When your life resumes (sort of)

At least my riding lessons are back on! Yes!

IMG_1362

I ran my shoulder into a telephone pole a few weeks ago. Totally an accident but ouch! 

But with the resuming of some ‘normal’ activities comes roaring back all of my previous concerns/issues. Footing in the indoor.  Horses not being turned out enough. The outdoor is kaput, at least for this season? UGH.

I told my husband that I want to just buy a farm and deal with all this myself, dammit!

IMG_1363

Ian made bagels and they were great! 

Otherwise…Address what I can, and then see what I can manage or not manage. Oats has been great otherwise, we had a return to lessons last week (jumping and dressage!) and I was really able to address our warm-up issues in a way that felt both calming, and productive. Go us! Phew!

I felt rusty as all hell but otherwise? Pretty darned good. Oats is moving great, I’m very pleased with that. I missed my trainers like crazy too. All the drama, angst, moving, rude and horrible boarders and COVID 19 and just…Man. My trip to Argentina  (haaaaaaaaa) not a thing anymore, summer holidays..?? Just. ARGH.

IMG_1368

Oats has enjoyed lots of hand grazing, now that I work from home during this time and I have no commute! 

It still feels like some of my life is on hold, and will remain so.

Ian and I are able to get a lot of cool runs done throughout areas locally, and in the Cowichan Valley and I feel extremely grateful that we are able to do so with ease. Same with riding- at least I can do it? Despite all the ‘should I stay or go’ angst that continues to plague us?

I miss horse shows, friends, races, travel…Happy hours are coming back, and so are hair cuts, but the other stuff? Nope.

Ian and I are forced to be creative with our time, so we do a lot of running, food projects, and some creative projects too- like water colours.

This is a long and strange time, and I didn’t want to blog about it because all I felt was gloom and doom. I don’t really feel that anymore, but I do feel like I’m in this strange limbo where everyone is acting like normal, but behind the act is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.

But since it’s going to be awhile, I might as well come back for now.

My own personal pain journal

So, things are going but also going sideways, haywire, etc. My work is nuts (I am directly involved in public information), and also we are seeing a lot of things shake down, as part of the pandemic.

It’s so stressful- for all. I am not a frontline worker, but I see the effects of this day by day. I am writing a list of fun things I want to do when this blows over/winds down (go travel, go out for a team breakfast! Run! Do a race!), but in the meantime, I vacillate between extreme self-pity,  fear and paranoia, to ‘it’s all okay’. UGH.

IMG_0995

Welcome darkness, my old friend… I REALLY don’t want to do this again. But I might. I guess when you’re going through hell, keep going. 

I also have a recurring stress fracture, so I can’t even run right now. Man, when it rains, it freaking pours eh? I guess the timing is (good? I disbelieve that word even as I write it) now that I can’t race anyways.

Just…Fuck me.

I did have a nice weekend though, believe it or not! I had a riding lesson on Saturday and Oats was great! He was my little superstar~ I rode on Sunday and let too much angst out, and I know I shouldn’t have. I am easily triggered right now, and I want to make it up to Oaty! He is being the best boy he knows how.

It was also like, gale-force windy this weekend, ALLLLLLL weekend. It finally lessened up on Sunday, so I rode and then my husband and I hiked up Mt. Finlayson. There I learned I am a huge chicken, and I was afraid of the steep, rocky bluff ascent. Yikes!

I refused to go back down that way (jesus, no.) in part because I was afraid of it, and also it was smoking busy! I didn’t feel comfortable hiking with so many people swarming around.

We went the long way down, got a bit turned around (thanks to the signs closing the one pathway that actually links back to the parking lot…sheesh), and then we made it home. And we shared a hotdog! Yum! 🙂

I then drank wine, sat in the sun with a blanket – yes it was still chilly- but the sun had some strength that day.

So where does that leave us? Uncertain. Out of my control- even my body is out of my control. My mind? Yeah, that’s gone too. I don’t know anymore. But I can ride, so I will do that now and just …Keep on.

To quote Charles Dickens:

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Fake it ’til you take it: Port Alberni 15K Paper Chase Race Recap!

