It doesn’t get better. You get better.

Yeah, my race recap was a little self-pitying. Three weeks down, and the countdown is ON!

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To break up the gloominess, here is baby Oats! Photo courtesy of his former owner Jennifer.

To recap for riding, Mr. Oats has been super awesome and I have been…hanging on? Ha. I didn’t have a dressage lesson last week, and kind of couldn’t deal with life either, so my jump lesson was …less jumps, more angst. But, I’m ok with that. I knew going in that my head cold was making me feel absolutely miserable and so was work and just..just just couldn’t handle the pressure.

I made the decision to tone it down in my riding (ie- not jumping) and lessen the anxiety I have on myself. It worked, I really enjoyed my lesson with some jumps, just not ALL the jumps, and enjoyed my rides on the weekend too.

The only thing that was a thorn in my side was how scatter-brained, clueless, tired and sick I was feeling. Ha, only. I rode Oats, had a good ride (honestly, I can’t remember one ride from the next right now, my life is a blur), and groomed him, put tack away, cleaned up, made grain bags, packed up my purse and left…

…Went through the gate, looked back, and saw Oats. Still in the crossties, looking at me.

SHit!

Forgot the horse!

Wish I could say that was an isolated incident, but I also forgot that I had Buster Bunny out to play and brushed my teeth and went to bed, with him hopping up and down the stairs. Whoops! My husband came up for bed and saw rogue rabbit, scooped him up and took him back to his cage. Hahaha.

And then I locked my keys in my car on Monday at the barn.

Except I had also forgot to lock my car, so …SAVED~

And my weekend was spent riding, and sleeping/laying around on the couch cursing the head cold I have. I still sort of have it too, my ears are going nuts with pressure and I have been blowing my nose unsuccessfully to try and relieve the pressure. Still have tons of nose running too. SIGH.

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Things happen. That’s all they ever do.

Enjoying this song by Dawes recently.

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Oats, looking as impressive as always.

It feels lately like all I am doing is ranting about the weather (terrible), work (more terrible) and just feeling draggy, grouchy, griping, unhappy, burned out, fried, stressed, sleepless, exhausted, etc etc etc.

I’m happy to report that today, unlike every single day this week, the sun is shining, it is slightly warmer out, and I do not feel completely fried, though it is a Friday and those days are notoriously nightmarish at work, sooooo yeah. But hey, I’ll take it right now.

Last night though was a different story, ha. I walked home in the longest, bitterest, saddest walk ever. It was FREEZING, rain/frozen rain/hail/snow and blasting wind. It was quite epic in a really bad way. I was soaked, even with an umbrella, and had to take my dog out, and then get dressed and go ride in my Thursday jump lesson.

To say I wasn’t really feeling it is the understatement of the century, ha.

But, I did.

…And I didn’t regret it. I never do.

We had a fine warmup, it was a long warmup b/c I was FROZEN. I needed to warm up longer than Oats, who was feeling pretty fine. We worked over a really crazy exercise- two outside lines, and then a gymnastic in the middle of the ring.

It was pretty nuts! Small jumps-only x-rails, and we really enjoyed it. I was able to really ‘ride’ my ride. Sit tall, make decisions, ride forward, and go with it!

We’d jump the first outside line, and the slice the three fences on a diagonal- then jump the next outside line, and slice the fences on the diagonal going the other way. Then over small flowerboxes as skinnies (we failed at this EVERY TIME. Oats deked out, hahahhahah) and the over the gymnastic in the middle.

I like it! A good challenge, even if I was a grumpy Gus about the entire day.

Really enjoying the creativity. Go pony go! Loving what my trainer has for me each lesson.

That’s just what you are: Week update

Honestly haven’t been feeling it this week. Haven’t been feeling anything pretty much.

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Me this whole freaking week.

Work has been psychotically busy and a real pressure-cooker. It’s left me without a blogging voice, hopefully temporarily.

I have been riding and actually that’s been going fine! Had a nice lesson yesterday and felt really good, in synch and happy with dear old Oats. Funny, because I was SO grouchy yesterday before riding (thanks to work and my persistent health issues this week). Grouchy, exhausted, bone-crunching fatigue, bloating, allergies that are making it impossible to breathe at anytime, particularly at night…yeah. Perfection.

BUT riding always brings it home for me, and I LOVE it.

A fun jump lesson, and the mistakes that happened were all mine and I can own it. Mistakes happen, and I move on and don’t make them in the second half of my course. That’s fine. Oats is a good and honest pony, and any screwups were mine.

I didn’t ride on Tues- thank god my lesson was already cancelled- because of already mentioned health issues. I staggered home and was seriously worried I was going to collapse on my way. I was so tired. My limbs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds. I was dizzy and unbalanced. I was so out of it, and could barely drag my body home. My gym workout that I usually do at lunch? I spent it laying on a gym mat with my eyes closed. god.

