VIRA Comox Valley Half Marathon: Race redemption?

We had our first half marathon in over two years on Sunday and WOW I was ready to go!! It was up island, so quite a few hours drive away for us, but luckily our in-laws moved to that region so we could go up Saturday and stay overnight. That was particularly nice due to the time change (spring forward…) and I still feel tired and am not sleeping. Love that…

And they’re off! Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

But yes, the race. I like saying I have unfinished business with the half marathon. With any distance right now actually, as I enjoy a burst of newfound speed. (Seriously, who am I????). I was a touch apprehensive going into the race as I did feel a bit undertrained, two 8ks aren’t really cutting it and I wasn’t able to get up to the distance/mileage I might have wanted but hey, them’s the breaks eh?

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri.

I was a bit worried that it would be pissing down rain on race day but we got lucky- just gray skies! Yay!

It was chilly but not freezing, ideal weather some would say for a race. I wore shorts and a long sleeved shirt, and felt warm enough to unzip it about halfway through. We warmed up fine, and I ended up chatting with a run guy I know, who also does race announcing- it was nice to see him again πŸ™‚

Off we went, and they actually had pace ‘groups’ for 1:30, 1:45 and 2:00 so you could align yourself with your ‘corral’ and I lined up with 1:30 feeling VERY ambitious. We started and I ran with the 1:30 group- kind of unofficially- for as long as I could hang. Turns out I could hang for about 8-9km and then not at all, lol.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

I felt quite comfortable but was very aware that I hadn’t had much time on my feet lately and not raced this far and at 10-11km, it SHOWED. Woof. I immediately felt worse and while I wasn’t struggling, it wasn’t as smooth and easy feeling as up to 9km had been. Goodbye, pace group!

I ran alone for awhile, which was ok. Did some creative math that always equaled out to me finishing a shorter distance instead of the full one, that was boiling my brains a bit. I didn’t even get water? I just felt like if I did, I’d never be able to regroup my legs. My left hip felt pretty miserable, I guess from the road cambering. I felt like I handled the hills ok for my level of conditioning but I never really got better at pacing through them.

Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

But I was trucking along. The only real killer time was the loooong 2km stretch before the final turn to the last 1.5 kms. All a big lineup of trucks, diesel exhaust and just so blah. An uninspiring finale on what is a very picturesque course.

Yes!!! Under 1:30 πŸ™‚ Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

And then it was the finish! And I was running alone, just like Rocky hahah. I felt quite triumphant and not even like puking or anything?! Yes!!! My time was 1:29:23, good for 7th woman overall and 3rd in my age group. It is a small but fairly competitive field. Ian did amazingly as well- right behind me at 1:32:51. With no training?! HOW?? I just know I personally would just die instead, ha.

Enjoying a post-race beer at Gladstone Brewery.

The volunteers were excellent, and did a great job wrangling all of the recalcitrant runners. We had some chili after that was great, and I picked up my award. After, we had a beer outdoors at Gladstone Brewery. I was pooped!! It was chilly out but a pretty decent day all around.

No training at a 1:32. How?!!

Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap

Wow- two years since I last raced this series, and almost two since I raced- period! I did two little races this fall, to whet my appetite to get back out there πŸ™‚ and I can tell you by this race, I was READY.

Pretty much dying, ha my neck is straining so hard! Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

We missed two of the VIRA races- the first one was cancelled due to snow/ice, and we were in Mexico for the second (oh what a hardship eh??) so I was feeling eager for this one. I know Hatley is a tough course, kind of a heartbreaker for people hoping for a good time due to the rolling hills, steep hills, and gravel/trail sections but no matter we were racing again!

The weather was SO nice. Like, amazing. Too bad it’s absolutely miserable right now, lol I am dying it is so cold. Last week the sun was shining and it was around 10 deg? We didn’t need to dress warmly for Hatley, which is funny b/c I swear every photo I have from that race there is snow on the ground, or ice, or it’s hailing and we are frozen.

I know it looks like I’m walking, but I swear it was hard!

