We all want the same things: Comox Half-Marathon Race Recap!

Alternate title: (nothing hurts like a bruised ego part #2 and a visit to physical therapy the day after a race).

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Second in my age-group, and I picked up my missing Cedar 12k gold medal too. Ian won a sweet door prize- a growler & fill from Forbidden Brewing Co.!!

So yeah I am in a world of hurt today, AND also my race on Sunday up Island in Comox was…Less than glorious, haha. I wasn’t super optimistic about it, given high stress levels for the past few weeks, absolutely heinous allergies (ongoing), and just feeling kind of beat-down. Nothing glaring, just not feeling super optimal. And I was kind of right, haha.

It was very much a sub-optimal race. I remembered last year and was thrilled with my time then- it felt GREAT!!! And I was rocking it!! I tried to keep that in mind and things just sort of started…Falling apart. It was weirdly warm- much warmer than I thought it was going to be. I immediately started sweating heavily and thought, ‘oh great I’m hot already…’ Unusual for this time of year and I was wearing shorts even- that NEVER happens!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri, featuring the gentleman that matched me and kept my pace honest at least! ūüôā

The first few KM’s I ran fast, but not ‘super’ fast…I recalled the ongoing rolling hills to the turnaround at 10-11km, but what I didn’t remember was the entire way up from like 4-9 is also rolling hills, so I kind of went up and up and up! Hm.

My pace started kind of sucking and I thought well, that’s ok. If I can hang on now, I can make it up on the back end (newflash- I couldn’t).

Went around the turnaround and thought ok here it goes!!! Big burst of speed!! Ahahahaha nope. In my mind I was running fast, in reality, I wasn’t even making up what I had lost. It was kind of demoralizing. I felt hot and kind of nauseous the entire way back. My stomach was churning- not terribly but I just felt strange and not dialed in. We ran to about 16-17KM and the wheels started falling off for me. I felt lightheaded and my legs felt so tired, so heavy. No matter what I was doing, I couldn’t go fast?! I grabbed some E-lite drink and choked on it for a good few minutes. Shoot!

I was running neck and neck with another guy and he even waited when I was choking, to see if I was all right. Hahah nice eh? We were both pretty deep into the pain train…

At 18km I thought yes here ‘s the big push! Andd….flat legs. Each Km was about 5:00/km, which was far slower than I wanted or expected (here’s the ego part again). It clearly wasn’t happening for me yesterday. I tried as hard as I could, and I didn’t have it. I was gasping for breath, and just couldn’t do it.

We finished at 1:36:28, which was far slower than last year but again, I think many of us had the same race and were riding the struggle bus too. I placed 2nd in my age group (which is funny because I was 5th last year with a better time!). And my stomach was just miserable after, took me awhile to settle long enough to enjoy the fantastic chili and snacks that they had on offer. I still think Comox has the BEST after-race spread, hands-down. ūüėČ

Many thanks to the fine volunteers, cheering squads and food servers- they really make this race something special! Even with all my whining and moaning, it was a gorgeous and warm day, and nice to be outside. Today hurts though, and to add the pain I had a great idea to get some active release done on my hip injury and glutes…Woww. Let’s just say I’m glad THAT is over. Yeesh.

 

 

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If I fall, let me go

I’ve probably alluded to this in the past, but I do not have a super fantastic family relationship. I have had my fair share of emotional trauma courtesy of my family, and I love them despite this. It makes it hard to enjoy the holidays, and hard to spend time with them a lot, because of the bad shit that has gone down in the past.

I now must do a kindness, and it’s going to look like a lot of pain and hurt. But trust me, making someone very clear about who you are, and what you are doing is very kind:

Luxury goods are only consumed when we’ve got enough. You shouldn’t¬†go shopping for a Birkin bag¬†with your last dollar.

It’s easy to believe that kindness is like that. We need more reserves, perhaps, before we can expend some of what we’ve got in this generous way.

You’ve had a hard day, it’s raining out, the world is changing, your boss is mean to you, the checking account is overdrawn, you’re on deadline…

But… Does every need have to be filled, every emotion in place before we’re capable of being kind?

Do we have to have enough money, enough confidence about the future and enough of everything else we crave before we can find the space to offer someone else a hand?

It turns out that the opposite is true. That kindness is a foundation for the rest. That investing time and resources in extending ourselves shifts the rest of our needs in precisely the right direction, not only putting us closer to satisfying those other needs, but enjoying the journey as well.

