3 December 2012

Full Metal Jacket

That WOC post never came, did it? I've been digesting that story ever since and looks like it's going to have to wait for better times. Sorry to those who were truly waiting for that reading.

Anyway, since October I've been in active military service in Tallinn. Fortunately my service is short and I don't have to compromise my sports career that much. I'm in the so called sports squad and should have the privilege to get out for trainings and camps. I'll be back on the saddle by Christmas, when I should be getting out of the battalion permanently. Until then, I'll be putting up with cold snowy forests, straight formations and Galil maintainance.
Right now, my remaining overall shape does not leave me much to boast about. For a month or so, I didn't have the chance to do any trainings whatsoever. Only (very) early morning jogs was my best friend. During the last weeks, things have been looking up a bit. I've had some chances to do some trainings during workday evenings and even better, get out on the weekend. Wish I could say that I can train full-load on these occasions, but I can't. Big part of training is recovery and resting from busy days, the training load and other stress. Here, in the army, I can't speak of complete recovery. If I'd train every chance I got, I would not recover in these conditions and the result would be overtraining. And when I get out, I plan to start training, not recovering from all of this.
That was in sports perspective. Military-wise, it's sometimes quite interesting and somewhat educational in here. Not to mention the great company and new friends. Often though, it's tiresome and boring. Injustice is not a rare phenomen here. But I've enjoyed some of the military training here and I've also come to appreciate some of the little things in life. I've also had time to think some things over and not worry about other things. Certainly this is a time I'll never forget.

Pvt Sild

P.S. I have to mention my awesome PWT trip to China with awesome people and awesome orienteering. The sprint in Wansheng was indisputably the most fun, interesting and tricky sprint in my life. A real Chinese slum area! Check out the maps on the maps page. Over and out.

11 August 2012


The season has been a struggle. I finally got myself going before the first important event - the EOC. A week before, 10MILA indicated fairly well of where I stand. With a partly sloppy race I was fastest on the 3rd leg and raised Delta to a 2nd place. The physical condition was great and I was looking forward to the Championships. But somehow I was starting to feel strange after a few days, not exactly sick and not exactly well. A slight headache accompanied me for the next week or so. I was weakened and with almost no power in my legs, the Swedish orienteering festival was ruined for me.
Middle qualification map, results
Long qualification map, results; final map, results
Relay map, results
Photo: Olle Kärner
After the frustrating week, I started focusing more on what's important. The ultimate goal WOC of course, middle distance in particular. Before that, Jukola should have been the right place to be in considerably good shape again. First, I needed to gain some vitality again. Some rest and basic training should have assured that in a few weeks' time. During that period, I took part in the "compulsory" Baltic Champs in nice terrain and with an unsurprising result - 9th place on the long distance.
Long distance map, results
Relay map, results

A week later, I was starting to feel alright again. It was time to test my wellbeing on the Estonian middle distance Champs. It was a blast! Enjoyed the race very much. Technical, with varying sections of slow and fast orienteering. Plus, the weather was somewhat extreme, as it was pouring pitchforks, just the way I like it! Sadly I messed up my race on one key leg and lost the chance to win. Physically I was feeling rather blunt, but in a good way. It was the kind of state, that allowed to build up a good shape.

I went on to sharpen my foot at the Military World Championships in Aalborg, Denmark. A terrain I was familiar with since JWOC 2010 (old training maps on the maps page), but never got off on the right foot with. Interesting races and suited quite well in my overall plans. Just a little bit too close to Jukola, only two days in between.
Middle map, results
Long loop 1 map, loop 2 map, results
Relay map, results
Team competition 3rd, just 1,5 mins behind Switzerland! Results

Now, Jukola at last! I had some doubts in a good race, since it hadn't felt that good in Denmark. But I had been preparing for this over some time and knew that anything was possible. I started 18th, a couple of minutes behind and managed to catch up the leader quite early in the race. I didn't have very much to give, but I mobilized myself as much as possible and continue as long as I could. The race was far from perfect: right before the 10th control, I was surprised to already see the border of the forbidden area and thought I had gone too far, that explains the mistake. Was the plastic in the terrain in the correct place? We'll never know. Anyway, I continued well after that, until I had basically used up all of my resources. That is on the way to the 17th control. The latter part of the race was just a fight with myself, just to finish decently. Sadly the leaders gained a little gap during the last forking and was half a minute behind. Impressive race by Eskil Kinneberg!
Delta finished 4th in total, a little dissapointment, with 13:30 behind.
Jukola finish
Photo: Mikael Ahlfors / Valio-Jukola

Now it was time to fully concentrate on WOC - good trainings in Finland at the beautiful Koli nature reserve and nice terrains at Kalevan Rastiviestit and Kainuun Rastiviikko. The more time went on, the more I was preparing for the middle distance. I hadn't succeeded in any long distance race during the season and nor did the terrain seem like something that would suit me, unlike the middle distance. Actually, it had seemed that way over a year already, it just became more obvious as the Champs approached.
Kalevan Rastiviestit map, results, GPS tracking
Kainuun Rastiviikko
day 2 map, results
day 3 map, results
day 4 map, results

Lost in Koli Surroundigs
Coming up: WOC story and more...

