Thursday, August 2, 2012

What, you thought we were done?

WOC may be over, but US orienteers have been keeping busy. 

The last update to the blog was right before the relay, where Ali Crocker had an amazing opening leg, handing off to Sandra in 3rd (!) place. Sandra and Sam finished off, holding the team to an outstanding 15th place finish. This is the best relay performance by the US in modern orienteering times, and we're all quite proud of them.

The men (Eric, Boris, Giacomo) also had a solid race, with the lead switching several times in the battle against Canada. In the end, Canada got the best of us, but the men pulled off a 29th place finish, achieving their goal for the day.

US Men's relay team after almost beating Canada
As is often the case at these major events, the relay was followed directly by the banquet, where everyone is free to relax and dance the night away, and then , everyone is off again. Several members of the team were spotted in Croatia the week after WOC, racing in the fantastic Croatia Open races, while most others went home to the US.

Keep watching this space for the occasional update about training and racing throughout the year!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sam 40th in the Long

Today was the Long Final, the last of the individual medal events at WOC, and the US cheer squad was out in force to cheer on Sam. It was a long tough course (check out the map, with shaded relief) and Sam finished the 12.4km course in 1:41:39, in 40th place, 26:32 behind the winner Simone Niggli of Switzerland (earning her 19th gold medal!). Of the run, Sam says "it wasn't all I hoped I could do, but it was the best I could do today." Team USA + fans are all proud of Sam, and especially her parents, who are at WOC to see her race for the first time in her WOC career.


Check out the full results and the gps tracking - all the runners in the finals wore gps trackers for live display in the arena, on the web, and on tv, and fans can look through all the routes and replay the runs at home as a simulated mass start.


Here's Sam in the finish chute:

Sam and Canadian Louise Oram drawing and discussing their routes right after finishing:




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Relay Teams!

It's been a bit quieter than usual here on the blog as the team winds down from the whirlwind of the past four days. With both sprints on Saturday, the long qual on Sunday, the middle qual on Monday, and then spectator racing/spectating the middle final on Tuesday, some of us are in need of a bit of a rest! If you haven't yet read Boris' entry "A Day at WOC" or Alex's "On Goals" you should do it now! Right now! Before you read the rest of this post, in which we reveal the relay teams for 2012.

It was not easy to select teams this year as there have been quite a few good runs in the terrain. But we can only have three women and three men. Here they are, in running order:

Women
1. Ali
2. Sandra
3. Sam

Men
1. Eric
2. Boris
3. Giacomo

Are those teams awesome, or what?

The relay takes place on Saturday, and live coverage will be available. Stay tuned for more updates right here on the blog.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Day at WOC: Middle Distance Qual

8:00am Wake up, the sun is shining, Eddie is already up, Giacomo and Eric in deep sleep in their bunks. Get up, go down to the cafeteria for breakfast. Wait in line, chatting with the Australians and Canadians. Slice seven pieces of bread, three for now and the rest for later, since it's an afternoon race. Load up a plate with jam and pour some juice. Enjoy the breakfast banter with the rest of the team and help convince Alex to go get seen by the Norwegian physio, who is kind enough to see her after Cristina chats up the Norwegians.

9:30am Look at the old map of the middle quali area for the millionth time, mentally run the courses I've set for myself and wonder whether Sandra or I guessed the start location correctly.

10:30am Sitting in the lobby of the hostel, the only place internet is accessible, at snail's pace. Women are running first today, so a lot of them start piling into cars already. A lot of the guys are sitting around, surfing the web or just relaxing. I am getting nervous and excited, not as nervous as for the sprint, when I couldn't sleep half the night, but a more healthy, controlled level of nervous. Ross arrives and we play cards for a while, which helps take my mind off the race. It's nice to think about the race, but it's possible to overdo it too and get past excitement into fear.

11:30am Time to get my stuff ready! Shoes, pants, top, socks, underwear, SI stick, athlete badge, compass, description holder, tape, Gu, bananas, a warm-up jacket, headphones and an a iPod.

12:00pm We ride! I don't start until 3:27pm, but everyone has to be in quarantine by 1pm so that no one can access any information from the finish. We fill up a car with Eddie, Eric, and me, and Jeff and Damian from Canada. On the drive over we are pretty quiet, with the occasional nervous joke and bouts of excitement whenever I see animals. Five donkeys are the highlight, and the cows are numerous. I eat my remaining sandwiches from breakfast along the way.