We started a bit late hilariously because the main gate was still locked, so they had to go get big snippers to cut the lock off!?!

So good thing it was so warm.

The start is very congested- I started fairly close up, but was still bouncing off folks for a good…1km. Ouch, that does hurt your time a bit. When you pass 1k and start heading to the first out-and-back hill, it thins out greatly. I was passing/getting passed a fair bit until kms 3-4, where I just got…passed, ha. I was running in a bit of a ‘reach’ pace I think, particularly for my inexperience in racing over the past two years (and no hills…and a serious injury…lol). But I kept at it! It felt pretty horrible but, a horrible I could maintain.

Something fun- this time I was ahead of Ian. So when we had two out-and-backs (km 2-3, and km 5-6) he waved to ME this time! πŸ™‚ Now that’s a first!

I had to add this one b/c it makes me laugh. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

I thought I was running pretty well through the trail section but I was definitely slowing down. The transition from the trail to the ridge, and then the loooooong downhill, was much longer than I recalled/wanted. I hit the downhill and immediately felt like I was one step away from face planting most spectacularly, yiiiikes! I am not used to running fast downhill and it was freaky.

Then it was roughly 1km to the finish, and I did…Not run super triumphantly, ha. I was straining, it was rough. BUT then there was the finish! πŸ™‚

And I did it! Gun time was 34:13, and that makes a 2 minute personal best for me on this course. I was really happy with that, not shabby at all. I, of course, coughed my lungs out for the next three days…Racing is extremely hard on my lungs, quelle surprise!

Ian finished shortly after me, and we cruised up to get our snack bags and surprise! Sweet swag in it. An Endur hat AND I won a door prize- a super soft t-shirt πŸ™‚ how awesome is that?!!!

A gorgeous day and a good race. Life is returning to normal (at least sometimes).

And pre-Christmas blues

Actually, I had pre-Christmas blues instead of post-Christmas and WOW they were horrible. I wrote a cheery blog post two days before I had time off, I had talked with a counselor and I was feeling pretty darn great!

And then my last day of work, basically everything exploded and it was horrible.

I learned that two of our staff members were leaving, to add to the two who had already left in Dec. I went to the gym for lunch, and came back to work and was called in to my friend and former manager’s office urgently.

I was curious, wondering why she needed to see me so urgently?

Our friend and my former colleague had died that week. 😦

I was completely shocked, stunned and heartbroken. She is so young, only in her early thirties. I knew she had been sick, but I had no idea how bad her illness had been, and how long she had been in the hospital for. It was heartbreaking.

I numbly went back to my desk and felt terrible.

I stumbled through work that day, talking with our mutual friends and colleagues. I felt like I was sleepwalking, that this wasn’t happening to her. When I came home, I cried.

I also learned that Oats was lame again, literally three days before I was also supposed to be flying to visit family in Kelowna. WTF.

I collapsed, basically. I didn’t know what to do and it felt like my entire being, not just my brain, was collapsing inward on itself like a dying star.

My dear friend who is a total sweetheart came by and gave me some of her delicious toffee-bark and chocolates (she is the best!!) and she could tell that I was having a terrible time of it. I was.

So there I was, a few days before Christmas and my world imploded.

Working Equitation horse show Day 2: Ease of Handling/Speed Round

That’s right, Sunday Sunday Sunday was the most exciting day! And true to form, the weather was HORRENDOUS. Monsoon raining, a ‘weather bomb’ event was descending on us at the same time…How would Oats fare?

Pretty well actually!

Mr. Oats in the speed round!

I went straight to longe him, and I was a bit concerned- he hadn’t really eaten much of his hay (because it was the wrong hay, I am an idiot) and was fussy about his breakfast (it had his pills in it, which he hates..) so I had to hand feed him his grain as a ‘treat’…And he wasn’t drinking so he ran to the nearest huge puddle (there were TONS) and had a 5 minute drink from it.