25 April 2012

Serving Two Lords

There won't be any longer story, just an overview of the season beginning.

30.03.-01.04. National team camp in Jõulumäe, practically first orienteering this season. Orienteering was pretty ok and it felt great to run in snowless forest.
1. Plain orienteering map
2. Cut areas + direction training map (route is on an ordinary map)
3. Middle distance race map
4. Contours map
5. Long run map

06.04-09.04. Time for Delta 10Mila camp. Plenty of night trainings on strange maps and a few races. The long distance race in Finspång was no good on my behalf. Both physical and technical sides were to blame for. Just couldn't get any rhythm. Kolmårdskavlen (relay) was different. Just some rusty early season orienteering, being actually able to run.
Finspångsorienteringen map, results
Kolmårdskavlen, 2nd leg map, results
Peko Kevad day 1
Photo: OK Peko
14.04.-15.04. Peko Kevad and EOC long selection on first day. First day: terrible-terrible-terrible. Running felt like torture right from the beginning + no good map contact. Felt like all the valves were closed and after the race I didn't feel tired. The second day was more fun, but didn't feel much better.
1. Long distance first loop map, second loop map, results
2. Middle distance map, results

21.04. Riga Cup and EOC middle selection. No actual running capacity and even worse map communicating, especially in this overdetailed map. The niftily hidden controls and the large amount of them in the terrain made it even trickier. In the night, Jüriööjooks (mixed relay), running the anchor. Felt better than during the day and orienteering was also better (but the course was pretty basic).
Riga cup map, results
Jüriöö map, results
Dream (Jüriöö) Team
Photo: Tartumaa Spordiliit

Now a lot of schoolwork awaits, while also trying to prepare for 10Mila and EOC...

2 March 2012

40. Haanja Marathon

Another milestone is passed and feedback is received. It was time to test my functional side on the traditional Haanja classical cross-country skiing marathon. This time the tough ~42 km race was a part of Estonian Championships. Strong competition was expected, but it rather turned out the opposite way. The best skiers were the same level as usually, but most of who I might be able to beat, weren’t here (unlike last year).
On the previous days, I didn't think I was ready for the event. I didn't feel prepared. The skiing possibilities have been quite poor this year and its volume in trainings has been significantly smaller. I could feel it in the technique: I was lacking most in balance, which is very important in long distances. But the engine was ready and running, so I did't bury my hopes to make a good race. The previous days I was doing fieldwork for the Estonian ski-o Champs in relay and "Näps" sprint relay. On the very last day, my training diary enriched by 2 hours and 7 km. The snow was just so deep and soft, that floundering around with skis was very complicated.
Photo: Tarmo Haud
On the competition morning, I did a final test to see what grip would work best. I have given up trying to make my own skis glide, so I lent a good pair from Ats Uiboupin. The rather warm weather with fresh snow was problematic for choosing the grip type. The right choice for me was waxless skis - just sandpapered grip area. This worked only for those, who were skiing in front. Testing (and the race) showed that the skis were working well on uphills, downhill was so-and-so, but not bad.
I used a bit different tactics this year: I started more aggressively. I used to keep an energy reserve for the last part, now I knew I would last til the end. But as I said, my technique was a bit problematic, especially when skiing faster. I was clearly wasting more energy than my closest rivals and I think there was no doubt that they understood that I'm not a skier! But I was surprised by the relatively slow pack speed on climbs, so I tried to pass others as soon as possible, to get going in my own pace.
Kurgjärve, 12th km
Photo: Tarmo Haud
Half way through, I felt strong and was moving pretty well. I was about 12th-13th and really hoping to climb some more places. After 25 km, something unexpected happened: my right hand pole's strap unexpectedly ripped and broke. I don't even remember what went through my head at that moment, but it wasn't anything pleasant. No way was I giving up! It was uncomfortable to ski just trying to have a grip on the pole. The speed decreased and it was a struggle, but it was doable. The worst part was when the pole got stuck in snow and I lost it. This meant stopping and going back to get it. Had to do that three times and lost a lot of valuable time. I was hoping to get a replacement pole in the next refreshment control after 1,5 km. I got two offers, but both of them were unfortunately too short for me. So I had to continue with my own. By that time, already 5 skiers had passed me. Having accepted that I'll have to continue like this for the rest of the race, I soon got lucky. After 5 km of skiing with a bad pole, I got a new one, a near perfect match, from Kristel Laurson. Thank you once again! Now it was time to make up for the lost time! Pretty soon I started seeing those who had passed me and overtook them pretty quickly before the last refreshment. Then there was a long gap before me and I wasn't able to catch anyone else. In the end, I finished 12th, 2:11 behind 10th/11th and 13:08 behind the winner. The winning time of 2:09:44 seems pretty good considering the conditions. It is very difficult to say how much time I lost because of my misadventure, but I'm positive that I could have finished 10th. 9th was too far ahead.
Finishing with different poles
Photo: Uku Vislapuu
I got what I went looking for: feedback from the body. I know where I stand and what I must concentrate on.
This has so far been my best position, but it wasn't the best comparing to the winner:
Year  - place,   ratio
2012 - 12th,   1,101
2011 - 18th,   1,075
2010 - 13th,   1,079
2009 - 17th,   1,120
2008 - 106th, 1,301
2007 - 159th, 1,196