12:40pm After climbing up into the Jura plateau, we reach a roadside restaurant/hotel that serves as the holding place for the athletes for today's quarantine. After checking in, we are issued bib numbers and warm-up maps. We look for a spot to drop our stuff, and eventually settle outside, under a tree and next to the Canadians and South Africans. The quarantine is an interesting place. You get to see many runners' pre-race routines. Some guys are chatting, others sleeping, others listening to music, and Gustav Bergman from the Swedish team is teaching his teammate Peter Öberg how to knit. I walk around, chatting with old friends and competitors. The atmosphere is nice. Everyone is friendly, and we all wish each other good luck. And at some point, in the middle of each chat, one of us indicates that it's time to go race, and his demeanor immediately changes. I am one of the last starters, so I wish a lot of "good lucks" and eventually sit down in a chair, taping my ankles and listening to music, reminding myself to focus on my race and not on other people. Still, it's hard not to watch Thierry, the King of the middle distance, and see how he spends the last hours before his race. He, too, has headphones and sunglasses on, and is in his own world, smiling about something. The smile is contagious somehow, and I smile too. Life is good. As Eric said on the drive up here, "Today will be a good day because we get to go orienteering." I like that. I think I need to remember this the next time I am too worried about a race.

2:40pm I finish my preparations, leave my bag at the bag drop, and get on the military shuttle bus that will take us to the pre-start. The ride is short, just a couple of minutes long, and everyone is silent. Then follows a jog to the start, where I am greeted by Ross and a herd of cows. At the team leaders' meeting yesterday, WOC officials specifically mentioned that there will be no cows in the competition area. I suppose these don't count. I do my warm-up, doing a short course on the warm-up map, and finding the woods to be even more junky and green than the model event had been. I think about where on the map we are, and realize that Sandra was right about the start location. This gives me a good idea of how the course will look, and I feel pretty good about my chances for a good race.

3:20pm I am called up to the start, and my nervousness and results-obsessed nature take over. I start thinking about what place I can come in, the WRE points I might get, and so on. I force these thoughts out of my head and tell myself instead to focus on having a plan by the time I reach the start triangle, on being precise with my direction when leaving controls (Sandra's excellent pre-race advice), and on being conscious of how much I have to climb or drop on the leg.

3:26pm I am at the start line, together with Peter Öberg from Sweden and Yury Tambasov from Belarus. We are silent. We could wish each other good luck, or smile, since we know we aren't in each other's heats, but we stay silent.

3:27pm Beep beep beep beeeeeeep. The start official takes his hand off my shoulder, and I grab my map and go off. Seemingly by the time I grab my map, Öberg has already folded his map and a planned a route to 1. I run off behind him, seeing that he is going in the direction I want to go in. After going over a hilltop, we hit a big trail that isn't on the map. I remember there being a trail here on the old map, so I am not worried. Öberg and Tambasov disappear down the slope to the left, and I have to resist the temptation to follow. The speed is high, and I come to a dead stop to make sure I know where I am. Contours are vague here, but I decide that I am just short of my hilltop. Raise my head and see the control. Nice.

On the way to 2 I cross a cow pasture, drop down into a ravine and start climbing a steep slope. Öberg catches up and passes me. I grit my teeth and climb along with him, then run behind him across the junky white woods to my control, which he punches too.

I immediately realize I am running too hard. The next leg is a long one, and I pick the northern route around on the road. It takes forever to climb out to the road, and I feel lactic acid building up already. Not good. The road run feels slow, but I am clean the rest of the way to the control, only to be passed by Francois Gonon on the slog up to the flag. By the time I punch, he is gone.

I turn in the direction I want to go and see a wall of green. Bash, bash, bash down to the trail, tripping on rootstocks and taking branches to the face. Everything on this map seems to take much longer than it should: there is junk on the ground pretty much everywhere. The white woods are junky, the green is painful, and the yellow is even worse.

On the next long leg to 5 I go around on the road and struggle to climb up the four contours to the control. Still, I know where I am the whole time and spike the flag.

Going across the slope to 6, Gonon appears behind me again and quickly disappears ahead.

By 7 I am tired and have to tell myself to focus. I attack off the trail at a bad angle and find the control guard in a clump of green past the control. I look at the guard and check the direction he is looking. Turning my head in that direction, I spot the flag. According to WinSplits, 40 seconds gone here, for overrunning the control by maybe 15 meters. Every mistake sucks up time in these woods.

