100 of anything

Monday I had an equine counseling session, in which we reviewed my dressage tests to discuss how they went, and things to improve on (more emotionally than physically). There were lots of points to get better on, but what Vicki said was the biggest win for me was when I felt Oats getting tense in the ring in the canter – historically our biggest challenge- I ‘let go’ of his face and gave more with my hands, so he didn’t get bottled up and angry. It led to a really good feeling and a strong test.

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Throwback Thursday to…Sunday! Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

Even in the warm-up, I ‘gave’ more when I felt him wanting to get bottled up and start swapping his leads (he does this at horse shows, not so much at home). And guess what, when I ‘gave’ he didn’t want to swap anymore! A metaphor for life perhaps? By letting go you get more back, rather than grabbing and trying to control the horse (life). Interesting!

On to what I had to practice though- transitions. So many transitions. Our weakest points are too abrupt and head too high/loss of contact.

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Photo thanks to TriStars Dan Clayton.

So how to fix? UGH, by doing a lot of transitions, of course. My favourite. (not).

On Tuesday I came out ready for action. I was going to do 100 transitions, and I found that this would take most of my ride actually. Up, down, big trot, little trot. Halt-trot, halt-walk. Walk- canter, big canter, little canter (this never actually happened, as our more focused canter work needed to not be during a shitshow lesson that was happening at the same time…).

It was tough! I was sweating, Oats was working hard.

It was a good effort though and a really interesting way to structure the work I found. Rather than riding around aimlessly, we had a purpose. Something I do struggle with, particularly when I am working around other riders in a small indoor during their lessons, when I am trying to stay out of their way and they are all over the place!

Go Oats Go!

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VIRA’s Sooke 10k Race Recap: On the homestretch!

There are 8 races in the VIRA Race Series and we wrapped up race #6 on the schedule- the infamous Sooke 10k. It’s a bit infamous because it is hilly. Not a technical race (none of the VIRA ones are, they are all road races) but has gentle rolling hills that can be a bit of a pace-killer. It’s not known for being a fast 10k, but can net some fast times with the speedier racers.

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And was I one of them? Ha nope. BUT I had a lot of fun running it, and my goal of meeting 45 minutes was more than achieved soooo it’s a win all ’round here! I was very pleased with my efforts. No complaints here.

It was a very busy week for me- ran the Comox Half Marathon on Sunday, then got into my regular schedule of running/run-commuting to work for the week & preparing Oats for the horse show on Saturday.

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Ian was my pace rabbit for this race and he netted himself another 6th place!

I was very anxious about the horse show, not so much for this race, haha.

The show went SO AWESOME then I couldn’t relax because I was so excited with how Oats and I did! But I realized I had to quiet things down to get ready (physically and mentally) for the race on Sunday. Back-to-back races are very hard on your body, and I knew I was not setting myself up for success by horseshowing on Saturday as well. But I couldn’t resist!

Fortunately the weather was great, sun was shining and I didn’t have to get up early (phew). We warmed up and I knew this was going to be tough on my poor tired legs. At the start, after about 3km I was struggling a bit. My right quad was SO TIGHT it seized up most unpleasantly and I started to wonder if I was going to be able to run on it.

Lucky for me, the suffer-fest only really continued to about 6-8km and then I was able to turn on my ‘afterburners’ and start really racing. Funny how my leg didn’t really bug me for that? I felt pretty good and started really going. I don’t know why the most of the first half/onwards of the race were so crummy but hey, I was going to do it!! And boy I did!

I finished strong, feeling good physically and emotionally for a fairly respectable 44:30 time. This netted me a second-place age group award. Crazy eh??? From a fantastic horse show to a really solid race, this weekend had me riding in the clouds! 🙂 🙂

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It says ‘fart’ hahaha

I am going to savour this feeling forever. It feels amazing.

We then went to have a post- race beer at a new brewery in Sooke, called Sooke Brewery (imaginative ha). It is a snazzy brewery with some solid, but not too imaginative beers. I did enjoy the Belgian Lager though! Felt nice to have after a tough race.

