VIRA Prairie Inn Harriers 8k Race Recap feat. NEW COURSE!

For the first time in oh, 38 years the 8k was at a new venue.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri. Also why do I look like I am going in slow motion? Jeesh.

I was kind of grouchy about this…I really liked the Saanich Fairgrounds venue, it had lots of parking, wasn’t too far to get to, and the start/finish line was – right- there. The new venue had some logistical nightmares as per me. It was just like…arghhhh.

First off, the weather was HORRENDOUS. Pounding rain, blasting wind. Like, the entire time.

Parking was also kind of a nightmare…Busy race with 500 registrants and not a lot of parking available.

The bathroom situation looked crazy but turned out fine.

The jog to the start line was far. Very far. You had to go up over an overpass, and go close to 1km from the clothing dropoff at the school to the start, in absolutely nightmarish weather. Lovely. This also meant that you had to jog 1km back from the finish, which was ok but mannn I was soaked.

I know a few people that showed up late to the race because they came to the school, only to realize that it was quite a hike to the start! Whoops! Luckily we clued in that there would be some hoofing it, so we were fine, albeit very cold and wet.

The start was kind of tough, very narrow road and we were all crammed in. I didn’t seed well (I am not fast enough to start too close to the start, but I am faster than where I ended up) and we were all sardine-like at the start…Very slow. I wasted some time/energy and my gun/chip time took a big hit due to it.

My loose goal was to try for my reg. 10k pace and see how it felt. I wasn’t feeling spectacular so I was kind of like ehhhh…I’m freezing, soaked and just want this to be done with! My goal was then 4:30 or what I could cling to.

My first KM was quite fast- like 4:12. I was like, oh ok..well, let’s see. I immediately plummeted to 4:26 and was like, hmm…Hope I can cling to this.

My next few KM’s bounced a bit between 4:30 on the money, and then slowed to 4:33, making me feel a tad concerned. The scenery on-route would be beautiful (all farms! Horse farms! One I even recognized!) if it weren’t so god-awful. The left turn to the airport and eventually the turnaround was just soul-destroying…Blasting wind, rain scouring your face/ears…Wow.

But there was a sliver lining. That miserable rain/wind combo was at our backs, with a gentle assist on the way home. I picked up, splashing my way through the puddles with wet soaked feet and shoes, and I felt GOOD. My times improved, with mid-KM’s at 4:10 and 4:17. Who is this girl?

I wasn’t dying (though the last KM was hard) I was doing it!! 

My thanks to the volunteers who must have been totally miserable. You guys are the real troopers! The food was great after too- chocolate milk,  pizza! Brownies with salt on them, bananas and yogurt. Yum yum!

I finished my 8k with a time of 34:41 (chip) and 34:53 (gun) for a respectable 8th place in my age category. 🙂

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Simple Love: Riding/life update~

Had my jump lesson and we kept it pretty low for two reasons: my foot is killing me and is still killing me today (thanks, plantar wart treatment from hell… and I was working on maintaining two-point ALL the way around the course of jumps, instead of sitting my butt in the saddle 3 strides out.).

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This was incidentally much harder than I thought and my legs got tired much faster. The psychological component is trickier- I want to sit and DRIVE the last few strides, rather than sit off the saddle and let the jump come to me. Hm…

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I did run into this problem jumping in the field this summer, when the jump was placed uphill- when I SAT and got heavy, Oats took down the rail of the jump. When I focused on sitting light and off the saddle, the jump stayed up. Coincidence? I think not! haha.

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So yeah, things to think about. Oh and the straightness…right drift that was actually horrible last night…ARGH.

Oh well, Tucker Bunny is settling in at home and we are taking down our Christmas decorations this weekend. Sad to see them go, but I am ready for spring!!

 

T-3.5 hours…

OH man oh man. This week cannot end fast enough.

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I did have a jump lesson before my hiatus for holidays, and it went..Ok. I felt weirdly anxious, which I am going to chalk up to the pressure cooker that work has been all week. I just couldn’t shake it.