The next few legs I am alone and focusing better, as there is more contour detail to read and a lot more flat and downhill running. At 13, I am surprised by the flashes of a bunch of cameras aimed me. I can also hear the distant sounds of a vuvuzela, which means that Ross isn't too far away.



When I hit the field on the way to 14, I hear a wave of cheers. The American contingent has to be the loudest at WOC so far, and it is wonderful. I run my guts out for the last leg and the uphill finish chute, pushing harder than I thought I could.

I am disappointed with my time when I see it, but am happy with the race, and even happier when I learn that the winning time was 30 minutes, and not the predicted 26. Yup, these woods are also, and there were tons of mistakes made by some of the world's best today. I am proud of my race and happy to erase the demons of my disastrous WOC middle races from years past.

I know it's easy to look at the result and say it's a failure, as there is no difference between 23rd place and 39th, since both fail to qualify. But I know that for me, on this day, it's a damn good result, and I am happy with it. And when my wonderful teammates meet me after the race, I am smiling and already talking about Finland and being motivated to take another, better, crack at the middle quali next year.

The rest of the day is a blur. Call my girlfriend. Drive home, stopping on the way to take a picture of Lac Leman with the spectacular Mont Blanc, which finally showed itself to us today, as a backdrop. Call the parents. Eat dinner with the team, discussing today's successes and failures, hearing the Austrian team applaud Gernot, who won his heat today. Draw my route, blog. Start thinking about Saturday and the relay. Go to bed as Giacomo is already passed out, Eric is typing away on his laptop, and Eddie is drawing another basemap from Lidar. Just another day at WOC gone by.


My Splits: http://www.obasen.nu/winsplits/online/en/default.asp?page=table&databaseId=22032&categoryId=2

- Boris

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On goals


This doesn't have a whole lot to do with WOC, but it's somewhat relevant.  And very long.  But hopefully informative.  

On goals:

I do a lot of goal-setting work with my junior skiers, and as a result, I tend to set a lot of goals for myself, as well.  Turns out, they work.  But only if you make SMART goals.  I’m not just capitalizing SMART because you should, obviously, make smart goals, but because it stands for:

Specific
Measureable
Attainable
Relevant
Time

Hopes and goals are different, yet related, beasts.  A hope is basically an outcome goal with no process goals to back it up.  Saying “Man, I hope I beat Simone Niggli today” does not mean you can just wake up and beat Simone Niggli.  Unless you’re Ian Smith, and challenging her to a bowling match.  Even then it may be a close call.  That goal, while specific and measurable, is not all that attainable, relevant, or have a temporal component.  While you can totally choose an outcome goal as lofty as beating Simone Niggli, it is important to consider your starting point, what is involved in said achievement, and your time available to devote to the process goals involved.  If you’re a couch potato who has never run more than a mile in your life, it may take you longer to achieve (or not achieve) your goal than if you’re a Kenyan marathon runner.  The starting point is important. 

It is also important to have specific goals.  If you just say, “I want to be a better orienteer”, you have no way to measure that.  How will you know if you are a better orienteer?  Much better to say something like, “I want to make fewer than one minute of mistakes for every kilometer in a race”.  That is something that you can measure, and therefore, determine if you have achieved it.

One of the drawbacks of goals is that you can be really disappointed if you don’t make the goals.  That is why it is important to make attainable goals, that are relevant to where you are now.  Applying a temporal component can make the loftier goals achievable.  You may not be ready to make the WOC team yet, but if you say “I will make the WOC team in 2015”, that gives you three years to develop, implement, and achieve goals and plans to get there.  It is important to have some intermediate goals along the way that are attainable, and relevant, so that you know you are on track to reach your dream goals. 

Once you’ve come up with some dream goal, that is specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and has a temporal component, you need to figure out what is necessary to get you to that goal by the time you’ve determined you will do it by.  This is where a coach can be very helpful, identifying your existing strengths and weaknesses as an orienteer.  It is useful to make a series of process goals to help you achieve your outcome goals.  These are goals that you can assess as you go along, like “choose good attackpoints”.  These are the goals that you want to focus on.  If you focus on doing your process goals to the best of your abilities, your likelihood of achieving your outcome goals becomes way higher.  If all you’re thinking is “I want to be third in this race!  Am I third yet?  What if so-and-so is beating me?  I wonder if I’ll finish third?” you’ll probably miss your attackpoint, or turn the wrong way down a trail, or forget to look at your compass, and you’ll end up lost and losing more time.  If, instead, you’re thinking “what is my attackpoint?”, you’ll likely choose a good attackpoint, and spike your control.

