3 December 2013

Season 2013 Over

This post has been sitting in draft mode for a while now. What I mainly wanted to write about, was the end of the 2013 competition season. For me it ended with Finnish middle distance and relay championships all the way back in September. Well, it ended at least in the achievement sense. For the middle, I prepared well and wanted to end the season on a good note, with a medal in mind.
The qualification was quite easy and made the tight competition even tighter. The legs were a bit stiff and it felt like running at maximum capacity. Fortunately I managed to make a clean solid race as needed at a qualification and was 3rd behind Thierry and Pasi.
Final by Tuomo Puskala
4 hours later, I started off to the final. It did not begin very well, I was eager to push very hard and was therefore technically a bit too sloppy. A small extra hook to the 1st was nothing, but it was too close to missing big. I was more careful further on. It was going smoothly to the 2nd, up to a point a couple of hundred meters before the control. I stopped, looked at the map, looked at the terrain ahead, but could not put them together. Did it again, with the same result. I just had to continue and cross the flat hill south of the control. It was not that hill... After some cruising around, I went back to relocate at a boulder. Went for it again, but missed. I was moving quite randomly towards the control then and got it after Anders Nordberg, who started 2 minutes after me. With a 2:25 mistake, I knew my desired result was out of reach, but something was still kicking inside and made me continue the race as I had planned. I was perhaps too careless at first and missed again with the 4th, but after that I decided to restart the race from the very 4th control. After that I felt in total control, exactly like I wanted. Soon I caught Anders and passed him before the 9th control. Continued smoothly until a small confusing moment at the 13th and a bit bad direction after it. But didn't lose very much fortunately. The end was easy, but crowded.
Eventually I finished 13th, 3:10 behind Thierry. Missed 3:11 on the 2nd and 4th control together and was 1 second faster from 4th to finish...

The relay was very interesting and fun. I think it was the first time I saw Thierry live in action. Unfortunately, I was not strong and bright enough to put up a worthy fight against him or Tue Lassen, whom I basically started with. Vaajakosken Terä took a double victory in front of Kalevan Rasti and Hiidenkiertäjät was 5th. Very strong field - 13 best teams (4 members in each) finished within 5 minutes!

After that I pretty much dropped my guard, stopped competing for this season and concentrated on the next. Good time for scouting next year's Word Champs' terrains in Trento, Italy. The camp gave me a good insight of what's coming next year and I like it. Some of the cool trainings I had the pleasure of doing:
Turcio map, Folgaria map, Barricata S map, Forte Cherle map, Platabek map, Lavarone map, Barricata N map and Monte Maggio map. Can't hardly wait!
Monte Maggio by Kristo
Form the camp, I went straight to 25manna, which was a very nice experience orienteering-wise! My input to our team was surprisingly good after the camp. We did quite well altogether and were 4th. Too bad about the organising crash though, otherwise a nice day!
Map, results

Right after, Park World Tour China was waiting. Once again, it proved to be an exciting trip! I had some unexpectedly good and some bad results, but that was not the point. I just wanted to enjoy the orienteering and trip and that I did. All maps and results are available at pwt.org.
The Old Summer Palace by Tuomas Kari

The Group by Tuomas Kari
Yet before completely hanging my shoes by their laces, me and Jaagup took part in one of my favourite events - KoKu. Old maps are always interesting...
Map, results
Then it was finally time for the transition period by giving the body and mind a few weeks' rest. Thanks to all my fans, supporters, sponsors and friends who stood by this season!

9 September 2013

Recharged after "Tour de Bothnia"

After the World Champs, the plan was to take some time off, do some basic aerobic training, recharge batteries and travel north, around the Bay of Bothnia. The whole trip spanned over two and a half weeks and included a lot of orienteering on different terrains. 
First, a couple of trainings in Finland, near the Swedish border. First map of a really rocky terrain, where my foot seldom touched the ground. This was indeed extreme, it started raining hard and made the rocks very slippery, plus the map is from '79! And another old map from Tornio, which was quite a puzzle to solve...
The trip continued to Santa's home: Rovaniemi. Among many trainings, here's one very nice map of Santavaara, right on the border of the polar circle, which was a very nice open and fast terrain - only 5:28 min/km at training pace... And another great map of Nuuksvaara (with raindeer!), which served perfectly as a model for O-Ringen in Sweden.
Nuuksvaara by Matti
So next on the agenda was O-Ringen itself, this time up north in Boden. I must say that the terrains were very cool and challenging, unfortunately I did not have much left for competing and the first day (map) was a tough physical struggle. The third day's long distance (map) was the first day when I felt quite OK and was also running too bad. Sadly a small wooden spike penetrated through the sole of my shoe about 1-2 cm into my foot close to the heel and broke (the tip was left in there). I had to stop my race there and get medical help. Fortunately there was not much damage to the tissues and not much pain, only when walking. The fourth day's middle distance (map) was the closest thing to a good race despite the hole in my foot. Results

