Tempered, not tamed: Riding updates!

I had a lesson on Fridayย  (dressage with Sam) and while I was pondering what I wanted to focus on in my lesson, I realized that we (Oats and I) wereย so bad at the rollback exercise in my jump lesson the day prior. Bingo- that’s what we needed to work on!

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So I told Sam, and we experimented! I really enjoyed it actually, because it provided me with an opportunity to really distill the prior lesson down and play around with it a bit more. What works? What isn’t working?

We broke it down from a line of two jumps, to a single jump, trot-in. Get the lead!! That was the key. Once we did that, I learned that we could influence the correct lead by asking for canter ‘just’ in the step before the jump. Newsflash- that’s your lead.

This wasn’t quite so simple with the canter-in approach. I was getting pulled past the x-rail, and dumped down on the landing= picking up left lead instead of right. Shoot. How to fix? Change the positioning I have coming in. Instead of two-pointing and sort of floating above Oats, sit more and influence, holding the contact all the way through. And you know what? This ‘more contact’ approach did the trick! Neat eh? I’m glad we took the time to really experiment, keep an open mind when things didn’t immediately work.

How cool!

And then we worked on seating positioning influencing the canter. It was…Hard. Hahahah. But we got a lovely canter from both me AND Oats. Oats really is very happy to keep going, providing I give him the correct feedback ๐Ÿ˜‰

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End of the season: Bazan Bay 5k Race Recap!

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Faces of Anguish: The 5k… Photo by Lois D’Ell.

Ah man, as I write this- I’m struggling with weird crushing fatigue and muscle weakness/exhaustion. It’s not a good feeling, and I felt dizzy; had nausea and lightheadedness at the work gym on my lunch break today. Lovely. I had this last week, sort of on-and-off since I got back from Mexico. What is with travelling and me getting sick and/or facing crushing exhaustion?? Anyone have ideas?!

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Bazan Bay last year. This is my last year in my age-catgory, sob!

Anyway on to the race- I took Saturday VERY easy (see week of exhaustion/fatigue and a cold), so I was feeling sort of fresh but also with some strange muscle fatigue happening (I am finding it hard to type, my fingers feel tired and I am struggling to make a fist?!?).

I have been taking my iron pills and b12, as well as magnesium, but I’m really wondering what is going on…

So yeah, the race. Last year I had a really fantastic rally, and managed to break 20:00 minutes for the 5k. This year? Ha, nope. My ego was slightly bruised by this, but not by a lot- I still ran a very respectable 20:09. So, close but no cigar. Better than I likely had a right to run, to be honest, with the craptacular way I have been feeling this past week and now week!

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Faces of Anguish II: the finish of the 5k. Photo by Lois d’Ell.ย 

I started pretty quick and immediately it felt hard. My second Km was slow- too slow at 4:06…Shit. I bounced off another girl as I got boxed in pretty badly. Hit the turnaround and my previously cocky feeling of ‘this is ok, I can do it!’ evaporated. It was getting hard, really challenging. I was breathing hard, and starting to suffer.

In a weird sense of deja-vu, a girl who was racing this year was shouting and gasping and screaming, just like last year. It was bizarre. I think if each year you sound like you’re dying, maybe the 5k just isn’t…for you.

I saw some other runners who usually smoke me, HARD, and I passed them and they did not catch up. This surprised me- the 5k is a weak distance for me, and it sucks. I was running alone with a few men, and kind of wished for a woman to really spur me on! Like usual, the finish line was so far away and cartoonishly stretched further when I was running to it- I was freaking wiped!

I finished and briefly contemplated puking, like the guy I saw on his hands and knees throwing up after the race. Yes, it’s that fun! I got my breathing under control, found my husband and we trudged back to the gym. Damn, that was difficult. Weather was pretty good though, not too windy and not raining. It’s been pretty lousy these days so I’ll take what I can get!

