Dashing through the snow- literally!

So on new year’s day, I had the dumbest/best idea, springing from one of my barn mates. She had taken her mini out and had him pull her around on her skis!
I don’t have xc skis, but I do have downhill skis, so I figured…If she could do it, so can I! I will just get Ian to control Oats and I talked it over with Oats’ half leasor and she suggested I loop the longe line through his girth, and use that as a handle.
So we did it!


Ian dug my skis out from the netherworld of our stairs storage (not an easy feat mind you!) the day after NYE (and we weren’t even that hungover, lucky us!!) and off we went to give it a try 🙂
And how did it go?
Really well! At first…


We cruised around, Ian suggested he NOT ride Oats in the field but instead run him, which turned out to be a very smart suggestion, lol.
We cruised around, my barn mate rode her horse and took pictures and video for me, and we had a blast!

Until…
The last go-around where I said let’s do it one more time! And Oats thought…yeah one more time WHERE I GO BANANAS
And he took off bucking and bolting, and I was like oh fuuuuck first he’s going to kick me, or Ian, but then we let go of the ropes and reins and he bolted straight up the hill…To my barn mate’s horse, who lost her shit and bolted through the gate to the barn yard.
FML.
So, I got dumped with my skis at the bottom of the effing hill, and had to begin the grim march up, wondering if Oats had murdered my barn mate and her horse…
But everyone was ok! They had a bit of a rough ride through the gate, eek, but made it with all tack and persons intact.
PHEW!
So, that was the end of that little adventure, hahaha.
But it was fun! So that counts I guess 🙂

Be the one you love: A good lesson update

Last jumping lesson, I was kind of bemoaning the fact that Oats just didn’t have any ‘oomph’ and consequently was grinding slowly to a halt at some pretty easy fences. I just didn’t have it in me to make a change in those last few strides, even though I knew I had to. So how do I manage this? What can I do to help?

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Nancy took this photo of Oats sharing a moment with her daughter’s pony and Oats’ twin. So cute! 

A few things actually- I had an equine counseling session to determine why my anxiety was stopping me from being more proactive on Monday.

And in my riding lesson last night, I came armed with something a little more – a pair of my ‘motivator’ spurs (they are pretty long). Now a note about Oats and spurs: I could NOT use them on him for years. He would basically send me to the freaking moon. He had a very hard buck and was not afraid to use it! So, I couldn’t use my ‘motivators’ on him, heck I couldn’t even use my regular small spurs on him.

But now, he is at the ripe old age of 17 and more mature. It was time.

So I came into the ride with some backup to my leg – the long spurs. We warmed up in the arena, and I kind of wanted to have a freakout when he got silly about going through the gate to the outdoor field (where we spent time on Wednesday setting up x-c style jumps…so fun!!) but Oats gets weird about the gate, so he was rearing/hopping up, etc.

With that, I wanted to spiral. Shit!!

But Nicole talked me through it, haha and soon we were happily walking and trotting in and out of the arena to the field with no drama. Phew!! Now on to jumping. We warmed up in canter over a small x-rail to a 6-or 7- stride line. The normal Oats would get 7…and that would be a stretch. The new and improved motivated Oats? 6 bang on. Wow!!

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Our ‘x-c’ jumps in the field.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the spurs would have on our ‘forward to the jump’ at all. It was crazy- my legs got tired because instead of squeezing or kicking, I was having to steer with them, and hold them still! They were burning? Oats also had a few ‘squeal!!’ moments when he realized I was using my spurs to get some forward- a few sassy kick outs but nothing bad.

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This one looked weird but rode fine!

And I realized that I was definitely going to have to get used to this ‘new Oats’…He was very forward, but when I was not careful and kicked or squeezed with my spurs too much, he ‘spurted’ forward and would get flat over the fence= rails down. I had to be more careful about maintaining the pace, rather than trying to get ‘more’ pace as I am used to.

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We jumped the other hay bales, not these ones.

All in all, it felt crazy, exciting and kind of thrilling. Who is this new thoroughbred I am riding? It’s Oats! We also went into the field and schooled some of the small x-c jumps and he was awesome, but we also faced the forward =/ flat jump issue and he hardcore ignored some half halts and just slammed a rail. SIGH! Oh well. He was very responsive and I was very impressed. Wow.