The next destination was Hemavan on the border of Norway. I was really looking forward to wander around in the hills (fjälls) up to 1768m at Storfjället. Had some nice long training and hiking sessions up there, along with some fjällorientering at Hemavan Tredagars (sprint, middle and long). Long distance map, it's not as easy as it looks... After Hemavan, it was time to head home and get ready for the upcoming competitions.
After the trip and two more weeks of training, I felt charged and refreshed, unlike after WOC. 

Estonian Championships brought joy - I won the long distance by just 23 seconds ahead of Timo and 2:52 ahead of Olle! I put it all out there, it was a constant fight the whole way. After about an hour it started to get a lot harder and I could almost hear the whip lashing when pushing the limits, but it paid off. After the race the intestines were twisting and twirling, took a while before I felt like a normal person again. I'm happy that I achieved my goal and finally have gold from the classical distance.
Map, results
Disappoint by Mihkel
There was not very much energy left for the next day's relay. After Jaagup and Markus (very good race), we were third. I did technically quite well, but I was so tired that the course never seemed to end. Managed to even lift one position, but was not far from dropping one again... So for us it was silver again!
Map, results
Winners! by Andy

Next up was Military World Championships, which went surprisingly well. I didn't feel like I was in a very good shape, but on the middle distance I knew that I was doing a good race and expected a good result. But a silver medal was a very nice surprise even for myself! On the long distance I didn't feel as sharp and on the first part of the course did not push to the max. On the spectator control there was a lot of shouting so I figured I was doing a well again and speeded up. In the end I learned that I was two seconds too slow and lost only to my brother, now military world champion! For me, this silver medal was even a bigger surprise, because I only expected to be top 10. The relay didn't go as well, I was not at the top of my game and made some bad routes at the beginning of the race. Then on the last loop, I totally missed the 15th control, bad mistake. With Sander Vaher on the 1st leg and Timo on the last, we came in 5th like last year. With an additional team competition bronze, I left this fantastic WMOC with very positive feelings!
Middle distance map, results
Long distance map, results
Relay map, results
Team competition results
Oxygen by WMOC 2013
Double By WMOC 2013
Team bronze by Henn
The last event was Latvian Championships middle and relay, where I've participated 6 times now. The course looks easy, but for me it took a while to get used to the terrain type, focus and get the optimal orienteering rhythm, so there was plenty of excitement. The forest was green and marshy and required quite an aggressive style, but it was not too slow either - 6:12/km. My race was pretty clean and steady all the way, I guess that was the key to success. It was a very tight battle between me and Edgars Bertuks all the way, in total I was 12 seconds faster, check out the graph! In the relay, Alūksne-Ape OK with Jānis Kūms and Edgars, I was left as anchor. This time were leading right from the beginning and the race was pretty much decided after Edgars' race. I just had to bring it in, but still wanted to do it with a good race. I had the best time with almost 4(!?) minutes...
Middle distance map, results, graph
Relay map, results
Jānis & Edgars

Next up: Finnish Championships middle distance and relay

11 August 2013

WOC in Retrospect

The World Championships sucked me physically and mentally dry and left me with a hollow feeling. It's been quite a ride getting back the normal everyday pace, but now I'm finally back home and can settle in for a while. A month has passed already and now seems as good a time as any to look back at the champs and make some kind of conclusion.
Did I achieve what I expected? So and so. The goals were pretty high and motivating - top 10 in middle distance and a medal in relay. Conclusively these goals were achievable, but in the end I could not quite deliver them. I was close and it's good to know that I am able to achieve high results, but now it feels as just knowing is simply not enough anymore. Soon it should be time to fight for top positions!?

