Bazan Bay and series finale with the Vancouver Island Race Series

Last weekend we had the final race of the series, the 5k and the series wrap up! 🙂

Heading back. Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

I was kind of dreading the 5k- I just find it so tough, and I feel like I am pretty weak at getting any top end speed but I figured I could probably hang well enough for a sub- 20:00 with the fitness I have right now.

And it was FREEZING out. We have had a really miserable spring- super cold, wind storms every other day, it was a blizzard last Monday?! The race morning it was 0 deg, and by the time we were racing, I think it crawled up to a measly 4 deg? Anyways I was frozen, wearing gloves for the last race of the season and cursing our luck. I guess we should have considered ourselves lucky that it wasn’t snowing (it was on the Malahat and up Island all day…) and the brave runners who traveled here definitely had to contend with a really tough go to get to the race.

Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

Weather gripes aside, the race itself was fine. I did get annoyed when I saw some older, non-elite runners head to the start. Guys, that’s a good way to get really hurt. Of course, when we started everyone blew past them and they got elbowed a lot. That’s life when you try to hang w/the pros… Do better!

I was hung up in a few packs throughout the race but nothing too tight, which was nice. I forgot my watch so didn’t have that pressure 😉 at least!

At the start. My lungs didn’t love the extra-cold weather. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

It was tough, Ian blew past me like I was standing still which is always irritating! Lol! Wish I had speed if I didn’t train- how??? That will always confound me. My breathing was fairly labored and I did feel like I was at my max for speed. We hit the turnaround and zoomed back. As always, the finish loomed just out of reach for muuuchhh longer than I ever want…

About 1.5 kms to the finish, a guy was telling us we’re getting under 20:00 and I was like yes my dude, I know that, but I’m not gearing JUST for under, you know? I was running hard!

Second place in the series! Photo courtesy of Joseph ‘Crazy Legs’ Camillieri.

And luckily I did get under 20:00 by a fair margin- gun time was 19:22, chip..can’t remember haha. Good enough! I got 5th in my AG, and then we had the series awards. It was confusing at first because none of the 5k times were loaded so nobody knew what they had placed in, and the placings did have an effect on the series end awards. I was in 3rd place, until they called out the placings and I – in a big upset lol- moved to 2nd?!

Yeah!!

$50 gift card to Frontrunners was all mine, baby!! 🙂

And the race results never did get loaded, so a few days later we saw them. Ha, my AG was quite competiive this year, phewww!

Grateful to have a good racing season, nice weather until the last race (how??) and lovely to see my run community buddies and enjoy some excellent post-race snacks. Until next time, racing!!! 🙂

Take yourself with you: Crazy weekend recap~

So yeah this weekend…Wow. I am SO TIRED right now.

And this is with taking Monday off~ Yikes!

We kicked things off with a UVic Young Alumni music bingo event at Moon Under Water brewery. It was actually really fun, and I had a blast listening to all these hits from the ’80s to ’90s. There was free food (and lots of it, and it was great!) and a good atmosphere. We didn’t win at bingo but had a nice time and the night flew by.

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It was colder this year but at least it wasn’t raining!

Saturday I went riding (it was ok) and then we went to Phillips’ Backyard for Hopoxia- and we had a blast! Tried some really cool beers, Tod Creek Cider was there with a raspberry-infused cider. We walked home and took it easy, because the next morning was the MEC half-marathon! I will write about that in a separate post, but it went really well for a quite challenging and hard race.

After the race, we went riding- and I rode in the indoor because the footing was pretty deep/chewed up in the outdoor AND Oats was a total looney tunes- spooking, high alert and bolting across the outdoor when a kid was walking along the fence line. Sheeesh…

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He was ok in the indoor, which was good because we then had to get home and get ready for Ian’s dad’s birthday BBQ! Ian bbq’d some great burgers for all of us (his mom, dad, and sister) and pork tenderloin, and we listened to music and hung out on the patio. It was really nice and for once I wasn’t frozen solid!

I ate way too much, adding to my general sluggy feeling of eating/drinking way way too much this entire weekend. I went to bed pretty early as I was feeling totally wiped after the race, riding and hosting the BBQ.

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We saw a building being demolished!

And that was good, because on Monday I got up and had a riding lesson! It went really well, and we practiced releasing tension. It was a nice ride and for once I didn’t feel stressed or anxious. Just lovely! I ended up waterproofing some blankets and I’m sure I inhaled too much silicone spray, because I had a nasty headache for the rest of the day.

But my ‘weekend’ wasn’t over yet! We had the Stars concert at (WAY TOO LATE) as it turns out…they didn’t hit the stage until 10pm! I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight. Boy am I paying for it today, I feel like total shit. But, the band was amazing, and I loved seeing them again- just a great energy and the lead singer- Torquil Campbell- was on fire! He rocked!!

