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