Everything at the end of everything: Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show’n’ Tell recap

I feel like each year I do these, my first show is very ‘blah’ and I’m not overly thrilled with my test riding/Oats’ performance. This year was no exception. It’s like we need an outing to kind of be crummy/not exceptional to figure out what needs to be fixed.

20840949_10100829903389976_6490251507703239620_n

Last year. 

This season we made our first ‘First Level test 1’ debut though! And I was happy with how the test rode generally, I wasn’t pleased with the level of cooperation and roundness I got from Oats in it. He was quite resistant, balancing off my hands, his canter was quite high-headed (to say nothing of his canter lengthenings..ha.) All in all NOT our best work.

We also rode our Training Level Test 3- and a brush fire had started in the Metchosin hills, so in the middle of my test a fire siren started BLARING from the fire hall! WHA? Oats is apparently a saint, because he didn’t blink an eye at it…It freaked me right out, and shattered my concentration. Soooo yeah, that test. Ha.

Oats however did spook VERY hard twice at ‘A’. Silly pony! In my first test he also stopped to poop at A and then spooked at it later. ARGH!

I really liked judge Melanie Houston’s take on Oats and agreed with her on the points that needed to be addressed.

So like, yeah it was fine. A nice day, tests rode ok, but I’m honestly at the point now where ‘ok’ doesn’t cut it? Our next show and tell is in July and I have higher expectations for us by that point!

 

Advertisements

MEC Race #3- Royal Roads- a half marathon with a reputation!

Not gonna lie, I was less than enthused about running this race. Last year it went really horribly for me- I was struggling with mystery asthma symptoms (struggling to breathe, felt like something was crushing my chest and I was gasping) on and off that whole year and hill running made it worse… So that race was hot, horrible and I thought I was going to collapse during it. I walked, a lot which psychologically is kind of tough.

40958971480_02753168ae_o

At the start. Brrrr. Can you see me? Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

My time last year? 2:10 or so. Ha. It’s a hilly and quite technical half, with very steep uphill climbs and downhill ‘jaunts’ that are just murder on your legs. My first time running it (it’s a quite new race, only three years now) I ran it in 1:50 and was kind of shell-shocked, haha.

It’s not a true trail race but there are lots of trail sections, and a loooong flat section (2km) along the Lagoon that is good on paper but a total mental dead zone when you’re running, complete with a pace-killing headwind the whole way.

Soooo yeah, I was not thrilled about this race, particularly since I was wrapped up in a crazy busy weekend with absolutely no downtime. But we picked up our bibs on our way to Hopoxia and it was ON! The race started at 8:30am and it was freezing at Royal Roads. I was shivering and wearing my jacket zipped up to my neck and didn’t want to take it off until we actually started. Ian took it from me (his race started at 9am).

And we were off! Started a bit late due to technical difficulties. I saw some people jump around and generally just waste energy (in my cranky opinion) do a quick fade out at 1km. Oh yeah and the start goes pretty much straight uphill, ha. It’s a pace-killer for sure.

Still, I thought let’s just see how this goes… I ran conservatively, but with the hills, you pretty much only have 1 choice- run conservatively or die.

I cruised up on a few women runners, saw one on the out-and-back at like 2-3km that I thought looked strong (she passed me shortly before the out and back) but I figured if I ran well I could catch her.

41869735305_1c3f59ae98_o

Finishing strong. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

After that, I just didn’t worry about it. I spent a lot of time worrying about the really steep hill climb after the Lagoon though… I paced with this one runner for close to the entire race, haha. And he was a big guy! We’d play a bit of leapfrog up and down, but I lost him at the second loop at the big hill. Too bad, because I was impressed at his stamina.

I generally just kept running and didn’t think too much about anything. It was cold and windy, we had to jump over a downed telephone pole, the hills made my legs feel weird (like, they were kicking out wildly when I was going downhill and I wanted to shout at my legs ‘hey get with the program!!’) and I think that was just because going from uphill-downhill was straining the leg muscles.

I passed the other girl at like 5-6km? And then it was just a run where I had to keep my legs and my head in the game, haha. I didn’t let myself walk up the big hill- BOTH times I kept running (so slowly it was like walking, ha). My right knee this time was bugging me BIGTIME. I was worried going into the second loop, no lie. The downhills in particular were bad.