As with any new power, comes responsibility. I will only use these for jump lessons under supervision.

Labour Day Blues

A great weekend, followed by some intense strangeness and disquiet.

A death, crazy smoke covering the sky, blocking out the sun and raining ash on us, crimes, big and small.

It’s strange! I feel strange and smothered.

But anyways, let’s focus on the things that went right:

  • Rode this weekend (no polo though, was up-Island) and Oats was good! We even jumped the scary ‘skinny brush jump’ out in the field in a blazing hot day.
  • We canoed, probably for the first time in a hundred years for me- and took Gidget! She actually really enjoyed it. 🙂
  • I enjoyed many beers, cocktails and wine- always a good time.
  • We picked plums! Carrots! Beets! Chard!
  • Had happy hour with a good buddy on Friday AND got off work early.
  • Went swimming (floating) at Thetis Lake and hurt my neck paddling. Turns out I am older than I thought. Ha. It still hurts today though, which is not so funny…two days and counting.
  • Rode in a pretty intense dressage lesson last night, despite my sore neck. Not technical, but more like focusing on the elements of ‘lengthen’ strides. It was pretty good!
  • I ran! Lots of running and am happy with how my legs are feeling on the weekends- not so much during the week, they suck then, but hey weekends are awesome!

Here’s to more fun and adventure, despite the oppressive feelings that are threatening to crush us these days. It seriously feels like the apocalypse with this eerie red-grey sky!

Girl from Ipanema: Phase 5!

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Ipanema Beach!

Our time in Rio wasn’t all Olympics- we made sure to do lots of other fun things, like check out the Leblon area (SO chic, and very, very expensive!), as well as Ipanema Beach. Sadly we didn’t spend a lot of time (or swim) at Ipanema beach, as we had kind of tacked it onto an already busy day, but it was quite lovely all on it’s own to chill out at.

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Christ the Redeemer

That morning, we had booked tickets to go see Christ the Redeemer. A foggy day but it really turned around and worked out fine in the end. Quite the sight- I highly recommend going!

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Me with a foggy Christ the Redeemer

And the view…Amazing!

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Just stunning….This is where the they did the Olympic rowing too.

And then we went straight to the Jardim Botanico- and wow, so many monkeys. I loved the common marmosets the most, and the capuchin monkeys kind of scared me a bit. Crazy little guys, there were so many! I was like, oh look, a monkey…and Ian said, there’s never just one monkey…He was right!

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Many capuchin monkeys

They were very close to us!

13995602_10100602801628726_7934411114911010201_oMarmosets too!

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Cute but weird up close.

And some very active lizards in the desert section of the Jardim.

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You do it on your own, or not at all

I was reading something interesting about motivation the other day (while finishing the Flow in Sport book). People are always looking for motivation, but what they really need is discipline.

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Motivation is fleeting, if it is there at all.

Discipline keeps your foot hitting the ground, your ass in the saddle, day in and day out. Tired, crabby, hungry, sore, cold, hot, achy, it keeps you going.

I kind of struggle with the opposite of motivation/discipline. I can be extremely rigid with myself- unforgiving even. No days off, riding after racing a half marathon (this can be a super bad idea, I was too tired and I’ve done it again even!), scheduling too many exercise activities in one day.

I guess I always tread with a fear that the slope is so slippery to sedentary behaviour that every day I am white-knuckling it with one foot on the banana peel to slide back down to what, exactly? A rest day? hahaha.

Also I am a rather restless person who has a hard time watching movies, with slack time in my schedule, so it is easier to walk, workout, fidget uncontrollably instead of just ‘being’. I totally get this, and that’s how I manage it currently…

But, it’s time for a break! I am going on vacation and going to take it easy. I do have to physically leave my house for this and go somewhere, otherwise the temptation is too great to be busy. Staycations don’t work for me, for that express reason.

So, soon it will be adios for a few weeks, or should I say Ciao!  

Halloween in many parts: Part 1: Night Shift–Nightmare at the Museum!

