Things have been really nuts lately. Had a very challenging week last week that culminated in…
A lousy cold, that I STILL have this week
Getting a COVID booster and flu shot in the same arm, same day (terrible idea)
Putting my poor rabbit down
And this week, I ran out of my allergy medication and thought I’d be ok. WRONG. Immediately had flu-like symptoms yesterday (chills/body aches/sore and swollen throat/crazy phlegm) and today was woken up by insane sinus pain. So bad that it woke me up!
So I tried to get a renewal, only to be turned down by the pharmacists because they couldn’t be arsed. Thanks, guys. You are freaking useless. And I KNOW you can renew prescriptions now! God.
Basically, the entire weekend was a write-off, starting on Tuesday essentially with a sore throat…I should have known. It’s a shame, because the month was going so well.
We enjoyed beer events, wine tastings, races, horsey events, and great weather. It all came crashing down last week, and the weather joined in too- we are not in a drought any longer, rather it’s dropped to 10 deg and blasting wind/rain? Well, I know we had it coming but ouch, this stings. 😦
Onwards and upwards though as we prepare to leave on our big sabbatical. Only 6 days left- can you believe it? Then it’s adios, amigos!
So, I did it. Like any good runner, you turn into a cliche: The marathon runner. SIGH!
I held out for a long time, chiefly because I couldn’t stay healthy enough to train, let alone race, that type of distance. I got a few stress fractures (when people talk about shin splints, they have NO IDEA how bad they can get. Source: me) and I wasn’t able to walk very well so goodbyeee race plans! And then a pandemic, and then another set of stress fractures, and well you know the whole story!
So, this was my time to shine- clearly.
I did train fairly well with a ridiculously ambitious training plan (for people aiming to get under 3:30, and I can tell you the plan was NUTS and clearly designed more for people trying to get closer to a 3:15, in my opinion!).
But…the bugaboos are always there. The gerbils were running wild in my head, I was so anxious. It’s not a joke of a distance and I was aiming for an aggressive time. I chatted with a few runners I knew at the start and told them my time goals and they thought they were agreeable, but when I was pacing with a guy we chatted too and he was surprised that my time goals were that ambitious for my first…So I was kind of knotted up in uncertainty. Go big or go home??
I had a lot of nightmares about the race leading up to the day. Two back to back nightmares about missing the start? Hah. Weird.
The morning was anticlimactic. There was a heat warning for the race, as we are having an incredibly unseasonably warm October- this was the warmest this race had ever been, at just over 20 degrees when we were running! This added to my freakout…
We jogged to the start (a huge bonus of doing a hometown race. Zero travel!) and got into position. The wheels in my brain started to churn- there was NO pacers. None. I was really counting on one, given I am a newbie…And kind of left the idea of pacing to someone else. Big mistake!
But no time to worry, time to focus! We started and it was very congested and very slow. The half marathon started with us, and many racers (half and marathon alike) pretty much went to the front and started…walking. I spent a lot of time and energy weaving, because I am an idiot.
I felt tired right away- good omen eh? The first 10k were uneventful, I had some candy in my pockets and I ate those. It was hilly and winding, very congested. We wouldn’t lose the halfers until about KM 14 I think?
Because of how dangerous the heat could be, I made sure to stop at every.single.water.stop. No skipping- not even one. I don’t normally even go for water in a half, but I knew that could literally kill me this time. I respected the heat warning, and in fact got so hot I started grabbing multiple waters (one to drink, one to dump down my chest).
I was so thirsty. SO thirsty.
My pacing (despite not running tangents due to crowds) was fairly even up until the half way point. I caught a few too fast KMs (4:23s) and toned it down. I’m still so green at this distance…I know it can mess you up badly. By the time we got to the half way point I was hanging on, but also starting to feel concerned…and like maybe this was a bad idea… The tightness in my right hamstring really started to call out to me.
Hah, joke’s on me. It only gets worse from there on!
At around Km 33, the wheels in my brain fell off and I wanted to
b. leave the course immediately and probably
c. get hurt so I wouldn’t have to finish.
Sweat was pouring off me, my core temperature was going crazy and I just couldn’t think straight. I ate a few more Xact Nutrition bars (clumsily, with sugar crystals coating my face, the bar a mushy mess in my mouth) and just tried to hang.