The ceremony after was great though, I got third in my age category (this surprised me, it’s not a very competitive time for a fairly competitive race), and I was first in my age-group. PLUS I was able to get a chiropractic treatment from my chiropractor, because they were there as the sponsors of the race and were providing treatments. Score! Nice eh? It’s a very well run race, safe with great volunteers, snacks and treatments. I do highly recommend people trying their hand at a fast, brutal 5k to do it here- it’s a personal best-type course.

Sad to see another season go, but each race season teaches me something about myself. Isn’t that always a good thing? I age up next year, so I bid farewell to my age-group buddies ๐Ÿ™‚ Felt nice to make a connection this year with some lovely ladies.

 

 

Read my mind: Jump lesson with Oats

Now before I start with the glowing praises of old Oats, I have to start with reports of him being a little shit-disturber and getting out of his paddock last night and causing a ruckus, going from paddock to paddock to rile up and squabble with allllll of the other horses…OATS! God!

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The culprit!ย 

Now this is likely my fault, as when I finished my lesson my friend pointed out that Oats hadn’t been given his hay, so I put him in his paddock, moved his hay bag to his paddock, and …probably forgot to re-latch his gate. Argh!

Oh well… On to the lesson! I was feeling weirdly anxious. I’ve been struggling with just crushing fatigue this week, and a fast-moving cold, thanks in part to travel and breathing in that fine, recirculated airplane air. My muscles felt super weak, and I started feeling lightheaded at the gym almost every day. I was dragging myself around. It sucks.

So, exhaustion + sickness + lessons = success? Ha not quite, but it wasn’t the shitshow I was anticipating. It was fun! We worked on a rollback turn (that I sucked out loud at, I could NOT figure out how to jump, and then look, THEN turn, in that sequence). But I enjoyed the process!

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From a few weeks ago. I love jumping this guy!ย 

We then worked on a small bending line, which rode much better. Oats was great for it, bending lines are his expertise. We strung it together into a small course, and I could feel myself fading a bit, having trouble keeping him straight to the jumps. I even went off-course and forgot where I was going… I think because of the fatigue/exhaustion that I was dealing with. (And I think that’s how I left the gate open too…).

It wasn’t the thrilling jump lesson of a few weeks ago, where we TROTTED a 2’9” warm up fence, but you know what? With my incipient weakness and limp riding, it didn’t need to be, haha. Leave that for another day. I know myself by now, and I’m fine with what each day presents.

Oats was such a good boy though, I just love jumping him! Even if he can be a little turd sometimes.

Tristars Sooke 10k- Race Recap!

Yes that’s right, the day after we flew back from Mexico (got into town at 11 p.m. on Saturday) we were up and ready to head to Sooke to race a 10k! We did plan it this way, because the VIRA races don’t start until 11 a.m., thank god. Even then, we had a pretty tiring journey home, complete with ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ type of mad, harried scramble, so I was pretty exhausted.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

But we got up around 9 a.m. and trekked out to the race! I didn’t have real expectations- Sooke is a rolling, hilly course and I think my best time on the course was last year, with a 44:?? Can’t quite remember what but something like that. I had my watch but it was dead, haha. So, it was freewheeling!

And I have to say, there’s something to that freewheeling. I ran by feel, started pretty quick, slowed a bit on rolling hills, played rabbit with a few other obliging runners (I passed them, then they passed me, and then I passed them again), shouted encouragement to a friend in my age-group who was running well, and just kept going.

My husband ran with me, he hurt his foot in the half-marathon so had to take it easy= running with me.

We hit the turnaround and I was still feeling pretty darn good, considering I was tired and my legs felt like freaking jell-o when I got up that morning! I cruised on, and my breathing started getting a touch more labored. I fought the urge to check my (dead) watch… We hit some more rolling hills, with a steeper incline between 7-8km that really killed my pace, BUT I still had some zip in my legs!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

There was a bit of a headwind, but nothing terrible as we rounded 8km-9km…Homestretch here we go! I was feeling pretty confident! Best of all, my husband was able to cross the finish line with me ๐Ÿ™‚ and I didn’t get passed at the finish chute, sometimes that happens and it is a killer, haha.

