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.