Final race of the 2018 VIRA Season- Bazan Bay’s 5k Recap!

It feels weird to write this, because earlier this past week I was like oh man, I am soooooo over racing! But then when I was at the race, I was thinking, boo…I want to race every weekend! Mixed emotions much?

I am having the race season of my LIFE! Each race, I am meeting the challenge and overcoming it. It feels incredible, to be completely honest. Wow. How lucky am I, that my body is responding to the increased demands in such an awesome way?

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Series award, Frontrunners gift cert & bronze in my AG. What a weekend!

All that to say- my goal for the 5k was to get under 21 minutes. It felt like a stiff goal to me, as my weakest distance is the 5k for sure, and really any shorter distances. I just don’t have the power.

So I mentally wrote off this race as a ‘for fun’ race and a way to cap off the season of good racing. I was even asking Ian AT the race what my splits should be if I wanted to get under 21, and he said around 4:10/km. Yeesh, that seemed way too fast for me. So yeah I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. My eye is on a bigger prize.

At the start, it was quite warm! I was wearing shorts and a long-sleeved Lululemon run shirt and kind of wishing I was wearing a t-shirt. Crazy eh? We were packed in close and the start was hairy- I watched someone almost smoke a small child that was up too close. Yikes!

We bustled and battled it out for 200 metres or so, and then things smoothed out. I felt like I was running pretty hard in that awkward ‘legs haven’t caught up to my lungs’ way. My first KM was about 3:56 or so? Phew, so I have some room.

We kept running and I had my eye on a few runners who I typically race with, as they have similar pacing and strengths to me. Next KM- 4:07. Ok, that I can work with, but I’d have to really watch to make sure it didn’t creep up….

KM 3- this is when I started catching runners. Not gonna lie, it felt AWESOME. Usually KM 3 is when the wheels fall off, but I just felt stronger. I ran this one at 3:50 I think? Between 3-4, I started really breathing hard, Jesus when was it going to be over? I started staring at my GPS watch, ha. A girl I caught up with-and-passed was gasping and breathing really horribly. It made me feel a bit concerned. Her coach or parent was on the sidelines telling her she had to ‘ make a decision…’

I ran a bit faster to put her behind me- it was very distracting.

And I could see the finish line- almost there! I was running as hard as I could, even though I did get caught up by a few runners who had a better sprint that I did. I could see the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes- 19-something?? Wha?

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Photo courtesy of VIRA. Third place age-grouper.

I ran down the clock and staggered around trying not to puke. Long time racer Gary Duncan saw my finish and came over to give me a hug and congratulate me. I had just raced under 20 minutes! 

Whoa! My chip time just squeaked under 20, at 19:58 and my official gun time was 20:04. I couldn’t believe it! That amazingly was good for 3rd in my age group. We also had the year-end series awards and I got FIRST in my age group! That came with $100 to Frontrunners! 🙂

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Series-end awards. Breeches are probably the least flattering pants around…Photo courtesy of VIRA.

Ian placed really high in his age-group too- 4th! Not too shabby! He is much faster than I 😉

Thanks again to VIRA for a fantastic race season. I’m floating on air, ending on a very high note. YES!

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Race report: VIRA Cedar 12k (er…11.9k)

This was an exciting race because at the last minute the course had to change! A car hit a hydro pole, so crews were out at work on-course the morning of the race. The host club- Bastion Run Club- had to work fast to re-route the course and save the race!

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From the start line- photo by Lois D’Ell/Ceevacs Roadrunners.

They did a fabulous job. The re-route was slightly short- my Garmin read about 100m short, so not certified. BUT it was a lovely route, along some farms, quiet road and very scenic. Slight rolling hills but nothing compared with the prior BIG hill the Cedar 12k usually features, so times were indeed faster this year (well also it was short).

I wasn’t interested in racing this one balls-to-the-wall because I wanted to run during the week and save my race efforts for some other races – and quite frankly I am still riding the high of reaching my 10k goal at Cobble Hill, natch!

So, my husband ran with me (he was also not racing hard for this one) and we worked on some pace strategies. I want to try to see if I can maintain a 4:30/km in a race scenario longer than a 10k. Could I this past Sunday? Not quite! I was at 4:32/km which is close and I was pretty happy with that. It felt hard, and my legs were tired, but it wasn’t an insane gasping-for-breath pace that a tough race effort would be.

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At the turnaround: Photo courtesy of Ross Palfrey.

My next goal is to try and take that pace longer- for a 15k. Can I do it? Maybe? Not sure!

The volunteers kept us safe on the new course, the scenery and weather were FANTASTIC and a great day was had by all!

I finished the race with a fairly respectable 54:24, which was amazingly good for 2nd place in my AG. This is the best I have ever placed in my AG! It was a softer field for sure, less entrants. I felt pretty gleeful about that, whoop!