My jumping went ok, Oats had a very uncharacteristic slam on the brakes to a small oxer even from a PERFECT distance?! WTF? So, yeah odd. We re-approached and he was fine, and jumped it lovely each time after that, but still. Even during our course he had his ‘stop-hesitate-jump’ through a two stride that just seemed not great. Admittedly, I was having a lot of trouble getting straight to the two-stride, but still…

I wanted to ride the course through three times but the way I was feeling? Nah, not productive. So I rode it through twice, and called it at that.

It was ok, but I couldn’t shake the weird anxiety. UGH. Also I am thinking that I should look into some more preventative medicine for old Oats. He is getting up to 17, and not a spring chicken anymore.

I can do this. A few more hours. I can do this.

MEC race #4 Recap~10k

Back to the Sooke Potholes for another race! We hadn’t been back since the MEC Race half-marathon was hosted there (since moved to Colwood for two years now!) so it felt good to be back at Sooke, despite a few tricky logistics. It’s further to get to, the race is hosted pretty high up the road so you have to park, hoof it ages to get there or take the bus. We took the bus! And we still BARELY made it to the start, no warm-ups or anything haha.

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Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

The bathroom lineup continues to be basically my nemesis. ARGH. I was also a bit miffed because I thought I had signed up for the 15k and was surprised to find myself with a 10k bib. How did that happen?!

Oh well, guess I’m running a 10k now.

The race was run really well, otherwise. Started on time, not too crowded at all, very reasonable pacing on my part (read: slow) and my breathing wasn’t out of control. I ran very conservatively and was kind of afraid of getting short of breath…

But in the end, it was fine. I am slow now, slower than I would have thought and mannn it sucks. But, this was a decent training race and I always like the opportunity to be back out in Sooke again, running on the gravel trails! So flat! 🙂

And thanks as always to the great crew at MEC, snacks at the end of the race and the fabulous photos of the race. My favourite part!

“First you take a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes you.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I had a jump lesson last night- I wasn’t 100% sure how it was going to go, as this week I did have my ‘surgery’ of sorts and underwent anesthesia…So I figured, just go with it!

And you know what? It went GREAT!

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I am a good boy!

We worked over a small course that had a 1-stride x-rails, 2-stride bending off a sliced skinny, and TWO oxers. Gasp! I know, oxers make a reappearance…But don’t worry we worked up to it, haha.

And Oats was going great, he was jumping kind of flat but very honest and eager, and with every new crazy thing (slicing so many skinnies) he didn’t put up one fuss. Just calmly and honestly cruised over everything. I could tell when he was thinking about chipping (and yes the two stride didn’t always ride that well…gulp) but overall I was super pleased with his attitude, how fun the lesson went, and how brave I managed to be?! Who is this girl?

At least one of the oxers and one of the single fences went to 2’6” and I didn’t even notice? I did think the oxer looked higher, but wasn’t really sure. Oats really had to start thinking about ‘jumping’ and less about ‘cruising’ over the fences. That meant I had to tighten up my core, focus more on packaging his canter so I could get more power, and less strung-out pony.

We did have some ugly spots where Oats was surprised by the increase in height and we fumbled over them, so Nicole made us do just the oxers on their own- the rest of the course rode great. I squawked about doing just the oxers- scary!! But sat with that for a minute, drank a bit of water, Oats and I caught our breath, and  just…did it. Nicole said if we aced it right off the bat, we were done–but if we bungled it, we had to do it again, haha.

With that on the line, we cruised up to the first oxer and just flew over it! And then sliced the skinny, and headed to the next oxer- effortless! We were done! It was as perfect as we’re gonna get, and I was so pleased with the lesson, and Oats. 🙂 What a nice ride.

And just like that…It’s over. Cedar 12K Race Recap & VIRA Series Finale!

Wow. Six weeks. Six races in a row. It’s done and wrapped up as of yesterday.

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Photo by Lois D’Ell with Ceevacs. The awards line-up at Cedar 12k.

Crazy.