All those issues aside, he was lazy. I had to chase him around with the longe whip in the pouring rain in the swimming-pool outdoor and he wasn’t very jazzed about it, ha. Poor Oats! So we didn’t need much prep time at all, which was good because unlike the day before, we rode first thing! Course walk was at 8:30am, and I got up at 6ish to be ready to feed Oats, longe/warmup and then course walk and then immediately ride. Busy!

The course was fairly straightforward due to us being constrained in a small indoor, rather than the huge outdoor that we were really hoping for (thanks, weather…) but it had some neat lines and good flow. The only super awkward turn was the single slalom turn to the gate (obstacle #6) but we made it work, but you had to be extra careful about getting disqualified from crossing your lines on that approach.

I wished we had a bridge though! I like those. But we gotta work with what we got!

I was up first too, so I didn’t have a chance to watch, eeeek. But it went well! We majorly flubbed the back-up and knocked down the corridor 😦 which is super irritating because I swear to god, I have BEEN PRACTICING on that?! Also I missed the ring AGAIN on the garrocha line…Again I just don’t seem to have the grip/wrist strength to really accomplish that. Well, things to keep hammering home I guess?!!! ARGH.

But again, the course still flowed pretty nicely and I took a long approach to get to obstacle #1 because I didn’t feel like I had enough ‘flow’ so it was a bit circuitous, but overall an ok course.

Next up was the course walk for Speed Round (my personal fav!!), with a slightly shortened course by 1 fence, and we started and ended with the jump (also my fav obstacle, haha. Oats is good at it!) and the start was quite a tight little turn from the jump to the figure-eight barrels. We ALMOST ran straight into the barrels but I sat up and we roughly kind of steered around it. Heck, speed is about speed and that’s it- so who cares how nice it looks?

Winners!

Oats was a bit slow off the leg for some of them, but turned nicely and was very accommodating for the whole round. What a little pleaser, my Oats πŸ™‚ We had a lot of fun with this round for sure! I was smiling and smiling after.

I wanted to do it over and over again, so much fun! And best of all my father-in-law and husband came to watch the speed round too. Yay πŸ™‚ My WE trainer also did well, though I know she struggled a bit with the jump intro and end- a bit nervous but her horse is a good girl.

It was very nice to have all the volunteers and everyone helping out- we had a lovely weekend despite the challenging and terrible weather events!

And Oats had a clean sweep of all of the classes- a first for dressage, Ease of Handling, and Speed Round- can you believe it?!!! I can’t! We packed up and cleaned our stalls and headed out…Straight into a hurricane. ARGH again. It was rough travelling home and I know my trainer handled the trailer very carefully with our precious cargo on board.

A tiring but good weekend!

Half free

Funny, these days all I am recapping is dressage? We missed our jump lesson on Tues (soon to move to Sat) due to instructor illness so yep, dressage it is!

From last summer, but I like his canter here.

We worked on a very interesting exercise that essentially had Oats running his own canter, and me doing…a rubbing my belly patting myself on the head type of exercise that I was SO BAD AT hahah. It was tricky! We focused on Oats = cantering around like a carousel horse while I put my inside arm forward, while looking ‘out’ of the circle, and and bringing my outside elbow back. HARD. Harder than it sounds, and I definitely felt very discombobulated, hahah.

Oats was very good though, he had a lot of learning to do and was kind of pissed about it at first, but then was like, well okay….He had one big spook at a very curious and friendly deer that was trying to get into the indoor, and was persistent about NOT going away! Oats has ridden in the indoor arena with deer sleeping in it, so I was a bit surprised that he was so looney about this friendly one?!

Anyways, it was a very educational and interesting lesson and I felt like I had 10 arms, but hey, all in good fun and learning πŸ˜‰

And then I drove to the grocery store and locked my fucking keys and phone in the car for the second time this month. FUCK ME. I had to go to the grocery store and call my husband, who rode his bike to pick me up. I guess I had a lot of time to grocery shop then, eh? Damn. At least it wasn’t at the feed store this time, which is a million miles from anything and I had to call a tow truck to open my car up, which cost me a pretty $70….Know what complaining about things costing a lot leads to? Things costing EVEN MORE through some insane circumstance. Ha.