But yes. so tired. So very tired.

Mr. Oats steps up his game

Had a dressage lesson yesterday, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not- my trainer was later than usual, so late that my lesson partner went up to the barn to look for her? Turns out she was stuck in the porta-potty…that had no toilet paper. Oooops!

Long story short she is now missing 1 sock. HAHAH.

Anyways, after a bit of a delayed start we moved on to our lesson- teaching the horses to come ‘over their backs’ and work on ‘self carriage’. It was a VERY physical lesson, I was sweating buckets (almost wrote- swearing-buckets, ha) and Oats really stepped up to the plate and accepted the challenge.

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Not quite in the outdoor yet, but an example of Oats charging…

It was astoundingly good, for me, because Oats was trying so hard. No sass (except for at the canter on the right lead, a few sassy kick-outs) no fussing that much, no angry hopping up and down. He was amazing!! We achieved the contact, trot and pace we needed. His trot had so much loft I was getting tossed up.

I loved it! It was exhausting but soooo good. Wow, that pony really impressed me.

He came over his back, and we were able to ‘test’ it by bringing the trot down to a quiet trot, and then ramping it back up to a ‘big’ trot, and so forth. Then we went to the canter (it was not as good) and the back to the walk. At the walk, we played. Experimented with lateral work, turning without moving my hands, big walk, little walk, sideways walk, more lateral work…

Oats really got it!

What a superstar pony.

I was just overjoyed with the lesson (and completely exhausted,  Oats was covered in sweat). He is totally in the groove! 🙂

MEC Race #2: 10k trail run at Thetis Lake

Now, this one truly took me by surprise. I came into it very nonchalant…I wasn’t going to even wear my watch (I did) but I certainly wasn’t going to fuss or stress about the time. Trail races for me just aren’t competitive- you can’t go fast enough, reliably enough. I also kind of thought I was aware of the route, and BOY that was a surprise too~

You want to run a half marathon, but can’t commit to the distance or time? Well I have a solution for you- run this race and trust me, it will FEEL like a half marathon by the time you’re done 🙂

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First lap- looking good! Photo credit to MEC.

It was tough.

I’m not complaining though. You get your time, effort and money’s worth for sure! My only complaint is that for a trail race, it was SUPER congested. Packed with people, impossible to find parking, waits for the porta-potties and bag check. UGH. That’s what happens when over 700 people show up, I guess?

We were almost late too, eek! Darn MEC races, I am always almost late or late to them.

We made it to the start by, oh 2 minutes. EEEK

Off we went, and I found my first km fairly slow- 5:40 or so. Ian was ahead of me by a bit, and he finished in around 58 minutes.

Hm, that is slow. Little did I know that was going to be my fastest KM! HAHAH. Next, it was hills, hills, hills. Then, some winding single-track in the mud. THEN we had to clamber through the mud, and hop past a log- or straight over it. I pussyfooted all of the mud stuff and was super slow clambering downhill. Trail racing is fun, but I can’t afford to injure my knee or ankle at this point, for a silly trail race.

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Second lap. Getting tough…Photo credit to MEC.

People BLASTED past me in the mud, splashing, etc and tore downhill. That was ok, I watched, waited and bided my time…to pass them on the final loop (the course was two loops of the 5k course). It did range from fairly easy and straightforward, to technical single-track and very muddy, slippery and tricky. My shoes were soaked with mud, I landed hard and bent my right ankle three times in a row (shit).

The loops ends with a series of hills- like, 3. Ha. Then we ran past the beach to start the second loop. In the first loop, when we reached the hills, my breathing was terrible. I felt sick, and hyperventilated a bit. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, that I was struggling to breathe, that I had a weight sitting on my chest. It was kind of horrible…I couldn’t seem to calm down?!!

By the time I started the second loop, my body seemed to figure out the breathing thing and I completely forgot about my panic and nausea. Weird eh? I kind of fell into a better rhythm by the second loop and was chugging along.

I was soaked in sweat and pretty exhausted, but the volunteers kept it very safe, watching the risk points that were really slippery or technical. I felt cocky going in and very humbled finishing!

I finished with 1:04:33 good enough for 5/24 in my AG.

Not shabby, and it was fun!

It was also FREEZING when we finished, so glad I packed a toque. WTF Victoria, get with the program and I don’t know, warm up or something for spring? I changed into my breeches and rode right after the race. Thetis Lake is actually like 5 mins from my barn so how is that for timing?! HAHA. Horribly cold though, ouch.

Team work to make the dream work?

Remind me again that if I ever sell a house, to move somewhere else for basically the entire showing time period. ARGH!!! This weekend was basically a parade of pack my animals up, load them into the car, drive to the barn, ride, check on the animals, come home…Pack the animals up, load them into the car, drive around for awhile, come home…Pack the animals up, drive around for awhile, come home…

UGH.