Now that I’ve blabbered about goals for a while, I’ll share mine for the long distance race at WOC this year.  I usually choose an A, B, and C goal, so that I can address the dream goals, the realistic goals, and the everything-went-wrong goals (i.e. you miss two months of training because of an injury).  

My goals for the long distance race:

Plan A:
-           - 35% behind the winner

Plan B:
-            -45% behind the winner
-           - Top 20
-            -25% of my splits in the top 15

Plan C:
-            -Top 25
-            -<50% behind the winner
-            -25% of my splits in the top 20

Process goals:
-           - Find three positives from every race.
-            -<30s/km of mistakes
-            -Choose solid attackpoints!!!
-            -Visualize the Situation
-            -Run the uphills
-            -When bashing, thou shalt do it forcefully and in the right direction
-           - Laser sharp focus, the whole race (esp. in long)
-            -Look wide for routes
-            -Be aggressive
-        
 How did I do?
Well, Simone Niggli came along and crushed my heat by 3 minutes, so while I’d initially been 31% back, I ended up 42% back.  This was a big improvement over last year, where I’d been 69% back in the long, but it’s plan B for this year.  Top 25 in my heat was plan C, so I achieved that goal, too.  I had 9 splits (of 17) in the top 20, and none in the top 15, so that was also achieving plan C.  Most importantly, I nailed my process goals, achieving every single one.  Wahoo!

This is why we set goals – not just to achieve greater heights, but to feel some satisfaction from a race, when all too often, all you want to do is analyze what went wrong.  Try this for yourself, and see how it works!

Sam's in!

Today was Sam's day to be on the right side of 15th - she had a good run and finished 13th in her heat of the Long qual and will thus advance to the Long Final on Thursday. Sam says, "it's nice to see that my training in Sweden is paying off. I'm happy to have made the final with a solid race!"


Sam discussing her course with Helena just after finishing:


Other shots from the race today:

Alex taking a photo of herself. Because.

The world's cutest warm up map!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ali 20th in the World!


Ali Crocker sprinted her way to a 20th place finish in the Sprint Final, a fantastic and very exciting result for Team USA. Here's an interview with Ali after the race:

video

See the map, gps tracking, and results at World of O. Also, Eddie once again snapped a lot of great shots.

Sprint Qual results

This morning was the Sprint Qualification race, with fast and furious courses through the campuses of the University of Lausanne and the Swiss Institute of Technology. Only the top 15 in each heat qualify for the finals, and qualifying today was very tough. Not a lot of mistakes out there, so the runners who made it in were clean and very, very fast. Ali was the only American to make it through today, though Sam was a heartbreaking 5 seconds away from qualifying in 16th place.

See all the results (PDF) or maps from the qual.

Boris tames his hamstring by warming up on the spin bike.

Peter from Kenya, happy to have successfully completed his first (and Kenya's first!) WOC race.

The world's longest map - 31m long! 

Eddie has a lot of great pictures from the Sprint Qual here

Ali makes the sprint final!

Mixed results this morning in the sprint qual, with an awesome run by Ali, 3rd in her heat, and a oh-so-close and heartbreaking 16th place/5 seconds out of qualifying for Sam. The general consensus from all the runners is that today speed was the name of the game. The courses weren't too tricky and the running was fast, and it was tough to qualify.

The women's Final starts at 16:01, with live streaming and gps at the WOC Live Center.

Here's Ali running the sprint qual this morning:


Friday, July 13, 2012

Ready to Sprint!

Tomorrow is the first day of WOC 2012 and Team USA has five awesome runners ready to go.

Start times for the Qualification race, local time:

Ali 9:06
Sam 9:17
Hannah 9:21

Boris 10:22
Giacomo 10:33

You can see results at the WOC 2012 website. The top 15 in each heat advance to the Final in the afternoon. First start at 16:01 local time, and there will be gps tracking and live streaming of the Swiss TV coverage available online.

