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
That little hope I had for decent shape was washed away already next day. Warming up for middle distance final felt more like a stumbling through a forest at the end of a tough long distance race. Still I tried to run pace required for top10. I had lost some time in beginning by trying to be too smart to just run straight, but failed miserably with my navigation towards 11th control. I still can’t really explain what happened since I had a very solid plan for leg and I knew exactly where I was 100m before control. I lost 2’ there and was caught by Novikov. For a moment I had an idea that we could benefit from running together, but reality was – I could barely follow his speed!!
I had no illusions for relay, but feeling was fairly ok during my warm up…but only that. From first uphill in race I knew that this is going to be pure hell for me. I was running in good group together with LAT2, two GBR teams and CZE2. My only goal was to stay with them as long as possible and I managed to do it till last forking before spectator control where I had a bit slower and trickier control to find. I knew that Davis running for LAT2 was in possible fight for 6th spot and my only task would be to get to the finish line. That said I was very surprised approaching spectators control and seeing Davis abandoning the race and Gustav Bergman of SWE1 standing on the other side of the fence (both teams got disqualified after 2nd leg). I was told that I was in 6th position (not counting 2nd teams) with almost 1’ gap to chasing teams. I was calm and confident since it looked so simple on the map. All it required was simple and safe plan which I had. Again I can’t really explain what happened at control number 18, but it certainly was the cause of running well over my physical abilities of the moment. Sad part is that none of our teams got to stand next to podium. Bright side is that we were very close to have both teams in TOP10 (LAT2 had missing punch on last control which didn’t really affect time difference to other teams) and would put us among 4 best nations in this race.
Now there are few easier days (well needed since I felt REALLY tired after races) and BE_FORCE camp to recover and gather my thoughts for upcoming WOC preparations. 3 months to go! Sounds like all the time in the World, but I know already now that it will feel more like a blink of an eye!