Spent the evening sleeping on the couch. WTF? I never do that! But yeah…This was to set the tone for my miserable week of allergies-bloating-crushing fatigue-allergies-bloating-cramps-fatigue…UGH.

So yeah, not feeling anything in life right now. Still love my pony, my fraking dog that spent the night scrambling over me and licking herself loudly…maybe not her right now, ha.

Four day week? Feels more like a month.

 

MEC Race #5: The Grand Banana

And so bright and early, I didn’t hear my alarm and woke up in a panic at 7:21, freaking out at my husband. The race started at 8:30am, so I had time, but not a lot of it!

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I am actually not in this pic…And they’re off!

I got a whole lot of sleep (nope) after my two parties…So yeah I was feeling fresh, energized and ready to go (I wish). I had also eaten myself into a bad stomachache, so that was genius planning on my part too, ha. Worth it though, until I had to actually race.

We left the house, and made it to Elk Lake with lots of time. I warmed up- sort of- and it was very chilly out at the lake. Brrrrr! I kept an eye out for my friend, who was making a comeback from rehabbing her ankle over the past year, but I didn’t manage to see her until after the race.

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Faces of pain.

I wore my bunny ears, and had a ‘Playboy Bunny’ style singlet over top of my run gear. Cute eh? The bunny ears lasted…3 seconds and fell into the mud and got trampled immediately. Shoot!!

Once we were off, I was hauling ass – until I checked my watch and I decidedly…wasn’t. First KM was at 4:48, and I was trying for more of a 4:45 avg (newsflash- this was too ambitious and my level of training was NOT there).

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It was a beautiful morning.

It was really tough! I say that about a lot of my races, but here we are a few days later and my legs were just killing me. It was neck-and-neck for awhile with a few other lady runners (Cinderella in particular looked really good) and I got my ass kicked by them and a few other runners too. People were really on their game that day.

I did pretty well the first loop, alternating between feeling great and feeling like dying. I even managed a very brief ‘you’ve got this!!’ mantra, until about 8km, and then I felt so tired, and incredulous that there were how many KMs left??!! How?!!

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Dear god when will it end>!

I made it to the second loop and the wheels started falling off. I felt so tired, my knee was bugging me and I was contemplating giving up. I wanted to give up SO badly. Just…pull off to the side, let this charade go, and take it easy. It would be so easy.

Note to self- not a good mantra.

It was very seductive though…

But I dragged myself up the hilly sections. I recovered my gait after tripping hardcore a few times (yes, fellow runners were concerned and asked if I was ok!! Nice eh? I was fine, just clumsy and tired.).

I charged on, weakly.

I kept going.

I did it.

I did NOT get my ‘b’ goal time (1:45) but I was really close to it- 1:46. I’ll take it. And I will work on giving it another shot for my next half in the spring.

My friend did awesome, and I was able to meet up with her later. Her ankle held out and she ran a really strong race. She felt fresher than I did after, even! Wow!

Kudos to the MEC crew for again running a fun, well-organized race. I heard that over 700 runners were there that day!!! Compared with like, 400 last year?!!

Tell me how I’m feeling

Ended up at work yesterday feeling just horrible. Bone tired, sore throat, incredibly thirsty – and yet water could not quench my thirst- and just feeling terrible.

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Back to the indoor…

I lasted until about 11:00 am and then went home sick. A good decision, as it took me forever to drag myself home, took Gidget out, and went to bed. And slept for hours. Not a super great or restful sleep, I was sweating like crazy, my heart was racing, and obviously I wasn’t doing super well, but I needed it!

Gidget loved it though, ha. Her favourite thing is sleeping and naptime.

When my husband got home at 5pm, I couldn’t believe it. Where did the whole day go? Did I sleep for all of the afternoon? Yikes! I did end up going riding later, I was feeling better and less exhausted so I could make the trek out there.

Oats was great, we puttered around doing some flatwork and transitions. Mostly it was an excuse to watch my friend Mitch ride my trainer’s horse Query. She is having him ride while she is laid up with a concussion this week, and it’s been very educational to watch him ride the horse. He is a very talented rider who used to put rides on Oats and I was always very impressed with his soft hands, and very positive focus with the horses.

Last night was no exception, they looked great and even popped over a few x-rails. Nice to see!

I am back at it again today and feeling a lot better. I guess I needed to sleep for an entire afternoon??

Halloween in many parts: Part 2- MEC’s Grand Banana Half Marathon!

I know, I know, running (almost wrote ‘funning’ yeah it was anything but funny!) a half marathon the day after a Halloween party? Not my brightest move!

Warming up: all photos courtesy of MEC.

Warming up: all photos courtesy of MEC.

However, it is a move I am very familiar with, living a pretty normal and active life, so hey you roll with the punches and just see how the race goes! My goal was not lofty–I was hoping to complete the race with my knee intact, a large goal seeing that I haven’t run successfully around Elk Lake at all since my knee troubles started, and I was really worried.

