Friday, 23 December 2011

along Thailand

So, the big exam was done. After 11 boring months I moved to Dubai/Thailand for 3 weeks with Rafaela. I really wanted to keep training but it was impossible.

Or the place was too hot...

Or too small...

Or too polluted... (ending with red eyes, and a sense in the mouth like if I'd been licking car engines for 1h)

During 3 weeks we did 3500km by public transport, 150km of which by boat...

... and was part of the medical team of the Ironman Asia Pacific and got really enthusiastic with Triathlon.

Overall, it ended being a really nice trip... The touristic places were really nice. The untouristed places made me, once more, remember the value of our European way of living.

In the second last day, and after 3 weeks eating in the street food stalls, I got a gastroenteritis at a McDonalds (!). Altogether, I lost 6kg, from which I'm still recovering (today's breakfast=5 waffles).

Now I have a loong way to recover the shape. Yesterday was the day zero! Let's go!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Contour Roam first test

I received it and I had to try it! The goal is to start analyzing my navigation in some months from now, but I concluded that it's also a nice camera to have some fun.

I made a short movie with footages from my usual Sunday long training session (20k) from my home, through Monsanto park (my
everyday playground), along the river and back

Some notes about it:
- Trying to discover the best way to use the headband. In the 170º mode is difficult to hide my big head;
- Used 720p; 30fps; 170º. Haven't tried the full HD mode with more resolution;
- Didn't stabilize the image; my small PC wasn't able to do the job without loosing quality. I'll try VirtualDub later;
- Easy portable camera anywhere with a short "wow-start recording" time.

CONTOUR ROAM first test from migueorienteering on Vimeo.

And now, back to my boring life... A few weeks to go.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Accidental orienteering song?

I've stepped into this one that I had to share:

You're taken by the woods even though you're aware
of the slippery cliffs and the big black bears
and the salal snares taller than yourself
Ferns growing as thick as the trees
You're looking for a flag at the top of the hill
It's a race against the light
And one false step could mean staying the night
That's why you should never travel alone
You should never travel alone
and you know that one false step
and you might not make it home
And so you watch for loose rocks under your feet
Stepping onto wet stones, crossing over creeks
Climbing up cliffs and over dead trees
You watch your step, you get your footing right
A broken compass could mean staying the night
and you should always know where you're going
Even if you've got a map
you should always know where you're going
And you know that even if you've got a map
you might not make it home

You take your time just to breathe the air
and appreciate having never met a bear
You capture the flag at the top of the hill
With daylight to spare
Orienteering comes naturally
You read the map right
One wrong turn could mean staying the night
and though you carry your phone
You should never travel alone
And you know that
because one false step
and you might not make it home and

Even if you've got a map
and you know where you're going
You're still a long way from your home
And even if you've got a map
you should never travel alone
And you know that
But you're not dead yet
and you might just make it home

Thursday, 6 October 2011

End of 2011 season

I've participated in the portuguese training camp to WOC 2012 27Sept-2Oct in Switzerland to close the season. The last race with a forest map had been 3 months before so I wasn't expecting too much. However I got better day by day and enjoyed the Swiss terrains. I liked the World Cup race but was disappointed by some avoidable losses of time.


In the last day in Swiss terrains I extracted a tick from my hand (had been there less than 2h). 2 days after I got swollen and painful axillary lymph nodes and I was advised to do antibiotic profilaxy to Lyme disease. Probably this is a recurrent thing among orienteerers once ticks are spread all over Europe, but in Portugal (and Iberic peninsula) it isn't a problem. Even if the rate of infected ticks with TBE (tick born encephalitis) is between 0.5% and 3%, I'm considering being vaccinated to TBE once I like to be on the safe side.

All over Switzerland 5-30% (up to 50%) of ticks are infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. An estimated 3’000 people yearly contract the so-called Lyme disease caused by this bacterium. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics.

In Switzerland, in 2005 the cases of TBE (tick born encephalitis) drastically increased with 200 cases, compared to an average of 100 per year during the preceding 5 years. Certain patients can experience paralysis of arms, legs or facial nerves, which can lead to permanent disabilities. There is a well-tolerated and efficient vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis.

+ info about ticks at here, here and here (last one by british orienteering).


Now, a 15 day deserved physical rest. Can't wait for next season. It'll be the first one as a doctor, rather than a student. Without exam seasons, that means 52 WHOLE free weekends per year to train as an animal. I've signed for Maratona Clube de Portugal, a club with world class athletes and I'm confident that I'll be able to improve my physical capabilities.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Monsanto moutain race

It was a 11.750m mountain race (Salomon calendar) in my everyday training place so I had to be there. The best guys from the north of the country made a long trip to be here. This time I was only 1' behind the best guy which is a considerable improvement compared to my last mountain races. Now I'm able to follow the pace while going uphill and in the flat parts but I loose a HUGE amount of time when going downhill (I think that my engine doesn't have that gear). I think that it's because of a lack of strength in the quadriceps once I don't consider that I'm afraid of the descend. Anyway I have promised myself that I won't run moutain races again in slick shoes.

