Wednesday, May 30, 2012 10:13:25 AM
While everyone is busy following or participating in various championships this year (EOC, EYOC, JWOC, WOC, etc.), I'm going to enjoy the summer at home (no money or time for travelling) and start preparing for EYOC 2013, which will take place in Israel 17 months from now.
I will be the Technical Director of the event, which means that I'm in charge (voluntarily) of mapping, course planning and setting, training, and some other stuff. At the moment we're working on Bulletin 1, which has to be published before EYOC 2012 so it can be handed out to the teams there, and about to start with the mapping. I'll be making the relay map - more about that in my next post.
All the competition areas are within 15 minutes of my home, which is nice. I don't intend to plan any of the courses, but naturally I'll be involved at all stages and I'll probably visit all the controls before the event.
We've organised major international events in Israel before: ISF (school) championships in 2000, and MTB-WOC in 2009. This is the next step, and it's going to be an interesting challenge.
Sunday, May 20, 2012 10:24:54 AM
I wasn't supposed to be in the country for yesterday's national event at Alon HaGalil (15 minutes from home), but my business trip was cancelled, so of course we showed up and ran. As planned, I've been resting for the past few weeks, so I took it easy and enjoyed a light run through the woods, on a course which was very fast and in my opinion too easy. My route is here - 44:02 for 5.6km, and Roni almost beat me with 44:05. I was 4th in H40, but it didn't make any difference.
I have no complaints to the organisers about the level of the course - it can be very hot in May (though it wasn't), and the undergrowth in the unused (and more technical) areas of the map is not fun, so planning a fast course is fitting for the season. But it was also the last national event, which can decide ranking positions and should therefore be more of a challenge. Maybe we should plan the season more carefully, so that the decisive races can be as technical as possible - next year's plan seems to be much better.
Monday, April 23, 2012 9:53:29 AM
Saturday's national event at Srigim, postponed from January due to terrible weather, was my last competitive race of the season. The terrain, tough in any conditions, was even slower due to the tall seasonal undergrowth, which made the course a bit of a slog, but it was still technically demanding and fun. My route is here.
I won in 67:13 over 6,290m, and unless there are some very strange results in the last national event next month, which I'll miss due to a business trip, I'll also be ranked first in H40 this season. This says more about my competitors inconsistency than about my ability - I trained less than I would have liked to this year, and I can feel that I'm not as fit as I wanted to be, but I managed to stabilise my orienteering so that I got good results in all the events. The ranking is based on 7 best results (in points) out of 10, and I'll win after actually participating in only 7 races (organised two, plus the last one).
Back to this race - it wasn't perfect, but I made only one significant mistake, at control 2, and managed to correct that quickly after hitting the small path, though I still lost over 3 minutes. Apart from that there were a few small misses, a bad route choice to 9 (I didn't see the path route to the west), and some intuition/contour/luck-O to 11 and 16.
What's next? I'm going to let my legs get some rest, though there are still local events, team training, and so on. And I'm preparing a new strategy for the next season.
Sunday, April 15, 2012 9:58:16 AM
On Friday we held a local event on the map of Tal-El, which I made back in 2003-4. I had actually started mapping in this area back in 1992, when the whole area was covered with mature pine forest, but they had just started cutting large parts of it down (because of disease) so I had to stop. When I mapped the area nearly everything had been replanted and was in various stages of growth, ranging from small saplings (semi-open) to more mature trees (a special symbol –light green with yellow dots) and almost fully grown (light green).
8 years later, the map (after a partial update of fences) is still relevant, but the vegetation is totally different. The forest boundaries still exist, but the semi-open is now thick green, the more mature areas are light green, and the original light green has turned to white. This made for interesting orienteering, because you had to guess some of the runnability in advance, though the navigation was not a problem.
I actually enjoyed the race much more than I had expected, because the terrain is now more fun. A re-map will be needed in a few years, and then the map will be much more interesting.
The course was a batch-O course – you can take the controls in each batch in any order. My route was 5,860m, and I finished in 56:13. You can guess at the vegetation changes from my speed in the QuickRoute track.
Monday, March 26, 2012 10:57:44 AM
On Saturday we had our annual rogaine - 7 hours of hard work on a new 65 km2 map, mostly new to orienteering. The end result: Roni and myself took second place overall and first in the "mixed" category, better than we had expected.
How did we do it?