In the midst of this madness…We actually had a fun Sunday! We hoofed it up (of course on Daylight Savings minus 1 hour of desperately needed sleep) to race in Port Alberni. This is the fourth race in the VIRA race series, and it is relatively new- only a few years in existence. You should have seen the sweet-ass medals we had at the first one, niiice!

88363646_1789809177823287_7168740934639681536_o

Trotting through the Mill site. Photo courtesy of the Port Alberni Chamber of Commerce.

It is a challenging course, and each year I remember getting a 15k ass-kicking. Was this year any different? Ha, not really! I felt horrible all week (thanks, severe asthma and allergies), and was just generally feeling miserable. I did not have high expectations for this race. It was really chilly when we got up at the crack of dawn to drive out there, and the beginning of the race was super cold too, but it cleared up and was pretty darn nice after!

The race is a smaller one- the drive is pretty long for folks- but it has a very generous start line, not congested at all. The vibe was pretty cheerful! 😉 Love the run community.

89307878_10156756737566456_3564102100038189056_o

Trying to get more air by like, craning my neck?? UGH! Photo courtesy of Lyndon Cassels.

It also starts going up hill, and boy…By KM 3 I was like, is this some sort of sick joke? Jesus. I was gasping, coughing up tons of phlegm and just…Kind of struggling. Like I have been every day, ha. It’s a race that has quite a few rolling hills, and then the turnaround is good, and then into the McLean Mill! You run for just over 1 KM I believe, and it’s through the woods, mud puddles (wasn’t too slippy though), and then back to the road.

89448136_10156711697301087_3030018647583096832_o

I call this one- faces of pain. Photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

I struggle-ran the entire way out, and through the Mill, and then was like, hey you know what? I CAN turn it on! I am running this race, it isn’t running me! And I could pick it up. I was still gasping for breath, and in the photos you can see my neck straining mightily to breathe. That’s just my life right now, breathless, constantly. It sucks.

I felt ok though, and picked it up until the last oh, 2km? We then hit more hills that slowly dragged out my will to live… I needed some go-button help here. My husband helped me finish pretty strong though. I was happy with that! (we still got passed at the finish like we were standing still, ha.). My time was fine, good even for how shitty the week was/breathing/sickness- a 1:07:31.

I, of course, grouched that my time last year was over a minute better, but I checked again and I was wrong- my time last year was like 30 seconds better. So, fine  with all things considering. I need to be friendlier to myself and my efforts, sheesh. I finished second in my AG and 9th woman.

We had excellent chili for post-race refreshments, and everyone was in a good mood~ The sun was out, so we decided to also cruise to the Quay and check things out in good ol’ Port Alberni. We got doughnuts – they were GREAT! So fresh, great flavours and selections, and the price was right- $6 for 6, even. Steal, right??

IMG-0043

Maybe a silver, but I got excellent doughnuts, so who’s the real winner here??

We wrapped up the lovely day by going to a new brewery, and they had patio seating open. Sunshine, a few beers, a 15k race. What more could a girl ask for?

(ok, well a sound horse, no allergies, no injuries, a non-pandemic…but this isn’t reality).

 

Music for the long emergency

Sooooooooo…Work is crazy right now, and that is due to the emerging coronavirus. I am assisting on the file (it’s an ‘all hands on deck’ thing right now), and making life extremely difficult for many, and in some cases, deadly. It’s a real challenge, and while I don’t want to dismiss fears, the risk we have here on the Island is very low. I do accept that the impact will eventually come here- like the flu, like H1N1, it will spread and sort of becoming ‘the norm’ but right now? Yeesh. Also I can be a bit paranoid, so having this be my ‘all day everyday’ existence is difficult.

IMG_1324

Bright side to the weekend: Doughnuts and sunshine!! 

But anyways, my normal life is fine actually, with a few dramas. Oats got out of his pen twice this weekend- 1 time on Friday night after I rode, where I SWEAR TO GOD I double checked his latch. I have never, ever left it open.

The other boarder suggested his horse might have opened it by playing with the gate. I thought that might be it, but my trainer said it’s really unlikely, but that I probably forgot to do up the gate. Ok, but yeah…

Until Sunday night it happened AGAIN! And I was not at the barn on Sunday- at all! And even worse- he got out past the external fencing, that leads to a MAJOR ROAD. WTF?

