I thought I would give the Day 1 training course at Twin Boulders another go, and see what another week (now 7 weeks past surgery) had done for me.
For one, my legs are starting to feel more normal. Up until the past few days, they've been in varying degrees of soreness (but not bad) while running and right after, and it didn't feel like I could do much more than an easy jog.
Today, however, my legs felt decent-ish for the first time since before going to the hospital. Still short on a fair bit of running fitness and efficiency--especially where the going is tougher--but at least things are headed in the right direction, and it felt like I had a little bit of "push" to work with. That was reflected in the time: about 68 minutes versus 75 1/2 a week ago.
One funny thing was after hitting #9 dead on last time, this time I "essed" around some going into the control area. Easy to do--the map shows some details, but they're all small and in reality the control sits in a fairly bland looking sloped area of semi-open sage. You really need to be sure of being on your line going in, and the real key--here's where familiarity with the local terrain helps--is to focus on the several small rock features in the area. If you can find/see one or more of them, then they'll let you know where you are. After the training there, Boris mentioned he never found this control. If you know where you are and you go straight in, it feels easy. But if you don't know exactly where you are and you miss or are off to one side, then it's hard to know what to do, and if you think streamers could be missing (always a chance of that), then maybe you just move on.
I took another, closer look at #8 as I was re-hanging a streamer there, and this time I could see what I needed to see to be sure it must have been a person who took the streamers down there, and no chance it was an animal. Which raises the questions: who might have been out there, and why would they have taken down and torn up the streamers and hidden them, but not take down the stick they were hung on, too? Weird.
Also on the training day, someone (can't remember who) said they couldn't find the streamer at #18. It was a control at one end of distinctly linear knoll that sits in a semi-open area where it's easy to see everything, and if you can see the knoll or you're on the knoll in are looking in the right direction, you'd actually have to try to *not* see the streamers to not see them. I was thinking about that as I was running in and had already seen the streamers from a pretty good distance, and thinking "if you can't see these streamers, you probably weren't on the right knoll in the first place"--which is my guess as to what was actually going on with that other person. It's not so unusual to be completely sure about some situation along an orienteering course, and have it turn out to be you were dead wrong; it's certainly happened to me many times.
Towards the end of the course, I could start smelling smoke. I only had to run in that for a little bit. On the way up, there was an enormous smoke plume stretching across from the fire just south of Laramie and continuing across the Laramie Range. It was really thick and would have been awful running in it (I wouldn't have tried). Luckily the plume stayed just south of where I was so it really didn't affect me much at all.
We won't miss the fire and its smoke when it's gone, but for the time being the forecast doesn't offer much in the way of relief.