I bounced around with one of my friends until I thought he left me in the dust. I was feeling lightheaded and hot, so hot. After KM 36 or so, it honestly felt like time was slowing down. Everyone was moving in slow-motion, arcing in front of me but still going too fast for me to catch up. My legs, arms, body wouldn’t go faster.
I also tossed an almost full water cup straight into the chest of a volunteer (sorry!) who was standing in front of the trash cans and didn’t move when I was mumbling excuse me as I ran by. There was someone running in a full rhino suit- can you believe it!! It was SO hot man. Woof.
It was pretty funny in retrospect!
I had this thought: Get to KM 39 and THEN you can fall apart.
But then I got there, and the finish seemed so close!! (until you realize it’s still like 3km of winding). Any small amount of hill that normally wouldn’t bother me seemed like Mt. Everest. I wanted to walk so badly, I even stopped at the final water aid station (2km left) to drink in hopes it’d power me further. On a regular day no way would I stop that late in the race!
Clearly I was desperate 😉
Ian was going to watch me and I planned to spy him, but when it came I was so zonked out that I couldn’t do anything but stare straight ahead, and breathe with my mouth open. Hah. He did the half marathon (and got a very solid time!).
My time! Finally! It was good too, 3:17:38 (chip)
I jogged weakly through the finish, saw a chair and sat in it for a bit, then got up and got my medal. The snack volunteers were like: You want a banana or an apple? And my brain was so destroyed that I couldn’t figure out wtf they were asking me. So, I ended up with a banana and then went to the next volunteer and got the apple bag- hah.
I hung around waiting for Ian, and when I couldn’t find him decided to start walking home gingerly. I spotted him in the field of the Legislature and I was soooo glad because then I could lean on him to hobble home! We got home, I couldn’t take my shoes off so I sat on the stairs so Ian could take them off. The aftermath was prettttty hideous. But I hopped in an epsom salt bath for 30 mins and listened to a podcast (Gidget kept coming in to check on me!! ha she is so sweet) and then we were up and walking back downtown to beer festival. Crazy eh? It was SO GOOD!!! I loved it! It was amazing.
And then I walked home feeling pretty drunk but probably just tired and lay on the grass for awhile. Good end to a good day. At that point I told Ian I was NEVER going to run another marathon ever.
Now, this is a combo of typical ‘big race’ and ‘community race’ I think. I’m not generally a fan of big races, it seems like more of an opportunity to spend more, and get wayyy less. This race is no exception, but it is very well organized, with a whole army of excellent volunteers, so I am very thankful for them and the organization! It is a very nice, leafy course and one of the most scenic ones in Victoria I think.
It is a fairly large race, there are no race awards for age-groups, and it is more ‘everybody gets a medal’ day ie- you get a race medal for completion. I am not a fan of participation medals, basically at all, unless you’re at marathon distance. (Ok I know there is some innate snobbery here, but I just don’t need medals myself unless I won them, is my thinking. Not meaning to rob someone of their joy here.).
So, last weekend’s race was much more lucrative for me, hahah. Oh and also that the run scene here is EXTREMELY competitive. Like…Olympian-fast. So you can take the overall placings out of your dreams, hahah because it ain’t gonna happen. That is the only reason I am able to place in races elsewhere, basically!
Also I had to get up early for this one, which is a hard sell for me, argh. 8am just isn’t…friendly to me and it was absolutely freezing that early in the morning. Lucky for me Ian joined me so he could park the car and take a video 🙂
We started off and it’s a mass start- 10k and half marathon all together, with relay participants. It’s a bit of organized chaos, as we run with the 10k’ers until they turn around. Now, I do think I owe my last half marathon personal best to having some unofficial pacers to follow until they dropped my ass at like 8k, so I was feeling a bit lost and apprehensive about being with 10k’ers. Like…who do I follow? Well, it was fine. Maybe I came out a bit quick, but you run for so long you give that up pretty damn fast, haha. We were with the 10k’ers until just past 6km, and they turned around, and we kept climbing.
No lie, this was much hillier than I expected. I guess I thought Oak Bay was kind of flat? Also the wind was pretty nuts, gusting up to 60k/hr and we did so many twists and turns…straight into the headwind every time. It was never really at our backs, at all. My hat kept blowing off my head, so I took it off and held it. Boo!