Wild’n’Wooly show recap: SUCCESS!

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Braid job and photo thanks to the lovely Sarah C!

After having to cancel two dressage shows with Oats this past year, I was understandably concerned about this one–I REALLY wanted to take him. The Wild’n’Wooly shows are new to us, I wanted to support them, and last time I took Blaze and had a great time. I thought maybe I could do even better with Oats~

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Photo thanks to John.

We were at Training Level, because of our rustiness. In September I was planning on moving him up to First Level, but after he almost died, we had to cancel. Which was fine, I would rather enjoy lots more years with my boy! And then this past spring he had the plague that all the horses picked up, so I couldn’t bring him and NO WAY was I feeling prepared enough to jump straight to First Level this spring. So, Training it is!

And it went sooo well! He warmed up really nicely, listening, not overbent, not bucky- though he did feel QUITE jazzed in the show arena, which made me feel a bit concerned, but when I ‘gave’ him my hands in the canter he responded really nicely and stretched instead of getting ‘up’ and bottled up and balky. Sooo that’s a win!

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Braids by Sarah C. Awesome job eh?

He was a total dink to get into the arena though- running backwards, gate sour. We had to get a running start from Christina every time. SIGH. Oats you are way too mature and experienced to be a crank about going in the in-gate. That was the only big bobble from our day though, so as one of my friends also riding put it ‘I’d rather the horse be a dink about going into the ring rather than have them be a dink IN the ring!’ Ha, ok that’s so true.

So the tests had some minor mistakes- my halt sucked at my first Training Level 2 test, but otherwise was ok. I came into my Training 3 test way ‘wowing’ out at the centreline approach (whoops!) but my halts were better and my circles were better. My stretchy trot wasn’t great either time, and my long-rein walk Oats was rooting. Ah!

I was rewarded well though, and came out of my Training 3 test feeling good about it, like I had improved on my Training 2 test. I NEVER feel that way normally. So that was awesome. Our final test was Prix Caprilli Training and I had a BLAST!! I was smiling, felt awesome, and loving it! Oats was super engaged too, and he was locked in on the fences hahah. Finally something we can both agree on. We did have one major bobble- our ‘stretchy trot’ ended up like, trot-walk-balk- square instead of circle. Whoops!

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All my friends. What could be better?? Photo thanks to John.

But that was pretty much our only big mistake. I came out smiling, and feeling really good.

A great day even before I checked the scores. I knew at that point they didn’t matter– I rode tests I was proud of, happy with. I had a great time with my horsey friends, I was a bit bummed for them that their tests did not go as smoothly. Horses can be heartbreakers. They work so hard and deserve to see that work provide some results!

My results: Training 2: 68% for a second place, Training 3: 71% for a first place, Prix Caprilli (?) not sure, I didn’t pick it up yet.

We were the Training Champs with 70% avg. and we also received the Judge’s Choice award. I am over the moon with his comment: “Lovely rider, I would have her ride my horses anytime!” WOWWWW! 🙂

And that friends, is an awesome day. I do not expect that kind of feedback normally, so I am floating on air with it now.

 

Mr. Oats turns on the afterburners!

I had every intention of doing a pretty casual ride on Tuesday, after my Monday ride on Oats was kind of ‘blah’ and he felt draggy and lazy. He was great on Saturday, had Sunday off, was very mediocre on Monday and Tuesday? Maybe good day for some lateral work or something more technical.

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Just like this, but …in an indoor arena and not summer.

HA, or so I thought!

My legs are still pretty achy and tired from the race on Sunday so I was hoping to preserve them…Nope.

I got on Oats, began a warm-up of walk/trot/canter, with some bigger gaits and smaller gaits. He immediately began fussing and getting humpy at the canter. Hm? He swapped leads, got dramatic and cranky. Interesting…We’ll do what you want to do Oats!

What did he want to do? Gallop for 35 minutes straight.