Mr. Oats abscess journey

So as I mentioned, I was in a real tizzy…A panic spiral the past month or so. It just felt like EVERY SINGLE WEEK there was some new drama with my horse. You name it, I had it. And I felt like I was on a hair-trigger, since my good friend’s horse has had some terrible health issues recently (two colic episodes, and he came up dead lame a day after Oats did, but it was more serious than Oats and continues to be…) 😦 Just awful.

So, in light of my friends miserable horse journey, every single week I get a panic text or call or message from the barn, I rush out and find some new disaster. Fortunately they were not serious but still. I am on a real hair trigger…And Oats came up dead lame on Canada Day, so we had to rush back from our little ‘stay-cation’ out of town but first our car died, so we had to get a jump, to get a new battery, THEN to the barn. Jesus.

So Oaty went lame, dragging a leg, very lame. No heat, no swelling. I called my vet and he suggested we check for an abscess, since it came up so suddenly with no obvious trauma or swelling. I got the farrier out that day and BINGO! She dug in and was like yep, big abscess.

So this is his foot journey for the week he was lame (THANK GOD!!!) it was only that long. Thanking my lucky stars!

IMG_1483_LI

Saturday- some progress, you can see puncture spots and 1 bruise-like area I circled that was the big one!

IMG_1485

And this was on Sunday- I poked at the bruise spot and it was bleeding/puss a bit.

IMG_1490

Wed/Thur- All healed! I was able to check him on Wednesday and it healed over, and then ride on Thursday and lesson on Saturday and then BEACH on Monday! πŸ™‚

Go out fighting

Mega-run update!! As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I take each Sunday as an opportunity to go for a mega run/hike. Last weekend we went to Heather Lake, which was a good experience and full of bear poop with 1 bear sighting. The weeks earlier we went out to Duncan, Maple Mountain, Mt. Tzouhalem, Shawnigan and so on, even Courtenay!

IMG_2266

Borrowed photo- one of the many trestles

This week we revisited Sooke and the Galloping Goose. We have been working our way through 10km sections of the Goose every other week or so, and this time we started on Ludlow Road and went up to the Sooke potholes. Or so we thought…

We ran for about 7km, and then the entire trail was blocked off due to construction on the trestle bridge. No way around. Decision time- head home at 14km or try one of the offshoot trails (to a mystery destination??). Obviously we were too hardcore for only 14km, so we headed up into the hills to check out Grass Lake in the mountains. The trail said it was only 3km, so we figured sure, why not?

download

Grass Lake! Up high.Β 

God, it was the longest 3km of my life. Sheeeeeeeesh. Rocky, clambering, very slow. We kept plodding along, and after running, it felt just deathly slow!

We kind of got worried that we’d be out on this trail all night (no exaggeration, it felt likeΒ forever) but then we ran into some folks, and then kept going, and then we found the lake! It was pretty nice, very quiet. Some campers were packing up from the 1 point you could visit the lake at. There were also very pretty hot-pink water lilies! It’d be awesome to swim in if it wasn’t constantly winter here and freezing cold.

We got chilled right down, and then hoofed it back to the main trail, a groaning 5.7 km back. But you know what? It turned out that that amount DOWN is way easier than a mystery 3km up and scrambling over rocks. Felt pretty darn smooth! And the best part, when we got down to the Goose, it was only 5km back to the car πŸ™‚

All in, it ended up being over 3 hours and about 23 km. A bit more ambitious than we thought, and we were pretty underfueled for it (yikes) but it went fine! It helps that it’s not hot here anymore, so no fuel is not a big problem.

A good run day for sure! πŸ™‚

 

The heart of a dark star: Jump lesson update

Ok, you know how I was saying how amazing my dressage lesson was, and how we were killing it? Picture that, but like..the total opposite in my jump lessons. ARGH. My release was all over the place, wicked right drift, you name it, we were doing it.

low course 1_Moment

Miss this- the sun, having this outdoor, jumps, everything. This year is turning out to be the worst yet!Β 

Oats tripped over the grid we were working on and almost face-planted through it. He couldn’t trot or canter a single pole without hitting it, HARD.

