Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap

Wow- two years since I last raced this series, and almost two since I raced- period! I did two little races this fall, to whet my appetite to get back out there πŸ™‚ and I can tell you by this race, I was READY.

Pretty much dying, ha my neck is straining so hard! Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

We missed two of the VIRA races- the first one was cancelled due to snow/ice, and we were in Mexico for the second (oh what a hardship eh??) so I was feeling eager for this one. I know Hatley is a tough course, kind of a heartbreaker for people hoping for a good time due to the rolling hills, steep hills, and gravel/trail sections but no matter we were racing again!

The weather was SO nice. Like, amazing. Too bad it’s absolutely miserable right now, lol I am dying it is so cold. Last week the sun was shining and it was around 10 deg? We didn’t need to dress warmly for Hatley, which is funny b/c I swear every photo I have from that race there is snow on the ground, or ice, or it’s hailing and we are frozen.

I know it looks like I’m walking, but I swear it was hard!

We started a bit late hilariously because the main gate was still locked, so they had to go get big snippers to cut the lock off!?!

So good thing it was so warm.

The start is very congested- I started fairly close up, but was still bouncing off folks for a good…1km. Ouch, that does hurt your time a bit. When you pass 1k and start heading to the first out-and-back hill, it thins out greatly. I was passing/getting passed a fair bit until kms 3-4, where I just got…passed, ha. I was running in a bit of a ‘reach’ pace I think, particularly for my inexperience in racing over the past two years (and no hills…and a serious injury…lol). But I kept at it! It felt pretty horrible but, a horrible I could maintain.

Something fun- this time I was ahead of Ian. So when we had two out-and-backs (km 2-3, and km 5-6) he waved to ME this time! πŸ™‚ Now that’s a first!

I had to add this one b/c it makes me laugh. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

I thought I was running pretty well through the trail section but I was definitely slowing down. The transition from the trail to the ridge, and then the loooooong downhill, was much longer than I recalled/wanted. I hit the downhill and immediately felt like I was one step away from face planting most spectacularly, yiiiikes! I am not used to running fast downhill and it was freaky.

Then it was roughly 1km to the finish, and I did…Not run super triumphantly, ha. I was straining, it was rough. BUT then there was the finish! πŸ™‚

And I did it! Gun time was 34:13, and that makes a 2 minute personal best for me on this course. I was really happy with that, not shabby at all. I, of course, coughed my lungs out for the next three days…Racing is extremely hard on my lungs, quelle surprise!

Ian finished shortly after me, and we cruised up to get our snack bags and surprise! Sweet swag in it. An Endur hat AND I won a door prize- a super soft t-shirt πŸ™‚ how awesome is that?!!!

A gorgeous day and a good race. Life is returning to normal (at least sometimes).

Nelson is great in the summer!

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After spending time in Kelowna, we headed up to Nelson to do a little exploring, trail running and eating/drinking. And it was fabulous! Very hot, sunny and gorgeous out. We stayed at a cool hotel downtown- the Adventure Hotel- which is pet friendly. Great because we had both critters with us πŸ™‚

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We went on a trail run on the Trans Canada Trail, and there were SO many thimbleberries!! Very tempting, and I guess, tempting for bears as well…

Since it was quite hot in Nelson, we did the run in the morning, and did a little bushwacking and found an old railway (still had the ties), followed it down to the lake, while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. It was a gorgeous little interlude.

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Then we got back to the room and the sun was very intense. We grabbed a drink/shower, and went for a walk along the waterfront with Gidget. It turned out to be a pretty long walk and WOW I had a terrible headache by the end of it. Turns out Ian and I both got a bit of sunstroke that day….I felt awful for the entire day. Never shook it.

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We then went to a local brewery and enjoyed a beer, and by that time I was developing a miserable headache…

We chilled in the room for a bit, feeling like crap, haha. Then we went to this cool Hungarian restaurant and the food they had was pretty great! We only went out to eat at places that we could sit alone, nobody close by, and outdoors. This one fit the spot!

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The next day we had to pack up and begin the loooooooong drive back to the Island. Of course we had ferry drama- but we made the 6pm!! if you can believe it!! And we were all pretty darned tired, Gidget, Ian, Tucker and me. πŸ™‚

More summer vacation adventures!

As I left off, I celebrated my birthday with family in Kelowna, and took my dad trail riding in the Westbank, and we picked a ton of sour cherries.

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The small red dots? Swimmer’s itch…picture it EVERYWHERE.

