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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Training Log Archive: iansmith

In the last 28 days:

activity # timemileskm+mload
  Biking10 4:50:00 84.51(17.5/h) 136.0(28.1/h) 5529.0
  Orienteering1 3:49:55 17.28(13:18) 27.81(8:16) 883115.0
  Running4 2:14:53 12.79 20.58 5313.5
  Hiking1 2:00:00 6.21(19:19) 10.0(12:00)12.0
  Swimming2 1:00:00 2.49(24:08) 4.0(15:00)6.0
  Total18 13:54:48 123.27 198.39 991175.4


Saturday Oct 14 #

1 PM

Hiking 2:00:00 [1] 10.0 km (12:00 / km)
shoes: 201702 Asics Gel-contend

Katie and I went on what turned to be an epic ascent up Cameron Cone (Cameron on the right, Pike's Peak on the left) near Colorado Springs, and in executing a pedestrian hiking trip turned into unplanned struggle for survival, she completed another milestone on the path to spending time with me.

We planned going up Cameron a few weeks ago, and I had read three different trail reports. I knew there were going to be some challenges finding the trail, and unfortunately, I didn't have a trail map better than the USGS. But visibility is excellent in the Rockies, and I was confident. We brought 3 L of water and powerade, two cliff bars, plenty of extra clothing, two cell phones, and a head lamp. As expeditions go, I was less prepared than usual. The route from the Barr trailhead is about 10-12 km round trip with with 1.25 km of vertical.

After a massive breakfast buffet at the Broadmoor and a short trip to pick up the rental car, we set out from the Barr trailhead at about 1:30 PM. I was projecting a 4 hour round trip. The first part went smoothly - we followed the route guide successfully, and made it up to Magog Rock after about an hour. Weather conditions and visibility were excellent, and we were in good spirits. We ran into a pair of unleashed dogs (one of which was hilariously small) on the way to the summit, and I took a picture in case they were missing.

The last 1700 feet of vertical proved to be particularly steep and arduous. We were both suffering from the lack of oxygen. Despite Katie's inexperience with hiking, she was a trooper and persevered in the face of adversity. I unwisely set 5:15p as our turn around time, and we summited just before then. As the trail was clear and open, I figured the descent would be a straightforward 2 hours. Pike's Peak from Cameron Cone (note sun is low).

Unfortunately, that was incorrect. Our first epic challenge was that I elected to descent by an alternate route (we summited via the SE ridge) - descending the NW ridge. The trail deviated from the route description, and I was concerned we would have to backtrack. However, it was a better trail than the SE ridge and blazed, and we ultimately rejoined the original route without difficulty. Our second moment of concern was when we hit Magog Rock at about 7:00, just as darkness descended. Despite hitting the rock perfectly, we couldn't find the trail descending. I parked Katie with the powerade and scouted with the headlamp for about five uneasy minutes surrounded by perilous falls before I found the route again. While we had the two cell phones, I elected to only use the headlamp for the descent to conserve resources; Katie wore the headlamp, and I walked in front of her. My experience with Night-O was helpful, and we trudged cheerfully down the mountain.

Our final ordeal was the most involved and concerning. After making it down to the cog railway, we figured we were nearly home, but the original route had had a complicated traverse from the Barr trail across the railway that we couldn't find again. We descended the (closed for the day) railway all the way to the rail yard, but we couldn't figure out how to get across the river to the street and parking area. At this point, we were perhaps 100m from houses and could have called for help, but there was some concern about being arrested for trespassing on the railway. Ultimately, I parked Katie by the railway with the food and cell phone and scouted through dense bushes to find a passable crossing of the river. The last twenty minutes were almost silly, but we finally made it back to the car at about 9 PM.

Ironically, during the ascent, we had talked at length about how getting to the top was only the halfway point. While we made it out ok and in good spirits, the main problem was that I grossly underestimated how long it would take us to complete an arduous climb and descent. I suspect that in full daylight, the trip would have taken an hour less time. One headlamp per person is also a necessity whenever I'm on a trip. I was genuinely concerned when we lost the route at Magog. Ultimately, I have a lot of confidence in myself, which can become a problem when you consistently exceed the safe parameters of your trip and have to rely on your ability to wing it.

Fortunately, Katie was undeterred, and we celebrated our survival with pizza and sparkling water. I will be better prepared in the future.