Wowza~! In all fairness it was REALLY FUN to ride. Just going, going, going, going like the Energizer Bunny. 🙂 It is so rare for me that he has this kind of positive, pure energy. We galloped, cantered, circled (when I had enough steering power to turn better), galloped some more, more canter, and thennnn could bring in transitions without any attitude.

Funny eh? He was so sweaty by the end of it, and we had a long walk cool-out.

His breathing was great during though, and he was just so steady at the long canter. He is the smoothest! I was tired though, holy cow. My leggs…

Go Oats Go!

VIRA’s Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Wow, where to begin? I was definitely gunning for a better time at this race. My previous half-marathon in the fall showed me I am capable of more (I ran a trail half at 1:40), which very much surprised me. I was coming out of my year-long racing funk and things were looking up!!

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Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

I haven’t traditionally had great times at the Comox Half-Marathon. Our first time running it, I was so new to the distance we raced it at over two hours! Crazy eh? (2:05 as I check back with Raceday Timing). It hurt, it was hard and I wasn’t sure about this longer distance at all.

But, things improved. Piece by piece. The year after, we ran it at 1:45, which was HUGE for me. Wow! But that’s when things started to plateau/actively get worse for me in my body. I struggled last year with my breathing. For some reason, my VO2 Max seemed to get a lot worse and I was frequently gasping for breath. It felt like someone was squeezing my chest. I couldn’t get enough air, and almost collapsed at a pretty horrible race, in what felt like the penultimate bad decision…

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Real close up to the finish- Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

Anyways, so my times at Comox last year reflected this, somewhat. I raced at a 1:44, which to anyone looks like success eh? Well, numbers don’t show everything, do they. I wasn’t happy about it, but then my Halloween Half Marathon with MEC showed me that hey, I was getting over this bout of weirdness!! Yeah!

And now…how did this race go? The big one?

It went GREAT!! I started cautiously (relatively…It still felt so fast to me) while I ran the first 9km between 4:30-4:45 at the worst end on the longer hill). People who I typically race around took off like a shot! I felt anxious about this. I couldn’t even see them anymore…Yikes.

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Very determined to the finish. Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

But, the half is a much longer race, so I had time. So I hung on, and carefully watched and ran conservatively. It was amusing, because in my ‘careful’ pacing I ran with several other runners who were maybe at their max earlier…And I could hear them plotting to catch up to and pass me. And they did! But…I kind of knew they weren’t going to be able to hang on to that and it was at like, 2km. Soooo yeah, slow down guys. It’s a long race 😉 And I am a crafty person.

So I kind of laughed to myself and focused more on running a strategic race. It came to a head at 9-10.5km/the turnaround, when I was playing a bit of leapfrog with a runner who was starting to irritate me (well, and me to him probably). I knew I could outpace him, but I wanted to push him a bit, see where this was going. You can guess, he ran up, passed me, I dogged him a little…He clipped my heels when I managed to make another pass, I let him go ahead, and then dogged him…And then around the turn I blasted off!!

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Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

Goodbye! I wasn’t running at my maximum at all!

I did not see this runner again. But now it was my turn to really max out my race. It was also a very long downhill stretch (my right knee is NOT GOOD today because of this….yeesh). But I could use it, and I sure did! I clocked km’s at 4:17 and 4:12, which shocked the hell out of me. Wha? I can and am doing this?

I started catching up to the runners I usually race with. They had been so far ahead I hadn’t even seen them the whole race and here I was, coming up behind. It felt really good!

I rocked the ‘faster than usual for me’ pace up until oh, 17-18 km which is traditionally a real dead zone for this race. It’s flat, lots of cars (an open course) gravel, and just…soooooooooo long.

My pace faltered a bit, but you know what? I didn’t stress and fuss. I picked off another few runners coming up the last few KM’s, which again surprised me. Usually I am getting passed at this point.

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Ian and my ribbons. The couple than runs together 😉

I was wishing I had grabbed another Gatorade drink at the 17km marker. It was really nice out, warm, sunny and I was getting hot and thirsty. Oh well! I came over the bridge, lost some momentum doing that, and then began the long run to the finish. I was so happy, people were calling to me ‘Go girl, get it!!’ 🙂 YESSS!! I got it!

