Alone time

Took last night off from riding, to give Oats a day off, and I got a text from a friend asking if I was heading to the stables. I responded no, and I was immediately wondering what was up…My friends do look to/expect me there on Mondays but won’t text if I’m not, so I knew something was going down.

19250418_10158935648965603_4888093294613932578_o

Willie would let Oats disrobe him, and play bite face all day.

And it was. It was really bad. Our mutual friend’s horse, who had been recovering from a lameness (from a kick or something. X-rayed and everything, which were clear), had a broken leg.

😦

That is every horse person’s worst nightmare, along with colic, or what I had- when Oats choked and went into shock.

I was stunned. This is her horse, who I have known for 8 years. He is Oaty’s best friend, his horse neighbour, his buddy. He is my friend’s competition partner, her friend, her companion. They had their ups and downs- who doesn’t? But to have this happen, oh man.

Apparently he had a hairline fracture that did not show up on the X-rays, took a funny step, and BOOM! A broken leg. Everyone is just devastated. How terrible. Incidents like this really bring it home to me, to every horse person. Life is so fragile, and can change in an instant. Horses are not the everlasting, sturdy pains in the asses that we so often rely on. They break, sometimes forever.

It reminds me that the time I have with Oats is precious. I have been feeling that way more and more lately. A few months ago I would finish a ride or a lesson, take Oats back up to the crossties, and want to cry- not because I felt unhappy, but because this all felt so fleeting, there are no guarantees. And I want a guarantee. I love him so much, and it feels so tenuous, risky, vulnerable. Like wearing your heart outside your body.

I feel sad as a reflection of what is happening to my friend. I feel lucky because I’m not having to face it myself.

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.

tumblr_omyag3py2T1qlxk49o1_500

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?

Quite like you: Bad ideas

So, where to start with this weekend? Maybe with the fact that I had a horrendous head cold, and was staring down the barrel of a majorly overscheduled weekend…With some dread/trepidation.

What was on tap? Saturday: Sooke Saddle Club Show and Tell in dressage (Training Level 2 and an attempt at Training Level 3) and then the MEC Race #3, The Pace Setter half marathon on Sunday (gulp!!). Did I mention I had a really nasty head cold that I am still trying to get over, combined with exercise-induced asthma that flares up badly when I have a cold/run hills/run long, and oh the hottest days Victoria will see this month?

What are you talking about, all I see is success….?? Right? Right?

Um, yeah no.

19420572_10100799772282956_4978159562631985508_n

Sooke Saddle Club Dressage Show ‘n’ Tell

But the Sooke Saddle Club show and tell went fairly well, Oats was being a bit of a dingus so we had some issues with contact…spooking and consistency (mine on this point). Oh and get this, I had gotten back from Nakusp on Tuesday, ran a track race Wednesday, had my lesson on Thursday where I printed out and ran through the WRONG TRAINING LEVEL TEST?! For Saturday. Shit!! I did print out the correct one in a big rush on Saturday morning but yes, my  head was definitely not in the game for anything, haha. And that was why we went off course in our first Training 3 test, and thankfully corrected that for the second one. I am a genius. (More on that later, like during the longest half marathon of my life).

So anyways, the judge was great and gave the feedback we needed. And I even made a goal for myself and Oats- try for First Level! I know it’s a reach goal, but I figure we can dream eh?

The scores were tough but VERY fair given what I was riding (sort of poorly, and got a MASSIVE charley horse in my leg, yay…mid-test) and how Oats was responding (not well). Great learning experience, and we even were lucky enough to have a friend swing by the ring and give me an Iced Capp!! Made my afternoon 🙂 🙂

It was a hot day, and I sweated through my belt. Phew. Foreshadowing for the race the next day…I got home at like 6pm. EEEK!

Stay tuned for the events of the next day….

Wondering? Don’t. I am childfree by choice, and love it!

