Friday, April 20, 2012

My First JK

So a bit late on posting about the JK, but better late than never right? And a visit from my Mum to keep me busy I believe is a good excuse!  The Jan Kjellstrom - or JK to most - is an event held annually over Easter weekend and is the premier UK event attracting top competitors from various countries. This year its base was around Perth, Scotland. The event is comprised of 4 days of racing with a Sprint (Friday), Middle (Saturday), Long (Sunday) and Relay (Monday). I raced in the W21e category which meant our Middle was a WRE (world ranking event). I had a few ideas on how well I was wanting to do this weekend, but I wouldn't say it was clear enough to be a goal. This might be where some of my issues were, but more on that later. The Sprint was in Livingston so comprised of mostly an urban race with a little bit in a more "forested" area. I had quite an early start and for some reason unknown to me that meant I arrived way early for my start. So jogged around and did a lot of stretching, but mostly tried to get my head in the game. Finally my start time rolled around and Beep, Beep, Beep,Beep... BEEP.... I was off on my first JK sprint. Poor route choice to one but went with it, fine to two, and boy was three a tricky one! there was a lot of talk about out of bounds leading up to the event and so I automatically went under the underpass and ruled out the main road knowing it was out of bounds. However quickly figured out that wasn't right and stood around scratching my head thinking "there is no legal way to this control!". Not what you want to do when your supposed to be "elite". finally worked out that I was allowed on what they were calling a Curb and got 3. After that had no real problems (other than 17 which i ran passed) other than a few bobbles and looking back not ideal routes but was starting to feel like an "elite". Came to the end of my course and I had caught up Olivia from NI and it was a sprint into the finish to try and beat her in. A sprint that I might add Colm never noticed as he didn't realise it was me with Olivia. I guess that serves my right for wearing a plan blue top!
Sprint Map
Olivia and I coming into the "GO" control
I didn't do as well in the Sprint as I would have liked which meant I really wasn't in a good and confident mind frame for the Middle on Dunalastair the next day. Running the warm up map on the way to the start also didn't help things. Nothing was fitting! I got to the starting line and managed to calm myself enough to be yawning, which I was taking as a good sign. Right from the start though the map was still not making sense. The green around control 1 I couldn't make heads nor tales of. Then control 3 I kept stopping short from the fact that there was a distinct vegetation change almost at it which wasn't on the map. By this time the Swede that started behind me had caught me and we both struggled to 4. It was nice to know at that point I wasn't the only one having troubles. After control 5 however things went pretty smoothly. I didn't even notice that I went past a "spectator" section near the water. I had found a zone, and it was nice to have the Swede there with us both pushing the pace. We both made a slight parallel mistake going to control 16 however I caught it quite quickly and took off determined to make up a bit of time on her, but made sure to keep making plans and sticking on the map.
Middle Course with Route
Day three brought us the long on one of the most difficult areas in Scotland I have been told - Craig a Barns. and if the journey to the start didn't give away that it was going to be physically challenging I don't know what would! It was a VERY steep climb the last bit, so it was the one day I was glad I got to the start super early so that I could fully recover! I was in a better mental state starting this course which I liked. However, control one didn't really help that. I managed to hit a rock wall at about 90degrees off from what I wanted. I'm proud though of the fact that I managed to instantly realise that! A major improvement from the USA team trails last year. So really it was a confidence boost in disguise once I worked it out. The next few controls went well apart from struggling around and over fallen trees which made up the green on the map in this area. Control 5 however I was lucky. I didn't really have a plan for this leg and decided to just run for the near trail and decide as I went. It worked out but not a good idea on my part! I knew I lost time as the very end of the leg I was caught by the same Swede. Again it was a battle round, flip flopping who was reading well. The green by 6-9 I found very hard to navigate in. I'm actually really glad Ruairi came along and lead me into 9 or I feel I could have been bashing around for a bit. Was getting a bit tired but pushed on. Was hitting things fairly well until 14- 16 in which i was glad there were quite a few people around. I felt like I was having such a hard time telling which bush was which and not wanting to lose too much height. Again it was a sprint into the finish against me and the Swede.
I wasn't about to let her beat me in!



Long map with route    


Last race - The relay at Newtyle. This was my first relay running for EUOC, and I was excited! I got to run the first leg of our 3rd team. The buzz at the starting line was exciting and a bit nerve wreaking. But once the whistle blew and we were off I felt good. Right up the hill for the first controls. Felt slow but the leaders weren't getting away as quickly as I first thought which was nice. Right to the top of the hill for 2-3. This whole course felt much easier navigation after the Long! A few bobbles in places but mostly just felt tired. However could see Kirstin who was on EUOC 2nd team ahead of me which pushed me on from wanting to be finishing close to her. I was with another girl from about 4 onwards and we were going to all the same controls until the last one. I had a wee panic, triple checked my control codes and kept going. The run in felt like it went on for ages! But handed off to Isla who was running 2nd leg in 14th place, only ~4mins behind the leaders and ~2 behind kirstin. Quite happy with this run which was the first time I had felt that all weekend.
Relay map with route
So although I didn't do as well as I wanted. And there were a few tears and a lot of doubt. Looking back it was a very good learning experience for me. And I didn't really race as badly as I thought. Full results for the whole event can be found here.

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