Thursday, May 20, 2010

At last I can change my suit into tracksuit!

Today I finished taking my A-level exams;-)

I managed to pass all my oral exams with the following percentages:
Polish - 80%
English (basic) - 100%
English (extended) - 100%.

Judging from my answers, I hope to get the following percentages in the written ones:
Polish (basic) - ~75%
Maths (basic) - 100%
Maths (extended) - 100%
English (basic) - 100%
English (extended) - ~95%
Physics (extended) - ~50% ?!

All in all, I am very satisfied with my academic performance during the last two weeks. Fortunately, I do NOT have to bother any more and can completely devote myself to orienteering.

As soon as in some hours I am leaving for a very long sports camp. It is going to last about 17 days:
21.05. - some medical tests in Gdynia
22-24.05. - a 3-day competition in Germany (including 4 races; ultralong and sprint among them)
25-29.05. - a short technical stay in Denmark in order to get ready for the coming JWOC
30.05.-4.06. - physical camp in Szklarska Poręba with Pasza
5-6.06. - a 2-day competition in Czech Republic.

I do hope to improve my physical, technical and mental(!) shape there:)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The state of extreme disappointment...

Last weekend my shape looked like this red line presented in the graph on the left. My shape in general, I mean - because my physical shape fell short of my expectations almost all the time. I couldn't find the right rhythm in March and April but still believed in Pasza's promises that everything would work appropriately in May. And?! An awful disappointment and depression...

On Friday we travelled to the north of Poland to fight in the first round of the Polish Club Championships. The same day in the afternoon the relay competition was held. It was my first time to compete in the elite class. I was chosen to run the last leg in our team.

Pasza did a very good job on the first leg coming on the 3rd place ex aequo with Lupek only some 30secs behind the leader. Cilu made his own race and came alone on the 3rd spot as well. My starting position was really promising, because I began my course no more than 2mins behind Hewi and with the advantage of more than 6mins over the next team.

My goal was to start calmly and find the 1st control confidently. That's why I chose the track route choice. Once I had left this path, I saw Hewi coming down in the completely opposite direction. Then, he turned back and we reached the top of the hill together. He did not even say anything. We looked for this control hurriedly and lost 45 seconds there.
We ran quickly to the 2nd one. In the area close to the control Hewi decided to go right but I was sure it must have been situated on my left side. Fortunately, I was right and managed to gain the advantage of some meters. The next 2 controls were quite easy and I had no problems finding them. I started running straight to the 5th one and didn't see Hewi behind me. From that moment I got the opportunity to run completely alone.
Then, an easy route choice to the 6th control. On my way to the 7th control I lost some 5 seconds due to not being self-confident enough in the middle of the leg (when to leave the path). As for the next control, I chose the right route choice at first, but suddenly changed my mind and went left. Moreover, I didn't carry out my plan for the whole leg. For these reasons, I made mistake of about 30secs altogether. After all, I think that the right route choice was a bit better...
Although the 9th control seems very easy, I didn't succeed in keeping the right direction and lost about 10 precious seconds. The following controls (10-12) were very tricky, but I managed to avoid making mistakes on these legs.
I wasn't sure if I was heading for the right hill to the 13th control, but I was so lucky to see the control flag in the hole just some meters in front of me. Fortunately, just a small hesitation. I noticed that the 14th control was going to be a very difficult one. Therefore, I decided to run to the corner of the field and look for the distinct vegetation boundary. I was really satisfied with my safe choice!
I got into small trouble while looking for the 15th control (~5 seconds) because I thought it was not going to be set that high... I must admit that - in my opinion - the next control was one of the most difficult controls on the whole course (if not the most difficult one!). I found a control from another forking on the hill in the south. Fortunately, I had the right feeling where I should have gone afterwards and eventually found it. However, I still lost about 35 seconds there.
The 17th control was just a formality for me and then, the spectator control - I just love this feeling while running past the spectators during a relay competition! I could hear them shouting loudly and became convinced I struggled for the silver medal.
The last loop was really short with lots of tricky controls. Just after the spectator control I had to face some problems while looking for the 19th one - a hole in the middle of nowhere. After about 25 seconds of hesitation I saw Iwona Wicha running fast to the control. My ass was saved!
As for the 20th one, many runners complained about this leg, because lots of them went too much to the right. So did I and lost another 10 seconds. I went past the 21st control not seeing it at all! Luckily, I spotted the end of the so-called erosion gully (I cheched this word at IOF's website) and immediately turned back. No less than 45 seconds lost...
The last controls of the race were obvious. Nevertheless, because of the lack of concentration I lost about 10 seconds while going to the 24th one. At the beginning of the finish I looked back a couple of times and jogged easily to the finish line. On my way towards it, I shook hands with my clubmates. It was an unbelievably nice feeling as well!

