I have waited for the dust to settle a bit after Nationals this year. This time around it was my 13th and probably my worst Nationals performance wise. After a year or so of focus shift away from orienteering and about two weeks of training on my way back to life after Godzone, I guess I was a bit ambitious to expect miracles.
Never the less I flew up Good Friday morning and joined the others for a good old South Auckland food shopping experience on the way to the sprint. Somehow as always happens when I am racing in Auckland I drew an early start. I ran as fast as i could, it felt like I was moving quick but in reality it turns out I was pretty darn slow! It was pretty sad because it was a course that in my peak condition I would be an ideal course for me.
The scale on the middle map took me completely out of my comfort zone from the get go. Brent quickly caught two minutes on me and we had a see saw slow motion battle for the rest of the course. Then in the long I lost interest early on and just really never got going at a speed that meant that I was focused and racing well. Pretty much by the time I had finished I had established that I had pretty much wasted my 1 hour and 53 mins I was out on the course. Again another frustrating few days on terrain that normally I would eat for breakfast and expect really good results.
Easter Monday is always relay day and I although tired, and a few bad runs under my belt I was determined as part of a team that won last year to do the best I could. Straight out of the start line I was already hitting the red line, unable to keep up with the young bloods, but I bided my time, kept pushing and struggled along. Eventually my strength pulled through and more than one of the bunnies who ran off the front fell by the wayside. This left me running with Chris for the last loop. He had an edge on the rough downhill as my off road running skills were still in baby giraffe mode but I was feeling much stronger on the up hills. Just after the spectator control I was able to get a gap by taking a better micro route into the control. Once I had the edge over him I went hammer and tongs to stay in front right to the very end finishing up 5th over the line. Chris’s team eventually went on to win, having the edge over us after Ed rolled his ankle early on on the last leg.
It was great to finish on a relative high note and to finally peg one back on Brent. I think having been away from orienteering for a while I am quite keen to really get back into it and tick some of my goals off that I have been 90% of the way to achieving. I am at my peak now and who knows how long it will last so I better make the most of it!