Keep me honest

Had another jump lesson, and I was very pleased with how it went! Again, it was not perfect, but I felt good, confident and was really riding very forward. Oats was good as gold (a minor bulge issue and some lead/changing lead awkwardness around changing directions) but SUCH a little star!

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This rode well all night.

I am enjoying doing semi-private lessons right now, and the funny thing is that having another rider, and people watching, helps keep me honest. Focused. Riding instead of getting overfaced and backing off. It’s like I’ve reached a point in my own confidence that I need to have an audience to keep me there. Otherwise, I back off, big time. And I know right now that I don’t need to. I am going there! I am doing it! I am being challenged and meeting that challenge.

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It’s a bummer it’s so dark, darn light changing. BUT this is the first time we’ve jumped the coop as a oxer! So wide, even if it doesn’t look like it! 

I think my motto now is: Challenge me. Make me.

And we are so there! Yeah! Go Oaty pony. I’m so proud of him, bobbles, silliness and all. I have things I want to fix (elbows, the straightness problem going into the uphill line AGAIN, the difficulty in changing leads, stalling out to a chip…) But on the whole? I am enjoying what I am doing, and getting a lot out of my boy.

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This is a two-stride that I rode conservatively (read: chicken) for a three, until the last course when I was like, fuck it! I go in two! And we DID.

This week we celebrated 9 years together. Each year he gets better and better! I guess we all do? How I love this. I really appreciate, cherish and find joy in our rides. He’s my prince, my pony, my boy.

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I love this picture, because we almost match the jump! How cute is that? Plus it rode just perfectly. The best line on course. 

Whenever people are frustrated with their current horse, I just think to myself- yep been there, done that, sometimes am still there. It takes the time it takes. YEARS even (in my case). Being mad about how slow progress is doesn’t help, it never does. Your ego doesn’t trump reality.

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And the ‘out’ of the same lattice-line. It rode really nicely. 

I have had to learn some really bruising lessons about ego (life, running and horses) and I had to learn them the hard way. However, I think it’s helped shape what I do now.

Sadly, there is no footage of us finishing on the triple bar jump (first one I have gathered up the feeble shreds of my courage to jump with Oats!) because we were too close to the videographer and it is close up and dark. Ah, well. It was such a good ride that I forgot that the main reason I was excited about it was to jump the triple bar?! Ha.

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Somewhere Somehow: CDRC Dressage Recap!

To start, this was a long HOT weekend for all of us- ponies, riders, show volunteers, trainers and judges. Hats off to them for putting on a lovely show with grace and good cheer! We came up on Saturday and I was in kind of a frenzy in the morning, as we saw there were reports of traffic accidents, and I had my dog with me for the whole day, it was hot, I was feeling nervous…ARGH.

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Better scores and weather, but hot, long and dehydrated?!

Anyways, I got to the barn WAY too early, and shared an ice cream for breakfast with my friend who was also riding in the show. Gidget was annoying but manageable.

We loaded up (early) and got to the show without incident, thank god. But at the show, my friend was riding early, and I was just…sitting around with Oats in the sun. Not a good combination for us. I mounted up, and then hopped off, mounted up AGAIN only to find that they had slotted in even more riders before me, and then I got back on AGAIN and just…It wasn’t a recipe for success. Oats was hot and angsty and stressed, he had to pee but wasn’t!(??) and wasn’t drinking either. Not a winning combination. I also managed to foist my dog off on another rider, who babysat Gidget for me for the whole long, hot day. PHEW!! Stress city guys?!

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From last time. It was still really windy! 

Our first test felt distracted and I prepared him very poorly for it. OH well…The second test rode much better (it felt like to me?) but Oats had an opinion and tossed in a buck, and for every downward transition within the gait (extended canter to working canter) he tried to trot. = success???

I was a bit concerned about him, with the not-drinking, acting strangely and stressed and just blahhhh ‘aura’ about him. He basically fell into the trailer! I asked my friends to keep an eye on him when he got home, to see how he was acting. He was going fine, had a BIG pee (I knew he had to go!!), drank water and went into his house to sleep. He didn’t even come out to play with his buddies. I learned some important lessons about this day, and I was careful on Sunday to make sure he had access to water at all times, including in the warm-up ring (and he drank successfully on Sunday!). 

Our tests were scored well but strangely- I really felt like he rode the second test much better, but it was scored at 65% (first level 3) and the first one was at 70% (yes!! but also…it didn’t feel as good?). Odd!? 

Anyways, I was just glad he felt SO much better on the second day, recap to come tomorrow…Stay tuned!