We also went to Peachland and went swimming- it is such a gorgeous spot, and excellent for visiting and swimming. There are bathrooms aplenty, free parking, a dive tower, a swing rope over the lake, and lifeguards.

The only thing I didn’t realize they also had? SWIMMERS ITCH! 😦

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Swimming- in the pool this time, phew!Β 

Dude we got it so bad. Hah. I was scratching like crazy out of the water and at lunch (outdoor patio at the big German place. It was good!). But damn we got it bad. We were soooooo itchy. And the next morning, we realized that everyone had tonnes of red welts all over. Hah. Lesson learned!

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Great margaritas on the patio in Penticton!

I stuck to swimming in the pool after that πŸ™‚ And at Skaha Lake, where we went for a quick dip after visiting Penticton, such a lovely little town with quaint shops and a great and very reasonably priced Mexican restaurant, where again, we chose safety and sat outdoors at a patio with no patrons nearby.

Ian and I also spent a day going to two different wineries and checked out BNA Brewery. It was really cool (literally…it was about 35 degrees out) and they offered you still or sparkling water for FREE! Bonus points in my books!! Plus they had some giant model horses that I was sooo envious of!

Next up in our adventures…Going to Nelson!

 

When your life feels like a loss

Happy 11th anniversary to my husband, and 10th anniversary to my horse Mr. Oats!

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11 years ago, we had summers!Β 

I truly wish we could just fast-forward this year. 2020 has just been one long chain of sucking. It started with a little trickle (for example, I was weirdly put out by the MEC races cancelling…and then boom! No more races at all, for the foreseeable future). How little I knew then, eh? How much I know now, sadly. 😦

I am very fortunate that Oats’ sudden lameness can be traced to an old existing abscess that lurked under the surface of his left hoof for months, apparently? All those really random, minor lamenesses he had a few months ago can be traced directly to it! Weird eh? But PHEW that is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

So, he gets treated with his poultice, Bute and a boot until *something* happens this time! I am super relieved.

Otherwise, we don’t get summer here anymore, so it’s been absolutely freezing, rainy, windy, grey and just miserable. Yay…

I can’t muster up any real cheer or celebration, just mostly low lying, existing dread for what comes next. This is probably what situation depression feels like?

Go out fighting

Mega-run update!! As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I take each Sunday as an opportunity to go for a mega run/hike. Last weekend we went to Heather Lake, which was a good experience and full of bear poop with 1 bear sighting. The weeks earlier we went out to Duncan, Maple Mountain, Mt. Tzouhalem, Shawnigan and so on, even Courtenay!

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Borrowed photo- one of the many trestles

This week we revisited Sooke and the Galloping Goose. We have been working our way through 10km sections of the Goose every other week or so, and this time we started on Ludlow Road and went up to the Sooke potholes. Or so we thought…

We ran for about 7km, and then the entire trail was blocked off due to construction on the trestle bridge. No way around. Decision time- head home at 14km or try one of the offshoot trails (to a mystery destination??). Obviously we were too hardcore for only 14km, so we headed up into the hills to check out Grass Lake in the mountains. The trail said it was only 3km, so we figured sure, why not?

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Grass Lake! Up high.Β 

God, it was the longest 3km of my life. Sheeeeeeeesh. Rocky, clambering, very slow. We kept plodding along, and after running, it felt just deathly slow!

We kind of got worried that we’d be out on this trail all night (no exaggeration, it felt likeΒ forever) but then we ran into some folks, and then kept going, and then we found the lake! It was pretty nice, very quiet. Some campers were packing up from the 1 point you could visit the lake at. There were also very pretty hot-pink water lilies! It’d be awesome to swim in if it wasn’t constantly winter here and freezing cold.

We got chilled right down, and then hoofed it back to the main trail, a groaning 5.7 km back. But you know what? It turned out that that amount DOWN is way easier than a mystery 3km up and scrambling over rocks. Felt pretty darn smooth! And the best part, when we got down to the Goose, it was only 5km back to the car πŸ™‚

All in, it ended up being over 3 hours and about 23 km. A bit more ambitious than we thought, and we were pretty underfueled for it (yikes) but it went fine! It helps that it’s not hot here anymore, so no fuel is not a big problem.

A good run day for sure! πŸ™‚

 

I just wasn’t made for these times

So, in these strange new days, my husband and I don’t have a lot going on during the weekends (well now I have jumping and he has climbing) but we got into a routine of doing a mega run or trail run/hike day on Sunday.

