So easy to do, and so easy not to do: MEC Rust Buster 10k race recap!

So yeah this race….

Going in, I had planned to run it at a slower pace and use it as an appropriate training run. I wanted more ‘go button’ at the end, I wanted to be able to breathe/not feel like dying during it, and I wanted to save myself for my bigger race this upcoming weekend.

Newsflash: Basically none of those things happened. It was a huge struggle bus, I let my ego get the best of me, and I kind of hated the whole race.

I was planning for an avg. of 4:45/km, but that started feeling really¬†hard? What exactly was going on? Why was I struggling so badly? It was FREEZING out. Frost covered everything, I was absolutely dying in the cold, and my hamstrings- which don’t normally bother me- were tight as hell and twinging with every step. My legs were exhausted, my breathing sucked out loud- every breath I took in, I choked on phlegm. In short, I was miserable.

A few mistakes I can identify off the top- while I wasn’t overly pleased with my race strategy last weekend at the 8k- it overall wasn’t a bad race and I got my best 8k time yet. That was a tough effort, and I shouldn’t have expected the 10k to go that smoothly…

I expected the pace to feel easier and when it didn’t, I beat myself up.

I was struggling mightily with the cold and never warmed up.

I stayed up late-ish drinking wine with a friend (it was a great time! So sue me haha)

I felt like I was getting run off my feet even at a slower pace- and my ego dictated that I keep trying, instead of just…oh, slowing down? dummy!

I wanted to give up, give up, give up.

And so ends the saga of my worst 10k time in two years- 47:14? Ah…running is very humbling. But, I would like to shout out to my friends who ran VERY good races. One of them is even back to racing after a life-threatening battle against cancer. I’m so impressed by their sheer force of will and tenacity.

It reminds me that any day I can run is a good day! And any race is kind of gamble- either you have it that day, or you don’t. Either way, I get to run ūüôā

And thanks to the volunteers who make the MEC race run so smoothly. I’m always so pleased with the coordination, the ease of bag check/pickup, course is always safe & well-timed and good post-run snacks. Yes, more please!

Better luck next time.

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Arctic

The weather lately has been HORRIBLE. Insane blasting winds (70km/h), freezing temps with a windchill of -8, and I am so over it. We almost never get weather like this?!

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This is where I live. Photo courtesy of the Times Colonist.

Anyways, it’s been making the trek out to the barn incredibly difficult. I know I was going through a rough patch before Xmas, and felt very unmotivated and found it hard to do¬†anything. Run? Nope. Ride? In the dark, freezing cold? Nope. Shower? Nope. Gym? Nope. Work? Yes, but super angrily. Dinner? Nope. Breakfast? Nope…All I wanted to do was sit on the couch wrapped in a quilt and mope, for some reason. Oh and binge-eat as much shitty chocolate as I could choke down in one sitting. Yeah, a winning move.

Part of me fears that weird cold-situational depression is coming back with the freezing temperatures. UGH. So over it.

I had a good learning session with my equine counselor on Monday during the day, and I was still so frozen my ride after sucked. I couldn’t wait to get off, I was so cold my leg muscles were spasming. Fun fun! My pony was a¬†good boy¬†though, and with the wind blasting like a lunatic, he only had one spook.

Tuesday I had my dressage lesson and true to form, the weather was out of control bad. Blasting wind? Tree branches everywhere? Feral cats fighting in a tree? Screech owls having it out? Boy oh boy we had it all!

To be honest, the wild and wooly weather made it hard to focus on my lesson and actually hard to hear what my trainer was saying. It was SO windy. And effing freezing. It was a very intense lesson, funny enough not in the riding ‘sense’ but in the effort sense. Oats was a SAINT though. Didn’t bat an eye at all the craziness going on around him, and trust me he had ample opportunity to be a total dickhead about it. Cold, windy, lots of stuff blowing around hitting the arena= batshit horses. Luckily he was good as gold~

We worked on some lateral work at the walk, and then trot work getting them to stretch over their back in bend, and counter-bend, and then back to the bend, and counter-bend. It was a really good quality lesson, and I felt Oats get much looser by the end of it. Me on the other hand, pretty stiff!

When I got home, I was so cold I couldn’t warm up. I ended up going to sleep in a hoodie, and socks, and a third quilt on my bed (Hudson’s Bay wool blanket, so not a lightweight one either!). I took off the socks and hoodie, but the Bay blanket stayed, which is unheard of for me, I am a super hot sleeper and run warm all the time. I was FROZEN.

So over it!

 

Scary but good?

After coming home yesterday, freezing my butt off and roosting on the couch after a mini-intense junk food binge (seriously, I am good like 85% of the time and then eat chocolate/chips/whatever I can grab my hands on like an insane madwoman…) I did NOT want to go to my dressage lesson.

