Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maps and terrain


The Urb-O' web page has some slick images of maps and the terrain they represent (look at the bottom of the page). I don't know how they created the page, but it is quite nice.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM


Monday, April 27, 2009

Flow baby


People talk about "flow" in sports. Here's a bit from an article I read today:

...the kind of tasks that require us to stop being self-conscious and lose ourselves in the job. Such moments are often described as "flow" activities, and can occur whenever we're completely captivated by what we're doing, be it stirring a risotto or solving a crossword puzzle. The Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki referred to such modes as "beginner's mind," since people are able to think like a baby, open to possibility and free of errant preconceptions.

The article is about how babies think.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:12 PM


Sunday, April 26, 2009

More time in the ring


Today I took at look at my time in the ring from the West Point middle distance course. I didn't run the same course as Hammer, but the courses are similar and the terrain is the same.

Here are my seconds in the ring for each control:

1. 49
2. 42
3. 39
4. 33
5. 46
6. 34
7. 27
8. 55
9. 26
10. 38
11. 34
12. 18
13. 12

What stands out?

I was running a good bit slower than Hammer in the rings (and for the rest of the course, too). I seem to have slowed a good bit toward the end of the course. Look at my times in the ring for controls 10 and 11. I spent a total of 1:12 in those two rings. Those two controls were easy to get in and out of and didn't pose any particular technical difficulty. I was just tired.

My time in the first ring stands out as slow. I compared my ring times in the rockier terrain to Hammer's ring times in the rockier terrain (keeping in mind we're not running the same course). Except for my first control, I seem to have been pretty steady (if slow). Here are how many seconds I was slower in the first six rings: 22, 8, 2, 7, 9, and 4. The first control looks out of place.

I suspect that my weak time in the ring at the first control reflects the terrain - some rocks, some downhill, and some uphill.

My time in the 8th ring was 55 seconds. I was taking a careful look at the next leg. I'd picked a route, but I took a second careful look. This struck me as the sort of leg where a hasty route choice might cost too much time, so it was worth spending some extra seconds to double check. I think my route to 9 was the best option.

The graph below shows my ring times from 4 races this spring. The green line is the West Point middle.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 10:22 AM


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hammer Time


Here are Hammer's time in the ring for each control from the middle distance race at West Point:

1. 27
2. 34
3. 37
4. 40
5. 37
6. 30
7. 28
8. 32
9. 28
10. 18
11. 21
12. 15
13. 26
14. 12
15. 12

Overall, it looks like Hammer's time in the circle is consistent, with a lot of the variation depending on the runnability. The most time he spent in a circle was 40 seconds. It looks like he was moving through the circles a bit quicker after the 6th control. Most of that probably reflects better footing. Maybe, just maybe, some of that reflects moving with a bit better "flyt."

From the map, control 5 looks like a potentially tricky control. The control is on a dot knoll and there's plenty of green in the circle. You'd take a control like that a bit carefully, slowing down and really looking around as you come into the circle. I'm guessing Hammer did that. But, he didn't really take much extra time, just a few extra seconds. He certainly didn't stand still or walk in to the control location. Hammer has been orienteering a long time and has good technique. A lot of orienteers might not have the confidence to move through a tricky control like this without slowing down a bit more.

Another possibility is that Hammer stood still for a few seconds as he got near the 5th control, made sense of the structure of the circle (making sense of the bare rock and hills just east and south of the control circle). By seeing the big picture, he would have been more confident going into the 5th control. The QR track shows what looks he might have stood still for a few seconds right at the top of the cliffs.

By the way, Thanks goes to the USMAOC for putting QR tracks on the web for O' geeks like me to play with.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 1:31 PM


Thursday, April 23, 2009

What? Why?


I was at a conference today and one of the speakers described how a lot of government managers confuse what they do with why they do it. If you ask someone who runs a program to inspect restaurants, "what do you do?" They might answer, "we protect the public health." But really what they do is send inspectors to restaurants to compare conditions with a set of rules. They've confused what they do with why they do it.

Being a complete orienteering geek, I wondered about orienteers. Do we mix up what and why? Tonight I was feeling a bit off. I'm getting over a cold. When I look at my training log, I see that I wrote what I did (an easy 20 minutes on the rowing machine). But, I also wrote a little bit about why I did it (to burn off some calories from the brownie I ate at the conference). In the big picture, I'm not even sure I could explain "why" I trained (accepting that 20 minutes of rowing even qualifies as training) today.

I'm guessing that if my training was a bit more focused - for example, if I had a clear medium term goal - I'd have no trouble answering both "what?" and "why?" about my training.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:26 PM


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Test photo from relay start


posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Like a sprint leg


8 to 9 from the middle course I posted yesterday felt a bit like a sprint course leg. Two things made it feel "sprinty." First, you had to pay attention to the uncrossable fence that affects routes that go left of the straight line. A route that jumps out at you when you first look at the map involves going through the cemetery. But the uncrossable fence takes that option away. Second, because of the big, rocky hill with a lot of green, you could look pretty far from the straight line for a good route choice.

Both of those things feel like the sort of decision you face in a sprint race.

For the record, I went left of the straight line. I tried to minimize climb and headed to the trail that is a bit west of the 5th control. From that point, I followed the uncrossable fence and followed it all the way to the big trail that gets you near the control.

Someone told me that the course setter had tested different options and found my route (or something similar) to be the fastest. I was mostly motivated by wanting to avoid the climb and was a bit unsure of the green.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:51 PM


Monday, April 20, 2009

Nice middle distance course


Here is the middle distance course I ran on Saturday. I have a system for looking at course setting - a set of questions that I use to "score" a course. Let's see how this course does.