To sum it all up, I had a really good race that day. I made about 3'40 of mistakes throughout this tricky course. I managed to gain one place on the last leg. That's why I was incredibly satisfied with my performance and happy about the spectacular 2nd place in the men's elite!

On Saturday we were to compete in an exhausting long distance race. The course was 10,9km with 490m of climb. I was lucky (or not?) to draw the 3rd start minute. I had not so much time and forgot to read my pre-race assumptions, which I prepared some days ago. I got a bit confused, but didn't want it to spoil my race...

1. - just following the red line in the green, I must admit I walked during this leg, because it was almost impossible for me to run up this steep and slippery hill...
2. - the first long leg of the course, I hadn't planned my route choice in advance, but did it as soon as possible after leaving the area of the 1st control, I chose the best way to go and won this split
3. - short leg across the marsh and through the green, I just kept the direction and corrected it a bit at the end
4. - I controlled all the contours during this leg and it was enough not to make mistake there
5. - in spite of the small mistake in the very last part of this leg, I managed to win this split (0'05)
6. - a small hesitation while climbing up the hill and I had to turn right a bit to reach the control (0'05)

As you can see, I had a really good start and was leading the race. Then, I didn't manage to avoid semi-small mistakes (especially while attacking the controls):

7. - I knew it was going to be a tough one, I was very focused on comparing the terrain with the map and had only some hesitations during this leg, at the very end I went too much to the left (0'15)
8. - very short, but not easy control, because situated in green; I missed the right hill and ran to the left one instead (0'20)
9. - I managed to keep the direction quite well; however, close to the control I saw a wrong depression in the terrain and ran towards it (0'15)
10. - a relatively easy leg, but the control was situated in a tricky and vague area, that's why I had to slow down a bit while approaching it
11. - I thought that it was bound to be a rocky wall, not a stone smaller than a control flag!
12. - distinct vegetation boundaries and white area made this leg really easy
13. - as soon as I had reached the path just after the previous control, I started to mull over whether not to go round... I should have taken the straight one immediately! Moreover, I went too much to the right just before the control (0'30)
14. - going down the re-entrant; unfortunately, I hadn't checked all the depressions on the map in the control area in advance and ran to the wrong one at first (0'10)
15. - easy control, a hole just before the green, but I should have taken advantage of this leg and prepare my route choice for the following one!!!

Despite making some mistakes in this middle part of the course, I didn't give my lead away. Nevertheless, a real disaster was still to come...

16. - a short summary of this long leg:
* I chose the straight route choice, which turned out to be worse than the one on the right using the tracks - I didn't even notice the best one during the race (0'50)
* I got nervous some 300m before the control and went too much to the right and had to walk slowly across the marsh (0'40)
* I had enormous problems finding the control because I actually had no attack point and didn't know whether I should go left or right (2'00)

Altogether I lost about 3'30 on this leg and it's approximately the time that I was behind the winner, Rino.

17. - it was not an easy control, so I had some small hesitations while approaching it
18. - I spent a short while close to the control to catch a glimpse of the control flag
19. - at the beginning I started running too much to the right (0'05)
20. - I planned to notice a cross just after crossing the path and I managed to pursue this goal; unfortunately, I wasn't prepared where the control was to stand and hoped it would suddenly appear to me, obviously, I had to stop for a while and read the map precisely (0'15)
21. - a very easy, short leg; however, I still checked the left depression in order not to go past this control
22. - just following the track and looking for the tapes
F - a really tiring one, I must say.

