First USA blog!! Wooo! My trip has been a lot longer than most JWOCers. So far I've been to Jukola in Finland and a six day event in Estonia. Both were great ways to get experience of higher levels of competition here in Europe. First 24 hours in Slovakia was interesting from finding a lucky ride to the event center with some guys from Spain and then getting on a bus with the Chinese team to go train by myself on some relay type terrain. The first thought in the woods was "it's fast and there is nothing to stop you from getting across the map the way you want." It's an amazing feeling to be here at such a high level of orienteering. Erin has been a great coach so far and we all hope to keep him around. He wants to take the sport to the next level in the US and it's awesome. Tomorrow is July 4th so happy birthday America and we will have a nice rest day to walk around town and do some map studies. #USAjuniors
This morning I drank too much water and I could not exercise at all. When I got to the track, I just felt horrible. As I was running along with the guys I was on the verge of passing out. Coach told me to go back to the 100m line on the last lap so I don't have to run as far. But I insisted on running the last lap, and boy was that close! At the end, Izzy and I ran together back to the event center for 10 minutes, and we got a little bit in a maze, somewhat. We were just going to every corner, "nope!"; we turned down another corner, we got to another dead end, until we just got to the spot where we turned, and then we ran back.
We could not find the middle training map start very easily. It took a long time to get there. We were going uphill on dirt roads. We got into the forest. I tasted my water, and it was horrible. It was sparkling water. Then we started the race. When I was out there, I was having a hard time seeing the flags. It was a little difficult finding the features with the hand-drawn circles and line. Heading back, we were off the map for a while, and we weren't exactly sure where we were going. We got to an open area; me, Nate and Ethan went down the hill; everyone else went up the hill. Up the hill was the right route. We got back to the dorms and took a shower and immediately left for an electronics store to get a wifi router. And fans. Lots of fans.
Today we started off with a warm up and track workout, which was really hard but very rewarding. I felt pretty strong afterwards. It was really hot out again today so it was important to drink a lot of water. We came back to the event center after and I took a quick shower and a nap :) In the afternoon we did middle training. The hardest part was getting on the map! It took us about 40 minutes to get to the start from the van. We picked up a lot of water and multiple fans making the stay in our rooms much more enjoyable. Tomorrow we will have a rest day. I'm looking forward to walking around downtown and getting a feel for the city... and eating ice cream! My mom told the team she would give them "bonus points" for making me talk to one of the Chinese competitors. I'm more nervous about that then the upcoming races!
Yesterday, for the long terrain, it was quite similar to Wisconsin. The forest floor was different, with some rocky areas. There were greater differences between lows and high areas but for the most part it was similar to Wisconsin. There were basically two sections: white woods, and open areas with lots of green around. The white woods were very runnable. They had some green patches, easy to get through; it would save a little bit of time if you didn't have to go too far to go around. But in the open areas, the green was much harder to get through, and it would slow you down, but it did tend to grow mostly in the depression areas, so while orienteering in that terrain, the safest thing to do is to run fast and check the compass when leaving features. It's easy to find features; leaving the features, as long as you're heading in right direction, you should be all set. Relocating would be a pain, however.
For today, the woods were extremely open. While walking to the start, there was a completely smooth hillside without any features. Fortunately where we orienteered, there were lots of very detailed features, which required a lot of map simplification and being able to pick out a few features. However, most of the features were still fairly small, so we had to be careful and maintain contact with the map the entire time. If you got lost, you could relocate; there were a few features distinct enough to find your way but it was easy to lose a lot of time if you were not paying attention. The green areas you can definitely get through; they're not as fast as the white, but worth going through if the alternative is a big detour. There are a lot of deep ravines. Depending on how far out of the way you'd have to go, these were sometimes better to run around, but a lot of times you just have to go through them. It's not too too bad, but tiresome, to go through the ravines. There are a lot of marshy features scattered around. They were mapped very well; they were very helpful while trying to navigate to controls; they were very distinct and easy to see. The woods were very fast, so one thing to be careful of is that you stop reading your map and you end up just running because the woods are so nice, it's easy to lose concentration and start running. It's important to not go faster than your ability to focus on where you're going.
Track workout was pretty fun and I felt good. Hit around 31-33 for the first set and 29-31 for the second. My knee felt fine too, so that was nice. The afternoon training wasn't quite as nice since running uphill is a bit more painful, but downhill and flat are both fine. However I did love the woods once again. They are totally runnable, as runnable as the trails in white woods and only slightly less so in light green.
We also ran out of water today. But managed to buy some shortly after the second workout; along with 2 fans per room, and a wireless router. So much more comfortable in the room now, maybe we won't need to take 3-4 cold showers a day anymore just to stay cool..
My first few days of Slovakia have unfortunately been filled with much less training than the others. I'd been feeling sick for a little while and wasn't feeling any better when I got to Slovakia, so Barb nicely found a local volunteer who agreed to take me to the hospital in Kosice to see a doctor. Four different doctors and a couple hours later, the nice Slovakian volunteer told me in a waiting room, in halting English, that I had a "very sick organism" and the best solution would be to stay in the hospital for a few days. I wasn't quite sure what to make of this, but wanted to do whatever would make me better as fast as possible, so I agreed to stay. I ended up staying in the hospital for 2 days, much of which is a blur of sleeping, sweating in the hot and stuffy room, admiring the peeling paint on the walls and listening to the sounds of crying children nearby. It was extremely unnerving not being able to understand what any of the nurses were saying to me-- only one of the doctors spoke English-- and I just hoped that all the drugs they were putting into my IV would help. Luckily, they did: antibiotics for my extremely sore throat and then a few other things that I forget the name of but that have made me feel much better than I did before. Unfortunately, the blood tests they ran show that I probably have mono and so I'm not quite sure what that means for my JWOC races. We'll see how I feel in a few days I guess!
Crisis in Slovakia! And not just the water. Yeah, we've been training a lot, running hard, studying maps, etc. but there are bigger issues! (ok, not really) The most race-relevant would be the heat. It's well over 90 during the day and doesn't drop much below 80 at night. I don't know if this is possible, but between using cold water for showers and keeping our drinks cold, they're probably going to run out soon. The next big issue is the internet, more specifically, the lack of wifi. Each room is equipped with ethernet ports, though, and after an overly complicated procedure, you can use that, but you need a computer for that. I was aware of this issue before leaving, though, and decided to bring a router.It took me all of 15 minutes to fry the charger after getting here because I forgot about the voltage change. So still no wifi.
Problems solved! ish. In one trip to an electonics store, we solved our problems. Several fans were purchased and after no luck finding a new power cord for the router, we got a whole new one! For about 5€/person, we got a cooling (and air circulating for the guys) system for our rooms and wireless internet! Although we still need to go through the process of setting up the router, but it will work! Otherwise Erin will get mad, and then things will probably fall into place. And then we'll finally be happy!
For those still wondering about the forests, its super open and wonderful and I want to bring it back with me.
Photos 1 & 3 by Erin; he also took some videos: