Monday, July 26, 2010

MTBO Rogaine - Rotorua

Oh my god! This was a tight finish! Anyway, Sunday was a 2 hour rogaine through the mountain bike tracks in Rotorua. Controls were worth different amounts of points depending on distance and physicality. I had planned out a great last half and an okay beginning but I couldn't get the two to meet so thought I'd just wing it...which, in hindsight of course, was not the best plan because I kept going back on myself and I could have got quite a few more points if I'd planned and thought ahead better.

Anyway, it was fine but incredibly cold. I had on 2 long sleeve layers, full length gloves and my buff under my helmet and even after 2 hours with some epic climbs I still hadn't warmed up enough to remove anything. In fact, my toes were still feeling a tad numb!

I was still feeling pretty sore after yesterday's fall but determined to have a good ride which I did. I really enjoyed myself and kind of wished it had been a 3 hour race instead of only 2. My riding was a lot more confident and I even came down this steep, winding downhill track riding over half of it which was incredibly brave for me. The only thing was that going up to get this 100 point control took a bit longer than I'd hoped and I was really pushing time at the end.

I thought I'd try and get 1 more (I had been hoping to get 2 more but I knew that wasn't going to happen) but the single track had a lot more corners on it than I expected and it went on and on and on (as I nervously kept glancing at my watch). Coming out from the control I bumped into Brent who was trying to find the control but was confused (the navigator in one of the top adventure racing teams in the world got it!). I pointed him off in the right direction but then I couldn't find my way out to the road! There was next to no time on the clock, I had mud all through my cleats and pedals so I couldn't clip in on one of my feet and there was still a bit of distance to go to get to the finish...nail bitting stuff! But I did it...with 6 seconds to spare!

MTBO - Rotorua

Rotorua is supposed to be mountain biking mecca but the only other time I've ridden there was for the National mountain bike orienteering (MTBO) champs last year and I was so buried in my map I barely took any notice of what the trails were like. This time, since the races were fairly casual, I wanted to have some fun.

The first control was just plain mean. We started down the bottom in the carpark and basically had to head up...and up...and up! Well, at least you were all warm by then! To #2 I was caught by Kylie and then bumped into someone else and we rode round and round in circles, quite hopelessly confused, trying to find the control in the maze of tiny single tracks. They were all one-directional but since we were lost and didn't know which track we were on we were probably riding them the wrong way! We all decided heading to the road and coming in from the other side would be the best bet but it was impossible to even get to the road! In the end we all stumbled across it by chance!

Coming out of #3 (up the top of the hill) I took the wrong road despite carefully checking my map and being convinced I was correct. Luckily I realised pretty early on (as it was all downhill). To get over to the other road I had to head back up the road again or take the single track. I surprised myself by choosing the single track which was awesome fun.

Everything went okay after that, although slow and cautious, until partyway to #7 when I was biking quite fast along a gravel track and there was a huge mud puddle covering most of the track. I thought I'd go round it in case it was quite deep but instead my wheel spun out and I came flying off, landing really hard and in some blackberry. It wasn't very nice! I had to slowly pick myself up and try not to wince too much and then pull my bike out of the mud and readjust some stuff on my handlebars. I think I might have hit my head as I went down 'cause I couldn't think straight and ended up needing a bit of a hand from one of the other racers who came past. The rest of the race was a slow grind to the end!

I thought I did terribly. For a start, I could see at least 20 minutes I could have easily knocked off without even trying (for a start, crashing off my bike and attempting to fix the handlebars took a good 10 minutes). A bit more speed, more concentration and less stupid mistakes and I could have taken off even more time. But I ended up finishing midfield which totally surprised me and I bet Owen, my big rival, by 1 second...and that's all it takes to beat someone!

Monday, July 19, 2010

OY4 - Stag's Roar

Yet another OY at Woodhill...although this time it was a steeper area of the forest. This is a prime example of thinking you had a good run and then coming in and seeing the results and realising that actually, it was a pretty shit run! But at least I love running in Woodhill.

Anyway, I was going really well at the beginning. Contours were all lining up and I was nailing each control...until #6. The problem was I thought I was higher than I was because I would have been about 10 metres away from it when I first stopped but I didn't see it. I then went round in circles trying to figure out where I'd gone wrong. I don't really understand why I had so much trouble. If I'd looked a bit closer at the map the height probably would have been more obvious but I have to say that I never noticed the clearing in the reentrant. Grrr!!

