I have finished all the Qualification races at WOC for another year. This year I had three distances to focus on and the ability to qualify in pretty much all of them, but that’s not how it happened. When you come from half way around the world you have no idea of the competition you are facing at World Champs. You can get away with poor races and you never really focus on improving stuff that costs you small amounts of time here and there cause it doesn’t really matter too much back home and you can still get a good place.
If there was one race i was more focused on more than the others it was this one. The terrain was super fast and really nice to run in. I really enjoyed the race and the challenge as in some ways it felt a lot like I was racing at home. I was reasonably focused going into the race, got the first and second controls cleanly then relaxed a bit on the navigation for half a second and slipped out of focus causing me to loose about 2 mins on the third control. I put this behind me pretty quickly as I knew that it was a long race and anything could still happen. My second mistake came on the long leg to 5, going with my race plan of “straight is great” I stuck to this ideal a bit too closely and neglected some perfectly good route choice out to the left a little further of the line. The net result was a bit of wasted effort and a loss of 3 minutes.
With these mistakes alone I might just have squeaked in to the top 15 in my heat, however on 10 and 11 I lost a small amount of time in the control circles and then more on number 13 where I dropped over 3 min where the change of vegetation confused me quite a bit. I kept my head down and pushed hard to the finish but I knew that it wouldn’t be enough to get through after making those mistakes. I made sure I enjoyed the race and the terrain while I was out there and even though I failed to qualify I was satisfied I gave it a good shot and just wasn’t quite good enough on the day.
I drew the first men start group for the sprint which was a little off putting to begin with but once underway I was happy enough. At the time I felt like I navigated cleanly and made few navigational mistakes so in effect you could say I had a clean run… But on closer analysis I lost time on my route choices as I didn’t take the best or close to the shortest way almost always due to not reading ahead and not knowing my exact route before leaving the control. I was a little disadvantaged by having a gap between the last women finishers and the first male starters as the crowd had started to move about during the break and a few of them nearly got run over or conversely they nearly ran me over on their bikes!
One of the biggest differences between this sort of race in NZ and overseas was the crowd and people everywhere. It made it pretty cool and exciting and it definitely effected my entry and exit to controls…but even so I had a good shot at qualifying and blew it on three silly choices on legs 15,17 and 18. Again close but not quite good enough missing out by about 25 seconds and 4 places.
Middle Distance Qualification
So two qual races down and another was set to fall by the way side… I woke up not felling too great, I’m not sure it was from all the wandering around we did the day before or what but I just didn’t fell like I was in the mood to race. Even after warming up I wasn’t feeling too excited to race, I just hoped by the time I was underway I was feeling up to it. Sure enough once through the pre-start and the numbers ticked away I was set to go. Initial look at the map I picked a route to avoid too much detail and use the marsh to guide me into the first control. However what everything looked like on the ground didn’t really fit the map. I think I got close to the first control on the first attempt but basically I panicked and struggled to relocate, but eventually found the control. Second leg I took another route to avoid the detail so I could move fast which turned into a bit of a disaster. Firstly it had more climb on this route and was way further. I executed it ok until I cut up a bit early on the hill side and found one of the other split controls. In a calm state I would have just kept going knowing I needed to go further, but again I panicked and ran off in some strange direction convinced the control was near by. I found another split control and thought my one should be between these two without even reading the map so I had a full blown blow out and lost the race right there. I never recovered in confidence or composure and knew all was lost and there was nothing to do but keep going as I had come halfway around the world to do this race.
At the finish I was left feeling hugely disappointed and pretty embarrassed with my result. I know I can do better and its never good to have an off day when your racing your biggest races of the year. Having been back to the map and re-running the majority I feel a little bit better about it all. You always learn more from your mistakes than you do from your best races. I just have to take that experience and make the best of it going into the relay tomorrow!.
So tomorrow I will run with confidence, have a plan for each control, keep contact with and read the map!