Friday 7 September 2012

NORT stage 4 = DSQ

Today was the second last stage af NORT 2012, a sprint qualification and final in Kajaani, Finland. My knee has been much better the last two days, and with some painkillers, I didn't feel any pain today.

I did a good and solid qualification race, with a good technical flow, and the legs feeling good. The only mistake I made was to the 10th control where I simply didn't see the flag and was just standing 5-10m away from it for some seconds before i saw it. I lost 10 seconds to the best split there. In the finish I was only 7 seconds behind the leader as nr. 7, and would have ended up as 11th, 24 seconds behind.

BUT... When they read my Emit-card in the finish, they said that I didn't have a punch on the 14th control. I remembered one control where I didn't punch it 100% because of too high speed, but running away from it, I thought that it would still be good enough. And it would have been in 9 out of 10 times I guess, but not this time, and I was disqualified because I didn't have the punch on my backup either. That's the rules and I have to accept that it wasn't good enough today, even though it is one of the worst ways to be disqulified, because I was on the control and people saw me there. Especially because it means that I'm out of the total NORT, and will not fight in the chasing start tomorrow for World Cup Points and glory.
We can have long discussion about the different timing systems, Emit and Sportident, and how well they are for different distances, but today there was no excuse for me, and I simply have to learn from it. The positive things from todays race is, that I actually did a very good sprint-performance in a kind of flat, urban terrain, which is normally not my favorite. I had a high speed and good routechoices, and I take a lot of positive things with me from the Sprint-part of NORT.

I will still run the competition tomorrow, starting far behind the others. But the terrain is very relevant for the middle distance and relay for WOC next year, and I can still compare to the best in the world, so I will do my best.

Thursday 6 September 2012

How to get a Knock-Out...

The middle-distance in Oslo was another success for me, with a 4th place, only 3 seconds of the podium. As I hoped, the start was placed at Vettakollen, and the first half of the course was really nice, with a lot of shorter legs with direction-change in beautiful terrain. I managed to avoid bigger mistakes and had a good feeling of flow in my orienteering even though I lost time to both 3rd and 7th control. On the second half of the course the terrain changed to be faster running but with more routechoices. I did well and had a clear third place in the race, but got caught on the top of a cliff to 18th control and lost important seconds. I pushed all I had on the tracks in the end, but in the finish I was too slow and Kyburz took the third place just 3 seconds in front of me. Still I was very satisfied with my performance and of course the result, which is my best in a World Cup race since 2008 (5th). And compared to my expectations, it was a positive experience to run the middle distance, because the course planners had chosen the best parts of the terrain and made a good course.

Yesterday it was time for 3rd stage of NORT, Knock-Out Sprint in Göteborg. The Qualification race went like the qualification in Norway, just good enough to qualify fot the final as nr 20, 57 seconds behind. But I lost almost 30 seconds going straight over the hill to the 7th control, partly because I had to jump 2 big cliffs which was not on the map to come down. My body and especially my stomach didn't feel very good in the qualification race, but in the afternoon I was feeling better, and I felt ready for a battle in semi-final.
My tactic was to be offensiv in the beginning and since the organisers "choose" to show the womens semifinal course on the big screen during the end of the qualification race, I (and everyone else I guess) knew almost every single control and routechoice before the start. What a mistake from the organizers...!
But what I did not know, was the the condition of the tree-surface in the starting and finish area. My coach tried to say that it was extremely slippery on the tree which was still wet because the sun did not dry it, but I couldn't hear him. So I tried to get a good position towards the first corner, but when I tried to jump the first step, my Inov8 slipt and I fell on the step with my knee, while the others tried to avoid me. My knee hurted, and I was very close to give up lying there, but I got up and tried to start running again. After some steps it felt better, and I decided to give it a go. So I put my map away, and run as fast as I could to close the gap to the others.  I managed to catch the tail on the first control but I was stressed as hell and I simply forgot to look at my map again. Towards the top of the hill I was in a good position, but the I felt very uncomfortable on the extremely slippery rocks, and couldn't focus on the orienteering. People were very confused out on the first butterflywing, myself included, and I got lost and simply couldn't find out were I was. After a minute or two I found the control together with Merz, but the race was lost even though I ran well on the last part of the course. On the way to the last control, I choose the fastest left routechoice (at least according to the map), but running on the wet tree was crazy and almost dangerous.