Middle qualification
The course was as expected and offered fun technical orienteering, but the physical feeling was unexpectedly strange, especially in my legs. I knew that the technical course would make it easier for me to get a good position in the final, but I had to push hard the whole course as I wasn't so sure about my speed. I lost some time on a few legs with a mistake and bad routechoices. The result was decent though - 5th, 2:33 behind Daniel Hubmann. But I was left with an unwanted tired feeling in my legs. Felt as if I had run a long distance competition... There was nothing left to do except recover well and try not to think about it.

The final
I felt ready, knew what to do and how to do it. Confident as ever, while still maintaining a cautious angle to it all. It went quite smoothly in the beginning and the legs were all right. Before the 5th control I was a bit confused. I mixed up the small hills near the circle and wasn't quite sure which rocks were which, but fortunately I didn't lose too much time on this. The climb on the long leg was hard, but I could withstand it. By the map exchange I wasn't feeling very sharp anymore and just then started the physically toughest part of the course. I was trying to be as levelheaded as possible, but somehow I missed the 11th control. I was eagerly looking around and suspected the control to be on the right, but I just did not see the re-entrant forming there and I reached the next one. Then to the 12th I made a routechoice which I can't approve now. For some reason I thought that going from the left was tough and slow. I don't know why I thought like that, I guess I was too tired to think clearly, I felt "acid burning in my thighs". And the following leg I decided to just fight it out, I didn't think going around would help me much anymore. I was very tired going uphill; flat or downhill was pretty good, especially technically and the end was just pushing as hard as I could.
Looking at the splits, it's clear that the biggest losses came from legs 11, 12 and 14. Tired legs, bad routechoices and a mistake. It was worth a 13th place. I did not achieve my goal, but I'm satisfied that I improved compared to previous years. I'm also very happy for the winner - Leonid Novikov! He really had earned that medal!
Photo: WorldofO.com
The relay
We were ready for this, more than ever. Olle and Timo made very impressive races in a very tight competition and sent me out 4th on the last leg, 1:40 behind the leader and a few seconds ahead of Switzerland and Norway. I was feeling physically stronger than the day before and was doing very well most of the way, just a small mistake with the 3rd. But then - the 6th control. I was very sure that I went straight for the control, but I didn't see any cliff or flag. I was confused, why wasn't it there? Looking at the GPS, I guess I was at a very close distance above the cliff and did not even notice it. I lost a minute there. I stayed calm and carried on. To the 10th I decided to take a technically easier and seemingly faster route to avoid the green and marshes, but in reality it was not that fast. Running down the hill wasn't as fast as it had looked on the map. Then I made a terrible direction mistake. It's strange though, cause I was reading the map and following the compass, but maybe not carefully enough? I thought I had been running pretty much straight under the line but was later way up in the ling re-entrant, checking out the wrong cliffs. At the same time Finland and Norway passed...
Though it's the best place Estonian men have ever gotten, I don't feel satisfied at all. I feel that I let down my team and there's no way to fix that. I did what I could, but this is how it turned out this time. It's especially bitter, as we could see that our dream of a medal was not just a hype. In another place at another time.

All in all, I think I was mentally very ready for the main competition of the year, but not ready physically. The trainings have gone well, I could put out all I had and timed the wished top shape pretty well, but the basic fitness was just not good enough to carry it through this tough competition after the first half of the season. But also technically, there is still enough to improve and to work on, especially when tiredness kicks in.

Thanks to all my supporters and fans, we'll be back next year!

6 July 2013


Now it's five days left until my first race here, at World Championships in Vuokatti, Finland. Maybe you've figured out by now that this year I'm running only the middle distance and relay, which are on similar terrain. I feel technically more prepared for this WOC than on any of the previous ones. Now I have basically been to three camps with as relevant terrains as possible and I've also ran on numerous other similar Finnish terrains over the last few years. I decided quite early that I would skip the long distance since my preparation has been too short to last 5 tough races in 7 days. Also the complex and tough middle distance terrain suits me better so I have put all the effort there. Our team has also focused more on the relay than previous years. We have a strong team that should be physically and technically capable of handling this discipline well on all the three legs.