You do what you want (as long as it’s what we want)

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Ah the rolltop. I don’t think I ever jumped this straight… 

Jump lesson! Yeah!! I actually have been having a hard time getting my head in the game this week. So many sad, emotional, bummer things have been happening and it’s just a huge mindfuck actually. A horse broke his leg at my barn on Monday, I got there as the vet was coming to put him down. It was horrible. Needless to say, I didn’t ride Oats (he got treats and some hand grazing), and he had his beginner lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday he gets off, and I had my lesson yesterday.

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Riddle me this- why do jumps look SO BIG on the ground/when you are jumping, and so…small in videos and photos?! Unfair! 

Yesterday I also learned more work news that sucks, basically the end of an era. So, I’m struggling right now with perspective and change and all that fun stuff, with the added bonus of stark realization that horses, pets and people aren’t forever and the fleeting moments of greatness we have with them is just that- fleeting.

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Isn’t this a nice jump? Brenda’s new lattice and standards! 

It was also psychotically windy yesterday- about 70km/hr winds at my house when I got home. I was antsy beyond belief, fidgety and anxious. I couldn’t settle at all. At the barn it was quite windy too, but not so bad as at home. I was freezing at home. The wind blew a few jumps down in the outdoor though!

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Into the four-stride line.

But you know what? Despite the total shitstorm that this week has turned out to be, riding was really good. I just love riding my pony! He’s such a good boy. 🙂 He makes me really happy.

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Into the in-and-out.

Our coursework was pretty good, and FOR ONCE my brain didn’t fall out when the jumps went higher. That, friends, is success. And that’s all I wanted. Of course our leads sucked, and our straightness could use…some work…but hey, I’m just so happy that for once it feels like I rode competently, forward, straight and focused. Plus I got to visit with some friends and that always makes me happy. The barn should be my happy place!

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And out of it! 

Small wins this week, sadly. But I needed it so, so much.

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Oats knocked this one so hard, it went FLYING! Lazy! 

MEC Race #2: Royal Roads Half-Marathon Recap! (and this time, I won!)

I was having a difficult time mentally preparing for this race. I had a really shitty day on Saturday and was having trouble getting my head in the game.

It’s a challenging half-marathon course, two loops and the start is uphill for about 3km, and then flat-ish, and then some rolling hills, and then a looooooooong flat section of about 2.5km, and then .75km or so straight uphill. And you get to do it twice! Yeah! Sign me up?!

I am very familiar with the course, but like any race you run once a year, you kind of …forget…exactly how it goes. For example, I forgot about the uphill start and was kind of kicking myself/bummed about how off-pace and hard I had to work pretty much immediately. Oh joy! I also forgot my watch, so was running by feel. Which worked out ok!

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Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

It was a warm day, no watch, and my friends were at the race so that was cool to be able to see them, cheer them on and say hi! They were also running the half-marathon. I was very careful to stay hydrated and make sure I was fueled appropriately. I have run into real trouble at this race by getting dehydrated and significantly under-fueled, leading to staggering, and walking/feeling like I was going to die during the race. I had waffles, coffee, yogurt and a banana for breakfast, and brought with me a whole package of Clif Gummies (Salted watermelon) that had electrolytes in it. I even managed to eat most of the package before the race- not something I can normally do.

So the race?

I ran it, it ran me, I had some fun high points (jumping over a log! Getting electrolyte drinks, high-fiving the volunteers and hearing them say I was the first lady!!) 🙂 and some lows (immediately at the start when it felt hard, at the top of the big hill knowing I had to do it exactly over again, struggle-bus time).

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Note no left sock! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I was sweating like crazy, and I knew I had to be very good about getting electrolyte drinks and water at every stop. Score one for me!

When I started, my damn sock immediately slipped down to my mid-foot. Shit! I stopped (and this was ONE km in…) and pulled it back up. Got back to running and it slipped down again immediately. Ok fine sock, this is how you want to play it? I ran the whole race without a sock on my left foot. Went ok, have a blister now though 😉

When I crossed the finish line, I was really glad to see my time was even better than last year (note- this is NEVER a guarantee. Never.). I raced at a very respectable 1:38:58, for the first woman! My first-ever MEC win! And then I went straight to the medic tent to get a band-aid for my freaking blister.

And something strange, when they announced the 2nd and 3rd place women (who weren’t around), I immediately knew something was up- I never saw them on-course. And I mean, never. It’s a small race. I was talking to the 4th or 5th place woman, who was confused by her placing…I remembered seeing her a bunch of times, about 1:30-2 mins behind me, but NEVER 2nd and 3rd women, who were apparently even closer behind me, according to the race results.

