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!

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