Good/Bad/Bummed

So no Oats recaps this week. He is SICK! 😦

I thought he was coughing a lot during my lesson last Thursday. Little did I know…

Saturday I got to the barn and he was full-blown snotty, snot spraying everywhere! On the ground, on my jacket, on his face, chest, legs all accompanied by a lovely cough. So, yeah my horse show (Wild ‘N Wooly Dressage Series) was supposed to be on Sunday. Can’t take a sick horse, Oats now having to have a bunch of days off to recover, as per my vet.

Show’s off.

Or is it?

My friends who were coming with me to the show were so bummed too! What to do? They suggested I borrow my trainer’s schoolmaster Blaze! I pondered that for a hot minute. I wanted to to do the show (on Oats) but I just plain wanted to try it out. I wasn’t going to be able to defer my entries b/c I am racing the next time and in Peru for the time after that!

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The talented photographer Sue Ferguson took this photo of us!

So…I asked to borrow Blaze and got a yes!

Now, to ride a dressage show on a horse I have ridden once, in a jump lesson, three years ago. = Success??

HA, sort of!

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Horse treats, gummy candies (from the horse show!) AND Reese’s (from Lindsay). They know me so well! 

It was a success in that the day went really well, Blaze was a really good girl and not spooky at all, and we tried our best! We even did the Prix Caprilli (pictured above)! The green-eyed jealousy monster in me wished I had Oats so we could strut our stuff, but I also knew that Blaze and I would be trying our best, and that was good enough for us 🙂

The show was run really well, super smoothly. My friends came and I had a great time chatting and catching up!! My friend on her horse was able to really pull it together after a bit of a shaky first test. I also kind of went off course twice… Apparently the third time is the try, hahahah. I am going to pin that on catch-ride nerves, haha. Or something?

It was a lovely way to experience the show and I am grateful I was able to borrow a horse to go. Now, please get better Oats. I miss riding you and having a purpose to my day!!

Snow Day

And lucky for me, it landed on the day I take off from the barn!

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Not so lucky for me- snow was sticking to the ground and coming down quite hard, in big flakes, blasting right into my eyeballs the entire way I was run-shuffling home. It was very cold, and slippery and the snow in my eyes was painful. ARGH.

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The animals liked the snow a lot though! Gidget was tearing around in the field (I took her running in the field with me, since I could’t go for a regular run like I do on Wednesdays…the roads/sidewalks were slippery deathtraps). She does suffer from snoball feet though!

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Tucker was unsure about the snow at first, and then he really got into it was was racing up and down the deck!

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All in all, it looks very pretty today but I will be very happy for the snow to go, and for spring to come in earnest!

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Bandwagonesque

Ha, I picked this title due to a certain situation that is playing out at my barn. But, I’m a lurker and staying out of it!! 🙂

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Last winter was very snowy. Right now? Freaking cold.

Riding this week- rode Sunday after my race and Oats was good, it was cold though. We worked on some canter, off the rail to focus more on straightness.

Monday– Trying out some movements from our upcoming dressage tests, Training 2 & 3. Moderate success, noting some issues popping up through the contact, and transitions. Also our stretchy trot is not a thing. Hm…

Tuesday– FROZEN. So horrible. I was in so much pain from the cold in the arena that I wanted to get off and go home. I was NOT enjoying it. Oats was good, but just..ARGH. It was really awful. We worked on transitions. Lots of transitions. Walk-trot. Trot-halt. Halt-trot. Sitting trot-posting trot. Halt- walk.

But man, oh it was cold.

Kind of hating the cold this week. Running to work this AM felt like pure torture and I never even warmed up during the 4k it took to run. And I WAS bundled up! ARGHHH. And, chiefly due to the drastic weather change and the hard-run 8k, my throat hurts on and off, and I have had sinus pain all week.

Getting sick? God, I hope not!!! Everyone at my work is sick and I am desperately trying to stave that off.

Hatley Castle 8k- Race Recap!

This past Sunday was the Hatley Castle 8k- a fun and challenging race in the VIRA Island Race Series. Notable for a very hilly course, scenic views, and tasty hotdogs for the participants!

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Yum!

