Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lake Maria Orienteering Meet, Red Course

I don't generally get disheartened with my blunders during O races, but this time I did. I had few if any problems on the well-laid-out course at Lake Maria SP until I got to CP11.

On the long leg to CP11 I had decided to play it safe and run the last portion on the trail a little NE of the connecting line. I chose the man-made feature (a bench) at the T intersection/clearing as my attack point. When I got there I made the decision to follow the trail west and to attack from where the trail veers from NW to due W. I think this may have been my main mistake. As it often happens, it was hard to tell where exactly the trail veered west and of course, I did not find the wetland withe CP 11. I made matters worse by searching for about 10 minutes until I finally gave up and returned to the intersection with park bench. Now I took a careful bearing and walked straight to the CP, which took exactly 2 minutes.

My self-confidence badly shaken by my search for CP11, I was probably overly cautious when heading for CP12. I wanted to be sure I took the right approach and hesitated to take the path towards the road. When I finally started moving down, I had to stop at a tight spot to let a group of about a dozen horseback riders pass. I found the CP without much further ado but decided to see if the wetland to the N was crossable. It was not, given the thick vegetation this was another few minutes lost.

My last blunder was on the home stretch. After punching CP14, I did not take a careful bearing (not that it had to be very careful) and ended up on the trail moving almost due W from the Finish. Instead of heading home, I took the opposite direction. This was definitely my worst run of the year.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Orienteering: Minnegoat at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

I went to bed at a reasonable time but ended waking up at 1:30, tossing and turning till about 4:00. The 5 AM alarm chased me out of bed and after some coffee, a breakfast of leftover Thai and a banana/protein shake I hit the road. The farther north I got, the wetter it got. By the time I reached Onamia a fine drizzle was falling.

Start and finish were at the horse camp a few trailers were there and things were just getting going. The MNOC members who had spent the nigh were gearing up and others, like me, were arriving.The first guy I saw was Andrei, he was still in shorts and flipflops. He had don the day 1 races and warned me that the terrain was quite technical, but also that the woods were open and runnable.

The half hour between my arrival and the pre-race meeting went by fast. A couple of labs around the parking lot and some stretches and we were lining up at the start. Apparently the organizers were a little worried over having enough maps for everyone. Extra benefit of doing the online registration: getting in line first to get dibs on a map, welded into plastic no less.

But there were maps for everyone and when the countdown was over, everyone picked up their map and the mad dash for this mass start began. Even by CP1, the crowd had started to stretch out and there was hardly a wait to punch. Mass starts do invariably cause some small groups to form. I was with Todd Peterson, Pete Wentzel, Chris Svoboda from Chicagoland and another couple guys for a while. Pete dropped us at CP6 or so and a guy whose name I do not know fell in a deep mud hole between CP9 and 10. It was one of the very few stretches where one could actually gain some by following a trail for a couple hundred meters. For inexplicable reasons he was a few meters off the trail as we crossed what looked like a dry creek bed. He sunk up to his hip and followed up with a nice belly flop. Man, am I glad that wasn't me. I arrived at the map exchange together with Todd, a Canadian fellow and the Chicagoan. I took a few sips of water, a nip of nut bar and off I went, deciding to leave my hydration pack behind. I went with the Canadian for a while and lost him someplace. Todd and Chris passed me. I found myself alone, especially after I did the one permitted skip from 7 straight to nine.

By now I started regretting that I had not taken more time at the map exchange to eat some more and to take the water along. I was running low on fuel and I felt it. I reached CP10 together with Todd, who had skipped 9. Since Todd runs better than me, I assume that I made a good choice skipping CP7.

I did not even try to match Todd's pace and instead concentrated on not making any mapping errors. Everything went well till I was closing in on CP13. Somehow I misread the map thinking that the small wetland was on top of a hill. That's where I looked for at least 5 minutes, losing precious time. I revisited the map and finally noticed the depression indicators. What a bummer. I have to face the music and get the magnifier for my Moscompass. I saw Chris S waving his bifocal running glasses at me when they were fogging up and Julia, who wears flip-ups on a pair of racquetball goggles told me about the fogging, too.

The rest was a breeze, I am very glad I made it!

Some final thoughts:

I thought that the course layout was excellent. As mentioned above, there was hardly ever a way to follow trails, streams, even contours. The terrain provided handrails in form of the many wetlands, but they were varied enough to keep me on my toes. I do prefer the regular O format but I do understand that with a long event like a goat it would take forever.

