Friday, August 1, 2014

The Adventure that was 3rd year

Well my blog has gone in hibernation a bit since POM. Guess it is time to update and reflect on my 3rd year at Heriot-Watt. The first thing that comes to mind is "WHOA what a year!" in the most positive way possible! So what made it such a great year? lets start at the beginning maybe... or an attempt of some organized version of my thoughts for the year

Heriot-Watt Athletics Presidency
I had the privilege of being voted into the President position in the Athletics club this year. I knew this was going to be a tough job as I wanted to give so much back to the club. I had had two very welcoming, hard working and fun presidents my first two years, I knew it was going to be a tough act to follow. But I was up for the challenge and I think it went quite well :)

The year started with a lot of hours spent trying to put together sponsors, a social calendar and promotional material for the freshers fair. Also with the amazing work of the committee time on a track was eventually acquired as well! All this time set us up for having more club members than ever before! growing to just over 40 people and way more people at training which was great! With more people at training and committing time to training lead to us having more people actually wanting to race as well. BUCS cross country in Stirling was my first time in a mini bus with heriot-watt and I'm looking forward to many more mini bus trips with them in the coming years! We got a mini bus as had 12 people racing this year as oppose to just 3 guys like past years. It was my first BUCS XC as well - really enjoyed racing cross country again :) (despite taking the first part too fast and dying at the end, but live and learn haha)
The club was also a tighter group this year with us having more socials to really get to know each other better. So really hoping we keep a lot of the new faces we gained this year, although some of them are on our committee next year so guess we did do a good job! 

Round the Grounds pulled back up on the radar this year as well. We got the word out early, right weekend picked, and better weather! (well apart from the freak hail storm just as the gun went off- oh Scotland!) James also put together a great online entry system for this year which made us even that bit more organized and feel like a real race. I know he put hours of hard work into and late nights and the club is really grateful for it! We got many many compliments from people who ran it this year which made me feel really proud of the club and all the work we did for it!
Because of all this and the time and effort the committee has put into the club this year, we believed we had shown great improvement and so did our sports union AS...

Present and Past Presidents receiving award from Professor Steve Chapman, Principal & Vice-Chancellor
Whole club enjoying the award

So happy with everything I accomplished this year as president and looking forward to continuing with the club as secretary this coming year.

This year has had many personal breakthroughs for my orienteering and training in general. In November it started with me having a great race at the Scottish University Championships held in Edinburgh. The individual race was an urban race held on the Oxgangs map. I raced the Women's A course, 6.1km 50m, 28controls. 
From my Attackpoint log:
"Really fairly happy with this race!
Well confused out of the start though and there was no start triangle on the map, or well there was just ... on the other side! :/ (the course was printed on both sides of the map)
Only really had problems then with #7 as was expecting it to be on a tree from the descriptions and so ran past the bush thing it was on to the first tree, it wasn't there so turned around and was well confused! Got it eventually after doing a few circles around things. Then wasn't very well prepared for the long leg to 11 so had to stop at 10 and just take the time to fine the right route. Eventually did. Again had to stop at 15 as didn't realise that was where the map flip was. Really wish that had been clearer! Hit 20 fine but picked a bad route to 21 so Kirsten caught me there. We then just put the foot down for the rest of the course and I gave it almost my all to stay with her. We almost caught Jo on 26 and just push push push to the end.
Really enjoyed this course and was feeling good :)"

And I should be happy with this race as it landed me in 2nd place behind Kirsten and JUST in front of Charlotte, and earning my first medal in the UK! I also managed to tie 3rd place with Rona in the Scottish Urban League so came home with a medal and a mug :) 

Then came the winter months where I normally lose the motivation to train as it stays dark longer and gets cold. But this year I managed a fairly decent amount of base training, and managing to orienteer every month in 2013! All this set me up to have a much stronger spring than I probably would have and made me start to feel like a real athlete. 

The start of spring lead me to racing at BUCS with almost a full Heriot-Watt team! and I was rather pleased with reaching my goal of top ten this year to come 8th. (More about BUCS see my previous post) Then it was fairly quickly on to POM in Portugal. This was my first time racing in Portugal and all the crazy rocks they have and it was only made possible by Martin Wilson agreeing to take me. So I would like to thank him again for letting me tag along and for all the support he has given me over the years. He has believed in me ever since we first met at the scottish 6-days in 2007. I really appreciate everything he has done for me to grow as an elite orienteer. 
After the POM long distance race
POM was really the races I was focusing on this spring as it was the last event I could use to petition for the USA World Championships team. I was happy with how the week turned out and was feeling confident that my petition would be strong. And it was it was much stronger than 2013, Sadly with the new format of WOC and only getting 2 female start spots this year I had the massive disappointment of not making the team. I won't lie and say there were no tears (there were many!), there was confusion on how things were decided, there was frustration for the system and lake of feedback, and then acceptance and motivation to train even harder for next year so there are no questions about me making the team. Every Athlete has their set backs and the best are the ones that take it as motivation to improve. So now Andy Kitchen and I are working hard on my goals for WOC 2015 which take place in early august next year in the highlands of Scotland. We have a plan and for the first time I really feel like a true athlete! I like having weekly goals and feeling accomplished when I meet them. And I'm slowly starting to see strength coming through. The first test will be the North American's in October which I'm very excited for! 

Although hold on I'm getting ahead of myself - I was disappointed to not make the WOC team, but I still am getting the chance to represent the USA and Heriot-Watt at the World University Championships later this month (12th to the 18th of August) in the Czech Republic. I have been selected to race all of the distances and so it will be a real test of my orienteering skills and when to pick the right tools out of my tool box. Hopefully I'll have more time to write a few posts purely for WUOC.

Then to finish off the last 12 months of training I got a lovely surprise at the end of the year at the Blues and Volunteer Awards dinner at uni. I had put in to be considered for a blues award for my orienteering results. A blues award for those who do not know is

"A Blue is an award earned by sportsmen and women at a university and some schools for competition at the highest level. The awarding of Blues began at Oxford and Cambridge universities in England. It is awarded at British, Australian and New Zealand universities." (From Wikipedia)

I was not sure if I qualified at first for one but rather an outstanding sporting achievement award possibly instead. When my friend Lorraine and I went to go and collect our name badges for the volunteering awards we were receiving I instead saw on mine "Blues award winner".  Very honored indeed! 

Pims to Celebrate!

So although my actual degree is FAR from the bottom of my list of important things going on in my life it is probably the most boring to write and read about. So I'll keep it as something short and sweet to end with. I spent many hours in the crush area at uni this year. Had pretty much every 9am possible. There were lab reports that had to be written -6 of them actually, and one marked by "Dragon Lady" where if you had the same amount of red pen than black ink you were doing well. Two group projects - a Business project where my group researched the feasibility of a wood pellet plant for pellet stoves. and a design project were my group looked into the viability of a carbon capture plant getting retrofitted to Scotland's Peterhead power plant. Went through two sets of exams - Christmas which we all thought went better then they actually did. There was a bit of depression in 3rd year ChemEng after results were realised. But then May exams came around - I studied solidly for a good few weeks, got a crash course from my friend Ross on how to actually take an exam (ie write everything you possibly can down on your test book even if at first you don' think it applies directly to the question) and then we waited.... End of 3rd year results are the first big ones! first to count towards your degree and even more importantly the deciding factor of if one stays on the masters program. A 60% average grade is required and many of us were sitting on the edge. I was nervous opening my marks up to find out. But I got a wonderful message. I had past all my exams and was able to complete my MASTERS! 2 more years of University to go!!!!


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