Friday Oct 13 #


At this point, due to conference activities and ongoing work from UToronto, I have replaced all solid food with coffee.

SportsEngine is a neat tool for helping parents find out about sports providers for their children. I don't think orienteering has any data therein.

Took 4400 words of notes at the Assembly. I need to digest and reflect on the material, but I will summarize and present my thoughts going forward for how best to use what I learned. USOC/MSOC presents an interesting opportunity for OUSA, though the challenge will lie in identifying one or two key avenues to pursue that will bring maximal benefit.

Thursday Oct 12 #


USOC Assembly - Live Notes.

Barb would eat this up.

Lesson that has been made clear to me on at least three occasions this week: I need business cards. I probably need at least two flavors - one with OUSA credentials and one with professional/research/UToronto credentials. Also need an OUSA e-mail address.

Question: which is better for an organization like OUSA - 3 staff at $15k/yr, 2 at $22, or 1 at $45? Numbers arbitrarily chosen.

During the USOC Leadership Address and Board town hall, the awarding of the Olympics to Los Angeles in 2028 was celebrated. There was a palpable enthusiasm; there was a bit of kool-aid drinking and "America, f*** yeah" moments. It occurred to me that the national anthem was an opportunity to kneel (say), but I decided the atmosphere was celebrating the potential and good aspects of the country rather than some nationalistic fervor. A fascinating moment, to be sure.

Wednesday Oct 11 #


USOC Assembly

I arrived at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs tonight to participate in the USOC's Olympic and Paralympic Assembly. OUSA is one of the many organizations represented here, and our participation in the assembly was requested (and paid for) by the USOC. I'm not sure I'm the ideal person to best take advantage of this opportunity for networking and dialog - I find networking very challenging, but I'm here on a mission. Apparently many of the delegates are arriving tomorrow, so there was little to do after my 11:00 PM arrival than check in, order room service, and retire.

The Broadmoor itself is the most luxurious and elegant hotel I have ever stayed at. From my brief glance this evening, the grounds and facility exude class and refinement. I met Chelsy and Diane from USOC on the shuttle ride from the airport, and apparently I lucked out - the annual Assembly is typically at the much more bourgeois Doubletree hotel in Colorado Springs, with perennial detours to other cities, like Chicago. Katie is flying out tomorrow, and she will do work and relax while I am conferencing Thursday and Friday. We will likely do some hiking on the weekend and see the city.

It is unfortunate that I am so busy this week. In addition to the Assembly, I have to prepare for my upcoming supervisory committee meeting, put slides together for group meeting on Monday, finish a probability theory problem set, and get some work done on the OUSA strategic plan and convention.

Tuesday Oct 10 #


My remarks from a recent OUSA Board member discussion:

I think our one sentence strategic agenda for the next few years should be to (1) promote growth through marketing and publicity, (2) advance technical development with emphasis on junior and scholastic programs, and (3) provide programming to support clubs.

We're working on our 2018 budget proposals now, and a 3-5 year strategic plan with measurable, quantifiable goals must be central to that. It is my assessment that over the past several (7-10) years, OUSA didn't really have a clear objective apart from continuing to exist. While a more limited objective for the organization - confined to simple amenities like insurance - is possible, any broader plan needs clear, measurable objectives. And the OUSA leadership needs to be able to articulate that vision briefly. Note that I wrote the above, though I think there is general support on the Board for all three points even as implementation details need to be determined.

To elaborate slightly:

1) Promote growth through marketing and publicity.
One of our main objectives is to grow the sport - increase starts, increase membership, increase the number of clubs. Not every club necessarily wants to grow, but those that do should be encouraged to do so. Most of what we do has to be at the club level, as a national campaign (say a Superbowl ad) seems unlikely to offer a good return on investment.

A big part of this effort is generalizing what lots of clubs have done. QOC has had an excellent social media marketing effort, a number of clubs have used tools like meetup, and many of clubs have modern, attractive websites. Bob Forgrave and Greg Lennon are developing a marketing pipeline to help clubs progress. This includes both marketing and event presentation.

