Times Colonist 10k: Race Recap! 30th Anniversary special edition

Wow, so this is a big local race to us, and I very rarely run it. Chiefly because it’s very busy and popular race (regularly 10,000 people registered) and it’s pricey for a 10k (early bird pricing is $45, with fees/taxes that comes to over $50 for 1 race).

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This year my work was sponsoring a team, so I thought why the heck not! Funny enough this is the race that jump started my running as an adult! I signed up in 20(11? 12?) when work paid for it, and I had never run in a race before- ever. In fact, it felt like light-years away from me ever even wanting to! But, work was paying so I figured I could try it out.

And look at me now! I have a hard time finding my old TC10k results because they are so old and I have run many races since then, but I believe my early times were in the 1-hour+ category? It’s a bit hard to tell, as the wave starts mean you are sitting on pavement for a good 10-15 minutes before your wave goes.

Needless to say, this race and I have a pretty good history, and it just felt right to be racing it again, for the 30th anniversary. I do recall running it for the 25th anniversary and they gave all finishers medals- that felt cool and special then, but at this point? I didn’t even keep that medal, and I have too many from the races I run now (age-group awards, I don’t really run ones that give finisher medals).

So this was my third time running the race with some very different expectations, haha. It was very easy logistically- pick up bib from work, jog from home at 7:30 a.m., and waltz into my wave (41-49 minutes). This was great, as it was not that congested in this wave at all. One annoyance- my watch didn’t connect to the GPS, at all. So I started the race blind, basically. There were also no clear KM markers until after the 5k intermediary timing mat placement, so I quite literally was just running by feel…

Which as it turns out, is the same ‘feel’ that I have had all year- solid effort but no PRs. 😦 SIGH. Not that I’m really complaining, but it’s a little irritating. People BLASTED out of the start sprinting, and I was like whoah, hey guys, this is a long race…

We looped around, the sun was very bright in our eyes and it was quite warm even at that time of the day. By the time we got to familiar turf (Dallas Rd), I was very ready to see some KM markers. Dallas also felt ridiculously long and sort of uphill- not steep, but just long and draggy…I never quite got my footing back on it.

But then, a glorious downhill! I was like, yes my time to shine! And I finally picked it up for the last windy KM to the finish. Funny that I live there and am really familiar with it, and yet I was like WTF where is the finish chute??! It’s deceptive, that one. Finished strong, but got passed in the chute by like 10 men. Hah!

Gun time was 43:31, and my chip time was 43:23. Respectable, but not amazing. I know I can do better (and have) but in time I suppose! I got 9/733 for my age category (W 30-34). 🙂  Felt a bit nostalgic about this race, and makes me want to go dig up my older photos and see how I felt about this race a few years ago!

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Putting the work in: CDRC dressage show recap!

I forgot that I was too busy to update on my  jump lesson (last Thursday) but it was a very good, solid and workmanlike lesson. Oats was stiff and sluggy for it when we were warming up, so I was reminded by my trainer to limit my expectations for the warm-up and deal with the horse I have, in the moment and on the day. So true! Fortunately he warmed up and was moving better after a slightly longer warm-up.

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All screenshots courtesy of Nicole G.

Dressage lesson was on Friday with Sam and it was very encouraging! One thing I wasn’t so sold on were re-visiting my canter loop F-X-M. We kept swapping in the past, and I felt very unsure about it. We worked on it, and nailed it! And then I promptly forgot how to ride the transition to trot at ‘x’ and then pick up the right lead…Yikes. These tests involve much more ‘riding’ than I am used to (I find the intro to dressage a lot more ‘sitting pretty’ which I and Oats are good at. The actual physical riding part? Not so good, and needs a lot more work).

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Anyways the day of the show, the weather was horrendous. In Victoria I heard it was sunny, gale-force winds, hailing, and raining. Up at the show in Cowichan, it was 1 weather- tornadoes. Small dust devils were whipping up in the ring, and it was just chaos. I had sand in my teeth, hair, eyes, ears. Everywhere. It was just so awful and distracting. I wanted to leave!!!

