Race Recap: MEC Race #3 The Tape Breaker!

I ran this one solo, no friend, no husband to join me but I was fine with it. The race moved from last year, the Sooke Potholes location. I really loved the Sooke race–I was fairly new to half-marathons, and found it quite difficult and hot, but the track, the scenery, the weather…so gorgeous!

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So when they announced a new venue I was kind of feeling crabby about it.  One of my favourite races was Sooke even though my time kind of sucked last year, just because of the lovely memories of it. So how was Royal Roads going to measure up?

Well! I can say I am very glad this was was changed when I was more comfortable with running the halfs, that’s for darn sure. It was quite a bit tougher, in terms of terrain to negotiate and the hills. Oh, the hills…I assumed it would be hilly but doable, but when you start with 2k of sloping hills, and then run up Wishart Rd–kind of kills your will to live!

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I’m not gonna lie, the first 10k I was feeling pretty surly at myself. My pace sucked sucked sucked, my legs felt really dead–I looked at my watch at the start and it was saying paces like 5:37, 5:40–at the START of a race? WTF was going on? Why so slow? Well, the slow was due to hill running, genuis! hahah.

It was a combination of gravel, pavement, some road running, then hill/road running, more trail running (roots) and back to gravel. A more technical half than I am used to, but you know what? At 12k a volunteer shouted to me–”Hey you’re half way there!” And I smiled and felt instantly better. Sure I am! Funny enough, having to muscle my way up a really long/steep hill made the time pressure much less for me. I was not going to get my goal time that I got at my last half- 1:45. So I might as well enjoy the process!

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And I did! It was still very hard, I was running dead alone for most of it–not many in the middle ground like me, some very fast runners ahead of me, and slower runners behind me, but nobody with me. It could have been very lonely, but I was fine. It was a hot day, I was sweating so much it was splashing off my ponytail 🙂

I made sure to stop at every water station and drink Gatorade too. I wanted my race to feel SO much better than last time, when I felt like dying and it was horrible. And you know what? I finished STRONG! Happy! FAST! *well, you know…

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My time was 1:50 and you know what? That is totally ok. I know I am capable of faster- on a different track- but on Sunday, that was good for me. I ran a race I am happy with. Congrats to MEC for putting on another affordable, well-run race for everyone, and I love the photos too!

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A strong finish. Thanks to MEC for another great race.

Learning to appreciate

 

I was at the gym at lunch today (work has a fabulous gym, good treadmills, TV’s that mostly work and lots of equipment that is in good condition) and I was kind of feeling grouchy about ‘having to’ workout at lunch.

I was feeling kind of blah, draggy – end of week blues- and not exactly looking forward to lifting some weights. I’ve been yawning a lot in the gym this week, the weather has been mediocre to outright bad, and I blame not running for most of it. Cardio tends to jazz me up and I’m not relying on it this week, as I am trying to save my legs (perhaps unsuccessfully, given how much I have been riding lately!).

But then when I was looking at myself in the mirror, with my hand-weights, I realized something: Man, I am SO LUCKY I get to do this at all. Lift weights. See a measurable difference in my body. Go to the gym at lunch. Work out, push myself. Run races. Ride horses. So fortunate!

This, coming on the heels of a pretty shitty ride on Oats last night. I let my ego get the best of me, and the ride flip-flopped between ‘good’ and ‘a fight’ where I was unreasonable, edgy and frustrated with him and myself. I hate those rides, and I often say I need a witness or an audience, to help me be better to myself and more forgiving with my horse. SIGH. Why do I always learn that lesson the hard way? The only thing I am happy with is how great my lessons were this week- two of ’em! And they rocked! And that these instances of frustration/edginess/anxiety/tension/anger are getting further and fewer apart. One day, I might not have them come up at all.

Until then…I can be very glad with what I have. And what I have the opportunity to do! My pony is a babysitter, he took great care of me in my jump lesson and he is a very forgiving sort. I need to be the same.

