the plan of beating the best woman though. I started a bit more aggressively than last year, but still modestly and not lavishly. After 20 km, I reached for my first gel. As it was about -20°C, the gel was just about to freeze stone hard. I managed to warm it up in my mouth, but by the next gel-time they had totally frozen over. I had to settle for just drinking in the checkpoints. Before reaching the half way, I found myself skiing totally alone for about 10 km. I wondered where the promised ~4000 participants were. Then I started passing 5-headed groups and climbed with every checkpoint. As customary, my skis didn't glide well. I had to work really hard to leave my opponents behind. Eventually, there was one guy who passed me, otherwise I was the one passing others. The final place: 52nd!. Improved! The time of 3:04:18 is really fast, the track was like a railroad! Actually, what shows the actual improvement, is the ratio of my time compared to the winner. If last year it was 1,156 than this year it's 1,142. As for the tapering, I didn't feel any supernatural power, but I didn't feel any immense tiredness either. So it's hard to say if it gave any effect. Results

The first guy in a jacket
From Ardo Säks' gallery
It didn't take long to recover, so soon I was up and running again. The trainings continued in the good rhythm for more than a week. One "training" was watching the Oscar gala through the night. It was totally worth it! Despite waiting for the second skiing marathon, I put the main effort into running. It would be too late to train for it on the last week anyway... This time I didn't decrease the training volume that much, the second marathon would just be the main event of a rather difficult week.

After about 8 km
From Riho Lüüs' gallery
Just ahead of the Haanja Marathon I had my skis checked many times and had slight adjustments made to the grip zone, I didn't want to have bad skis once more. This time I needed help on the course, someone who would hand me my gels. On the last moment I lost my initial assistant, so I had to quickly look for a new one. Luckily Kerstin Uiboupin and her father were willing to help me. Thank you! If improving my TM place was a bit real, than this time beating my previous 13th place seemed utopic: a lot of Estonia's national team skiers were present, right from Holmenkollen's Championships and also other very strong skiers on the doorstep of the team. I didn't have a very good start, I was constantly in the wrong lane and often got tangled in slow groups. It didn't take long to see that again my skis didn't glide and the overall feeling was difficult. This was going to be one a helluva ride! I knew I had to withstand the first ~1/3 of the course, since it's the most difficult part, after that I could rest for a while. In reality there was no rest, because I had to work hard to keep up with others who had better skis. I was a part of a four-headed group for a long time. I had a lot of power going uphill, but it was of no use since I got caught up again on the plain. The course had a new ~5 km part this year, I remember my brother telling me about a difficult key climb. It starts with a very difficult steep slope, using the herringbone technique and after that continues with a gentler slope. I used it tactically: since the group didn't want to get left behind, I planned to torch them. I ran quickly up the steeper part and then tiredly skied as fast as I could on the skiing part of the climb. It worked - they were too tired to do the same. I went on alone and after the last vital service point, I finally started seeing opponents to catch. On a long climb, I passed a very familiar face, it was Peeter Kümmel (this year 6th in sprint)! I went as fast as I could on the uphills and hoped that he wouldn't catch me. Unfortunately the last km-s are basically double poling, which gave him the advantage. Not that he's slow on climbs or anything, it's just that my arms are weaker and my skis were worse. He was very close and I intended to fight til the finish. But about 500 m before, he made it clear who's a better skier and left me behind. Finished at 18th place with 2:18:49, 8 seconds behind Peeter and 9:37 behind the winner Algo Kärp. This was the most difficult race of the last three and also the best. Though I've been 17th and 13th, the time ratio shows definite improvement. 1,120 -> 1,079 -> 1,075. The last ratio doesn't show it that much, as the best skiers were much stronger than last year. One example is that last years 2nd place was 12th this year. But this is just speculation. In the finish I briefly spoke to Peeter and he told me that if we would have traded skis on the course, I would have beaten him with 10 minutes (joke of course). Anyway, the most important race of the winter is over and I got very positive feedback from it. Results, map of the course

Strange posture and proof that I was ahead of Peeter Kümmel
From this gallery

This was the last race with these skis. No matter which weather or which wax, they don't work! For the next season, I'll look for better ones and maybe finally step into a fair fight.

Concerning the near future, the next cycle will be very different from the last. Wintertime is over!

23 January 2011

Laying The Foundations

Training in Haanja
I feel confident when saying that my trainings have gone smoothly. So far this has been the least compromised training plan that I've had in recent years. The variety of possibilities gives an additional good feeling to it. Here are some trainings that I've used to entertain myself... Before snow came, I tried to fool myself with my own course in Haanja (EOC middle final 2006). I'll probably try this course again, after 10 years maybe. Anyone interested in trying this course in the spring, let me know!

20 highest points in
And then it began to snow... This gave me the opportunity to have really tough trainings. One sunny and really snowy Sunday I decided to conquer the 20 highest points in Estonia. It took me three and a half fantastic hours to complete this task. Oh, and I didn't have any map with me.

One of three important starts of the preparation season was the Winter Xdream 7 last weekend. It's usually a ~3 hour rogain in snow, using your own muscle power. This time I teamed up with Kristo (since he's the leader of our national team training series). The snow had a slight crust, so we decided to use snow-shoes during the trackless parts. This was our first experience with this kind of equipment. I must say I was really surprised how useful they were and liked the "shoes" a lot. We were satisfied with our choice. Too bad Kristo got a bit tired after 2:30 and it was about 1:30 to go... We lost to ski-orienteers with only 2 seconds! A finish fight! But since I had accidentally broken my SI-wristband in a spruce thicket at a special task, we got -1 control penalty. This meant an 18th place instead of the 2nd! Don't even ask... Nevertheless, a fantastic event! In 4 hours and 9 minutes we covered about 27,2 km, of which 11 km was using snow-shoes.
Winter Xdream 7
blue: running,
red: snow-shoes

I've always used cross-country skiing as a part of my preparation, exactly like this year. My technique is improving and therefore, the quality is better. Again, I'm going to make two skiing "test races" to see how my body reacts to these long efforts: the Tartu Marathon and the more important Haanja Marathon. The goal for now is to be in control of my races and reach higher positions than last year. Of course these are not the main goals of my trainings, but they give a good sense of where I'm heading.

Since this year is a big step for me, I joined a new club with my brother in Finland: Delta. I've had a lot of offers over the last years, but now was the time to move on and seek for a club that provides the propitious possibilities to develop into a world-class orienteer and have a strong relay team. I didn't rush with my choice, so I'm confident that I made the right decision. 
I'd like to thank my moderklubb OK Triangeln for making me the orienteer that I am today. You can take me out of Triangeln, but you can never take Triangeln out of me!