You always remember your first: Marathon recap!

So, I did it. Like any good runner, you turn into a cliche: The marathon runner. SIGH!

Looking fresher than I felt…

I held out for a long time, chiefly because I couldn’t stay healthy enough to train, let alone race, that type of distance. I got a few stress fractures (when people talk about shin splints, they have NO IDEA how bad they can get. Source: me) and I wasn’t able to walk very well so goodbyeee race plans! And then a pandemic, and then another set of stress fractures, and well you know the whole story!

So, this was my time to shine- clearly.

I did train fairly well with a ridiculously ambitious training plan (for people aiming to get under 3:30, and I can tell you the plan was NUTS and clearly designed more for people trying to get closer to a 3:15, in my opinion!).

But…the bugaboos are always there. The gerbils were running wild in my head, I was so anxious. It’s not a joke of a distance and I was aiming for an aggressive time. I chatted with a few runners I knew at the start and told them my time goals and they thought they were agreeable, but when I was pacing with a guy we chatted too and he was surprised that my time goals were that ambitious for my first…So I was kind of knotted up in uncertainty. Go big or go home??

I had a lot of nightmares about the race leading up to the day. Two back to back nightmares about missing the start? Hah. Weird.

The morning was anticlimactic. There was a heat warning for the race, as we are having an incredibly unseasonably warm October- this was the warmest this race had ever been, at just over 20 degrees when we were running! This added to my freakout…

We jogged to the start (a huge bonus of doing a hometown race. Zero travel!) and got into position. The wheels in my brain started to churn- there was NO pacers. None. I was really counting on one, given I am a newbie…And kind of left the idea of pacing to someone else. Big mistake!

But no time to worry, time to focus! We started and it was very congested and very slow. The half marathon started with us, and many racers (half and marathon alike) pretty much went to the front and started…walking. I spent a lot of time and energy weaving, because I am an idiot.

Looks better than it felt

I felt tired right away- good omen eh? The first 10k were uneventful, I had some candy in my pockets and I ate those. It was hilly and winding, very congested. We wouldn’t lose the halfers until about KM 14 I think?

Because of how dangerous the heat could be, I made sure to stop at every.single.water.stop. No skipping- not even one. I don’t normally even go for water in a half, but I knew that could literally kill me this time. I respected the heat warning, and in fact got so hot I started grabbing multiple waters (one to drink, one to dump down my chest).

I was so thirsty. SO thirsty.

My pacing (despite not running tangents due to crowds) was fairly even up until the half way point. I caught a few too fast KMs (4:23s) and toned it down. I’m still so green at this distance…I know it can mess you up badly. By the time we got to the half way point I was hanging on, but also starting to feel concerned…and like maybe this was a bad idea… The tightness in my right hamstring really started to call out to me.

Hah, joke’s on me. It only gets worse from there on!

At around Km 33, the wheels in my brain fell off and I wanted to

a. cry,

b. leave the course immediately and probably

c. get hurt so I wouldn’t have to finish.

Sweat was pouring off me, my core temperature was going crazy and I just couldn’t think straight. I ate a few more Xact Nutrition bars (clumsily, with sugar crystals coating my face, the bar a mushy mess in my mouth) and just tried to hang.

I bounced around with one of my friends until I thought he left me in the dust. I was feeling lightheaded and hot, so hot. After KM 36 or so, it honestly felt like time was slowing down. Everyone was moving in slow-motion, arcing in front of me but still going too fast for me to catch up. My legs, arms, body wouldn’t go faster.

I also tossed an almost full water cup straight into the chest of a volunteer (sorry!) who was standing in front of the trash cans and didn’t move when I was mumbling excuse me as I ran by. There was someone running in a full rhino suit- can you believe it!! It was SO hot man. Woof.

It was pretty funny in retrospect!

I had this thought: Get to KM 39 and THEN you can fall apart.