While I totally understand that being overwhelmed with multiple-day viewing requests is a GREAT problem to have, it is hard on my critters and is quite stressful for them to be vacated & into my car multiple times a day…

My dog came to work with me on Friday, and my rabbit spent the day in his cage in my car, in the underground (cool) parking lot…

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Gidget is not cut out for this job!

And other than that, they came with me to the barn, on a run, on grocery shopping trips, to grab a beer (stayed in the car)…thank god the weather has been pretty lousy, so it is cool enough in the car for them. Anyways- we hear today, as offers are being presented. My fingers are crossed!!!

So yeah Oats has also been getting a TON of rides in. My legs are killing me actually. Ha. I rode him Thursday after I lessoned on my trainer’s horse Blaze, and then rode Fri/Sat/Sun and he was really good! My eye blew. Like, stunk out loud. I can’t seem to see my distance to a pole anymore unless I pull to it –he took the long spot every time. I finally gave up and just started jumping and that was sooooo much smoother….He did get a good eyeball in at the barrels, silly pony, but jumped anyways.

We did have one scary moment when we were hand-galloping down the long side of the outdoor arena, and then BLAMMO we were shooting sideways at a full gallop….I was like SHIIIIIIITTTTTTT. Turns out the granddaughter of the stable owner had decided to creep over the fence – I never saw her coming or heard her- and startled the ever loving shit out of my horse!..THANKS?!~!!

I did kind of yell at her about letting me know she is coming. Jesus. I always fall off in the outdoor at the ‘spooky corner’ and this year I am determined NOT TO. Thanks, kid, for almost making me eat dirt yet again…grrrrrr.

Other than that, we enjoyed half-price sushi last night while we were wasting a few more hours out of the house, and also watched bunnies frolic, eagles snatch fish away from seagulls, and a clever sea otter drag a salmon back to its lair, also pursued by eagles! Cool eh??

Like trying to describe a dream

Had an intense dressage lesson last night. A semi-private, and man, we worked it.

Mr. Handsome- photo credit to Hannah R.

Mr. Handsome- photo credit to Hannah R.

It started off pretty simple, picking up where we left it last week with the deep inner bend & forward. And then it moved to deep inner bend & collected/short but very forward trot (sitting), and then a ‘5’ trot sitting, and then a ‘6’ trot sitting, and circling at all 4 corners of the arena, and then 4-5 strides of canter in each circle, all while maintaining a good ‘sit’ and forward.

It was SO COOL! I was like, woahh…It felt like what what I think a canter pirouette might feel like? Given I have never in my life done those…

It was a big lesson- exhausting and very thorough. I was really pleased with Oats. His try was 100% last night, and I was very impressed with how he was handling the exercises. Of course, he’s never perfect but man, he has been going really nicely lately and trust me I am not taking it for granted! I was thinking about how hard and boring dressage is to describe to people. It’s like trying to describe your dreams- either they don’t care, or they don’t understand.

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He was like this sweaty…Except he is now clipped. Phew!!

He was very sweaty when we finished, and I was admiring his neck muscles. He looks like a different horse now, from when I first bought him, to even last year when we had finished up our 1 year of dressage training. Look at what our 2nd year has brought us! I love it! All the tears, frustration, anger and pissyness on Oats’ end have been really paying off.

Naturally, I am not dumb enough to think that we’re on the smooth path to success now- hah, with horses? Nope, not realistic. BUT, I’m seeing/feeling some really awesome things. I even let myself do a little day-dreaming about how nice that ride felt, very powerful, when I walked to work this morning.

Oats being Oats, he also had to do something to make me really annoyed after my ride…I was raking down the arena- it has terrible deep spots now where the clay is coming up from the ground! And he rolled with my saddle on! GAH!

Yeah, guess he was that sweaty and it felt sooooo good…argh.

Are you gonna whine, or win?

Had a solo dressage lesson yesterday due to my lesson mate having to take some time off- I don’t normally welcome privates for dressage because of a few factors…

a. they cost more- $35 for a semi-private and $50 for a private

b. I have to work my freaking ass off in them, and nobody else is around to deflect the laserbeam of intensity off me!

So…Not always thrilled to do privates but yesterday I faced it head on. As I mention in my header (stolen from watching Wet Hot American Summer last night, ha), it’s one way or the other. Excuses or results.

Not so relaxed

Not so relaxed

And I, after bravely conquering a mountain this weekend, am ready for results! A win! Except maybe my attitude was the biggest win, and the lesson itself maybe wasn’t quite the win I was looking for. We rode in the outdoor, and the lesson objective became painfully clear: Break the concrete pattern that Oats and I have so lovingly developed over the years.

Easy, right?