It was also freezing. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and the gravel was slick and icy. A windstorm was currently raging in Victoria, luckily we only got hit with it at Royal Roads when we ran along the water at the start. Anyways, it felt pretty lousy.

I didn’t have very high hopes for the race- not that this was bumming me out, but that I’m focusing more on building more Km’s into my week and not taking a lot of time off during the week= deader legs. I know this going in, so I am not using these races for goal races, I’m realistic about what I can accomplish.

But…I’m also improving. I am getting faster, even with not-so-fresh legs supporting me.

Logistics were pretty smooth, lots of parking, hit the port-a-potties early so no lineups, and I felt pretty chill (haha, I was frozen). We warmed up, I stupidly kept my fleece on for the race b/c I was frozen, and when we hit the start line, I fumbled trying to zip it up. I couldn’t! We were going too fast. I also hit my watch ‘START’ and it didn’t. So my recipe for success:

  1. Run with your jacket flapping like Superwoman. Yeah that’s not annoying at all!
  2. Watch doesn’t start. Notice 1km in.
  3. It is so cold my exercise asthma was kind of flaring but not badly so.
  4. ….
  5. Success?

We ran up the first hill, I was getting passed like crazy but I had a feeling like- nah, I can do this. I will wait. I will bide my time and then I will go.

To be honest this ‘zen’ mindset is more to keep me from freaking out and trying to run faster when I am getting passed early. That’s a quick way for me to ruin a race. I have to run MY race.

So I hung on, lost a bit of speed and enthusiasm up the longer hill and we hit the flatter gravel section. Now it’s flat but also gravel….slippy. The guy running ahead of me slid pretty dramatically around the turnaround but he didn’t fall! Came damn close though.

I plugged along, not running great but kind of looking forward to the forested trail section. We ran for awhile on the gravel and then turned into the woods. Yes! My time to shine! (sort of). I was able to tackle the hills well here, played leapfrog with another woman runner up to the top of the hill. By then, I was able to pass her and stay past. I had been getting passed by her consistently up until then. Sweet!!

Then the loooong downhill. Ouch my hamstrings.

Flat section, some more gravel, and a slight downill again. Use it! Free speed.

And…the long leadup to the finish. I didn’t really sprint (ha, yeah like I could) and my hamstring was feeling really cranky…

But I am happy with my time: 36:39 and good enough for 1st in my AG women’s 30-34. First time ever!

(also for context: This time last year would have netted me 6th place. Ha).

Thanks again for the volunteers, race directors and VIRA for putting on a well-run, smoothly executed race despite some weather challenges!

The messenger began to believe that the message was him.

Quote I found (I believe it is a lyric from a song?) but I liked it!

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Jump lesson recap this week- MUCH better than last week. Oats was more consistently forward, though I came into the ride with a plan. Get him off my leg, the walk in the warm-up is NOT lollygagging around, and I ride with purpose, every step. Jump lessons are too precious to half-ass the beginning!

So I marched him around, got some pissy leg kick-outs, dealt with them and moved on.

Was the lesson perfect? HAHAH no. But, it was much improved and it helped me ride with ‘my horse moving underneath me’ rather than me pushing, pulling with my body moving too much. I am particularly guilty of this when I am not sure I have enough horse to ride!

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The exercises were very simple this week: Jump a line of skinnies 4-strides apart (an easy four, which of course we biffed and got a choppy FIVE sometimes…ah Oats), and a small course with some oxers. The focus was more on flow, and we got it!

I was much improved with my upper body, staying in two-point most of the ride, back with my shoulders through the corners (still had some blips but hey…better) and Oats was riding quite nicely.

It just went so much better. I was happy with Oats, and left on a real good note. Yay!

Family Day long weekend: Doing ALL the things!

We had a long-anticipated long (ha) weekend and boy, did we cram it full of things to do!

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The day was PHENOMENAL! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I even got up early-ish both Sat/Sun to be able to get stuff done. So what did we enjoy this weekend?

