You deserve this: Weekend update

Ah the weekend- I was on pins and needles at first, anxious to see if I was going to be deployed for flooding assistance- something I am fine with doing, but man, I did not want to go right now. So my weekend was me checking my phone constantly to see if I was going to be deployed. Spoiler: I wasn’t! YAY!

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The facility is incredible.

Saturday Ian and I visited the Fairfield Community Garage Sale and I scored a really sweet Bench jacket for $20 and a puffy polka-dot vest for $5- niiice! There were some other sales that looked pretty good but I wasn’t in need for much, so I left it at that.

Went riding and Oats was really good! I even rode without stirrups, which reminded me how much I dislike riding w/o stirrups…Ouch. I get this big knot under my thighs. Later I went for a run, and then just enjoyed the evening. It was crazy windy and cold, so we weren’t out on the patio at all. Crummy weather on Saturday!

Sunday I had arranged a lesson with another trainer, as my current dressage coach Karen Brain is on a much-needed vacation and travelling around! It didn’t start off well at all. Blah. Oats was a total loon about the end of the outdoor arena and driving me NUTS! Why was this surfacing after having such great, zen rides? ARGHHHHHH. I was so mad. He was literally jumping out of his skin every step. Wha?

Anyways, it kind of looked like we didn’t know what we were doing…Not a great first impression. BUT the lesson went well, and Oats was tired. When we went back to the exercise (raised poles on a circle, trot and then canter) he was like WHA? I have to do this again? Ha. yes. The name of the game was to improve Oats’ fitness, so when I am asking for more collected canter work he can actually do it, instead of you know…not.

Then I got changed and my friend and I drove out to the gorgeous Fairlawn Equestrian Centre for the season-end wrap up party potluck. It is amazing out there! Just stunning. I got totally sunburned, ha. We enjoyed a ton of great food (I ate way too much yesterday, ugh felt sick after) and tasty desserts too. Yum yum! And there were door prizes as well- I won a bottle of Cowboy Magic and my friend won a really cute face brush.

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Sweet prize!!

A surprise to me, I won the Adult Amateur High Point award- a really sweet Tempo Jacket from Greenhawk, and they are going to embroider it too. WOWWW! Made my day! Lucky me.

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Trap for young players: Jump lesson update!

Another jump lesson in the outdoor arena for me yesterday! I started off in a MUCH better mood than last week (though I have one lingering concern that has been eating my sleep this week, unfortunately).

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Then I kind of felt cranky at our lousy canter- shuffle and was like, ‘I can’t ride out here! Why do I constantly feel like a beginner?’ Crabbing…and Nicole laughed and was like, of course you can ride. Deal with it!

And you know what? We had some ugly spots, and some ‘blah’ moments and I dealt with each and every one of them. We worked over a small grid (bounce to 1-stride to a 2-stride) and he was sluggy, and I had to ‘woman up’ to get the strides I wanted. And I did. And he got it!

Then we moved on to a small course. None of the jumps were intimidating, but we were jumping several small oxers…So…yeah. This is where trusting my body needed to come in. No matter what, my body is strong, capable and extremely fit. So what is the big deal? Oats is a safe horse and my body will protect me, it knows exactly what to do. One thing I am fairly proud of- we had a line of jumps with seven ‘quiet’ strides in between. The striding would be perfect if I left Oats alone to do the quiet strides, not pushing, nagging, pumping, etc. It’s harder to do for me than you think! But, both times the 7 rode great, very quiet and met the oxer at the end with no issues.

I need to trust my physical ability more.

With that in mind, we raised a few jumps (not many, ha) and I went in and immediately flubbed the first fence. Whoops! I regrouped and came back to it, and things went well!  We had 1 kind of ugly jump to the bigger oxer (2’6” I guess?) and finished the course, and I pointed to it and said that one kind of freaked me out! And Nicole was like, ok sure pick up canter and go jump it right now, one-handed.

