Last weekend was the NZ trials for the World Cup rounds to be held in NZ in January 2013. I guess you could say these were probably the most important Orienteering trials in NZ in the last few years. I was fairly confident that I was going to slot right into the team, and hopefully in the process gain some Orienteering motivation back again….that was until last Wednesday night and the Off Road series.
It was the last of the Off Road series and I had already won, so I didn’t need to race, it was in my training plan anyway so I went along. I went out with intent not to run too hard, just enough to make sure I came in first. From the start it was clear I wasn’t going to have to work hard at all, however going up the second hill on the course, I twisted my leg round to get over a tree root and as the pressure came on my left leg, the outside of my calf muscle tightened, then something in the inner calf pulled and stretched really tight making a “pop” kinda feeling followed by excruciating centralised pain in my calf. And just like that the WC team went flashing past. initially I thought to stop, but carried on a bit and it wasn’t too bad. Not sure if it was a wise decision but I kept running, albeit with a limp and still managed a faster time than last year…However with two days until trials my chances of running on it were not looking good.
At the sprint I talked to the selectors beforehand explaining the situation. Basically I needed to run if I could, so I gave it a try. After a bit of a warm up it wasn’t too bad, painful but not terrible. I gave it a whirl, focused on getting the Navigation right and ran at basically 80% the whole way. It was frustrating but I still managed to squeak into 10th place, just enough.
Later in the day was the middle trial. I was worried that racing in the morning with about 4 hours between races might not be enough to recover the calf muscle. It was stiff starting out, but the orienteering focus was good. Ignoring the pain as best I could, I moved myself into a really good place, in fact into first place…until I caught Tom towards the end. It was just about game over here as we both took a long time to find the control, which we both were almost on top of first time round. Once sorted it was a mad dash to the finish to try to salvage what we could. It was again just enough, slipping myself into 9th this time.
Day two was the Prologue followed by chasing start race. I was pretty slow and broken in the first race, I struggled with my calf on the hills and was off the pace. I was right at the back door, but not out on the porch… In the afternoon, I had a bit more motivation. I ran hard, navigated even harder, which allowed me to claw back 1min on the main pack. Once with them I hung on in a comfortable position then when everyone struggled up the hill I pounced overtaking 4 in one go. I was strong to the finish and in total managed to pick up 6 places to finish 6th, cementing my place in the team.
Come Monday the calf was better, the physio had some good news, basically it wasn’t too bad…and this was followed by some better news, I was selected in the team for all three events. So now its into full recovery mode so I can return to training and iron out a few of those mistakes, because in 1month today I will have raced the first race of the World Cup 2012!