At the finish I felt quite strong, though my legs hurt quite a bit and felt super stiff and sore. We did it! My redemption race, in full colour.

42770483851_1a5ecaf3c7_o

The winners! It was freezing though. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

With a respectable time of 1:41 I placed second woman out of a small field (this half doesn’t tend to attract the numbers the other MEC races do, and particularly not for a half this nasty). 38? Women I believe finished the race. But it’s not really the placing that matters to me–it’s that I managed to do it, and ran a strong race for me. That’s the biggest joy of all! 🙂

 

 

Take yourself with you: Crazy weekend recap~

So yeah this weekend…Wow. I am SO TIRED right now.

And this is with taking Monday off~ Yikes!

We kicked things off with a UVic Young Alumni music bingo event at Moon Under Water brewery. It was actually really fun, and I had a blast listening to all these hits from the ’80s to ’90s. There was free food (and lots of it, and it was great!) and a good atmosphere. We didn’t win at bingo but had a nice time and the night flew by.

35067505_10100970421794966_2447806611947782144_o

It was colder this year but at least it wasn’t raining!

Saturday I went riding (it was ok) and then we went to Phillips’ Backyard for Hopoxia- and we had a blast! Tried some really cool beers, Tod Creek Cider was there with a raspberry-infused cider. We walked home and took it easy, because the next morning was the MEC half-marathon! I will write about that in a separate post, but it went really well for a quite challenging and hard race.

After the race, we went riding- and I rode in the indoor because the footing was pretty deep/chewed up in the outdoor AND Oats was a total looney tunes- spooking, high alert and bolting across the outdoor when a kid was walking along the fence line. Sheeesh…

34962986_10100970421954646_8605679048753938432_o

He was ok in the indoor, which was good because we then had to get home and get ready for Ian’s dad’s birthday BBQ! Ian bbq’d some great burgers for all of us (his mom, dad, and sister) and pork tenderloin, and we listened to music and hung out on the patio. It was really nice and for once I wasn’t frozen solid!

I ate way too much, adding to my general sluggy feeling of eating/drinking way way too much this entire weekend. I went to bed pretty early as I was feeling totally wiped after the race, riding and hosting the BBQ.

35205569_10100970422154246_1667714089977118720_o

We saw a building being demolished!

And that was good, because on Monday I got up and had a riding lesson! It went really well, and we practiced releasing tension. It was a nice ride and for once I didn’t feel stressed or anxious. Just lovely! I ended up waterproofing some blankets and I’m sure I inhaled too much silicone spray, because I had a nasty headache for the rest of the day.

But my ‘weekend’ wasn’t over yet! We had the Stars concert at (WAY TOO LATE) as it turns out…they didn’t hit the stage until 10pm! I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight. Boy am I paying for it today, I feel like total shit. But, the band was amazing, and I loved seeing them again- just a great energy and the lead singer- Torquil Campbell- was on fire! He rocked!!

But yes. so tired. So very tired.

No one wants it to happen to you

Ah, this week has not started well. Actually, the down slope started this weekend when my car started it’s twice-yearly breaking down/stutter process. By Saturday it was full on busted- hard to drive, hard to get going again from stop lights and scaring the shit out of me! UGH not AGAIN.

IMG_0530

Mr. Oats has a doppelganger! Meet the new pony Daisy.

I had a lesson with Oats on Saturday and I was in a miserable mood, worried and kind of freaking out about how I was going to drive home with my car like this… Anyways the lesson was challenging and kind of awkward and frustrating. Like how my life is right now, ha. Mirroring much? I didn’t love it but I guess that’s just where we are right now–facing challenges.

I was complaining about my car on Friday night at my friend’s birthday (Bin 4 Burgers- love it!!) and my horse friend and her husband CAME TO MY HOUSE after riding on Saturday to help me fix it. WOW!!! Faith in humanity= restored. They did me the hugest favour, I couldn’t have even asked someone to go above and beyond like that. 🙂 A silver lining in all of this car-related misery.

Sunday my friend and I were going to go to take the horses to the beach, but the weather went to shit and it was raining, cold and lousy. Instead we rode together, and her husband picked up the part for my car I ordered that morning, and he fixed it. And it ran again!!! Hallelujah!! I also rode her horse Donato and it was just hilarious. He is so huge!

