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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Quite like you: Bad ideas

So, where to start with this weekend? Maybe with the fact that I had a horrendous head cold, and was staring down the barrel of a majorly overscheduled weekend…With some dread/trepidation.

What was on tap? Saturday: Sooke Saddle Club Show and Tell in dressage (Training Level 2 and an attempt at Training Level 3) and then the MEC Race #3, The Pace Setter half marathon on Sunday (gulp!!). Did I mention I had a really nasty head cold that I am still trying to get over, combined with exercise-induced asthma that flares up badly when I have a cold/run hills/run long, and oh the hottest days Victoria will see this month?

What are you talking about, all I see is success….?? Right? Right?

Um, yeah no.

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Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show ‘n’ Tell

But the Sooke Saddle Club show and tell went fairly well, Oats was being a bit of a dingus so we had some issues with contact…spooking and consistency (mine on this point). Oh and get this, I had gotten back from Nakusp on Tuesday, ran a track race Wednesday, had my lesson on Thursday where I printed out and ran through the WRONG TRAINING LEVEL TEST?! For Saturday. Shit!! I did print out the correct one in a big rush on Saturday morning but yes, my  head was definitely not in the game for anything, haha. And that was why we went off course in our first Training 3 test, and thankfully corrected that for the second one. I am a genius. (More on that later, like during the longest half marathon of my life).

So anyways, the judge was great and gave the feedback we needed. And I even made a goal for myself and Oats- try for First Level! I know it’s a reach goal, but I figure we can dream eh?

The scores were tough but VERY fair given what I was riding (sort of poorly, and got a MASSIVE charley horse in my leg, yay…mid-test) and how Oats was responding (not well). Great learning experience, and we even were lucky enough to have a friend swing by the ring and give me an Iced Capp!! Made my afternoon 🙂 🙂

It was a hot day, and I sweated through my belt. Phew. Foreshadowing for the race the next day…I got home at like 6pm. EEEK!

Stay tuned for the events of the next day….

Biggest weekend recap ever: Jumping, massively sick, a bachlorette party?

Thursday I rode in my lesson (perhaps unwisely) as I had gotten turned away at work for showing up sick…I had a horrible sore throat that came on suddenly overnight and it was just awful. I couldn’t sleep all night, felt like knives stabbing my throat and I couldn’t swallow, my throat was so swollen.

Yay…

So I went home and lay around the house after work kicked me out. It was so boring that I was desperate to do something, so I dragged myself out of the house and went, drowsily, to my lesson. Where we jumped 2’9” hahah.

I know eh? But hey, it went fine! Scared the bejeezus out of me but he did it great every time! More times than I wanted to jump even! We just kept doing it. The other jumps weren’t…so good. He had some issues with a short distance into a line and kept slamming on the brakes? WTF? He is not a horse that stops, and it was NOT high, haha. It was almost like he was getting spooked by it? Weird. We did that one over and over again until it was fine with no issues.

Silly pony. 2’9” oxer no prob, but 2’3” black and yellow? Nuh huh!

I felt very spacey and dizzy after. Ugh. Just in time for my sister’s bachlorette party in Kelowna, which I was flying out to on Friday. Whoop! *cough* cough* sneeze repeatedly, cough some more…My sinuses hurt…

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The view from Arrowleaf winery. Sigh…

But yes, Kelowna. Despite being pretty sick, I had a really fun time! We rented a condo in a golf course area, and we had a blast! We visited the Kangaroo farm on Saturday, and then found a beach that wasn’t completely flooded out to chill out on and eat some junk food picnic, drink some booze, and float around on the lake!

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We wrapped up that day by more drinks around the pool at the condo, and then a BBQ (that turned out to be a total shenanigan…we had no propane tank?) meaning we had to make friends with a football team staying at the golf course to borrow their propane tank…It didn’t work so we had to get them over to fix it…I then put temporary tattoos on them like ‘Cheers Bitches’ and ‘Team Bride’ and ‘Miss to Mrs.”…fun times!

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I’m a natural (wallaby) mother!

I drank a touch too much but also I blame the heat (28 deg and unused to it) + junk food+ cold medication so yeah, ended up feeling quite rough the next morning. I got my run gear on, went to tie up my shoes, immediately felt like puking, ran to the bathroom, threw up, and then went back to try the shoes again (success!) and went on a wimpy, hot, weirdly sweaty run.

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Got back, still felt queasy and ick, showered and ate a bagel and then we were off to wine tours! The tours were great, we went to these wineries and they all had really neat and different venues with lots to offer.

  • The Blind Tiger
  • Arrowleaf Winery
  • Parallel 50
  • Grey Monk- we had lunch here and it is PRICEY. The food was not included in the wine tour, so the tour was $150, and lunch at the winery ran about $45/per person. Ouch!
  • Intrigue Winery

All in all, a great but quite expensive day.

