Orienteering race (Foot) 4:44:04  26.0 km (10:56 / km) +997m 9:10 / km
HVO: Hudson Highlander at Harriman State Park, Lake Welch.
S-1 - Just over a 1/4 mile out, as we were going up a hill on the paved trail, I turned to JJ Cote and noted that the positions those around us were in at the moment, were pretty much the same as the AP list of attendees, sorted by AP ranking points. That would indicate overall running speed since that's all we were doing at that point. I looked ahead on the course and followed others to the control. Overall, I felt like I was settling into a pace that I could manage. Sleeping better helped a lot. However, I also was feeling like I wasn't reading the map that well.
1-2 - The 3 junior women who were just ahead of me in AP ranking points were leading the way. Once we left the road, Evalin B. took us up the hill. I started to depart and go more straight, as Evelyn was moving to the right, but her way avoided the green better and we moved okay. I was really losing track of where we were. A bee or wasp stung my back and I felt that the rest of the run. A few times I thought I knew and wanted to bear left but thought it better to stay with the crowd. I wasn't completely sure when we crossed the trail, and still was rather uncertain as Evalin got us there perfectly. I didn't see Joe Brautigam on this leg, but Evalin's log said she was seeing him.
2-3 - I was chasing the young women, trying to keep up. Actually going downhill was easier for me but I was reading the leg well at this speed. I was uncertain about the rock at the end.
3-4 - Initially, I was following along okay, but once again, I lost it, not seeing the contour on the map that well running at this speed. Even with glasses on and sitting, I need a magnifier to read it well. Greg Balter was with us on this leg, having caught-up from behind.
4-5 - I felt much more comfortable reading along this leg, but I still wasn't getting it entirely. By this point, I was seeing Joe B. Joe went left and I followed behind him as it was more direct. Most of the women went right up the trail near the end. Kseniya P. was nearby too.
5-6 - Everyone but Evalin seemed to head for the trail. I think I started falling behind on the climb. I'd climbed this hill in just about the same area in May for the West Point event.
6-7 - I started losing sight of people but got onto the trail and gained on them. Meanwhile Evalin B. gained on me. I let her pass before the road. When asked about why he was still nearby, Joe mentioned that he'd trained 30 hours over the last week and was just running his pace. On the road, I caught up to the women and passed them. The fence before the beach didn't show-up well (is it too thin) so I foolishly ran toward it. The women followed the trail and got ahead as I backtracked. I was happy to be on a 10 min/k pace and with the first loop done so quickly.
7-8 - I forced myself to drink more than I needed, and to eat. When I took off, the junior women were already out but I caught them in the parking lot. I stayed with them on the road but ran just ahead before pulling off into the woods. They looked at me like I'd made a mistake and kept going. I was uncertain about it, but they also jumped in about a minute or less later. I kept more left than the women and didn't see them for a while. We converged as we got to the edge of the drop off. Feeling close, I started to go to the next reentrant but they plunged down. I followed but as the terrain flattened, they paused and started splitting. That was enough for me to think my initial decision was right. I went back up 2-3 contours, and did a loop in which I came up empty handed. I saw Jeff Saeger going down where I'd gone before with the junior women so I repeated. I went a little left and paused still well above the control--I had it in my head that the control was closer to the top, and wasn't reading the contours that well. The circle, stony ground and cliffs were hiding one. Fortunately, I could see it watching Jeff head in the right direction. I probably lost 5 minutes.
8-9 - I caught-up to Jeff and then was on his left. I somehow stayed too close to the marsh for too long. I cut over to the right and saw Jeff again. David Oxentierna was nearby too.
9-10 - We ran up the stony ground as best as we could and it wasn't hard for me to read for a change. I stayed with Jeff as he went on the left side of the knoll. David took a more direct route on the other side of the knoll. Jeff paused just before a wall of green. This time I recognized it for the green at the saddle and headed to the little white gap. I paused to be sure of my bearing but David O. came in from the right ahead of me and Jeff. Bernie came in close behind us. I think that somewhere around here, a button got pushed on my GPS (by vegetation I brushed up against) and I didn't realize it until about 15 minutes later.