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Oats working on his buddy Rylin’s nose.

Ian reminded me how I didn’t want to lesson last week either, but when I went I was happy I had gone. I still didn’t want to go.

It was dark, I was cold, stuffed to the gills on cheap chocolate and food shame.

I grudgingly dragged myself off the couch, discarded the blanket I was huddled under, and began the arduous task of piling on the layers to go to my lesson. I resented every step of the way, from boiling water to drink tea during my lesson, to putting on my shabby, falling apart UGG boots to go to the barn. Traffic was bad, and it made me even grouchier.

I got to the barn and it was freezing. All the cross-ties were taken up, which is fine, but it’s so DARK in the stalls if I have to tack up there, so I was crabby about that too. Can’t you play ponies after school or something? Not during a time I have to tack up at night, in the freezing cold, in a big rush because I am SUPER LATE from horrendous traffic? SHEESUSH.

[I am now combining sheesh with jeezus]

Oh well, we tacked up, and my trainer was super late too, hahah.

It seemed breathtakingly cold to me- my eyes were watering, my nose running, my face freezing. My lesson-mate was riding in a vest and a t-shirt? She is totally insane!?

Oats warmed up really well actually. Moving out a lot better than I thought he would, even with the bitter cold. Hm…Our trainer recommended a lot of walk work for our lesson, to avoid stressing the horses in the cold and reducing our cool-out time. We didn’t want the horses getting too worked up and sweaty. Lateral work it is! YAy….

Oh wait, last time I did that it sucked.

Except yesterday’s lesson was different. We were very proactive, and Oats was totally on-board, despite my grouchy and miserable nature. He was super with me, and focused. We worked on developing a forward walk, to ‘quick steps’ to keeping their heads high and ‘engaged’. We then worked on haunches-in at the walk, to straighten them up, to walk-canter transitions. We took that ‘up’ canter to a haunches-in at the canter on the longside. The canter felt WEIRD?! So ..up? And leapy? Oats was all confuzzled for awhile, not sure what I wanted- lead changes?

And the leaping and confusion scared the bejesus out of both of us. We are not used to animation in the canter, and all of a sudden we had so much power we didn’t know what to do with it. Funny eh?

Oats slowly started figuring out what I wanted, and wonder of wonders, we did even end up getting some haunches-in at the canter, it was easier to the left, and not quite there on the right. But hey, it was a really neat feeling and left me wanting more more more! Good pony.

Ian was right- I did have a good ride and it was super cool to experience.

It is easier to fool someone, than to convince them they have been fooled.

Pithy quote by our friend Mark Twain.

This is my week right now:

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Holiday spirit? Bah humbug!

By Tuesday- my dad’s birthday- I was saying it felt like a long week. Wow, little did I know…By Wednesday I was in full grouch-mode. Move over Grinch, there is a new Grinch in town! (It’s still Thursday today unfortunately.)

I blame a few things- it has gotten really cold here, very unusual for us. Windchill of -9? Usually it’s like 9 degrees. I am FREEZING. Work went completely off the rails and is starting to ruin my sleep with insane stress dreams. Greeeeat…Family engagements= more pressure. Lovely, lovely.

At least my horse life is ok?

Had my jump lesson last night, after an entire day of grumbling, stress, crankiness and more stress at work. I soooo did NOT want to go to my lesson, which is weird because I always want to ride and you pretty much have to drag me away from it! I was dragging my feet, in a bad mood, cold, tired, cranky. UGH. Jumping was the last thing I wanted to do.

But you know what? I gathered up the last tiny shreds of my shabby resolve and went, and rode in my lesson. I even warmed up a bit from the everlasting chill in my bones I had all day! Oats does struggle more in the cold- he warmed up stiffly again, and his canter was very short-strided. We made sure the jump efforts were not onerous, as pushing too much on a horse that is taking a long time to warm up just isn’t fair.

So the jumps were small, but the course was fairly twisty with a good bending line, and a trot-in line that rode really well, once Oats woke up and actually jumped it! No big fences, nothing too exciting, just some good old fashioned riding. And weirdly, I’m always the one that’s like, ok let’s stop here…I’m done…And I backpedal and wimp out. This time, after my third go-around on a course, my trainer suggested we end on that- not me, which is highly out of character for me. Who is this person?! Me? Keeping going, wow.

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This was last December!

Oats was in snoozeland in the cross-ties after. Poor guy, the chill is hard for him.

A white Christmas? Not here!

We said ‘seeya’ to our condo and zipped up island to Ucluelet to the Black Rock resort for a few days of R&R before we did actual Christmas with my in-laws at their farm.

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Our fake Christmas tree. It looks nice, even though I still prefer real.

