Have you tried, trying? Cobble Hill 10k race recap!

Man, this one is hard to write because it kind of caps off whatever weird gloominess I was feeling about racing. It’s hard to be positive (even though there are TONS of things to be positive about!) when all I feel now when I am racing is how hard this is, how much I want to give up, and how shitty my times are given the sheer amount I am struggling.

16179409_1237809182969458_1539437542595587068_o

And they’re off! I am at the far left.

But, without further ado, my race recap!

Warning: it has a lot of gripes.

First gripe: Pouring effing rain. From the sun-soaked Saturday to a just-soaked Sunday, my husband and I were shocked out of our skins at how crummy the weather was for the race. I thought it was going to be grey out, but how cold and how WET everything was? UGH. Just UGH. I didn’t want to go outside, I didn’t want to stand at the start line, just nothing.

And I was just thinking about me, I wasn’t even thinking about all those poor, hearty volunteers! That is a rough day for them.

And to top it off, I injured by foot in a strange series of events the previous week, and by Saturday could barely walk on it. I jogged to the start line on Sunday with some serious apprehension- I had to jog because walking caused too much pain?! Oh no.

We made it to the front, and huddled under shelter with all of the other freezing, soaked runners. I grumbled about how I might pull off the course.

We started and as per my current ‘losing’ strategy, I blasted off and ran my first two KMs too fast- 4:05 and 4:16/km. That is not a sustainable strategy for me, and I should know better. I get excited, and just blast off! I also do this right now because last week, when I started off slower, I ran even slower and still kept struggling! So, that showed me that even when I start off slower, my body isn’t keeping pace and my breathing/stamina is seriously compromised.

So, start slow= stay slow. Start fast= go slower but still have a buffer? I am struggling, no doubt. And I can’t seem to find the answer.

This would then set the theme of the entire race. Slower, slower and slower. My per km pace dropped drastically between 4-5km, and then kind of hovered for awhile. I was exhausted- no energy. My legs felt like lead, and I couldn’t get my head in the game at all. I got passed a ton.

16194917_1239019722848404_8191907555922505785_n

Fierce

My foot didn’t bother me greatly until about 8-9km, when we ran on gravel. Then it definitely hurt. But I was kind of beyond trying. I was stuck in a tunnel of pain-misery and I can’t figure out why I am having SUCH a hard time this year. I’m in even better shape than I was last year, so why the physical disappointment?

I just feel like my body is letting me down, and I hate that feeling.

But, because I am proactive- I have a doctor’s appointment this week to try and figure out if there is indeed something physical going on–because I know I’m capable of better.

And I sort of weakly sprinted to the finish line, with a mediocre but not totally pathetic time of 45:54 gun and 45:51 chip time. So, I am back in the 45’s but just barely. Last year I was able to run a 45:23 and I actually felt way better. So, wtf is going on this year?

The food was fantastic, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. No ribbons for me this year, as I  placed 11th (boo just missed 10th!) but my husband placed 7th in his category with an absolutely smoking time- sub 40. WOW.

And I am limping this week, as my foot is now swollen and close to being unwalkable. Joy of joys…

Advertisements

Here’s to being here

Dressage lesson on Tuesday and it went quite well actually. I have noticing Oats being a bit more stiff in recent months, with no real turnout, so we discussed that and a few approaches to it. That also led to our lesson being focused on teaching the horses to go to ‘long and low’ while still moving out into the bridle.

15724752_10100692280746856_7880429932877920860_o

Mr. Oats, dressage superstar

Oats did struggle with that, he shifts between wanting to snatch at the bridle and root, or raising his head up. We definitely had a few things to work out, that’s for sure! He was quite sweaty after, with white foam on his neck–we had a GREAT warmup this week, with temperatures reaching 12 deg?! And remember last week at -9? I was frozen? Yes it feels like another country right now 🙂

Wednesday I took off for both of us, as our jump lesson has now moved to…Thursday!

I used to always ride on Thursday, so it felt more normal to join the Thursday night jump crew. We worked on another grid (where I knew what I was supposed to be doing and yet couldn’t seem to make my body, you know, DO it..) My hands pulled up, instead of releasing down -shoot- and my traitor legs shot backwards. We also had one totally blasted turn that I made that Oats slipped, his legs went out from under him and he scrambled to recover. SHIT!

f4cf0d4e-f2ed-4b00-ae5c-217d45fd2dc0

2 steps forward, 1 step back.

