Friday 25 April 2014

Disaster in Portugal!

No other words descripe my performance at the Middle-distance final at EOC 1½ weeks ago. 

I tried to be offensive in my orienteering from the start, and did well at the first couple of controls, keeping the speed of the fastest. But in the flater southern slope to 3rd, I wasn't careful enough with my compass and ran straight to the womens control. Not a big mistake (30 sec), and I managed to find the right focus again quickly. But to 5th, I wasn't aware that the slope down to the river would be that high and steep (20-25m), and I lost a lot of time (and power) using all my force to manage to climb to the top at the steepest part. At 7th control, again in the flater area, I collapsed totally and stopped searching too early, loosing almost 3min! I was then caught by Baptiste Rollier with 4 minutes, and I had an inner conversation dicussing wheter I should continue or just go home. I decided to try to keep up his pace to get some physical self-confidence for the relay. He was running well but I managed to stay with him the rest of the course, even though it was very difficult to push hard with my fatal mistakes in the back of my head.
I ended up in 64th (!) spot. What a failure...

Before the relay I was very motivated to do well, and show to myself (and others) that the middle distance was just one of those days where nothing works. Søren Bob did well at the first leg almost hanging in with the leaders all the way, and taking some of the long forkings. Søren Schwartz was tired on second leg, but due to a very short forking in the beginning he was suddenly with the leaders. Unfortunately he wasn't able to follow their pace all the way, and I was sent out in 13th spot, 2½ minutes behind, but only 45 seconds behind a big group.
I felt very good in the beginning and I also ran very well, running away from Bertuks from the start. Executed my controls well and pushing hard, but suddenly I saw him at least 30sec in front of me, and realized that the forkings must have been huge. After 2nd forking I had the back of Bertuks, Boström and Lundanes, and I tried to close the gap, but the tracks in the grass from the first legs made the navigation quite easy. I passed Norway before arena passage,  but in the end I realized that I wasn't able to close the gap to Latvia and Finland. We finished as no.10, and 8 when you take away the 2nd teams in front of us.
My race was very good technically, and also a good speed, even though I didn't have so much to fight for in the end. The forkings were quite decisive, because it was a big advantage to have the short forkings on last leg, and I don't think it's good to have forkings with time difference with more than 1 minute!

Anyway, a good finish of a really bad week for me, and I'm glad I finally felt like myself again. Just too late...

Now the focus has moved to Italy in the beginning of july, and after my failure in Portugal I'm very motivated. The wise guys keep telling me that sometimes you need to these kinds of nightmares to be able to take another step towards the top. I hope that they are right :)

The next 6 weeks will consist of very hard basic-training, to make sure that I will be at my best at WOC. I will run some competitions during this period, but the most important is to train well now, and I won't slow down the training to have a good feeling in these races. My eyes are pointed towards Venice, Trento and Asiago!

Saturday 12 April 2014

Second chance at EOC Middle!

Last night the jury decided to let all athletes start in the EOC Middle A-final on monday. It means that I will get a second chance to get a good result in the A-final, despite a poor performance in the qualification, where I finished 18th, 10 secs too slow.

The preparations to EOC has been going really well, and even though I have been doubtful of my shape during the winter, it has been feeling good lately. Also a physical test last week showed that I am maybe in my best shape ever compared to earlier tests. I had to take it easy some days before going to Portugal, because of some pain in my calf, just to be on the safe side.

But in the qualification on thursday my body was just not functioning. I managed to keep it together technically without any bigger mistakes, but I was just feeling tired from the beginning, and I was struggling all the way. I have had similar feeling in qualification races before, so I thought my race would be good enough to qualify for the A-final, but in the end it was 10 seconds too slow.

It was a big dissapointment and a total failure not to qualify, and I had a tough time after the race. My mind tried to find logical explanations to my poor physical perfomance, but nothing useful came up, which made it even more frustrating.

I decided with the coaches after the race, that I should run the sprint instead, which was also a good substitution because I'm also focusing on sprint at WOC in Italy. Yesterday I went to Palmela to look at the area for the sprint-final and also did the sprint model-event.

Besides preparing for the sprint I have also followed the hole middledistance-protest-complaining-issue, with a possible outcome of letting all participants run the A-final, because of a misplaced control (which did not affect me). I decided if I got the chance to run the Middle A-final I wouldn't hesitate to skip the sprint and focus all my energy on the Middle (and Relay), which has been the plan all the time.
So when I heard the final decision this morning, instead of running Sprint Qual, I'm now sitting here following the live results.

I can only hope that my shape will be better on monday, but I'm pretty optimistic about it, and propably I just needed a tough race to get my body started again. It has been feeling much better yesterday and I can feel that the motivation is high.

It's not often that you get a second chance, but this time I was lucky, and I will do all I can to perform at my best on monday.

...and hopefully no more mistakes from the organizers!