I also have a great physical body that is showing me every time I push myself how much I can do. Wow! It’s crazy! I enjoy seeing photos of myself in my athletic endeavours, because a few years ago I would never even dream of doing the stuff I do now. I love it.

A jumble?

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I also got a brief run in…

So, things have also been very interesting this week. In a nutshell:

  • Listed my condo as I mentioned on the weekend and accepted offers on Tuesday. Exciting!
  • Rode in my dressage semi-private on Tuesday and things were GREAT!
  • Work computers went ka-blammo also on Tuesday. Not so great.
  • Jump lesson Wednesday and it was…a challenge? Some good and some ‘needs a lot of work’ but what I can say- Oats is a babysitter too, and he took great care of me when I was doing a lot of my regular dumb things- riding backwards, pulling, getting left behind, not committed= no problem mom, I got this!

So yeah, wow.

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Beers with my husband at Car Free Day. A great weekend event!

I was VERY pleased with my dressage lesson. We worked on transitions, but not in the way you think- they were more like, good forward walk, ok go up to HUGE trot (it felt like we were flying!) and then transition back to good walk, and then huge trot again, to the canter. We were going to intentionally let them break into canter from the huge trot, so the transition felt very seamless and uphill. It did, actually. The only issues I had was Oats getting distracted down the long side – felt like I was wrestling with a shark at this crazy big trot. His canter transitions felt amazing though.

And- the forward work we did really ‘bled through’ to my jump lesson on Wednesday. Oats had 1 big spook at the tractor in the field (thanks doofus) but he was quite nicely forward and very obliging. Our gymnastic work- my nemesis- was SO good! The jump at the end went up to 2’6” and I swear it looked about 2’3”. I didn’t even believe Nicole when she said it was higher, and I kind of still don’t believe her. The course work was….a work in progress.

I need to get better about my hands pulling back, and for me, being more honest about the distance to the jump. So, bring my hands down, and commit to the jump, dammit! Oats was golden. He took any distance, never a bad thought in his head. Love him! I don’t want to lie to him about distances….

I only did the course once (yeah I wimped out) but I am trying. Slowly but surely, I am trying.

Next up: Tying a home-made bucking strap to the d-rings on my saddle, to give my pulling, too-high hands somewhere to anchor to when the desire hits me. I want to improve!

 

 

Team work to make the dream work?

Remind me again that if I ever sell a house, to move somewhere else for basically the entire showing time period. ARGH!!! This weekend was basically a parade of pack my animals up, load them into the car, drive to the barn, ride, check on the animals, come home…Pack the animals up, load them into the car, drive around for awhile, come home…Pack the animals up, drive around for awhile, come home…

UGH.

While I totally understand that being overwhelmed with multiple-day viewing requests is a GREAT problem to have, it is hard on my critters and is quite stressful for them to be vacated & into my car multiple times a day…

My dog came to work with me on Friday, and my rabbit spent the day in his cage in my car, in the underground (cool) parking lot…

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Gidget is not cut out for this job!

And other than that, they came with me to the barn, on a run, on grocery shopping trips, to grab a beer (stayed in the car)…thank god the weather has been pretty lousy, so it is cool enough in the car for them. Anyways- we hear today, as offers are being presented. My fingers are crossed!!!

So yeah Oats has also been getting a TON of rides in. My legs are killing me actually. Ha. I rode him Thursday after I lessoned on my trainer’s horse Blaze, and then rode Fri/Sat/Sun and he was really good! My eye blew. Like, stunk out loud. I can’t seem to see my distance to a pole anymore unless I pull to it –he took the long spot every time. I finally gave up and just started jumping and that was sooooo much smoother….He did get a good eyeball in at the barrels, silly pony, but jumped anyways.

