Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

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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.

 

 

Burn me: Race Recap Pioneers 8k!

To be completely honest, I did not have great expectations

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At the start. Photo courtesy of Ceevacs Lois D’Ell. 

leading up to this race. I felt exhausted, beat down from near-constant coughing at night and in the morning. *It was truly horrendous just ask my husband, yuuuck.

Anyways, I was tired, feeling wimpy, coughing my lungs out and just…tempered my goals for this race. I couldn’t really even remember what my time was last year, just that I remembered it being a pretty decent time on the new course, during heinous rain and freezing temps.

Well, I am happy to say after a weekend spent coughing my lungs out and basically sitting on the couch/alternating with taking my dog out on walks, I was ready to race! The weather was GORGEOUS!! Oh man, polar opposite of last year in every way. Sunny, warm, no wind, not rainy, just amazing. I was so happy with that, I kind of figured ehhh we’ll see how this race goes.

My cough had somewhat subsided a bit to a low irritating hack every so often sooooo success?!! I trawled my way to the start and waited with my husband in the squish of other runners. It was pretty crowded, a bigger race attended by quite a few local elites and Olympians. We were off, and I zipped off. I definitely got lulled a bit by the pace- because there are so many fast runners, I didn’t realize how fast I really was going- everyone was sticking super tight. In other races, I tend to lose runners/get passed/some give and take. In this one? Boxed in for close to the entire race, at a pace that I am definitely ‘not comfortable’ at.

My first KM was ridiculous, and I misread my watch (I thought it said something like 4:56, instead it was 3:56..yikes). So I thought ok either way I’ll hammer through (people were sticking to me like glue by this point so I figured it wasn’t that fast). My next was something like 4:16? Ok ok…I see where this is going. Fast.

I lost a lot of impulsion (ha using horse terms here) on a very slight rise going up to 4k and the turnaround, leading to a 4:24 or so. The turnaround came up and I felt pretty darn good!!

And then hit a very gentle hill and lost all of it again, ha. 4:32 for that one. Ahhh well.

I held it pretty strong until like 6km..and then I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t believe how rough those last 2kms felt, oh man. My cough was dormant, but I had this sneaking feeling that if I breathed too deeply or started coughing, I would not be able to stop. As it turns out, I was right about this!

I hung on by my freaking fingernails, knowing my pace in the early parts of the race were indeed too fast and boy was I paying for it! I got passed- a lot. My finish was weak, and as soon as I stopped I couldn’t catch my breath and felt like I was going to puke. Instead, I started coughing horribly and couldn’t stop for oh, and hour or so. Lovely.

We had some awesome pizza and chocolate milk as our after-race snack (thank you for hosting, Prairie Inn Harriers!) and I was coughing my lungs out the entire time. God. As it turns out, I pulled an intercostal muscle in my ribs from the coughing and am now in a fair amount of pain when I cough, sleep, move too much, ughhhhh.

I just hope my next few races aren’t this rough, jesus! I haven’t had a smooth race in quite a while, haha. Injury, illness and now a mild injury part #2. Shit!!

Oh well, that’s life I guess. I was happy with my time though! 🙂

Way Yes

I had a very nice weekend- still managing some difficult aspects of life, but I feel like I’m hopefully taking the route that leads to me feeling better about it. This weekend I had a LOT of great friend time, me time, horse time, run time and everything!

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We remember.

Friday I had a dressage lesson – where we worked on a canter exercise. It was tough! I had to cut the lesson a bit short to run out to the Westshore for my friend and namesake’s birthday celebration 🙂

Saturday, riding and running. My ligament injury is not 100% but slowly improving run by run. It was a bit painful and ‘tugging’ on my run, but you know what, it was better than it has been- so I’ll take it!

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Just a good day- photo by Lindsay. 

Saturday night was visiting with friends- I brought dessert and drank some (a lot?) of wine. Haha. This was in preparation for Sunday’s big event…Bringing the horses to THE BEACH!! Yes, in November?! Hahaha. It was great though. They managed to keep their hair on mostly, Oats was a bit anxious and nippy with some of the other horses, and he spooked at a dog, but yeah for it being November, cold and windy, and a bunch (6 total) of horses? Very good. 🙂

Got home in the afternoon and had to get ready to host in-laws at our place for dinner. Busy busy! It was a lovely evening and the dinner my husband made was fantastic! I also drank a lot of wine, hahahah.

Monday- counseling session to work on some of the issues that have been challenging me this week- it was productive, and I had a better idea of where things went wrong recently. Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? I didn’t ride, but Oats got to cruise around the indoor while we were talking and chill out. He also had a farrier appointment. Another busy day! So glad to have Monday off, phewww.

And that brings me to today- where I am trying to be more relaxed, present in my surroundings, and not taking myself, my health or my abilities, for granted.

Get your burdens lifted

And the trend of a very ‘meh to bad’ week continues! This morning I found out that my breakfast got thrown out of the work fridge, fuckers. ARGH. At least I have lots of Halloween candy, and yummy pistachio Oreos (and ok, some healthy things like fruit..) to console myself with/eat for breakfast.