WOC middle final 2012
By Sixten Sild
The trainings have gone quite smoothly after the last post here and I feel physically fine. There haven't been any competitions lately, so I can't say for sure how the shape is. I'm not worried though, at the beginning of the season I had some doubt in reaching the necessary level at all. Now I know that I have come this far and am able to match the top orienteers in the world. I am optimistic and still aim to peak top shape for the coming days.
Let the O-party begin!
By Olle Kärner
My schedule is quite short and tight, three days in a row: middle qualification + final on Thursday + Friday and relay on Saturday. There will surely be GPS tracking, live results and TV broadcast on some channels (YLE for ex). Links will appear on the WOC page. Until then I'll continue tuning in on the main event of the year and cheer for my teammates and friends that are running sprint and long distance.

26 June 2013

Jukola & WOC Camps

Summers are always packed with trips to here and there, often I wish I had a manager to take care of all the travelling, planning, accommodating and I could just concentrate on the fun part and maybe even write here more often. The organizing duty is always a bore and takes up a lot of time and money, but in the end it's almost always worth it. This season's main destination so far has been Finland of course, fortunately a somewhat convenient destination for Estonians.

The first WOC camp this year was at the end of May around Koli national park in North Karelia, which is a fantastic place! The variating trainings were a lot of fun, especially on the demanding and beautiful terrains around Tahkovaara! Some trainings from the camp: Tahkovaara intervals map, Tahkovaara middle map, Aisus intervals map, Oinasvaara middle map, Kauhee middle map.
Right after the camp, I participated in Väinänperän middle distance competition. I did not run at full competition speed, but the feet were very tired from the camp and it was very tough anyway. Then I made, what has to be this year's biggest, a more than 6 minute mistake! The mind was surely tired. I started to read the next leg already, which kinda fit in the situation, but not actually... 
By Olle Kärner
The weekend before Jukola, I ran at Suunto Games. I was feeling rather tired after putting the last things in order for Tallinn O-Week final races. So I ran the first day's middle distance fast, but without extra effort. 4th place, 2:17 behind. The next day's long distance I didn't know what to expect. The beginning went well, but soon I got tired and decided not to torture my exhausted body any more. 11th place, 9:13 behind.
Middle distance map, results
Long distance map, results
By Pekka Luoma
Before the big Jukola itself, it was hard to tell if I had recovered or not. But as the race approached, worries faded. The men were ready and HiKi was eager to fight for the victory. We lost some valuable time on the first leg and were 75th, 4:15 behind, I tried to fix that on the second leg. The course was rather easy and there were already a lot of new paths. As long as I could run on my own, it went pretty well and smooth. After catching the big group, it was not that easy any more. I deliberately made different route choices just to be able to pass the teams I had caught and maintain my own speed. During the last part of the course I was in a ~5 runner pack, where I tried to make a gap, but was not able to. Like at 10MILA, I made odd mistakes with the controls. The leader was just 36 seconds away by the 20th control, but by the end it was 1:34 with 8th position. Leonid started well too, but soon made a ~5 minute mistake... That was a crucial moment for us, it would not be easy to reach the top again, we were 37th at that point. I was quite disappointed and after some time tried to sleep at the arena. I was waken up by the speaker talking about Valentin taking 3rd position! Wow, the guys had been running really well! Quickly to the finish to join the guys for the run-in, what a great moment! Good to see our capacity at Jukola and our hunger is only growing... Next year?
Story of a dinner
By Olle Kärner
The next week team Duncan went to the second camp at Koli for the final touch before WOC. Besides the cultural experience week, I made less and slightly different trainings this time: very easy recovery running at Kahuee map, intervals at Juuanvaara map (with 25 meter contour lines) and the most technical training as a warm up for the Finnish middle distance selection race. I wanted to run the race seriously, but the legs were simply tired, nothing more to it. No flow almost at all. Shame, but good training nevertheless. Map, results, GPS tracking
Smoke sauna? I guess so!
By Olle Kärner
Two weeks left!