I definitely was feeling it, this weird rusty, ‘out of practice’ feeling when I was jumping. Which is odd, since I haven’t really taken a lot of time off from it? Maybe from coursework? Or maybe the bitter cold took more out of me than I thought.

We worked on the grid, and then to a small course w/tiny little jumps. It was funny, I felt anxious again and declared I was NOT going to do it again! (not sure why I do this, it’s definitely anxiety-related and it happens when I feel a bit shakier or tired), but Nicole just laughed, let me walk it off for a few minutes, and then I was ready to go again! Hahahah.

So yes, I squashed that ‘fear’ part of me, breathed, calmed down, and went and rode the entire course w/the grid again. And you know what? It wasn’t perfect but it went perfectly fine. Sure, I was feeling wobbly and a bit unbalanced but you know what? I did it anyways! Go me!

So to sum up- Oats was great, very forgiving. It wasn’t perfect and sure didn’t ride lovely, but I conquered by fear and decided to do it again and it was totally ok. Baby steps.

You owe each other nothing

I said to my trainer yesterday that I felt so thankful that I was able to have a great cross-country experience with Oats. And it’s true- I was so grateful!

And in the same lesson yesterday, I also said I still felt backed off, anxious and this weird ‘I don’t know how to jump’ mind-blank when I go into a lesson, or are warming up for one, or are watching someone else have a jump lesson. It’s like my brain goes into a blank state where I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.

And the thing is that it always passes.

And I DO know what I’m doing!

So why the brain- body disconnect? Damned if I know, but I do know it is mostly stress related, haha. And we worked with it, and I got over it. We cruised over a tiny cross-rail until it felt good (sneaky note here- it felt good every time actually). And then a small x-rail over the liverpool, and then the two x-rails to a small vertical. Over and over.

Then, a small line consisting of an oxer to the ‘road closed’ jump.

Pic from last year of the 'road closed' jump- yes my tongue is sticking out! Photo courtesy of Christi.

Pic from last year of the ‘road closed’ jump- yes my tongue is sticking out! Photo courtesy of Christi.

And that went flawlessly too (well, we jumped very nicely but wobbled through it BIGTIME the second time, because Oats somehow thought that since we skipped the second jump in the line the first time, that he should start doing that again on autopilot…) so we had to go around and do it again, straighter, haha.

And it felt perfect.

We then worked over a course, and yes it definitely wasn’t flawless like some of my warm-up lines, it was very good and very smooth. I did get left behind (twice?? oops!!) but Oats was meeting his strides well, even a bit too eager in the 5-stride outside line and we got in to the last jump too short! HA.

More pics from last year- the panel jump. Photo courtesy of Christi.

More pics from last year- the panel jump. Photo courtesy of Christi.

Oh and the ‘Oats on autopilot’ issue came back when he was locked onto a jump in a line we were doing…Except we were doing a broken line, not the regular line! I had to physically pull him away and focus on the jump to the left, not the jump directly in front of us, haha.

I always end feeling like yeah no problem man, and always start like I’m staring down at the fences at Spruce Meadows.

As always, a work in progress. But Oats was jumping very nicely and was a super game little ponykins for me. Good boy–and I appreciate his ‘can-do’ attitude! He was so chill.

“I wish I could recommend the experience of not being killed to everyone” Gut Buster Mt. Washington Race Recap!

And another quote by the esteemed Tim Kreider.

Yes I'm wearing my barn jacket. My other one was soaked through!

Yes I’m wearing my barn jacket. My other one was soaked through!

But on to the race!

The Gut Buster Mt. Washington…dun dun dun!

Yes, this one was not recommended by my husband, and I deliberately avoided talking about it at work or to anyone because I knew they would tell me I was making a bad decision. I have a bad kneecap and it gives me trouble and running down a suicide hill would definitely count as making a terrible decision.

So, I just didn’t mention it, and I ran it on Saturday.

And was it a bad decision? Nope! Would I do it again? Very debatable…

It was tough. It was rough. Am I glad I did it? Hells yeah!