Kindness rewards the giver as well.

Lately, I have been struggling again, chiefly because I feel disrespected as a woman, as an independent thinker, and that my entire ‘personhood’ is diminished and made powerless by them (my parents).

I hate it. I’m having a rough week dealing with this, and it 100% distracted me yesterday at work so I made some pretty big screwups. It also affected my riding lesson, as I was literally shaking with rage. Thankfully, because I have been working on managing my emotions in the saddle, all it meant was that I needed to do some mindless jump-jump-jump and nothing too technical. My coach understood what I needed, and I didn’t come out to my lesson with angst in my hands and a chip on my shoulder to take out on Oats. I’ve stopped that now.

It boils down to this- when someone says they do not want children, believe them.

Why push, force, coerce or judge? Why try and manipulate? Why go behind my back? What is the end goal here? Someone who has kids and hates them, is resentful of them, doesn’t want them. Why would that be a desired result? It’s not fair for anyone, least of all the child.

It’s not up for debate. It’s not up to YOU to choose for them. You can say what you want, ONCE, and leave it alone. And you can feel however you wish, I’m not here to stop anyone’s feelings.

I’m being pressured and threatened.¬†I’m going to put a stop to it on Saturday, on a day I have deemed my personal rubicon. I wish I didn’t have to, confrontation is the least of what I like, but now it’s become perfectly clear- I must do this now, and fast, and get ahead of this issue. I have discussed this with my equine counselor, and we have worked on a simple strategy to manage this issue in a calm, firm manner. No apologies, no anger, no defensiveness.

They can’t pretend not to hear me, or ignore me outright, when I am in their face telling them it’s either this, or they lose a daughter too.

 

Christmas aftermath

Man, so many things. Good and bad. I enjoyed my time off, considering I was in a spectacularly grouchy/depressed mood, I was in a WAY better mind frame to celebrate.

We went to Ucluelet for a few days to decompress before the family madness began, and then celebrated Christmas Eve at my husband’s parents farm, which was nice. We then had Christmas breakfast and then Christmas dinner at MY parents, which was also good. My gifts were lovely, my husband got me everything I wanted and I really loved the cool and unique gifts my sister, parents and stable friends gave me. WOW so generous!

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Yes I am wearing a grumpy cat Xmas sweater! Featuring new boots for Oats, love them so much.

I also did some Boxing Day shopping and bought myself another pair of running shoes (I know I know, I have like 10 pairs now..eek) and some cool funky clothes (I also have too many of those, haha).

I ate too much, went to two parties in one night, drank too much (again) and ran a lot and also rode Oats five days in a row, gave him three days off, and now tonight will be day 4 in a row he gets ridden! That pony gets a lotta love, gotta say it, haha. He also enjoyed a home-made cookie from one of the girls are the barn and he gobbled it up in RECORD time.

No Xmas is complete without some holiday drama, and it led me to realize my new year’s resolution is to not whitewash what I want out of life. Not whitewash WHO I am anymore.

I will finish with this- as I go into the new year, I’m planning on setting the slate clean with a few people (my parents). I want to go into a fresh year unencumbered by people’s expectations of me.

I have a dog, horse, rabbit and husband because I love and cherish all of them, and they all add value and joy to my life. I would never presume anyone needed any of those items or animals to make their lives whole. This is my experience.

Please do not assume I need children to make my life whole. That is¬†your experience. I do not need convincing, judgement, argument or debate to ‘make me change my mind’. I don’t think everyone needs a dog, horse or husband to fully experience life–why do people think that about kids? Just stop.

In 2017, I am going to be clear about what I want with the people I love and am closest to. If that means they are upset with me, so be it. I am going to focus on what is most important to me, and maintain my priorities and my sense of self the only way I know how- with resolve and resolution.

So, I guess that’s my NYE resolution right there. I also really want to start planning my next exciting big trip and can’t figure out where I want to go/do next. Africa maybe??

I guess I was overdue?

For a truly shitty ride? UGH! Last night I probably shouldn’t have ridden- there were a few omens on my way out, like a man popping out in front of my car and me not seeing him until the last minute (it’s so dark out at 4pm now, it’s crazy), a car deciding to turn left into my car- I slammed on the brakes and horn at the last second and avoided an accident…

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Me this whole freaking week.

