JWOC: Middle + Relay

First of all, it’s been a pleasure writing this blog this summer, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. I wouldn’t have kept it going if it hadn’t been for everyone out there reading it (and the encouragement of my teammates while we were training and racing together, but mostly it was because of everyone back home!), so I’m so grateful to you, my readers, for all the views, feedback, and comments! I’ve had a lot of traveling and goodbyes to say since my last days at JWOC, but I’m now at home in the U.S., and I’ve finally written and uploaded everything, so without further ado… here you are! The last few days at JWOC!

JWOC: Middle Qualification

The group walking up to the arena and finish area

The group walking up to the arena and finish area

Barb sitting down on the grass with her stuff

Barb sitting down on the grass with her stuff

Anna, Addison, Matt, and I drove over to the start first thing in the morning, put down all our stuff in the shade next to the finish, then stood by the finish chute and cheered on all the runners coming in. Anna and I are really loud (well I guess it’s mostly me yelling… but what can I say, I have a loud cheering voice!) and there weren’t many others cheering, so in between the finishes of our teammates, we occupied ourselves by cheering on orienteers from other countries.

Face paint! I did Anna's cheek and she did mine...

Face paint! I did Anna’s cheek and she did mine…

... and while we were painting on the stars a few girls who were there supporting the French team came up and asked us if they could use the paint to do French flags on their faces! Of course we said yes, so then they painted their cheeks as well :D

… and while we were painting on the stars a few girls who were there supporting the French team came up and asked us if they could use the paint to do French flags on their faces! Of course we said yes, so then they painted their cheeks as well 😀

The girls finishing their flags

The French girls finishing their flags

A. Breton: about as cool as it gets

A. Breton: about as cool as it gets

Melanie finishing!

Melanie finishing!

Barb, Anne, and Anna watching everyone come in at the sideline

Barb, Anne, and Anna watching everyone come in at the sideline

Izzy finishing

Izzy finishing!

As a team, I’d say we did really well, better than we have in previous years. Although none of our team made it to the podium, collectively everyone improved from last year, and from the years before. Katrina was two places out of qualifying for the women’s A-final, which is as close as anyone has gotten in a long time. And Ethan made the A-final!!! We were all so proud of him (here’s a video which shows what it was like to be in the arena, and everyone’s reaction to Ethan making the A-final)!

After everyone had finished, we warmed up and started in the Tour races. Anna ran well, I didn’t (again 😦 ). The map was really hard and technical. I started to do well in the end, although in the beginning I made a lot of mistakes. But I think my race was better than it was on the day of the Long, and I still beat people on my course.

The rest of the day was pretty straightforward. We packed up, drove off back to the cottage, showered, and ate dinner.

I never included a proper picture of the front of it, so here it is. It's actually quite a pretty place!

I never included a proper picture of the front of the cottage, so here it is. It’s actually quite a pretty place!

Visited by everyone (parts of Team Canada, and some of our teammates as well)

A lovely visit from everyone after we got back (parts of Team Canada, and some of our teammates as well)

This was right before dinner, after our visitors left and we showered and changed. Everyone's so engaged in conversation!

This was right before dinner, after our visitors left and we showered and changed. Everyone’s so engaged in conversation!

Dave preparing a salad in the kitchen

Dave preparing a salad in the kitchen

Dinner! Spaghetti with meat sauce and a cucumber and tomato salad

Dinner! Spaghetti with meat sauce and a cucumber and tomato salad

JWOC: Middle Final

Today was very similar to yesterday, especially because the arena, finish chute, and parking areas were the same as for yesterday (although we ran on a different map for the actual race). We drove up, set all our stuff down, and since we were a little early for our teammates, we went a little crazy with the paint. Anna painted a USA flag on Addison’s arm, and I did the OUSA logo on Will’s. I painted  red, white and blue stars all up the side of my left arm. We all looked really good, especially because we were wearing our USA uniforms as well. And I noticed a lot of the spectators from other countries had face paint on (maybe they saw me, Anna, and the French girls putting it on yesterday and they took their cues from us!) which went along with the heightened feeling of patriotism and spirit in the crowd (heightened from yesterday, at least).

Everyone setting down their things in our usual spot under the trees

Everyone setting down their things in our usual spot under the trees

The process begins! Anna painting Addison's arm

The process begins! Anna painting Addison’s arm

...almost done...

…almost done…

...and finished! YEAH AMERICA!