This season has been extremely challenging- I struggled with breathing very early on, experiencing exercise induced asthma, and then got a mystery foot injury that made running very difficult at the Cobble Hill 10k. And then, a series of colds that culminated a pretty nasty chest cold last week/this weekend to top off the season! Not my most shining season, 2017, at all. This sickness affected a whole bunch of races- the Sooke 10k, my half marathon, the Port Alberni 10k, the Cedar 12k (I was feeling fine for the MEC trail 10k but it wasn’t a fast one for me).

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Photo credit to Neil Gaudet.

However, at the outset my goal was clear- finish. FINISH. ALL of my races. And did I achieve that goal? You bet I did!!

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Basically sums up how I feel about finishing 6 races in 6 weeks. Photo credit to Neil Gaudet.

I even placed the same as last year (5th) for the VIRA Series year-end awards. Whoop!

The Cedar race for me this year was significantly slower (58:3?) compared with 56:14 last year. Ouch!!! But, my primary goal was to try and finish it without coughing out my lungs/collapsing, so did I achieve my goal? Yes I did! We tried to pace very responsibly, and even with a pretty quiet pace, I found it quite hard. My legs were aching and exhausted, but luckily my breath kept going and I did it. I even found enough energy to surge forward in a few moments, something I thought would NOT be happening. And, I was pleased to pull out a strong finish, assisted by my husband. A great end to a very tough season.

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Muddy shoes after the MEC 10k.

The food was great, I won a doorprize>!! And the volunteers were fantastic. Cedar 12k is a really well run race, so I would highly recommend it.

Though it’s easy to look back to last year and feel bummed out. It is VERY humbling and kind of anger-inducing to think of what a freaking trainwreck this run season has been for me, particularly after I was looking forward to it all summer/fall, but you know…I am uninjured, relatively healthy after being sick for so long, and that’s all I can take right now.

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Big wrap up for the season at Riot Brewery in Chemainus.

Turns out living with extreme pressure and stress just destroy your capabilities to recover, run well, manage your health and wellness and sleep–and I learned exactly how important that was this year. Live and learn!

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Enjoying a beer at Gladstone Brewery in Comox after the half marathon.

I must thank my great husband for supporting my runs, coming with me, and best of all- taking me to try new breweries after many of our races! We went to the Sooke Oceanside Brewery, the Riot Brewing Company, and Twin Cities Brewery- all brand-new! How lucky were we??

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Ian at Riot Brewery post-race Cedar 12k.

We also visited Category 12, which he really enjoys. I like beer- I don’t love it, but I do love the social aspect with it (much like wine…).

Here’s to a good season that challenged me in ways I never though possible. I am looking forward to a break, and I thank the VIRA organization for putting on another great, competitive season that I always recommend to other people! YAY.

Every sport involves packaging energy

I weirdly came to this realization yesterday, when I was riding Oats. We were just hacking around, my trainer was riding her horse. I was tired, not feeling super energized and just kind of ‘blahh’ but my ride was quite lovely- Oats is a fun ride no matter how I am feeling!

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Working on energy!

We hopped over some x-rails and then I did some more work over the 1 pole- packaging his canter so it is ‘tight’ and ‘bouncy’ so I can control the take-off spot to the pole. I started noticing that with this ‘bouncy’ canter, his take off for the pole was far more ‘up’ and explosive than his usual blahhhhhh canter, where he launches from a long spot, very flat and strung out.

Packaging his canter= gathering up energy. Who would have thought?

Ha, it’s so obvious to everyone BUT me! The work I did with him over raised poles last week has cemented in my brain that Oats needs more than one type of canter. I never knew how to achieve that, or capture that feeling, until we did that exercise and now…Now I know what I am going for.

I am planning on working up to that tight ‘packaged’ canter to fences. It is hard work for Oats, so I don’t want to burn him out on it. That’s why when I have been playing around with the exercise, we do a few jumps at a regular ‘easy’ canter, and then collect it for the pole, then let it out again.

And I was talking about this with my husband, who was saying that essentially every sport involves directing energy- and the way you do this is through becoming more efficient, technically and mechanically. Without technique, you can’t just raw-power through it. This reminds me of when I am asking Oats to go forward, he just gets flat and strung out- and we get poles down- when I package the canter, we get a much more powerful ‘up’ jump.

Hmm…