Friday, 26 August 2011

WOC 2011

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My first World Champs and they weren't a disappointment. I really enjoyed the whole experience, preparing to race, being on the start line, racing through crowds, commentary, big screen, adrenaline, getting to the finish line.

I came 22nd in the sprint final and I was very happy with that. Even though before the championships I had been hoping for a top 20, I was pleased with my performance on the day and so I can't complain about the result. I was most happy with the fact that I'm learning to produce good performances under pressure - something I've never really done before. My aim this year was to move up from just running international races to being reliably in the top 30 so it's nice to have achieved that so far.

3-4 on this map is 14-15 in the race.
Red route best, yellow route mine.
Maps and results found here
Without getting too geeky, I've done a bit of splittimes analysis. In the final I was between 6 - 38% behind the fastest time for each leg but most of them around 16%. I didn't think I had made any mistakes when I had finished, but this analysis showed up that I took a longer route to 15 and lost 10 seconds. It also showed up that I started a bit steady compared to others. At control 5, I had lost 40 seconds to the leaders after 4 minutes running. By control 12, I was only a minute behind after 9 minutes running.

The good bits seemed to stand out as a section between controls 6-10 where I was in the castle grounds, and from 16 to the finish. I also seemed to loose less time on the long leg (7 seconds from a 1.40ish split) than I did on most controls of around 1 minute. Drawing some vague conclusions, running speed is not a main weakness (although it still needs to improve) but flow through controls definitely is.

After all that was over, I got to enjoy the men's race: see GG get even closer to the medals, watch Murray improve again on last year and cheer Scott on to an amazing performance after such a crazy few hours of disqualification debate. It was a good day for British sprinters (Sarah was 13th and Hollie 26th) and it was fun to be part of it.

The view from Dent du Chat - the obvious
rock sticking out from the ridge opposite Aix-les-Bains
The rest of the week was spent running up mountains in baking heat to get incredible views followed by watching the worlds best orienteers get lost in the forest. Respect to anyone who found a control out there, just watching the GPS made me confident I made the right decision to run the sprint and not the long. Despite nearly 3 weeks of training camps in the terrain, I was still in no position to race in it.

Although I'll hopefully be heading to the final rounds of the world cup in Czech and Switzerland in September/October, it's a good time to look back on my season. I've improved more than I thought I would both physically and technically and this translated into surprise wins in the domestic season and my totally unexpected 12th at one of the Nordic Tour races. I think this is because I have been working part-time so I have increased my training hours and quality and had better recoveries. My work was also very flexible so I could do a number of training camps in the Lake District and make up for the poor terrain around London.

The main hairpins of Alp d'Huez
- one of the amazing runs I did during July
The only slightly negative thing is that I have a (unproven) feeling that I was in better physical shape in June than I was at WOC. As I spent a lot of July travelling I didn't get the quality interval sessions in that I needed to at this stage. Again, I've looked at split times in the Nordic Tour race and saw I was more like 10-12% behind the fastest split times for each leg. Either I got slower over the next 6 weeks or the others improved more. Whichever it is, it's a lesson I should learn for next season. However, there are no regrets. I had a great month doing a lot of training that helped me be better prepared in other ways for WOC and hopefully making me better when I get back to chasing the flags in the forest.

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