But then I got there, and the finish seemed so close!! (until you realize it’s still like 3km of winding). Any small amount of hill that normally wouldn’t bother me seemed like Mt. Everest. I wanted to walk so badly, I even stopped at the final water aid station (2km left) to drink in hopes it’d power me further. On a regular day no way would I stop that late in the race!

Clearly I was desperate πŸ˜‰

Ian was going to watch me and I planned to spy him, but when it came I was so zonked out that I couldn’t do anything but stare straight ahead, and breathe with my mouth open. Hah. He did the half marathon (and got a very solid time!).

My time! Finally! It was good too, 3:17:38 (chip)

I jogged weakly through the finish, saw a chair and sat in it for a bit, then got up and got my medal. The snack volunteers were like: You want a banana or an apple? And my brain was so destroyed that I couldn’t figure out wtf they were asking me. So, I ended up with a banana and then went to the next volunteer and got the apple bag- hah.

I hung around waiting for Ian, and when I couldn’t find him decided to start walking home gingerly. I spotted him in the field of the Legislature and I was soooo glad because then I could lean on him to hobble home! We got home, I couldn’t take my shoes off so I sat on the stairs so Ian could take them off. The aftermath was prettttty hideous. But I hopped in an epsom salt bath for 30 mins and listened to a podcast (Gidget kept coming in to check on me!! ha she is so sweet) and then we were up and walking back downtown to beer festival. Crazy eh? It was SO GOOD!!! I loved it! It was amazing.

Ouch. Still healing these bad boys today!

And then I walked home feeling pretty drunk but probably just tired and lay on the grass for awhile. Good end to a good day. At that point I told Ian I was NEVER going to run another marathon ever.

We’ll see ??

Well earned πŸ˜‰

Working Equitation clinic with Darcy Henckel

This past weekend for a change in gears- we took part in a 2 day clinic with Darcy Henckel!

I think Oats liked her too!

She was very friendly, agreeable and horsemanship-focused, something Oats and I really appreciated. It was a very focused weekend that reviewed how we approach each obstacle, and obstacle work in general, through a relaxed, calm and horse-forward approach.

Bridge was no problem for all the horses! Photos courtesy of Stella French.

Oats was a gem but I WAS prepared lol. I rode the absolute snot out of him on Friday, after not really wanting to ride on Friday (freaking tired man) but I knew I kind of had to, to prepare him to behave for the weekend. He was pretty lazy on Friday, so I was going to call it a day, until I lost his shit spooking and spinning violently at a pony that he sees every single day, soooooo I figured he had a LOT more to give. And boy, did he! We hand galloped for 35 minutes, and he STILL had energy to do another huge spook after that. Face palm.

I swear I was trying to smile, ha.

I called it after his second spook and we cooled him out outdoors. He was so sweaty he was lathered white with sweat. Gee, thanks Oats… I gave him a calming paste the night before, and then Saturday came to the barn to longe the sillies out of him before our session in the AM. Meant a very early morning for me, but you know what? 100% worth it. He was very well behaved for both days, and I was NOT taking any chances of him being nuts or too silly.

Ok now I am trying to smile better πŸ™‚ Through the figure-eight with is more like double-D’s!

He was calm, quiet and cantered nicely in a group. He approached the obstacles with focus and attentiveness, only really losing it at the gate on the second day when he spotted some horses unloading near the entrance of the arena and wanting to look at them instead. Can’t blame him for that!

I really liked how calm, quiet and attentive the trainer was. We weren’t pushed, nobody was, for anything that was too much. A good focused day was had by all πŸ™‚ And I learned more about the obstacles- so many things to recall, ha. A lot of pitfalls you can fall into.

Some really fun rides

Had a great lesson last night, where we worked on an exercise that was deceptively simple but also tricky: Jump a small 2ft jump on the long side, then canter leg yields weaving through jump standards! We remixed it a few times to change direction, trot the jump, canter the jump, back to trot, and worked on straightness via leg yielding to the fence.

