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.

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