WTF?

And I did it! And it went perfectly. Rode it out with my right hand on the reins and my left hand free-wheeling, hahah.

I trusted my body to do the right thing, and it went totally fine. Now, I just need to do that a million times. Deal with the ugly, awkward, discombobulated and know I will be fine, because I know how to do it.

Easy eh? Ha.

My review: Tim Horton’s Love Reese’s to Pieces doughnut & brownies

My lovely friend Lindsay bought me both the Love Reese’s doughnut and the brownies last month from Tim Horton’s, and they were both great! And now I am sharing the favour with reviews of both. Starting with the doughnut…

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Now, doughnuts from Tim Hortons automatically get marked down by me, because they are like the lowest-common denominator in sweet snack foods. They barely try at all, and it’s like well, better than nothing I guess but also pretty much EVERY doughnut out there is better than theirs. So… yeah. I ate the Reese’s doughnut gratefully (who am I to turn my nose up at doughnuts) and I remembered the last time I bought a Reese’s doughnut, I was bitter and appalled because it was a SHAM – it was a paltry Boston Crème doughnut with like, a few mini Reese’s peanut-butter cups on top. Pfft!

Happy to say that this one is no sham doughnut masquerading as a delicious doughnut- it has really good peanut butter filling it! And the toppings are tasty as well, chocolate glaze with Reese’s Pieces. My only quibble that takes it from being an amazing must-buy: There is not nearly enough peanut butter filling in it, and it’s in the end still a Tim Horton’s doughnut- too flimsy, makes you think you’re eating mega-calorie air and not at all satisfying. Plus I have a history with their old Reese’s doughnut, so I do hold that against them.

Now, the brownies…

So good. Must buy. The portion sizing is generous, you get two squares which was perfect for eating one before my riding lesson and one after. Genius! The texture is fantastic, it doesn’t taste like slightly stale air like all Tim Horton’s doughnuts seem to, and best of all it is soooo peanut-buttery! The icing is amazing, smooth mix of chocolate-peanut butter and really makes the brownie. Top notch! It is worth the calories–have no idea what the count is, but if it’s like all fast food (fat food) it’s probably heinous– and I loved it. Rich, so the two squares are a great idea, and offers some semblance of portion control.

My advice? Ditch the doughnut and go all in for brownie. Actually consider that my advice for life.

If you see me, say yes

Another long weekend for me! I love it!!

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Piles of ribbons and awards from back in the day. Good memories!

Victoria Day weekend here, and it was fairly quiet for us. Lots of  yard work, house work, organizing, running, riding and family time. We put up a trellis, rabbit-proofed the yard (mostly) so Tucker could enjoy the outdoors with me, and we put up a rack so I could display some race medals and ribbons. I took a real walk down memory lane sorting through some old awards…Ah memories… I am planning to donate old ribbons and medals, just have to find the appropriate place to do so.

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Riding was good, I mixed up my outdoor and indoor rides to keep Oats’ feet happy (he does get very footsore very easily). The weather could have been nicer, it was cool and grey on and off, cloudy as well and it rained on us on Saturday!

I ran on the weekend too, staying away from longer runs at this point, not ready to go long yet so ended up doing 11km on Saturday, a bit of trail running with Ian in Cobble Hill on Sunday, and then 7km on Monday mixed terrain (some beach, some grass, mostly pavement). We were able to visit with Ian’s parents at their farm on Sunday, which went well. I even found a decorative knife (kirpan?) that had washed up on the beach. Crazy eh?

The weather really cleared up on Monday late afternoon/evening and it was clear and so gorgeous! Chilly though, woah. We wrapped up the weekend by walking to the breakwater, and then enjoying a beer on the patio at the Breakwater Bistro. A great way to end the weekend.

The machine that made us: Jump lessons!