It didn’t feel that harmonious and I wanted to fix it, but you know what? It also didn’t feel scary or intimidating, just kind of frustrating. I want to be back where I was, you know? Confidently cantering 2’6-2’9” courses, instead of…face-planting through a tiny grid. HAH.

Oh well, I guess by lesson 3 back, I have not yet gotten it all figured out, that’s for darned sure. SO humbling and painful, ha.

Lessons we learn…not always the ones we intend on.

Also another gripe about the weather: It sucks. It always sucks here. We don’t get summer, apparently…Just wind, rain, sun, wind, rain and more wind. I’m freezing!!

Oh and I had the farrier out (love his new farrier) and Oats was TERRIBLE for her. Sheesh. What a jerkface. AND he tried to run over one of the girls at the barn in a bid to escape his paddock. He can be the biggest brat ever!

When your life resumes (sort of)

At least my riding lessons are back on! Yes!

IMG_1362

I ran my shoulder into a telephone pole a few weeks ago. Totally an accident but ouch!Β 

But with the resuming of some ‘normal’ activities comes roaring back all of my previous concerns/issues. Footing in the indoor.Β  Horses not being turned out enough. The outdoor is kaput, at least for this season? UGH.

I told my husband that I want to just buy a farm and deal with all this myself, dammit!

IMG_1363

Ian made bagels and they were great!Β 

Otherwise…Address what I can, and then see what I can manage or not manage. Oats has been great otherwise, we had a return to lessons last week (jumping and dressage!) and I was really able to address our warm-up issues in a way that felt both calming, and productive. Go us! Phew!

I felt rusty as all hell but otherwise? Pretty darned good. Oats is moving great, I’m very pleased with that. I missed my trainers like crazy too. All the drama, angst, moving, rude and horrible boarders and COVID 19 and just…Man. My trip to ArgentinaΒ  (haaaaaaaaa) not a thing anymore, summer holidays..?? Just. ARGH.

IMG_1368

Oats has enjoyed lots of hand grazing, now that I work from home during this time and I have no commute!Β 

It still feels like some of my life is on hold, and will remain so.

Ian and I are able to get a lot of cool runs done throughout areas locally, and in the Cowichan Valley and I feel extremely grateful that we are able to do so with ease. Same with riding- at least I can do it? Despite all the ‘should I stay or go’ angst that continues to plague us?

I miss horse shows, friends, races, travel…Happy hours are coming back, and so are hair cuts, but the other stuff? Nope.

Ian and I are forced to be creative with our time, so we do a lot of running, food projects, and some creative projects too- like water colours.

This is a long and strange time, and I didn’t want to blog about it because all I felt was gloom and doom. I don’t really feel that anymore, but I do feel like I’m in this strange limbo where everyone is acting like normal, but behind the act is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.

But since it’s going to be awhile, I might as well come back for now.

She just likes to fight

So…so.

57104251_423393028444609_4028344363443552256_n

This isn’t happening this year. Man! What a downer. Photo from last year.Β 

Things are getting shut down, my work is ramping up to a 7-day-a week schedule as well as working 8-7pm each day (except I guess, on weekends??)…And yours truly is reaching a grouch factor that is in the stratosphere.

I guess grouchy, or just wanting to cry. I oscillate between both.

All the races are cancelled, many of my colleagues trips are also gone- to be rescheduled. At least they can reschedule that, phew!! I am wondering what will happen to mine in April.

Things are so far out of my control, I’m not sure what I can control at this point (my emotions?>???). My injuries are flaring up, my work is out of control, my happy future plans are now cancelled or really in question. That seems like minor, petty bullshit, but still- it’s hard.

Oats was sound last night though! Chalk one up to the good guys? πŸ˜‰ I have a paltry piece of good news and I am going to cling to it with extreme desperation. Ha.

Also I had a doughnut today and it was great. So, the stress eating is going awesome!!