Mistakes: 5'30.
Just after my race I wasn't sure if I should have been satisfied with my performance. I decided to wait for the others to come. It turned out that I only managed to take the 4th place and my mistake to the 16th was much larger than I had expected. I got terribly gloomy and depressed...

The last race I had to compete in was the Sunday's sprint distance. Yeah... I HAD TO, because I actually didn't want it. I wasn't able to believe in myself and completely ran out of motivation. However, I decided to take it easy and see what would happen.

The first part of the course seemed very easy and much faster than I had expected. To the 1st control I should have gone straight, but almost no-one managed to notice this route, because it all happened much too quickly just after grabbing the map at the start (0'05). I should have used the path around this bushy forest to the 3rd one (0'03). During the next 3 controls I had a really good speed and a confident O-technique, because I managed to win these splits. The other 3 legs were a bit longer, but they didn't cause difficulties for me. Similarly to the long distance race, I was in the lead at that moment...
I saw that the 10th leg was not going to be an obvious one. However, I didn't succeed in carrying out my plan for this leg in its middle part. What's more, I hadn't checked the control descriptions and came to the wrong control no. 56. The funniest thing about it all is the fact that while leaving this control, I looked at the control descriptions and saw no. 38. Then, I thought: 'Ok, it was 38, so I can go!'. Astonishing!
Because of punching another control, I got into trouble while running to the next one. Afterwards I wasn't able to understand the map to the 12th one and spent some time on the slope not knowing where to go (0'15). I started looking for the 15th control much too early and mistook one marsh for another. The waste of time was horrible: 1'10!
In the last part of the course I avoided making mistakes. Nevertheless, I wasn't determined to push hard and even stopped for a while and helped Gosia from my club on my way to the last control.

Mistakes: 1'33.
Of course, my result was DISQ. I am really sorry for my disqualification, because I didn't win the precious points for my club. On the other hand, personally I prefer being disqualified to being ranked on the 5th place with a miserable time...

During the prize giving ceremony that day I achieved a cup for winning the Polish Orienteering Federation ranking last year in class M18. An irony of fate.

Just after last weekend's competitions I even wanted not to run during the coming 4 days, because I was totally fed up with my performances. Nonetheless, Pasza persuaded me that it was not a good idea and prepared a light and nice training plan for this week. Unfortunately, I still have to look for the lost motivation and determination.
Fortunately, hope dies last.......

Monday, May 10, 2010

Forsta strackor in Rydzyny

On Saturday Pasza decided to organise a first legs training in Rydzyny. Some of us helped him set the controls in the forest and punctually at 11:19 we were ready for the mass start!

I was extremely motivated to run as fast as possible and win the race. My goal for that training was to be in the lead most of the time, make my own decisions and not to look at the others.

On the start line there were 10 competitors in our class: Pasza, Zielu, Łukasz, Kubiaczek, Witek, Jeżu, Kluska, Kamil, Dzidek and me.

START - I grabbed my map and started running extremely fast to the start triangle. I just wanted to have as much fun as possible;) my pace during these 366m was 2:56/km.

1. (forking) - The forking here was obvious for everyone, I think. I had no problems finding my control and punched it first just a while ahead of Cilu. However, judging from my Garmin routes and the fact that I had to go much to the left after crossing the path I am not sure if the control was situated in the appropriate hole...

2. - Very easy control. We were told that there was no fence there before the race.

3. - I left the 2nd control first and kept the right direction to the next one. Unfortunately, I must have confused some areas and started running much too far to the right. Probably I was thinking that I was going from the 1st control... Suddenly, I saw a control and ran towards it. Obviously, it was not mine. I turned back and saw a whole group of runners approaching the right control. 40 seconds lost

4. - Immediately, I started catching up with the group and overtaking them. I was 2nd just some metres before the control, but Witek fell down and I got the opportunity to take the lead.