The first inkling of trouble was when we got to the ski hill and it was absolutely freezing, pissing down rain and blasting wind. I started shivering immediately and my teeth were chattering. I signed up for this? WTF? I felt sorry for the poor volunteers at the registration tables, those folks looked absolutely frozen. It was, according to the Mt. Washington sign, 11 deg at the base of the mountain. BRrrrrrr.

Keeping in mind it is August, and everywhere else it was 20 deg and if not sunny, then only mildly rainy. Jesus.

The race director- who is a total moviestar- spent a lot of time warning us about the hazards on course…slippery rocks, lots of rocks, rain, wind, steep conditions, ”scrambling” sections, oh and the course that was going to be 6km is now 8.5km- yayyyy…????? In my mind I was like oh god, there goes my pride and all of my bones right now. What kind of stupid impulse made me sign up for this freezing torture?

Anyways, before I could back out, we were out and running up the hills. For awhile I was feeling ok- I was passing people, feeling good, kind of smug really about passing even though I started at the bottom of the pack. Then we all kind of had to backtrack because everyone got lost immediately and missed the first of the flags. Whoops!

So, on we went until we reached 3km of the supposedly 5km uphill- that’s when the bad boys really started, and everyone was walking/trudging grimly uphill. This is when it started feeling less like a race, and more of a trudge, ha.

We got to a peak (note- I said ‘a peak’ not ‘the peak’ or ‘the summit’) and I was thinking oh yeah great, this is going well! Until we kept going and I noticed we weren’t going downhill. We were going up again…to the next peak.

Uh oh…

I gamely jogged across a really bizarre foot path of sorts made of huge boulders -slippery- and then trudged up some truly difficult scrambling sections. I was using momentum to heave myself up the scramble, wedging my foot in a rock, grabbing for a chunk of root or juniper bush to crawl up higher. At one point my foot slipped and I almost fell butt-first into the face of the guy following closely behind me. Phew, close one!

Then I felt good, ok that MUST be it!

We were even going a bit downhill…And then..back uphill?

Yeah, the run wasn’t done with me yet. At the brief downhill section, I got passed by everyone. I suck at going downhill, and rock at going uphill. And now we were really and truly heading to the summit. Cold wind and rain blasted us tirelessly, and we were socked in fog. It was a eerie experience, and I was all alone. It felt like I was the last person left on earth, running through a frozen apocalypse!

I kept going, and kept my head to the ground. I couldn’t see well because the rain was fogging my eyes, and the wind was making me tear up. That was when I missed the pink flags and cruised for awhile on a road. I enjoyed the cruise downhill until I noticed a suspicious lack of flags. Curses! I saw a guy quite a way away to my right running through a meadow and I shouted to him if he saw the flags- he yelled back yes!

I had to backtrack to the meadow, and I picked up the flags again. And I got passed by a few more people…Darn those downhill sections, I have to be the only person that can’t deal with it!

I jogged, walked and slipped my way down the mountain. Lots of small slippery rocks made it tricky, there were a few little boards over running water, and some logs just waiting to grab your ankles. Still, I was keeping at it.

And then, I cruised the final small gentle rise and headed down to the finish line. It was in sight! I have to say, this was the first race I’ve had enough energy to wave at Ian when I ran through the gates, haha. Cold, soaked and happy, I was glad to be done my first and only trail run up a mountain.

We both finished with respectable times, Ian finished 7th and I finished 4th in our ages groups. Ian even won the last door prize- a really sweet Nike running shirt!

Taste is…a matter of taste

Another quote from Bright Lights Big City.

Started off well

Started off well

And, I’m happy to say, Oats and I are back being good together (at least for now?!!) ha. We had a jump lesson last night and while the jumps were teeny-weenie, we have fun and it felt pretty good. It was HOT for me, I felt like I was absolutely sweating buckets and gulping down water. Working in a sedentary air-conditioned office job does not prepare you well for working out in warmer weather, there’s no acclimatization period, nothing.

We worked first over a small gymnastic and Oats was in noooooo hurry…We got a lazy six in the gymnastic, which was ok I guess. At least we were consistent?

Leaving looooooong!

Leaving looooooong!

And things I need to work on: Actually getting my butt off my pony in two point in grids and on-course. Watching the video (which was great to get, thanks to a friend who stuck around to capture it!!) made that VERY clear.