I know I wasn't the only one having problems with the slippery surface and I don't like it when the safety of the runners are at risk just to have the perfect spot for a arena. And its not fair competition, when the conditions are that extreme, so the runners in front, fall over, and the secondary runners benefit from it...
The organizers could have advised us to wear spikeshoes, put out some non-slippery surface on the tree or maybe just informed us "that the tree is very slippery, so be careful", before the start, so there would have been no unecessary risk. My falling over (and all the others) could have been avoided, and I am a bit pissed about it, because after the race my knee started to swell and hurt, and during the night a had pain. So this morning I decided to travel to Copenhagen, to find out how bad it was. Luckily the swelling and pain is not inside the knee-joint, so hopefully I can run normally again soon, but right now I can't walk normally. I have still decided to travel to Finland tomorrow together with the rest of the Danish Team, but I don't know if I will be able to run the last 2 stages of NORT. At least I hope that I will be able to get some WOC-relevant training in the days after NORT.        

Saturday 1 September 2012

8th place at NORT stage 1

Some days ago I was really considering if it would be a good idea to participate in Nordic Orienteering Tour (NORT) for me. The training has been ok after WOC, but I have been living in a bag for more than 2 months, because we couldn't take over our new appartment in Århus before friday last week. So the last week has been quite chaotic and stressful with painting and moving, and my training and recovery has not been good. Besides moving, I started my master degree in Sports Science at Århus University on monday, and I had to focus on that too, to get used to the new environment. But the last days things has been better, and our new appartment has starting to feel like a home, and I have made a good plan for my master degree. I will do 50% study the next two years before writing my master thesis, and I think it will be a perfect combination with my training.
Another issue about not running NORT, was that I didn't feel well prepared for the challenges, considering my sprint-training this year has been almost zero. And I didn't want to go and not being able to perform as I know I'm capable of. But after talking to my coaches, I decided to go, but with no goals of certain results. Instead my goals for NORT are to make as good performances as possible, and hopefully learn more about my sprint-qualities, to be able to improve my skills in the future. And of course I wanted to go back to compete in Oslo, where I have been living for 5 years, even though the choice of terrain around Holmenkollen was a bit dissapointing, considering all the fantastic O-terrains you find other places around Oslo.

Today was the first stage of NORT, a sprint qualification in the morning and a sprint final for the 30 best runners in the afternoon. The arena was at Holmenkollen, so the terrain was a mix of skitracks, hilly and stony forest and some big buildings. Not that kind of terrain we are used to in international sprint-orienteering, but still demanding in different ways.

The qualification went ok for me. I was a bit stressed in the beginning, and missed a bit to the second control (5-10seconds), but had a good flow with no mistakes until the long leg to control 12. I decided to take the safe right choice, but I didn't follow my plan and went on a wrong track, and lost about 20 seconds (I think, no splittimes yet?). The rest of the course went well even though my legs were struggling with all the downhill running in the end, and I qualified for the final as nr. 23, but 1minute18seconds behind.

In the final I felt motivated and ready, and more focused on my plan than other things. I was a bit unsure about my routechoices to 2nd and 5th control, but was doing them well and physically I was feeling stronger than in the qualification. According to the GPS, I lost about 10 seconds on my routechoice to the 5th control compared to going right on the second half of the leg. On the long leg to the 12th control, I considered the straight routechoice over the bridge to be the best. But I thought the yellow area with undergrowth (green lines) in the beginning og the leg, would be too slow, so I went left to avoid it. But it was not better in the yellow where I went, and there must have been a big track going through the undergrowth because I lost about 15-20 seconds according to the GPS. Still my race was quite good with no mistakes besides the 2 wrong routechoices, and it was a nice surprise to end up in 8th position, gaining 38 bonusseconds. It gives me some selfconfidence and some good feedback on my shape right now. And I think my total rank is now around nr 15.
You can see the results and GPS-tracking here.

Tomorrow we will do a middledistance around Skådalen with finish on Holmenkollen again. I have never run orienteering there before the modelevent yesterday, even though I have been living 2-3km away from the terrain for 5 years... And that's because the terrain is not very nice, with a lot of steep slopes, slippery rocks, fallen trees, and dense vegetation. Hopefully we will have a part of the course on Vettakollen, which is actually really nice terrain, including a fantastic view of Oslo. The middle distance will suit me well I think, and tomorrow will hopefully be one of the highlights for my NORT 2012. I'm starting 12:38:30 tomorrow and you can follow the competition live on GPS and in Norwegian Television...