10-11 - The trail run was nice. David led Jeff and then I. I passed Jeff as he paused after the bridge, and then, when he cut left, I decided it'd be okay. My inclination was to go higher to hit the intermittent trail that as cutting across instead. As I cut left, David looked back and did too. Jeff led us to the intermittent trail but it ran out in the green. Eventually across the main trail and on the flat marsh, I moved ahead a little. I could see shirts in the forest up ahead and then the spur. One of the shirts turned out to be one of the junior woman whom I ran w/earlier. I didn't realize the control was a reentrant feature but from the spur, I was fortunately close enough. It was disturbing that I wasn't reading the features off of the map that well.
11-12 - Jeff and then David led us on the hillside above the marsh toward #12. From the trail crossing, Jeff got ahead and got us to the small marsh. Jeff slowed a little. The mapping of the green was making sense to me so I moved ahead; I was a little worried about using vegetation on an old map and wondered if Joe had updated it here. I was a little high when I could see more junior women going up. It seemed that they'd missed high and were making up for it.
12-13 - I enjoyed the big open terrain that except for trails or roads, was largely missing earlier. I felt I could run in it. I started catching up to Anna Breton. As we approached the green and climb ahead, she cut left more to avoid it. I cut left a little, to find an opening but plunged in before she did. It was slow going at times but not long before I plunged through. Jeff had gone in earlier on my right and someone was behind me for a change. On the downhill, I hit the trail where it was not well defined, so I stopped. Seeing Jeff and others come in from the right made it clearer to me so I marched on. It was well defined the rest of the way to the rock wall and trail bend, where I stopped again to get a good and careful bearing. The others just went on past me and we all followed the wall remnants to the control.
13-14 - Jeff went right and I think Anna went directly at first. At the wall at the bottom of the valley, she cut right too, to where the wall was easier to cross. Once angled up the hill, we roughly followed the edge of the clearing to the wall. The wall symbol on the map looks thin to me.
14-15 - Leaving #14, Jeff went right immediately and I chased. I think Anna went more left at first and got hung up in unmapped green. As we were heading through the tunnel, Alex Jospe was on her trail run going the other direction. I recognized the ride we descended as being the first leg of Max's Yellow course from the West Point meet last spring.
15-16-17 - At the map exchange, I drank, then drank a whole quart of Gatorade that I'd left waiting. I ate another piece of banana, and other stuff, while replacing a Gu I had used earlier. Jeremy came through as Jeff and I were getting ready and Jeremy got out first. Soon after it seemed that Jeff wasn't ready so I got started so I think he did start close behind but moved more slowly over the paved trail up the hill. Jeremy could be seen close ahead but he was definitely pulling ahead. I kept a comfortable pace. Once through the tunnel and on a streamered route, I heard Jeff yelling--it seemed he'd missed the streamer so I yelled back and didn't see him again until the end. I was surprised that the route was similar to loop 2, but also happy about that--that loop wasn't so hilly. As the trail went downward for a long way, the distance was catching-up with me. In hours and minutes, I started cramping in my left leg right about the duration of my longest training run in the last few weeks. I stopped a few times and expected to see Jeff. I was worried because my left leg is the stronger of the two, since my back operation. I walked and worked it out to get to control 16. Along the way, I'd seen Sharon Crawford, heading to #12. A while after #16, I stepped aside for a nature break. I started to go down to the power lines at the unmarked intersection but came back. I was enjoying the trail a lot and my cramping subsided enough as I kept a steady pace. The trail was all over before it seemed long.
17-18 - I ate and drank about as much as I could. It wasn't much since I'd stuffed myself at the end of loop 2. The pause was just long enough to cool me off and return to feeling cramps in my legs. I walked a lot going to #18 on a fairly straight route. I was glad to spike it but going this slowly, I should have. JJ Cote was closing in and I was a little surprised to see him instead of Jeff, Bernie, or David Ox.
18-19 - I went straight to the trail bend and in, spiking this nice short leg. Somehow I managed to stay ahead of JJ but he was closer. Along the way, I was seeing runners coming the other direction, finishing their Camp Hogencamp loop.
19-20 - I hurried down the hill, going straight. I hit the valley in view of the curving un-crossable cliff and then saw the control up the steep reentrant. I had to be careful not to trigger leg cramps.
20-21 - I went up the reentrant and around the spur. JJ climbed more directly and got onto the ridge before me. I caught up walking and started jogging. That got me past him again. I was at the control before expecting it, but I was glad it was as easy as it was.