Tomorrow is Giacomo's first WOC race and he is really excited. How excited? Watch the video and find out!

video

JWOC Middle Final results and photos


Results   M20B
   4.40 km / 190 m / 19 points        

  1. Diener Lukas                    Switzerland              26.35
  2. Robertson Tim                   New Zealand              28.44     2.09
  3. Dewett Magnus                   Denmark                  29.01     2.26
 28. Childs Ethan                    United States            32.49     6.14
 43. Childs Andrew                   United States            35.15     8.40


Results   M20C
   3.90 km / 175 m / 17 points    
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  1. Baudot Remi                     France                   24.05
  2. Gillet Julien                   Belgium                  25.37     1.32
  3. McNulty Oscar                   Australia                25.57     1.52
 14. Lyons Nathanial                 United States            29.25     5.20
 17. Barker Zachery                  United States            31.35     7.30
 27. Bergstrom Alexander             Canada                   34.05    10.00
 29. Williams John                   United States            34.18    10.13

Results   W20A
   3.60 km / 165 m / 17 points        
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  1. Alexandersson Tove              Sweden                   23.42
  2. Sandberg Frida                  Sweden                   24.35     0.53
  3. Mueller Sandrine                Switzerland              25.30     1.48
 17. Kemp Emily                      Canada                   27.39     3.57
 57. Kemp Molly                      Canada                   37.40    13.58

  Results   W20B
   3.20 km / 140 m / 15 points    
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  1. Klysner Cecilie Friberg         Denmark                  23.19
  2. Ivanova Kristina                Bulgaria                 24.29     1.10
  3. Poirot Delphine                 France                   24.32     1.13
 57. Hudgins McKenzie                United States            47.43    24.24

  Results   W20C
   2.90 km / 125 m / 15 points  
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  1. Inage Hinako                    Japan                    28.51
  2. Bryant Isabel                   United States            29.40     0.49
  3. Tilkin Fanny                    Belgium                  31.24     2.33
  7. Parson Megan                    United States            33.51     5.00















Wednesday, July 11, 2012

JWOC Middle Qualification Race photos

Only managed to get race photos of Meg, Izzy, Andrew, McKenzie, and Nate O today.  Missed Nate L, Ethan, John and Zac - there were some logistical challenges getting out to the 'media' control...








Lots more photos from the day are here.  Buried in the album are nice sequences of Izzy and Andrew in the woods. 

JWOC Middle qual, middle final and relay


Ethan writes:

Middle Qualifier:
I went into the race with the intention of taking the first control or two easy, so I could get into the map. Instead I ran fairly hard on them, and got lucky when stumbled across my first two. The rest of the course I did more or less intentionally, but I had some bad routes. Unlike the training maps, this map went through many fields, almost all of which were densely filled with young trees and nettle, making it very slow. I feel like I could have saved time by taking routes around these areas, but I still managed to do well despite. I could have saved two or three minutes on the course, but I'm still very happy with my result.

Middle Final:
I intended to take the first couple of controls easy, like I had intended yesterday, but today I actually managed to do that. I still ran hard, but I made certain I was in close intact with the map at all times. After a couple of controls, I got into it and was able to run harder. At control fourteen, I read ahead to control fifteen, and thought I was about to enter the spectator chute and was very confused when I never saw it. Eventually I realized I still had to punch fifteen, so I lost about thirty seconds there. The control after the spectator leg was also shaky, and I ended up running up a hill to a control which I wasn't sure was mine. Turns out it was, and the last couple of controls went very well. Once again, very happy with my race.

Relay:
This was possibly the best race of my life. Granted, I could follow people to controls which certainly saved some time, but it was still a solid race. I was in the zone the whole time, and I paced myself so that I was very tired when I finished, but still able to finish strongly. The entire course was either up, down, or contouring one of several large hills, but my training this spring prepared me well for the task. I was able to keep up with some very good runners, and I finished just less than three minutes behind the top time (which was 30:49. I was 33:47) on a five kilometer plus course. It was a terrific race to end this year's JWOC.


McKenzie:

The middle qualifiers: going in I was a little nervous about what the map would be like but otherwise felt rested and ready for a good race! However that slowly changed as I painfully made my way to the first few controls. I took my time on 1 and actually felt like I was getting into a good rhythm but the rate at which things were popping up and the scramble of other runners in every direction really threw me for a loop... Literally. I circled right around 2 and 3.... And 4. Even though I knew I was going in the right direction I couldn't help but check the other controls. At 8 I finally got a good race going when I decided to let go of my frustration and ignore everything. I felt good going in and out of controls and other than a girl literally ripping my map from my hands to relocate herself at 12 it was a smooth ride into the finish.