Run ((orienteering)) 38:02  *** 7.61 km (5:00 / km) +150m 4:33 / km
First leg of the Victorian Relays at Woodlands Park. This was a really good hit-out; after several races of slogging around and often struggling to get under 10 minutes/km, it was nice to get onto a fast area (with a bit of rock to keep it interesting) and a good head-to-head race, to get some intensity into my racing. I wasn't sure how I would handle the intensity but as it happened handled it pretty well, and with no hint of soreness for the first time in a few weeks (although strength up hills still wasn't great). Didn't miss a thing.
Map pick-up was a bit messy and I emerged from the graveyard 50 metres off the front end of the bunch. Troy and Kez had a short split early and I found myself battling with Toph and James Robertson, with Tim Hatley trying to hang on (and more or less succeeding for the first half). Toph and James missed 3 slightly giving me a chance to get onto them; they pulled away a bit on the fast and mostly downhill 4 and 5, but I kept in touch (helped by noticing which side of the ruin 5 was on). Toph, who as it happened was coming off an XC race, slowed on the climb between 6 and 7; that left James on his own. I thought there might be potential for a miss there and there was. That gave me a useful 100-metre lead going into the final loop, which then stayed intact more or less to the end. Never saw Troy and Kez but they came in about a minute ahead.
Yarra Valley was never likely to challenge MFR and Bendigo's two teams over three legs, but we hung in there better than I thought we might thanks to Russell Bulman's impressive (for an M55) 43, and ended up a respectable rather than distant fourth. The reason I still run for Yarra Valley in these is mainly in the name of preventing monopolies. MFR won, Bendigo were second and third.
This run will do a lot for my confidence, which was at a pretty low ebb on Monday - it seems at this stage that the massage was indeed a turning point, something to be noted for future reference. I probably won't get many more chances to orienteer between now and the Australian Champs - missing Kooyoora next weekend will be a pity, although a long run on Dartmoor (the present plan) is not the worst of substitutes - so it was good to get this one on the board.
The use of the extra decimal point in the distance is intentional; it makes the difference between me getting under 5s or not.
There is enough rock in the pocket we used that it could make an interesting sprint area; given its proximity to the airport, it would be well suited to an NOL weekend (if it was the March long weekend you could reasonably run it on Friday night with, say, a 6pm start).