21-22 - I took off a little to the right of straight to come in above the stony ground on the steeper hillside. I hit the big reentrant past the control but wasn't entirely sure of it. Seeing JJ pop out from the left to my right clued me in as did his hint of asking me if I'd gotten it--thanks! I could see it from there.
22-23 - JJ disappeared as I paused to plan a route. The trail was obvious so I took it, but I hesitated stopping too early. I continued to past the bend, and in to spike it, only I was rather slow about it. I did glimpse JJ going up to my right as I came in.
23-24 - I climbed in a general direction and got to the many cliffed large reentrant. I played being a human pachinko ball, making my way down but I did it efficiently, and got to the valley just where I'd wanted to be. This was confirmed by a sort of spur of a large cliff, right of the leg line, and to the left of where I was. I attacked off of that to the line of cliffs on the other valley wall and kept my bearing to the control. I was happy to have spiked it.
24-25 - As I was just getting going, JJ was coming back, having overshot the control. I took that to be good fortune for me. I hit the trail for a while, and didn't like the green look of the forest crossing a reentrant along the lake shore. I climbed more and went around while seeing JJ go more directly. He got to the first dam ahead of me, but not very far ahead. After the second dam, he went left when I went right. I went to the wrong and lower rock initially but I corrected as JJ was leaving the right one.
25-26 - I caught up to JJ on the dam. Michael Woods (QOC--his fist HH) was headed out from the aid station--I was a little surprised since he's younger/faster but this is new terrain for him. I thought he might run with others but he hadn't so much. I punched, then I drank and ate a little more at the aid station. Word of Jeff and Bernie being not so far back was mentioned. JJ and I talked about being past the mental barriers with a long shot homeward.
26-27 - I left the aid station before JJ, but I could hear that he wasn't far behind as I headed straight up. I had seen another runner go this way when I was pulling into #17 and just didn't see a much better option. In retrospect, and with knowledge of the blueberries that I eventually went through, I would have considered going all the way up to Lake Askoti, up the trail, and across what's mapped as open flat forest. As it was, I got to the power lines and thought about using the trail to the road. That didn't seem good considering the climb at the end. I was cramping again as soon as I'd left #26. This time it was both legs. It hurt and kept me walking funny if I could move at all. Some pausing helped keep it in check--the cramps seemed like nothing after the cramp-like spasms I'd endured for hours in bed when my back was going out a couple of years back. After the power lines in the deep +1m blueberry and rock, I fell over a few times. It was really slow with cramping complicating it. The route navigation however, wasn't hard. I intended to follow the edge of the rough open areas where it looked like there was no low vegetation. Once I got there, I did find myself still in blueberries, but it wasn't as bad. I walked most of the way in, except at the top. JJ later told me that he'd gone more to the left to avoid the rough terrain, and that he saw me at the top. I missed seeing him so I wasn't sure if he was ahead or not but I believed he was still behind.
27-28-29-F - I stayed on the ridge. Initially the depth of the blueberries was as bad as on the climb, but going slightly downhill I could run some of it. There were also some narrow animal tracks or old trails to link together. Soon there were alleys through the low vegetation and finally open as I headed straight and downward in earnest (speaking of which, where was Ernst?). I kept a steady pace avoiding doing any lurching that would cause cramps. I hit the trail as it was headed downhill. I was surprised to see that last 2 controls were the same as those from the second loop, but it did make it easy! After getting #27 in much the same way as I'd done earlier, my leg cramps returned. Getting up the hill to #28 was like a scene out of Monty Python--a silly walk. Leaving #28, I came out a little to the left like Anna Breton had done earlier. I got hung up stepping through a fallen tree, and losing most of a minute trying to do that without cramping. Finally on the road, I finished happily. Like everyone else, I was surprised about the finish control but everyone was helping each finisher to find it on the hill.
Overall, I didn't feel very good about my navigation. My deteriorating eyes might be to blame for that. I do have to take away being happy about getting through it, working past the cramps and keeping my head most of the way. The course and scenery was fun and fine, if just greener than I recall from previous HHs. It's always nice running with others and staying in the group. I moved between groups a lot. It seemed like it'd have been more fun to stay with a group but I was trying to improve my overall performance from 2 years ago.