The Grand Banana: MEC race #5 recap~

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Halloween Half- Marathon! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

Finally, a race I can be proud of!! After a slew of really uninspiring races, races that blew up in my face, races that left me feeling pretty lacklustre about racing and my athletic running ability…I pulled this one out and it felt GREAT!

I wasn’t too enthused about it- to be honest, I was very anxious. My last  half marathon (MEC in June at Royal Roads) was just horrible. I felt like dying, was unsure about why I couldn’t breathe while I was running, and was just feeling concerned and a bit worried about how this was going to go. Was I going to have to walk, gasping for breath? Feeling like I was going to collapse?

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The day was PHENOMENAL! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I did take the entire week off running, and started toning it down quite early last week- shorter runs, taking more days off, making it easier. Not gonna lie, taking the week off from running last week was TOUGH. I felt antsy, anxious, sluggy and like…What if this didn’t pay off? What then? I took a week off, for nothing? (I know a week off in the grand scheme of things is A-Ok! and I needed the rest for my legs, but try telling your brain that).

Anyways, I took time off running, took it easy, went to the corn maze on Saturday with my husband and friend, and didn’t drink. All nice things, and it was incredibly beautiful on the weekend. A kind of beauty that makes me want to live outside haha.

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Gatorade break for me. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

The morning was cold and I was kind of second-guessing my long-sleeves and shorts combo but I didn’t want to get too hot running, as I was going to be out there for awhile and it was supposed to be 17 degrees as the high for the day. Incredible!

And we’re off! I set out with a goal- try for under 5 min/km. Too ambitious? Maybe but I was just grasping at straws here. My first km felt kind of hard, but not really? 4:48/km. Hm…

But the beauty of it was…It just kept flowing. I felt light as a feather, light as air. I ran and ran, and thought about how I could do it forever.

My legs felt good, so good they wanted to be challenged.

I got caught up a bit in the gravel sections (so slow and sloggy) but counseled myself to run carefully here and pick it up when I could. Don’t try to push it too much on the ‘no grip’ sections, it isn’t worth the energy. Same for the running across the grass sections.

At 8km I had to take my shoe off to shake gravel out of it. GReeeeat….This would typically derail me bigtime, but I shook it off (literally) and kept running.

I felt happy, it was getting tough but I could do it. I was doing it. I could meet the challenge! I felt like I could do this, and then I could do even more. It was a fabulous feeling and one that has been missing from my races for a year or more. I was smiling, I felt good and I was happy.

At the finish, I was running with a young guy (who totally beat me at the end, ha) and we finished, turned to each other, and gave each other a high-five. 🙂 That’s what racing is for me- what I had been missing for so long. That purity, that feeling of fun, and freedom.

Thanks again to the excellent team at MEC, and the well organized (if a little insane) race. Good snacks, safe course and a great cheering section. I was even lucky enough to be able to go out for brunch with my husband (who ran an AMAZING race) and our friend who also battled it out to complete a solid 10k.  A great day.

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Tell the right story

This week for riding, I have been (lackluster? lacking motivation? ok?) well, all right.

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Oats jumps an imaginary jump (aka a ditch, haha). Miss field riding already!

No dressage lesson on Tuesday as I did an equine counseling session instead, and that was actually really good and emotionally helpful. Monday was a good ride, though I am having trouble translating my practice into my lessons! More on that on Thursday…

Thursday, small jumps and a general troubling lack of forward (in the beginning). Also my bad diagonal straightness-to-bend came roaring back and it was like I hadn’t done any practice at all! (I know it takes more than a week but jeesh cut me some slack here, horse!).

Good: Jumps felt and were small. My urge to sit up and pull back to a ‘distance’ I mostly quashed! Oats jumped nicely when we were straighter. I had the strange desire to go again! And again! Who is this person? Haha. I left myself wanting *more*.

Bad: Straightness and bend. EEEK. Forward was kind of a non-thing at first, and Oats was distinctly sassy. One big crop led to one big BUCK! (My trainer was like, great!! Use that energy!!). Stop kicking and flapping with the leg- use the crop instead, every time. This only backfired once when we drifted instead of oh, going straight over the jump and almost ran into a standard. Whoops!

So…I am seeing more bad than good here, but you know? It wasn’t all bad, just like it isn’t always all good.

All is too much: Weekend recap

Funny, for a not-busy weekend it sure ended up being busy!

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The weather was horrendous for most of the weekend. Winds of up to 90km/hr at my house, sideways rain, just so shitty. I went for a run in the AM on Saturday and after 2km of getting blasted backwards and sideways, I gave up after something hit my ear and hurt! I ran more interior routes and then headed home.

Friday we were lucky enough to do some fun Halloween-y activities, like pumpkin carving and making candy apples- the candy apples didn’t quite turn out like I thought (the candy slides off them and puddles on the tray…) Wouldn’t make it again but nice to try once.

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We were going to do the big corn maze on Saturday after riding, but the weather was so awful that I ran horse errands instead (hay nets, grain, MSM for Oats). We are rescheduling for next Saturday as the weather has improved significantly this week. Oats was fun to ride on Saturday, can’t even really remember what we were working on (transitions? Probably transitions. It’s always transitions now.). Saturday night was board game night at the Board Game Cafe with the barn girls. Always a great time! 🙂

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Sunday Ian helped me move jumps at the barn, a quick ride for Oats focusing on straightness at the canter with ‘small’ canter and ‘big’ canter, and going across the diagonal STRAIGHT (again, a big weakness). We were then off to Cobble Hill to Mile End Farm for his birthday lunch with his parents and a hike and a hot tub.