I was apprehensive for up until oh, 11km and then I high-fived a spectator, felt good and kept GOING!
The only thing I was really struggling with was getting a solid, pounding rhythm …could get it great on the flats, and then we’d hit another hill and I’d lose my awesome pace. Then get it…and immediately hit another hill.
My legs felt awesome though, no troubles at all there. So good in fact I just wanted some flat sections to really test how fast I could go this late in the game! But the last 5km was just hills and a wicked headwind 😦
Wrapped up by charging past some of the walkers finishing the early start, not super inspiring because you’re alone out there again, racing past walkers. Finished with a not too shabby 1:31:39. Slower than my last one, but truly it’s a different race, so I am pleased with consistency. That was enough to net me 5th overall and 2nd AG (but no AG awards, sigh) and that’s it!
So would I do it again? No I don’t think I will. It is nice and scenic, when the weather cooperates it’s a fun race but I just am not that into more ‘fun runs’ really. I would recommend it for people looking for something new and interesting, but challenging. Don’t expect a personal best here.
This past weekend for a change in gears- we took part in a 2 day clinic with Darcy Henckel!
She was very friendly, agreeable and horsemanship-focused, something Oats and I really appreciated. It was a very focused weekend that reviewed how we approach each obstacle, and obstacle work in general, through a relaxed, calm and horse-forward approach.
Oats was a gem but I WAS prepared lol. I rode the absolute snot out of him on Friday, after not really wanting to ride on Friday (freaking tired man) but I knew I kind of had to, to prepare him to behave for the weekend. He was pretty lazy on Friday, so I was going to call it a day, until I lost his shit spooking and spinning violently at a pony that he sees every single day, soooooo I figured he had a LOT more to give. And boy, did he! We hand galloped for 35 minutes, and he STILL had energy to do another huge spook after that. Face palm.
I called it after his second spook and we cooled him out outdoors. He was so sweaty he was lathered white with sweat. Gee, thanks Oats… I gave him a calming paste the night before, and then Saturday came to the barn to longe the sillies out of him before our session in the AM. Meant a very early morning for me, but you know what? 100% worth it. He was very well behaved for both days, and I was NOT taking any chances of him being nuts or too silly.
He was calm, quiet and cantered nicely in a group. He approached the obstacles with focus and attentiveness, only really losing it at the gate on the second day when he spotted some horses unloading near the entrance of the arena and wanting to look at them instead. Can’t blame him for that!
I really liked how calm, quiet and attentive the trainer was. We weren’t pushed, nobody was, for anything that was too much. A good focused day was had by all 🙂 And I learned more about the obstacles- so many things to recall, ha. A lot of pitfalls you can fall into.
Whew, meant to update this last week, when I actually ran this race, but you know…Life and such. I will admit that I wasn’t overly excited for it- I kind of wished it was the Cobble Hill 10k, which we missed due to Mexico (wah wah such a hardship eh? haha) but this one will do I guess!
Selfishly I also wanted a 10k to better prepare for the half this weekend, which I do not feel overly prepared for but anyways…
It’s at a very friendly 11:30am, the sun was shining until it wasn’t, and it was very balmy out. I love that. I was wearing shorts, in Feb. Whee! There were issues getting into the school- that also involved alarms going off- so we elected to jog to the start about 1km away and use the porta-potties there. Good call I think, because we then had just enough time to jog a bit, warm up, and then get into the start line!
This is a very popular race because it’s the flattest 8k in town and also gives out prize money, so it attracts an extremely fast and professional field- there was an Olympian in this one who won! I seeded myself in an ok spot, better than Hatley, and while there was some jockeying and jostling, not so much as Hatley. I did waste time doing juuust that, but also kind of ran my first few Km’s too fast. That currently scares me off, so I now have an ‘ignorance is bliss’ policy and do not check my watch. It did feel fast, and challenging.
I hung on to that pace for a bit, saw it dip by feel around the small hill at the turnaround, and then cranked it up (?) around km’s 6-7. I got passed a lot here, hahah. Oops! Oh well, I was still trying really hard. I really didn’t have much get-up-and-go to the finish, but I was generally pleased with my effort on the whole.
Ian finished mere seconds behind me, with little to no training, which is a feat in itself!!