But hey the show must go on?

We warmed up and Oats was feeling good, pretty jazzy considering how miserable the wind was. His left bend wasn’t very good though, and he was leaning heavily on my hands in the trot. His canter felt a tad rushy and unbalanced, but no worries, we could work on that…It was just hard to canter left, because you got a face-full of sand every time. I couldn’t really see where I was going. Poor horse too, yikes… And my friends came to watch! I felt awful for them, dealing with the insane sand and wind in their faces for hours. Troopers, all of them!!

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I was feeling good about putting front shoes on him early though. Score one for me!

We went in to the test and we had a good centreline halt, and then botched the  pattern (First Level Test 1 has a 10-metre turn to the centreline), where I left early and just sort of turned…at will. I honestly couldn’t see, so I think that had a bit part of it.

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The test rode pretty well, I was happy with Oats’ canter, his turns and some of the transitions were a bit sucky as I let my reins get way tooo long at the end.

We finished, and then prepared for my bigger challenge- First Level Test 3. Counter-canter loops, here we come!

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I am VERY pleased to say that we conquered the canter loops! I rode them too conservatively, making the too shallow, but I think that is an easy fix for sure (again I couldn’t see very well at all), and Oats tripped over part of the dressage court fencing (it was on the ground because it kept getting blown over!). Whoops!

I also flat-out forgot to ride my transition to ‘x’…yes even though I knew that was a tricky one that I had to ride more strongly. I tuned out for it, and Oats broke. Damn! 100% my fault though.

Otherwise, the test flowed nicely, I kept my reins (mostly) shorter and we did what we came to do- conquer those canter loops! 🙂 Yay! We wrapped up and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Good god, the wind. I don’t know what my scores are, but I’m happy with the efforts and with how saint-like Oats was while dealing with challenging weather conditions. What a star!

Tempered, not tamed: Riding updates!

I had a lesson on Friday  (dressage with Sam) and while I was pondering what I wanted to focus on in my lesson, I realized that we (Oats and I) were 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 😉

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. 

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 🙂 Felt nice to make a connection this year with some lovely ladies.

 

 

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 🙂 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 🙂 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! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that 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!) 

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. 🙂 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.

If I like the fight in you, will you like to win?

It feels like ages since I’ve had a ride recap! I had a good dressage lesson last Friday, my jump lesson on Thursday was rescheduled to this upcoming Saturday (because we all attended a rider fitness course instead!), and I rode Sat/Monday, and took Sunday off to race in Cedar. So in short, been busy!

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My darling Oats! 

Friday we worked on rider positioning and straightness, featuring an exercise where I held gloves against my side, held in place with my inner arm. The idea being, the kinetic work being done also helps focus my body, and allows the horse to move more freely. It was very cool and we got some of the nicest, most connected trot I have ever seen in Oats! 🙂 He was a very good boy and he seemed to really enjoy the exercise too.

I worked on the exercise again on Saturday, but was riding around lessons and just never really got into the ‘flow’ that I needed…Plus his canter was just, ugh. Very ugh. I decided to work on his canter on Monday, and I got a little too into my own head, and intense, and lost track of time while riding. I don’t love when that happens, because I have tried VERY hard to not be that rider anymore for him! I guess I still have some relapse moments… It wasn’t my finest moment, that’s for sure, but I guess they are far and few between these days at least?

I was also in a rush because we had Beer, Pizza, & Gelato night at Pizza Prima Strata so I had to finish up my ride, rush home, get changed and go to our event! This has been a pretty busy week- I am planning to ride (a light ride, no going down the rabbit hole tonight) to make up for missing my Sunday ride.

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Squid ink pizza with squid and paired with squid-ink beer. It was good! 

Oats on the other hand had a lesson on Tuesday when I had it off! He still gets a pretty regular schedule every week, even if my life happens to be very busy.