A nice end to a nice weekend. Couldn’t ask for more.

We Got It Coming: Jump lesson!

Back to the indoor doesn’t have to be boring or draggy- in fact, it’s quickly becoming an opportunity to sharpen/refine our skills. Of particular importance, my bad habits of letting Oats motorbike around turns when we are jumping and kind of just ‘give up’. No longer!! This time I am GOING to fix that problem (five years in the making, but who’s counting?!).

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Man!

But yes, we worked on a particularly challenging course last night. Jump height-wise…Nothing impressive. But, we had a circle jump (hard for us), a skinny, some small barrels, a two-stride, and straightness!! to work on.

And it wasn’t easy, or very neat. But, we did improve throughout the ride, which is kind of what I’m going for. Things I am learning and hoping to work on this winter:

  • Fixing my corners, no more motorbiking/forgetting to ride/sitting up!
  • No pulling his head to the left over the jump!
  • No nagging with my leg. Let him relax, then GO for the jump, then relax.
  • Leg stays still.
  • Upper body stays still. Elbows are in shoulders are up.
  • Hands release, shoulders don’t release.
  • Adjustability in the canter.
  • No sitting back when I don’t see a distance and pulling up with my hands. Go with the flow.
  • Both reins used, with contact. This is a tough one for me, as I tend to want to only use one rein with the other flopping uselessly. I get afraid that too much contact will slow him down!

Sooo yeah, lots to work on. But, I did quite enjoy my ride 🙂

Is it too much to ask? Dressage recap!

So my dressage semi-private lessons with Oats have been pretty good, suspiciously good lately in fact. So it was only a matter of time before Oats had a big throw-down hissyfit ‘I don’t wanna’ lesson, and last night was kind of it!

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Oats gets a haircut…

Luckily, he is also 17 and can’t buck as hard as he used to! Phew!

We worked a fairly difficult exercise- turn off the short end, and leg-yield at the trot. This will eventually turn into leg-yield and transition within the leg yield, and back to the gait. So we did trot-walk-trot (HARD), and then trot-canter and then canter-trot. Oats was fairly amenable on one rein- left rein to right leg yield and was kind of a disaster on the other!

Oh Oats!

He was like, umm…no. Instead of our regularly scheduled transition, he would LEAP instead of moving sideways. Like, actually just jumping in the air. Greeeat….

This escalated a bit into a leap-buck, but like I said he is getting older so his bucks didn’t really unseat me, thank god. Ha.

This lesson is one that we had done last year, but without the transitions. And the leg-yield was enough of a brain-melter for both horses! We could barely even get the leg-yielding so being able to ask just a ‘little bit more’ was a stretch for Oats, and he was learning (slowly and kind of nastily) but learning.

So there is progress, albeit very slow and kind of unpleasant for me when Oats really gets going. Oh well, I can manage! And it is nice to see how the exercise develops from one year to the next. Oats is also clipped, so I didn’t have to spend forever and a day cooling him out. YESSSS!

Arcade Fire and a weekend in Vancouver

Spent the weekend (another long one, lucky me!!) in Vancouver going to see the Arcade Fire show at the Pacific Coliseum. It was GREAT! We sadly showed up super late (arghhh) because we wanted to grab a beer at Parallel 49- an East Van brewery first. So we did, and it was crazy packed, and then when we went to catch the bus to the venue, no bus came…

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And we waited…and waited. UGH!

Finally it showed up and we had missed the opening act (Phantogram) and at least two songs by Arcade Fire. Bummer!! But the show itself was really amazing. The light show was super technically well done, and kept the audience riveted. They also played very heavy from Suburbs as well as Funerals so I was very happy with that!

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We stayed at the Sutton Place hotel (love it, don’t love that they charge $14+ for wi-fi!!) and we ate, oh boy did we eat…

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Nuba- La Feast. Highly recommend!! So much food and so great.

Brunch at Chambar– I had the Belgian waffle with milk chocolate lavender sauce, as well as a rosewater-orange-pistachio mocha, and fruit, yogurt and granola. YUM! So filling too.

Snack: Soft Peaks Chocolate Mudslide with Tim Tams.

Drinks: Beer at Parallel 49 and more beer/cocktails at the Alibi Room. Very cool!

We had a great weekend, the weather was cold but nice on Sunday. Everything went very smoothly with my dogsitter thank GOD and the ferries and Oats, and well, all of it! A nice time to get away. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. I was a bit bummed at first, because I was DYING to go to the Turkey Trot schooling event at High Point and nobody was going and I didn’t have a ride up there 😦 so I couldn’t go…But when it dawned rainy and kind of blahh, I was like, ok fine.

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View from the top

At least I had the chance to school Oats at High Point earlier in Sept. Win win!

And then the weather cleared up beautifully- just in time for my husband’s excellent race at the Victoria Marathon (running the half marathon in a shocking 1:29. MAN!!!) I would kill for that time haha.

It was a great day, so I went riding and then we shared some wine at the beach and read and relaxed in the sun. Ah…. Our Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t turkey- I am not a big fan. Instead we had salmon and mussels! Yummy!!

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The Monday I rode Oats in the field very briefly, just to jump a few things and then we went up on a hike to Mt. Finlayson at Finlayson Arm, so Ian could show me his route during the Finlayson Arm 28k. It was….long. But so picturesque!~ His legs were tired and so were mine though, a busy and very physically active weekend. That evening we capped off a great long weekend by making won-ton soup. It was GREAT!

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I wish I could have a three-day weekend every weekend. Man…