Small fences, like this from the summer

We had a really nice time! It was a reminder to focus on straightness as well, as that was definitely something we struggled with generally when we jumped. Also I haven’t really jump-jumped in awhile so that was nice too πŸ™‚

Ah miss summer…

We had a really fun ride and the ponies were game to try anything! Though they really herp-derped the warm up fence a few good times too hahah. Silly guys!

Don’t shy away: Dressage lesson!

Man, I haven’t had a good dressage lesson in…2 months? Soo many things came up, unfortunately.

Nov we had extreme flooding, so had to wait for the roads/arena to dry up, and there was a gasoline shortage too. Fun!

So naturally I had to get video. Still wish I’d gotten it from the right, it was a touch nicer.

Dec we had abscesses for weeks (not so fun), snowstorms, holidays. Boy that really adds up! We also had extreme cold- a week and a half of -9 so people had frozen pipes, frozen/black ice on roads and a ton of snow. Needless to say, not a productive month.

Jan my trainer got COVID so we had to wait until she was feeling better, and now she is! Yay!

And I was thrilled with how lovely Oats was feeling. Man this guy- 20 years old and he blows me away with how lovely and accepting he was in my lesson. We worked on a little pole circuit, and to the right he was foot-perfect. To the left, we started off really well but managed to kind of blow it to the pink poles. SIGH. Something to work on, as I know going left causes my body to twist in ways I don’t really want, lol. Oh well, guess it can’t be totally perfect, can it?? It was close!

Good boy Oaty, I love you!

More chaos part 2?

Went a touch radio silent due to a lot of different factors all colliding at once, unfortunately:

Man, bring me back to this!

Major stress at work/burnout

Bad flareup of my chronic disease, ruinining an entire week of my life again

Oats went lame and I had a total meltdown over it

Gidget had a really bad flare up of her reverse sneezing and went into dog-shock for a few days. It was really hard to see 😦

So yeah…It was a very challenging period of weeks for me, Oats and the family.

Some bright sides: Oats lameness was temporary! He had a small abscess (in the same spot as his 2018 big abscess that summer) and now he is good to go. We even had a working equitation lesson on Sunday and he was a champ though I definitely felt quite rusty.

Work is ok for now and I am counting down the days until I am off on holidays!

My disease is back in remission until the next flare-up, and Gidget has a vet appointment today to figure out our next plan of attack. I don’t really expect that they will have any answers but…We made it over 3 weeks ago when we desperately needed it, so I still am hoping for some kind of solution or treatment for her symptoms.

I guess even through the blackest days, there is still hope?!

Also a bummer, but one I really knew was going to happen: My jump trainer who I have been with for over a decade (?!!) is not travelling to coach us anymore. I totally get it, no issue from me but it’s also a bit sad to see the end of an era.

I’ve reassessed mine and Oats relationships after his serious injury and jumping for competitions just doesn’t seem that worth it anymore? We’ve shown for so many years and it’s not always about ‘higher/faster/stronger’ for me– it’s about enjoying the journey and our relationship these days. I still love horse showing, but it’s not all what it’s cracked up to be, you know?

Jump lesson last Monday

And things have been a total zoo, so yep updates now!

We rescheduled our jump lesson to Mondays (thank GOD) because Saturdays are just too busy, and truly the trainer needs a break on Saturdays too. So Monday is just better for everyone πŸ™‚ We started last week and worked over a very simple exercise of four jumps, two in a line and the other two on the diagonal as bending lines.

The video is quite pixilated, hoping to use my camera next time.

Simple? Yes! Easy? Ha not really. I felt very rusty? And Oats did NOT respect the poles, so he ka-blanged them and sent them flying through the simple line until we set them up as real jumps, ha. He is kind of annoying in that aspect, just doesn’t get excited…

But I wore my spurs, and he perked up- a lot. It helped that we now have a lesson partner so he and his partner horse are definitely more engaged and interested.

I was still feeling kind of rusty, but we did better and better turns (still hard to wrap my brain around those) and the jumps went up and I said it was ok!! Even though I felt anxious, ha. Been awhile since we jumped anything of substance, really.