So what else to conclude from this incident? I immediately got the same piece of advice from various sources: "check the equipment before the race." But... think I didn't? My pole handles were very worn and one had a crack in it. Therefore I got new handles and straps for my poles, the marathon was the second time using them. I've used the previous handles and straps with the same poles for about 6 years and am very pleased with them. The new ones were the same model, but a newer release. So, I've got old poles and boots that are on the verge of falling apart, but the thing that lets me down, are the brand new straps. Trust your old equipment!

17 February 2012

North and South

15th January: Nike Winter XDream along with Peeter and Kristo. It was a cool day (also literally) in Kõrvemaa. The men were good, the pace was good, the result was good! Under the snow, the marshes were very wet and „pretty“ cold! Only thing that helped, was to run faster. We made a good plan and despite some minor losses in the beginning, executed it pretty smoothly. First, the predicted winning time was 3 hours, then 3:15 and later it was even 3:45 or 4:00 due to additional snowfall. We wanted to disregard those times and aimed at the previously stated 3:15. In the end, it took us 3:30 to complete the task and our victory with 26 minutes was very clear. In the beginning, it looked like ski-orienteers had a good advantage this time, but as the race went on, it was looking more and more favorable to us. And ski-orienteers were left far behind...
Results, map, GPS replay (team My Super Sweet Sild Experience).

Photo: Jaanus Ree, Fotoluks
Next I went on to seek for good skiing conditions again to Delta camp in Jämi, Finland. Except for that one hill, the courses are very flat and easy. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was very good and enjoyable. We had a 10 km skiing competition, where all of us were unmercifully beaten by Josefine Engström. Only Janne could keep up for 15 meters, or maybe even 25 at best. News article.

