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!

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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!

Tempered, not tamed: Riding updates!

I had a lesson on Friday  (dressage with Sam) and while I was pondering what I wanted to focus on in my lesson, I realized that we (Oats and I) were so bad at the rollback exercise in my jump lesson the day prior. Bingo- that’s what we needed to work on!

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So I told Sam, and we experimented! I really enjoyed it actually, because it provided me with an opportunity to really distill the prior lesson down and play around with it a bit more. What works? What isn’t working?

We broke it down from a line of two jumps, to a single jump, trot-in. Get the lead!! That was the key. Once we did that, I learned that we could influence the correct lead by asking for canter ‘just’ in the step before the jump. Newsflash- that’s your lead.

This wasn’t quite so simple with the canter-in approach. I was getting pulled past the x-rail, and dumped down on the landing= picking up left lead instead of right. Shoot. How to fix? Change the positioning I have coming in. Instead of two-pointing and sort of floating above Oats, sit more and influence, holding the contact all the way through. And you know what? This ‘more contact’ approach did the trick! Neat eh? I’m glad we took the time to really experiment, keep an open mind when things didn’t immediately work.

How cool!

And then we worked on seating positioning influencing the canter. It was…Hard. Hahahah. But we got a lovely canter from both me AND Oats. Oats really is very happy to keep going, providing I give him the correct feedback 😉

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! 🙂

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. 😉

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.

 

 

Bitter winter/Familiar Ways

Had my jump lesson on Saturday- finally! I felt weirdly anxious all day, I guess because it was off my routine? I don’t normally lesson on Saturdays, and I ride earlier in the day as well. Instead I had my lesson and it was after lunch, at 12:30pm. That for some reason really threw me off my game.

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Luckily Oats is a great little guy and he was not off his game, just me! Hahaha. He was very quiet- almost too quiet- because apparently he was playing too hard with his buddies in the field last week. Naughty pony! Oh well, he deserves his fun I guess, haha.

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So we worked over a pretty simple course but identified a thing that I wasn’t too pleased with – a swap left to right going straight over a single fence. And darnit, if we weren’t always doing it? Shoot!! Oh well. We did work on picking up that correct lead on landing, by really focusing ‘right’ and it made us land…straight. Ha. Oh well, I guess if it works, it works? I also am sort of wondering if it isn’t my saddle that isn’t super awesome right now? I have been waiting for the saddle maker who made my saddle to come back from his snowbird holidays to fix it/pump more air into it…It had a twist and I wanted him to review how it was fitting on old Oats…Might be more than time, I think. ARGH.

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Also his canter feels excellent as a hunter canter but wayyy sucky right now as a dressage canter. It has been making me feel very annoyed, ha. And wanting to just jump instead of working on the dressage canter…

 

Hold onto something

After a disappointing week (ok, weeks!) of freezing, tons of snow, ice and blah leading to some serious cabin fever, I was OVERJOYED with how awesome the weekend was. And it was a long weekend to boot! Yes!!

I was able to zip out and ride Oats really fast on Friday and I so needed it! 

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Photo courtesy of Sarah C. 

I was also under a tight timeline because on Friday I took my husband out to dinner for our Valentine’s Day (I was supposed to have a jump lesson the actual day, and we all know how that turned out…) so our dinner was scheduled for the Friday. We went to Camosun College’s ClassRoom Restaurant and it was lovely! I highly recommend it- supporting the students and program, great food and very reasonably priced. Win-win-win!

Saturday was back to riding as per usual. There was still a lot of snow at the stables and the trip down to the arena was slippery and treacherous. I basically waterskiied off my boot heels all the way down, clinging to Oats’ mane. He was not loving it.

He was good to ride though, just lovely and even though he was irritating me when I was mounting up (grabbing at EVERYTHING ugh) he was focused and down to business for our ride. I also had another idea up my sleeve- begged my friend to come out to the outdoor arena with us to take photos! Basically the only good thing to come out of the massive amounts of snow.

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I loved it! Hahaha.

I also got a lot of running as the snow and ice melted and the sidewalks were safer. Yay! Went out for drinks on Saturday, and met up with a work friend for a run on Monday. Just overall loving life this long weekend. 🙂

Put the days away

Had a dressage lesson last Friday and I was feeling sooooooooo tired, low energy, blah, you know the draggy fatigue I’ve been complaining about for oh, 3+ weeks now? It was kind of a hard sell, particularly on a Friday night (hello hang out on my couch time!) PLUS I was dog-sitting my friend’s dog, so he came over just before my lesson.

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Mr. Oats learns some fancy moves! I wish I was sitting up more…

But anyways, despite the myriad excuses of why I didn’t want to, I did. And it was great!! Not perfect, ha are they ever? But just genuinely good. I learned some really interesting exercises and have since practiced them on my own with Oats.

I have been wanting to improve his counter-canter and work towards flying lead changes- clean and proper ones, not grab-and-leap ones. So on that note we worked on canter-walk transitions, which have historically been a challenge for us. Walk-canter? Sure! Canter- walk? Nope!

We developed the canter-walk by coming in on a circle, using a touch of shoulder-fore and then spiraling in to the walk. Like, circle, coming in using shoulder-fore and 1-2-3 WALK.

It was cool! On the left he was super! On the right= struggle bus. Ahhh well.

We used the basis of that exercise to then go large and focus on walk- pick up counter canter- go straight along the long side in counter canter and then walk, pick up true canter for the short side, back to walk, counter canter and rinse, repeat.

It was really neat! We were getting it!! 🙂

So pleased with how Oats is really learning his stuff through these exercises. And we’re not like, drilling him to death on it- a few run-throughs, he gets the idea, more importantly ‘I’ get the idea, and we’re good!

I even practiced it a bit yesterday and was quite happy with how our amateur fumbling went. Whee!