The Grand Banana: MEC race #5 recap~

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Halloween Half- Marathon! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

Finally, a race I can be proud of!! After a slew of really uninspiring races, races that blew up in my face, races that left me feeling pretty lacklustre about racing and my athletic running ability…I pulled this one out and it felt GREAT!

I wasn’t too enthused about it- to be honest, I was very anxious. My last  half marathon (MEC in June at Royal Roads) was just horrible. I felt like dying, was unsure about why I couldn’t breathe while I was running, and was just feeling concerned and a bit worried about how this was going to go. Was I going to have to walk, gasping for breath? Feeling like I was going to collapse?

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The day was PHENOMENAL! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I did take the entire week off running, and started toning it down quite early last week- shorter runs, taking more days off, making it easier. Not gonna lie, taking the week off from running last week was TOUGH. I felt antsy, anxious, sluggy and like…What if this didn’t pay off? What then? I took a week off, for nothing? (I know a week off in the grand scheme of things is A-Ok! and I needed the rest for my legs, but try telling your brain that).

Anyways, I took time off running, took it easy, went to the corn maze on Saturday with my husband and friend, and didn’t drink. All nice things, and it was incredibly beautiful on the weekend. A kind of beauty that makes me want to live outside haha.

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Gatorade break for me. Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

The morning was cold and I was kind of second-guessing my long-sleeves and shorts combo but I didn’t want to get too hot running, as I was going to be out there for awhile and it was supposed to be 17 degrees as the high for the day. Incredible!

And we’re off! I set out with a goal- try for under 5 min/km. Too ambitious? Maybe but I was just grasping at straws here. My first km felt kind of hard, but not really? 4:48/km. Hm…

But the beauty of it was…It just kept flowing. I felt light as a feather, light as air. I ran and ran, and thought about how I could do it forever.

My legs felt good, so good they wanted to be challenged.

I got caught up a bit in the gravel sections (so slow and sloggy) but counseled myself to run carefully here and pick it up when I could. Don’t try to push it too much on the ‘no grip’ sections, it isn’t worth the energy. Same for the running across the grass sections.

At 8km I had to take my shoe off to shake gravel out of it. GReeeeat….This would typically derail me bigtime, but I shook it off (literally) and kept running.

I felt happy, it was getting tough but I could do it. I was doing it. I could meet the challenge! I felt like I could do this, and then I could do even more. It was a fabulous feeling and one that has been missing from my races for a year or more. I was smiling, I felt good and I was happy.

At the finish, I was running with a young guy (who totally beat me at the end, ha) and we finished, turned to each other, and gave each other a high-five. 🙂 That’s what racing is for me- what I had been missing for so long. That purity, that feeling of fun, and freedom.

Thanks again to the excellent team at MEC, and the well organized (if a little insane) race. Good snacks, safe course and a great cheering section. I was even lucky enough to be able to go out for brunch with my husband (who ran an AMAZING race) and our friend who also battled it out to complete a solid 10k.  A great day.

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Sure Sure

Jump lesson recap! When I last left, I was feeling blah and uninspired…But I’m here to say, that’s not really the case anymore! (sort of?) ha.

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A beautiful summer.

Running-wise, if I was a horse I would say I was definitely Not Quite Right (NQR). My ‘gait’ as it were is choppy and stilting, up-and-down instead of striding out. My legs burn and ache when I run, and they feel full of lead, sloggy and slow. I assume this is because I am still recovering from running myself into the ground with the silly half marathon?

But riding-wise, Oats was pretty good last night! I couldn’t ride to save my life, felt hot and kind of dizzy, had the WORST dry mouth and just felt sloppy and clueless. BUT Oats is a trooper, so we rode through some prettttty long courses (15 jump efforts) twice, including a small gymnastic. I did get to make some decisions (for the gymnastic, a short quiet 5 or go big for a 4-stride. I tried once for the 4, didn’t make it, and elected then to let the very short/quiet 5 ride from then on and it went fine!).

Other than that, it was jump up his neck! Get left behind! Don’t make any decision at all! Kind of sloppy jumping. Whoops! What happened to my seat, legs and eye? Oats was hot and lazy, taking a TON of leg & crop to keep going and was resorting to the ever-lovely stop, big chip, crawl over the jumps so I had to ride ride ride ride to get to the base nicely, not poorly, and jump from a reasonable spot.

But the jump efforts were tiny, so I felt pretty ok about screwing up repeatedly. Oh well, if you can’t make mistakes in practice then when can you make them?? I did enjoy the sun though, mannn it feels nice (when I am not so cotton-mouthed that I can barely speak). I also coughed heartily after my ride, something about the combination of lagging cold symptoms + dust + dry air= coughing? Ah, life.

