Monday, 21 March 2011

Southern UK Cup Weekend

Last weekend saw the second and third races of the UK Cup series. Despite not all the big names choosing to travel, there was still quite a strong field and the first real chance to see who had been training well this winter.   

credit: Ian Buxton
The first race was the Chasing Sprint at Shotover Country Park, Oxford. It was a lovely day with nice sunshine, great atmosphere as we hung around in between races and the planner did a fantastic job with what wasn’t the most inspiring area. The prologue started with 4 controls very close together in some scrappy forest. I took these mega carefully, not wanting to blow the race straight away. There was then the chance to stretch the legs on quite a long route choice leg. I really went for this one, as you can tell by the splits, and this was where I won the race. I pushed on hard, and apart from a mistake at 7, I got all the fastest splits in the last section. This gave me a bit over a 1 minute lead on Heather Gardner and the chasing pack.

prologue map

prologue heart rate graph

The chase didn’t go as well. I was trying to keep calm, knowing I had a fair gap. I felt the nerves as I was indecisive on route choices, hesitant into controls, and often making a mess coming out of them. I made a mistake at 6 when I ran to a control I had in the prologue. I also missed the last control but managed to keep enough ahead of a very speedy Claire Ward to take the victory. I was really pleased with my prologue result as the orienteering felt very fluent (see the heart rate graph – it almost looks like a running race). I wasn’t happy with my orienteering in the chase, but pleased that I held on. It would have been typical me to mispunch or go completely awol.

credit: Ian Buxton

The following day was a long race at Hambleden, Henley. I was more nervous than the previous day as I was starting to get cocky and think about winning again rather than thinking about orienteering. The run itself wasn’t a total disaster, but the more I go over it, the more I work out where I lost time. I don’t think I ever really clicked into racing gear physically or mentally. I rarely picked the best route choice, I messed up a conservative estimate of 4 mins 30 in control circles and my heart rate graph showed that I was not near racing zone and not very fluent at all. I ended up 4th, but about 2 mins 30 down on Claire Ward, who I don’t think ran perfectly either.
In summary, this weekend showed me that I have got speed and I can be confident in that but I can still lose lots on the navigation.

The other exciting thing is number of girls who can win races this season. And a lot of us did not run WOC last year. No time for being complacent.
March continues with two mega hard training weeks (I’m writing this halfway through one and I can confirm I am knackered). I will then ease up as April starts, trying to get some harder faster stuff going on.

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