…and finished! YEAH AMERICA!

Me painting the OUSA logo on Will's arm

Me painting the OUSA logo on Will’s arm

The finished result! Pretty sweet if I do say so myself

The finished result! Pretty sweet if I do say so myself

USA reppin'

Anna Breton: USA reppin’

Everyone cheering at the finish line

Everyone cheering at the finish line

Matej in the finish chute!

Matej in the finish chute!

Evalin sprinting in to the finish

Evalin sprinting in to the finish

Matej and Erin discussing the race

Matej and Erin discussing the race

Elina, Pia, and Evalin cooling down together

Elina, Pia, and Evalin cooling down together

USA boys down by the go control!

USA boys down by the go control!

Anne racing up to the finish

Anne racing up to the finish

Katrina sprinting in hard

Katrina sprinting in hard

In terms of results, the races were a little less spectacular than yesterday. All the girls did pretty well in the B-final (I think Izzy and Elina ran particularly good races out of the bunch), but the boys were less good, although they were still better than in previous years. I think there was a lot of pressure on the A-finalists, but for many of the runners in the B and C-finals it was a less serious, more fun race. Still, I think our men’s team had a lot of potential, and could have done much better than they actually did.

Miika Kirmula, the winner of the men's A-final, drawing his route out on the map as the crowd looks on

Miika Kirmula, the winner of the men’s A-final, drawing his route out on a map as the crowd looks on

For me, today’s race was… good! I actually had a clean run (well, much, much cleaner than the past two days!) I made a lot of smaller mistakes, but nothing so big that I totally blew up like in my other races. I made some good, safe route choices, and my bearings were really accurate. It felt so nice to have a good race for a change.

It doesn’t really show in the results, because I’m still near the bottom of the pack, but it was just slowness and carefulness, not an abundance of mistakes. I felt a lot better about my orienteering today than after any of the other races so far. And I’m no longer last in the tour races overall, either!

After the races… you guessed it! We went home, showered, changed, and ate dinner.

Another amazing chili dinner (THANK YOU Barb and Dave!)

Another amazing chili dinner (THANK YOU Barb and Dave!)

JWOC: Relay

It was raining really hard on the morning of the relay, so me and Anna were less than enthused about getting out to cheer for everyone. But we got a ride most of the way up (they held the relay right in Borovets, really near the JWOC hotel, so we could actually walk to the arena from our cottage), and we were pretty warm and dry in our raincoats, so spectating wasn’t too bad. And the relay was really exciting! Although none of the USA teams did spectacularly well, it was cool seeing all the teams compete, and knowing exactly where everyone’s place was in real time. They had a spectator control, so you could see the countries crossing over to do their second loop (at least, if you could distinguish their jerseys. I had a little trouble in the beginning because of the rain, but when the sun came out I could see fine) and whether anyone had been passed or not. And then the finish was really exciting because the top three girls came across before anyone else, and they ran out from the spectator control in the exact same order that they finished. The finish for the guys was also really close—the Swedish runner came in only six seconds before the second place Czech guy, and when they were running across the field the Czech orienteer was gaining, so we thought it was going to be a photo finish!

Watching the first leg runners of the men's relay pass by the spectator control

Watching the first leg runners of the men’s relay pass by the spectator control

Izzy punching the go control...

Izzy punching the go control…

...and running in to tag Evalin! Go USA!

…and running in to tag Evalin! Go USA!

Anne after punching the go control. As you can see, it brightened up a lot between the finishes of the first and second leg runners

Anne after punching the go control. As you can see, the day brightened up a lot between the finishes of the first and second leg runners

One of the coolest things about the relay was the team aspect. When the last leg runner came in, at least for the top countries, their teammates would run in the finish chute alongside them, celebrating. David Yee took so many really great pictures of the relay (you can see them all here), but for me one of them in particular of the Swedish team finishing was just awesome!

After the relay we raced in the Tour (mine was awful. I died on the hills, and I just made way too many mistakes for such a navigationally easy course. But it’s over now, and it was fun, so I’m not thinking about it anymore!) and then we were done!! There was a last minute flurry of trading jerseys and saying goodbyes over at the arena, then everyone left to go get ready for dinner and the banquet later on in the night.

It’s been such a wonderful experience to go on this trip, but also to write about it for all of you. I don’t think I would have taken as many pictures, or even reflected on the day’s events without this blog to keep me thinking about things. I’m already itching to go back over the oldest posts and read about what we did, and how far we’ve come from there! I hope it’s been as fun for you as it’s been for me.