We did have one scary moment when we were hand-galloping down the long side of the outdoor arena, and then BLAMMO we were shooting sideways at a full gallop….I was like SHIIIIIIITTTTTTT. Turns out the granddaughter of the stable owner had decided to creep over the fence – I never saw her coming or heard her- and startled the ever loving shit out of my horse!..THANKS?!~!!

I did kind of yell at her about letting me know she is coming. Jesus. I always fall off in the outdoor at the ‘spooky corner’ and this year I am determined NOT TO. Thanks, kid, for almost making me eat dirt yet again…grrrrrr.

Other than that, we enjoyed half-price sushi last night while we were wasting a few more hours out of the house, and also watched bunnies frolic, eagles snatch fish away from seagulls, and a clever sea otter drag a salmon back to its lair, also pursued by eagles! Cool eh??

Eye opener

Had my jump lesson last night, as usual, but NOT as usual- rode my trainers babysitter horse Blaze! I know, jumping a horse that is not my own? Blasphemy!

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So I rode the one on the left…

I wanted to try something new, get out of my head for a bit with Oats and just, see where I was with jumping. My trainer had suggested it last week as a good opportunity, and I said sure. It’s been a crazy busy week at work, and I am also selling my condo right now too, so things have been fairly out of control. That’s why I was glad I was taking the plunge and trying something new- I want riding to be fun and fresh again, I want to appreciate what I have in Oats, and what I have in myself. What better way to learn this than by taking a lesson on a jumping babysitter?

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And the first horse in this photo too! Blaze! 

Before I hopped on Blaze, I got on her other horse Donato- who is being leased by a lovely lady. He is HUGE. It felt like I was struggling to steer and command an elephant. Wow. He is a super tough ride for me, when I normally ride my little 14.1hh sports car…It was very interesting and a struggle for me, haha. Kudo to Lindsey with how she manages that beast! She makes it look a lot easier than it is. Even mounting/dismounting was hard- it felt like I was falling from a great height when I got off, the ground was soooo far away!

Then it was Blaze time. We worked over a gymnastic and wow…it was very emotional for me. I learned that my issues with gymnastics isn’t an Oats problem, it’s  a me problem. I really had a tough time letting go with my body, and my arms. I kept wanting to freeze up, pull back, and generally just tell the horse ‘I’m afraid. I don’t trust you. Don’t go!’ which is exactly what I DONT want. Yeesh.

So yeah, I was almost in tears- because I felt frustrated, it was hard, and it was scary.

Luckily Blaze is a total babysitter, so she cruised through enough times that I was able to get over it, the mental block I have on gymnastics. It was very mentally difficult for me though, wow. I was like, hey when do I get to start cantering jumps?!! I don’t want to do gymnastics anymore!

But that work paid off. When we went to do the course, finally, it was so good. I met every single distance perfectly- we had 1 bobble when I forgot how to steer over skinny barrels, but no matter- I looped back and fixed it. It was a great feeling, to see a jump and be like, yep, there it is.

I wanted Nicole to lower the jumps and she laughed and was like, nope!

She was 100% right too, haha. The jumps didn’t even feel like anything. Now, I want this feeling on my horse. What to do, what to do…

I tacked Oats up after finishing my lesson with Blaze and rode him. He felt so fun, so neat again. I want to recapture that ‘fun’ feeling, he is such a fun horse to ride, so neat and exciting and cool…Why don’t I always appreciate it? How do I get my mojo back? I was almost in tears after my ride with him too, because he’s just so FUN~ What is wrong with me?

A good day to end a crazy work day. I rode until like 9:15pm!

Run/ride/PARTY!!

So, work has been insane this week (what else is new? eye rolls…) so I haven’t had a spare second to update. However, the weekend was super jam-packed with a lot of great things.

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Not quite so classy this time.

I ran close to 20k with my husband (my Garmin F10 was not working that well, so it started later into my run, hence the ‘close to’). It was a solid run. I don’t often feel that way –usually my long runs are horrible struggles, where I second guess my ability every step of the way, and feel tired at 4k. I still felt like I had been running forever at 4k, but then magically at like 17k, I felt like, hey no problem guys- I can do this!

