Orienteering race 21:53  *** 3.4 km (6:26 / km) +60m 5:55 / km
You know how sometimes when you're training, you visualize things like crossing the finish line first with everybody cheering, or that Eric or Ian (shout-out) are breathing down your neck on the run to the finish, and so on?
I'll have to think up a new motivational scenario now, because mine was entirely fulfilled and indeed surpassed by this relay - brought to life in brilliant, brilliant color. I only wish the moment hadn't passed so quickly, the better to remember it. It's true what (real) athletes say about not being able to hear the cheers. When I reached the last control, I honestly wanted to just stop and take everything in for a minute or two, or whip out a Go Pro. Incidentally this may have caused great consternation among Tori and Eric, who were waiting at the chute to run in with me.
That's another thing - having relay teammates, and a whole club of teammates in Seattle, to share the happiness with makes everything so much better than merely running for yourself.
My actual race is a bit of a footnote and was nothing special, but hey I'll talk about it anyway! We were fourth after Tori's run; she wasn't happy with her race but we were still in a solid position only six or so minutes back of CSU in first, and less than three back of SVO and DVOA 2. Eric brought us back into a virtual tie for second, as he and Eddie finished together, and made up about half the gap on CSU.
We had hoped SVO's third leg runner wouldn't be a huge threat, so I basically went out with only one goal in mind - make up three minutes as quickly as possible. I had a bobble right off the bat, going to 9 instead of 1 - only ~20s lost. The next couple were clean, then I saw Izzy across an open field in front of me. I managed to pull ahead just before punching 4, then completely overran 5 and she took the lead back - close to 1:00 lost. I actually got lucky here - the control feature didn't at all match what I thought I saw in the terrain, but I realized I had gone too far and happened to look back and see Izzy punching. Back in second by ~20s. I was able to jump ahead up the hill to 6, then to 7 and across the spectator field (don't trip, look faux pro) to the final section of short legs. I took the last few controls at a notch or two below top speed - just trying to be safe and avoid a complete blow-up. Triple-checking every control code, taking an extra second at each glance of the map, but I still managed to lose ~30s on 9. Then out of the woods to the finish!
I probably lost about two minutes total, which is obviously not ideal on a sprint-length course, and could have broken 20:00 with a good clean run. But no complaints, I'm a national champion! This is something that has never happened before, if you couldn't tell already. Eric said he has been trying to win the relay champs for 20 years now, and it's the only U.S. championship event he hadn't won, so we're happy to help him finally get it done.