Thanks for reading.


P.S. In case you’re confused at all as to what I look like, here are some freebie pictures of me throughout the trip. But beware: I am a goof. You’ve been warned.

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Me sleeping… in Finland? I think? SUPER COOL ARM POSITIONING THOUGH


Hanging out at the airport in Oslo

Blogging in Bulgaria

Blogging in Bulgaria

Flower girls!

Flower girls!

At the finish line for the Middle Final

At the finish line for the Middle Final

Enjoy the rest of your summer… and maybe I’ll see you next year for JWOC 2015!


JWOC: Long

Barb leading the sandwich production line in our cabin before we left for the Long

Barb leading the sandwich production line in our cabin before we left for the Long map

The map was about a hour’s drive away, so in the morning we just packed up all our clothes, our racing uniforms, and our lunches, and spent the whole day camped out in the arena. We mostly hung out at the finish, because it was the most exciting place to spectate, but whenever we caught a glimpse of someone running up the hill to the spectator control we would run over to the other side to cheer them on and get pictures. It was a tiring day for me—and I can’t even imagine how hard it was for the people racing. The courses were really long, and the winning time for the girls’ race was about 15 minutes longer than the predicted winning time, so I think it was much harder than the organizers expected as well. Most people who came in collapsed for a few minutes right after they punched the finish, and they all were covered in mud and dirt and sweat—like they had fought a battle.

Austin in the chute after the spectator control

Austin in the chute after the spectator control

Austin finishing!

Austin finishing!

Izzy in the spectator chute

Izzy in the spectator chute

Emma finishing! The Canada jersey is actually white, to give you a reference for the mud level on the course

Emma finishing! The Canada jersey is actually white, to give you a reference for the mud level on the course

Matej in the spectator chute running past Addison, Erin, and Michael

Matej in the spectator chute running past Addison, Erin, and Michael on the sideline

Ethan finishing!

Ethan finishing!

[note: again, Dave has taken excellent photos of the long runners on the course and near the finish. Photos of most of the US, Canadian, and top finishers can be found here, while a more complete set of photos including those same runners and most of the other countries can be found here.]

After everyone had finished, cooled down, and driven off, the Tour racers got ready to go. We put on our shoes and changed into our racing uniforms, and got our compasses, e-punches, and control description holders (first time digging that thing out of my bag!). Anna and I had just started our warm up by running up the hill to the start when it started to rain. We were soaked even before we started. It was too bad, because the rain had held off all day for the long races…

I finished warming up and realized I was actually late for my start, so I had to skip two minutes in the call up line. I started my course feeling flustered and distracted, and that feeling definitely affected my course. My worst mistake was probably on the first control. It was because I went out of the start triangle without a plan, and just kind of ran on a rough bearing. I ended up hitting the river that borders the map on the eastern side, way past the control, but since I thought for some reason that I was too far north of the control, I climbed into the green kind of diagonally until I hit the road above the control. Then I finally pinpointed exactly where I was. I attacked from the road and hit it straight on. I should have just climbed to the road from the beginning, or at least actually read the map and made a plan before leaving the start. Looking back on the course, there were definitely distinct features I could have used as attackpoints on the way… I just wasn’t thinking.

Two was okay, but then I made another 15-minute mistake on three… and the rest of the course proceeded in a similar way. I’d have a couple okay controls, and then completely blow up on the next one. It was a really poor race. To complicate matters, towards the end of the course it got a lot colder, and with the cold and wet my hands became really numb. So besides having trouble actually reading the map, my hands didn’t work, and I couldn’t hold it properly. At one point I had to fold the map with my teeth.

Reflecting back on the course as I look at the map, I find that I liked the course, and the mapping, and the terrain. But I appreciated none of that right after I finished—I just felt really demoralized and like a complete failure! I had warmed up with such high expectations for myself, and it was a real blow to have such a terrible race.

I finished last out of our group, so right after I got back and changed, we left. I came back home to a nice warm bowl of soup and more chili (that I had made yesterday afternoon), which made me feel a little better. But I still felt sucky.

JWOC: Sprint

Anna, Addison, Matt, and I are all running the JWOC Tour races, so we didn’t have a race the day of the sprint. We did have a very important job, though: cheering our teammates on through the spectator control and into the finish! And it turned out that we ended up cheering on a lot of the other countries as well (yeah Canada!), especially in the beginning, because there was hardly anyone at all spectating or cheering before the first couple finishers.