After the short camp, I was still sitting with Santas, Kings and whatnot in cold Finland and clicking on last minute flight offers to the south. Eventually I found a suitable choice and took it: I was going to Tenerife for a week! And on a good week also: while it was around -30 degrees at home, I got about +20 instead! The whole trip was a blast! Felt like typical summer weather at home. In warmer and sometimes cooler weather, I had the opportunity to have awesome running trainings in very beautiful and raw nature. The living conditions were good and the meals were very delicious! All at a very reasonable price and I even got estonian service at my hotel, what a coincidence!
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I was staying at a town 600 m higher that the sea, where the weather was not all that steady. A couple of times I visited the famous black sand beaches down in the resorts where it was always warm. While rubbernecking down there was fun and taking a dip in the Atlantic was a must (which I enjoyed very much), I rather preferred to go uphill. Most of my trainings were up to 1500 m over the sea. When the first half of the week it was very sunny and warm T-shirt (or even shirtless) weather, then the second half was a bit cooler, especially higher in the mountains. Some of the trainings I was even running in the cold humid clouds. It was interesting that opposite to "normal" conditions, it felt like raining under the trees while it didn't under open skies. The reason: since it almost never rains there, basically the furry pines catch the clouds and drop the water with their needles. So no point in looking for shelter in the forest! Anyway, I visited new fascinating places every training and the volcanic terrains were always a sight!
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My favorite area was around volcàn Chinyero, where the trails were very varying in soil, grade and surroundings. Within a short time, one could experience running on gravel, sand, ash, pebbles, rocky lava fields or even a soft layer of pine needles. The good thing about that area was that there weren't any too strenuous long climbs, like anywhere else on the island. This allowed to have faster paced trainings, instead of just strength oriented runs.
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For the last treat of my camp, I had planned to conquer the Pico del Teide, which reaches 3718 m. I did not have the intention to start from 0 m and reach the summit with 5 hours, like crazy Olav Lundanes did. Instead, I wanted to have a reasonable training and start from the plateau at about 2000 m. On the previous days, I had tried to hitchhike, but it did not work, since most who are going up to the national park, are retired tourists and they don't like to take company. But when going up, I decided to give it a last 30 minute try to get a ride. On the last minute, I got lucky and was picked up by two very polite germans. At last, the climb could start! The way up was physically difficult due to a steep incline (obviously) and very strong wind. The lack of oxygen fortunately didn't get me. But the strong headwind made breathing very difficult and it almost blew me off the mountain on a few occasions! The wind was strong in the lower parts of my route and then some parts in the middle, but not in the last part, since the mountain itself protects from it. Having reached the massive crater of the Pico Viejo on the way, I tried to get the strong wind effect on my camera, visible and audible on this clip.
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I was thinking if I should continue because of the wind, as I couldn't imagine how much worse it could be up there... I decided to continue as long as possible. Then, as I said, it got much calmer and the journey continued. I was more worried about getting past the refugee 200 m before the summit, since one needs a permit that I didn't have. Reaching the top from any other side would have been a real challenge. But lucky me: due to the strong wind, there was absolutely nobody in the refugee and I could easily get past it. Before reaching the summit, I met two very nice people from Hungary and had a small chat, while I put some more clothes on. Up on the top it was cold, the wind was brutal, the sun was strong and the smoky crater stunk of sulphur, but the views were magnificent! Because of the harsh conditions, skin was peeling off my nose even more than a week after the "expedition"! Sitting on the inside edge of the crater, protected from wind, it was a marvellous place for an enjoyable picnic! So my new altitude record is 3718 (600 higher than the previous)!
On the way down, I soon caught up with my two new friends and they offered me a ride to my hotel if I only hiked down with them! What could I have against that? It's amazing where one can make friends!
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Now the studies have begun again at school and I'm back in Tartu. The next notable event for me is Haanja Marathon (classic cross-country skiing) next Saturday. It'll be an important milepost in my preparation season as usual. But it's held a week earlier this year and because of that I'm not taking part in Tartu Marathon this weekend. I'm also very related to the ski-orienteering Estonian Championships in relay and a sprint relay competition on the 10.-11. March, since I'm the course setter! Insert it in your calendar today!

11 January 2012

Real Winter

The holidays were perhaps not as merry as I hoped: I managed to get ill, twice in fact. I haven't been sick in a long time, so this wasn't very usual. Any kind of illness is a menace, even if there are no evident symptoms; this was the case with me. It's like I wasn't really ill, but I didn't feel whole either. It was more sensible to lay off exercises and try alternative treatment. Anyway, this shook my trainings quite a bit, but fortunately I didn't get hopelessly sick and recovered well. Basically I had two weeks with a good beginning, the emphasis being on strength trainings. But both of the weekends, when I didn't feel well, were very scattered and necessary training components were cancelled.

Since I felt fit as a fiddle the next week, I had my planned training camp in Evertsberg, Mora. The idea was to emphasize endurance on that week. Talk about great training conditions and a real winter! I had longed for awesome ski trainings for some time already and finally had the opportunity to do it. Besides the very enjoyable tracks in Älvdalen, I had 46 km of Vasaloppet's tracks going one way and 44 km the other way. No matter which way I started going, I always had to climb a long way back... All the trainings in six days were something I was really looking forward to. It's not like I have roads where I can run uphill continuously for 20 minutes back home... What an amazing and unforgettable week it was!

Also, I did some scouting for the upcoming EOC: I visited two official training terrains. Although there was snow, the layer of it wasn't thick enough to really obstruct running, but it was a bit more difficult physically and also technically. I hadn't taken the opportunity of running there into consideration before, so I didn't have any compass with me, which made it more complicated. Adding the "shock" of fine and demanding orienteering in the middle of winter = lots of fun (and mistakes)! The demanding terrains affirmed that the Championships will be something to really look forward to. It's going to be a really fast and unmerciful competition, where no mistake will be left unpunished.
Vika, where I had no major problems and felt secure, resembles the finals terrain. Map.
Gesunda looks more like the qualification area, where I imagine that big mistakes will be made. It might look easy and fast, but the diffuse slopes can make even a professional lose several necessary minutes. And it's pretty difficult to catch up again. Map.
All in all, one must not lose in sheer running speed and must be able to be in control all the way. The best will win!

Next week, as traditionally, Nike Winter XDream 8!