We had some great snacks afterwards, the awards went pretty fast and we had time for a beer at Chemainus’ Riot Brewery-score!!! 🙂

“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.

Race Recap: MEC Race #3 The Tape Breaker!

I ran this one solo, no friend, no husband to join me but I was fine with it. The race moved from last year, the Sooke Potholes location. I really loved the Sooke race–I was fairly new to half-marathons, and found it quite difficult and hot, but the track, the scenery, the weather…so gorgeous!

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So when they announced a new venue I was kind of feeling crabby about it.  One of my favourite races was Sooke even though my time kind of sucked last year, just because of the lovely memories of it. So how was Royal Roads going to measure up?

Well! I can say I am very glad this was was changed when I was more comfortable with running the halfs, that’s for darn sure. It was quite a bit tougher, in terms of terrain to negotiate and the hills. Oh, the hills…I assumed it would be hilly but doable, but when you start with 2k of sloping hills, and then run up Wishart Rd–kind of kills your will to live!

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I’m not gonna lie, the first 10k I was feeling pretty surly at myself. My pace sucked sucked sucked, my legs felt really dead–I looked at my watch at the start and it was saying paces like 5:37, 5:40–at the START of a race? WTF was going on? Why so slow? Well, the slow was due to hill running, genuis! hahah.

It was a combination of gravel, pavement, some road running, then hill/road running, more trail running (roots) and back to gravel. A more technical half than I am used to, but you know what? At 12k a volunteer shouted to me–”Hey you’re half way there!” And I smiled and felt instantly better. Sure I am! Funny enough, having to muscle my way up a really long/steep hill made the time pressure much less for me. I was not going to get my goal time that I got at my last half- 1:45. So I might as well enjoy the process!

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And I did! It was still very hard, I was running dead alone for most of it–not many in the middle ground like me, some very fast runners ahead of me, and slower runners behind me, but nobody with me. It could have been very lonely, but I was fine. It was a hot day, I was sweating so much it was splashing off my ponytail 🙂

I made sure to stop at every water station and drink Gatorade too. I wanted my race to feel SO much better than last time, when I felt like dying and it was horrible. And you know what? I finished STRONG! Happy! FAST! *well, you know…

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My time was 1:50 and you know what? That is totally ok. I know I am capable of faster- on a different track- but on Sunday, that was good for me. I ran a race I am happy with. Congrats to MEC for putting on another affordable, well-run race for everyone, and I love the photos too!

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A strong finish. Thanks to MEC for another great race.

Race recap: First race of the season! Prairie Inn Harriers 8k

As part of the 7-run series, Vancouver Island Race Series offered the first race of the season, the Prairie Inn Harriesr 36th annual 8k! We ran this race last year as our first race ever, trying out the series. Before that, I had only run Times Colonist 10ks (twice).

Last year I was impressed! It’s a fairly big race for a ‘small’ local race- between 500 and 600 runners, enough to make it feel fairly competitive and a very fast, international field.

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A race that looked as good as it felt (horrible!!). Photo courtesy of Race Stats.org

I didn’t really train as much last year, and this year I was feeling maybe a bit cocky? I had set some very aggressive time goals- 35 minutes (well, like under 36 more likely). And did I meet my ambitious time goals? a big NOPE on that!

I did run home to a fairly decent 36:20 (gun) and 36:12 (net), which is certainly  nothing to cry about. I feel good that I left everything on the course. I was dying! We held a quick pace of avg. 4:31 (well my race time online said I ran at 4:32 but my watch said 4:31) but it was very fast for me. And honesty time here: I do not practice race pace. I absolutely dislike speedwork and would rather even run hills…And it showed. My breathing sucked out loud.

I was immediately struggling to breathe. I was gasping, my mouth was like, hanging open the whole time and I was coughing and choking on phlegm the whole run. It felt like torture! This really nasty breathing was kind of an eye opener for me. If I had taken it down a notch, I’m sure the really loud, horrible gasping breaths I was taking would diminish and I would be able to ‘catch’ my breath again.

But…I wanted to keep at my 4:30-ish pace. Wanted to, wanted to, wanted to. I had to prove something to myself. So I did, and mannnnnn it was rough. I was running at maximum anaerobic capacity for me. And it showed. I had zero sprint near the end, my lungs physically hurt, my throat hurt and my neck hurt? Funny enough, my legs felt fine?!!

At the end, I recovered fine. The course was well marked, quite busy at first – and that is where I lost quite a few seconds between gun/chip time – lesson learned about getting close to the start line…And the volunteers were great, cheerful and lots of encouraging words~!

The food was great- I had orange slices, pb&J sandwiches, hummus and pita/veggies, and great cookies. They had the protein milk shakes I like best (Milk 2 Go) and yogurt too!

