Home ground mining – silver&gold!

It’s nice to be part of time when orienteering develops as an elite sport over here and competition like Latvian championships is not a walk in a park anymore. Starting field has been getting stronger with every year and this time it required some effort and skill to be among 10 best. Partly we have to say thanks to all the foreign guests willing to spend their time (and money, I guess?!) to come over and take part in competitions in Latvia. The other reason of course is the fact that our own athletes has started to take things more seriously. Keep going, direction is correct! Read on…

Forget the past, go outside….

The dark times of this summer are over . Can’t deny I had some very bright moments too, but those were more like a short flashlights in middle of a polar night. I run my worst ever WOC and to be honest I don’t feel like there were a World Champs this year at all. You won’t find me on any (well, almost any) of official pictures taken and my results are hidden too…of course if you look closely at the end of the list you might find me there. Wasn’t really what I was aiming for after 7 months of solid training, but life is life and taking big risks has it’s price. Sometimes!  Have to learn from own mistakes….not those of the others cause that basically means not to try at all.
Read on…

It is close, I can feel it!

How? I simply have no other explanation for feeling sick and anxious and being injured. It must be WOC approaching! Sick and anxious that is easy part – curable, but injury… I don’t like to talk about those at all since I strongly believe that we get what we focus on, but I think you deserve at least long story short – it looks nasty (just in MRI) and it seems to be an old injury since otherwise (according to doc) I wouldn’t be able to make it out of forest on my own feet.
Read on…

Busy vs Lazy

You say I have been lazy? Me say I’ve been just busy. Every new page in book of life comes with new tasks and responsibilities. And what if it all changes with every word you read on that page? Every new day is a NEW day and yesterday is clearly a past. Something I am trying to master and learn from a guy who is only 5 months old!

A little bit about part you might be interested to hear about – orienteering. World Cup in Spain surprised me. In a bad way! I just wasn’t ready for such tough terrain we had to face during long distance, but that’s the price to pay if one spends whole winter training for XC running exclusively. The only thing to regret now is the fact that I quit my race with only 1k to instead of doing it early since results were anyway cancelled…due to missing controls. ?! And here is the FUN part of it – I was standing there at -2’ mark before my start. Usually I am in my race mode by then, but my attention was caught by a lady (an organizer apparently) crawling out of a steep reentrant, with CONTROLS on her shoulder. And so I drop a joke to start staff standing next to me „there is no point to run this race since controls are already taken away”. He laughs…”no no no man, it’s only for a public race”. How wrong he was! Middle distance on following day was no fun either. Well it can’t be if fastest pace I could do during my morning run was 6’/k. Still good enough for top 30! So there was only one thing left to enjoy – the sun!

Hustle and trouble continued also in Portugal during EOC, but there is a certain price for everything! You don’t get sun in wintertime for free! You pay with your capability to organize things and have a plan, to put controls in right places, to create start list that works and so on. In other words – organization level didn’t match the scale of the competition. European Champs are not the highlight of the season for most of the athletes, but still deserves some attitude and WORK. I know – it was same for everyone and I don’t argue. At least I am satisfied with results I did, considering how bad I felt only few days before finals kicked off. Taking rest or tapering wasn’t really a part of my plan before World Cup in Spain and I paid for it. I was in deep…like DEEEEEP down in valley of tiredness and only found my legs during morning run before middle final kicked off.
I went ALL IN for that one since I had some unexpected pain in my right foot and I didn’t know if I would be able to run 20k+ long final on following day. Choice was wise and I ended up on 5th spot with a chance for being 4th. Medal within a reach? Honestly – not this time!
I knew I was slightly too slow from very beginning of long final, but big was my surprise when Fabu caught me up by 3’. I looked at him and thought „that guy is not running fast enough either”. I had to hang with him to have any chance for top 10 and I was right once again. Not that it was easy, but 10th position was well worth it!
Being dead tired, I was drawing scenarios of how our relay performance would go. Frankly I didn’t have high expectations since Martins and Kalvis were not on the team. How wrong I was!! Our first leg master Janis Kums did great and we were only 30” down. War machine Arturs Paulins kept the level and I headed out with realistic chance of reaching medal spot. Shure I wasn’t aware of that and only noticed when missed easy control in a short forking (not too often I have a shortest one :D) and saw France, Norway and Switzerland passing me 30” ahead. I nearly run a life out of myself putting up a good fight against Mare (Finland 1), but lost it at the very end. Our 7th spot made my team mates smile (in a good way), but I knew I could have done much more for them. That should teach me to behave and never judge performance of others before it actually takes place!
Apart from races?! Broken down rent car, accommodation that requires 4h cleaning before moving in, mosquitos… none of that will spoil memories I took with me from lovely Portinho da Arrabida. I still have a strong feeling I will come back one day to walk that moonlight bridge over the Atlantic.

