Orienteering race 38:35  **** 1.9 mi (20:18 / mi) +130m 16:45 / mi
spiked:10/13c shoes: Integrators Orange
US Middle Champs, Letchworth State Park. 2.9km/130m climb. 5th US in M65, 11th overall on Brown Y out of 60.
Had a second night of waking up at 3am and not being able to get back to sleep. That plus feeling emotionally drained, combined with the cold morning (probably less than 40 degrees when we got out there) left me feeling sluggish and with less focus than on the first two days. Felt like a slug, having a real hard time moving through the slippery, muddy and congested woods. Had no idea that when I got to the spectator control, 85% of the way through the course, that I was actually in third (US). But then I stopped to tie my shoe, which cascaded into 1:20 or so lost – and I missed third by :44. Also lost :40+ on the first leg with a rather silly mistake, and another :40 over #2, 3, 4 with a series of bobbles.
1. Aimed for the pond just WNW of the control. Went right across the top of the gully 40% along the way, so I was right on at that point. As my pace count ran out, came to a depression that was quite wet. Had a lot of trees in it, so it didn’t really look like a pond, but the meet notes had said that water features were drier than mapped, so I thought maybe this was the lake. In fact, I was in the small depression just WSW of the control, so if I’d continued on just a few more meters, I would have probably seen the bag. But the hill head seemed too small (why? It was only supposed to be a one contour hill), and I must not have seen the depression on the map (this was pretty big to be mapped as a small depression), so I decided that it was the lake after all, so went SE up the hill and then E. Soon came to a N-S stream; realizing where I was, headed SW and very soon saw the bag. Lost at least :40, possibly as much as :55.
2. Went SW to avoid the green (apparently it was easy to get through, and I probably went through it myself) and hit the road where the formline knoll is on the other side. It was steep and muddy getting down the hill. Bearing towards the reentrant, and soon saw two reentrants ahead, one a little to the right, one a little to the left. Checked the one on the right, but no control; quickly went to the other one and there it was. Lost about :10 at the end, and another :10 for the unnecessarily long route.
3. For some unexplainable reason, when I considered the lower route for avoiding the gorge, I thought I would need to climb up 3 contours at the end, when actually it would have been at most a half contour. Since it looked like the road was only 3 contours up (it was actually 4), went that way. Along the road, see the gorge below, use the marsh on the S side as an attack point, and head straight down. Very steep; slipped and fell at one point, landing on the left side of my back and hip, just like at the end of yesterday. No trouble finding the control. Suboptimal route cost me about :20. (Found out later that PG went right across the gorge! He did lose time in doing so, though.)
4. On a bearing, came to a small reentrant and looked around, then realized my pace count was nowhere near what it needed to be, and so I was in the reentrant formed by the wiggle in the index contour. Continued, soon saw the spur E of the control; after curling around the spur, a little surprised how high the bag was in the reentrant. The steep and slippery hill side made it hard to get to the bag. Lost :10 with the mid-leg hesitation. At this point I was 17th overall, 3:29 behind Walter and David Hunter (both of whom I would be ahead of by #10 but ultimately just get nipped by).
5. Down into the reentrant into the bigger reentrant, couldn’t avoid the marsh and got my feet very muddy. No trouble at all navigationally, but Peter did this leg in barely more than half the time (44 seconds to my 70).
6. Took a little extra time to plan this leg carefully. Went along the lower, less steep part of the hillside at first, but there was a lot of deadfall, so went even lower and ran along the edge of the marsh. Carefully noted the first stream, then the trickle, then the second stream, and once across the latter, headed up the spur and nailed it.
7. Some physical difficulty getting down the spur. Once at the bottom, took a little extra planning time in light of the flatness and all the green ahead. Aimed off a bit to the right to catch the N-S running embankment. (Running through the vegetation wasn’t a problem.) Once at the embankment, headed N, very soon saw the little notch and nailed it from there.
8. Wanted to go straight, but vegetation near the marsh forced me a little right and hit the hillside on the other side of the marsh right at the stream. Angled left up the hill (because it was steep) and apparently didn’t fully correct for that since once I ran across the flat part, I saw the control 30m to my right. Lost maybe :05.
9. Surprised how steep the climb was up to the dirt road. Crossed at the intended spot, closer to the S water stop. Surprised again how steep the climb was to the top. From there, easy to identify the left patch of green, but the right one was rather diffuse, and surprised I couldn’t see the reentrant behind it. Nevertheless, went between the two patches of fight, ran along the bottom of the ridge. Soon saw the reentrant, and curled into it, surprised (for the 4th time on this leg) that the bag was so far into the reentrant, given that the clue said “lower part” (though, indeed, the bag was at the center of the circle).
10. Ran hard, drifted right just a little, but corrected easily once I saw the roadway. As I left #10, suddenly felt very tired and didn’t have much inspiration, feeling like I’d been a slug most of the way. Little did I know that I was in third place US at that moment!
11. Drawn a little to the right by someone heading that way, but corrected in the middle of the field and ran SSW to the S end of the fight bordering the W edge. A few steps into the woods, I noticed my shoe was untied. Probably should have tried to finish the course that way, but I’d been through plenty of shoe-sucking mud already so thought I would tie it. My shoes were so muddy that my hands got muddy, and my glasses got fogged from bending over. By the time I got everything straightened out, I’d probably lost :45 (and, as it turned out, the Bronze). Worse, my concentration was off and I proceeded to make a :45 mistake: visually locked onto a building, thinking it was the one on the straight line, but it was the next one to the right – apparently, I didn’t look around much. Found it tough climbing to the building, but once there I could see a depression behind it and, soon, a control in it, so happily went to punch, but the code was wrong. Fortunately, it only took a few seconds to figure out what had happened, so raced up the hill to the SE and right to the bag.
12. Left #11 very quickly, seeing that this was an easy leg. Went a little left to avoid the light green. Once on the road, headed for the stone monument on the S bend, but apparently, that’s not on the map. Fortunately, saw the bag on my right, a few meters E of the monument, just before I ran by it. 5th best split on this leg, easily my highest rank of the day.
13. Looked in the direction of the big field and immediately saw the bag, so it was just a matter of getting there.
F. Long run to the Finish, not a lot of gas left in the tank. Tried to catch up to Tom Strat, who was limping his way in.