 

“First you take a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes you.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I had a jump lesson last night- I wasn’t 100% sure how it was going to go, as this week I did have my ‘surgery’ of sorts and underwent anesthesia…So I figured, just go with it!

And you know what? It went GREAT!

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I am a good boy!

We worked over a small course that had a 1-stride x-rails, 2-stride bending off a sliced skinny, and TWO oxers. Gasp! I know, oxers make a reappearance…But don’t worry we worked up to it, haha.

And Oats was going great, he was jumping kind of flat but very honest and eager, and with every new crazy thing (slicing so many skinnies) he didn’t put up one fuss. Just calmly and honestly cruised over everything. I could tell when he was thinking about chipping (and yes the two stride didn’t always ride that well…gulp) but overall I was super pleased with his attitude, how fun the lesson went, and how brave I managed to be?! Who is this girl?

At least one of the oxers and one of the single fences went to 2’6” and I didn’t even notice? I did think the oxer looked higher, but wasn’t really sure. Oats really had to start thinking about ‘jumping’ and less about ‘cruising’ over the fences. That meant I had to tighten up my core, focus more on packaging his canter so I could get more power, and less strung-out pony.

We did have some ugly spots where Oats was surprised by the increase in height and we fumbled over them, so Nicole made us do just the oxers on their own- the rest of the course rode great. I squawked about doing just the oxers- scary!! But sat with that for a minute, drank a bit of water, Oats and I caught our breath, and  just…did it. Nicole said if we aced it right off the bat, we were done–but if we bungled it, we had to do it again, haha.

With that on the line, we cruised up to the first oxer and just flew over it! And then sliced the skinny, and headed to the next oxer- effortless! We were done! It was as perfect as we’re gonna get, and I was so pleased with the lesson, and Oats. 🙂 What a nice ride.

Mr. Oats steps up his game

Had a dressage lesson yesterday, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not- my trainer was later than usual, so late that my lesson partner went up to the barn to look for her? Turns out she was stuck in the porta-potty…that had no toilet paper. Oooops!

Long story short she is now missing 1 sock. HAHAH.

Anyways, after a bit of a delayed start we moved on to our lesson- teaching the horses to come ‘over their backs’ and work on ‘self carriage’. It was a VERY physical lesson, I was sweating buckets (almost wrote- swearing-buckets, ha) and Oats really stepped up to the plate and accepted the challenge.

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Not quite in the outdoor yet, but an example of Oats charging…

It was astoundingly good, for me, because Oats was trying so hard. No sass (except for at the canter on the right lead, a few sassy kick-outs) no fussing that much, no angry hopping up and down. He was amazing!! We achieved the contact, trot and pace we needed. His trot had so much loft I was getting tossed up.

I loved it! It was exhausting but soooo good. Wow, that pony really impressed me.

He came over his back, and we were able to ‘test’ it by bringing the trot down to a quiet trot, and then ramping it back up to a ‘big’ trot, and so forth. Then we went to the canter (it was not as good) and the back to the walk. At the walk, we played. Experimented with lateral work, turning without moving my hands, big walk, little walk, sideways walk, more lateral work…

Oats really got it!

What a superstar pony.

I was just overjoyed with the lesson (and completely exhausted,  Oats was covered in sweat). He is totally in the groove! 🙂

Coming on strong: Jump lesson!

Jump lesson and we are back at it! Oats was a tad resistant to bend, which became quite evident during our gridwork (some serious drift right, arghh). Lesson for me? Get stricter about bend/counterbend in my warmup!! That way it’s no surprise when I start screwing up later, ha.

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I found a bunch of photos I had missed from the summer derby. Love it!

We worked on a trot-in grid (with guide rails added later, natch) trot in two x-rails, two strides to a small vertical. We then worked separately over a 2-stride combination that left me feeling a bit like ‘Jesus take the wheel!’ as it really required you to ‘let go’ of your horse and trust that they’ll take charge through the diagonal line. A tricky one, surprisingly tricky, but it went well after a few times we got three strides and THEN the two.

We put it together into a course, and once we finished the course we did another one and this time added the 2-stride combination in going the other way as well, and then a longer bending line that rode perfectly.

Oats was going great!

I left the jumps low, as I was kind of still getting back into it and have been feeling pretty tired this week. My goal for next week is to a. be ok with raising up the jumps a little! and b. try and get some video evidence. It has been tooooo long 🙂

Until next time!

Nothing was the same: Jump lesson recap!