We had pizza at the end, and I was able to pick up my Hatley Castle medal so that was awesome. No medals for me this time around, but I am happy with my race: 32:10 for a two minute PR in the 8k and good for 4th in my AG. A good race, good weather and some fun company and great snacks. What more could a girl ask for?! 🙂
That’s right, on my last day before holidayyyyys…!
And some bummer news, I no longer have a jump trainer 😦 I knew this day was coming, and fair enough: She now has to travel a great distance due to owning a farm up island. I was kind of surprised she lasted this long~ but with the increasingly bad weather making travel on the Malahat a dangerous proposition, combined with a lot of her students either not riding due to lame horses or varying schedules…I totally get it.
Just a bummer, overall but a very fair reason.
Here’s to the many years we shared- it was great! 🙂
And a video from our last real jump lesson- it was very fun. As I step Oats down from most of our competition jump lessons, it’s nice to look back at the great things we’ve done. I love our partnership and how it has grown and progressed over the years, much like my relationship with my now-former jump trainer.
Had a dressage lesson last night and it was just so good! Not perfect but man, I feel like Oats and I are really reaching a deeper understanding via how I am twisting my body?! So the problem is ME! hahah.
We worked over trot poles, looping around them and then cantering them and trotting juuuust at the last second- which, whoops, Oats jumped over the row of poles one time when I didn’t transition in time, hahah. Good boy 😉
We worked on leg yielding into the poles which was cool and then we took away all the poles but one, and then worked on cantering up to them STRAIGHT and managing the turns without my body twisting in the air. It was much harder to do than I realized?!
Oats was very steady and very focused on this exercise. His canter felt really awesome! While we were certainly not perfect, it felt like a very thorough and excellent learning exercise. Now to actually do this when we ARE jumping….Is the real challenge!
And last week we had a really cool ‘zen’ lesson as I call it, where my lesson partner and I were pretzeled into many different shapes, hands off the reins, legs off the saddles, in an effort to find our real centre and straightness- and wow, the horses LOVED this. They were so relaxed, and we focused on deep ‘square’ or diaphragm breathing. I could even see Oat’s ears relax when I was going into the canter transition. He got a bit tense, I sat straight (which still feels like scissoring, ha) and breatheeeed…And he relaxed immediately and we got the nicest left lead canter we’ve gotten in forever!
And I think this intensive bodywork is paying off- he felt fantastic last night, and we had a really fun jump lesson the previous Saturday as well. Just loving all of these lessons, it costs mega $$$$$$ but wow I am getting so much horse and so much physically out of them 🙂 it is awesome! Plus, I want to do ALLLL the things this year. I know how fleeting horses are, and how fragile the situation can be. I just want to do this forever!!!
Dressage lesson time! Now, I knew Oats’ big energy from the past week was gone, so how would he be? WELL, hilariously he was good to warm up and when we began the real work, started getting silly about the back door being opened.
I got mad. I mean come ON we had a good warmup and you give me this? Looking for an excuse??
My trainer was pretty funny about it, she said well look at it this way- not EVERYONE wants to go to the gym to work hard and he just isn’t like that. She said we need to channel it, use it for good- not get angry. Fair enough!!
He worked quite intensely actually, I was very surprised. We hadn’t had a ride that intense since…Over a year ago maybe? We did a big power trot, and went into leg yield, shoulder-in, haunches in, and work, work work work work! Bending in a BIG bend, getting the outside rein active (ok, this is the part that I suck the hardest at….and never really got it 100%) and just powered along!
I was tired, Oats was sweaty! We really hadn’t had that kind of big intense riding yet this year, as we were definitely playing it safe.
Though, we did no-stirrups for the canter work and then I had to work harder than Oats, haha. The right rein had some lovely downward transitions, the left was a work in progress, and not so great, hahah. BUT we got some really solid work out of him and were able to amp up the intensity in a way I have been kind of leery about. Go Oats! By the end he wasn’t sweaty but I was 🙂 I guess he’s getting in good shape these days.
Ended up very busy last week, so no Oats updates or anything. Where to begin? On Tuesday Oats had his dentist appointment, shots and worming. I had to be out there for the dentistry part. He was quite good, did need ear plugs hahah man those power floats are SO LOUD and the vet did say his back teeth were going, so he’s require soaked cubes eventually but I don’t want to think of that now- he’s had a lot of feed changes recently! The vet did say Oats looked thinner, but man I was like, you should have seen him two weeks ago! He is looking much better now.