It was cold but Oats warmed up much fresher than Wednesday. I had his cooler on, and it took flight immediately off his back in…2 seconds? I didn’t even notice it was gone it flew off so fast! I had to go look for it after our ride, as it was pitch black out and the cooler is…also black.

Our ride started off promising- some nice canter work, moving better, still some stiff-headed resistance at the trot, but moving out. We worked over some poles and I noticed he wasn’t wanting to bend either direction, and wasn’t moving out off my leg very well, preferring instead to rush and speed off instead, so I slowed it down and started asking from the walk, for head-to-the-wall leg-yields.

He did his typical ‘ok this is fine fine fine fine and…NOT FINE’ hissyfit moments. Oats is like a horse at the mall- you put your quarter in, and you get only SO much time. After that? Your quarter is up, and STOP ASKING ME. So, yeah. It was fairly ugly and annoying. We worked through it on the left side, and one part of me¬†reallllly didn’t want to repeat that struggle of wills on the right side, but anything you do on one side..YEah, I was in for a fun time.

Off the right, he moved over so fast. So fast. Like a butterfly! Zipping over…Until he started in with his big-time hissyfit moments, and he would NOT LET IT GO. I rode for what felt like hours, just trying to get him= sideways. He ran backwards, he gnashed his teeth, he threatened to rear, he pawed the air, he banged his head on the wall (multiple times?!!), he fussed, he fought, he complained, he yanked on the reins, he ran forward, backwards, he hopped up and down. UGHHHHH.

It was so horrible. And I was getting mad, too. Lose- lose.

I finally settled with letting him go forward, and then forcing his head over to the right using impulsion, and then pushing as hard as I could with my right leg. Sort of sideways? Done, reward him with letting him go forward again. Then repeat. Then repeat, and reward.

YEEEEESH. I have no idea what prompted his level of rudeness, but jesus he hasn’t been that miserable in about a year of lateral work. I have a real feeling he thought he was off the hook for ‘homework’ and took major offense to having to do it, after some fun times of cruising around over fences and poles.

Anyways, it sucked so hard. Let’s just take some brain-bleach and forget that shitty little episode…

I would like one of everything, please.

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Me with my horse- gimmie gimmie gimmie!

Rode yesterday, and I would like to say it was a good ride, but I have to be honest and say that my expectations of Oats led me down a bad rabbit hole for a bit. Weirdly, when I’m jumping it’s all ‘Wheeeee can you believe it! We jumped that jump! Whoop! Look at us go!’

And when I’m flatworking, it’s like, “Why are you leaning on my hands?” “Balance yourself, horse!,” “UGH can you get over his lousy transition? or “Stop balancing off me on your forehand and breaking into trot from the canter!!”

So yeah, my expectations tend to vary widely…and I want a lot more from Oats on the flat now.

This causes problems for me, because I know it causes me to not be fair to Oats. He is still trying. I do not need to drill, hammer home any points, or overwork one thing- like cantering in balance, or transitions.

I should be more generous with his attempts, and at letting it go when it doesn’t go well. Asking things of him the way I am right now? I’m not happy with myself!

Why can’t I have the same outlook for dressage/flatwork that I do for jumping? Whee!! Yay!! Look at us!!

Sweat was dripping down my face, yesterday was hot hot hot and I was kind of irritated with Oats. I felt tired, felt like I was doing more work than I should be–and that he should step up to the plate. In reality, I probably should have taken a big step back and recognized that I was tired and the unseasonable heat was affecting the both of us.

But, we did end on a very pleasing note- some light leg yielding with his head to the wall, and wouldn’t you know it–he was super! I did it once each direction, and called it quits. His lateral work is starting to really come along, in ways I didn’t know was possible a year or maybe 6 months ago.

So this is what progress looks like. It’s interesting- I wish I could be more content?

WW III on a few things: Lateral work, allergy season

UGH.

I feel like right now I am just a big ball of suffering. I am having a lot of trouble breathing, my ears are irritated (my ears people?!) and I am coughing constantly, constant post-nasal drip, running nose and sinus headache from hell.

Sometimes, I hate you!

Sometimes, I hate you!

I’m not sure exactly why my seasonal (year-round seasonal…) allergies are going completely psycho but I am having a SUPER hard time dealing right now. Suffer suffer suffer…I take two Reactine pills and they turn me into a balloon-headed zombie, and the steroids I also take DO NOTHING. Woe is me.