24 May 2013

End of Act One

Baltic Championships marked the end of the spring season. The weather had become unbearably hot, a near 30 degree heatwave made the long distance very difficult. The previous week it was just warm and it already felt uncomfortable, now it was much worse. The legs were thick and as if glued to the ground. Nothing new. I felt generally discomposed, but I was trying to get in the right mode. The start went well, I was still pretty much in the game until about half an hour. It was already hard, but from approximately the 6th-7th control it was a whole other type of pushing. I had to force myself physically and technically the whole course after that. Small climbs were as walls, but fortunately I was still able to run (or sometimes walk) technically well. Different routechoices were pretty equal - if you're not strong enough, you lose anyway. It was a struggle til the end, but it could have been worse. On long distances in this kind of weather I've usually lost from 7 to 15 minutes or even more to the winner, this time it was "only" 6:20. I have to turn more attention to this matter, though it seems to be a bit better than before. The starting field was strong, fortunately the victory was left home anyway!
Photo: Mihkel Järveoja
What a man-to-man race the relay turned out to be! Because of an organisational mishap, the first teams of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had all the same forkings throughout all three legs. The fast course made the race very tight, it all lasted til the last climb on the last leg...
Peeter's intro went well and he finished first with some seconds ahead. I was in the lead most of the second leg and was disappointed that the closest rivals always had the same controls. I had no physical advantage, I was stiff and they were strong. On the long leg I made a surprise routechoice and gained some 15 meters, which melted very quickly. A mistake with the 12th reversed our order, but it was pretty clear that we would finish pretty much together. Pushed as I could up the last hill. Timo was doing a good job, but as already said, it all worked out on the last climb. See the video! This time, Lithuania won, Latvia second and we got the bronze. The every-second-counts race may have been very exciting for the spectator, but I think it did not offer much orienteering for the competitors. At least it was not as bad as Tomáš' weekend in Finland.
"Right there I saw Raphanus"
Photo: Andy Karjus
Now it is time to thoroughly recover and build up some base again. So mostly basic aerobic training is on the menu for the following short training cycle. First, Jukola camp on the weekend, just to get familiar with what we're up against. Then WOC camp in Koli area. It's going to be a progressive cycle with good company!
What do you make of this?
Photo: Mihkel Järveoja

15 May 2013

The Mark Has Been Made

Finally, I am an Estonian Champion! Individually, that is. It was a very tight race, perhaps the tightest ever in Estonian middle distance Champs? I won with only a 4 second margin ahead of Timo. Furthermore, he defeated Olle by only 1 second! Peeter was a minute behind, followed by Kristo and Kenny within 17 seconds. It was an exciting fight until the very last finish!
Team Untuva
I was not feeling very sharp during warm-up and knew that it's going to be a fight with myself the whole way. The course was pretty straightforward, but had more or less all the components that a good middle distance needs. It was definitely fast and was as technical as the terrain could offer. Right from the beginning there was no doubt that I could not afford a too safe tactic and have to maintain high speed throughout the whole course. So my technical performance was very raw and rough around the edges - I didn't put much effort into micro routechoices. I just dove in, head first. Pushing too hard cost me two notable mistakes, but eventually brought the victory. Still this is not the way I want run, for example, at World Champs, where a fluent flawless performance in necessary to eventually achieve flow.
I always try to find the reasons for the mistakes that I've made and I can usually blame myself for them, but these two mistakes leave me a bit restless. Going to the 4th I passed a small distinct waterbody, which is why I swung left. And going to the 14th, I crossed the narrow ride right by the foot of the small hill. I thought I had been running pretty much under the line. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I lost about 40 seconds on each.

I've got some more good news! I have been selected to the Estonian Olympic Committee's „aftergrowth team“ along with many more young talented athletes. The 2000 € stipend I received is of great help and will surely find good use. Here's the news clip from the press conference.
Non-Olympic sports
Photo: EOK
I have also two new sponsors that are supporting my contribution to orienteering:
Firstly, Duncan is supplying me with the best possible training and competition apparel. Check out their webstore and I'm sure you'll find the necessary gear for all endurance sports at a good price!
Secondly, Bestworks - a young company with strong able-bodied men offering mainly moving and transport services, but also taking on all kinds of different jobs that are requested. I you need something to be done, they'll make an offer you can't refuse!

I am very thankful to all who have helped me on my way, or better yet, Our way. All this recognition is inspiring me more and more!

Coming up: Baltic Championships, with live GPS tracking on Saturday and Sunday.

