It feels like this summer could not have gone much worse so far. After getting a stomach bug in March, my year has been a roller-coaster of sickness - I was ok at Tiomila, but since then I have been sick more than I have been healthy. Every time I felt like I was getting better, something else hit me and I had more time off training. At the back of my mind was the fact that World Championships was not far away, and I tried desperately to get healthy and get to Switzerland. I was just about healthy enough to run at Jukola, but a 9 1/2 minute mistake shows that even if my body was up to it, my brain certainly wasn't.
I missed every single test race for World Champs, but luckily, enough of the selectors had faith in me to give me a chance if I felt I was fit enough, and the last 3 weeks before the champs even felt ok in training (although in retrospect I was kidding myself a little bit).
I flew out to Switzerland (although for various reasons I actually spent most of WOC in France) a few days early to get in the terrain, and did a couple of decent low intensity trainings. The qualifier actually went quite well, and although I never pushed too hard, I felt ok.
However the next day at the final, I felt terrible already warming up, and my calf injury was more noticeable than it had been for months. As soon as I picked up the map I was struggling physically, and I had a really terrible feeling. I wasn't able to focus on the navigation as I would like, as I was thinking too much about the physical side of things. I managed to get away with it until the 8th control, when a short sharp climb took everything I had, and then I failed to think about the direction, I was just trying to run. I missed the control by 3 minutes, and after that not only did I have a terrible feeling in my body, but also psychologically I knew already that I had failed. It was then even harder work to try and keep pushing around the last part of the course. Luckily most of it was downhill, because I felt like either walking or giving up for most of it (and had it not been World Champs, I am certain I would have). I motivated myself by imagining Marc Lauenstein (my 4 minute man) chasing me, and I resolved at least to beat him to the finish. I succeeded. By about 3cm. I can honestly say that I don't remember ever feeling so bad either during or after a race, both physically or mentally, and my calf was really sore both during and especially after.
WOC Relay - I told the selectors how I felt after the middle race, that I had a bad feeling in my body and that my calf was sore, but that if I was in the team I would give it everything that I had. They decided to not select me in the team for the first time since 2006, and it was at the same time a crushing disappointment, but also a relief, as the relay at the World Champs is not the place to be if you are not feeling absolutely 100%.
The last week has been one of the toughest in my orienteering life, going to a championships short on fitness and form, struggling with a bad feeling and the attitude of some other athletes. Having spoken with several doctors, the general consensus is that at best I have some form of post-viral fatigue, and at worst some form of pneumonia (mycoplasma seems to be the fashionable one at the moment in orienteering circles). Anyway, I am back home now, on antibiotics, and starting a 5 week training break to try and get healthy.
I was really inspired by the Czechs winning the relay though - it is great when it is not the same few teams winning all the time, and I will be back (hopefully) fitter than ever in future to try and do the same!