Saturday:

  • Got up, had a great breakfast (pancakes!) courtesy of my husband, and then up and off to ride Oats. Great ride, someone left a bunch of jumps up to a reasonable height (small verticals) so we schooled those.
  • Trimmed up his mane and then rushed home, to run my long run. It took forever.
  • Got home, took Gidget for a walk, showered and rushed downtown to do a happy hour crawl with husband. It was GREAT!
  • We started at Table 21 for $5 prosecco, (their food isn’t really great, and not a good deal), and then went to Perro Negro for their awesome $6 charcuterie platter and $4 glasses of wine, and then to Famous Original pizza for their fantastic pizza deal- can of PBR and a slice for $6. We got another slice each after that!!

Sunday:

  • Get up early for my riding lesson with Karen Brain. It was tough to get up that early, but my friend was at the barn and brought me coffee!! Sweet!
  • The lesson was awesome- I was really happy with Oats’ efforts, and minimal drama from him too. A focused and good lesson.
  • Got dressed at the barn and ran hills on my way home. PHew. My legs were fried!
  • Got home, and collected husband and Gidget and we went to check out Oak Bay for a change of pace. Grabbed some candy, bought raspberry hot chocolate and cruised around. We saw three otters swimming in a pack! So cute.
  • Husband made a great shepherd’s pie for dinner. Yumm.

Monday:

  • No early mornings here! Waffles thanks to my husband, and we packed lunch to go hiking up Mt. Wells, near Goldstream.
  • It was a good trail- I am not a skilled hiker, so I find it tough but it was quite fair. Lots of steep climbs though and great views to round out the experience. Gidget loved it! The weather was soooooo good. Cold, but sunny and so bright 🙂
  • Ate sandwiches on our way to the barn after the hike, and a quiki ride on Oats. Some minor lateral work.
  • Home, and the climbing gym for husband, and the couch and Baileys for me 🙂 Chores to round out the evening and some TV.

I LOVE long weekends!!

 

Mr. Oats drags ass

Had my jump lesson last night and quite frankly I was expecting much more from dear old Oats. He was dragging ass, cranky about going forward (kicking out when I ‘reminded’ him about it) and just so BLAH.

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Pick up your feet! So yeah this was not happening yesterday…

So, not so fun. I was unimpressed and annoyed at having to ride him so hard for what was basically a low level jump lesson. Did he wake up on the wrong side of the bed that morning? He had Wednesday off, and even still on Thursday he was just sulky, behind the leg and lazy.

Needless to say I had to work very hard to keep him going over our jump course. We worked on 1 circle jump, and a small course that included a two-stride that we almost NEVER made in two strides except when I got mad enough to MAKE IT HAPPEN!!>!?! And then it did. Phew.

I was tired after that ride for sure, and my eyes were watering like crazy.

I heard also that Oats was spending a lot of time playing like a fool with his horse friends, so I wonder if that is where allll his energy is going. My trainer said it sounded like I was a jealous girlfriend- “Oh so that’s where you’re spending all your time now? With your horse buddies?!!” Instead of saving some energy at night for ME!?!

But I kind of did feel that way. Lacklustre and blah.

He wasn’t bad or anything, just very tuned out. Oh well, we live to fight another day! hahah.

Don’t get stuck: Ride updates!~

I have been quiet on the ride front lately (didn’t ride Sunday, Saturday was kind of terrifying with Canadian Geese crash-landing constantly on the roof of the indoor. I hated it! Oats was a total saint though.)

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

Monday I was determined to practice. Practice anything! But I was pretty sure I was going to work on some dressage-y items, so I brought my dressage whip and mindset. Except…It was dead quiet, only one other rider around, and a few small x-rails set up, and…Well jumping was way too fun so jumping won!

I still did some cruising around with purpose though- I worked on my release, relaxed body in two-point, and just went around, and around, and around. It was really nice! It felt like a very solid ride, but in a quiet and calm way. After jumping, I practiced holding a relaxed, shoulders-down, chest-open two-point in trot. For what felt like forever. My legs were burning!

Oats is only too happy to go along with ‘me days’ when I work harder on myself than on the horse. He was as good as gold.

Last night is my usual Tuesday dressage lesson, but I cancelled and am trying to reschedule for Sunday. Good thing too, because traffic was HORRIFIC and it took me over an hour to get to the barn last night. My lesson usually starts at 6:30pm- I didn’t get TO the barn until after 6:30. Eff my life. I was fuming!