I was pissed. And it’s definitely the new horse neighbour messing with his gate that caused it to open both nights. So, there is a new chain, and mercifully Oats is ok. Phew!

And in other annoying news…Oats was stiff, balky and shitty on THur/Fri, and I found out why- and it’s twofold- 1. He needed his feet done like, 2 weeks ago. Bad me. I thought he was fine, and he just…Wasn’t. This is entirely on me.

2. He was playing too hard with his horse friend, and was sore. He felt prettttty terrible on Thur/Fri. Thursday I chalked it up to him just being stiff, but on Friday he felt awful- moving laterally, balking, stiff, stopping. It took about 45 minutes of riding to warm him up enough to feel ‘ok’ but not great.

The farrier came out on Saturday and trimmed him up, and then I rode. He was definitely improved from Friday (no tripping!) but his left lead canter still felt like a bag of crap. His trot work was almost back to 100%. He then had Sunday off (to escape…) and then I am riding tonight. Fingers crossed that he is back to his old form by now!

Man, Life. Just…ah.

Why do I always feel this way?

Kind of a mixed week- I am not complaining because nothing bad is happening to ME, per se, just…Everyone around me?

31768688_10160379409630603_3978803036670656512_n

Oats’ favourite game. RIP Willie, Oats misses you! 

On Monday Oats was playing bite face with his neighbour horse, Joey. He then proceeded to rip a chunk of Joey’s face off, with blood splattering everywhere! Jesus christ. His owner had the emergency vet out, who did about six inches of stitches. It turns out Oats had ripped some of Joey’s face muscles, along with the skin.

My other friend’s horse is now on stall rest, after 3 weeks of lameness and a vet visit on Tuesday. Diagnosis is still TBD but maybe something with the DDFT tendon? Either way, it blows.

On Thursday morning, my trainer’s father died. It was not unexpected, as he was suffering with a terminal illness, but still- so very hard for their family.

Add these recent incidents on to a winter scarred with tragedies (my friend’s horse breaking his leg and getting put down, my trainer’s dog getting put down due to a terminal illness…) and wow, it’s just.. a lot.

My parents and my in-laws both moved away in Feb.

Can we just…like say bye to February? Maybe to all of 2020? I’m not sure yet. Jeesh.

Anyways, despite Oats turning into freaking Hannibal Lecter, he was a good boy this week. My trainer cancelled lessons on Tuesday (which I didn’t know about, I should have asked, so that was on me for sure), and he didn’t get ridden or his meds, which I was immediately annoyed about. If I had known, I have time to get to the barn on Tues nights to ride and administer meds. ARGH. So, Oats had Tues/Wed off, no lesson yesterday due to the family death, and I have a lesson tonight.

He did get his meds on Thur, and we did a little jump school (set up 3 jumps, trotted the xpole a bunch of times and then cruised the course 1X) and some stretchy trot circles to really round out the focus. He was falling back through his hind end a LOT, which to my suspicious mind is linked to him missing a few days of meds?!! Oh well, I guess not much I can do now.

He was a good boy for jumping though. Phew the arena is so dusty! Gak! We go from flooding, still mushy in some spots, to too dusty. We can’t win!!

So, a good week for me, but an extremely challenging one for everyone else.

Who you gonna run to? VIRA Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap!

Ok, going in to this race I felt equally hopeful and hopeless- I have kind of been alternately struggling AND doing well this race season. A true microcosm as it were. This is a challenging race, lots of hills, and I know I am not super conditioned on hills this season, since I was injured this summer.

87256993_10158142973195859_4124457085758865408_o

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

The day dawned blustery and rainy, cleared up for our drive and them BOOM! Promptly poured rain and blasted wind the entire race. I felt bad for the volunteers- it was sooooooo shitty out, and they are standing out there! Yeeeeesh.

The start is very narrow but I didn’t lose a ton of time there, thankfully (like, 5 seconds). It was cold and rainy, and we jetted off and I felt ok, but not great. We went up the first hill at 2-3km, and it started feeling kind of brutal. My legs and everything just felt really tired, fatigued. This is when I lean into my breathing more, and my lungs and throat are NO help this season- I have been struggling with asthma and coughing up pleghm constantly.

87435965_10158143051520859_2072291277591805952_o

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

So… I kind of just battled on. It was’t really great but the way this season is going, none except for Cobble Hill are, so it should not be a surprise to me.