Well remember that bit about concrete?

I worked him large for a bit, getting his attention and his ‘forward’ through the spooky side of the arena. It was actually fairly successful, and I was feeling like hey I can do this. We then worked on a circle at the far end of the arena on getting a few simple (note I keep saying simple, not easy) items:

  1. Forward
  2. Bend
  3. Direction
  4. Supple

And proceeded to not get any of those for literally minutes at a time. Yeah it sounds dramatic but sheesh I was working my ass off and Oats was going- NOPE! I’d get forward and then some bend, and then he’d root rudely or throw his head up. Or he’d offer to canter, and he would try literally anything to get me to pull him back and get him to stop.

What was particularly telling was when Karen was saying in a few I could walk…I didn’t even ask for it yet, and Oats reverted from his actually pretty nice work to being a total jackass immediately. Head tossing, hopping, throwing his shoulder out, rooting…ARGH.

So, yeah the walk part didn’t get to happen for another, oh, 20 minutes of sweaty torture? I was like seriously horse? I was done 20 minutes ago? Give ME a break! But this part, was the important part- the ‘not giving up’ part. Oats was frustrated that he thought we could go into our ‘normal’ pattern, where I would walk, and we would take a break. So he took it upon himself to try to ‘force’ me into walking before I even asked.

And to that I say- Good day sir, I don’t think so!

We went back to canter, then trot, then more canter, then trot…It was exhausting. I was sweating from my ears, literally. Oats had rivulets of sweat running down his forehead, flanks, back. He was literally trying to endure me out, and see if I gave in first! Well, two can play at this game, and I wasn’t worried, just kind of annoyed…So we kept going and going, until we got some nice, honest and good work from Oats.

Then I immediately came down to walk, and we left it on that note. I was still in awe of his lasting power- who knew that when he was really trying to force the issue, he could go- and GO very strongly- for that long? Not me?!!

Long held patterns are sure hard to break. I am chipping a tiny corner off with yesterday’s lesson.

Literally sprinting on horseback: Oats update!

We had a pretty nice weekend together, unremarkable but Oats was friendly, and he got lots of hand-grazing after our rides. Saturday was so warm, Oats was covered in white sweat and I had sweat dripping down my forehead from my helmet!

And this takes us to this week- 1 dressage lesson. Tired. So tired!

So, to add to the theme of ‘draggy’ this week, I had an unusually cardiovascular lesson last night, and mannnnn it kicked my butt! I had arranged for two private lessons, and 1 week off from dressage training while my lesson buddy was away for three weeks. Gonna be honest here- I was dreading the private lessons because I was afraid an epic ass-kicking was going down- and I wasn’t wrong here!

We started right off the bat on a trot circle getting Oats forward and off my leg. Easier said than done, of course. He protested in the form of his head coming up, moving up into canter instead of a big trot, and his favourite, throwing a buck here or there.

We handled each of these issues with two things- not pulling back if he goes to canter, instead put in a FIRM inside bend and let him go into trot on his own (it’s very hard to maintain that bend and any sort of commitment in the canter), and then when he does go into trot, ‘give’ more with my arms and work that trot! The bucking/balking part? More forward, and outside bend if he is getting too naughty. He dropped that move asap.

He toned down the naughty, but oh boy I was working my butt off getting the forward (not canter) trot. I was sweating, breathing heavily, everything! Here’s the surprising bit- our right-lead canter had better ‘surge’ moments than the left lead. I know, I was surprised too! Usually the right lead is my sucky, don’t know what I’m doing- lead.

Left he wasn’t giving much to me, but on the right…Progress!

It was exhausting though. My legs cramped up, I was gasping for breath…And I’m STILL coughing up grossness from my stupid cold, that feels like it’s been going on for 3 weeks…

And something that I am still working on- my hands coming up too high, defensively. Turns out when I give my hands something ‘to do’ they don’t rise up as high, so I focused a lot on using the outside rein to keep Oats on the track and stopped myself from trying to get the inside bend as much. It definitely helped.

So. tired. today. though. Karen was like, why are you breathing hard? Your horse isn’t working that hard?!! UGH no kidding eh? I was huffing and puffing and Oats is like…yeah…no problem…

ARGH ponies! It felt like I was doing my sprint workouts with a horse!

I am thinking about avoiding the stairs at work and maybe taking it easier by using the elevator…I’m that tired!

(I had to come back and edit this, as I realized the reason I felt so tired this morning was a. strenuous workouts lately, b. recovering from a lousy head cold but MOSTLY c. took allergy medication in the AM instead of at night and basically sleepwalked to work! Yeesh, no wonder I thought I was going to fall down at the gym this afternoon. Eeek! Also made me realize why, exactly, I was having such great sleeps this week…Because I was medicated to the wazoo, that’s why!).