So the jumps went up and we flubbed it HARD three times in a row, and then finally made it ok into the line. And you know what? It sucked, but it didn’t suck the joy out of the exercise for me- sure, we were failing, but we could still figure out and do it ok. And we did! So, I am still learning this lesson: Progress isn’t perfection, at all. Sure we flopped, but we picked ourselves up and finished and it went nicely.

Go team!!! No jump lesson tonight, we were away all weekend at a multi-day horse show and I am tired, and Oats is too! Phew!

A busy fall

After what feels like a year, going on two, of absolutely nothing now we have lots!!

Last weekend was so great, I got to do everything: Ride in a jump lesson in the field (Oats slammed on the brakes at the final fence, haaaa. Teach me to jump ahead when I see a distance, apparently!!) and the weather was GORGEOUS.

Soon we won’t have this, but I will enjoy it as much as I can now!!

I had Friday off (mental health day) and spent it doing everything I wanted to do: Go for a run (too full, urp bad idea after stuffing myself with pancakes), went for lunch with friends, went to the barn and walked Oats around in the field…. It was lovely and the weather was phenomenal.

Flying Oats!

Saturday I had the aforementioned jump lesson- great! And then I hoofed it home to get ready for The Bay Centre’s clothing swap!!! You had to sign up, bring 10-15 items and then you got a time slot to come and pick through everything. I had a blast! I would definitely go again and I picked up some great pieces.

Then it was straight off to a friend’s house party because….they moved into a MANSION?!!!

It was incredible. Huuuge historic house, 7 fireplaces, 8 bedrooms, two suites, an elevator? (that we crammed like 6 of us in a rode up….probably a bad idea), and it is just amazing. We had such a fun time!!! And then Sunday it was up to get ready for the arena raking pizza party- I worked hard, got a big ass blister on my thumb 😦 but the pizza and companionship was great πŸ™‚

I rode Oats after that, and on Monday and then I was freaking tired. We worked on some flatwork, transitions and a teeny bit of renvers at the walk (still suck at it…lateral work turns my brain into spaghetti…) and on Monday I dragged out the ‘reverse in an L shape’ exercise and we were ok but not great at it. It requires a lot of practice!

And now it is raining and the season has really turned, but I can relish in the fact that I enjoyed the heck out of last weekend. That’s a win, right?

Tell me that you want me forever

Wow, so many things and so burned out. Where to begin??

Work continues to be a byzantine nightmare that I can’t escape from, like being stuck in a Escher painting or something.

Ah, my little psychopath cleans up so nicely

My own fitness- terrible. Potential leg re-injury after 8 months from my initial stress fractures. Not sure if I am going to come back from these anymore, given how frequently they reoccur and then STAY injured. Don’t you just hate your own body sometimes?

My potential hernia- Have an ultrasound next week and I kind of both hope it isn’t a hernia and hope it is. SchrΓΆdinger’s injury??

Riding- great! That is primarily what is going right. We had some awesome lessons last week, hmm let me think. For dressage we worked on NO STIRRUPS! That’s right, I did a whole lesson without them. Crazy eh?!! It went really well though! Oats was so good and calm, and we worked on canter-trot transitions w/o stirrups on a circle. Apparently no stirrups are my superpower πŸ˜‰

Jump lesson was good but we had to ride in the indoor due to the rain (blahhhhhhhh) and it is not nearly as thrilling as riding in the field, boo!!!

And then we had a saddle fitting that lasted for 2 hours and was quite comprehensive. I was glad of it, but also a tad skeptical as I have had two saddle fitters work on the saddle over the past year, with a check/re-check every year and how did it get so bad with them on it??? Riddle me this?!

And then I zipped off to watch Ian finish the Finlayson 50k!! I am always so drawn in by these events and I get SO jealous. I wish I could run again 😦 I miss it, and I am so envious of people that get to push themselves w/o breaking. When will it be my turn??

Winner winner! He did great!

But that was fine, because the next day was the Sooke Saddle Club fun show and BOY that was more excitement for me that I would prefer (in like, a year hahah good GOD). I have grey hairs now due to that show.