First, we prepared ourselves. I planned and planned again, calculated various scenarios, and ran a lot (I was on business in Minnesota a couple of weeks before, and you can run really long distances there). Roni mainly complained that I was taking it too seriously, and didn't run at all - she was stuck with a baby while I was abroad.
My parents duly showed up at 05:40 to take care of Alon, and off we went. We had a ruler prepared for the map scale (1:27,500), and estimated our pace at 4.5 km/hour over the straight line route, based on experience from previous events, so we wanted to plan for 31 km, with the possibility to add or skip controls in the second half of the course based on our progress. The original plan was good and in the end we stuck to it until the end - our full route is here (My GPS decided to freeze up, so there is no nice QuickRoute map).
As soon as we started, Roni stopped complaining and started pushing. Hard. We started fast and finished very slowly, because my right illiotibial band started again after about 3 hours and from then on it was a constant battle against the pain. Our pace dropped from 5 km/hour in the first 3 hours to less than 4 at the end, but it was enough to finish as planned, with 30.25 km on the straight line route and a full marathon (42.2) in the terrain. We messed up the last control (101) by losing contact with each other, so I got to the control without the Emit card, while Roni started worrying about me and waited at the finish.
It was a great day, the weather was beautiful, and the terrain magnificent (especially the hilly part). There were some small paths we couldn't find, and a water control (near 602) with no water that cost us at least 10 minutes, but overall the map and planning were great - thanks to all the organisers.
My leg will be OK within a couple of days, but it's obvious that without the right knee pain (our stamina held up nicely) we would have had a good chance for first place overall. And that I wouldn't have finished a 12-hour rogaine on my feet. Once this season ends, I'm going to change my tactics for a period and work seriously on strengthening my weak points - right knee and ankle, and my back.
Monday, February 27, 2012 11:14:05 AM
The first day of the Israeli Championship was at Neve Shalom - 100% forest, much of it quite steep, with runnability varying from moderate to slow, but with lots of paths. The course was a slog - tough, technical, lots of controls, and in the end very slow. This is my route - 6970m, 270m climb, in 1:12:28.
I had a few minor hesitations and misses (at 12 and 25 I was lucky to see other orienteers), but the largest mistake was at 18, just after going through the spectator control, where I got pissed off that there was no water in the cups and continued without drinking. I managed to veer off course and miss the control, and returned only after seeing the next stone wall. I lost at least a minute and a half.
I was running this race against the clock - I started late, because Roni was running first and I was in charge of Alon, so when I started I knew my competitor Ofer Granet had finished in around 1:12 and Roni in 1:24 (she's usually 10-15% slower than me), and I was aiming for his result. In the end he won the day, and I was just 11 seconds behind him.
The second day was at Massuah - mostly semi-open, with lots of stone walls, caves, and cactus bushes. It was obviously going to be faster, but more technical, and I opted for a policy of never losing contact, even at the expense of stopping when necessary. This is my route - 6510m, 205m climb, in 1:00:52.
This time we had no baby with us, so there was less waiting around, but I knew that Ofer had finished in 1:15 (too slow). The first part of the course, until the long leg, was mostly in the forest and not too difficult, and I had no problems at all. My execution on the first part of the long leg (7-8) was lacking, and I strayed too far left, and after that came the really difficult part. I slowed down, made sure I stayed in touch, and got through with no real mistakes - just a small detour at 14 when I thought I was further to the west.
As I came in to the finish I was announced as losing, but my Emit card said otherwise and I won the championship by 2 seconds. I finished 3rd on the day, 14 seconds behind the winner.
Both maps were fantastic, and so were the courses - though very different in style. Thanks to Petr for the mapping, and to all the organisers.
I'm really happy with my performance, especially on day two, but also with my consistency - I'm getting a good result in every national event, even if I don't win, always within 2-3 minutes of the winner. Hopefully this will enable me to finish first in the rankings as well, and complete the "double".
Sunday, February 26, 2012 11:02:43 AM
Roni won D21A, and she is the Israeli Champion for the fourth time after a five year break. She says it's because of a lack of competition, and that's true, but I think she's orienteering better than ever, and also that having a baby has made her stronger and tougher. In any case I can take the credit - both for training her as an elite orienteer in the past, and for the baby.