And it was SO worth it. The drive up wasn’t bad, there was snow on the pass/summit but nothing on the road (thank god. I was having flashbacks of our nightmare road trip to California a few years ago, where we had the most disasterous time…I was sure we were going to die).

All was good. The resort allows pets, so Gidget came with us! We had the hot tubs to ourselves, a really neat condo-type hotel accomodation, bathrobes galore, a rain shower, ’90’s movies on cable (Hook and¬†Jumanji) booze, snacks, beers, chocolate and lots of lazing around.

We also did some storm watching, and it was quite violent. The beaches nearer to Tofino were closed for both watching/walking and surfing, because the surf and risk of rogue waves was so high!

It snowed at night, and Ian, Gidget and I enjoyed a walk in the snow- damn it was slippery-and we threw snow/ice balls at each other and at the dog. It also hailed a lot at night and man it was so loud.

We ate at Shelter, and it was good but I really wanted to try Wolf in the Fog, but they were closed when we were there, bummer. We also grabbed a coffee the next day in Tofino and put Baileys in it, and walked around town. It was absolutely FREEZING on the beach- so much so that we spent like, zero time on it…Got blasted off by the insane wind. So.Cold.

Sadly Ucluelet has a real lack of good restaurants- the best one apparently is Norwoods, with Black Rock’s Fetch being a close second, so we pretty much head to Tofino for any fine dining otherwise. They have a booming selection, compared with when we used to come in university.

Then we packed up and headed to the farm for a family Christmas- it was fine, I wished we had a tree there, because it doesn’t feel quite like Christmas to me without one. Oh well! The food was great, and it was nice to enjoy company without feeling pressured to do too much ‘family togetherness’ which always spells disaster in my family…

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sleepy time at home

 

Foxstone show recap: November show!

On paper (well, in ribbons) this show looked pretty darn good- and to be honest, my complains and frustration comes from a place of progress not fear. So that IS a good thing.

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My new show jacket! I love it. A big thanks to my trainer for taking me this day.

Let’s break it down: I placed 2nd in the equitation over fences, two thirds in the hunter o/f classes and a fourth in the flat.Not too shabby eh? Well, I made some BIG mistakes in the jump classes, to the tune of not enough leg at all, and a big add in the the line with some chips, and then a lovely round in my second class to a huge fail at the…last fence…shit! We basically stopped, and climbed over it. Nothing but a total failure to ride the last fence on my part, which was very disappointing.

I lit a fire under my butt for the last jump class- I told myself NO MORE CHIPPING and NO MORE ADDING and oh, no more forgetting to ride the last fence and start congratulating myself too early, ha.

And you know what? It was our best round! I was moving.

Except then I didn’t know how to take that ‘BIG’ energy down enough for our flat class and I totallllllly bombed it. Oats was tense and anxious, and I was handsy and clutching, feeling afraid that he was bottled up and bucky, but not really knowing how, at the moment, to deal with it. Shoooot…

So, I kind of flopped, pulled, got anxious and failed my way through the flat class- we picked up the wrong lead on the right (TWICE! kill me now…) and generally I was kind of frustrated and miserable. Our last flat class was a¬†dream¬†so what in hell was going on?

Well heck, it’s all a learning experience! It is actually nice to take what I’ve consciously learned from the first show, and apply it to the second show.

We didn’t get a fabulous warmup- the outside ring was frozen solid- and so was I, by the way! So we had to just slowly walk around, freezing our asses off, until we could get into the indoor to warm up over fences. The scene there was total chaos, some riders seemed to have a warm up technique of repeatedly falling off…I felt disjointed and a bit disorganized, but Oats was a dream to warm up. The only thing I was annoyed about was his throwing his head around, but that’s just a warm up thing, I’m sure.

We then sat…and sat…and sat…freezing our butts off, while we waited for the final rotation to go- and we were last in the final rotation. Lovely.

I think the issues were clear- not enough energy for our over fences classes until the last one, when I finally mustered up enough ‘go’ for the course, and then WAY too much ‘go’ for my flat.

The sitting really killed our impulsion for sure, and then when I needed to be ‘sitting’…well, we were already in the ring for the flat class and didn’t have that necessary ‘decompression’ time Oats and I apparently need to not kill anyone in a flat class. I couldn’t moderate myself enough. It was 0-60 all the time.

Hm, interesting.

I had a dream that night that I was galloping Oats and I felt a bit out of control, but that I also liked it…It was strange. I felt like that dream was telling me that was what I needed at the show, but was blocked from achieving it.

So, last night I did my equine counseling session with Vicki, and kind of actually ended up re-enacting some gallops from my dreams? Weird eh? I guess that was what I needed to get…that big gallop, the good canter, and the ‘free, floaty, smooth’ trot that I could NOT get at the show.

