Today I drove all the way to the Forest of Dean for the NGOC Galoppen. The test yesterday on Avon Heath was successful, meaning that I was testing out how my toe that was half destroyed on the last day of last year would hold up wearing a proper Orienteering shoe and running through terrain. It was coping (although not comfortable), so I have decided to get back into the proper stuff.
As part of my London Marathon preparation, I need to start raising the distances and need to actually not skip the long runs. For today, I figured I should get there early, and run both the Brown and the Blue courses as a training exercise. Yes, I am using these events as training opportunities, not as target races. Next weekend is the Concorde Chase where I will run Black, and that will be a race that I treat with higher significance than this weeks Galoppen – I will try and push all the way and see how my fitness holds up through that long distance. But as preparation, I wanted to run Brown as a race and then just jog through the Blue with 70% effort but use the terrain as much as possible.
As I got there they weren’t sure if they will have enough Brown maps, so I had to reverse the plan and run Blue first – this meant that it had to be the competitive one. By the time I got back they had plenty of Brown maps left but only 2 minutes before the start window closed, so I jogged around the Brown course, completing both as the training plan dictated, even though I was pretty exhausted by the middle of the Brown course.
Most of the Blue course was OK. I did wonder a lot of places why there were such a lot of undergrowth not mapped – in hindsight, looking at the Routegadget, I realised a lot more green on the map than during running. I have looked at the map hard now and realised that they were there, but hte green print was very faint, so I did not see a lot of it during the run. This effected my route choices and pretty sure even that underestimated the vegetation in places, especially between 11-12 where I was seriously stuck in brambles and what should have been dark green on the map. I have lost about 2 minutes there, running around on the track would have been much faster. My other bigger mistake was 4-5 where I have decided to run over the hilltop, again not realising that the open field on the other side would be full of brambles stopping me from just running down there. Running around on the track would have been again about 2 minute faster. Besides this I had smaller mistakes to 1 and 14 and a few seconds here and there, which means I legitimately lost 5 minutes – the remaining 4 minutes that I was behind the winner was purely running speed most likely.
As far as the Brown course is concerned, I wasn’t pushing the running at all so no expectation of any result and no use comparing times. However, I wanted to have a clean run at least, which unfortunately wasn’t the case. The first wobble came on leg 7, where I initially wanted to run out to the tarmac road, but a combination of seeing the (not really mapped) drop to and with of the stream, and my initial plan to use the course as a terrain running training convinced me to turn back and go more or less straight. That was a decent plan, but then very poorly executed. I ended up way too high and on the road, climbing 10m more than I needed, and not used the small paths as well as I should have. I then messed up 9 which was strange because I had that control on the Blue course where I had no problems, but the whole leg here was executed like a mess, more a hope and pray than a proper plan with attackpoint. I paid the price! Which as usually the case, lead to messing up 10 as well (though not as much). I messed up my pace counting probably because I started to look for the control too early and then veered right thinking I wasn’t on the right bearing. I did then turn back before it became an even bigger mess and luckily saw the control. I suspect leg 11 in a real race situation would have been faster running up on the track – the forest was full of brashings so it was a slog to contouring round. I even ended up above the control and almost overran by one spur but again luckily I spotted the control and ran back for it. Luckily this ended the streak of badly executed controls and the next few were quite precise, although I did actually take it very carefully in the tricky bits around 14-17. The only control where I made a slight mistake was 15 – learning from my mistakes yesterday I di have a good plan to run down the path and then the spine of the spur, unfortunately the complex terrain meant that I first came across a different reentrant than mine. I quickly corrected though. Leg 18 was another slog where the hillside that was supposed to be white was full of brashings and brambles and I would have been better off running around, at least in a race situation. At this point though I was quite tired and out of gels, so I really broke down to walking up there into 18 and out of 18 up to the crest of the hill. Luckily from this point there weren’t many climbs and neither did I make any more notable mistakes (though I did take one or two quite safe but longer route choices).
Two “B” course done then, a sum of about 19kms with just under 600m climb, mostly though terrain, a good training day completed.