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.