And Oats was nice to ride this week too, Monday was a bareback hack in the field at the walk, cruising and eating. Tuesday we worked on something tricky that we flubbed at the horse show- backing around two barrels in a figure-eight. It is HARD! We did a good warm up, canter, trot, and then focused on the barrels- he was better but still very much non-thrilled about the barrel exercise. Something good to work on then!

And as for the Fun Show? Well, stay tuned tomorrow! It is a doozy!

Some really lovely counter-canter

After a lot of strenuous trying, haha. Dressage lesson last night, and in the theme of our dressage lessons- I get SO much out of them! I feel like while I am spending a lot of $$$$$$$ on lessons, they have really strengthened my relationship with Oats. This can only be a good thing, right? πŸ˜‰

No dressage media so from an older horse show- we were probably schooling First here?

Last week we worked on me at the canter, not twisting. This week my lesson partner and I first tackled the infamous 3-loop serpentine from the First Level Tests. No joke, this serpentine was the BANE of my existence when I was showing in First Level (now haven’t shown dressage in like 2 years, thanks COVID and injury) soooo I wasn’t super thrilled to start off the bat with that challenging exercise.

BUT, ye of little faith it went super well!

We first schooled the exercise in the trot, because you can really work the angles here if you do it right. You don’t need to make it super round, you can sort of ‘straighten’ and then leg-yield casually back to the wall. When you get good, THEN you can make it round. But it can be tricky to hold that lead!

And you know what? Oats nailed it!! Right off the bat?! I was stunned. Then I was like, ok fine, that was his good lead (right), it’ll be worse on his left. But then he did it so perfectly to the left that we repeated the exercise twice and called it good. Who is this horse?!! I love it!

So then we upped the ante: Real counter-canter work. And this, friends was NOT easy for me- my brain felt like a tangle of spaghetti, it was confuzzling haha. But we persevered, worked through some things in a nice and challenging, but doable way, and we got it! We got it on the right, and then went back to the left, which was the harder lead to hold counter-canter in.

Go Oats!! Really loving our rides. πŸ™‚

Some really nice rides

Had a dressage lesson last night and it was just so good! Not perfect but man, I feel like Oats and I are really reaching a deeper understanding via how I am twisting my body?! So the problem is ME! hahah.

Who can resist this handsome fellow?

We worked over trot poles, looping around them and then cantering them and trotting juuuust at the last second- which, whoops, Oats jumped over the row of poles one time when I didn’t transition in time, hahah. Good boy πŸ˜‰

We worked on leg yielding into the poles which was cool and then we took away all the poles but one, and then worked on cantering up to them STRAIGHT and managing the turns without my body twisting in the air. It was much harder to do than I realized?!

Just loving our rides! (from a jump lesson a few months ago, no recent clips from last week sadly)

Oats was very steady and very focused on this exercise. His canter felt really awesome! While we were certainly not perfect, it felt like a very thorough and excellent learning exercise. Now to actually do this when we ARE jumping….Is the real challenge!

And last week we had a really cool ‘zen’ lesson as I call it, where my lesson partner and I were pretzeled into many different shapes, hands off the reins, legs off the saddles, in an effort to find our real centre and straightness- and wow, the horses LOVED this. They were so relaxed, and we focused on deep ‘square’ or diaphragm breathing. I could even see Oat’s ears relax when I was going into the canter transition. He got a bit tense, I sat straight (which still feels like scissoring, ha) and breatheeeed…And he relaxed immediately and we got the nicest left lead canter we’ve gotten in forever!

And I think this intensive bodywork is paying off- he felt fantastic last night, and we had a really fun jump lesson the previous Saturday as well. Just loving all of these lessons, it costs mega $$$$$$ but wow I am getting so much horse and so much physically out of them πŸ™‚ it is awesome! Plus, I want to do ALLLL the things this year. I know how fleeting horses are, and how fragile the situation can be. I just want to do this forever!!!