8 May 2013

One for the Team

Don't know how to tell the story of 10MILA, so I'll just start with my race. I ran the 3rd leg, after great performances from Perttu Sorsa and Pete Forsman. The immortal Wolverine sent me out as 13th, 3:28 behind the lead. I started off rather offensively, but by the first control I realised that I had to take some time to adapt to night orienteering. The current technical abilities did not allow me to fully realise my physical capacity, two night sessions over the span of five weeks is clearly not enough. A good night orienteer has to have a lot of guts and be very confident. At that moment, I had guts, but not very much confidence. So I lied low for a while, not leading the group, but still being in control. Therefore I did not hesitate to take my own routechoices. We all know where following blindly on a forked course can lead... After the 8th control, I started taking more initiative and prepared to break loose from the group. By then, Vetle Ruud Bråten (IFK Göteborg) was steadily dragging the group, doing an excellent job. Right before the 10th control, I saw an opportunity and took it. Speeded up and tried to get out of sight, but that did not last for long - the rather indistinct terrain was very difficult for night orienteering and I got caught up. On the way to the 13th I should have leaned to the hills on the left, which would have allowed to maintain the speed. Soon it was time for try number two. Even if I got a small gap, I could not handle navigating in the dark and lost valuable seconds to the 14th and 15th. By the 16th control, the race had reached the phase where the runners start getting tired. The 17th was an excellent physically tough leg to give it another try. Again, I managed to stretch out the group, but a mistake before the control erased the gap and even left me some seconds behind. Why the mistake? The green on the map was just twigs and had a very distinct boundary, which is why I thought I had reached the vegetation boundary on the map. Speeded up and caught the lead. Then leaving the 19th, I followed a footpath down the hill, which was not on the map? That was no ant trail... From there on, there was not much to think about. In the very end, I pushed as hard as I could, but the whole run in to the maps was so long! Finished first, 8 seconds ahead, but it was less than 8 seconds by the map exchange...
Right after the race
Looking back at the race, I guess it was pointless to try and break away from the group. Of course I did not know if we were the leaders at any point, but as I saw that Järla was with us, it was rather wise to be in the finish close to them. Olle Boström would definitely be leading the cavalry in the dark night, and he did, of which we benefited. If I would have managed to escape, would we have finished at a higher position? I think not. That's how it is at 10MILA, with the non-forking long night leg. As for my individual result, it was far from perfect. But for the team, it was the best I could provide and I'm glad! 

Best Finno-Ugric team?
This was my and also Hiidenkiertäjät's best total result - we finished 5th! Most of us are satisfied with our races, but some not. Not easy for 10 men to have a good day (night) at the same time... At least there's reserve for HiKi's main goal: Jukola!
The only team members that still feel like running
(there is four of them)

Coming up: Estonian middle distance Championships

30 April 2013

Open Season

You know that feeling at the beginning of the season, before the first competition? The one when you don't really know how you compare to your opponents? The one when you don't know if you still remember how to orienteer? The one when you can feel the slight tension in your stomach? The one with a hint of nervousness and excitement? Well, that's exactly what I felt before FinnSpring. Years of experience enables me to calm myself, but still leave the necessary suspense to maintain a bit more aggressive attitude towards the competition.
Äitin kalsarit
By Pauli Forma
I'm glad to say that I am positively surprised of how I managed the 17 km technical long distance. As anticipated, I lacked lightness in my legs, but was able to push all the way through the course. It was difficult, but enjoyable. The overall feeling even improved during the race, it was only the usual sore muscles on the climbs during the last few kilometers of the course that tried to get me to walk. The worst part is after a real long distance: feeling tired and sleepy, but not really able to sleep; feeling hungry, but not really able to eat; plus a twisting stomach...
Technically I did okay, most of the time. Lost a lot with the 15th: I wanted to go straight to the north of the houses by the big road, but as the forest seemed rather impenetrable, I decided to go around. Also, in the green before the control, I lost contact with the map. All that cost me about 2:30. Second biggest loss is to the 30th: wanted to avoid the marsh (which was actually good to run) and fought through the terrible green. Extra 40 seconds right there. Some other stuff too. In total I finished 7th, 4:08 behind Topi Anjala. 5th place was just 5 seconds away... I think this was a good start for the season.
What the hell is going on in this photo?
By Pauli Forma
For the relay, I hadn't any "juice" left. Did 3 mistakes inside the control circle in a row from 2nd to 4th. My head was not in the game, nor were my feet. Too bad, because the course was fun. So I continued in a steady pace without draining my last resources. Otherwise how am I to recover from an exhausting weekend?

23 April 2013

Getting Ready

Now, my real season opener is less than a week away and I'm really looking forward to it. FinnSpring seems to be offering a tough competition - 16,9 km in technical terrain that will surely put the runners to the test. Additionally, the relay will be a good pre-race for 10MILA.