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What’s a bachlorette party without hunks?

Then we were back to the pool & hot tub, and I swam for a bit in the pool. Really enjoyed it! I wast totally sacked though, so I prepared dinner for the gang (all 7 of us) from our grocery leftovers and did a pretty good job if I do say so myself, and then went to bed and didn’t sleep at all. Sigh! My flight out was at 8:45am on Monday and I felt so sad to leave. It was so hot, it felt like summer was finally here.

A good weekend all around, and I even got back to ride Oats on Monday, get a sunburn on my shoulders and still continue being sick back at work today. That part sucks!

The life pursuit

Yep, listening to Belle and Sebastian again!

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Want this again…

I worked on a very challenging exercise with my jump trainer Nicole yesterday. It was my fault- I suggested it in an online post on Facebook and bingo- we are doing it! We…failed kind of hardcore.

It was this: a zig-zag with looped circles that we desperately could NOT maintain for the life of us in the canter. I got lost sooo many times. Ha. I had fun though! Oats found it fairly challenging, and then got jumping super ‘blahhhh’ and almost killed us by rapping the back rail of an oxer really hard and tripping because of it. YIKES!

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This is more our reality…ha.

It was pretty crazy! I enjoyed the challenge though, and felt like I was really working on ‘letting go’ my anxiety-brain when I jump. When the jumps come up this fast (and you get lost this often) it’s impossible to think too hard about what you’re jumping, hahah. Plus we kept the jumps teeny-tiny anyways, so no biggie.

Oats did start getting tired and sloppy with his feet, so having the close call with the oxer really woke him up a bit! Scared the bejesus out of me though.

I feel like we did a zillion turns and jumped 10’s of jumps, hahah.

A fun exercise and a real challenge that showed us we have significant weaknesses…It’s easy to get cocky when things are going well (as they were last week) and then have this week take you down a peg or three. Ha.

 

Avalon Derby-Cross photos!

Because my rides have been fun but very boring, instead I am going to share photos that I purchased from the professional photographers at the Derby!

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This one was cute so I bought it! Oats looks so keen. All photos were purchased from Eventus Photography.

I was so happy to see photogs there, that I was definitely going to support them. Win-win!

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Loved this jump photo!

Lately my rides with Oats- jump in the field, flat in the other field, do hill work, do transitions, have fun! I’m enjoying my week with him, no lessons this week as i am preparing to go on vacation. Oats will get a small vacay as well. 🙂 After how busy I have been and he has been, I am SO looking forward to getting some time away. I need it so badly!

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A little paint effect for some fun! Pretty eh?

 

Growing up is for trees

What a lovely long weekend- and judging by how much sleep I got this weekend, apparently long overdue? It was pretty busy, nevertheless!

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High-five!!

Friday the weather dawned grey, drizzly and cold so I rode Oats first in the indoor, and then in the outdoor when I forgot they were turning the sprinklers on and had to vacate- my mistake haha. He felt very forward in the indoor- so much so I was having trouble with my steering- but funny enough, when I moved back outdoor the huge trot I had? Felt totally normal.

That’s the space issue I think- it plays tricks on you! He was good to ride though and we worked through some more trot-canter-walk-trot-canter transitions. I went for a short hill run (5k of hills) after my ride, and we attended a friend’s Canada Day party in the evening. All in all, a fairly good day.

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Mr. Oats mid-sneeze

Saturday, we had something special planned- a gallop in the field photoshoot! And the weather finally cleared up, so we did our photoshoot, and it was a BLAST!!! Galloping Oats in the field is one of my most favourite activities. Soooo fun. I think Oats enjoys it just as much as I do, because he doesn’t have to do any boring flatwork haha.

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Running in the field is my favourite says Oats!

We then packed up from the barn and headed off to the Cowichan River- it wasn’t as warm as I would like, so I didn’t swim, but it was a nice hike in and felt great to be close to nature again. When we got home, I was pretty tired but I laced up my runners and jogged out for a brief 4k or so light run…In preparation for our 7-year anniversary dinner at the Keg!! Yum! We went all out for it- I had a fabulous cocktail- the NY Sour, and Lobster Sirloin. Mega $$$ but worth it man, worth it.

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Gidget hitches a ride.

Sunday was a sunny day again but chilly and breezy. We zipped up island with our dog in tow and our runners and decided to make a good day of it at my in-laws farm! We left our dog with his parents and jogged up Cobble Hill/Mountain, not a big one but there are lots of twisty, steep-ish trails to explore. It was a fairly tiring run, and I even made us go a bit further to make it an even 9km.

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It’s hard being a purse-dog

Then it was time for garden picking- it took like hours actually! Croquet, dinner, and Bocce ball. It was late when we got home that night, and we sure made a good day of it. Oats got the day off because I’d ridden him 4 days in a row and we both needed the break.

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.