Matt walking around, checking out the arena

Matt walking around, checking out the arena

Dave at the finish!

Dave at the finish!

The finish chute

The finish chute

Pavlina with our stuff

Pavlina with our stuff

Sonia (that's become her name for sure now), the least intimidating guard dog ever

Sonia (that’s become her name for sure now), the least intimidating guard dog ever

We got to the arena early to scope out the area and set up our stuff, and then at 10:00, the first runner started. Austin, Connor, and Melanie were our earliest starters, and they blew by quickly. After they finished it started to drizzle, and then rain lightly, and then the sky opened up and dumped down a huge downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. It made the pavement and sidewalks pretty slick. We saw a couple runners fall after the spectator control, and some finishers with bloody elbows and knees, so there was probably a lot of slipping and sliding out on the course.

Other than the rain, though, it was a fine day to be out cheering (and to be out racing, I suppose!). Anna and I had a lot of fun spectating and yelling. The sprint is probably the race where you’re most likely to lose your voice, because all the races happen so quickly, and the whole thing is so intense and exciting that you’re basically yelling the whole time. Using Evalin’s camera, I tried to get pictures of everyone (either at the spectator control or at the finish, or both), but I was kind of lousy with the focusing so some of them came out blurry. I’ve included the best ones here.

Anne running down the chute from the spectator control

Anne running down the chute from the spectator control

Will punching the spectator control

Will punching the spectator control

Elina finishing

Elina finishing

Sliding into the finish punch!

Sliding into the finish punch!

Ethan after the spectator control

Ethan after the spectator control

Matej finishing in the downpour

Matej finishing in the downpour

Melanie and Addison waiting at the spectator control!

Melanie and Addison being cute at the spectator control

But there was somebody there who got good pictures of everyone: David Yee! My photography hero! His wonderful photos are linked here, and if he or Barb posts more on Attackpoint or on the Junior Team Facebook page I’ll be sure to give you a link to those photos as well. Please check them out—they’re definitely worth looking at!

After the races finished, we ate lunch and reviewed the course a little with our teammates, and then we left around 2 pm to drive to the stadium where the awards and the opening ceremony would be held. The results from the sprint are here. Although we didn’t make the podium or get in the top 10, we did really well as a team compared to previous years at JWOC.

Team USA on the bleachers

Team USA on the bleachers

After the celebration we took some more photos (please check out Dave’s pictures!) and then headed back to the cottage for showers and dinner. After dinner we went to the hotel for a team meeting. After the meeting we hung out with our teammates a little bit and congratulated them on their performance in the sprint, then went back to the cottage and got ready for bed.

Wonderful dinner after the sprint

Wonderful dinner after the sprint

Chicken, carrot, and potato stew with rice

Chicken, carrot, and potato stew with rice

Barb computing after dinner!

Barb computing after dinner!

Walking up the hill to the other hotel

Walking up the hill to the main hotel

My housemates up the hill in the fog

My housemates up the hill in the fog

Going into the JWOC hotel

Going into the JWOC hotel


Weekend before JWOC: resting, relaxing, and water fighting!


Today was a rest day. We woke up late, ate scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast (Addison used up all dozen eggs! but it was worth it the eggs were super good), and then headed out to the hotel. We chilled there most of the day, but I didn’t have as great of a time with everyone because I was sitting out on the steps (the closest place to our floor where I could get wifi) for a lot of my time there, trying to upload my blog posts.

The internet speed was horrendously slow, so it basically took the entire day to put up just the two posts about our races in Razlog. I enjoy blogging in general, but this time around it was really frustrating to me because I couldn’t be with the others. It wasn’t all bad, because I introduced Anna and Matej to Sherlock while we waited (we watched the first episode! they really liked it) but even when we finished the pictures still weren’t done uploading, so they left and it just became this boring waiting game for me.

Anyway, the posts were finally uploaded in the end, and then since the others wanted to watch a movie, I left my computer at the hotel while Anna and I went home to make dinner.

We made a salad, chicken with onions, and rice, and this time we took a picture! I left my camera with my computer back at the hotel, so the photograph isn’t as high quality as my pictures usually are. But still! We have photo evidence!