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Worth mentioning that Tiomila was another struggle for us as a team? Ok, it was! Being 24th best team on the planet is not what we aim for. What makes it all look a bit brighter is fact that I was finally able to perform early in the morning and I had enough speed to fight for top positions if needed. Maybe we will have a stable last leg runner for following big relays!

And the page is turned again! Now all my training focus is dedicated towards World Championships in July here, in Lavarone, where I am currently “training” my days away on a 2 weeks training camp.

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Sat down yesterday watching eagles gliding over peaks. Remembered a good friend of mine once told to me that there is everything to win and nothing to lose. Am I wise enough to add that even when I loose I am still winning?!

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MAGIC

Home ground?

Well, my season didn’t kick off exactly the way I was expecting to, but it seldom does. Worries? No worries!
I had considerably good start for my January running camp in Algarve (considerably because NY couldn’t take place without me being around Riga downtown). Left on the same day as first signs of winter came along Riga. I did my share of the plan and fell within my time limits for most of the hard sessions. After a short brake back home I was very eager to spend some more time in Portugal with TuMe gang. Viseu! Didn’t welcome us as warmly as I had imagined, but still better than absolute zero back home. However I was too eager with my training and got too tired before MOC races came. I could put up some reasonable performance during middle distance where I finished 8th, 3’41” down to Thierry and 2’10” short for 3rd spot. My run was far from being clean and I lost my first 30” to starting control (quite obviously it was MORE than 80m to start triangle!!!!). Well, at least my speed was alright….alright for 2nd or 3rd spot. My buddies – Marti and Dougilitto – did a good job out there finishing 5th and 7th respectively.  I realized right away that I must skip second stage which was evening sprint race…not really my piece of cake…and definitely not when I am dead tired from training. Sunday’s long distance was one big mistake – I shouldn’t have started it! I felt cold and dizzy hanging around competition center – a clear indication of coming sickness waiting for me to make a wrong move. Despite this wisdom, I finished my race which was awful sh*t. If you are really interested, THIS leads to results for middle and THIS one for long. GPS tracking from long distance HERE.
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Photo by Joaquim Margarido

I was right – it got me! Even a good pizza and few drops of Port didn’t help me to escape flu. I was sick! I felt awful on my way home the day after and was quite pissed off about everything (cold weather in Viseu in first place) since first WC stage was 3 days away. I started to consider skipping it, but something was pulling me towards country where „Sun is always shining”. So I boarded my flight to Turkey the day after coming back home. Not that it was smooth either – I had two minutes left to check in when I run into Riga airport after „experience of my life” like driving through Riga city AND I was told that I have to switch airports in Istanbul. Not to mention that I had no clue of this fact before and nor I had a clue of how to do it! Anyway I made it to Antalya in one piece and all my stuff with me. I was given a warm welcome and taken care by Timo and Sari who drove me to our hotel in Kemer. Thank you for that my friends! I didn’t expect much from myself during races, but on the other hand I was getting healthier with every moment and even went out for Antalya O day’s first stage to get some opinion on what might be waiting for us out there.

I felt great during qualification race. Not that my result would be among very top, but I was happy to know I had the legs to fight with fastest runners that day. I lost 1’52” to Matthias and it was good enough to make it to final as 14th best from 30 qualifiers. Sure it was pity that I lost almost one minute on 11th control by literally „jumping” over it, but life is life. Picture from qualification finish line below – didn’t break a sweat!
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Photo by Muhittin Sirki

Everything fell behind my expectations during final. My speed, physical feeling, technical performance, terrain and course itself. I was hoping to have same legs as for qualification, but apparently those were swapped overnight for a pair of none trained ones. Feeling?! No feeling!  As for a terrain and course – those had little to do with middle distance orienteering.  Forest sprint label would suit much better and I wasn’t ready for sprint race. My bad!

I am (well, we are) spending my days doing some solid training here in Figueira de Foz. Enjoying warm weather, Sun and time in general. I am happy I am allowed to take part in some of Finnish team’s HARD CORE sessions with next one coming tomorrow. I noticed that Portugal might share my „2nd home” title with Cesis back there in Latvia (we have moved temporary during our flat renovation in Riga). I have 12 days (out of 26) to go on with my training here before I head back to Riga for few days….to leave again to Spain & Portugal for WC & EOC respectively. Let’s see if „home ground”  has any advantages when it kicks off for real!