Monday brought some more bad news, some bad things happening to those close to me. It made me feel very sad and overwhelmed. I had an equine counseling session that night, because last week I could just *feel* that there was something left that needed to be brought up. I had a great week last week but had this constant, nagging ‘sense’ that I was fragile, vulnerable, ready to cry – like a turtle missing their shell, you know?

So we had the session, and we brought it up to process- and it wasn’t pretty but it needed to be done. I’m processing something bigger that is affecting me, and it has to happen.

Tuesday I was in a better mood and felt less vulnerable and less prone to crying. More level-headed, if I might say so. Though I was just exhausted. Running felt like I was running through sand. So tired. My ride on Oats was great though, fun and pretty easy, laid-back. So tired.

And today? Still on the tired side but not as bad as yesterday. No riding, Oats and I get the day off!

 

 

Image

Don’t you know what regret looks like?

It looks like the road not taken- but actually, things have been going fairly swimmingly on my end!

34162967_1846900212033132_4763645496117952512_n

Photo courtesy of Bonita Stables- this is at Fairlawn at the awards lunch last weekend. Beauty day eh?

Monday I had an equine counseling session, and it was kind of challenging in an emotional way, you know? But, something was coming up, and I knew I needed it.

Tuesday I had a casual hack with a friend and it was exactly what I needed. Oats and I were chill, things were just flowing- although I was noticing more in the outdoor arena that he seemed quite ouchy and footsore- particularly when we moved up to canter. I didn’t ride for that long due to that. Fortunately, he was getting front shoes on Wednesday, just in time for my jumping lesson on Thursday!

Thursday we warmed up and his canter felt…strange. Like he was coming up more, and pounding on the sand with his hooves? He felt unsure about his new kicks, and his canter reflected this- he lost impulsion throughout the corners and broke pretty much EVERY time in the top-left hand corner. He was also quite looky and had some spooks in the ‘scary corner’ where we had a gymnastic grid set up. Goof!!

oats

We had a grid (canter-in bounce grid, two bounces to two-two-strides. Ha, try saying that twice!!). We MAJORLY fumbled the grid more than a few times, like whoa. I don’t know how to ride kind of fumbles. Ahhhh…. Anyways. We schooled a faux-ditch with barrels and it went pretty well. Ditches and weird-looking jumps are no big for Oats.

Course time! Lots of jumps and some interesting features- a ‘rock’ skinny *(ooh) and the gymnastic, the faux-ditch, barrels, some natural planks, and a few oxers. I was like kind of wanting to freak out, but also felt like…Ok. We got this.

And we cantered it, and it went pretty well. Not fabulous- my eye was majorly off and I couldn’t find a distance to save my life, hahah. Oh well.

Then a few jumps went up, and we did it again! First jump, good, second, ok too and then the grid…Yikes. I somehow thought it would be a good idea to collect Oats for the grid while we were IN the grid. Newsflash- bad idea!! He crashed through the x-rail, and then stopped for a poop, ha.

We regrouped and I approached it with a better idea of wtf I was doing. Whoops, sorry pony!

Rest of the course was ok, I was still plagued with a pretty lousy ‘eye’ for any and all jumps, but Oats was cool with it so on we went! I am, however, having trouble making decisions in a line- for example, collecting his canter for the grid BEFORE the grid (???), riding a quieter 6 instead of kind of just riding 5+? and trying to collect or take back the last two strides before the jump in the line. I need to be making these decisions much sooner in my ride.

Argh, get with the program, me!

Ah, well. At least my position was better this week, with me ‘going with it’ for my terrible eye and lack of decisions.

 

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.

oats

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.

unnamed (2)

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.

33021309_10160445440315603_1898832159985106944_o

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).

32970277_10160443831600603_533628550993936384_n

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.

32525933_10100959624208416_8194932136323579904_o

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.

32313326_10100959625949926_2884679389532913664_n

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.

32372828_10100959625905016_6221029179274559488_n

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.

32349164_10100959625870086_3626207138159788032_n

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.

32506427_10100959626049726_2720095710174248960_n

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!

32459424_10100959625974876_9096046971155644416_n

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.