The dinner table: Salad, chicken with onions, and what's left of the first pot of risotto

The dinner table: Salad, chicken with onions, and what’s left of the first pot of risotto

A second photo of dinner. As you can see we were halfway through it before I remembered that I should be documenting it

A second photo of dinner. As you can see we were halfway through it before I remembered that I should be documenting it




A snail we found on the walk up to the hotel before training. It was making its way slowly to the other side of the road


Bye friend!


Ane Sofie in the lobby before training… looking super cute as always!

This morning we ran on the middle map again for training. It was one of the best trainings I’ve had there (as in, I did well!). I ran with Anna for the first couple controls, and for our exercise we traded the map back and forth (so one person would lead without a map while the other followed behind carefully), and then we split off and did a couple controls on our own. I felt like I could see all the detail on the map in the forest, and I spiked all of my controls, even the ones I ran with Anna, without a map. It was really gratifying to see that my training on the map was paying off.

After training we drove back to the cottage, stopping in Samokov on the way there to shop at the supermarket again. We bought more ingredients for chili, since that was really good last time, and more bread and milk and eggs.

When we got back to the cottage, we ate lunch really quickly, then went over to the Canadian hotel. They’re staying at the A-accommodations for JWOC, so their hotel is supposed to be the nicest out of all the places we could possibly stay. I brought my computer because I thought the internet would be really fast there. And it was! But I didn’t end up using it for blogging (sorry, guys. I know I’ve been slacking these past couple days). Once we got there and we found Emma and met the rest of Team Canada (who were super nice, by the way!), we had so much fun that I couldn’t bear to excuse myself to some corner of the hotel just so I could write and use their internet.


A view of the lobby of the hotel from the second floor balcony


Emma, Anne, and Matej sitting on the couches on the second floor

The main problem with Hotel Lion (that’s what it’s called) was that there was no air conditioning. And this became more of a problem out on the second floor balcony, where we (pretty much all of Team Canada, and maybe a third of USA) set up our enormous card game. I think normally the second floor balcony is a lovely place to be, because it’s quiet and overlooks the lobby and is full of comfy leather chairs and nice wide tables, but it was hotter up higher, and we all had to sit close-ish so we could reach the straws (one of the first games we played was Spoons, using a bunch of drinking straws we found). So it was warm. And leather, luxurious most of the time, is kind of sticky when it’s hot. But otherwise the hotel was really nice. I took some pictures of Emma and Pia’s room just to show you (it’s not the best example of cleanliness, because they were hanging all their clothes around it, but hopefully you get an idea of what their rooms look like. And I don’t know. I thought the clotheslines were kind of festive!).


Emma and Pia’s room!


Crisscrossed with clotheslines

We played cards all afternoon. After one of the games I actually fell asleep (I have no idea why. It wasn’t like it was a boring game! I guess my brain thought I needed a siesta), and everyone was really surprised because we were being super loud! But I slept through it all. It was a good nap, too. When I woke up I played a couple more hands with everyone who was there, and then I packed up all my unused electronics (camera, computer, chargers, adapters… I brought everything and used none of it) and got ready to go, since we had to leave to make dinner.

Then since Emma still wanted to hang out, and it was a while before she had to eat dinner or meet with her team, she came with us back to the cottage! Yaaaay! It was so fun! She talked with us and helped us with dinner preparation. We made a salad and fried up some sausages and the rest of the onions and pasta.

Oh yeah. And when we got back Barb and Dave were there!!! I love them. They’re amazing. And it was great to see them again. They were super organized about groceries and snacks and things like that, and they were willing to take over completely with making dinner, so we probably won’t have to be back early to the cottage to cook anymore! Not that I didn’t enjoy cooking, but it did take up a lot of my time.


Dave after dinner


Matt and Addison cleaning up in the kitchen

After dinner we went over to Canada again (that’s what we call Hotel Lion) to play frisbee and hang out with Emma one more time, and then we went back to the cottage to get ready for bed. It was a fun day. And we met so many juniors and made friends. Orienteers are always the best kinds of people.



In the morning today, we (as in the JWOC Tour people) did long training on the model map at Govedartsi while the others (as in the JWOC people) did the sprint model. It went well for me (second training in a row that I’ve been happy with my performance!) We finished around 11am, and drove back to the cottage to eat lunch.

We ate lunch and then went over to the hotel to hang out with Team USA! But we ended up hanging out with a lot more nationalities and countries than just our own. We threw a couple frisbees around in the field behind the hotel for the whole rest of the day, and we were joined by various different teams: Slovaks, the British, a guy from Hong Kong and a guy from Japan, a guy from Turkey, Canadians, and probably more others, although I can’t remember them all. I tried to learn all their names! For a while we were all really good about calling out people’s names before we threw them the disc, and that helped me learn who everyone was, but as our frisbee-throwing population became more transient it was just easier to let everyone throw and catch without being bothered with learning names.