It had to come up somewhere. So it did. I liked it!

I like seeing the progression, and I’m liking the process. So what if I am frustrated–at least it’s taking me places to see new things about myself and my horse.

It’s funny- when I said I was half pleased, half disappointed about the show, Vicki asked what would make me 100% happy about the show. What if I came home with all first places?

I instantly knew I what I would say–that the competition was weak, so I was the best out of the worst.

That surprised me. I need to be happy with what I am achieving right now.

“I wish I could recommend the experience of not being killed to everyone” Gut Buster Mt. Washington Race Recap!

And another quote by the esteemed Tim Kreider.

Yes I'm wearing my barn jacket. My other one was soaked through!

Yes I’m wearing my barn jacket. My other one was soaked through!

But on to the race!

The Gut Buster Mt. Washington…dun dun dun!

Yes, this one was not recommended by my husband, and I deliberately avoided talking about it at work or to anyone because I knew they would tell me I was making a bad decision. I have a bad kneecap and it gives me trouble and running down a suicide hill would definitely count as making a terrible decision.

So, I just didn’t mention it, and I ran it on Saturday.

And was it a bad decision? Nope! Would I do it again? Very debatable…

It was tough. It was rough. Am I glad I did it? Hells yeah!

The first inkling of trouble was when we got to the ski hill and it was absolutely freezing, pissing down rain and blasting wind. I started shivering immediately and my teeth were chattering. I signed up for this? WTF? I felt sorry for the poor volunteers at the registration tables, those folks looked absolutely frozen. It was, according to the Mt. Washington sign, 11 deg at the base of the mountain. BRrrrrrr.

Keeping in mind it is August, and everywhere else it was 20 deg and if not sunny, then only mildly rainy. Jesus.

The race director- who is a total moviestar- spent a lot of time warning us about the hazards on course…slippery rocks, lots of rocks, rain, wind, steep conditions, ”scrambling” sections, oh and the course that was going to be 6km is now 8.5km- yayyyy…????? In my mind I was like oh god, there goes my pride and all of my bones right now. What kind of stupid impulse made me sign up for this freezing torture?

Anyways, before I could back out, we were out and running up the hills. For awhile I was feeling ok- I was passing people, feeling good, kind of smug really about passing even though I started at the bottom of the pack. Then we all kind of had to backtrack because everyone got lost immediately and missed the first of the flags. Whoops!

So, on we went until we reached 3km of the supposedly 5km uphill- that’s when the bad boys really started, and everyone was walking/trudging grimly uphill. This is when it started feeling less like a race, and more of a trudge, ha.

We got to a peak (note- I said ‘a peak’ not ‘the peak’ or ‘the summit’) and I was thinking oh yeah great, this is going well! Until we kept going and I noticed we weren’t going downhill. We were going up again…to the next peak.

Uh oh…

I gamely jogged across a really bizarre foot path of sorts made of huge boulders -slippery- and then trudged up some truly difficult scrambling sections. I was using momentum to heave myself up the scramble, wedging my foot in a rock, grabbing for a chunk of root or juniper bush to crawl up higher. At one point my foot slipped and I almost fell butt-first into the face of the guy following closely behind me. Phew, close one!

Then I felt good, ok that MUST be it!

We were even going a bit downhill…And then..back uphill?

Yeah, the run wasn’t done with me yet. At the brief downhill section, I got passed by everyone. I suck at going downhill, and rock at going uphill. And now we were really and truly heading to the summit. Cold wind and rain blasted us tirelessly, and we were socked in fog. It was a eerie experience, and I was all alone. It felt like I was the last person left on earth, running through a frozen apocalypse!

I kept going, and kept my head to the ground. I couldn’t see well because the rain was fogging my eyes, and the wind was making me tear up. That was when I missed the pink flags and cruised for awhile on a road. I enjoyed the cruise downhill until I noticed a suspicious lack of flags. Curses! I saw a guy quite a way away to my right running through a meadow and I shouted to him if he saw the flags- he yelled back yes!

I had to backtrack to the meadow, and I picked up the flags again. And I got passed by a few more people…Darn those downhill sections, I have to be the only person that can’t deal with it!

I jogged, walked and slipped my way down the mountain. Lots of small slippery rocks made it tricky, there were a few little boards over running water, and some logs just waiting to grab your ankles. Still, I was keeping at it.

And then, I cruised the final small gentle rise and headed down to the finish line. It was in sight! I have to say, this was the first race I’ve had enough energy to wave at Ian when I ran through the gates, haha. Cold, soaked and happy, I was glad to be done my first and only trail run up a mountain.

We both finished with respectable times, Ian finished 7th and I finished 4th in our ages groups. Ian even won the last door prize- a really sweet Nike running shirt!