I finished with a time of 43:17, which seemed unusually fast for me, I thought the clock said 43:30 or something, maybe even 44:00- my eyesight is not great. Many thanks to the fine volunteers who kept us safe on-course on a very busy day and road. Great turnout too, and I was third in my age group ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m not going to complain but rather comment that the snacks selection was a tad limited and emptied out really quickly, unfortunately! The first race I have been to that had that happen. There were some really good power-balls but again, went fast.

Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either!ย 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take thatย long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!)ย 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. ๐Ÿ™‚ YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

We all want the same things: Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Alternate title: (nothing hurts like a bruised ego part #2 and a visit to physical therapy the day after a race).

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Second in my age-group, and I picked up my missing Cedar 12k gold medal too. Ian won a sweet door prize- a growler & fill from Forbidden Brewing Co.!!

So yeah I am in a world of hurt today, AND also my race on Sunday up Island in Comox was…Less than glorious, haha. I wasn’t super optimistic about it, given high stress levels for the past few weeks, absolutely heinous allergies (ongoing), and just feeling kind of beat-down. Nothing glaring, just not feeling super optimal. And I was kind of right, haha.

It was very much a sub-optimal race. I remembered last year and was thrilled with my time then- it felt GREAT!!! And I was rocking it!! I tried to keep that in mind and things just sort of started…Falling apart. It was weirdly warm- much warmer than I thought it was going to be. I immediately started sweating heavily and thought, ‘oh great I’m hot already…’ Unusual for this time of year and I was wearing shorts even- that NEVER happens!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri, featuring the gentleman that matched me and kept my pace honest at least! ๐Ÿ™‚

The first few KM’s I ran fast, but not ‘super’ fast…I recalled the ongoing rolling hills to the turnaround at 10-11km, but what I didn’t remember was the entire way up from like 4-9 is also rolling hills, so I kind of went up and up and up! Hm.

My pace started kind of sucking and I thought well, that’s ok. If I can hang on now, I can make it up on the back end (newflash- I couldn’t).

Went around the turnaround and thought ok here it goes!!! Big burst of speed!! Ahahahaha nope. In my mind I was running fast, in reality, I wasn’t even making up what I had lost. It was kind of demoralizing. I felt hot and kind of nauseous the entire way back. My stomach was churning- not terribly but I just felt strange and not dialed in. We ran to about 16-17KM and the wheels started falling off for me. I felt lightheaded and my legs felt so tired, so heavy. No matter what I was doing, I couldn’t go fast?! I grabbed some E-lite drink and choked on it for a good few minutes. Shoot!

I was running neck and neck with another guy and he even waited when I was choking, to see if I was all right. Hahah nice eh? We were both pretty deep into the pain train…

At 18km I thought yes here ‘s the big push! Andd….flat legs. Each Km was about 5:00/km, which was far slower than I wanted or expected (here’s the ego part again). It clearly wasn’t happening for me yesterday. I tried as hard as I could, and I didn’t have it. I was gasping for breath, and just couldn’t do it.

We finished at 1:36:28, which was far slower than last year but again, I think many of us had the same race and were riding the struggle bus too. I placed 2nd in my age group (which is funny because I was 5th last year with a better time!). And my stomach was just miserable after, took me awhile to settle long enough to enjoy the fantastic chili and snacks that they had on offer. I still think Comox has the BEST after-race spread, hands-down. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Many thanks to the fine volunteers, cheering squads and food servers- they really make this race something special! Even with all my whining and moaning, it was a gorgeous and warm day, and nice to be outside. Today hurts though, and to add the pain I had a great idea to get some active release done on my hip injury and glutes…Woww. Let’s just say I’m glad THAT is over. Yeesh.