We sunned ourselves and played cards and chatted in the field when we were tired of throwing (although there were always at least a couple people standing in a circle throwing to each other), and then we got back up and played again.

The Hungarian team was staying in the cabins behind the hotel, and they had a water gun and kept squirting it every time we got close with the frisbee. It was pretty annoying, and right before we left one of the guys sprayed me pretty well in the center of my back, so we had to retaliate! Anna, Izzy and I got our water bottles and tried to attack them around the side of their cabin. We got one of them soaked, but Izzy and I came out pretty drenched as well, so I think we lost that fight. Oh well. Not enough ammo.

Another great day. We went home, ate dinner, went over to the hotel for a short team meeting (the others met for longer, since they’ll actually be running tomorrow), then we went back to the cottage to get ready for bed. Tomorrow is a big day for the others–but less so for us–we’ll be cheering them on all day in the sprint!


P.S. Sorry about the lack of pictures for Monday, and for that matter, the lack of pictures this whole weekend. I promise I’ll have plenty for tomorrow (the day of the JWOC sprint!). But it just wasn’t the kind of weekend where I was snapping pictures all the time. I was more just relaxing with everyone else, and I didn’t feel the need to take pictures of it. And I’ll be blogging more regularly these next few days, don’t you worry!

Friday, July 18

We’ve been tapering the training these last few days, so there hasn’t been as much volume or intensity as before. For these next couple days I think we’re only going to have training in the morning or just have days off from training altogether. But I’m not complaining! My right quad has been bothering me for a long time (it hurts when I run), but with this period of rest and lighter training it’s been slowly healing, so that’s good. And I get more time to hang out and play games with the rest of the team. None of us talk about it, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that we only have a little time left on this trip to be together.


Izzy before training this morning


Two cool cats hangin before the relay race


Will has trouble putting on his headband


casual chillin’ with Michael and Matt

The morning’s training was on the relay terrain map again. We arrived, warmed up, and ran in a mass start with the Bulgarians. They had their own training, but they ran with us for the beginning of our course. It was really intimidating for me, because there were also guys there, and they ran a lot faster. I was almost immediately at the back of the pack, and I got a little frightened, because usually with girls I’m not outpaced so quickly and I thought I was running pretty fast, but then I realized most of the people running ahead of me were guys, and so I just ran my own pace and focused on my race.

It didn’t go that well for me. I was following people early on and I ended up outrunning my ability to navigate, so when I was eventually dropped, I was pretty confused as to where I was. I found the first couple controls with a few small bobbles. But then I made a pretty big mistake on the fifth control (again. on the first time I ran on this map I also totally blew up the first control), and ended up having to relocate. The rest of the course was decent, but kind of messy. So overall it was not super great.

After the morning’s training, we went shopping at the supermarket for the week’s dinners and lunches (because it would cost us an amazingly steep 20 euros per person per meal to eat at the JWOC hotel. HIGHWAY ROBBERY). I took the initiative picking out supplies for dinner because it didn’t seem like any of my housemates were going to cook (or if they knew how? I’m sure they were willing to do prep and stuff, but it seemed like I was the only one going to actually make the food). So for tonight’s dinner I bought a bunch of supplies for chili, one of the only meals I know how to make without a recipe, and for tomorrow’s dinner I bought chicken, and we also got spinach and lettuce and tomatoes for salad, and eggs, and fruit, and bread, and snacks, and anything else we could think of that we’d need. Erin paid for our groceries because we’ll be making meals for the team, so it was nice that that was taken care of.

After our shopping, went back home. We had the afternoon to ourselves, so after we ate lunch (sandwiches), we went over to the hotel and hung out with the rest of the team.


Some of Team USA on the balcony outside their rooms


The view of the other side of the hotel from the balcony

We mostly played cards, and I got so into it that I almost forgot I had to go back and cook dinner. I left the hotel and got back to our cottage around 5:30, and then I got to work on dinner. Chili is pretty easy, and I’ve made it a lot of times before, so it was not a stressful affair (actually it was really fun! I like cooking) and it came out well. We ate it with pasta and bread and salad and it was deliciously yummy and we finished it all! But then I realized afterwards that I hadn’t taken a picture. So my dinner will only be remembered in my words and in our full bellies.