Some of this will require experimentation. In addition to regular and attractive social media and updated websites, we may employ marketing consultants to help craft messaging. On the events side, we need to organize attractive race series and products to attract people and coordinate among clubs. Imagine if we had a Goat series in NY and New England with ~90 minute winning time, moderate difficulty courses (with shorter options). Eight of those in a year throughout the region could serve as a product to draw in adventure-type people. Finally, our junior development efforts (strategem 3) will tie into growth directly.

Quantifiably, we should move the bottom line. Increase annual starts from ~50k in 2017 to ~100k in 2022. Increase OUSA membership from ~1250 to 2500. Increase club membership from ~5k to ~10k.

2) Advance technical development with emphasis on junior and scholastic programs.
Programs like ARK, WIOL, Navigation Games, Florida's JROTC thing, and others are a major part of the future of orienteering in the US. We need ways to sustainably start these programs where there is sufficient interest and support.

The first part of this is collecting best practices - recording the step-by-step processes each of these entities used to develop. I think we should probably offer some remuneration to these organizations for the lessons they have learned. These resources - lesson plans, strategies, timetables, funding sources, promotional templates, etc - could be collected and made available for anyone in OUSA who wanted to use them.

Secondly, OUSA needs to provide startup funding. We need to identify candidate clubs who have interest, manpower, and opportunity (suitable partner organization - school, JROTC, BSA, whatever). Then OUSA should provide startup capital in conjunction with support from local sources. As a total rough guesstimate, suppose OUSA gave $2500 the first year, $5k the second, and $10k the third as grants - with funding contingent on certain milestones being met each year. Barb has accomplished a Herculean effort assembling Navigation Games from the ground up with no support from the national federation - and modest support from the two local clubs, NEOC and CSU. OUSA should make it easier for Barbs in other places to do the same.

OUSA is showing some support for this by appointing Barb as the Vice President of Junior Development (or something; I forget the title).

Third, OUSA needs to do more to support the pipeline of developing orienteers from recreational to competitive, and beginners to elite. This means making training resources available to clubs to start their own training groups. We should organize open training camps, coordinate them, and advertise them in a coherent place so someone who wants to improve can find support. Finally, we should do more to support the national teams - including modest funding allocations (which were $0 in 2017 and meager before that). I consider the Junior and Senior teams the two priorities among the 6 teams (Junior, Senior, Ski, MTB, Trail-O, and WUOC); as a starting point, I'd propose $8k to the Juniors, $5k to the seniors, and $1k to the other four. As part of this funding, the two primary teams should coordinate national team training camps - perhaps one on each coast. The Senior team should endeavor to get everyone to one training camp each year to promote team unity and provide a sense of accountability and motivation. OUSA should support our junior coaching and find ways to include rising juniors at the club level in our national program.

Quantifiable goal: Three new junior programs with > 1000 annual starts by 2022. Possibly also some intermediate goals, like k starts by year X and so on. Is three too few leagues to start up? Perhaps we could also set a goal of growth in the other junior programs.

3) Provide programming to support clubs.
OUSA is a loose association of clubs, and basically all the activity of importance happens there. While strategems (1) and (2) growth through marketing and junior development - are specific extensions, there are broad general services that OUSA can and should provide.

Some of these are obvious and relatively trivial. For instance, OUSA vaguely-sort-of-kind-of has a map loans/grants program. In principle, clubs can come and ask for money to help them fund a new map - either in the form of grants or loans. As far as I know, this program wasn't technically funded in 2017 and basically no one knows about it and how you get it (apart from knowing the VP clubs). Loans eventually come back, and I would guess funding of $5-10k for grants will be more than sufficient.

Event consulting: we already nominally provide national meet course consultants to help clubs keep their technical quality high. This is volunteer and orchestrated by Sanctioning. This program could be expanded, and particularly competent event organizers and course designers could hold clinics. For instance, Patrick Nuss could teach people how to hold successful sprint tournaments, or Boris could lead a course design clinic. This could be done via webinar/youtube or in person with the small cost of travel for the clinician.

Central database: This is a bit of a holy grail, but I imagine a world in which every club has all their metadata in the same database. Eventor is one possible implementation, but membership, courses, results, registration, and events could all be hosted in the same spot. It would enable sweet tools like the British orienteering federation's snazzy event finder.

Website: the OUSA website template has had good interest thus far, and I hope to continue that program as well as expand the web offerings OUSA provides.

