End of the VIRA race season: Sooke 10k race recap & finale!

Wow, this one did NOT start off well. How poorly? Well, I would describe it as an absolute shitshow.

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Don’t let it fool you- it was a heck of a stressful race! 5th AG though!

I went out with the horse girls on Saturday night to celebrate a birthday, with dinner/drinks at Swans and then some cowboy dancing at Duke’s and we had a blast!! I was good, limited my number of drinks, did some dancing, and had a nice time. They had live music and it was actually pretty fun- I am not a country fan at all and I enjoyed it.

I had my husband agree to pick me up as my designated driver and when he did, the car was lurching and jerking all over the place. EFFFFFFF!!! Not again. We have an appt to get the car looked at on Tuesday but my race was on Sunday. Would we be able to make it out to Sooke??

I worried about that all night, and I was squabbling with my husband about what time we had to leave. He said 30 minutes will be more than enough, and I was worried about the time, the car issues and we had to get gas. All of these things= takes time. A lot of time, as it turns out…

We got the car started fine, but it was jerking and lurching to the gas station. We filled up and got on the road and by that time it was like 10:18am. The car drove pretty well to Sooke but time was not on our side…We hit traffic in Langford and before we knew it, it was 10:45am and we were NOT at the school yet. I was biting my nails and freaking out…We weren’t going to make the race! I am not listening to my husband about this again! I was pretty mad.

We literally pulled up about 500 metres away from the school (the road was closed for the race, and at this point, FULL of runners at the start!) and I leapt out when the car was still rolling and sprinted to the gym. It was not close. I ran into the gym and tore over to the bib pickup guys, who were all very friendly and like heyyy what’s your rush, you’ve got 5 minutes, do you want to put your jacket down? hahaha.

Yeah, five minutes!!! 

I frantically pinned my bib on, and jogged to the start which luckily was close. I started my watch and waited for 3 minutes to race…I had to pee too but that was NOT happening.

And they’re off! I started close to the front and started quick for me. The first KM was at 4:15…Faster than I can maintain. But, this course was practically designed to positive split- all downhill in the beginning, and all uphill back. Yikes!

I watched my times bounce between 4:22-4:30 or so until I hit the 5k turnaround and then the plummeted–4:45, 4:37, 5:00!!! That was a particularly long and devastating hill. I was fairly out of breath from the speedy beginning, so I focused on controlling my breathing and bringing my pace down (ha ha, yeah like I could go any slower even) so I could manage the hill better.

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To the finish!

It sort of worked- my times were kind of a killer, but I felt more focused and in control…Not just running balls-to-the-walls. That approach meant my form was better too, and I was able to come in to the finish feeling much stronger than I thought. I kept thinking- the sooner I am done the sooner I get to use the bathroom!

The finish line was so inspirational- I love it!! There are flags for the finish chute and everyone is lined up to watch. It feels so awesome to run through it, and I have to say it’s one of my favourite finish line moments of all the race series.

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Loving my new run shorts.

My time was good but it was also the slowest 10k I have raced all year, by 10 seconds haha- gun 45:44 and net 45:40. But hey, I have had a VERY consistent season, and so I was very pleased with my effort, given how much stress and anxiety there was the evening before and morning-of.

I trotted to the bathroom straight away. And then met up with my husband and dog, and enjoyed all of the snacks Sooke had to offer. They are the best! They had sushi (?!!!) sandwiches, the most amazing brownies, #1 cookies (first place I’ll get all year haha), and Milk 2 Go.

And best of all? I checked my results and I had placed 5th/22 for my age group. YEAH! That is the best I have placed in my 10ks this year. Woop! It is a smaller race, and yes those are my time to shine….Hahaha.

Thanks to my husband for taking pictures and thanks to the VIRA folks and Sooke for putting on a fun race!

 

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Making it at the MANE EVENT!!