After dinner, we went back over to the hotel for a team meeting. We talked about the day’s training and how we felt in the relay race, and a little about race strategy for our upcoming races. Then we stayed at the hotel and played more games and hung out with each other until late late late—a couple minutes before our bedtime.


Team meeting in the hallway of the hotel!

Then we had to go. We jogged back to our cottage, got changed and got in bed, and went to sleep.


Razlog Cup: Sprint!

We raced the sprint this morning. I was much happier with this race than with the previous one, even though sprints are probably the scariest category of race for me, and even though I felt worse (more sick) than I did in the middle. But it was over quick, and I wasn’t last place. So better than yesterday.


The sprint map. It was a pretty simple course–really fast, and really clear. Virtually no tricks or traps


Everyone after finishing!


Evalin and Izzy reviewing the course




Puppy logic: boredom = sleep




…yeah, maybe we had a little too much fun with this sign


Goofing around while waiting for the awards ceremony to get going


Decked out in USA finery


Michael being badass


Walking in the parade before the awards ceremony


USA girls and boys on the podium!

[photo creds for this section go to Evalin or Connor! The camera was running out of battery, so I didn’t take any pictures]

We stayed for the closing ceremony and awards. A lot of us medaled, and they gave out medals for each day, so some of us went up to the podium twice! There will be another three days of racing in and around this area (I think it’s called the Bulgaria Cup), but we’re going back to Borovets to reunite with Erin and do a last couple days of training before JWOC, so we won’t be participating. Vido and his family are staying for the races in the next couple days, but then they’ll be going to race in the JWOC Tour like me, so I’ll see them again! I said goodbye to them (but just for now), and then we loaded up and drove off.

The rest of the day was spent in travel and in getting settled in our new accommodations. We had a long drive back to Borovets, and then we reached the hotel where we’ll be staying for the rest of the trip (well, most of us, at least). WE HAD TO SPLIT UP—IT’S SO SAD 😦 😦 The people who are running JWOC are staying in one hotel, while those of us who are running the Tour (me, Anna, Addison, and Matt) are staying in a little cottage a short distance from the main hotel. I’m really unhappy we’re not staying with the rest of the group. We miss them, they miss us, it divides us unnecessarily, and we don’t get to see all the other JWOC teams (like when I walked in the lobby, team Japan was spread out, discussing maps on the couches out front, and some of the boys from Great Britain were stretching in the hall outside their rooms on the second floor. And that is pretty cool. I’m jealous. I think the separation from the others is what’s more upsetting for me, though. I only get a little more time with everyone before we have to leave each other for good). Their hotel is a seven minute walk up the hill from our cottage, so it’s pretty close by, but it’s not like before, when I got to room with Izzy and Anne. And their meals are provided by the hotel, so we can’t eat dinner with them either. SIGH. Oh well. I guess am looking forward to cooking my own meals, and getting a more quiet room.


P.S. We have really spotty wifi right now at the cabin, and definitely not enough to upload a couple gigabytes worth of pictures. I’m uploading this right now at the JWOC hotel, but their internet connection is also tenuous and pretty slow, so it’s taken forever to get anything done. Tomorrow I’ll see if the A-accomodations have better internet (and also visit Emma and the rest of team Canada!)

Razlog Cup: Middle

Our starts were in the afternoon, so we had all morning to sit around and anticipate! Yaaaaaay, anticipation. I think some of us get more unnerved by waiting than others, though—for me, I don’t mind waiting at all, and neither do I mind being rushed or having too little time before a race. But others hate sitting and thinking about the race. I know for a fact Izzy doesn’t like to wait—she likes to get up, drive, warm up, race—nothing in between. Unfortunately our schedule was much more sedate this morning.

We woke up, went down to breakfast, ate, and then afterwards I stayed there at the table for another hour and a half, using the internet! I had written all the blog posts up until that day, so I just needed to upload pictures, write captions, and post the entries. Which is exactly what I did. Anyway, that was a really productive morning, and I’m glad we had the down time to do it. After I finished uploading everything, I went back up to our room to change and pack my bag for the race. Everyone brought their stuff down to lunch, and then right after we finished eating we loaded up the cars and drove off to the meet site.


Lunch! I don’t think I took any photos of breakfast, and plus people always end up looking really tired or out of it, so they’re never the best pictures to have.