As I wind down the week, my complaining is greatly lessened. The incredible stress & pressure is being lifted, thank god, and my horrible chest cold is slowly getting better.

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Back on top?!!

I even had a jump lesson last night (where I coughed my lungs out all ride) that went REALLY well! I was so happy with Oaty pony. We worked on a gymnastic (two x-rail bounces to a two-stride oxer) and then worked on a skinny on a diagonal, to a flower box skinny on a circle, to a bending line to the ‘road closed’ jump, to an oxer, back to the flower box on the circle, to the bridge jump-bending to the skinny.

Not super complicated but quite challenging for us, particularly straightness through the bending lines (irony eh? Straight to bending??) where I had to focus hard on counter-bend even though it literally felt ‘counter-intuitive’ hahah.

We even had the jumps bumped up a hole from (tiny- to measurable) for us! Whoop! Oats was rocking it and I was along for the ride. I was particularly proud of the gymnastic (didn’t freak out) and not freaking out when the jumps went up a hole. YAY small victories!

I also went to the Dr’s today to figure out what is going on- I am getting a blood test to make sure my vitamins/iron/etc are where they should be but he said everyone is getting sick right now…UGH. So, I’m in good company at least?? SIGH.

And my trainer’s horse is doing great, she had a long and very challenging recovery from colic but is full of beans right now and definitely on the mend! Thank god.

OH and I have been a clothes-horse right now…Got entirely new wardrobes for running & riding consisting of new snazzy breeches, a new barn coat, two new tech t-shirts, a new tech 3/4 zip up and a long-sleeved tech t-shirt. I can’t help myself! I needed retail therapy in the worst way 😉

VIRA Race recap: Bazan Bay 5K

Ah the dreaded 5k- probably my weakest distance and the one I dread the most. It’s funny, but people who are inexperienced in this distance and in road running always ask, “why do you hate 5ks? Aren’t they so easy? After all- they’re short!”

Yeahhh…

Short like a swift kick in the throat.

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So, in 2015 the weather was WAY NICER. My first Bazan Bay 5k.

But this year, my overarching goal for the winter run series (VIRA and MEC, some overlap) was simple: To DO IT. Run all my races.

And so I was running the 5k this Sunday, at Bazan Bay (I have skipped this race in the past) because I can usually find something better to do than run a lung-busting 5k, haha. But this year no wimping out!

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Wish it was that nice again…This year has been the WORST.

I’m not lying- I was NOT looking forward to it. Work has been out-of-control busy, my husband and his dad spent all Saturday replacing flooring in our townhouse – it looks great but he was not in great shape to run on Sunday! And I felt creaky, aching and stiff. So, bonus. Also it was snowing the morning of the race. Snow, in March, in Victoria. WTF???!

So yeah the stars were aligning and things were going to be a huge success *sarcasm*

We got out there, delayed going to the start as long as possible due to the snow, and then grudgingly shed our layers and jogged out there. We jogged back and forth trying to stay warm. At the start, I huddled with the other runners, enjoying their shared warmth. Too bad I stayed so far from start though, as it definitely cost me chip vs net time as I got boggled right down badly in the beginning. ARGH.

We started and it was kind of rough- I bounced off a few people, and then got in my first KM quite fast- 4:04/km. Hmm..I knew I couldn’t maintain that, but it’s also only 5k so maybe this strategy works for me?

The next KM plummeted- yikes. 4:29/km. Ouch.

Running the ‘out’ section of the ‘out and back’ was fine. Turning around, however…Rain/wind/ice pellets pelting us in the face the whole time. I could only thank GOD that it was a short race. We were grimacing, grim, eyes closed and desperate.

My next two KM’s were ok- I rallied at 4:22 and 4:23 (good). The wheels fell off the track for my last km at 4:29 again, but it was ok. I was dying!

I looked up at the clock and saw my time- and it shocked me- I was going to break 22:00? How on earth did I do that? I weakly sprinted, coughing and feeling like I was going to puke. Went through the finish line and staggered around reeling for awhile. I couldn’t figure out if I was going to faint, or puke first. But I DID IT! My bib time was 21:59 and my net time was 21:54 (that was where getting held up at the start bit me bigtime).

No chance of ribbons at 11th place- this is the second time I’ve gotten that placing this year, haha. BUT the best time I have gotten in a 5k, and quite frankly, a huge bonus for me as I was not expecting to do well.

Thanks to the volunteers who braved the horrible weather, and the fine folks at VIRA for putting on a great run series. We were stopped on our way back to the Mary Winspear centre for snacks/post-run and a few ladies asked us about the run series- I said I really liked doing them, and that it was a fun series that was very affordable and full of good runners 🙂