We have all had those moments when running tests our frustration levels. Those days when you head out psyched for a great run only to discover your body has no intention of cooperating. Or those days when your mind gives up on you and negative thoughts overcome you and convince your body to quit. And of course there are the days when you just hurt.
But I will tell you that standing in the woods with a map and a compass and having NO IDEA where you are ranks right up there in frustration. When this happens and you are only looking for control #3 on a course that has 13 controls, well there can be a temptation to ditch the map and compass and just find a road and go for a run.
That was the state of mind I found myself in during Sunday’s orienteering event in the Gatineau Hills. I thought the first part of the course was going to be easy. There were trails to follow and it didn’t look like you had to stray too far from the paths to find the controls. I am slowly becoming more familiar with the many, many symbols you need to know to be successful in this sport. The last half of the course looked like it could be a little trickier as it used fields and gullies and we were warned that the trail was unclear. In the end it was the woods that confused me. All the leaves have fallen now, making summer trails less distinct. There were also a few large fallen trees across the trails, a couple right at trail junctions, making it even more difficult to recognize trails. I ended up wandering the same small area repeatedly only to discover I had overshot the control. During this search the only thing I did know was how to get back to the start and our warm car in the parking lot. I admit that I seriously considered heading back and calling it a day.
Luckily I did finally find the control and upon finding the next one my mood lightened and I was able to convince myself to continue to the end. I was soundly beaten by both boys and my husband (who won the event!) and was left only mildly discouraged. I do really enjoy the sport but for me it will be viewed primarily as a fun way to cross train for my running. The rest of my family is now looking at running as a way to cross train for orienteering. Either way, we have found another family sport that will get us out into the woods and will keep us fit. More than anything I love that we all have another activity in common, one in which we can compete at our own level and then enjoy sharing our strategies and adventures.