I've spent the last days studying at home/faculty and it'll be like that until November; some days better, some days worse. I've kept doing intervals and training well just because I like it and can't live without it; I also face them as work done to the next season (even if, in the meanwhile, I'm going to rest for some weeks).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

WOC Sprint - great day

It was my first WOC, and it was great.
Due to the lack of free time, I arrived in Aix-les-bains, 12h before the start of the Sprint qual. In the last weeks I beted on my homework, "doing" almost all the sprint maps from omaps.worldofo and using Visual motor behaviour rehearsal (VMBH), a nice athlete-related focus technique that I've read in a great psychology book a few months ago.

Sprint Qual. (times related to Heat winner) - It was the first international race where I was calm before the race (did it really work?). I always anticipated 2 controls in advance (maybe too much) and did a safe qualification to the final.
Sprint Final (times related to leg fastest time) - It was one of the greatest races of my life, not because of the result, but because of the athmosphere. I lost lots of time because of a lack of attitude once I don't have a straight idea of the competition speeds. I'm also too slow while I'm reading the map. These splits times will value a lot to check what I need to develop to get better results. I was physically fresh in the end and did good splits in the last part of the race. I ended in 39th, a result that I think that I'm able to improve.

(some photos from here and WorldofO and from Joao Dias and Filipe Dias)

Video coverage at here.
GPS at here.

Now, I'm back to Lisbon to go on with the studying routines.

About the future... I'm going to spend a lot of time studying until November. I'll keep training physically hard but it'll be difficult to get some free time to compete with a map in my hands. It'll work as some time apart, to come back with full focus and will to get better results.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

WHAT a crazy weekend!


10:00 Sprint selection races to WOC in Folgosinho, 2.0km, (80m), 12'46. This year, due to the amount of study that I have to cope with, I'm only fighting for a place in the Sprint in this year's WOC. I won with a 1'20 advantage to the 2nd. 10th control wasn't in the right place, so I lost 20'' there.

18:00 Bitten by a snake. Transported by ambulance to Guarda hospital (30min, with horn included) and a venous line in my arm, just in case. Did some blood tests, everything was alright, not a poisonous one. Back to Gouveia at 23:00. There is more info about iberian poisonous snakes (click the first link - in portuguese) here. I freaked out when I noticed it; however, their poison isn't deathly so there isn't much to worry about... I like to know what I face so you won't see me competing again without gaiters during the hot months.


07:00 Woke up. Long journey by public transport back to Lisbon.

15:00 Arrived at Lisbon without having had lunch.

18:30 5000m race (Lisbon's regional champs). I wasn't in the mood to compete but my coach insisted. This day wasn't an exception to the last windy days as the following graph shows (at the track there was something between 4 and 5m/s):
The best guys did 14'45 (they usually do around 14'00). I caught a group that was too slow, didn't want to leave it because of the wind, misunderstood the "last lap signal" once we were passing slower runners and did 15'25 without suffering. This was my last chance this season to go under 15'. I love the feelings that track give. I wanted more when it ended... I want more for next season.

( are you sure that it has ended?)

Monday, 11 July 2011

Warm night races...

This weekend I went to "X Legua nocturna de Odivelas", a popular 5000m race near Lisbon with a great atmosphere. You may check the WHOLE race in the following video here. There was a freaking fast start with some attacks (all the 1st 3k under 3'00/km). After the 3rd km (when the climb started) I was alone, doing a calm last 2km. Final time 15'45.

After it, there was the "end of the season" dinner in front of Carcavelos beach. The coach made a nice speech about "the true things in life that give pleasure and unite us" and the "overestimated power of money nowadays".A special note to the European mountain running championships in Turkey - results here. The portuguese team got the 3rd place and 3rd individual position. All the 4 guys were top-20 which shows a strong equal team. Orienteerers David Schneider and Ionut Zinca were 10th and 12th. Next season I'll try my best to be there, already with some experience in the pocket.

The medical course finally ended and the master thesis presented. It was about cardiovascular risk factors and exercise. The professors from the Preventive Medicine Institute liked it and there are some new projects in sight. After the final Gala, I immersed in books. Until November it'll all be about studying to the big exam.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

15'17 at 5k

Nice race yesterday in Lisbon. It was too windy with none of the sprint races approved because of a 3.5m/s wind. I wanted to go below 15' and I started well with 1k 2'58; 2k 5'56; 3k 8'55. After it, I was alone and didn't even notice how much I slowed down in the last 2k. I kind of liked it and didn't suffer much in the first 3k ending in 3rd. I really have to repeat it this season and now I'm sure that it's an achievable goal. My passion for the track is growing from day to day..

