So regarding the Sprint discipline:
Probably like everybody else I was surprised to hear the announcement that I will be running the Sprint at WOC. It was certainly not listed as one of my priority races for this year. To have the slowest woman (based on track times and 3 km tests) run the Sprint discipline seems silly and strange, even a little embarrassing for the whole team. Sure, my result will not matter a hell of a lot, but nevertheless, it will matter to the spirit of the US team, it will matter to the home base, and it will matter to me. Life never goes according to plan. I did not expect to be running the Sprint at WOC but I will not shy away from this challenge.
Sprint has not been my favorite discipline in the past primarily because of my lack of speed but also because I love forests so much. I grew up in the woods and they are my sanctuary. The canopy provides a sense of protection. Sprint venues, on the other hand, are exposed. Not only do you have to apply more sunscreen but you also are more open to the public eye. Every mistake is witnessed by spectators or other athletes and is also very costly in terms of time, every nanosecond counts, every wrong foot step is an addition to inefficiency. When you take a pause in the Sprint, it feels like eternity. Optimization matters a great deal.
It is definitely an interesting race and there are a few things I truly enjoy about it. For example, the necessity to think quickly and decisively, the constant turn of direction, the acceleration. Sprint venues are also cool and fun to run through, places where you normally would walk or be a tourist, places occupied by moving objects.
There are many things I will need to work on, such as reading ahead and having smooth entrance and exit from each control. This will help me in the Middle discipline for sure. I also need to get over my fears of running on pavement. My 70 year-old modern dance teacher said that one should imagine the floor as being made up of marshmallows, and so I shall attempt to picture pavement in the same way. Running up and down stairs is another area for improvement. Proper knowledge of control descriptions will be crucial. Basically, I will need to run as many practice Sprints as possible this spring and summer.
Interestingly, training for the Sprint will coincide with my relocation to NYC in the next couple of months. I am embracing city life more and concrete is part of that. To go off on a tangent a little bit, one of the most fascinating topics to me is the relationship between man and nature. I’ve studied it a little bit from both the anthropological and ecological sides. The coupling and decoupling of human-environmental systems is culturally dependent and varies with place and time. There is no actual separation but the perception is a such, and it is especially evident in city life. Training for both the urban and forest races is an opportunity to explore this topic further for myself. The good thing is that I don’t have to decide between the two. I’m racing both types and I will train for both.
In conclusion, I accept this challenge to train for my weakest discipline and I’m thankful for this opportunity to grow.. even a few millimeters. :P