Actually the ‘not sitting’ through a line or course is two-fold- helps me free up Oats’ back, AND might encourage me to use my crop behind my leg to GET HIS PONY BUTT MOVING! I see this as another fairly large issue- leg leg leg leg leg! Enough leg. More whip!

Now when I actually let go of my fear and DID crop him behind my leg, we had some super jumps! yay!!! Not that the course was like, 100% lovely- definitely not- but I’m feeling pretty positive about it.

I even volunteered to do the gymnastic line again instead of jump the course again (gymnastic lines are my nemesis…I would typically do anything to avoid them) and did it twice! We had one big spook and consequently took down 1 rail, but we regrouped and did it again and were even tight into the six…I could have tried for the 5 strides but I wasn’t feeling like it….I did feel like we can get the six no problem, so let’s stay with that for now?

So, go us! Go Oats!

Don’t tell me what you are going to do. Tell me what you’ve done.

In a nutshell, my blog.

There’s a reason this blog posts recaps, not ‘pre-event’ details. I don’t love sharing what I am planning to do, primarily because I haven’t done it yet and it is not a guarantee I will do it!

I find there is an inherent risk in telling everyone your plans (want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans…or something like that, given I do not believe in any gods).

That’s why my horse shows are recaps, my races are recaps and my riding lessons are details after they happen. Because, there is always the risk they won’t. And I am not the type of person who makes grand plans, tells everyone about them, and then just…doesn’t follow through. I am the person who makes those plans, doesn’t necessarily need to share them, and then follows through – and provides a recap! 🙂

I don’t like telling people what I am going to do. I tell them what I’ve done.

Obviously, I do plan things out (signing up for races and horse shows definitely requires advance notice with my trainer, husband, friends, etc). But, there is a difference between planning things out, and kind of staying on the down-low, and bragging. The bragging can happen after the fun event! Hahah and of course there is always bragging- I try to keep humble but hey we are only human. Usually I am no superstar at either horse shows OR running, so the bragging is limited to a ‘hey I completed this event! Yay!’.

I’m finding these days, that I’m even *gasp* looking forward to running? How odd! I feel twitchy and needy when I don’t do it. Last week, I was edgy and kind of wanting to get a longer run in (who is this person??) because it felt like ages since I had run. Ages eh?

I ran a 10k race on Mother’s Day! It hadn’t even been a week?!

Funny how that happens, eh?

Let’s not go there = We’re definitely going there!

Had an interesting dressage lesson last night that kind of resurfaced some of my fears (specifically, the fears I have that Oats is going to be a twit and start bucking/getting humpy on me again).

Looks can be deceiving!

Looks can be deceiving!

Note- he hasn’t really pulled this stuff in months- since that one bad time in October?

But the fear is apparently always there, albeit not as close-to-the surface as it used to be.

We worked on engaging/pressuring ‘intensity’ at the walk and trot. BIG walk, tiny trot, BIG trot. It was starting to melt Oat’s brain, and I got kind of pushy with my hands when HE got pushy with his head. When his head came up, my hands defensively came up! I can’t seem to help it! When he started tossing his head and getting balky, I got anxious. I started remembering what he was like before, when we started increasing the pressure on him.

But then, Karen said (while I was frustrated and it felt like he was messing with my head!!) if his head goes up, your hands don’t go up! Think about your contact/hands like guard rails. They are there to guide. They don’t go sideways, up, down, anything. They are guiding.

Oats the giraffe

Look at my horse: My horse is amazing

And you know what? The super annoying messing around slowly started going away. My anxiety about his behaviour still existed, but it felt like I was more secure. I could do this! I could be solid, guiding, and push with my legs- it didn’t matter if his head went up, down, all around.

We did get some fab canter- and I sat the canter/gallop the whole way! Whee!! Go us!

And I felt a lot more secure, and my anxiety was starting to melt away. It’s funny, how deep the roots of stress and anxiety lay though. We’ve been having some amazing breakthroughs in lateral work, like every week, and then this week, some more ‘intense’ work at the trot and I have a melt down? Silly!

Of course my friend came to watch and this is the show we put on for her. SIGH! Hahaha, oh well. Horses- can’t live with them, can’t live without ’em sometimes.

It did make me want to start jumping even more though. I sure like that feeling more than wrestling through dressage some days, even if the cross-training we are doing is definitely helping us progress. It is hard-won, some days.