Monday, 8 August 2016

World University Orienteering Championships

Originally I was going to stay in a Travelodge with the rest of the girls at Heathrow before the flight on Friday morning however Adam had come to visit after his holiday in the Alps so took me on Friday morning to Heathrow. After waiting for the boys to arrive we went through check in, pretending to be off to the Olympics and boarded the plane. I was planning to sleep on the plane but my seat happened to be in the middle of a hen group off to Budapest too! After a short wait we boarded a small minibus to Miskolc, which ended up being very smelly as I cracked open my boiled eggs and some individuals took their shoes off.

We arrived mid-afternoon, got comfortable (I was sharing a room with Katie with a joint toilet with Charlotte & Jo) before going for a short, but very sweaty run. The evening consisted of dinner (which surprisingly wasn’t boiled potatoes, dill & goulash but actually decent meals! Although throughout the week there were a few suspicious deserts), team meeting and then killing time – Katie found a table top football so was entertained by some Canadians/Americans with that.

On Saturday the majority of the team went training – a few of us had already been on a training camp a few weeks prior. After talking to my dad I had the plan to just do how ever much was needed to feel confident/happy so I was hoping I’d only be out for 10 minutes. It ended up being a lot more as I kept missing controls, finding it hard to match up the vegetation. Although not ideal, I called it a day as I had reminded myself of what was required during the races. We travelled back, during which Eddie asked about start times preferences for the long & middle. That evening we had the opening ceremony, which we arrived late too WHUPS!! we marched up a street with lots of stalls selling random things before getting to the Miskolc castle which was where the ceremony was held! REALLY COOL - and even though very hot the circus act kept us all entertained!

That night I woke up to go to the loo, finding a poorly Charlotte on the bathroom floor who had been up for a few hours previously being sick after what we spectulate some bad fish. We were going to go to the sprint but Charlotte & Jo stayed in so I headed off with Sasha & Aidan. The finish & spectator area was a bit light, with a small area to support along the finishing straight and no GPS/tracking shown live. Luckily Megan's Mum had it on her phone so we could track the girls first & then the guys. It was such an exciting day with both Megan & Charlotte getting top 10s and then Willy (the first starter) holding the lead for a surprisingly long time!! Jonny & Peter came in slightly off Willy’s time and then we were waiting for Kris. Having previously made a map and had supported the rest of the team showing the intricate levelled part of the map we were all so excited to watch his race and it was no wonder that he smashed it and came storming in with a huge lead. We were all so hyped & it was great to be part of the team.

In the evening it was time to get prepped for the long and after the GB Sprint performances the organisers had given us all GPS which I love running with as it makes me feel important :’). Leading up to the race I had done some geeking and roughly worked out where the start would be and planned some courses, always enjoying it when I get it right! Unfortunately the bus on the way to the quarantine dropped us at the wrong place so the athletes trekked along the wrong road for a while before it was apparent we were going the wrong way. 20 minutes later we got to quarantine. I had my pre-race plan so knew I was on scheduled – planned out exactly when I needed to eat my banana, o on the model map, warm up & even sort my hair! Before I started I felt relaxed & knew in my head I wanted to make no mistakes and have a consistent steady run, after all you don’t need to do anything special to be special. Nixon reinforces this as I went into the start block so I was confident & happy when I started.

I started safe and my confident build so I was comfortable pushing my speed. The majority of the race went really well, I was in control, had good plans & executed them well. However as I got further through the course I was using my brain less and so wasn’t as accurate and made a handful of errors (mostly overshooting/hesitations as I was too far to one side of a control). I finished and was really disappointed straight away with the position, feeling like I’d tried really hard, exhausted and all for a 20th place. However I took some time to reflect, warm down and talk it over with dad which helped realise actually for where I am in life it was pretty solid.

We eventually go the bus back to the accommodation after Sasha & Aidan decided to follow an Estonian and we had to get the bulletin & map out to work out our way to the parking. I got a massage that evening and also the next day as my back felt ridiculously tight :( Although really tired, a few of us made it to the Cave Baths – a five minutes bus journey to the edge of Miskolc. It was good for my muscles especially where there were jets that could pummel my back! The water was so warm and we found a really warm pool to sit in. That afternoon we travelled down into Miskolc centre for the mixed sprint relay & excitement was high as we all knew we had an awesome team. The leg order was Charlotte, Peter, Kris & Megan and after a strong start Kris came back with over a minute lead handing over to Meg. The whole team was ecstatic and we were sprinting around, screaming our heads off at any spectator point. Meg held it together well and came back with the lead still meaning GBR had another gold. There was lots of photos and hugs followed by the cheering as they went on the podium. After that the team went back to get food and try to rest for the Middle whilst the winners stayed on as Meg had the struggle of peeing in a pot for doping control & willy got ‘kidnapped’ by a ‘reporter’ who wanted an interview & drop willy back at the accommodation – after a few hours we got a little worried but then he turned up overly happy…

The following day I got the bus with Sasha, listening to Megan’s shuffle as my ipod I use to use for quarantine had broken. As we walked to quarantine past thickets, brambles, nettles and rough open I was impressed that the warm up map was ‘Very Relevant’ – similar scrubby terrain to a rocky, overgrown north east area. Nevertheless I was excited for the race and maybe a little too hyped shoveling jelly babies in my mouth and stuffing a gel down my sports bra! Silently being judged by the rest of GB team when trying to justify that I will need to the energy I reminded them that I took three gels during the long race and was still in need of energy.

