Today was pretty fun.
Jake and I on our 4th day here awoke to the wonderful sound of nature outside our window. Beyond the American flag flowing in the morning wind trumpeted the beautiful sound of birds and the river below…oh wait…NO WE DIDN’T. BAM! I slammed shut our windows to block out the impromptu weed-wacking at 0600…I flopped back down on my blissful bed and slept in till 8. Jake and I then when to eat breakfast and before you knew it we were back in our smelly O-clothes ready to train with the rest of the team.
After travelling up a windy road that comfortably fit 1.5 cars on it and then struggling to park due to our inexperience with our large stick-shift van we arrived at our training area. The morning consisted of two training exercises. One exercise was an Island-O and the other a Memory-O. The purpose of the first was to focus on features close to and within a control circle as well as precision compass and continuous attachment to what the compass is doing. Majority of the map was white except for islands of mapped terrain around control circles. The latter of the two exercises was centered on map memory in order to allow quick movement after coming into a control as well as a better connection with what you see. The course was star cluster in shape with the rememorization start/finish in the center.
I struggled with one of the Island controls but spiked most of the rest. I felt my compass skill increasing and really started to feel the flow of Orienteering a lot more than I usually do. The Memory-O went really well. I being more of a runner loved not having the distraction of a map. Memory and recall is something practiced at West Point daily…so naturally the Memory-O basically became intervals for me. Run…get the control…run…rememorize…repeat.
Happy Birthday Melanie! Glad the team got to go out to eat for your B-Day…I mean I love chicken, rice, and potatoes…but having steak wasn’t too shabby. Oh…and it being the day you were born is pretty cool too I guess.
But that wasn’t even the best part of the day. I am not sure if any of you readers have been to the Czech Republic but if you have…you know about the flies. One foot in the woods and you make a lot of friends. So many in fact…I don’t understand why anyone would want to leave! It is amazing. If you’re lonely…come here. You like bugs…welcome to Czech. If you like some protein while breathing and shooting an azimuth…pack your bags and take a hike cause the flies are here for you…waiting…patiently. I can almost say I have been in a tornado now due to the swarming wall of black dots around my body. But hey! It makes you run faster…let us just hope in the right direction.
Well today started out at 7:30. The usual groggy hotness followed the morning routine. My roommate Barb and I headed downstairs to enjoy the usual toast with fluffy cream cheese and warm orange-flavored drink. Sounds of "Good Morning" and "Happy Birthday" were heard in the hotel dining hall, since today was my 17th birthday. As the day progressed on and as the training continued, I began to realize how much everyone cares for each other. For example, about 5 people were hopelessly wandering around the woods, looking for a control, when all of a sudden, one of us finds the marker. She then began to explain how we ended up at the point and what we had to look out for the next time we went out. I love this little family we've created. I'll be extremely sad when the time comes to part us all and send us our different ways.
I have never run an island-O before. To be honest, I generally shun the compass during courses and use it only when I've grown so completely lost that I can no longer rely on my map at all. Those are not the strategies one should employ on an island-O. One can get a good idea as to the general features of the terrain between two points as long as the two are close together. It's in the details where things get complicated and on a broad Czech hillside details are important.
After taking a rough-as-I-could-possibly-make-it bearing to the west, I tried to navigate to the first control by inference. This did not work. My navigation to checkpoint 1 devolved quickly into flailing around trying to get to a feature on one of the "islands". Fortunately, my initial bearing wasn't too terrible and I managed to find my way. I didn't learn this lesson quickly, though, as the run progressed, so did my slow acceptance of the compass. Initial routes involved lots of guesswork, which tended to be as inaccurate as one would think. On later points, though, I grew more able to draw bearings and follow them accurately. I could still contour when necessary or pick out obvious features, but my routes got more stable and overall I feel like my navigation's improved.