Yesterday. Wow. So, the day went pretty seamlessly- work was good, it was fairly pleasant to run home and I was heading out to enjoy a walk with Gidget. I had my headphones in, and was listening to my favourite podcast at the moment (Casefile, check it out!) until my good mood came to a screeching halt thanks to an insanely rude, entitled neighbour.

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Dirty details don’t need to come out but protip: Confronting someone with ‘are you deaf’? pretty much NEVER goes well, you old crank. God, it really brought my happy mood down and raised alllllll of my hackles. Don’t mess with me. 

Anyways, I was amped and angry and then spent over an hour driving in traffic to the barn, leading to me rushing around and literally running to grab tack, horse, boots…Yeah. I was in an awful mood going into my riding lesson. Pissed, running late, angry, etc etc the proverbial black cloud was hanging over me.

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This sadly bled into my ride. I felt awkward, clumsy, not connecting well, Oats felt sucked back, tenderfooted and his canter? Ha, what canter. He could not hold the canter, warmed up feeling like a piece of cardboard…Yeah. So, success??

We worked over a few elements of the course in the outdoor and they went ok, until we strung them into a course. Ugh, horrible. I was getting left behind, riding defensively, you name it, I was doing it. I could NOT get in the ‘groove’ per se.

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We regrouped, and then went to tackle the course again- and Nicole suggested I let my body ‘flow’ more and focus on a big, exaggerated two-point bend/release instead of my stiff, defensive, ‘sit’ position. This would help Oats jump better too, as he would feel me committing more to the jump and not riding from the backseat (one of my bigger flaws at the moment).

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Brenda kindly gave Oats her old flymask after his other one got destroyed last week. Wonder how long this will last?

And wouldn’t you know, it worked! Our second course rode really well! Some bobble fences, but overall it flowed much better, we met the fences together, rather than Oats and then me, and it was overall just much more pretty and positive. A great note to end on! AND my friend was there, so I got video + screenshots from it. YES! Plus- I matched with Oats (on purpose this time) so we look pretty too.

So, from good, to really bad, to good again. A rollercoaster of a day!

 

Ultramarathoner

So I did something this past weekend that seemed pretty crazy to ‘outsiders’ but pretty old hat for running nutters- I ran a 50k trail race.

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On the homestretch and feeling strong. Photo by Joseph Camilleri.

Now let’s backtrack a little- I didn’t tell anyone I was training for this, except for Ian and a few friends (ok, 1 friend). It scared me more than a little, and I was worried about it. Just completing it felt like a huge task, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. I also didn’t want people analyzing me, or my running, or second-guessing how I was going to do. I wanted it to be personal, for me.

So…I kept it under my hat for months. I signed up for the race in December after deciding last year that if I couldn’t go faster, I would go longer. Of course, then I had an incredible race season that proved that I COULD go faster, so…Ha. But I maintained that this was my main goal- completing the race.

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At the start- the lady with the hat and walking poles is the legendary ultrarunner Ann Trason. 

The race: Prairie Inn Harriers 2:18 Run Elk/Beaver Ultras. Why Ultras? Because they offer multiple distances for the choosy runner (or crazy runner). I raced the most popular distance (50k), and they have a 40k walkers category, and a 100k and 50-miler.

The race is quite small, which surprises me because for a beginner’s ultra it is very race-friendly. Run 5 loops for the 50k- a bit repetitive due to the loops, but VERY safe, easy to stay hydrated and fueled, no need to carry nutrition or water with you, and it’s a flat course with some gravel and some roots but nothing difficult.

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Lap four and going strong! 

So, pretty doable for a first-timer ultra. The race started at 6am, I got up at 4:30am to choke down enough breakfast (hated eating, but I didn’t have a real choice) and get to the lake for the start. I was fortunate enough to have my long-suffering husband come and be my support crew (driving, handing me gels/Gu’s, electrolytes at each checkpoint to mark the laps).