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Pretty ribbon! A big thanks to the Harriers for mailing it to me.

And the funniest thing? I even placed in my age division- 7th!! Woo! That was a surprise, and we left before they gave out awards, thinking we were total no-hopers. Well shoot, I should have stayed after all! 🙂 And thanks to my husband for slowing down enough to keep me on track. It was painful but worth it.

 

Mr. Oats tries cross-country. Recaps on recaps…Starting with Avalon on Friday.

So, silence a few days but for a good reason- I was busy enjoying my horse, life, etc.

From our first outing. So much better this time around...

From our first outing. So much better this time around…

I’d taken a few days off this fall to enjoy myself and boy, did I!

This post is all about Oats and my redemption at…Avalon. I’d gone there in the past to do a small x-c clinic, and it turned into a huge disaster. The other riders were snobby and unwelcoming, the trainer coaching the clinic was a too-intense person and kind of mean (ok, seemed really mean at the time), Oats was losing his shit. He couldn’t keep his four-feet on the ground. He was up in the air, jumping around, being a nut.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

Oh and I had an unpleasant run in with ‘someone’ associated with the day and he was a total psycho to me. Yeah, way to rub it in eh?

So to add it all up- I was supposed to be at a low-level clinic designed as an ‘intro to x-c’ day for fun, because hey we’re not going to the Olympics people- and the clinic participants were rude, my horse was losing his mind, I got yelled at for some reason by ‘that person’ and the trainer was kind of mean and too intense for the low level group.

A recipe for success? Not so much. I packed it up and left early, in tears, vowing never to try x-c again.

Until last Friday…!

Since I was taking some time off showing, I thought maybe I could try again. And this time, all I wanted was a new experience with my horse, one-on-one with my trainer. No clinic pressure, no crazy other people, nothing. Relaxed, low-key.

And it was GREAT! Redemption!

We hauled out on Friday and Oats went with my trainer and her horse, Query. I was so nervous. So anxious. I just wanted it to go well, and see what happened. We walked the length of both courses and I felt worried but Oats was holding it together. He was a little bit looky and ‘up’ but I mean, compared with how he could have been? He was golden!

My trainer’s horse wasn’t feeling well- just out of character and ulcery. She noticed this after she longed her in the main ring and she just didn’t settle. Oats on the other hand, was having a blast! We cruised up and down the ring, jumped the dressage ring markers (shhh…) and had a fun time! We headed back out to the x-c field to work out a bit more and I spent a lot of time cantering at the top of a hill, quite a funny feeling.

We wrapped up with my trainer unfortunately hopping off Query and hand-walking her, while she supervised my-and-Oats’ log-jumping. He was ON FIRE! It was crazy. I have never ridden him with him so eager, so focused, so intense. It was kind of fast for me, I have to admit…Haha. We even did a little hop up and down a bank and he like, charged it haha.

He was jumping really well and was just so great. Ah…redemption feels good. I was so proud of my brave little pony. Good work Oats and I left feeling super about the whole thing. Maybe we can do this, try new things, enjoy our partnership together.

Reaching new heights- in dressage!

I know, it’s actually laughable given how rough our past few engagements with lateral work were in my recent few blog entries, but even after his weekend of feeling under the weather Oats was GOOD!

Each week, we start off lateral work with more than a little angst…It’s sometimes like 10 minutes of pushing and shoving and just ‘arghhhh’ and then Oats softens, and agrees, and everything is beautiful…Until we take a break and try again and then it’s like WWIII.

This week, I wasn’t expecting anything of beauty. He had a hard weekend with a reaction from a vaccine, was stiff, unbalanced and generally feeling kind of lousy. He couldn’t bend, couldn’t hold the canter, nothing. Apparently a few other horses who got the same vaccine had a similar reaction, particularly at the canter. Poor buddy!

Anyways, we went into leg yield and he was – yielding-? Soft? Only a little bit argumentative? We changed rein, we tried it at the trot and oh man, he was GETTING IT! I know I say each week ‘best leg yield yet!!’ or haunches-in or whatever- and it’s true. We are getting more of Oats’ best work yet, each week. This people, is what learning feels like. Mostly ugly and then these awesome breakthrough moments.

So, we are going to try for some more advanced movements (not perfecting them by any means), just playing around with them so nobody feels frustrated or out of their depth. He is getting more and more confirmed with the haunches-in movements, I am so happy with that!

Go Oats Go!!!

As a treat for him, after a fairly intensive walk/trot haunches in/leg yielding lesson we trotted on a loose rein and he gave me a great, big trot and then I did some loose canter with wide reins, and just encouraged him to flow freely. His gaits felt really good, he felt floaty and awesome. I like this new pony.