I was happy to get to 4km, and then the out and back gravel section that kind of killed my vibe, ha. It’s just..eh. Not very fast, and I was coughing up phlegm and rattled breathing, all while having wind blasting with pelting rain my face. Lovely.

When we got to the trees/uphill trail section, I was relieved. It felt ok! Not fast, but nicer than the rain. It was quite muddy/slippery. You had to be careful. We made it to the hill (biiiiiig downhill) and I was pretty terrified of slipping and falling, but made it ok!

Then the long flat section had a few too many turns for my liking, and I kind of lame assed it to the finish. I don’t seem to have energy or lung power for a strong finish anymore, at all these days.

87987391_10156675149091087_8550529126052659200_o

I like this photo, because it shows me that even though I got passed, I ended up passing back! Photo is courtesy of Lois D’ell/Ceevacs Running.

Felt like I was going to puke at the finish, and was soaked and freezing. A good race, hahah. My friends were there too, and had some good runs with good times! My other friend is still injured sadly, which is another lesson to me- I recovered pretty quickly. It doesn’t always happen that way…A delicate balance, and one I have to keep in mind.

We had hotdogs and snacks at the finish, and my time was slower than last year (of course, all of mine are except for Cobble Hill), at 36:19, for 3rd in my AG and 11th woman finisher. Many thanks to the brave volunteers and race organizers, what a miserable day!!

Cobble Hill 10k Race Recap!

So this is exciting- we had a new start/finish line this year! Previously we had to jog about 700m to the start/finish, from the staging area. Not a big deal but also kind of a pain in the ass, haha.

82825197_10158052618030859_2766543067061157888_o

Heading to the finish! Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

Apparently this would also make the course flatter/faster?! Would it?? Time would tell for me 🙂

I was fresh off of feeling super irritated about my efforts at the Harriers 8k. It just…sucked. I did get proactive about it, and sought treatment for my asthma (now I am the proud owner of two inhalers- 1 rescue inhaler to use before/after racing, and 1 daily inhaler for maintenance), plus this race I made sure to take an extra half dose of my daily allergy medication just in case (wow, I sound super high maintenance these days…). So I was all set!

I also did not have great expectations. Lately my legs have felt super flat, dead, achy left knee, bad lungs/breathing…Yeah, you got the idea.

I was talking with my friend’s husband about the Harriers race and he too had a tough race- though he is VERY fast. So, it wasn’t just me riding the struggle-bus. That made me feel slightly better.

83674929_10158052747710859_1018264062150049792_o

A few of the winners- I am the shortest by a head, again. HAh!

The morning of the 10k dawned nice and warm, and what’s that? SUn? It was crazy warm for us! I was regretting wearing my long-sleeved run shirt. Now, I never regret dressing warmly, ha. It was just a gorgeous weekend! We warmed up, I took my inhaler, and we were off to the start! It was a very congested start- only half the road, so everyone was crammed to the left. I left 5 seconds on the table with that start, yikes.

We were off, and I was kind of struggling. It felt hard, definitely not easy, my legs felt tired immediately and heavy, and my breathing- despite my multiple efforts- wanted to seize. But you know what? I felt like, oh ok well this is how it is going to be then…A repeat of the 8k…And I just grimly kept running.

And it kept kind of sucking, up until about 5k. Something just CLICKED! In my body!

I felt solidified, I felt energized, I was doing it, by god!!  I gathered together my energy, and I started really running, and I mean it. I was actively racing! I honestly haven’t felt that kind of ‘try’ in my body for over a year. It was really exciting 🙂

84494528_10156595960421087_1182810727480557568_o

This photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell. 

And I ran, and I ran. I was finally doing it!

I was running a race, rather than being run off my feet by it. I quite literally found my stride. It felt so good, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I felt to be running a race that I felt like I could actually run, rather than struggling or suffering.

I wrapped up and my time was fine- I got the same time last year and was mad, but this year, I have been trying to manage so many other health issues that to be quite honest, it made me happy! Am I back?? Maybe too soon to tell, but I felt good about it.

Chip time was 43:32, gate time was 43:37, good for 5th in my AG and 14th woman. YEah!!  A lovely day with some AMAZING food- pretzels from True Grain!!