5. - I thought I was going much more to the right at the beginning, but realised I was wrong while passing the track and the pasture just after it. Then, Cilu set a really good pace and I followed him to the 5th control.

6. - I managed to gain a considerable time advantage on this long leg, but still saw Pasza behind me.

7. - I knew it was going to be a tricky control... I ran between the green areas and was sure that the control would appear in some seconds. But it didn't. I felt that I went a bit too far. Unfortunately, I couldn't guess whether I should go left or right. Then, the whole group came and Cilu started running to the right. I thought it was quite possible and followed him, like all the others did. Afterwards, for about 2mins we were just looking at ourselves and jogging in this area. Suddenly, Pasza noticed that it already was the other path we just passed and we all turned back to the control, where Kluska was already waiting for us... 2'20 lost!

8. (forking) - I didn't expect a forking here. However, I didn't look at the others and took my own route choice. That's why I punched the 8th control first just some seconds ahead of Pasza.

9. - Just a formality, me punching first.

10. - Quite a long, easy leg in the part of the forest with great runnability and visibility. I was approaching the place where the control should have been situated and suddenly saw a control on my right side. I looked at the map and became certain there can't have been any forking. However, as most uf us thought the control was wrongly set. My Garmin and Cilu picking this control made it clear;)

11. (forking) - I set these controls before the course and was sure how to attack them. I punched my control alone and on my way to the next one I saw Pasza punching the another one from that forking. We managed to run away from the chasing group and from that moment a 1,4km long finish began for us...

12. - I didn't want to give the lead away and managed to follow the best route choice possible.

13. - It was just keeping the right direction and going through the small green areas.At the end of this leg Pasza decided to speed up a bit, but I was very determined to punch the last control first and I succeeded in pursuing my goal.

FINISH - I did my best so as not to let Pasza overtake me and I became a lucky winner with the advantage of only 3secs over him and about 1min over Łukasz and Cilu.

The course length was 7,08km and the time I achieved was 36:13. This makes a nice route pace of 5:07/km. If it hadn't been for my 2 mistakes of about 3mins altogether, the pace would have been about 4:41/km...
Nevertheless, I am unbelievably satisfied with my performance and my physical shape. I was in the lead almost all the time and that's what I actually wanted!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Challenging terrains in Norrkoping and Finspang!

On Friday we competed in Elitserien sprint E2 in Norrkoping.
The sprint itself was just wonderful! First of all, the organization was brilliant. We went into the competition office on the 3rd floor, where we were told to wait and change clothes on the 5th floor. Then, we had to go down, to the garage on the 2nd floor, where we could leave our things and go to the warm up map. Sounds amazing? Yeah, it really WAS amazing! We weren't able to enter the pre-start area until our starting minute was called. Then, we followed colourful stripes to the start and had about 2mins left to the beginning of our race.
One woman and one man started simultaneously from a special wooden platform. I grabbed my map abruptly and saw that the 1st control was very close to the start. The course setter was unbelievably tricky and put the so-called lamp on our way to the first control. I mean another control, obviously. Unfortunately, I fell into this trap and lost 5 precious seconds. The 2nd control went with no problems, although judging from the split times I was just too slow on this leg. And then a real disaster came... I made 5(!) mistakes going to the 3rd control!
- I started running to the 7th control instead of the 3rd one, though I had checked it earlier and knew exactly where I should have gone - lack of concentration?
- I turned left much too early and had to turn back, though I didn't even plan to run there, because I noticed it was impossible to do so - hurry?
- I didn't manage to see that there was no gate between the 2 buildings and entered the so-called dead end - blindness?
- I checked if there was no way to the control on its left side, of course there wasn't, because the control was situated some metres below the place I was standing in at the moment - helplessness?
- Finally, I succeeded in finding my way to the control (still not the best one!), but it wasn't the end of my troubles, since I had to stop for a while because I hadn't expected to attack the control from that side and wasn't sure where it was bound to be - consequence of all the afore-mentioned?
How much time did I lose? About 1 minute, the sprint was over for me!
Till the end of this race I avoided making any huge mistakes. I just could have taken another route choices to the following controls:
*4th - the right one?
*8th - the right one turned out to be faster
*15th - I should have run close to the red line at the beginning
*16th - the left one might have been a bit faster
*17th - I think it was better to use the main alley and then go down using the yellow field.
All in all, I was surprisingly quite satisfied just after the race. But don't think it was due to my performance! It was because of the great opportunity of running in such a marvellous terrain I got! What a pity, we do not have such chances in Poland.......