I had to cancel my Tues lesson because of the teeth appt, but that was ok because he had a beginner trying him out for a potential lease on Wed! The lease isn’t going ahead for some good/obvious reasons. The young rider is just too inexperienced in horse handling. Had a good seat for w/t but did struggle to keep Oats from coming in off the track to the middle and had a bit of a tough time getting him to trot. Was not comfortable bridling or haltering or handling in and out of the paddock, so while I did offer them to think about June, I did have my concerns. The family did too, and thankfully decided not to. It is actually great when it’s mutual- they seemed like lovely people, Oats is just not the right horse at the right time for their rider.
And then Thurs I had my dressage lesson and it did go pretty well, THOUGH Oats brought out his threaten-buck when we were asking for straighter at the canter. He did NOT like that, ha. We schooled over a few xpoles and he was kind of tricky! Fighting me a little more, ha. Ended on a reasonably good note though.
Friday Oats had off, which was good because my busy week didn’t end there- I had a physiotherapy appointment at ReBalance. I had been a patient there- on the sports medicine side- for my subluxating patellar like a million years ago, haha. I liked the experience, so I wanted to go back to the physio side to try and get some answers for my chronic MTSS frustration. And wow, they put me through my paces!! Balance exercises, ‘kayaking’ with a big slosh tube, and the weirdest of all, a blood pressure cuff that goes on your leg and squeezes the blood out of it, creating a lactic acid sensation in your leg- it was SO weird and uncomfortable. You can barely push the leg press (and it is EASY). Ick! So odd!
But my right leg felt really good after, so maybe it’s gross but it works??
Saturday I had my make-up jump lesson (see, busy busy!) and I was kind of annoyed at ol’ Oaty…He was sluggish, slacking off and I guess just feeling warm and snoozy. It was warmer than it had been all week! I had my spurs on but he was reacting very poorly to them (balking, bucking, sucked back, rude) and I knew I wasn’t going to use them appropriately, so I took them off. Right answer! He perked up over the small fences and before I knew it, we had a nice little time 🙂
Sunday I was pretty determined to not get into a canter fight with Oats, so what do I do? Immediately get in a canter fight with him. Sheeeeeesh. I should know better than that by now! At first I even had a pretty nice left canter, but then I asked for more, and then right for straightness, and it…fell apart and turned into a fighting match. Yick. No thanks!
We cooled out in the outdoors, which was nice, sunny and hot. Oats got a long graze after and I cleaned his tack. Fingers crossed for a smooth week, and that my legs and feet start healing for once!!
Oats was just not there yesterday unfortunately. We had a private due to our other lesson partner’s horse with a cough, and Oats warmed up stiff and resistant and kind of…Stayed that way. It was definitely a bummer, but we ended up breaking down the steps to get the lovely, soft bending horse that I am used to having!
Step 1: Leave the trot alone and go back to sitting trot quietly bending in a big bend in small circles.
Step 2: Trot/walk from the sitting trot to walk transitions. The key here is to keep a very deep headsets and relax over the back.
Step 3: Canter is from sit trot, deep bend, and when it falls apart, then ask for a trot transition BEFORE it goes. Sit the trot down, and bend deeply. Keep riding through the transition.
Our right lead was actually not bad, but the left certainly didn’t improve that much. We had a few moments of ‘yes thats it, that is the canter I wanted!!’ but we couldn’t keep it at all. And our downward transitions on the left were…Not good.
And I am trying to figure out how to get more weight on Oats. Time for new hay I think, after discussing it with both trainers this week. I upped his Equi-Cal to the max last night (after weighing it on Becky’s food scale) and I have a phone number for a new hay guy with better hay. I will call him today!
And we go through a LOT of Equi-Cal now. Like…a bag a week! it’s nuts! Have to go and get more next week even. I have, of course, like three freaking bags of All Phase still and none left of Equi-Cal, because that is all Oats was fed for the past 12 years! ARGH.
I miss my chubbier Oats, and I want him back 🙂 He was never really chubby but he was at a healthy weight and I didn’t feel his poor spine bones all the time when I rode him bareback.