And they're off! All photos courtesy of MEC.

And they’re off! All photos courtesy of MEC.

But I was also hopeful, my base for running has been improving, so maybe I could get by? I am the first to admit my training has been quite shameful lately- I wasn’t feeling well (see my slow-motion cold, ugh!), had a horse show one weekend, and was at Mane Event and managed to wrangle 1 really boring one-hour run, and my regular sprint work on the treadmill twice a week. So, respecting the distance of a half marathon at 21.1 km, I was not feeling super prepared…

Add on to my fun festivities the night before and I was thinking, finish the race, maybe shoot for under 2 hours and see how it goes?

Beginning: So far, no rain. All photos courtesy of MEC.

Beginning: So far, no rain. All photos courtesy of MEC.

And how did it go?

Surprisingly well! I was very lucky to have my husband join me, and it was great to have company for that long of a race. It can be very hard to stay focused for that long, and he really brings me up when he helps me race!

That’s not to say it was easy. It wasn’t. It was kind of like torture, but the type of torture that keeps you coming back for more…The course had these silly little dog-legs (uphill!!!ARGH) to add more length on to the track, so the course was a hair over standard- 21.2 km instead of 21.1 km, but we are splitting hairs here…But yes, a few more upills, muddy, slippery conditions, dogs, so many dogs…I ended up dodging dogs more than I would have liked! And the best part? It was absolutely FREEZING. It didn’t start really raining hard until the second loop but man, that was enough.

Starting to get wet...All photos courtesy of MEC.

Starting to get wet…All photos courtesy of MEC.

But actually, I was feeling pretty good. Anytime I got too ‘slappy’ with my form and got worried about my knee, I focused very hard on the inner muscle of my knee and tried to really think hard about landing using that muscle, pushing off using that muscle, and trying to make it ‘work’ harder than my outside knee muscle.

Second loops: Things get ugly. All photos courtesy of MEC.

Second loops: Things get ugly. All photos courtesy of MEC.

And I think that type of body-awareness work really helped my form throughout the race.

I was happily able to keep running, my knee held together, even though I was tired, had picked up an unfortunate stomach bug that would keep me near the bathrooms for the rest of the day (gross!!!!) and was feeling quite underpowered and under fueled, but I was DOING IT!

A race to the finish! All photos courtesy of MEC.

A race to the finish! Ian is drenched! All photos courtesy of MEC.

So, pushing through the freezing wind and pouring rain, we ran to a fairly respectable 1:54:17, a 31-second time improvement off our last half marathon. I’d be lying if I didn’t want a faster time, but to be honest with myself, I didn’t put the work in and conditions for me personally weren’t optimal. Next time!

My 'thank god the finish!' face All photos courtesy of MEC.

My ‘thank god the finish!’ face All photos courtesy of MEC.

Many thanks to the fine MEC crew, who braved the absolutely terrible weather and had some really nice snacks, well-placed aid stations (I grabbed a Cliff shot blok and it was orange flavoured- yuck! But I desperately needed energy haha my mistake) and a great cheering section to keep us inspired.

And thank you to my friend, who was unable to run but was with us in spirit. Next time, when you’re recovered from your injury, we’ll do the race right!

Taking a breather

So, after our challenging- but then good- dressage lesson on Tuesday, I decided I didn’t want to overface myself and take Oats for round #2 battle in the outdoor and I would have a ‘fun day’ in the field with him on Wednesday.

A spunkier Oats on the weekend. Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

A spunkier Oats on the weekend. Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

I find myself often wanting to ride in the field- I guess because I feel freer, less constrained and less ‘trapped’ into pushing Oats for a workout in the ring? More freedom, I guess, and a lot less fighting, as it turns out! And I have to learn to re-train my temper- as my trainer said, work first on me, then on Oats, and then bring both of us to the challenging situation. Don’t jump right into the challenge, because it will kind of blow up in our faces…

So, with that knowledge, I deliberately set out for a fun ride, not a fight.

And it WAS FUN!

We rode in the smaller field that has a hill, and some cavalettis. I dragged out a cavaletti- they are light because the wood is completely dry-rotted through, but a mega pain the butt to wrangle, ha. Oats was patient here.

Put your butt into it! Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

Put your butt into it! Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

I set the cavaletti up in the middle setting, friendly and low, and we warmed up and then trotted and cantered it both directions a bunch of times. I got bored by it after awhile (things were going very smoothly!) and decided to take Oats up to do some hillwork.

Newsflash- the hillwork was so hard for Oats. He was tired! It was hard work! I noticed a real weakness in his right hind while cantering up the hill and trying to maintain the canter. He swapped a few times and broke into trot the rest.

I left the canter alone and we trotted up and walked down the steepest part of the hill, focusing mostly on getting his right hind to step up the hill. It was definitely hard but good work for the pony. You should have seen him after, in the cross-ties…He was exhausted! Poor guy.

So tired.

So tired.