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Had a jump lesson last night, and again continuing on the ‘shit week that can’t give me a break’ I was VERY late for it, due to the road I usually take being shut down/alternating 1-way traffic. I had no idea that this was happening, all I knew was that traffic was NOT moving at all and it took me over an hour to get to the barn, arriving just when my lesson was supposed to start. Greeeattt…

Luckily a friend was still there, and she helped rush me through a tack-up job that would make any pit crew proud. ‘Ok go- you get the horse, I’ll get your tack, you pick feet, I’ll brush, you put boots on, I’ll put his saddle on and GO!’ Poor Oats didn’t know what hit him? He was befuddled for sure.

I put my spurs on and headed down to the arena as fast as I could. And my jump lesson, welllll…For the auspicious beginning, it went okay but not great. The first round was actually really lovely! But then we put the jumps up and Oats was so very not pleased. He did one huge buck when I spurred him in front of the first jump, so we had to re-approach. I bungled approaches, wasn’t straight, didn’t release properly, got stuck in the backseat but you know what? I still did it. I wasn’t particularly proud of my ride, but ehhhh given the week I have been having, I’m honestly not surprised.

I had one nice jump at the end, and that’s what I can take away from that ride, ha. Oh and I noticed when I got off Oats that I was using 1 small spur and 1 big spur. No wonder he was nasty and full of attitude when I spurred him, it was the big spur? Hahaha whoops! I was sure in a hurry.

So all in all, he is a good pony 🙂 He got some more caramel corn as a treat! He loves his caramel corn.

My hip still has a bit of lingering pain but it’s improved greatly from where I was on Wednesday (in excruciating pain). I have taken a few days off from running and am sticking to lower-impact training for a few days to help heal wtf is going on in my hip/pelvis. I had x-rays on Wednesday, and am going for a blood test today to rule stuff out (though given how things have improved, I feel like it was muscle-based mostly?).

Ok Friday, this week has been…something interesting…all right. Let’s just end it here, shall we?

Know Better Learn Faster: Jump Lesson!

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All my swag from the past weekend! 

I was both looking forward to and feeling anxious about my jump lesson on Thursday. I was really happy with how the horse show went, (coachless! but with some hand-holding) and wondering how I could keep the good vibes rolling!

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Remember this from a few weeks ago? Make it almost completely dark out..and then do it. Coop set in the middle of the arena, rail at same height!

Sometimes this means I shut down, because I would rather not mess up a good thing than try and have it kind of blow up in my face. Not a good impulse and not one I am proud of. (see- why I can never play darts again…).

BUT I am learning – year by year- that I can try, and fail, and still have a lot of fun and learn tons. It’s not a one-and-done thing! I can keep going! 🙂 We were back in the outdoor to grasp the last bit of remaining daylight, and it was the last semi-private I will have (gonna miss those!).

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Oxer on diagonal, so festive! (Photo by Nicole).

We worked over a small x-rail, and then the x-rail to a small vertical both working off the diagonal. Oats was…unenthusiastic. I felt like the jumps needed to be higher to get his focus!!  Mine too maybe? He blahhhhed over the jumps. I was kind of annoyed, but like, with some fire in my belly.

Let’s DO THIS

Coursetime: Not complicated, but would require me to sit up (after a stop going into the one outside line, hahahah I decided I would jump first and Oats was like yeah, no.). And key? LEG LEG LEG even on the slow fade 3-strides to the jump. Not just sitting there like a stuffed dummy.

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This ‘Halloween’ line ended up being an oxer set further back. So fun! (Photo by Nicole).

And how did the course ride? Pretty well! The bending line gave me some trouble both times, but overall quite nicely. I got some good distances, not too much ‘stop and crawl’ over the fences, remembered to use my legs in the last 3 strides even! There were a lot of oxers, traditionally something that wigs me out, but I felt pretty good last night.

Course was: vertical on diagonal, oxer on diagonal, ride the outside line in 7, back to the first vertical on the diagonal bending line to 1st fence in outside line, oxer on second outside line to oxer on diagonal (rode well!), ride along and then turn right across the arena to jump the coop, turn left and ride the outside line of 2X oxers (7 the first time, 6 the second. Oats was on FIRE!).

We had 1 more stop the second time we rode the course, honestly it felt like Oats didn’t see the second rail set up in the oxer until the last minute- we bumped the fences up 1 hole and added an oxer. It was really dark out by this point. Re-approached and he was a-ok. In fact, the was golden.

What a great, kickass ride!

 

Axe & Grind

Another crazy weekend! This one was all horsey-filled, lucky me. 🙂

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But I’m getting to that- first in my weekend recap is the new-to-me sport of axe throwing! My friends had booked us into an hour slot at the brand-new Axe & Grind in downtown Victoria. I had no idea where it was, and I was running sooooooooo late from the horse show that I microwaved food, bolted it down, and literally ran to meet them (late). It’s on Government street in this weird basement-type dwelling.

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It’s so simple and crude but pretty fun! A few ‘batting cages’ of targets and chain-link fencing. You line up at a target, the person to the right throws their axe first, and then the person on the left throws. You both go grab your axe, and try again!

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There is actually a real technique to axe-throwing, one that I royally sucked at. Ha. A lot of the time my axe whanged off the target instead of sticking in it! And one-handed? Forget it. That was not something I could do.

But for an hour? It’s fun!