1. How many different types of terrain are on the map and how many does the course include?

I see three types of terrain: the north side of the map with a long but somewhat bland slope; the big, rocky hill in the middle of the map; and the urban area with buildings and roads. The course went through 2 of the 3 terrain types.

2. How many legs are longer than 1 km? How many are longer than 1.5 km?

There aren't any legs over 1.5 or 1.0 km. 8 to 9 is close. It actually felt like a longer leg than it was because it offered a couple of route choice options and involved enough climb to make it feel longer than 1 km.

The leg length question works better for longer courses and doesn't work at all for sprint courses.

3. How many direction changes are there?

I score a direction change when you leave the control at a sharp angle (say 45 degrees or more) from the direction you approached the control. For example, you would approach 11 heading almost due east, then leave 11 heading almost due north. That's a direction change.

By my count, there are 8 direction changes (leaving controls 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11).

4. How many legs are either less than half as long or more than twice as long as the previous leg?

By my count, there are 7 legs with big distance differences compared to the previous leg.

Answering those 4 questions gives me a sense of the course. It gives you a description, a "fingerprint" of the course. In general, higher numbers are better than lower numbers. A course with a lot of variety in terrain types, direction changes, and leg lengths is generally interesting.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:29 PM


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sprint at West Point


I'm writing from a grassy hillside overlooking the Hudson river at
West Point. I finished the morning sprint event and waiting for my
middle distance start in a couple of hours. I am unsure of how I will
manage two races in a day, but so guess I will know soon. The sprint
was a struggle. I am fighting a mild cold and struggled with the rocks
in the first part of the course. I felt a bit rushed and made a couple
of less than ideal route choices. Doesn't sound like a good race and
it wasn't. But it was a fun course, nice map and fantastic setting.

Sent from my iPhone

posted by Michael | 9:41 AM


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Following Tio Mila


Tio Mila happens this weekend. This year I won't be sitting at my
computer and following the live coverage. I think (hope?) that Twitter
might be a good way to track the race from my phone.

Sent from my iPhone

posted by Michael | 7:57 PM


Monday, April 13, 2009

Link worth a look


A New Method For Creating Street Orienteering Maps is worth a look.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:57 PM


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bad apples


I have a distinct memory of one of the first times I was orienteering in Europe - Oyvin Thon running along a hillside, moving smoothly through a rough forest and tailed by 3 other orienteers. I'd never seen such smooth running or such blatant following.

Does seeing someone cheat, and get away with it, make you more likely to cheat? You see someone get away with it and you think, "hmmm, I guess the chances of getting caught aren't so high." Does it matter who you see cheating? Would seeing someone you look up to cheat encourage you to cheat? Would seeing someone you don't like cheat make you less likely to cheat? It is interesting to think about. And for my work, it is important to think about.

An article I came across this week tries to get at some of those questions. Here is a bit of the conclusion:

...observing an in-group peer engaging in unethical behavior increased participants’ likelihood of acting unethically them-selves. However, observing an out-group peer engaging in unethical behavior reduced participants’ likelihood of acting unethically themselves.

That suggests that if you're peers cheat, you are more likely to cheat. If someone you think of as out of your group cheats, you are less likely to cheat.

Our findings suggest that relatively minor acts of dis-honesty by in-group members can have a large influence on the extent of dishonesty, and that techniques that help to stigmatize the bad apples as out-group members and strengthen the saliency of their behavior could be useful tools to fight dishonesty.

Sports face these problems all the time. Think of doping in cycling.

Here's a link to the article.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:57 AM


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

US Relay Champs QR track


Here's my QR track from the US Relay Champs in Ohio. At first glance the most striking feature of my track is that I was loafing on the downhills.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Coffee is the calm moment that lets you think


Some discussion over at Attackpoint misses the point. Coffee is just plain good!

Coffee is the calm moment that lets you think. Coffee gives you the time to dream it. Then you're ready to do it. No other drink does that like coffee.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:59 PM


Monday, April 06, 2009

Lots of trail running


Some discussion of the amount of trail running at last weekend's Ranasstafetten (a relay near Stockholm) inspired me to take a look at Boris' map. Sure enough, it looks like a lot of trail running.

Boris ran the 7.4 Km course in 49:10.

He also ran the course with a GPS and used QuickRoute version 2.3 to put his track on the map. So it is simple to figure out how much of the 49 minutes he spent running on trails. I spent a few minutes, downloading his map and adding splits for each section of trail running. I added up all of those segments and come up with a total for he amount of time Boris spent running on trails - 15:34. Just a bit under 33 percent of the time on the course was trail running.

If I had more energy, I'd download a few other courses and do the same calculation to get some comparisons. But, for now, I'll just sit back and watch some of the basketball game on TV.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Thursday, April 02, 2009

US relay champs this weekend


I'll be on my way to the US Relay Champs soon. As always, I expect the relays to be fun. This will be the first time in the last 10 years that Orienteer Kansas won't have a full team. Mary's stress fracture is keeping her from traveling and we weren't able to get a replacement at the last minute. Look for OK to be back with a full team - and starting a new streak - in 2010.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:50 PM


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Great new feature in QuickRoute 2.3


The new version of QuickRoute has a very cool new feature. When you export an image in version 2.3, the image file includes the raw data. That means that you can use QR to open the image file and see the raw data. Instead of just looking at the image, you can use QR to really dig into the data the same way you can use QR to analyze your own tracks. This is going to be fun.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:38 PM


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