Thursday, October 29, 2009

Course Analysis: Ross Smith at the US Champs

Here is an excellent and very informative course analysis by Ross Smith, CSU, silver medalist in M21 at this year's US Championships in Greenbush, Wisconsin.

-11:03 start time. Patrick Nuss 11:05, Boris Granovskiy 11:07
-4 poptarts (easy to eat) and a mug of tea (superstition) before the race, singing and positive mood.
-Chilly and damp, wore a buff, mesh USA top, trimtex ¾ length pants, underarmour ankle socks, lucky reindeer boxer briefs and inov8 x-talon 212s while running. Bit of a sore back from sleeping funny so took some Ibuprofen 30 mins before start.
-Warm up of running around, up to the start and back a bunch, to the bathroom and back, etc. -Nothing structured or special. Thinking about how I should be thinking about something, and about having a clean 1st control.
-Had felt great at the model the day before, very excited to race. Anticipating that a good race would be a win.

Start - 1
When I saw the first leg I was worried by the green forests. I saw the trail and latched onto the relative security of following a path for a bit and then running through white woods. I quickly cut out to the parking lot and then along the trail… the footing wasn’t great on the trail and I was having a hard time reading the terrain around me as I ran along. I cut into the woods only vaguely knowing where I left the trail because I was feeling rushed and I got lucky to pass over #17. Once again assured of where I was, it was easy to go over the hill, skirt the three pointed depression, and go up over the ridge. Hesitated a little bit coming down to the knoll, as visibility was low.

- 2 first mistake. Left without a clear enough plan, only vaguely aware that I wanted to avoid the darker green. Big problem in viewing the contours to the north of the control as a hill, not a depression. Off by 15 degrees on my compass leaving 1. worried too much about running fast, not enough about keeping contact with the map. Very quickly along the way knew that I was out of contact with the map and then pushed on in hopes of hitting the powerlines and rebounding. Which is what I did.
- 3 just go straight, visualize down, up, down into the control
- 4 just go straight, saw the black ‘x’ then it was down into the big depression, up the other side into the depression on the far rim

4-5, 5-6
- 5 a long leg, and I depended too much on seeing the indistinct path 2/3 of the way along. I didn’t see the path, but did recognize the reentrant just before the path from having come that way before. I once again was fortunate to see control 18, as I was able to quickly adjust my route which had started to drift (unconscious desire to hit the path maybe?). Was supposed to hit trail and follow along until cutting past the hill along the smaller trail. Instead dropped down out of 18 into the round depression, and followed the hillside for a bit and then realized that it was tucked into the green, so cut back over.
- 6 straight, visualized going up steep hill, long reentrant with control at the far end. Don’t remember the ‘X’ here.

6-7, 7-8
- 7 saw the large hill 2/3 of the way as my target, just get there and then follow along into the flag. Knew that it was a big hill and so I aimed a bit off to the left (more than I wanted to) to be sure to hit it. When I saw that I was coming up the little saddle in the hill, I altered my plan and ran along the left side of the hill instead of the right. Then, I went down and up in the last reentrant, because it looked faster than going around. As I climbed the last saddle before the control I had a lot of confidence that the flag would be right on the other side.
- 8 follow along the hill, around the round depression and along the long depression, up and into the green.

- 9 another long leg and this time I again saw the hill I had used for 7 as being a good waypoint. Once I got to the tip of that hill, I just aimed rough compass for 9, aware that there wasn’t much of a backstop if I missed the flag. Saw the black ‘X’ and was relieved again. Down into the green reentrant and up the hill on the other side. Judged the slope of the hill and knew that I needed to go farther north when I got to the top.

9-10, 10-11
- 10 saw the large shallow depression 1/2 way through and wanted to skirt either left or right. Woods were better to the right, so I did that. Saw the large green hill, and contoured around, came down the spur on the other side and saw Ken [Walker] going in to punch the control. Score!
- 11 wanted to get ahead of Ken, and left the control on a rough compass with the idea of skirting below the first peanut shaped depressions. Lost focus a little bit and saw the green hill just before the control before I recovered my place exactly.

11-12, 12-13, 13-14, 14-15
- 12 out to the road, and then I had decided to follow along the ridge and over the saddle into the control. I cut into the forest after the first big depression, but got bogged down a bit in the next little depression. Saw the pair of boulders, then kept to the plan.
- 13 meant to go right of the hill, but the vegetation pushed me left. I had my eyes up, scanning the forest and so when I saw the hill a bit to my right I knew that I just needed to get to the saddle.
- 14 reminded me of a control on the model the day before. Follow along the string of depressions, used the last hill to aim for the pit.
- 15 wind out to the road, came past the triangle hill to the road, so knew where I was. Then I cut around the north at the base of the ridge and into the control.

- 16 the long leg. Scary at first and then I realized that I could use the same big hill as a pole star at the end of the leg. Then there was a ridge that brought me most of the way there, and finally I could take the trail until that ridge. So I cut out to the trail, not really caring which way I went, followed along to the ridge, kept contact as I went down into the depression and up over the little green hill, followed up north to the base of the big hill and here I decided to change my plan a little bit and instead of following the hillside around, tried to cut across the hypotenuse. This might have worked had I not then lost focus and I tried to read a small hill in the flat area as the large hill my control was behind. I checked behind that hill and didn’t see a reentrant, then I charged across to another hill that I saw… still nothing making sense. Feeling very panicked so I started heading back towards the hill to relocate (though my garmin shows me running more south than west) here I saw Clem [McGrath] and that helped me realize that I hadn’t gone far enough, turned around and chased back up to Clem, and finally up over the hill and into the flag.

16-17, 17-18, 18-19, 19-20, 20-F
-17 a bit angry, a bit relieved, I just wanted to be done. Had seen this control before and could recall a bit what the terrain around it looked like. Came down the hill, saw the depression to my right and then knew to turn left and into the flag.
-18 aimed straight at the flag, saw Ken again from when I hit the trail and was able to chase him into the flag. Also had been to this one before too.
-19 around the first depression, then along the side of the big green hill, out the spur and down into the pit on the other side.
-20 out to the road, scanned along the side to see if there was an opening in the green, saw the cairn and then saw a gap. Cut through the field.
-F still had some left for the final sprint.

- Ran very fast. Physically the fastest guy racing that day in those woods. Even the green didn’t slow me too much.
- Able to keep my eyes up, get information and use it quickly to adjust my route
- Able to simplify really tough terrain and find the minimum necessary to navigate

- Did not have a full plan before setting out on some legs. This cost me a lot on 2, but I got lucky on other controls.
- Did not mentally stay focused on the long leg, 16, long enough. Can’t “coast in” to the finish, need to stay sharp the whole way.
- Changed routes trying to save a few seconds. Better to choose the correct route then stick to it.

- Interesting to see how much my drawn track differed from my GPS. Plus the fact that I couldn’t draw the routes in at all for some of the legs. A positive sign of simplification? A negative sign of lazy map reading?
- Won splits at the beginning and at the end. A good sign that I didn’t go out too fast or run out of energy. Did not take any gu or water for the course (80 mins) but the race seemed short.

- 2nd place (80:00), 2:31 out of 1st place Will Hawkins (77:29), 3rd place Leif Anderson (84:02)
7:05/k, for 11.3k and 426 meters of climb
- 11 fastest splits, 6 seconds or less from the fastest split on all but 3 controls (two big mistakes and Erin Schirm was blazing fast to 12)
- WinSplits “without errors” puts me at 73:58 (6:33/k)

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