The last weeks have pretty much gone as planned. Though sometimes during intensive sessions it feels that the physical status is not that bad at all and then at other times it feels like I've never been in this bad shape before. But this is mighty familiar from previous spring seasons.
Kurzemes Pavasaris, 1st day
As promised, two weeks ago I attended Kurzemes Pavasaris. I was expecting for good map trainings, with more physical effort on the WRE middle distance. Sadly there was too much snow in the terrain, therefore most of the time it was either following a snow path (had a late start) or making my own path (while losing a lot of time). Unexpectedly, the feeling was quite good and I was 4th, 1:25 behind. But due to the conditions, the result list is not very objective and I'm not drawing any conclusions. The next day I started early, which made it physically very difficult to fight my way through the snow and sometimes forcing me to take unconventional route choices. Any desire to push myself disappeared very early. Not that I had that much left in me anyway, two days in a row was just too much for me.
1. day map, splits
2. day map, splits
Now, spring has finally arrived, making it possible to orienteer at "home". I gained new experience when taking part in a 3-day competition on my first ever visit to Russia. Why "home"? Well, I think terrains in 100 km radius from home should be considered as home terrains. New maps and milieu really made the trip worthwhile. It was sprint, "long"- and "middle" distance and since I was also running Jüriöö night relay in Estonia on Saturday night, I used the sprint as a good warm-up for it and the forest distances as regular map trainings. Saturday's course was physically pretty difficult, but fortunately didn't affect the night competition much. The night competition itself, on the other hand, really altered the feeling for the Sunday's start as you might have guessed already. It was still a very nice training! The event and the local atmosphere altogether was very laid-back, which made it very enjoyable.
1. day map, splits
2. day map, splits (not trustworthy split times)
3. day map, splits
Park wherever you want, build fire wherever you want
Jüriöö was somewhat nondescript for me. I showed up, ran the last leg and went home, that was pretty much it. The race itself was dull - street race with no contact from any rivals. Orienteering was very unfamiliar, not used to reading path crossings and street corners during races. Physically it was not difficult to run, but same time it didn't feel like I was really running. Undefined feeling. Sadly because of a missing punch from the previous leg, we were disqualified, which I found out only after my finish. Congrats to the victorious OK Ilves team!
Map, results, GPS tracking
Pskov library

1 April 2013

Like a Foot Entering a Marsh in Early Spring

About three months of preparation feels like the minimum amount ahead of a season. It finally feels like there's a good base forming, like something's been done right and I'm heading in the right way. It's a start. A few more weeks and at least by 10MILA, things should start looking up for me. Usually by now I'd be itching for early spring competitions, but when I look out the window, winter is still in full swing. While a late season start, given my current state, would suit me, I am indeed waiting vigorously for the competitions to start. What better training is there for orienteering if not an orienteering competition? So on the upcoming weekend, I'm going to participate in Kurzemes Pavasaris in Latvia. Still some snow there, but looks promising and interesting. I've no expectations, except for fluent performances on interesting courses.

Got milk?
The training volumes have continued to rise, also the proportion of running. Over the months I've managed to move towards orienteering-specific training. The transition towards running has so far been successful. Now it's time to continue taking this thing into the forest. After the kick-off in Spain, the running conditions have been terrible here and running on home roads may sometimes resemble ice-skating. Fortunately, last week I had the opportunity to orienteer around Ventspils on more or less snowless terrains. The whole camp was a blast! Great terrains, great maps and great courses. Though I had already orienteered in Spain, this felt like the real season opener. Nothing beats the feeling of a foot entering a marsh in early spring. Every year, the familiar extraordinary feeling when running with a map on soft moss for the first time again tells me, this is what I do best, I was made for this! The trainings showed that I can handle the map well ahead of the season, if I just put my mind to it. 
Here are the maps from the camp:
Map 1: relay course (without flags) in Ventspils
Map 2: long distance in Jaunupe, EOC 2008 middle final terrain
Map 3: middle distance in Cirpstene
Map 4: middle distance race in Jaunupe, EOC middle qualification terrain
Map 5: night training in Cirpstene
Map 6: long training
Game Of Thrones
No joke here. Seriously, no joke.