Results: 9th of 15, 2:47:40, see also MNOC 2011 Minnegoat Results

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group: Bounding and Resistance Plyos

SISU Weekly Updates

When:  Tuesday Oct 4th, 6:30pm  
Where: Battle Creek Rec Center
What: Dryland- Bounding/Resistance Plyos
Coaches: Mike Nightingale Kevin Brochman

I was holding off till the very last moment on making the decision on whether or not to participate today. After seeing Dr. Abraham last week I was not so much concerned about my knee but rather about the sprained toe joint which still hurt some. I decided that it was feasible and was glad I did so.

With temps around 25 C and not a cloud in the sky it was a gorgeous fall night for a workout. Coach Mike had been replaced with Kevin Brochman, head coach at Roseville Area High Schools. As I mentioned before, it is always good to be exposed to different training methods and pick up a new exercise or do a drill in just slightly different a way to make it more effective. It was the case again tonight, too. Except for warm-up and cool-down, all drills took place on the sledding hill next to the Battle Creek rec Center.
  • Short warm-up jog 
  • Nordic walking, emphasis on moving hip forward and bending rear leg
  • Bounding, emphasis on raising knees 
  • Skate bounding side to side with balancing, emphasizing to swing foot slightly forward of planted foot, simulating arm motion
  • cross-over drill (cross fore-arms up, push off-arms back)
  • Cool down nordic walk
A good medium-intensity workout and no significant issues with my knees or toe. I think I am ready to return to training!
I followed up this workout with an easy run on Thursday morning just to confirm that I can tackle the Minnegoat on Sunday.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Injury Woes

You think you are in relatively decent shape and your training expands in new directions. You start toying with the idea to maybe enter one of the longer xc-ski events, you turn 50 and think that there are a few people that age out there who are less fit then you ... and reality check.

This all started with a nagging ache in my left knee which I contracted this spring while out for my first significant bike ride. The pain was low-grade, did not bother me while running, it was just there, in the background. I finally caved and went to see my trusty exercise physician, Dr. Abraham at HP Como. She prodded, pulled and twisted my limb and declared that it was nothing serious. At one point during the exam she exclaimed "oh my, are you ever stiff and inflexible." She offered PT as an option and prescribed flexibility exercises. I declined the PT but started doing a 10-15 minute stretching routine after every workout. The results were amazing, the pain that had persisted for almost three months vanished within 3-4 weeks. 

My exercise regimen kicked into high gear. Sisu ski group, slow and long runs, tempo runs intervals and fartlek, and, while in Europe, some serious hills. I had thought for a while to add a strength workout my exercise program and tried out a boot camp at the Edina YMCA. My muscles were very sore after the first class I took on Labor Day. I took it appropriately easy during that week, did an orienteering race where I contracted some nasty heel blisters but went back to boot camp on the next Monday. 

I don't know whether I was still too tired from the O-meet or whether I am simply not fit enough to start a new exercise clase but after the second boot camp, I did not experience sore muscles but sore knees. Both sides seemed swollen and there was a definite feeling of instability and some popping in the right knee. What a bummer. I followed the RICE principles and rested, iced, elevated and when engaging in activity, I compressed. Since that right knee seemed a little more serious, I also made another appointment with Dr. Abraham. I went running only a few times, fortunately Sisu Year-Round Group was on a roller skiing portion of the schedule which was not as hard on my knee. Things seemed to not get any better and I waited till the 9/24 to make up my mind on doing the Intertstate Park O Meet. But I did it, opting for the shorter choice and also doing the white/yellow course. The knee felt ok but I did contract a new injury, a sprained toe joint which I contracted when my foot got wedged between two rocks, forcing the big to into hyper-extension.

Unitl my appointment on Thursday of that week, my knee felt actually better, it may just have been overshadowed by the pain in the big toe. Again, Dr. Abraham ended up saying that my knee issue did not seem to be too serious. Same directions as the previous time, listening to the knee, and working on strengthening the muscles around it, especially the m. vastus medialis which she found to be "mushy."

I went for a good roller ski workout this last Sunday, since the rigid boot protects my toe, which is still smarting. I am wondering if I'll be able to do the Minnegoat. If I am smart, should probably only do the short one. We'll see ...