I rode yesterday (hence the WW III reference) and then came home and slept for 2 hours. WTF…

Oh and the riding. Well! Saturday Oats was super good, a bit pokey but generally had his game face on. We schooled some small x-rails to show off for my coworker’s husband and kids who came to say hi to Oats. It was cute, he was well behaved and a fun pony. A good time was had by all.

Sunday…

Oats vs dressage

Oats vs dressage

I was going to gallop in the field for a bit, but the wind started getting really nuts, my allergies were starting to get out of control and I was just.not.feeling.it.

The horses were kind of dingbats anyways, so I headed to the indoor to do some homework: read, lateral work, not the fun gallop Oats would have preferred. And he warmed up nicely, canter is still kind of a lousy work in progress, trot was good and his walk-lateral work off my left leg was lovely!

The right was HORRIBLE.

A battle. Like, a real struggle. I was pretty determined to not let him bully me, or scare me off, or get me frustrated, so I kept at it. He pulled every¬†game¬†out of his nasty bag of tricks- running backwards, throwing his head up and down, gnashing at the bit, yanking the reins out of my hands, running into the wall, hopping up and down, threatening to rear…

I grimly kept. At. IT.

I was talking to him the whole time, and I called him every name in the book, but was gently, consistently, persistently keeping at it.

I did not give up. I did not get mad and let him unfocus me.

It was going to take as long as it took, and boy, it really did. I was so done, but I also realized that in this little tempest in a teapot, if I let him get away with being a shit about this, next time I’d have double the effort to being a shit.

So, he banged his head against the wall, threw his head dramatically around, ran backwards into a jump standard, and was generally committed to being a giant dickhead.

All, rather than give in to my right leg pressure.

Yes, Oats is a freaking drama queen.

The ride that could have been short ended up being VERY long indeed. I was tired, pissed off and like…Really? This again?

When he (extremely grudgingly) gave me a few NICE steps over from my right leg, I went straight and let him stretch down long and low. He immediately snatched the reins and dramatically went to stretch but I let him go.

The whole ride took soooooooooooo long, but in the end, I was the one who won that day.

I hope Oats remembers it! I have no desire to repeat that little drama-rama.

And then as I said before, hopped up on too much allergy meds (which may actually have explained why I was able to zen my way though that miserable episode) I came home and slept for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon…

With great challenge comes great rewards

That’s what I am telling myself when I practice lateral work with Mr. Oats these days…

A few weeks ago we had a tough lateral work session that I blogged about- he was extremely resistant, difficult and rude going to the left (the rein we started out on) and softened and was as beautiful as a fairy pony on the right! Floaty, soft, just overall lovely.

So yesterday I told Karen that I remembered what rein we started out on, and we went forward to our experiment. Was it the rein that mattered, or just the order of what side we start on?

And I learned what it really was pretty much instantly.

It doesn’t matter what rein. It is the beginning of the lateral work that is the issue.

We started off on the right, doing a sort of leg-yield off a circle and MAN it was ROUGH ROUGH ROUGH. Oats was in fine jackass form, pushing, shoving, throwing his head up, resistant, rude, pushy, ohhhh man it was ugly. 

I was panting and basically cursing and was like WTF? Pony?! Can’t we be friends here?? He was in rare form, his eyes were rolling, his ears were pinned, he was primed for a fight and pissed off!! We grudgingly worked through it, lots of stops and starts, moving sideways, backwards, into the wall, into the corner, backwards again…

And I had to have it out with him. And boy, did I.

Until…He started softening, we moved on the other rein, and he was so much better! He had a walk break that he really appreciated, and we moved it up to the trot. I did not expect much at the trot, and he surprised me- he was even trying some steps at the trot! Even after his little temper tantrum at the walk.

After all that ‘sturm und drang’ he was getting it. We moved up to a bit of canter (no lateral work, just canter) and it was pretty good!

It was a ‘two beer’ night, as Karen said. Hahah and man, was it ever!

It can be very difficult to measure progress, but with each lesson (and struggle) we’re getting some of the best steps we’ve ever gotten- and this is EACH lesson. So, while it feels horrendously ugly and a battle in the beginning, we are really starting to break through his mental resistance and get somewhere.

Good Oats. He is not an easy pony to ride, but with great challenge comes great reward.