VIRA’s Sooke 10k Race Recap: On the homestretch!

There are 8 races in the VIRA Race Series and we wrapped up race #6 on the schedule- the infamous Sooke 10k. It’s a bit infamous because it is hilly. Not a technical race (none of the VIRA ones are, they are all road races) but has gentle rolling hills that can be a bit of a pace-killer. It’s not known for being a fast 10k, but can net some fast times with the speedier racers.

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And was I one of them? Ha nope. BUT I had a lot of fun running it, and my goal of meeting 45 minutes was more than achieved soooo it’s a win all ’round here! I was very pleased with my efforts. No complaints here.

It was a very busy week for me- ran the Comox Half Marathon on Sunday, then got into my regular schedule of running/run-commuting to work for the week & preparing Oats for the horse show on Saturday.

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Ian was my pace rabbit for this race and he netted himself another 6th place!

I was very anxious about the horse show, not so much for this race, haha.

The show went SO AWESOME then I couldn’t relax because I was so excited with how Oats and I did! But I realized I had to quiet things down to get ready (physically and mentally) for the race on Sunday. Back-to-back races are very hard on your body, and I knew I was not setting myself up for success by horseshowing on Saturday as well. But I couldn’t resist!

Fortunately the weather was great, sun was shining and I didn’t have to get up early (phew). We warmed up and I knew this was going to be tough on my poor tired legs. At the start, after about 3km I was struggling a bit. My right quad was SO TIGHT it seized up most unpleasantly and I started to wonder if I was going to be able to run on it.

Lucky for me, the suffer-fest only really continued to about 6-8km and then I was able to turn on my ‘afterburners’ and start really racing. Funny how my leg didn’t really bug me for that? I felt pretty good and started really going. I don’t know why the most of the first half/onwards of the race were so crummy but hey, I was going to do it!! And boy I did!

I finished strong, feeling good physically and emotionally for a fairly respectable 44:30 time. This netted me a second-place age group award. Crazy eh??? From a fantastic horse show to a really solid race, this weekend had me riding in the clouds! 🙂 🙂

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It says ‘fart’ hahaha

I am going to savour this feeling forever. It feels amazing.

We then went to have a post- race beer at a new brewery in Sooke, called Sooke Brewery (imaginative ha). It is a snazzy brewery with some solid, but not too imaginative beers. I did enjoy the Belgian Lager though! Felt nice to have after a tough race.

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Mr. Oats turns on the afterburners!

I had every intention of doing a pretty casual ride on Tuesday, after my Monday ride on Oats was kind of ‘blah’ and he felt draggy and lazy. He was great on Saturday, had Sunday off, was very mediocre on Monday and Tuesday? Maybe good day for some lateral work or something more technical.

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Just like this, but …in an indoor arena and not summer.

HA, or so I thought!

My legs are still pretty achy and tired from the race on Sunday so I was hoping to preserve them…Nope.

I got on Oats, began a warm-up of walk/trot/canter, with some bigger gaits and smaller gaits. He immediately began fussing and getting humpy at the canter. Hm? He swapped leads, got dramatic and cranky. Interesting…We’ll do what you want to do Oats!

What did he want to do? Gallop for 35 minutes straight.

Wowza~! In all fairness it was REALLY FUN to ride. Just going, going, going, going like the Energizer Bunny. 🙂 It is so rare for me that he has this kind of positive, pure energy. We galloped, cantered, circled (when I had enough steering power to turn better), galloped some more, more canter, and thennnn could bring in transitions without any attitude.

Funny eh? He was so sweaty by the end of it, and we had a long walk cool-out.

His breathing was great during though, and he was just so steady at the long canter. He is the smoothest! I was tired though, holy cow. My leggs…

Go Oats Go!

VIRA’s Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Wow, where to begin? I was definitely gunning for a better time at this race. My previous half-marathon in the fall showed me I am capable of more (I ran a trail half at 1:40), which very much surprised me. I was coming out of my year-long racing funk and things were looking up!!

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Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

I haven’t traditionally had great times at the Comox Half-Marathon. Our first time running it, I was so new to the distance we raced it at over two hours! Crazy eh? (2:05 as I check back with Raceday Timing). It hurt, it was hard and I wasn’t sure about this longer distance at all.

But, things improved. Piece by piece. The year after, we ran it at 1:45, which was HUGE for me. Wow! But that’s when things started to plateau/actively get worse for me in my body. I struggled last year with my breathing. For some reason, my VO2 Max seemed to get a lot worse and I was frequently gasping for breath. It felt like someone was squeezing my chest. I couldn’t get enough air, and almost collapsed at a pretty horrible race, in what felt like the penultimate bad decision…

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Real close up to the finish- Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

Anyways, so my times at Comox last year reflected this, somewhat. I raced at a 1:44, which to anyone looks like success eh? Well, numbers don’t show everything, do they. I wasn’t happy about it, but then my Halloween Half Marathon with MEC showed me that hey, I was getting over this bout of weirdness!! Yeah!

And now…how did this race go? The big one?

It went GREAT!! I started cautiously (relatively…It still felt so fast to me) while I ran the first 9km between 4:30-4:45 at the worst end on the longer hill). People who I typically race around took off like a shot! I felt anxious about this. I couldn’t even see them anymore…Yikes.