I won H40, by the impossible margin of 2 SECONDS. I beat Nir Yasur, who was second, by 5 seconds on the first day, and lost to him by 3 seconds on the second day. Here's a chart of my lead in seconds over both days (F = finish, S = spectator control):
A few anecdotes:
- My biggest mistake on each day was after the spectator control.
- We finished second and third on both days. The orienteers who were first on each day (in both cases by a margin of 11 seconds) ended up 4th and 6th overall.
- Déjà vu - day two was where I sprained my ankle last year. I fell and banged my knee exactly where our course passed closest to that point (about 100m away).
- As far as I know, Nir has only been orienteering for 4-5 years. At the rate he's improving, he's going to thrash me next year.
I'll post my route analyses over the next few days.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 11:12:05 AM
The Israeli Championships is upon us, again, so the next two days will be fun.
The first day is on a new map of Neve Shalom, a well-known area where we haven't orienteered for years. We're taking the little ninja (now 9 months old) with us, so we have split starts and I'm starting quite late.
The second day is at Massuah, where I sprained my ankle last season, and also made a video. Most of the race will probably be in a part of the map not used back then, so it will be interesting. Alon will stay with his grandparents, so both Roni and I will start late (I don't know why - I asked for something in the middle).
Roni is the favourite to win D21A, but she doesn't care - she's running for fun, and if she wins I'll probably be happier than her. I want to win H40, but a repeat of last year's catastrophe and comeback won't work again. What I need to do this time is get a good result on both days of the championship, which is something I haven't done since 2006. There won't be any excuses - both maps are by the excellent Petr Matula, and the course planners are amongst the best in the country.
Good luck to everyone!
Monday, February 20, 2012 10:40:34 AM
Last month I noticed that the IOF intend to try and adjust their mapping standard for colour-deficient orienteers (as noted here), so I contacted Ales Hejna of the IOF Map Commission and asked him how to volunteer, and it turned out that I'm the first one to do so.
Yes, I'm colour-blind (deficient), and always have been. I've been failing those tests with the coloured dots regularly since I was 17, and I tried again just in case, but I still have Deuteranomaly, which means red-green problems.
How does this affect my orienteering? Usually I have problems discriminating between light green (30%) and yellow (50%) on maps, especially when they are mixed up. To a lesser extent, there can be a problem also with darker green (60%) and full yellow (100%). And when the printed colours are non-standard, it can get worse - I remember a race a long time ago, where I was attacking a control in an open area and couldn't understand all the bushes in my way. Luckily I managed to find it, and when comparing routes at the end and complaining about the map someone pointed out to me that the green was actually marked and I hadn't seen it.
The best test I could find was here, though it's in French. There's also one here. You can test yourselves and contact Ales if you are colour-blind as well.The yellow patches on the left are a problem for me. Those on the right a bit less. There is also a difference between the screen and the printed map.
Monday, February 13, 2012 10:43:46 AM
I've been coaching various national teams (here in Israel) for almost 20 years. A couple of months ago I was asked to take charge of the senior team again, and despite the fact that I have limited spare time I agreed to take the job, initially until WOC 2013.
Coaching the team here is a part-time job (currently paying about 5% of my main salary), so I have to do my best in training sessions on weekends, and keeping up with the team at national events and through their training reports. I set myself two important goals:
1. Improve. Look at everything I did in the past as a coach, and try to do it better. The emphasis here is on quality, not quantity (for which I don't have the time). For example, I held a training camp this weekend, and tried to make every session as interesting as possible, using new tricks to keep the team alert and make them think fast and concentrate.
2. Create a team culture. As in "Corporate Culture" (תרבות ארגונית). This has been missing in the past, mainly because we never had continuity in the team when progressing from season to season. I think I communicated what I mean by this to the athletes over the weekend, but writing it in a blog is more difficult. The main idea is to set certain standards, for both the individuals and the team, and maintain them over a long period.
We have a generation gap in the national team at the moment - of eight athletes in the weekend's training, there were none between the ages of 20 and 30! Most will never be good enough to represent us in international competitions, but if they conform to a certain standard and behave like elite orienteers, they'll stay on the team. In 2-3 years we'll have an influx of promising young men from the junior team, and I hope that when they arrive we'll have a sound team culture in place for them.
A relocation exercise in pairs: One orienteer leads with the map, the other follows him without a map. The leader stops at any point within the large circle, gives the map to the follower, and he has to find the control.