Expansion of National/World orienteering day is another obvious product. Insurance will continue to be a mainstay of OUSA's purpose. But, to be perfectly honest, this isn't a very long list, and most clubs don't take advantage of OUSA offerings. What can OUSA do for your club?
8 PM

Biking 30:00 [1] 12.0 km (24.0 kph)

I replaced my tube, then walked my bike to a pump at St. Michael's college on St. Mary's street to inflate it. I mislaid my single-use compressed air cartridges (since located), and I don't really know if my hand pump interfaces with presta valves. Home via Davenport.

I changed up my ride home by doing a few intervals - 4x 60s hard, 60s rest. I think integrating HIIT into my commute home will increase my fitness benefits at negligible cost and will likely shorten my commute. At this point, I must do whatever I can to improve my trash fitness. Wearing a backpack while riding a road bike is not ideal, but it's a minor inconvenience.

Monday Oct 9 #

Biking 30:00 [1] 12.0 km (24.0 kph)

I biked to work on Canadian Thanksgiving (eh) by a modified lake route - Windermere, then north from the lake on Yonge. I have typically used Simcoe to get from the lake to Queen's Park, but I was hoping that a longer route might mitigate the brutal traffic in the city core. Unfortunately, I hit an egregious pothole near Yonge and King and popped my rear tire, necessitating walking the rest of the way. I hadn't brought an extra tube, so I took the subway home.

While I meandered the streets with a gimped SpeedyBike™, I came across a very charming courtyard near the Old City Hall at James and Albert street. I must visit there again, probably with Katie.

Friday Oct 6 #

Biking 20:00 [1] 10.0 km (30.0 kph)

Biking 30:00 [1] 14.0 km (28.0 kph)

Thursday Oct 5 #

Biking 20:00 [1] 10.0 km (30.0 kph)

Biking 25:00 [1] 12.0 km (28.8 kph)

Wednesday Oct 4 #

9 AM

Biking 20:00 [1] 10.0 km (30.0 kph) +2m

8 PM

Biking 25:00 [1] 12.0 km (28.8 kph) +53m

Monday Oct 2 #


I ran the Highlander yesterday for the third time. I had an ok run - nothing special, and I faded near the end. The first map was generally fine; I hung in a pack with Boris, Kenny, Matthias, feet, and others. They pulled away from me a bit on the trail run from 6 to 7, but I caught up the 80-100m when they made a small mistake at 8. I stayed with the pack through 11, but I fell off on the ascent into 12, and a few minutes fumbling around in the green at 12 meant the pack was gone as I ran to 13. I struggled punching through the mountain laurel on Rockhouse in a few places - at 12, on 12-13, and on the ascent into 27 for the third KotM leg.

The trail run was sublime; I was in cruise mode rather than race mode, but it hit me that I was spending a crisp Fall day running through Harriman. The wear and tear caught up with me a bit: I rolled my left ankle moderately about halfway through the trail leg, and near the end of the trail run, I stepped on a pebble with my left arch, triggering some acute pain in my plantar fascia that required stretching and some ginger hiking. Also near the end of the trail run, I came across a wayward adult from the second map looking for 12 who was clearly confused; I took 20s and pointed out where we were. I wouldn't ordinarily do this during a race except with a kid, but the Highlander is more of a group struggle, and he did not seem competitive.

The last loop on Surebridge had the best technical orienteering; I was very tentative for the first few controls because of the PF, but I opened up a bit near the end and picked off the Hubsch and one or two other orienteers. Crossing back onto Rockhouse, I made the dubious decision to go straight up the nose to 27 through a set of clearings - which turned out to be overgrown with blueberry. I considered running around on the road - which I think would have been the best route - but I had plenty of company on the ascent, with an adventure racer guy, Peter Z, and Matthias. I pulled away on my run along the ridge to 28, and when I picked up the trail, I noticed Matthias about 75m behind me.

The most amusing episode of the race occurred near the end: I decided, given the cooperative spirit of the Highlander, that it would be fun to finish with Matthias. I slowed on the trail ascent into 28 to let him catch up, and chatted a bit - though I didn't actually mention my plan to finish together. We arrived at 28 about simultaneously - showing up in Dave Yee's photos together, but he started pulling away as we dodged through the mountain laurel to 29. I figured I could hang with him, but he pushed into 29 with more urgency and was gone by the time I hit the road. Oh well; it's not like it really mattered the order we finished, 50 minutes behind the winner.

