Thursday, June 5, 2014

Week One, Part Two: 3 days of Trenches

aka. The Adventures of Captain America and the Lachness Grizzle

With the arrival of training buddies and a car, and our first set of races imminent, it was time for things to get serious. Well, up to a limit.


In a supreme show of dedication, Alex Jospe, our native Right Hand driver, had made the trip over from the states for a long weekend of training and racing. So on Saturday morning it was off to Lavarone for a bout of training, prior to the afternoon's sprint relay. We finally bumped into another team out training - the Danes getting in a morning session too. It was with relief that we found the Eastern part of the Lavarone map was much more runnable than our previous trainings - probably half due to the map and half to getting acclimatized to the time-zone and altitude!

Full map

Training was followed by a picnic and naps in the sun, as all good trainings should be. Apparently not the done thing in Italy though, going by the number of looks we got from passing motorists?!

Recovered from training and food, we soon learnt that Alex loves switchbacks. Fortunate given the shortcut that we'd been given down to the sprint relay - a crazy single laned trail that zig-zagged itself down what was near enough a sheer cliff-face. Every time we came face to face with another car, one of us would have to reverse back along the narrow road and pull right up to the cliff/precipice to let the other past!

Amazing views when you could look out from between your fingers though!

Still alive, and amped up following our car ride, we piled out of the car in Pergine for the mixed sprint relay. Entered as an Antipodean team, with Greta and I running the female legs, and Lachy and Vanessa running the male legs, we were unfortunately not allowed to enter under our official team name: The LachNess Grizzle. Overcoming this disappointment however, the relay was good fun, and good practice for WOC. Greta had a great run on 1st leg, bar some confusion in the spectator run through. Lachy and Ness then held our position well, especially given Lachy was under the weather, while Ness raced against the boys on a bung ankle after rolling it on a flat path early on (it's always the flat paths that do it!). Heading out just behind a couple of other teams, I had a rude reintroduction to European town sprints, making 3 errors with uncrossable walls throughout the course. It was a timely reminder just how different these maps are to our usual Tasman diet of university sprints. Stupid errors aside, I ran a good race, and clicked into the terrain in the 2nd half of the course. I managed to pull us up a couple of places, finishing off in 8th - with the race taken out by the stacked GB and Aussie team. results

Full map
We then celebrated our first race in the usual style - gelato, followed by exploring the nearest castle! We then worked our way back up our favourite road, to our new digs, just outside Asiago.

Please let no cars come the other way...


Sunday brought with it the first forest race of my Europe trip - a middle distance on Valgiardini. I was really looking forward to racing against top level competition again, with a few countries such as the Finns and Czechs using the races as trials. However it was equally great to be able to line up without any pressure on my performance. My main goal for both the middle and long races was to go steady and accurately, get some race practice in the terrain, and hopefully pick up some good world ranking points to help my start position at WOC. And that's exactly how my race went, nothing spectacular, but solid. I was hesitant and a bit scratchy to start with, but as my confidence and accuracy increased, so did the speed. I was happy with 10th place, a good result, but with plenty of room for improvement, just right for a first race over here! I'll put it down to the pre-race breakfast of bacon, eggs and cheese!

Pleasantly surprised to have a start ranking high
enough to deserve gps tracking!

Middle: map, gps replay, results


Having picked up a post travel sickness, and given I won't be running the long at WOC, I was unsure about running the Long distance on Monday. However, if I learnt anything from the middle the previous day, it was that this terrain tracks quickly, especially if a bit wet - a late start at WOC will be advantageous! So I was keen to pick up what extra ranking points I could. My motivation took a nose dive when thunderstorms rolled over the event centre half an hour before my start, however, I told myself to harden up and soon found myself waiting on the start line. As with the Middle, I was scratchy in the opening controls, dropping time in the circle on 6 of the first 8 controls - perhaps distracted by the remaining scraps of snow? Which was a bit of a novelty, but also made visualising the contours much easier! I wasn't too surprised when Riina caught me up around #9. As it happened we were well matched for pace, to-ing and fro-ing throughout. By #16 there were 5 of us, including Ida, who was smashing it. The pack running resulted in the last few controls being high paced, leaving me fairly wrecked at the finish line! A good test, although a tough one given my lack of long distance prep. 8th place, which again, I was pleased with, even if my legs didn't really work for the rest of the day!

I swear Ida's barely puffed?! ;)
Photo: 3 days of Trenches
Long: gps replayresults

Following the 3 days of racing, it was time to bid goodbye to the mountains for the while. And what better way to do so than with some farewell switchbacks...and gelato...and vast quantities of pasta?! Lucky we're training a fair amount what with the quantities of gelato being consumed!

...and somehow the road gets down there. Don't ask how.
A huge thanks to all that helped us out on this first leg of our trip: Matteo, Cossimo and Giovanni for their local knowledge and our trans-tasman cousins for their company. And a huge thanks to Alex for driving us around the events and providing brilliant company! (She has a damn good blog too, which is bound to soon have her side of our weekend on it, have a look! :)

Next stop: Scandinavia, and a reunion of the Wellington O-gang!

So immature, but.

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