Since I had so much fun this weekend, I’ll have to split my recap into a few parts, starting with Halloween night at the BC Royal Museum. They offer a series of events called ‘Night Shift’ and this one was called ‘Nightmare at the Museum’ and man, it was a blast!!

A glamorous night- photo courtesy of Laticia!

A glamorous night- photo courtesy of Laticia!

It started at 8 p.m. and had a schedule of events that ranged from a big dance floor, to Ouija board/seances in Old Town, a jazz band in Old Town for a few hours, various exhibits dressed up to be spooky–and they were SO cool, and good luck charm making, and skeleton/vampire/zombie dancers (sadly we missed these), a Mad Scientist act- that was super boring actually, we left early, and a short tour discussing various bloody historical disasters- that was neat!

Whooping it up in Old Town! (photo courtesy of Laticia)

Whooping it up in Old Town! (photo courtesy of Laticia)

I had a great time! You could buy some food for $5, drinks for $7, including beer, wine and two signature cocktails–incluiding Vampire Blood and Dark and Stormy. I had a Dark and Stormy and a curry- that maybe caused me to have a stomach bug the next day but that’s for tomorrow’s story…haha.

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We cruised up and down and checked out everything! I loved the exhibits that had random eyeballs, dead baby dolls, zombie glowing eyed deer, a UFO in the sea exhibit, the Mastodon that gored a clown?? Soooo cool.

Mastadon takes out a clown.

Mastadon takes out a clown.

I would DEFINITELY go next year- the tix were $30 and they sold out within the week. So, the moral of the story- get your tickets fast, becuase this is the fanciest Halloween party you’ll ever go to, and the most fun too!

Fancy a swing?

Fancy a swing?

A deadly picnic...

A deadly picnic…

They want the world to be as simple as they are

A slice from a quote by Tim Kreider, who’s book of essays I am currently loving: We Learn Nothing and highly recommend…

But anyways, recap of my jump lesson last night. I started off not in a great head space- Oats was kind of being a spooky twit about the far right corner again and I was just getting fed up and frustrated.

BUT

My trainer came out, and we addressed the spooky corner calmly and thoroughly, and she reminded me that it’s not about getting frustrated or mad, it’s about learning to handle it. So true! I wasn’t sure what kind of mindset I’d be in for jumping and as it turned out, that is totally fine.

Always start with trot poles in a grid

We worked through a gymnastic line and the funniest thing? How ‘ok’ I felt about all of it?!!

Trot through- yep that felt fine.

Add 1 cross-rail- yeah that’s ok too.

Add a 2nd cross-rail. Sure why not.

Canter over a brush box in three strides after the first two x’s. Got it.

Start working at ‘getting GO!’ from Oats by using my crop behind my leg in the three-strides. Sure! I can jump one-handed no problem!

Add in a 1-stride after the brush-box vertical. Go for it, yeah!

And then gradually add in the fences

And then gradually add in the fences

Who is this person and where did she come from?

And we even raised the jumps- first time felt very ”interesting” haha and Oats had a few knockdowns as I think even he was surprised at having to pick up his feet higher than oh, x-rail or 2ft height…

And each time I felt like, yeah ok sure. Why not! No frenzied panic, no rush of adrenaline, just…yep, got this.

By the end, I was jumping through the gymnastic with some of the fences at 2’4” (my best guess, they didn’t look high though), one at 2’6” maybe and one at around 2’9? AND I was even doing it one handed! Crazy eh? Ha, except Oats had a wicked right drift in the one-stride…Almost took out the standard.

From last summer- Yeeahaw!!

From last summer- Yeeahaw!!

Lesson for us- next time we do this and I am riding one-handed with a distinct lack of steering, we will put up placing poles in a big ‘V’ to guide Oats haha.

This time though? My takeaway- I CAN DO THIS! Yes I can! And I didn’t even get a big adrenaline rush, it just felt…fine.

Race Recap: Sooke River 10k- and series finale!