I finished smiling, with a 1:34:55 for my personal best in the half, good enough for 5th place in my age-group and 11th woman finisher. A great race, well-run with over 100 generous volunteers, good cheering sections and the best food around! I enjoyed the chili and cheese and bread very much.

Think about me: Jump lesson recap!

Oats and I were back in the game on Thursday, after a staggering THREE WEEKS away from jump lessons. I felt nervous actually. Well, I wanted to work on Prix Caprilli (because I was feeling anxious about our show in two weeks) but I had printed copies of Training Test 2 and 3 instead of the Prix Caprilli, so we just jumped instead and tabled the Prix Caprilli testing until next week.

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Oats from a few years ago (three). These jumps are too little! 

Phew!

And how did it go? Very well! We warmed up over a canter-in gymnastic, two x-rail bounces to a small vertical then-oxer. And here is the best part- my trainer commented if I had been practicing my two-point recently? And I kind of mumbled sort of…Sort of because Oats had the two weeks off, so not really, but I did have a good equine counseling session this Monday working solely on minute fixes to my upper body in two-point.

And she said she could see the difference?! Wow! So this IS working. I felt very encouraged by that (quite honestly I usually feel like I get worse, not better, in riding). She was saying my upper body looked much more controlled, taller.

So I was very pleased with that, and I did feel better in the two-point this week, instead of dropping back down in the saddle. We then worked over a small course that had some technical elements (two-strides combinations, across the diagonal and along the long side). We also did a bending line skinny- across to the diagonal. Go us!

I did bow out after 1 go-around on the course. I was feeling GREAT about how the lesson went, but I didn’t want to do it again and lose that good feeling. To be honest, after three weeks away from jump lessons I just wanted to feel good and THEN build to working up more. I was very pleased with Oats. The jumps were tiny but it was more about the smoothness, sitting up through the turns (always my challenge) and a ‘stiller’ body in the air. Things I think we did achieve 🙂

Onwards and upwards!

My review: Reese’s chocolate rabbit! Just in time for Easter

So the picture below may not actually be the one I ate. I devoured it so fast I didn’t take a picture, and also now I can’t quite remember but I don’t think there was foil covering it…Anyways, without further ado- the BEST Easter candy of the season!

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Reese’s Chocolate Rabbit! Maybe even the best candy I have had all year??? Tough call. But a fair one.

It is a fairly hefty sized rabbit, not quite the 1lb pound gargantua that I saw when I googled ‘Reese’s Chocolate Rabbit’ but given the fact that I wolfed this down in one sitting (for lunch, I’m not some sort of monster), I’m glad it wasn’t a full 1lb! I did kind of feel sick after and wanted vegetables so I can even recommend eating this whole in one sitting to encourage you to eat healthier after. Kind of like aversion therapy maybe.

It’s DELICIOUS!!!

Imagine the biggest, best Reese’s cup (like maybe the one with Reese’s pieces shards in it) and times it by three. Bigger, better, more peanut-buttery goodness inside. It is filled all the way to the ears, no cheaping out on the peanut butter. The texture of the peanut butter filling is slightly grainy in the best way possible. Mouthfeel is excellent, the chocolate covering is smooth and slightly greasy but pretty good too. It’s addictive and incredible. Man, I wish I hadn’t eaten the entire rabbit but also can enjoy that memory for all of Easter haha. I think it is even better than the half-pound Reese’s cup they have at Christmas…Which I may have also eaten in one sitting. But that was years ago.

This was purchased for me by the lovely colleague so I can’t comment on cost but I believe it is available at all the regular stores (might look slightly different, I can’t quite remember). Get this one- it is better than all the Mr. Solid/Mr. Crunchy and Mr. Munchy chocolate rabbits combined, maybe even better than all of those combined with Peeps! Also there should be a Peeps/Reese’s mashup. I would buy allllll of it. Get on this, people!