Orienteering race 2:00:34  *** 17.3 km (6:58 / km) +520m 6:04 / km
Fishtrap Goat. Like last year, my goal was to finish under two hours. Like last year, I missed my goal by less than a minute. 2013 - 2:00:18. 2014 - 2:00:34. Consistency!
However, the weather was harsher this year - much warmer with clear skies and unforgiving sun, as opposed to overcast with cool temperatures. I also was navigating solo (by design) for 90% of the course this time around, as opposed to running with Peteris for most of the race in 2013. Finally, I could have easily met my goal had I made the optimum skip choices that almost everyone else made.
I've never had any pretensions of keeping up with Eric for 17 km, but I was hoping to be closer than a full 15 minutes behind (or ~8-10, accounting for the skip disparity). Give me a nice sprint or middle any day!
1 - Found myself in front by accident, doing the trailblazing. There was a sneaky extra control almost directly on the path to the right control. I stopped at it but saw the incorrect number and didn't punch.
2 - Went a different route than Eric, but arrived a few seconds before he did.
3 - Eric skipped this one, and after we left the control I didn't see a single person until he caught back up around 15, which was exactly what I wanted. Following Eric around would not have been the training I was looking for, so I made a conscious decision that, if the opportunity arose to diverge early on, I would take it regardless of whether it was "right." In other words, this race was about the process, rather than the result.
I looked back briefly from the top of a cliff on the way to 3, and saw no one anywhere behind me. Yikes!
6 - Decided somewhat on the fly to skip 4 and 5, because why not? I had to justify wearing the yellow jersey. I honestly didn't even look as far ahead as 25, which was the most obvious skip on the entire course.
7, 8, 9, 10 - Clean navigation, feeling good physically but not pushing particularly hard.
11 - First to water stop #1. Mmm, water.
12 - Simple leg across the creek and along the fence around the cliff.
13, 14 - I had never been to the area near the railroad tracks on the far eastern portion of the map, so I was looking forward to that. 13 was my favorite control location on the course - the grassy top of a tall, distinctive rock bluff thingy. You couldn't see the flag until you climbed all the way up.
15 - Perhaps the trickiest leg on the course, with lots of opportunity for parallel error along a line of cliffs. I came in one cliff to the right, but knew I was off and corrected quickly. As I left 15, Eric came into it. Solitude disturbed.
16 - Along the trail next to the lake. Not sure what Eric did but I punched first and didn't see him in the vicinity of the flag.
17 - There he is, right behind me. We crossed the creek along the narrow cement dam together, beauty before age. I almost fell in once or twice - I was counting on Eric to fish me out. Mmm, water stop.
18 - Eric sped up on this long leg, and put a little distance between us. This was where I started to tire noticeably.
19, 20 - Within sight of Eric until he left 20. I saw the control and went to the place I saw it, but it had moved in the interim. Sneaky control.
21 - Alone again, naturally.
22 - Took the lazy, low route along the lake. I think it would have been better to go left.
23 - Another tricky control. I proceeded carefully, but ended up seeing the control 50 meters away.
24 - Around the marsh. Hurting at this point.
25 - Monitoring my watch on the way, I was thinking that two hours was well out of reach, as moving through the long grasses was becoming a real chore. I saw the man manning the manned control before I saw the control.
26 - Had to wade butt-deep through a creek. Thank god this was near the end. My water-logged feet felt like cement blocks, and my legs and feet were becoming less adept at dealing with the uneven footing. Got the wobbly knees! Two hours looking more realistic.
27, F - Unsuccessfully "sprinting" for the two-hour mark.