On Saturday Hewi, Olej and I decided to pay 30SEK for a Tiomila training map and we just can't regret it! The 5km long middle distance course in a tricky Swedish forest - should we want more?;) I was really surprised how easily I could find controls in this difficult area. I must have been having a very good day, which was a really good sign before the coming 10mila at night!

In 10mila I was chosen to run the 2nd leg in Polish Junior Team relay. Pasza started at 22:00. The mass start was really amazing, as the spectators were able to see the runners for about 3 minutes due to an open steep slope at the very beginning. Pasza lost some time already at the 1st control and came 88th to the finish. It was quite a good starting position to fight for a better place.
My course was 12,2km long. I got into a group with a really good pace and followed them for some time. However, they started to split - the forking at the 1st control was obvious. I took a look at my map and compared it with the terrain and decided to run my own way. I passed the marsh, ran up the hill and saw the control no. 112 - yeah, it was mine! It boosted my self-confidence and made me so determined to catch the next group which was already on their way to the 2nd control. I just noticed that it was a really long leg, ran onto the track and chased them. I got really afraid every time this path turned, because I lost eye-contact with them. This forced me to run even faster and I eventually succeeded in catching them. I didn't control the map precisely enough on this leg, but fortunately I managed to guess my location due to the marsh in the green area I was passing (very close to my control).
3rd control was very easy to find and I expected there wouldn't be any forking. Nevertheless, my route choice to the 4th one was horrible. I behaved like a child in M14 and ran an S-shaped leg. I had small hesitations approaching the 5th control, because I saw many headlamps in different places. I controlled my own map and decided to turn right a bit. I was right once again! The short loop consisting of controls 6-10 meant only very fast running and passing the slower runners.
Then, quite a long leg to the 11th one. However, most of it on the track with the pace of about 3:20/km. Some 100m before the 12th control I was curious why the whole group decided not to run following the red line. Obviously, I was not brave enough to go there alone;) Afterwards the 'spectator' part of the course. Checking the results it turned out that I was 24th punching the 16th control. 64 places better than the starting position!
Unfortunately, I got really exhausted in this last loop of the race and made some wrong decisions losing lots of time. Firstly, the 17th control - I can't remember crossing that winding path before the another forking. Then, I didn't know about a new clearing in the area of my 17th one and got pretty confused while approaching it. I lost about 35-40 seconds there. 18th control - just a formality. To the 19th one I decided to go using this path up the hill and followed one group. Unfortunately, they completely missed it, I was sure something went wrong but didn't dare to change the direction and followed them till the control. We found it with no problems at the end. However, we lost almost 2 minutes because of running far too much to the right and sinking in the marshes and mud...
The 20th one was very close. Then, the last forking came. I was really tired and followed the same group. Controlling the map wasn't so easy as at the beginning or in the middle part of the course. I found another control and had to decide alone where to go. I was sure I had to run some more meters to find mine. I looked at the map calmly and went straight to the control. I was really angry due to losing about 1'30 to this control, but looking back on this race I am proud of myself, since I was able to behave appropriately in such a difficult situation.
The last legs required just fast running and fighting for the best plase at the finish. I managed to cross the finish line as the first runner in my group some 30 seconds behind the better group. While crossing it, I saw '48' over me - it meant that I was the 49th runner to finish the 2nd leg! I succeeded in going up by 39 places;-)
I achieved the 40th time on my leg losing 5:16 to the winner. If it hadn't been for my tiredness and consequently mistakes of about 4mins at the end, I would have had the 5th time of my leg. That's why I am incredibly satisfied with my stable performance in this year's Tiomila.