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Very determined to the finish. Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

But, the half is a much longer race, so I had time. So I hung on, and carefully watched and ran conservatively. It was amusing, because in my ‘careful’ pacing I ran with several other runners who were maybe at their max earlier…And I could hear them plotting to catch up to and pass me. And they did! But…I kind of knew they weren’t going to be able to hang on to that and it was at like, 2km. Soooo yeah, slow down guys. It’s a long race 😉 And I am a crafty person.

So I kind of laughed to myself and focused more on running a strategic race. It came to a head at 9-10.5km/the turnaround, when I was playing a bit of leapfrog with a runner who was starting to irritate me (well, and me to him probably). I knew I could outpace him, but I wanted to push him a bit, see where this was going. You can guess, he ran up, passed me, I dogged him a little…He clipped my heels when I managed to make another pass, I let him go ahead, and then dogged him…And then around the turn I blasted off!!

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Photo by Comox Valley Road Runner’s Jim Hockley.

Goodbye! I wasn’t running at my maximum at all!

I did not see this runner again. But now it was my turn to really max out my race. It was also a very long downhill stretch (my right knee is NOT GOOD today because of this….yeesh). But I could use it, and I sure did! I clocked km’s at 4:17 and 4:12, which shocked the hell out of me. Wha? I can and am doing this?

I started catching up to the runners I usually race with. They had been so far ahead I hadn’t even seen them the whole race and here I was, coming up behind. It felt really good!

I rocked the ‘faster than usual for me’ pace up until oh, 17-18 km which is traditionally a real dead zone for this race. It’s flat, lots of cars (an open course) gravel, and just…soooooooooo long.

My pace faltered a bit, but you know what? I didn’t stress and fuss. I picked off another few runners coming up the last few KM’s, which again surprised me. Usually I am getting passed at this point.

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Ian and my ribbons. The couple than runs together 😉

I was wishing I had grabbed another Gatorade drink at the 17km marker. It was really nice out, warm, sunny and I was getting hot and thirsty. Oh well! I came over the bridge, lost some momentum doing that, and then began the long run to the finish. I was so happy, people were calling to me ‘Go girl, get it!!’ 🙂 YESSS!! I got it!

I finished smiling, with a 1:34:55 for my personal best in the half, good enough for 5th place in my age-group and 11th woman finisher. A great race, well-run with over 100 generous volunteers, good cheering sections and the best food around! I enjoyed the chili and cheese and bread very much.

Mr. Oats drags ass

Had my jump lesson last night and quite frankly I was expecting much more from dear old Oats. He was dragging ass, cranky about going forward (kicking out when I ‘reminded’ him about it) and just so BLAH.

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Pick up your feet! So yeah this was not happening yesterday…

So, not so fun. I was unimpressed and annoyed at having to ride him so hard for what was basically a low level jump lesson. Did he wake up on the wrong side of the bed that morning? He had Wednesday off, and even still on Thursday he was just sulky, behind the leg and lazy.

Needless to say I had to work very hard to keep him going over our jump course. We worked on 1 circle jump, and a small course that included a two-stride that we almost NEVER made in two strides except when I got mad enough to MAKE IT HAPPEN!!>!?! And then it did. Phew.

I was tired after that ride for sure, and my eyes were watering like crazy.

I heard also that Oats was spending a lot of time playing like a fool with his horse friends, so I wonder if that is where allll his energy is going. My trainer said it sounded like I was a jealous girlfriend- “Oh so that’s where you’re spending all your time now? With your horse buddies?!!” Instead of saving some energy at night for ME!?!

But I kind of did feel that way. Lacklustre and blah.

He wasn’t bad or anything, just very tuned out. Oh well, we live to fight another day! hahah.

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!

This tornado loves you

So in between recovering from my 3-races-in-three-weeks, I am still riding, though Oats and I both took some time off Sun-Mon and Tuesday I was back at it!

I know- only two days off and I’m like, I miss my pony.

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Who wouldn’t miss this guy?

I would normally ride on Monday, but my friend and talented rider asked to ride Oats in her makeup lesson today, and I said sure!! It’s a great chance for Oats to try some new (read: higher and more technical) jumps that I am too weenie to try. So I get the day off today, but Oats doesn’t, haha.

So, I wanted to make sure the old pony had enough energy and gave him Monday off, so I could hack last night, he has his lesson with Sarah today, and then my jump lesson on Thursday, and then Friday off. Gotta spoil the old goat!

I also bought some MSM on recommendation from my trainer and added it to his feed, starting today. I hope that it helps him be more comfortable in the long-run.

Last night’s ride was pretty fun actually. We worked on canter transitions from walk, trot, sitting trot, big trot, walk again. Mixed it all up and around. Oats was feeling really good, smooth, bouncy and flexible. We also did some minor lateral work and he did get really fussy about it, and I ended up full on booting him in the side to get him OVER! He complied, though very grudgingly. Needs work…

My legs also need work. I gather from the races, they were strained and KILLING me. During lateral work I got a charley horse in my hip, again.  Ouch!!!!! Excruciating. I’m also still recovering from my mystery foot injury and it has been slow going, sadly. So between the races, my foot injury, and the temps dropping 9 degrees last night, I was a bit achy, sore and tired.

OH well, that’s life. I enjoyed my ride regardless.

Here’s hoping his lesson is fun and goes well, and that he is feeling good tomorrow too for me. 🙂

 

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…