Basically my brain/body was still asleep for oh, two laps or so? I ran pretty slowly and had a hard time getting with it. I felt like I didn’t really ‘warm up’ and feel like running or racing until the second lap. Which I guess, if you have 5 of them, is totally ok! I ran with another runner for the first lap (Steve) and we helped up another woman who went crash landing face-first on the ground. She was ok, but ended up dropping out after that.

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My best support crew ever! 

By the third lap, I was in the groove. I was doing it! It was a beautiful day, I had to use the washroom but nothing bad, and I felt like my fueling/water was right on target. I ate a LOT of Gu’s and gummies. The maple syrup gel I tried out was so gross I thought I was going to puke- gagging sweet. ICK!

I also ate a S’mores GU that basically slurped right down my throat because it got so warm, which was kind of gross but also…kind of ok? Ha. I really liked the Powerbar gummies, yum and great texture. The Clif Shot Bloks were harder to chew than I recalled.

I was getting tired of sweet things- yick, so many sweet things.

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Each lap I ran through the checkpoint to register my bib, and grab a few doughnut pieces to eat while I gulped down water and electrolytes. It was getting hot, my face was prickly with dried salt that abraded my nose whenever I rubbed it.

Halfway through the 4th lap (35k) my legs started howling. Wow, this was getting hard.

I struggled on and went through my last checkpoint- Ian was cheering and encouraging me, and I felt pretty good heading into the last lap. Except my right knee locked up when I started running again, and I limped for close to a kilometer until it got with the program. I was pretty concerned- was this where it ended for me? 40km? But I kept moving and motion is lotion so my knee got with the program and it was ON!

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The aftermath- not too bad actually!

My goal was to basically finish, but I was aiming for around 5 hours or under. I was right on target on my last lap, and I needed to basically pull it together for 10km more.

I felt pretty strong overall, and random older men who were unofficially manning the water stations (ersatz…water bottles left on picnic tables, haha not fancy) were impressed and told me I was looking really strong. YES! I can do this!

I ‘raced’ ok it looked like I was walking but I swear I was running so fast into the final stretch and I couldn’t believe it was over.  I ran it in 4:51 for third place in my age-group. A huge sense of relief, but also …I was expecting more? For it to feel different? For me to feel different?

I chatted with the volunteers, stood around for awhile and then we headed out for brunch- yes!! I did have a hard time scrambling out of the car (low+calves cramping up= can’t move nimbly) but otherwise, my recovery has been pretty fine. Phew!

So I did it. And I feel like if I did it, anyone can. It’s just a matter of putting your mind to a bigger, more frightening goal.

 

The Zen of riding

This is a scaled-back week for both Oats and myself, for a variety of reasons.

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My patio last weekend. Ah..

Sunday we had our dressage lesson and we had backslid considerably from when I left on my trip, darnit!! Oh well, that’s where things go I guess. Monday I rode in the outdoor and it was a pretty zippy ride, fast and fairly quick. I didn’t want to drill anything from Sunday= cranky horse.

Tuesday I promised I was going to ride indoors, but when I got to the barn, it was SO nice out, warm, sunny…and the indoor was incredibly dusty and choking and stifling. Gag. So another rider and I took to the outdoors (she convinced me, ha twist my rubber arm) and you know what? I didn’t do a whole lot of anything and it was so nice.

For someone who likes drilling, focusing, being prepared and really riding HARD it was a real change-up for me.

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Professional candy-buyer

We warmed up, worked over trot-and-then-canter poles (Oats was GREAT!) and then just…chilled and walked around the arena chatting with my friend. I really liked it, and it made me feel super zen and just ‘ok’ with life. It’s a good feeling, that one of contentment and happiness.

I hopped off, and for once didn’t feel exhausted or tired or anything. I just felt fine with the world. No lesson tonight (I am kind of broke after the Peru trip and May has five Thursdays in it, so I paid for four and am taking this one off). It actually works quite nicely with my week schedule of low-key, quiet rides.