This one came hot off the heels of the Merville 15k that I wrote about last week, so I spent a lot of the past week cooling off and not really training. I was hoping to save my poor legs and my wonky knee and just see how Sooke went. We aren’t used to running back-to-backs so I wasn’t sure how things were going to go…

Series finale Sooke 10k

Series finale Sooke 10k

I bought new run shorts (Underarmour) and a summer shirt to race in and boy I am glad I did…it was HOT! A side note about shorts here: I hate them. Hate them! Even when I asked for the best shorts that DO NOT ride up, I ended up getting some crotch chafing that made riding Oats later in the day a mildly unpleasant experience..gRRRRRR…back to the drawing board of maybe running in basketball shorts again!

Friends run together!

Friends run together!

We got to park close to the venue, which is awesome and I really liked. The start was good, and the turnout a bit smaller, as it turns out the Vancouver Sun Run was the same day, so a lot of the better runners were trying their luck out there. I parked myself close to the start because I was darned if I was going to get beat by 1 second bib timing AGAIN!  There is a method to my madness…I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t have a good feeling about the race…

It was NOT an easy run.

I started out fast. I usually start pretty slowly, and to me it felt like I was tearing it up! At a dead run! (not really, but you know, fast). I kept it up and had the dawning realization that to get the time I wanted- the vaunted, unheard of speedy time of oh, 47:50 or so, I was going to have to run gasping for breath pretty much the whole time. That pace leaves you breathless, basically. It was an uncomfortable realization.

So, I ran and ran, feeling like I was out of breath the entire time. I coughed up pghlegm most horribly, and coughed it out on my arm, that ended up smeared across my dratted shorts.

My friend and I ran together, and he was running even faster than me! It was crazy. We got to the turnaround point (it was an out-and-back course) and he was ahead of me by a bit.

On the way back, all I could think about was the hills. Oh, the mild (when you’re not dying and gasping for breath) hills…That looked so innocent from the way down them, suddenly felt like I was crawling up Mt. Everest. My pace died down, I was still gasping and muttering and cursing. My friend opted to walk the hills due to a nagging injury (wise move).

The group that I was catching up with started rapidly being in the distance. They were way outpacing me and I could not keep up. I was all alone, all of a sudden. I was waving at spectators in hopes they would cheer me on a bit more (I needed the encouragement!!!). It was hot, I wanted to stop for water but instead gunned myself on a bit more. Every step felt like I was pulling myself along. All I could think about was stopping. Maybe walking. Maybe never having to run a 10k ever again even??

Finally, after a feeble wave at some spectators who dutifully cheered me on (god, I must have looked like I needed it), the course volunteers were waving me on to the final turn where I ran blindly looking for that 100-m sprint lined with flags. FINALLY!!!

A photo where it actually looks like I'm running.

A photo where it actually looks like I’m running.

I think the spectators really got me going at this point. Some guy who looked like a coach was shouting at me ‘Go girl, get it!!!’ So I (feebly again) cranked it up and went for it!! I saw Ian on the sidelines and gave him a panicked, worried look, haha. I sprint-crawled through the finish line and saw the finish time- 46:52– ME? I got that time? Wha?

My previous best time for the 10k was also this year- at the Cobble Hill race. I was gunning for a sub-50 minute 10k and I got it (49:something) and was totally overjoyed!! And now I was beating my previous PR time out of the water???

After I caught my breath, basically reeling around thinking about grabbing onto a tree or maybe a fence to stop myself from falling over, I was SO GLAD. I really pushed myself, harder than I ever had- and I did it! I was exhausted, my lungs hurt and I was covered, head to toe, in sweat.

Age group winners!

Age group winners!

Great work VIRA- You run good races, fabulous volunteers and the best part? The food! The sandwiches at Sooke were so awesome, and they had my favourite protein drinks, cookies and yogurts. I’m glad to be taking a break for a bit, but I know I’m going to really  miss that rush of racing.

Sixth place! Yeah!

Sixth place! Yeah!

And to cap it all off- I was 6th out of 25 in my age group, Ian was 3 out of 10 and Jared was 8th. A lovely way to finish, AND I won the draw prize for a free entry to the Oceanside Mother’s Day 10k in May. Which I have already registered for! (I guess that promise to myself of never running another 10k was kind of a lie to keep myself going…!).