Given my fitness and technical training at this point, I would have been satisfied with a 3:30 finish. This result is a bit disappointing, though had things not fallen off the rails with the left foot and the poor route choice into 27, I think 3:30 was very feasible. Kudos to Boris especially for getting into shape so quickly, and to Greg for a solid win.

Sunday Oct 1 #

8 AM

Orienteering 3:49:55 [3] 27.81 km (8:16 / km) +883m 7:08 / km

Saturday Sep 30 #

1 PM

Running 36:11 [1] 6.09 km (5:57 / km) +25m 5:50 / km

Thursday Sep 28 #

9 AM

Biking 20:00 [1] 10.0 km (30.0 kph)

7 PM

Biking 25:00 [1] 12.0 km (28.8 kph)

Tuesday Sep 26 #

7 AM

Running 32:00 [1] 6.0 km (5:20 / km)
shoes: 201702 Asics Gel-contend

Monday Sep 25 #

7 AM

Running 46:42 [1] 8.5 km (5:30 / km) +28m 5:24 / km
shoes: 201702 Asics Gel-contend

3 PM

Swimming 30:00 [1] 2.0 km (15:00 / km)

After a few hours of talks, we had three hours of designated "recreation time;" I went canoeing with some peeps - Ben, Francis, Karina, James -, then took the James Hawley challenge of swimming out to a buoy and back around to the beach. I mostly swam backstroke, as it was the most sustainable for me. Front crawl is good, but looking down in the lake repeatedly didn't appeal. I also struggle to keep my breathing steady for more than a few minutes of front crawl and not overexerting myself. Afterwards, we threw a frisbee and football around and generally socialized. I put on sunscreen, but I fear some of it washed away in the lake, so I may be lightly toasted.
5 PM

Running 20:00 [1]

One of our social events was a team scavenger hunt. The hunt was quite complex - there were twelve teams of five (a mix of new and returning students), and there were three ways of scoring points:
  1. 14 Trivia questions printed on the packet (trivial, as it were)
  2. 30 photo questions of varying difficulties (e.g. a picture of the team with the department head, a picture of the team with a squirrel, a photo of the team on the docks)
  3. Activity minigames dispersed throughout the facility. The activities were harder to access because you had to have obtained a riddle directing you to the centre to gain access; we were handed two riddle cards at the start - only one of which we solved - and obtained additional riddle cards as we completed minigames. We only made it to three of eight possible minigames before the hour time limit elapsed, but apparently this was more than anyone else. It was logistically improbable to complete the event.

This is notable because while my team did not set out with great ambition, our efforts increased as the hunt went on. Everyone bought in to the maximal effort, and we were the only team that I saw that was running. I had grabbed a paper map of the facility, so I even got to orienteer a little.

Our team obliterated the competition and won eternal glory (and a Starbucks gift card or some such).

Sunday Sep 24 #

5 PM

Swimming 30:00 [1] 2.0 km (15:00 / km)

I am at Geneva Park in Orillia, Ontario for my department's retreat. It has been informative, relaxing, and stimulating. I went for a swim after chatting with a bunch of PIs.

Friday Sep 22 #


Wow, it turns out Ken wrote what amounts to an essay on his 2015 Highlander:
11 AM

Biking 20:00 [1] 10.0 km (30.0 kph)

This week, I resubmitted our manuscript to PLoS Biology in reply to reviewer comments. We'll see how it goes, but I'm ecstatic to no longer have that work and deadline hanging over my head. Publication is onerous.

I have learned a few lessons -
  1. limit the core team to as small a group as is feasible who can all work together well. Overly high maintenance and clashing personalities can be difficult to appease, especially when in principle, consensus is needed to move forward.

  2. As a corollary to (1), avoid work situations where you and your boss have incompatible perspectives.

  3. It's helpful - even as first author, doing the core work - to have a senior advocate who can assist with navigating the publication process

  4. Structure your project in a way to maximize reproducibility; organize everything so that it could run on a new system with the code and data downloaded. Refactoring code is unpleasant.

  5. Thoroughly document all your experiments, but keep this documentation separate from the final version of the analyses you implemented.

  6. Done is better than perfect.
8 PM

Biking 25:00 [1] 12.0 km (28.8 kph)

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