Finally, it was the weekend. We left fairly early on Friday to catch the Jim Wofford clinic at Chilliwack’s Mane Event and boy, he did not disappoint!

And they're off!

And they’re off!

Fresh off my lesson Thurs- quick recap, I can’t quite remember exactly what we did, but we did have a 2’3” oxer and it kind of scared me, we jumped it very nicely once, then I under-rode to a gentle stop by Oats, and then rode it well again…And a small bounce exercise, a green box skinny, and an x-rail on a circle that rode very nicely – historically a struggle point for me and Oats. Overall, quite nice, but I did have some nerves…

So, I was primed to learn something from the famous Jim Wofford himself. And what did I learn, from his gymnastic exercises with the upper-level group?

Rubbing shoulders with Jim Wofford- the man has a great sense of humour!

Rubbing shoulders with Jim Wofford- the man has a great sense of humour!

  • Look at the top rail of the fence until it disappears under you. This includes parallel oxers too!
  • For bounce exercises, ignore the placing rail. Focus on the top rail of the first jump.
  • Don’t start looking ‘through’ the exercises. One jump at a time! Riders and horses get into trouble when they start ignoring the first jump and stare through the exercises.
  • Let the horse make the mistake, you don’t need to make it for them.
  • Hitting a rail generally punishes the horse, you don’t need to punish. Reward them for a good effort on the next go-around, you will find they have fixed it! (sidenote- I’m bad for rewarding in the moment, need to get better about this).
  • He had a lot of riders riding with fairly loose contact, some with driving rein hands to correct hand use/placement. Let the horse be independent, thinking.
  • For drifters- take off your left leg if he drifts right. Then make your right leg stronger. Doesn’t work? You can add in guide poles.
  • The key is usually less is more. Ie- don’t use a martingale at home, fix what is wrong at home first. Don’t be the first to rush to more aids, artificial aids.
  • Only the elbows move for bounces.
  • Shoulders back, sitting up, no ‘posting’ at the canter.
  • Hands lower.

We watched a lot of his sessions, and I came away slightly intimidated – these were seriously good riders- and inspired as well. I want to try some of those exercises with Oats, the corner jump (we have done this before and he was fine with it), the ‘squeeze’ jump- now that looks interesting, and maybe a mini triple-bar or hogsback? So many good options to make jumping exciting and challenging.

I also took the opportunity to do some shopping…Too much shopping! Highlights included getting Grand Prix Vegas breeches for $50, Spooks stretch jacket for $150, Tailored Sportsman ‘Anaconda’ belt for $5, and a Toggi Equestrian long-sleeved t-shirt for $5 too. A steal!

I also got a lot of samples for Oats for treats- nutritional supplements, alfalfa cubes, treats, and some hay for Buster Bunny in a freezer ziploc bag. Score!

We also enjoyed a dressage session taught by Kristen Wysocki, and the Trainer’s Challenge featuring Sonny Gargulio, David Simons, and Glen Stewart. Glen Stewart in particular was a real class act, lovely to watch and a true horseman. Not sure who ended up winning- we were at the Jim Wofford Q&A session- but it was a real treat to watch.

The ‘equine experience’ at night was stunning as always, with fabulous performances by the Coastal Cowgirls on Vancouver Island – maybe I am a bit biased but I think their drill team performances were the slickest! They even had spins, and everything! One accident happened- not like last year when horses collided, but this time a horse spooked, the rider fell off and dislodged the flag she was carrying. It got caught in the horse’s breastplate! We  all gasped and held our breath…But it was ok, it got removed and the horse/rider were fine to mount and continue.

Guess it’s not the genuine experience if there isn’t at least one hair-raising moment! On that note there were these young girls- the ‘Young Gunz’ and their performances were genuinely terrifying but very well done. My heart was in my throat!

As always, Mane Event is something we look forward to every year. I’m inspired to go try some new fun things with Oats and I can’t wait to show off my new awesome riding gear!