Sunday, 26 June 2011

National Universitary Champs.

11.740m (240m), 40controls, 75'21 - A nice mass start with 3 loops. It was a fast map with a detailed eastern area and I felt tired from "Escalada do Mendro" and a rough friday session.
Huge mistake to 19th and 24th, those kind of forbidden ones(my map had the 2 second loops by the opposite order, but it doesn't matter). Stupid option to 34th, big loss of time to 35th once my control description was covered, and too much path to 30th. With some luck, I was able to become Portuguese universitary orienteering champion with a performance that didn't satisfy me.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Escalada do Mendro

Yesterday, we were at the track without any will to do the intervals.. so we organized a 5athlete team (Sergio Silva, Marco Povoa, Paulo Franco, Manuel Horta and me) in 5min to participate in today's race. It was an interesting one with a mix of road race (2k+2k) vs. moutain race (7k). The prize money was interesting so all the moutain race and road race guys appeared in a far village 2h away from Lisbon (Vidigueira).
In this interesting duel, the moutain guys dominated the races (1º, 4º, 5º, 8º) even with some 1h03-half-marathon guys from road races. I considered it impressive, knowing that they have opposite methods of training. You may find the first page of results:
About my performance, I was just too slow in the flat parts - probably related to my breathing difficulties in the last days due to my chronic asthma. However I behave well in the "moutain part" and caught many guys from athletics that passed me when the course turned flat again. To end in glory, the last 2k were really painful once, for the first time in my life, I've experienced this entity that affects, at least once, 40% of athletes: "the evil runner's trots".

Our last-minute team (Mendro Team) was 2nd overall and it ended being a well-spent morning.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Portuguese Middle and Sprint champs.

Middle, 30c, 5.4k (230m) - I was portuguese middle distance champion with a regular race. I gave priority to navigation rather than running with slow first controls, giving no chance to luck. 13th- hesitation, 15th- misunderstood the high as low, 16th- big deviation, 20th- ~1'30 stuck in the greens (V1) once I was too careless in the approach of the white tunnel, 22nd- ran too far and I was once careless in the approach to the 25th.
Sprint, 16c, 2.4k (35m) - Easy map where the best part (the fort) wasn't availed. In a sprint the "slow start" approach doesn't work that well. Bad option to the 2nd and the worst possible option to the 9th without correct anticipation. I had a lack of attitude in the final flat part and settled in an average pace. In the end I was 2nd, ex-aequo with Diogo Miguel and 6'' from the winner. It was a tight race with the first 7 athletes in a 23'' gap.
Beside the nice events, it was an enjoyable weekend in the portuguese surf capital with nice weather and friends.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

My Orienteering heart

So, in this part of the year some students start to somatize what they read in the books (I know a guy that ended in the ER with a pseudo-heart attack). I started to think that I had Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the main cause of sudden death in athletes... so I did a check-up with Echocardiogram and 24h Holter. (Causes of sudden death in athletes)

Echocardiogram, which was the most important, was perfectly normal...oh yeah! no hypertrophy (LV diameter<13mm, no Septum/ventricle assymetries) and also not too dilated. I found some articles to compare with athlete values here (even with healthy orienteerers - in a study about the 1990's orienteerer's deaths in Sweden; apart from this, any orienteerer should read this article that gives a new insight on "running with covered body" - here).

When I started to read the Holter I just taught... "I'm done.." During the day, it's all normal. However, during the night:
A- My HR reaches 29bpm,
B- I have 105pauses>2sec
C- I have a Mobitz I AV block and AV dissociation
Then I started to search the medical databases and got relieved, once these are all benign variations in athletes (being present in normal athletes B-37.1% C-22.9% and 20% - table here). My coach also laughed at my worries once he had pauses of 5sec in his glorious days.

After all, it's all normal in athletes and it even has a better prognosis (I never taught that there would be so dramatic athlete variants). You may find an excellent review here and the article that concludes the following here.
In conclusion, endurance older athletes seem to have:
  1. profound bradyarrhythmias, with episodes of heart rate below 40 beats/min,sinus pauses, and Wenckenback phenomena (Mobitz I);
  2. a higher number of atrial or junction escaping than healthy elderly controls;
  3. higher vagal activity during the night, lower adrenergic activity during the day, and higher tolerance to effort than healthy elderly controls;
  4. retardation of the age-related decrease in heart rate variability, which has a positive prognostic value and may decrease the risk of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.
Now I may feel safer of these bullets...
...even if my heart seems a folk song at night: