Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Megablog 3! (including O-Videos :D)

Well well well, it's been a while since I wrote anything about myself on here! I'm making bit of a habit out of neglecting my blog for months and then squeezing everything into one giant post! I suppose it seems a bit lazy of me, but I think it was more a case of me just trying to spare everyone from my depressing thoughts as I dealt with illness and injury :) Since May of last year I seem to have bounced from one problem to the next. First off, I somehow managed to contract mycoplasma pneumonia whilst still in NZ. I'd never heard of it before but it came after a really hard training week and proceeded to give a horrible burning/cold pain in my lungs which got worse with exercise. I had to put up with it during the 2011 season - after some antibiotics the bad feeling lessened but it was still there. I don't think it affected my performance too much, but it was an annoying distraction when I was trying to orienteer (especially when I felt tired!). Despite this I managed to get some good results in the beginning of the season (by my standards anyway). I got a 7th place in the Finnish Elite Series sprint in Lohja (splits), and 9th place in the Oringen sprint (splits). Since WOC I've been suffering huge problems with my ankles and Achilles, but they both seem to be doing a lot better now, since I have been able to run again the last couple of months. However, with the starting to run again part, although I thought that I was being careful, it has proven to be a bit too much as I now have to deal with runners knee as well :(

Anyway, enough of that (I told you it was depressing!) and more about last year:

After Oringen I headed to France for the first time to prepare for WOC with my sister Amber. I really wanted to do well in the middle distance, so we did a lot of trainings in relative terrain (see video) which took quite a toll on my ankles - the ground was extremely rocky. Even with strapping I still managed to twist them on nearly every training.

The WOC middle qual did not go as planned. I felt that I was in pretty good shape and was quite confident in the terrain having spent the last 2 weeks there. I decided to just try to have a clean race and stay totally in control and only push when running on the tracks, but alas, I made a beginners mistake early on in the course where I planned too far ahead and forgot to go to the 4th control. Leaving the 3rd control, I ran as if I was going to the 5th. Although something felt very wrong, I didn't realise I'd missed the 4th control until I was nearly at the big track, then I wasn't sure where I was and had to find my way back to it losing nearly 3 minutes. After that I was trying to push really hard to still make the final, but I'd lost too much time and making a bad route choice to the 9th meant that I missed the final by 42sec. See the map here:

I had to try to put this bad run behind me to focus on the sprint distance. This was very hard, I was a bit worried about not making any finals and was more nervous than I normally am in the sprint qual. I made a few small mistakes and was perhaps too careful in some places, but luckily I managed to just scrape through to the final in 14th place (splits, map).

The sprint final started very well. I lost a little time to the 4th control where there was some temporary construction going on (for a concert I think), but only some seconds. I was very relaxed and focussed until 11-12 where I made a dumb mistake (apparently a lot of runners did this) where I tried to continue straight to the control but there was a giant 20m drop to the street below, so I had to turn and run back around the building I only lost 10sec or so doing this, but it felt like a lifetime. I panicked a bit and started to run too fast. Perhaps I wouldn't have been so stressed if I knew that I was sitting in 5th place at that point! (I've had many sleepless nights since then thinking about it!). After the map change I got confused about where the new start triangle was and made a dumb route choice. I ran the next few controls well and then started to get tired and just wanted to be finished (bad thoughts to have in a sprint). I lost the most time (20sec) when I made a really dumb route choice to the 17th control, then got confused on the way to the 18th and lost time there too. I finished in 25th place in the end. This is my best result at WOC by far, but it was hard to be happy about it when it really could have been much better. At least I gained a lot of experience from that race. I learnt that I need to control myself in that situation (eg. 11-12) where I make a small mistake. If I had just put that mistake behind me and remained relaxed I could have potentially finished in 5th place (map, video etc.).

My grandpa ankle after a couple of weeks
My last WOC race was the relay. After seeing how I was running in the sprint final I was quite excited to give it everything on the first leg. I started well, in the first part of the course I was up with the leaders, then I got my food stuck in some bumpy rock thing when I was running down a small hill on the way to the 4th control and heard a loud 'pop' as I twisted my ankle really badly :( I tried to keep running which kind of worked for a while but was really painful. It took over my mind and I stopped reading my map to the 6th then got a bit lost. Once I stopped running and started to walk the pain got much worse and my ankle swelled up a lot. I decided that I wanted to finish the race so the other guys in my team that travelled all the way to Europe (which is very expensive for an NZ orienteer) would get a chance to run. I walked/hobbled the rest of the race, and even managed to pass at least one runner who was searching for the bingo-pit. Our team finished in 23rd place in the end. Not the result I/we'd hoped for at all, but a result nonetheless! (map, results).

After heading back to Finland I tried to run in some of the races by heavily strapping my ankle and taking some painkillers. Not a good idea. I ended up hurting the other ankle too and both my Achilles from running weirdly. I spent a very cold winter doing a lot of cross training - aqua jogging is not for me! Luckily Finland get's a little bit of this white stuff called 'snow', so I got to learn how to cross country ski which kind of saved me from going crazy! In January I chanced running again, starting with short jogs. I was very stiff and a little sore in the beginning, but slowly things got better.  I also have a new toy :D I got a GoPro HD Hero 2 camera in January which helped distract me from injury problems, and using RGmapVideo I've been able to produce some cool orienteering videos since I've been able to run again.

In February Hanna and I went to Portugal with our club Rajamäen Rykmentti for a training camp. The warmer weather in the day time did wonders for my ailments, and it was soooo good to do some orienteering again after so long! The cold nights living in plastic shoe boxes led to me getting a bit sick after a few days, but I still managed to do most of the trainings. The first weekend there was a WRE middle distance in some cool terrain, I made some mistakes but I was happy with the result considering my form at the time (map, results). When I got sick I decided to skip a training and make a sprint map of our camping ground, it was quite a cool area and we held a couple of 'fun' sprint races one evening, see the map here. The video below is of the 'final' race where I ran with my GoPro (Videos look better if you change them to full-screen and high resolution):

You can see all of the other maps from the Portugal training camp here in my DOMA. Below are some of the other orienteering videos that I made of the Portugal training camp (enjoy!):

Mira Middle:

Sprint Training:

Thierry Gueorgiou Middle (Robot Unicorn Edition):