|WOC 2004, Sweden|
The following year I managed to get to a level where I started to dream about podium places after an 8th place on the long distance in NOC (Nordic Orienteering Championships) and some good results in the World Cup. We also managed to win a World Cup relay with Anni-Maija and Minna. However, in WOC 2005 I faced a new kind of challenge and pressure after I had finished 2nd in the qualification and got to start to the middle distance final among the last 6 starters. Suddenly a podium place seemed a lot closer – and yet so far. My expectations grew too high and I couldn’t handle the pressure in the final and finished 17th. It was my second WOC and second year in the national team but I never thought that it was my best chance. I was still inexperienced and naïve and believed that I had many years ahead and many more chances to try to reach my dreams.
|Finland's WOC team 2005 (SSL)|
But the following years were tough. I was working hard for my research project and didn’t have time to rest between work and training. I tried to balance there the best I could but probably pushed myself too hard and got several injuries and stress fractures that hampered my training for next few years. In 2006 I was 11th on the middle distance in EOC and 15th in the overall World Cup but didn’t make it to the WOC due to various injuries. In 2008 I made a comeback with some very good results but got sick just before the WOC finals and that was it. I got one more chance in WOC 2010 but felt like a wallflower there when running a distance that has never been my cup of tea. I finished 21st, far below my expectations.
After 2010 I really wanted to improve and made some drastic changes in my life. For the first time I gave myself opportunity to train as a pro and rest between the trainings. I just didn’t realize that I needed to train orienteering to become a better orienteer. Spending three years in an area with practically no orienteering maps, no club trainings and no national team support didn’t make me a better orienteer. I became a better runner but lost some of my technical skills. Retrospectively, I could have made more progress as an orienteer if I had moved for instance to Halden instead of Birmingham but, on the other hand, then I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to run Inter Counties (cross country championships between the counties in England) or to know what fell running is.
|Back in action, World Cup 2013, NZ|
Anyway, I worked hard for five years to fulfill my dream and to get to run World Championships for one more time but it didn’t happen. I made some good results, such as a 6th place in the World Cup in Spain 2014, but I also screwed it up a few times despite good shape and preparations. I was quite close to get to the team in 2013 and 2014 but the places are few and the competition is hard. I was often among top3 or top4 in the selections but it wasn't enough. I should have done better and I probably should have focused more on the selections than the actual championships. It has been frustrating to work for something for so long and then not to get a chance to try to achieve your goals. This year I was put aside early in the spring due to prolonged infections. It took me several months to recover and there wasn’t enough time to get back in time. It hit me hard in the spring when I realized that I had just missed my last chance. It was bad luck but there was nothing I could do. I tried and I failed but it’s better than not to try at all. Life will continue and I have other dreams and goals to achieve.
|World Cup sprint, Finland, 2013 (SSL)|
|World Cup final, Baden, 2013 (Marc Streit)|
I want to thank you all who’ve been there along the way and supported me! Even if I didn’t reach all my goals and dreams I gained a lot and enjoyed the journey. As an athlete you quite easily become very focused on the results and winning but with some time and perspective I’m starting to realize how much more it has been than just the results. All the hard work, dedication, and commitment. All the sweat and tears. Emotions. Continuous learning. Training camps. People. Bond between like-minded people. Friends. Shared goals. Shared happiness. Places. Amazing places. Maybe I didn’t get to run for some silly medals but it wasn’t all for nothing. I learned a lot about myself, got some wonderful friends and got to see the world. So many great moments and good memories!
Some pics from the journey…
|Training in African savannas, SA|
|Sprinting in beautiful surroundings|
|Marsh intervals in Norway|
|Getting high in Switzerland|
|Scenic runs in New Zealand|
|Training in the French Alps|
|Having fun in Italy|
|Having tea in Japan|