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About halfway up?

A big one, where we pack food, drinks, camelbak, and hoof it out for hours to a new place! Lately we were exploring sections of the Galloping Goose (just running), after a few mountain excursions, but this weekend we returned to the mountains… Heather mountain, in Youbou.

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See the trees at the very top? That is where the trail begins!Β 

I have never even been to Youbou (it is just past Lake Cowichan, from Duncan), so it was all new and strange to me, ha. And quite a long drive from where we live, with large sections of gravel road.

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We made it after shooting past the (fairly unmarked) turnoff, and jogged up the trail for a ways. We made 1 false move by following a trail we thought was the one, and we were confronted by an angry grouse pretty much immediately! Ha! Ian screamed and was pretty surprised. After that the trail turned into bushwacking and IΒ hated it. I got scratched to pieces, ugh and was like NO WAY are we doing this for hours.

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Nearer to the top

We struggled through and then returned to the main road, and followed that to a trail- that- thank god- was wide and well maintained. The only thing we didn’t realize is that it takesΒ forever– like 2.5 hours- to get to the actual top of the mountain trail above the treeline. So by the time we ran there, we were freaking spent and tired.

We also noticed the trail had tons of bear poop on it. TONS. Yikes! At that point I would be surprised if we didn’t see a bear…

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So we finally made it to the top of the trail and I backed down. It was steep, closed in and really high up= triggering all of my vertigo. Yikes!!!! We called it there (ok, well I called it..) and then jogged back down. We stopped for a snack and a drink and I spotted the bear- finally!

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Mr. Bear!Β 

He was ambling around the path, sniffing and stuff. We watched for a bit and then decided to shout, to scare the bear off the path that we had to go down. He immediately lumbered off and we got down to the path where he had been- and wow you guys, bears go FAST. He was already halfway back up the mountain in like 3 minutes?!

Lucky for us it was the only bear we saw, and it was a safe bear situation. Phew!

We got down with no other interactions and back to the car. A long day but a good one πŸ™‚

I could live in hope

So, when there’s nothing left to do…What do you do?

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Found all these cairns on Maple Mountain?!

Well, my husband and I started doing mega-runs on Sundays! Sometimes they are up mountains, or along the excellent Trans Canada Trail- we try to mix it up. When we were able to safely expand our personal ‘bubbles’ we went to Courtenay to where his parents moved, and ran from Courtenay to Cumberland. It was great!

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A nice outlook from Maple Mountain.

We bring a cambelbak (which we left the water bladder in Courtenay….shoot!) some granola bars and gummy candies, and then for after our runs, sandwiches, drinks and some snacks. It’s great!

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All our run days are blustery and rainy! This one we got caught in the rain for a bit.

I’m really enjoying the opportunity to go out and run more of this great Island that we have. It provides us with a valuable opportunity to get out, get some exercise and fresh air, and bonus- away from the incredibly crammed in parks that we see here in Victoria. All the parks that we like going to, Thetis, Elk Lake, Matheson Lake, Sooke, Goldstream/Finlayson, are swarming with people. One endless stream after another. It’s incredible. And not good for maintaining physical distancing, as we often see a mega SUV stroller that takes up the entire trail…Never mind the people that don’t believe in sharing the pathway…

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Running into Lake Cowichan!Β 

It’s just safer and easier to pack up and haul out of town (self supported) for the day.

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Both of us!Β 

And I am getting to see more of the local mountains and trails than I ever believed I would! Lucky me. πŸ™‚

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,Β  fear and paranoia, to ‘it’s all okay’. UGH.

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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.Β 

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! πŸ™‚

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:

β€œIt 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.”

Saved

Things are going well in my world this week! The weather has been mild, I had a very enjoyable couple of rides on old Oats as well as a fun lesson yesterday and I have been running to and from work happily and successfully!

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I still kind of miss the summer though…Β 

This weekend is a busy one- I am celebrating my husband’s birthday today (35! where does the time go??) and we have an Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday night. Should be a fun one! I am also working at the barn (raking party to handle the new sand/sawdust for the outdoor and indoor), and I hope the weather cooperates for that. We currently have a wind warning on, and in true ‘Wizard of Oz’ style, I see leaves blowing up against the windows of my office building…

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Plus one of our bosses brought doughnuts today. A win! yeah!!Β 

Tonight we’re off to a movie, Oats gets the night off (he got worked 3 days in a row this week, so his day off is well-deserved).

I am looking forward to riding tomorrow!