I was so tempted to take that bad mood and work it out on my dear Oats. Luckily I am aware of that temptation now, and can defuse it when it rears its ugly head. Instead, we worked on something physical, but great to practice- trot-sitting trot-canter-sitting trot-posting trot. Sounds easy right? Yeah…No. My abs were killing me, I was sweating?!

The transition between posting trot to sitting trot (while NOT letting the trot die out, or you ‘forget’ to ride during it) is much harder than you think. Phew!! It was a very physically demanding ride for the both of us, and I was able to work out my traffic angst in a good and productive, kind way.

Good pony! 🙂 I am happy with how my rides felt this week. I felt more dialed-in and connected, like I was focused on the ride instead of feeling airy-fairy and halfassed like last week.

Race report: VIRA Cedar 12k (er…11.9k)

This was an exciting race because at the last minute the course had to change! A car hit a hydro pole, so crews were out at work on-course the morning of the race. The host club- Bastion Run Club- had to work fast to re-route the course and save the race!

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From the start line- photo by Lois D’Ell/Ceevacs Roadrunners.

They did a fabulous job. The re-route was slightly short- my Garmin read about 100m short, so not certified. BUT it was a lovely route, along some farms, quiet road and very scenic. Slight rolling hills but nothing compared with the prior BIG hill the Cedar 12k usually features, so times were indeed faster this year (well also it was short).

I wasn’t interested in racing this one balls-to-the-wall because I wanted to run during the week and save my race efforts for some other races – and quite frankly I am still riding the high of reaching my 10k goal at Cobble Hill, natch!

So, my husband ran with me (he was also not racing hard for this one) and we worked on some pace strategies. I want to try to see if I can maintain a 4:30/km in a race scenario longer than a 10k. Could I this past Sunday? Not quite! I was at 4:32/km which is close and I was pretty happy with that. It felt hard, and my legs were tired, but it wasn’t an insane gasping-for-breath pace that a tough race effort would be.

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At the turnaround: Photo courtesy of Ross Palfrey.

My next goal is to try and take that pace longer- for a 15k. Can I do it? Maybe? Not sure!

The volunteers kept us safe on the new course, the scenery and weather were FANTASTIC and a great day was had by all!

I finished the race with a fairly respectable 54:24, which was amazingly good for 2nd place in my AG. This is the best I have ever placed in my AG! It was a softer field for sure, less entrants. I felt pretty gleeful about that, whoop!

We had some great snacks afterwards, the awards went pretty fast and we had time for a beer at Chemainus’ Riot Brewery-score!!! 🙂

Say yes for another time

Jump lesson last night and I admitted my rides this week have felt kind of blahhhh….But I was hoping to turn that around. From uninspired to inspired? We’ll see!

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Another throwback to the race a few weeks ago. Photo courtesy of Ken D’Ell. 

Actually Tuesday was a good quality ride, but not for physicality- more for mental progress, so there’s that 🙂 So we built upon my work from Tuesday and I did a LOT of jumping with one hand!

We worked over a small grid (two-stride trot-in, X-rail to a small oxer) and I rode it one-handed most of the time! And then we worked up to a small course, of which I alternated steering with two hands, and jumping the jumps with one hand. Not gonna lie, I almost felt paralyzed by indecision and fear for a bit in the beginning, and I felt frustrated. Why is this so hard?!

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Some days you ride better without hands. This remains true…Throwback to a few years ago.

BUT it got better, and my body responded. I was figuring it out, and the frustration I felt slowly ebbed and went away. The jumps were small, I felt bolder. I re-did a line that was riding poorly (ok, I did say things got better but YEAH not amazing, and boy did I have some screw-ups, ha) of my own volition!

But you know what? I was able to accept the mistakes graciously and here’s the big one: move on from them.

I said I wanted to ride the course again, and yes it wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t paralyzing either. So go for it! Get what’s yours and just try it. I didn’t feel the heart-pounding exhilaration that sometimes accompanies big ‘tries’ of mine… I just felt like yes, let’s go for it, and I can do it. Maybe not well, but I can.

And Oats was a good pony, with some really truly sloppy jump efforts, and some really good ones too. He had no stiffness, so I am sure the Previcoxx is working for him! Yes!