Monday, January 16, 2012


The 2011 season had some highs and lows for me, and a little bit too much getting sick around important times. I focused quite a bit on running this year, training with a small running group. I ran a pb for 10k in April, finally breaking 40 minutes. Also, I ran the Knee Knacker (a 30 mile race with >2000m of climb). This in a Vancouver trail running classic I have always wanted to run, but since it is in the middle of the summer I am often not around. It was definitely a high to edge out a win in this race. The Canadians up in the Yukon showed that I was a bit rusty with my technical orienteering, particularly the first race, but I felt I got a better handle on it as the week went on. Then came the travel to Europe, where I unfortunately caught a bug. I missed a good deal of my chance for last minute races/prep because of this. The highs were making two finals, and really enjoying the sprint final (even if I do not really have fast twitch legs). Additionally of course, the collective effort of the women's team coming together for a great result at the relay. The lows were missing out on the long final and struggling to feel I could run aggressively in the difficult lumpy terrain.

My goal for this year is to try to figure out how to keep my imune system happier. I also need to work on my strength/imbalances, as I have been somewhat injured over the past few months. Since it is coming up soon, I am looking forward to the sprint training camp in Victoria this year (and being healthy at that too, which I was not last year). Being involved in the organizing and mapping, I know how different the terrain is compared to Vancouver and I look forward to the open rock and interesting vegetation.

Another goal is to do more race analysis, which is something I used to be more disciplined in doing. I remember always sitting down after a race and drawing out my route. I even have old journals from orienteering travels where I wrote pages about each race. However, these days my psychology has been getting the better of me. I get complacent if the race is good, or too angry to look at it if the race is bad. There is not necessarily something to be learnt in all your mistakes - sometimes mistakes just happen - but at the very least you can work through the race, and hopefully move towards the next one with a clearer head. I think I have still been managing to work through some of these things in my head, spending hours obsessing over how a race went poorly and trash talking myself, but it may not be as effective as a structured race analysis (which should hopefully involve less negativity).

In the spirit of this, I want to see some of your race analysis (non-hpp, since I know you can post yours here if you want)! If you are willing to let me read over anything you have written about a race (hopefully including a route on a map), then I would be interested in seeing it - and posting the map and some hopefully constructive comments on the blog (after your approval). Depending on the response, will see how many I can look at - as in only the first few (send to: lc[my last name][AT]gmail[DOT]com).

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Ça chauffe" au sud de la France!

It seems to be a running joke with orienteers that we always stop off at home just long enough to get most of the stink out of our o-clothing before throwing it all back in a suitcase again and heading off to the next competition or training. I took this to a new level when I got back to St Etienne from my vacation frolicing almost exactly 12hrs before le Pole's planned departure for a training camp in the south of France. All I had time to do was dig my New Year's party dress out of my bag and throw in a couple clean jersey's and my bathing suit (hehe no just kidding, it's not quite that warm down here).

After a short 4.5hrs of driving (it seemed to be interminably long for the French but they have obviously never attempted the infamous weekend where you drive 12hrs one way just to run 3 races in 2 days and then drive back) and a couple training breaks we arrived in the cute little village of Nant where we would be staying for the next 5 days.

The program is a tough one; all that really happens is that you wake up in the morning, you eat, then train, then eat again, take a much needed siesta, go out training again, freeze your bum off in the bus while waiting for night to fall, venture out into the dark for the third training of the day, come back to the accommodation to eat, and then straight to bed to recuperate for tomorrow's training. Usually I really enjoy these training camps because I feel really hardcore putting all those hours of orienteering on attackpoint, but 2012 threw me a bit of a curveball in the form of a gastro intestinal sickness thingymadooer. I made it through the first training on Wednesday with the hope that maybe it was just something I ate that didn't go down well, but when all I could force down was a meager plate of plain pasta I chose to be the smart/wimpy athlete and crawled into bed to sleep away the afternoon.

The next morning I took enough Paracetemol to keep my head from spinning - I know, I know, everyone says that you should never train when you're sick, but I wasn't about to waste away in bed while everyone else was out training on super beautiful and technical terrain. I was going to crawl if I had to! - and hopped into the bus ready to experience this marvelous terrain... too bad the weather decided to turn into 110km/h winds and really cold rain.

We ran a Finnish relay which is a team of a girl and guy who each do two loops. It actually would've been pretty cool if my legs hadn't felt completely drained, if we hadn't had to hide behind bushes so as not to be blown away, and if I had been able to concentrate enough to not get completely lost. I did, however, eventually find all my controls! Although, good thing Celestin started his last loop before I got back because I was out there for awhile.

Here's a picture that I took of the type of terrain we were running through, followed by the map excerpt of the area. Not so much of a piece of cake, eh?

I won't go into detail about the afternoon training but let's just say that it wasn't the most enjoyable hour of my life... in a weak moment afterwards I had even convinced myself that I should head back to St Etienne with other injured athletes. Thank goodness Olivier, the coach, managed to bring me around even if was just to toodle around on the maps to get in the technical aspect of the trainings.

And toodling I did! It's amazing what a little sunshine and an amazing map can do to your health! There was one section that they called the labyrinth ...

... and getting through it involved scaling cliffs, crawling through tunnels of dark green, and fighting off the minotaur to get to the control ;) While the others were busy getting lost while doing intervals in the tricky terrain, I was kept busy getting lost while jogging around and capturing the beautiful scenery.

And as the 4th day of our training camp comes to a close we still have a sprint distance in Millau to look forward to, followed by a middle and long. Even though I still feel like a new born Bambi when I run, there's still a chance that I could pull out some good runs this weekend. As my dad always tells me... it's not over until the fat lady sings!

And as a side note I just wanted to wish everyone a very happy 2012!.. with good health and lots of quality training hours to come!