So I did some digging when I got home, and saw that their previous race times at other MEC races were slow- very slow. Like, 1:40+ for 10k slow. There is no way they ran a 1:40 half right behind me- I never once saw them on course.

I suspect they ran 1 loop of the course, and ran through the finish lines. Whether they had signed up for the 10k and accidentally started with the halfs, or had signed up for the half and decided to cut it short, it seems a bit devious to me. I think that they should own up! It sucks for 2nd and 3rd women, who did really well on a very tough course.

So, some intrigue eh??

I’m curious to see the photos come out- photos don’t lie on a race day!

 

 

We were wild

I had a really decent long weekend, and jump-started it by having a really solid dressage lesson on Friday. It was TOUGH! But excellent. You know that feeling of having worked hard, really hard, and gotten exactly what you wanted? That feeling!

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Not to say it was perfect, but after the sort of angst on Thursday, I told my trainer that we didn’t have a good ride, that my expectations of ‘perfection’ were ruining my ride and I wanted to get past it, over it. These weirdness spells sort of come and go, and I was ready to focus and not dwell!

We spent basically the whole lesson in canter (with plenty of walk breaks) focusing on building Oats’ lateral flexibility in the canter, leading to canter haunches-in. It was really good! And very much highlighted the difficulties I have in ‘riding’ his canter, rather than being ‘taken for a ride’ in the canter. Can I influence his canter? Or do I just sit there, like a passengers, helplessly?

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It was an important lesson for me to realize just HOW much I am needing to do and ride. I’m at the point where I can’t just sit and tune out, and expect Oats to read my mind and do ‘something’…I have to influence it, ride it, and ride every stride.

Good to know! It was a very cool lesson. Eye opening!

Times Colonist 10k: Race Recap! 30th Anniversary special edition

Wow, so this is a big local race to us, and I very rarely run it. Chiefly because it’s very busy and popular race (regularly 10,000 people registered) and it’s pricey for a 10k (early bird pricing is $45, with fees/taxes that comes to over $50 for 1 race).

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This year my work was sponsoring a team, so I thought why the heck not! Funny enough this is the race that jump started my running as an adult! I signed up in 20(11? 12?) when work paid for it, and I had never run in a race before- ever. In fact, it felt like light-years away from me ever even wanting to! But, work was paying so I figured I could try it out.

And look at me now! I have a hard time finding my old TC10k results because they are so old and I have run many races since then, but I believe my early times were in the 1-hour+ category? It’s a bit hard to tell, as the wave starts mean you are sitting on pavement for a good 10-15 minutes before your wave goes.

Needless to say, this race and I have a pretty good history, and it just felt right to be racing it again, for the 30th anniversary. I do recall running it for the 25th anniversary and they gave all finishers medals- that felt cool and special then, but at this point? I didn’t even keep that medal, and I have too many from the races I run now (age-group awards, I don’t really run ones that give finisher medals).

So this was my third time running the race with some very different expectations, haha. It was very easy logistically- pick up bib from work, jog from home at 7:30 a.m., and waltz into my wave (41-49 minutes). This was great, as it was not that congested in this wave at all. One annoyance- my watch didn’t connect to the GPS, at all. So I started the race blind, basically. There were also no clear KM markers until after the 5k intermediary timing mat placement, so I quite literally was just running by feel…

Which as it turns out, is the same ‘feel’ that I have had all year- solid effort but no PRs. 😦 SIGH. Not that I’m really complaining, but it’s a little irritating. People BLASTED out of the start sprinting, and I was like whoah, hey guys, this is a long race…

We looped around, the sun was very bright in our eyes and it was quite warm even at that time of the day. By the time we got to familiar turf (Dallas Rd), I was very ready to see some KM markers. Dallas also felt ridiculously long and sort of uphill- not steep, but just long and draggy…I never quite got my footing back on it.

But then, a glorious downhill! I was like, yes my time to shine! And I finally picked it up for the last windy KM to the finish. Funny that I live there and am really familiar with it, and yet I was like WTF where is the finish chute??! It’s deceptive, that one. Finished strong, but got passed in the chute by like 10 men. Hah!

Gun time was 43:31, and my chip time was 43:23. Respectable, but not amazing. I know I can do better (and have) but in time I suppose! I got 9/733 for my age category (W 30-34). 🙂  Felt a bit nostalgic about this race, and makes me want to go dig up my older photos and see how I felt about this race a few years ago!