What's even more important for me is the fact that I got to know that my O-technique is much better than last year. I am much more self-confident in the forest, even at night, so I am ready and can't wait to take another challenges!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A bit closer to proffesionalism...

After a 12-hour night voyage by ferry we reached Sweden on Monday morning. I decided to do a short training just after reaching our destination. Thanks to Monika Depta, I was able to run a short course with a map.
In the afternoon the time came for the first 'real' technical training. It was a 5,2km middle distance race, which went flawlessly for me. I avoided making mistakes and enjoyed every moment of it.
In the late evening we decided to make a night mass start. Only 4 of us dared to compete: Łukasz, Jacek, Pasza and me. The pace wasn't the highest possible but it was quite impressing as for the training. Unfortunately, I got completely lost at both forkings and came last to the finish. I just learnt my lesson before Tiomila;)

On Tuesday we were supposed to run a middle distance race at full speed. I took it really seriously and wanted to do my best. However, I made 2 quite big mistakes and ended on the 2nd place 1:23 behind Olej. After all, I was quite satisfied with my performance.
In the afternoon our head coach prepared a mix of score, line training and long route choices. It would have been much more fun, if it hadn't been for the bushes which made running almost impossible in some areas...

The next day we ran a long distance training on a well-known map Furuboda. Pasza told me to run fast that day too, so I fulfilled his expectations, although it was really tough due to lots of sand in the open areas. Unfortunately, it certainly wasn't my day. I had difficulty finding the controls - I even didn't manage to spot the 15th one in spite of the fact that I was there (Garmin). Nevertheless, I am incredibly satisfied with one thing - the long legs (especially 8th and 21st). Keeping the direction towards the 8th one went just superb!
Then, we had a funny memory training. At the start we saw just the part of the map with the 1st control, had to remember it and reach the 1st control with no map in our hand and so on and so on and so on... Some runners spent more than 2 hours in the forest on a 5,6km long course;-) I managed to finish in a little bit less than 50 minutes. However, I didn't find one control, but who cares?:)

On Thursday we didn't have so much time, since we had to drive about 450km to compete in Elitserien sprint and 10mila the next days. That's why we only had a short contour training. I got terribly frustrated when I got the same course as 3 days ago! Finally, I decided to run it from the end, but I still had a horrible feeling that this training was wasted... I hope it is never going to happen again! (Mam nadzieję, że to się nigdy więcej nie powtórzy!).

Having had lunch and packed our things, we started our journey to the place where the terrains were much more challenging and interesting.

Self-reliance in Gdańsk

The map published in my last post comes from a contour training which we did on 24th April in Gniewowo. I got completely lost while running (or better: thinking I was running) to the 2nd control. I must admit I wasn't concentrated enough. But on the other hand I just couldn't understand this map. The same problem had Hewi and Cilu... I hope it was my worst race in the 2010 season;) On the left I present the whole map with my routes - try not to choke with laughter!:)

The same day in the morning we competed in a really nice sprint in Rumia. Although, I had only about 10 minutes to warm up, I took this race very seriously and wanted to compare my shape with the others. The result was very satisfying. I would have taken the 3rd place losing only 11secs to Mały and just 1sec to Hewi. Why would? In spite of being at the 7th control and being sure I punched it, I didn't succeed in doing it and got disqualified. From that moment I started believing it's possible (it was my first such experience after nearly 5 years of orienteering). All in all, I was extremely happy with the time I managed to achieve!:)

On Sunday we were to start in a long distance competition. I started very focused on map reading, since I wanted to avoid losing so much time like the day before. Thanks to it, my race went really ok and I made only some minor mistakes. My pace was quite good as well but sometimes I had some short periods of crisis. Eventually, I finished 3rd losing no more than 2mins to Jacek Nowak and less than 1min to Lupek. This result made me very motivated and determined for the coming technical camp in Sweden.