Us eating lunch again


My lunch: Soup, toast, cabbage, melon, and cucumbers.

A picture of the village taken from the window of the car


More landscape! This was taken as we entered the village


Looking at the start list (posted on the side of a barn)


Team USA gets the whole start to ourselves! (naw, just kidding. it got a lot more crowded–we were just super early)



We actually got to the meet site really early, so we had a lot of time to chill out and relax before our starts. Again, the waiting was very productive. There weren’t any bathrooms set up at the finish or warm-up area, so we had to do a little creative exploration to find a place to go (you could use the woods, but they were kind of prickly and unpleasant, especially around the start. We were also right on the edge of town, so why waste the opportunity?). I went with Melanie (a very necessary person on the Bathroom Exploration Team, because of her mad skillz with Bulgarian) and Austin (comic relief. Also, as the only guy on the BET, muscle to scare away random dogs/goats/cows if need be) down the hill into town a ways. We eventually found a cafe with a nice owner, and he let all three of us use his place. And all of this took a while, because we walked around for maybe 15 minutes, and then we all had to wait for each other to use the bathroom before we could leave. Anyway, the point is, I was glad had lots of time to do that sort of thing before the start.

Going down the hill to the bathroom we actually met Vido (Aleksiev? I’m not sure what his last name is) and his family driving up to hill to the meet! It was really surreal. I didn’t expect to see him, of all people, in this small dusty village in a foreign country, on a search to find a bathroom (I didn’t even know he was Bulgarian!). So it felt like I was in the wrong country or something when I saw him. We said hi to each other, and he said he’d be running in the same next two days of races that we would, so that was super cool!

Eventually it was time for me to start. It was a middle distance race, and I ran the women’s elite class because there wasn’t a women’s 19-20 category. Katrina, Anne and I all ran the same course again, though, so it was pretty much the same as the Norsk-O-Fest had been.

The middle map.

The middle map.

I didn’t do that well. I felt okay running, not great, and I walked a lot (especially up hills, which is atypical for me, actually. I like running up hills). The woods were really open and visible and runnable—yes, they were pretty awesome—but I felt like I really wasn’t taking advantage of them, because I was going so slowly. I was sore and tired from the hike, and plus I wasn’t feeling well, so maybe that was the reason for my blah-ness. But it probably would have been fine if I didn’t make mistakes. I made a five minute mistake somewhere around the middle of the course, in which I went too far down a hillside and had to climb back up. And then near the end (literally, the last two controls), I made two mistakes that probably totaled to around seven minutes, so that killed my time, if it wasn’t dead already. I think I had lost focus and was just ready for the course to end. The combination of all those factors was enough to put me in last place. I left the course feeling really discouraged about my place and my performance in general.

The others all did really well. Katrina ran a super fast race (especially given that we were competing in women’s elite), and she came in third overall, which was brilliant. Evalin, Izzy, and Elina all ran really well in women’s 18 as well (I think they actually swept—they came in first, second, and third, respectively, and beat all the Bulgarian girls)! Evalin said she had one of the best races of her life.

The boys were also pretty solid (some even better than solid). Will won M18, Austin was second place, and Connor ran a really solid race in men’s elite (I think he ended up 6th in the end? out of 30 or so runners—so well done).

We did a course review, then drove back. My splits were comparable to Anne’s, but Katrina beat me on nearly every split (except we tied on one, and I might have beat her to the finish). But then again, she ran a really great race, and mine was… less than stellar.

We drove back to the hotel and ate dinner, and I tried to put the race behind me. Tomorrow’s another day, anyway.


Dinner–spaghetti with meat sauce, cabbage and carrot salad, and cucumber soup


Elina caught eating!


The twins at dinner… and, you guessed it, Installment #4 of Who’s Who! (hint: Elina is much more juicy)

After dinner we held a birthday celebration for Izzy (no longer the only 16-year-old on the team)! While we were driving back from the meet, the other car sneakily split off to go to the grocery store to buy cake (not waffles, unfortunately!) for Izzy. We tried to make it as much of a surprise as possible, although she probably suspected already, (given that it was her birthday. I’m pretty sure she thought we were planning something). We played it like it was just a regular ol’ team meeting, so we all walked up as normal, but then the rest of the team was waiting in the room and we surprised her with cake and the birthday song!




Showing Izzy the cake


The cake itself!


Om nom nom


Enjoyin’ dem slices


Another post coming shortly–Addie