The first three days were a combination of jet lag, 2 maps, 1 race, and getting out of bed at 2pm at one point, subsequently taking a rest day. Hence comes my compilation about my current impressions of Finland, how this JWOC is going to turn out, and onward will follow.
On the first day, I was kind of itching to get on a map, because we happened to live by one, and was torn between resting (as we flew in that night) or going for a run. So after a few hours of contemplation I ended up deciding to go for a run. Initially I was thinking about doing something easy and short like 5km, but as I approached 5km, then my hand kept drawing until I had a nice 8km course done. So I was like “meh” and went to run it.
Aside from the first hardship (running the day you fly in) I managed to not memorize the route to the start very well and ended up running an unintentional loop, clocking a solid 3km for my warm up.
|Shouldn`t have turned right... :(|
The terrain was pretty (as in really) good, and could be compared to the likes of the technical difficulty of OO-Cup, or the finest maps that Norway and Sweden have to offer. In this first training, I had a hell of a time remembering how to run straight on a bearing in such complex terrain. (To make myself feel better I do remember Ollie Ojanaho, and this Czech dude slowing down to my speed at JWOC on a certain leg on which they were passing me on, in order to avoid making a mistake) So that was problem A), with problem B) being running fast, this terrain in certain places is very close to the vegetative mess that we have back in Bow Valley, so the running would be very suitable for me (had I trained a bit more) alas it is just as difficult, if not more, due to the rocks that are everywhere.
|Halfway through the first course, relearning how to orienteer...|
|My routes compared to optimal (darker green)|
After the first four kilometers, I was able to re-calibrate into a sort of rough style that uses the compass as a major crutch. A little more than I would like it to, but what can I say? If it works, it works. And so far, its been working well enough. Below are some legs that went better then the above ones.
The method is, using as precise a compass as possible, and then a joint focus on reading the large contours (on this map, meaning the hills) and sort of using your peripheral vision to know where you are in the terrain. The components of this method that I still feel I lack are speed and accuracy which come hand in hand. Starting with accuracy, I don’t have an exact enough perception of my location, and all the features in my midst until I am approaching the control, or am passing through an area where I am surrounded by details, and want to make sure that I’m staying on my line. In order to utilize this perception, I need to slow down into a jolty walk/jog. Effectively I’m just complaining that I can’t run through this really detailed terrain. SO, plan for bettering, will be outlined in the conclusion of this post.
The rocks are really good, so you want to use those to figure out where you are at when you can. On my second training I constructed a leg where you literally had only your bearing for navigation, and had to hit a rock, I missed and got one to the right, but it comes to show how mandatory they are, and you need to be able to use them. Knolls are great; you just need to understand the size of the ones which are mapped, because some are, some aren’t and you just gotta get that sixth sense for which ones are the right ones.
By the end of the first training, I sort of had a bit of flow. The second training, which I was accompanied with by my little brother, was a bit more technical if I dare say so. (he took 6 hours and I took about 3h) I purposefully chose the most technical sections that were left and so even my pace was diminished, as one could see by the end of the course by my GPS line (which is mostly red meaning slow). I was much straighter on this training, which is a joy. Yet I’ll still need to work on the speed.
One leg ended up being one of the hardest that I have ever run in my life. It effectively became a blind bearing, but I had a the subtle wisps of an idea of where I was and therefore I would still count it as skill; as opposed to pure luck. I managed to hit the control fairly accurately, with a very good line.
|Off to a better start than yesterday.|
|Faring a bit better in the complex areas.|
|The miracle control.|
After running back home a whopping 5km (I intended to do a line-o but was running late so skipped it), I was out for two hours before waking up for the race that I missed in Tampere. (Which was fine because I couldn’t race and there was less pressure like this) Fortunately for me the controls were still out, and I had my GPS watch hence the pretty track you can see below on the map.
|Some legs that show my one-day progress.|
Because the terrain was simpler, I was able to go faster, (still super tired though) but it was great and in hindsight, I know I just need to focus on planning ahead in order to eliminate the stops and walks that occur in parts.
1. Planning ahead
2. Not stopping
I think if I focus on these two things for the next few days, my navigation and speed should stabilize and decrease respectively. I will probably attempt to achieve this through more high (possibly over) speed orienteering, where I really get the process of bearings, reading ahead, and checking the map and terrain down. I’m thinking of 4-5 leg intervals under a kilometer, with breaks in between, on different maps, in order to max out that speed and highlight my critical mistakes.
Oops sun is rising :P probably should get some shut eye before I run again. Quick Route takes forever! Or maybe its just this internet connection…