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I got this, long run! 

We finished our run and drove home for lunch. I finished lunch and then zipped off to the barn to get in a quick ride, because I had a beer fest to attend at 3pm!

Oats was good, it was a VERY fast ride and we did a few trot-canter transitions: our homework as per Karen Brain from my last dressage lesson. We still suck at them but oh well. I then got home, changed, and we zipped out to Phillips annual Hopoxia! We had a blast! And those mini samples are deadly.

Long story short, we drank too much. Wow! Good thing we were walking, so we walked there and basically staggered home. Eeeek. Luckily my husband has a sixth-sense for when things are ready to go seriously sideways for us–though he does catch it when we are already somewhat inebriated- and he suggested we leave. Good idea!

We staggered home, at like 7pm. Whoops!

And that was it for the night for me. I am super glad my day was extremely productive, because my evening consisted of feeling too out of it to even watch tv!

Haha, I guess you have to get silly sometimes, or life is no fun. Though I gotta say my ride the next day, with a slight hangover, was really NO fun. Ugh.

Oh and who do I complain to about the weather? It freaking SUCKS. It is freezing outside. It has been blasting wind and/or raining every single day. It is also 9 deg right now- in June??

“There is a shabby nobility in failing all by yourself.”

I feel like quoting Bright Lights Big City again. Maybe because that’s where I feel like I am these days?

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Want this again…

I’m not in the pit, but I am on the lip, looking in sometimes. Maybe on my way back up. I always felt like I was trying hard, and I am still trying hard, but that my efforts are taking me back to kindergarten.

Also I think that bright lights is a story of redemption–and weirdly, kind of uplifting in that ‘hits rock bottom and claws way back out’ way. So goes my riding and life these days? I actually don’t have a lot to moan about, but it’s more the way I feel like I have to work hard, to get – where exactly?

Lessons to recap this week:

Tuesday Dressage: Lateral work was WAY better when I learned I had to actually  release off my horse’s face and let him do his work. When I was softer, he was softer. Who would have thought? Why did it take me until Tuesday to realize this, and why do I seem to have to re-learn it every time?

My sitting trot sucks and is non-existent, and my fear-based habits of raising my hands and lurching forward through the canter transition has re-appeared in a big way. Homework: Do a 100 sitting trot-canter transitions each ride.

Wednesday Jumping: Wanted to ride outdoors and the wind was blasting again. We tried at first outdoors and I couldn’t hear a damn thing Nicole was saying, and it was frustrating for the both of us, so at my request we moved it indoors. My wimp muscles reared their ugly head- and I wanted to backpedal. Instead, we worked over a cross-rail canter-in grid to a small vertical (1-stride), and then to a small course. No jump was over 2′.

Shocker, everything went fine. I bungled the distance to 1 fence pretty consistently, until Nicole was like, ok what would you change about that fence? The approach, duh! So I cut it in a little bit and approached it earlier and bingo–distance was 100% there.

I still felt a bit ‘flooded’ emotionally, so I only wanted to do the small course twice. That’s fine. I know where I am with this right now.

Thursday Equine counseling: This week was a week full of learning! And I’m not going to lie, it’s very tough emotionally for me. We reviewed a few of the emotional triggers in my body that I have been hanging on to and explored why I went through kind of a cycle of problems- falling off, etc.

While I am dealing with stuff that is coming up, weird old problems bubble up- problems that I thought I managed already- like jumping ahead, hands coming up, riding defensively, pulling back on my horse.

So, I have to work through this stuff proactively and just…be ok with the process. It was still quite emotional and difficult, and I had to release something big, just let it go and dive into that feeling. I hate feeling things, so yeah it was tough! I felt ok when we were done though, and Oats is always very relaxed when we do it- he gets so relaxed that he lets ‘himself’ hang out, which is rare for him because he is a very private horse.