Saturday, 17 July 2010

Sprint battles against Sarah

Since moving back to the South, I have been making the most of the good sprint training opportunities. Not only are there world class areas, lots of events but also Sarah Rollins (probably Britain's best sprint orienteer) lives nearby. This has meant that I have been able to measure my performances against her each time I go out which has been very fun. Obviously I don't know whether she is racing hard or just running at training pace, but it has at least kept me motivated to run fast!

The first of the events was at the University of Surrey, Guildford, used for the World Cup Qualifiers in 2005. It was a Friday evening after work and within reach of the train station, so very handy. My aim was to run it hard as in a race, but with a special focus on control descriptions, mainly remembering numbers in advance. I think you can save a bit here, particularly in sprint racing. I ran ok, up the wrong alley to 3, and bad route to 13 (looks good but more steps and in and out of buildings), miss at 18 (went up by number 1 - bad route in first place). But I enjoyed it so much. It was really tricky, very difficult to read (although I expect better printing and paper might slightly help that) and was an awesome evenings training. Sarah beat me. But only by 25 seconds. Results are on the Guildford Orienteers Website.

The next morning there was a Berkshire Orienteers park race not far from where I lived. I cycled there with my brother and ran the long course. I didn't get the chance to warm up as we were late, but I don't think it affected me so much. My plan was to always stay ahead of myself decision wise while keeping the tempo high. The first few controls were easy, but the white forest was not runnable due to the amount of stinging nettles. The course really got going out in the streets and I was pleased with all the controls in this section. There were only some small hesitations that would not show up on routes or splits that I know myself I need to improve on if I am going to become world class. I finished that section pretty pleased and then almost immediately proved to myself how not-world class I am. From 14 to 15, I didn't even look at the compass but just ran aimlesssly off into the corner. I was annoyed at myself, mostly because my legs were tired and did not appreciate the extra distance. I was annoyed afterwards as that was where really I lost it to Sarah - otherwise I was within 20 seconds overall. Results are here and click the map extract for route gadget.

The final race was a longer urban race in Guildford city centre the following weekend. I was looking forward to this, but had been struggling physically since my 10km/cycle effort on the Wednesday. I got up on Saturday and decided not to go, had a shower, and then thought the legs felt good enough that it would be silly not to at least turn up. Just as well! The race itself was great fun. I was always having to think. Only when I got to the second last control did I switch off and just run home. When I got dead running I tried to plan as many legs in advance as I wasn't feeling energetic enough to stretch out. It was very hot and by the end I was totally shattered. My only mistake was about 30 seconds at 12, when I was the wrong side of the wall. I had realised that I needed to work out what side the control was on, but I got it wrong, getting my control descriptions muddled up. Otherwise I can't think of much to complain about. I was sad to see that Sarah had mispunched this race (she missed 15, though not sure what happened). But what was really encouraging for me was to see that I more than matched her running speed throughout. I finished 1 minute ahead (although she was disqualified obviously). So I pulled one back in the head-to-head battles (which, incidentally, she doesn't know or probably care that I'm having). Again, here for results, click the map for routegadget.

Next week I'm off to the World Students in Borlange, Sweden. I'm running the long, sprint and relay. I'm wanting some good results, not just good performances. Sometime soon I really have to start producing them.

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