Control 8 I ran right past it and onto the next hill along but figured it out fairly quickly. It was still frustrating though and I think I was trying to go to fast to make up for the previous mistake which is never a good idea. Then at #16, after crossing the main road, I had heaps of trouble trying to adjust to the different terrain (you can't tell by looking at the map but on either side of that main road the terrain is very different). I should have slowed down a bit and been more careful instead of running round like a headless chicken! For #17 I didn't look far enough ahead as the track route didn't occur to me until I was much closer and it would have been heaps quicker and without the need to keep checking the map. Then at #21 I really have no idea what happened but I got really disoriented and frustrated.

I'm running okay but I have been feeling really tired although not nearly as exhausted as I was during the week. I just need to orienteer a hell of a lot better!

Monday, July 12, 2010

OY3 - Woodhill South

It was really cold and I'd gone for a long run over at Tawharanui with Michael the day before and my shoes had screwed up my heels so I didn't feel too energised which is never the best of starts for a race!! But surprisingly (if I ignored the pain on my heels) my legs felt really good and fresh. I started off fairly well and found everything coming together until I hit control 6. It was a small hill in a fairly vague area and I must have run past it a couple of times without realising it and there was just nothing I could find to reorient myself. It wasn't until I saw a couple of people a bit further north of where I was standing that I realised I'd come a bit far.

I was okay after that until #12 which I managed to completely stuff up...super embarrassing how bad I did! I thought I was on correct side of the track but I was actually on the north side and of course nothing fitted and I couldn't work it out. I thought I'd head out to the track and go back in from there but it never came (naturally, because I was already on the other side of it). Took me a little while to figure it out but once I had it was a mad dash back to where the control really was!

Then #14 also just didn't work out. There were 3 of us stuffing around in the general area and again nothing seemed to fit. Turns out I'd headed further west. The vegetation boundary wasn't distinct at all and it really threw me. But the rest of the course went fine apart from feeling frustrated about stupid mistakes.

My heels seemed to clear up after about half an hour but once I finished they were hurting again. I think they are having a reaction to my other inov-8 shoes I wear for training. And despite it being beautifully fine, it was freezing cold all day...even in the sun.

Running at Tawharanui

My mate was up for the weekend so we cruised over to my beach house to hang out. Of course, you can't go that far and not go running at Tawharanui Regional Park. I'll just leave you with a few photos...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tough Guy & Gal Challenge

I'd heard of this race many times but never entered before. The original race takes place in Rotorua but it's become so popular that they now have events in Auckland and Palmerston North as well. A few of my friends from mountain biking convinced me to give the Auckland event a go and I'm always up for the challenge. This year's event took place at the Woodhill Sands Equestrian Centre about 45 minutes north (west) of Auckland.

The full race is 12kms (2 laps of a 6km course...there is a 6km option) and is, according to the website, based on an "army type obstacle course". You can run, walk, push, crawl or climb through a variety of natural and man made obstacles. Apparently the maximum depth of water at any stage is approximately waist you will read later on, this was not quite true by the time it came to my second lap! Basically it involves a whole lot of mud, barbed wire, bush and paddock sections, hurdles (it's run out of an equestrian centre) and swamp crossings.

I started about three-quarters of the way back with my friends which turned out to not be the smartest idea as I spent all of the first lap trying to get past people. There were so many people anxious about jumping into the swamps and people walking up hills blocking the way which made me lose a bit of momentum. I got swamped by one guy when I was in one of the mud pools and he jumped in next to me. It felt like a tidal wave going over my head!

The second lap was better as it was really spread out by then and I passed a few more people. All was going well until we caught up with the 6km guys (they started 10 minutes after us) who were picking their way over everything. Luckily they were pretty good at getting out of the way and yelled of the bonuses of being female near the front of the pack as you get heaps of support.

I was ahead of a couple of girls until right near the end when I got stuck behind a gridlock of 6km people and I took a stupid decision to jump into the stream (it was neck deep by this point). It was bloody hard to get myself out again! The other girls managed to get through the gridlock and went round and got ahead. I managed a good sprint finish to get within a few seconds of them but I would have been 3rd if I'd done what they did but had to settle for 5th. Damn!

I finished in just over an hour and 9 minutes which isn't too bad a k rate for mud, swamps, obstacles and sections of crawling under barbed wire! My verdict? Heaps of fun but not really that tough to be honest. I'll have to try the event at it's home (Rotorua) next year.