I was a bit more nervous for this race and wasn’t as calm – although I knew what was required I was too excited to get going and the agitation stayed on as I started the race. I ended up running a very scrappy race where I was racing too much and not actually in control of what I was doing. As I ran nearer to each control I was praying the control would jump out so I could get a move on to the next control. When this didn’t happen I would quickly panic and faff around. The whole race was like this and it was really unpleasant to experience as I felt like I was scrabbling for control the whole way round but didn’t have time to lose. I finished in 6th which everyone was happy about expect me as they had no idea what had happened in the forest. I quickly dropped down to below 20th which was disappointing but understandable.

That evening Katie packed as she was leaving in the middle of the night to go to the airport :( so I had the room to myself. I was excited for the relay, running with Jo & Charlotte on second leg but also apprehensive as I have little trust in teammates from previous experience. However, knowing what that I could orienteer without making mistakes and understanding what I needed to do, helped my confidence in my teammates too and I believed we had a strong team. Jo was first leg, coming back in 9th, behind a string of people (including Megan!!). I set off on my own but quickly caught up three others. My race was going well, slightly panicky at parts when I had time to think and realise the pressure but pretty consistent. I made a LARGE error at ten – still not sure what happened but didn’t match the features up correctly and took a 90 degree route choice error looping back around and stumbling on control ten (thank goodness). I was running with a Russian here, fearing I had lost a lot of time and was back down in 9/10th. I went through spectator having no idea the position just, ‘well Done Lucy, you’re doing well’ from the coaches. WHAT DOES WELL MEAN??! I remember thinking that if I was doing crap they would probably say I was doing well so carried on into the last loop spotting Andrinne – thinking Holy Fuck she must have had a nightmare as I know she went out a way before me. I finished up just behind the Russian (skinny girl that had a lot more speed than me!) and handed over to Charlotte, finally realizing I had come in 4th! It slowly sunk in we had a chance of a medal & I had sporadic OMG moments followed by, ‘Aaah we will probably muck up and end up in 10th or something’. However I had confidence in Charlotte as I believe she is the strongest, most consistent forest woman orienteer we had. From what we could gather from the commentary she had run the team into 3rd, pulling a lead over the Russian & Norwegian. She came through the spectator loop running straight past the spectator control and having to double back before re-entering the forest. It was then a waiting game and unfortunately we were waiting too long – watching the Russian team sprint out the GPS tent to the finish was pretty gutting as we realised Charlotte had made a mistake. She came out the forest in 4th behind the Norwegian and we finished in 5th just behind the Russian.

My brain was my worst enemy for the next few hours, torturing me with thoughts of going onto the podium and I was really gutted. I don’t think it helped that everyone was saying how good 5th was when we were so close to 3rd. It took a while to get some perspective and even as I write this I can feel myself getting frustrated with the result. It is a step in the right direction & my mum wisely said that the teams who beat us are consistently in the top 6 & it still doesn’t work for them so we need to get used to finishing in the top 6 before we can expect more.

We had to stay for the prize giving and closing ceremony before heading back to the accommodation where we had the beer relay (definitely some cheating going on…) before eating some food to line the stomachs before some more drinking and the party which was held on the uni campus.

The travelling the next day was not fun and I felt VERY ROUGH – apparently I was up late/early hours of the morning putting the world to rights with Charlotte?! I sat with Peter chatting about life and eating copious amounts of ham & cheese sandwiches! Just as I was ready to sleep we arrived at the airport. Luckily I wasn’t sat in a hen party on the way home and could get some sleep! I was pretty sad the week was over as it was probably one of the best competitions I had been to and it was horrible that it came to an end. The bags took ages to arrive so the team needed to rush off. I picked up my bag and got the bus & train home where I tended to my hangover before Adam came down from Sheffield.

After a much needed lie-in we drove down to the New Forest to spend the weekend at home. The traffic was bad on the way down which stressed me out and I was quickly back to normal routine where I got grumpy and Adam had to highlight the positives in life :’). We made it to Lyndhurst where we stopped for a late brunch & scones in a little cafĂ©. We went for a walk in the sunshine before continuing home. It was good to get home and speak to Mum and Dad. Grandad, Uncle Tony & my cousin from America came up in the afternoon as well which was great to see them. The rest of the weekend we just chilled, did a bit of baking and did NO TRAINING. I wasn’t/still am not sure where I am going with the orienteering – after managing the step up in life having to balance a 9-5 job with training I need to decide where to go as there aren’t any more 20-25 age group competitions before the senior level which I am uncomfortable racing at if I am not good enough to do well. So then it would be playing the long game and training/committing to five + years to get good which to be honest isn’t high on my priorities in life…OR pay £7,000 to do a Masters and go back to WUOC in two years (tempting)!

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