The void is surely there. This time it’s not mental emptiness that I used to feel after big championships were over. Probably it has much to do with how well I succeed in particular competition which then determines how big that emptiness is. This time my “void” is physical. Maybe it could be traced back as far as the end of 2014 and I know that it is just my speculation on history without solid facts, but it did start somewhere. It’s been quite some time and I miss that ecstatic feeling of being in shape. Moments when time stops, when one feels invincible no matter what comes and “hitting through walls” becomes a pure pleasure. Instead so often it fells like I hit those walls at low speeds and then I just have to “hung in there” since I have no extra power to hit through. Of course it hasn’t been all that bad since there has been some great performances and flashes of good shape every now and then, but it lacks continuity. Deep down I knew that I haven’t got an edge to fight for top when I arrived at WOC this year.
I have always been aware that my life is more or less of a rollercoaster. Up, down, free falling, U turn, up again, peak and free falling again…..and when that get’s too boring then what?? Well there are always options. Like one can ride it with eyes shut and avoid famous post factum phrase of “I could see it coming”!!
That is how I would describe last 10 months or so. I had 4 months period of no running at all during fall and winter. Beginning of March I was able to run quite well (to my own surprise) and keep up with TuMe guys on my first camp of a season in Spain. Few weeks later I had disastrous camp with TuMe in Slovenia. Back on track by the end of April during national team EOC camp in Czech and “going down” during 1st World Cup stage in Poland right after that. Doing well during beginning of May with good performances in Latvian champs and Tiomila. Rising up by the end of a month – having that long missing felling of being in shape during EOC middle qualification and “U-turn” the day after when I was far from fighting for top positions in middle final. Missing Baltic champs because of illness and average run in Jukola where I felt amazing during my warm up, but it all changed of a sudden during a race itself. Building it up again through my own WOC camp, Latvian Olympics and FIN5 where I had one of best running days ever during first stage, but it took on a sharp turn again when my hamstring started to hurt more with every next stage of competition. Doing another WOC camp with national team right after FIN5 and bouncing back during last session out there. Running amazing hill training back home and few days later I am in Sweden – not being able to do any proper training on my last WOC camp. 14 days to go….what does this ride hold for me?
Learning process can take looong time. In fact it can take forever if we talk about studying oneself. One thing I have learned from my EOC is that there are certain things that will never change. No matter how hard I try or how many promises I make to myself, I will never be the guy who will settle with safe 20th spot knowing that with bit of a risk TOP6 is possible. Yes, it happened again! I pushed too hard for current physical shape and “total darkness” came during middle final and relay too.
My FEELING was getting better and better as EOC approached and at some stage I even felt like being in shape for what’s coming. Decision to skip long was made long time ago since there was no way I could do well there with zero running kilometres during winter months. As it turned out later it was really good choice.
I was very focused and eager already days before middle qualification and felt ready when race day came. It can’t be described as perfect since I did two 30” mistakes, but it was good enough to take 5th spot on heat C and qualify. I had decided to go quite hard from very beginning since that is the only way I know. Only later I would realise that there was a price tag for that decision.
* photo by Anna Auermullerova
As I had comlpeted stage one in my comeback project and had got a clear confirmation for my abilities to do decent running training I moved on to a stage two – forest running and orienteering in EOC terrains. It didn’t start too promising since I managed to get a flu symptoms (thank you Latvian spring) when we headed out from Riga on a long drive all the way down to Jesenik, Czech. For my own surprise I was able to do some decent race effort training once we got there, but apparently we took that terrible weather with us and it was snowing every single day of our week long camp. It all kind of peaked with a snow storm just before our last hard training in long distance terrain and after that I was out of game again. This time it hit me bit harder and I was’t able to recover till World Cup middle distance race a few days later. Sad stuff, but more about that later. Bright side – we got to check best terrains before rest of teams arrive and tracks appear in forest plus it was nice to run few trainings close to area of WOC2008 I have bright memories about - I made my first TOP10 performance there. My orienteering skills were a bit rusty, but nothing too disturbing and should be fine with some fine tuning.