11 March 2013

No Struggle, No Progress

My latest update here was followed by a steady training period. I did a good deal of skiing, while the emphasis was still on running. Increasing training volumes step by step was working well. The aerobic base was improving, whilst orienteering based physical and technical traits were pretty untouched. This needed and still needs to be dealt with. February robbed a lot of time and effort, since I was the course setter for the XII Estonian Winter Games ski-orienteering venue. Course setter, as in setting courses on paper and setting them out in the snow. It's a tough job, especially in deep snow and antique hardware. To steer a Buran is a real art - "Riding a Buran - just like sailing!" And when sailing on a dense network of paths with a lot of sharp turns and junctions, one has to be a skilled logistic too (otherwise happy lifting and digging!). I think that I mastered conducting this beast pretty well.
Still running strong
The last week of preparing this event was pretty intense and nerve-racking. Partly because I myself would not be present during the competition at all. No, instead I would be finally able to train "freely" and run on solid ground, holding an orienteering map - I would be going to "sunny" Barbate, Spain. Relatively fast sand dune terrains awaited.
High season
I was really glad to be finally here, with nothing hindering my training, I hoped. The first decent training ended in exhaustion. Don't know exactly if the exertion from all the organizing and travelling, my sore wisdom teeth or all these combined caused a pre-sickness state which I could feel, especially with my eyes. I decided to give the body some time to recover. All was well again, I eased back into training and it felt alright. Then after a morning training, I wasn't feeling well anymore. Just perfect timing. Being sick-sick is not like me, not a bit, this was something strange. It didn't feel like the body was fighting a virus or some bacteria, but I did have a temperature. Anyway, after one day in bed regime, I felt well again. I decided to skip all trainings the following day too, to be sure that I get well. This made my camp a lot shorter unfortunately, but all in all I think I still gained a lot.
Now the camp is reaching its end. Had some good trainings here, as well as some bad ones. Both of which will keep me going. The technical side is rusty and needs a thorough polish. I don't worry about it too much, it will come in time. Some of the maps from this camp can be looked up on the maps page. 
Typical weather
How it will look like when the competitions start, is unclear. But the possibility to be competing with the best this season, is there. Won't be easy though.

25 January 2013

Reacquaint Exercising

With the new year, my preparation for the upcoming season finally began. It's a pretty late start and this will have a great impact on my season. I'm going to have to go through all the different necessary preparation stages, but since I'm behind on my schedule, I'll have to do it in less time. It's going to be quite a compact program, so I'll have to make the best of the time I have. As a compromise, the competitive season will start a bit later for me, so I'll have more time to prepare and build up a solid base.
Morning on doorstep
Right now the status is not that bright. Considering the last few months, the aerobic capacity is actually not that bad, but there's definitely a lot to do to catch up. I won't be racing in any skiing marathons this winter, I just don't have enough base to benefit from it as a training. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite confident that I would do great in them, I just doubt it will do me any good in the long run. I simply have to focus on what's important. Skiing as a training method, on the other hand, serves great purpose. A sudden rise in training load is risky business, especially with running. That's why skiing is great way for general physical training, helping avoid excessive loads on joints and also be as a good workout.
Gloomier days
In the beginning on the month, I was enjoying the great nature, weather and skiing tracks up in Evertsberg, Sweden. After military service, going out to train or even having the opportunity to work out felt unfamiliar. The famous Vasaloppet tracks and the hills nearby offered a comfy location to reacquaint with physical exercise. Dividing my training with skiing and running, I gained the good old training sensation that I missed beforehand. The camp went relatively well and I'm glad that I could adapt to the training load quickly.
...and sundown, the main part of the day
Coming back home again, me Timo and Sari had a nice Sunday long training at Nike Winter XDream 9 in Ebavere. No expectations, no stress, just a long steady exercise. Nevertheless we had the chance to win in the mixed teams category. But that was ruined in our last control, when we found out that one of our SI-cards (out of three) from EMITland had only 30 control memory and since the memory was full, we could not punch the control in any way (which, by the way, was in the wrong place anyway! - check the map). There was also no backup mechanical punching unit either, so there was nothing else we could do. We were in fact first out of the mixed teams, but explaining the organizers didn't help, we didn't get that last control. So we got one point less and were 55th/15th. It may all be politically correct, in the end our team was the fastest of mixed teams to go through all the controls whichever way looking at it. Not that it was that important in the first place. Results, map.

3 seconds of fame 2:42-2:45

Now it's time to carry on getting stronger!