Forest Orienteering 1:42:15  13.49 km (7:35 / km) +536m 6:19 / km
ahr:162 max:179 spiked:17/25c shoes: Nvii Forest 1 Blue
UKEOL Graythwaite Long
Probably looking forward to and felt more prepared for this than I did the middle yesterday. Physically felt in great shape and the feedback from the last few months of orienteering gave me the confidence that I could put this to good use. Unfortunately, I let myself down badly.
Even warming up I could sense that I didn’t feel settled and in retrospect my focus was on other runners not on how I was about to approach the course. I hit one ok, taking the easier option to the path but left the control without a clear plan to 2 (something which would become a theme throughout the course). I got to the control well, even winning the leg, but my plan for the leg was only ever half baked, being filled in on the way rather than executing a deliberate approach. I did settle on 3 but immediately lost this composure on 4, again without a clear plan, leading to hesitations and a lack of confidence in the circle. This error meant I rushed away to 5, again hitting the control ok, but losing more time without contact. Navigation was a little better to 6, keeping better contact and picking off features, with the added positive feedback of catching Joe at the control. This served to distract me from my process again and I set off down to 7 without any real plan, confusing myself as to where I hit the open and leading to a hit and hope approach that I’ve been trying so hard to train out of myself. Cue 5 minutes of headless chickening, with several opportunities to wrestle back control and relax before approaching the control carefully. When I finally did this, I got to the control just as Spongey did, confirmation that I had lost at least 5 minutes on this leg alone. Managed to nip ahead by 9 taking a more direct approach but instead of using this as a chance to settle, again I rushed away without a direction or plan. Hitting the path I came up to the girls forked control where Pete was. I assumed he had already gone around his second loop and was stood with a gel in hit mouth planning the longer leg after, so I didn’t check the code. He was actually being sensible and noticing that he was at the wrong one. The next loop went well, catching Aidan on the way to 13 but then hitting the girls control again. I checked the code but as I’d already been there for 10, I just assumed that they’d put the wrong control (168) out instead of 188. This alone shows how far away from my normal orienteering I was because I hadn’t had that lack of control in years. From there I orienteered well through to 21 well, including winning the other long leg. I became lazy again on 22, not keeping contact or planning, ending up way too far north and even when I regained contact, I almost instantly lost it by trying to run hard and save some time. I thought Pete and Spongey had gotten the control at the bottom of a craggy section so headed down thinking it would be there, more in hope than anything else, when they were in fact heading up to it. This lost a further 3 minutes before running ok through the last loop to finish.
I know this is a lot of writing but I felt as though I needed to go in to more detail in an effort to understand why it went so badly wrong when Saturday and the rest of my build up has shown, at least from my perspective, a marked improvement in my physical, technical and mental capabilities. For whatever reason, the process I have been adopting well in recent months went out of the window and I never regained my composure. I let myself get distracted from what I should have been focusing on, meaning I was unable to perform to the level that I now think I am capable of. Even with the mistakes, I would have placed around 5th or 6th which isn’t awful, but the massive time loss shows that if I can just settle a bit and apply my process, then I should really be in the mix for the top positions. Winning the long legs and leading after 25mins~ of racing is objectively a positive, but the orienteering behind this was still ill-disciplined so they are somewhat hollow victories, whilst mis-punching (twice!) is unacceptable in any circumstance. I know that I’m now more capable of performing well in bigger competitions so it’s frustrating that there aren’t that many going around right now. This is also probably why yesterday feels like such a lost opportunity. Yesterday was certainly an off day and I don’t believe it is actually a reflection of where I’m at with orienteering so I need to continue training well and improving to demonstrate this. Fingers crossed we get a few more races in the coming months and the results will begin to show the improvements I think I have made. Starting a new job on Monday so a couple of weeks of finding my feet and working out how much training is realistic then it’s time to start thinking longer term and working towards next spring.