These blogs are my personal, idiosyncratic observations about aging, training, and sports competition.
To access previous blogs, click "Read Other Blogs" at the bottom of this page.
A Skimpy 2018 - November 26, 2018
Delightful Mud - January 31, 2017
A Look Ahead at 2016 - January 13, 2016
Paddling in Torino -- World Masters Games 2013
Winning - May 11, 2012
Can Too Much Exercise Be Bad for Your Heart - March 11, 2011
The 60 Minute Crawl - January 30, 2011
Playing Tennis Again - October 6, 2010
Why Compete? (2) - June 15, 2010
LOST - May 24, 2010
Happy Birthday to Me - May 18, 2010
Why Compete?(1) - April 30, 2010
Val Barnwell - April 14, 2010
Spring Training Day - April 4, 2010
Becoming Bionic - March 24, 2010
The Divided Kingdom - February 4, 2010
May 24, 2010
Yesterday afternoon I spend several hours thrashing around in the wood of Mr. Tom State Reservation in Massachusetts. I was looking for the orange and white markers that the sport of orienteering calls "controls." The location of the controls are shown on a topographical map of the area. The object is to find each of the controls, in order, as quickly as possible. The difficulty lies in the number and placement of controls. To make the sport accessible to everyone, orienteering kindly offers a range of courses from quite easy to very difficult. The easiest, the White course, may have 6-10 controls placed in plain sight next to a well-marked 2-3 kilometer trail. I've seen children as young as five or six delight in doing a White course. As the courses increase in difficulty -- Yellow, Orange, Brown, Green Red, and Blue -- the distances increase and the placement of controls is fiendish, well away from trails or open spaces. A Blue course may cover 10-14 kilometers. A competitor has a map and a compass (No GPS please).
I was doing Orange, an intermediate course. Even though I have been participating in orienteering meets for several years, my navigation skills are quite primitive. I misjudge distances, misread contour lines, and screw up directions. When my wife joins me, we are relatively successful because she loves maps and is adept at navigation. By myself, I trundle up and down the terrain following what I believe is the correct line, staring into the underbrush for the telltale orange and white of controls. Yesterday I found the first 5 of 10 controls fairly easily (for me). Unfortunately, the second half of the course was a complete bust. I never found any of the last 5 controls, although I must have hiked and jogged for 8 or 10 kilometers. How appropriate that the finale of the six-year television series "Lost" took place last night.
How do I feel about my DNF (Did Not Finish) result? Well. I'd spent four hours on beautiful spring day deep in one of New England's loveliest landscapes. I was tired and thirsty. But I'd do it again in a minute. I know I'll do better next time, especially if I can press my wife into service.