Saw this, and while I don’t normally share things on my personal page that make it really clear that I am childfree by choice, I couldn’t resist! I shared it, and the response has been fantastic. This is by CBC’s comedy page, and I LOVED it.

I am who I am, and my choice does not mean you made the wrong choice. Everyone’s decisions are personal to them, and choosing something different isn’t a judgement on your decision! Why can’t people live and let live? Jesus. OH and for reference, I had a pretty serious family rift this year when my parents decided that ‘I’ owe them grandchildren. Wrong wrong wrong wrong WRONG. We are currently  not speaking, by my choice. Maybe in a year, we can reconnect and laugh about it?! 🙂 But there are none so blind as those who will not see.

baby-flowchart

Progress, like life, is not linear

Had an interesting equine counseling session last night. We focus on a few aspects of my life during each session. I usually bring up what I want to focus on or what I am struggling with (my parents, riding, performance anxiety, race performance). We are focusing on my race performance right now, and I have been struggling mightily at races. Mad, disappointed, angry at my body for letting me down, bummed about my slower times, expecting better…You name it, I am feeling it!

12670039_1515676412069644_5756096844225386331_n

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

My last race was good, but the time was not good. It was good because I ran within my ability and I could breathe the whole race. I was quite pleased with that, and I didn’t burn my lungs out like I have been doing.

What’s the difference? For a long time, I have been relying on the cheap fast energy of adrenaline during races. I don’t have a lot of long-term power to back that up, at all. And it burns out too fast, leaving me gasping, heaving, ready to puke, with legs that burn with lactic acid and feel weak within 1km.

This worked really well for me last year. This year, not so much.

My training has been going great, but like last year, it’s pretty much the same (though my long runs are LONGER now, ha). If I keep doing what I’m doing, my body gets used to it, and I adapt very quickly. Problem is…That doesn’t get me faster or more powerful. It gets me very complacent.

So to get better results, and power that I can rely on more, I have to change my training (and my mindset, which is making me slower this season, ha).

This means getting into the uncomfortable zone. Aka faster.

Funny enough, my equine counselor brought up a comment I got from a dressage judge years ago about Oats. “His trot looks very comfortable and easy. I bet you could trot like that all day. It’s not work though, and it’s not the power you need.” She was right! I could cruise on Oats alllllllll day with that lovely, easy trot of his. Problem is, when I wanted ‘more’ trot or collected trot, things fell apart.

She pointed out that my running is remarkably similar. My long runs? Could cruise alllllll day at my little jog-trot. Want more ‘go’ and more power? Falls apart.  Ha, I am Oats. Weird eh?

Life mirrors us in more ways than we think. And for me? I am experimenting with more power moves. 500 metre pick-ups in pace during my long runs, which are killer and I hate them, but I have to do them. Oh and running hills after my rides on Sunday. We’ll see!

Can’t get enough of myself

Dressage semi-private on Tuesday, and my willpower/enthusiasm was greatly waning. I had a really bad stomach ache with stabbing pains at work, and it didn’t go away all night. I just wasn’t feeling great, at all.

15492565_1037279729716968_1957635225815813949_n

Also, Oats’ friend moved away on Tuesday. I bet he misses him!

It got cold here again, after a blissful period of 9-10 degrees it plummeted back down to -1 or so. GOD.

Despite my stomach trouble, I was able to mostly ride it out. I only lurched sickeningly a few times at the canter and our ride was actually pretty good though- Oats was amenable to most of my suggestions, and we worked on transitions: walk/quick steps/trot/medium trot/canter. All while asking the horses to ‘stretch’ and reach down while still engaging their back. We did get some nice steps in the trot/quick steps, but in the canter it mostly turned into Oats flying around with his head down instead of being, well, engaged.

Oh well, at least he was trying! His attitude has been quite good about dressage so maybe we have turned a corner with less hissy-fits in our future. One can hope!

As I rode Oats 4 x days in a row, I took yesterday off and went for a jog instead. I am glad I did it, but my face was frozen after and it kiiiind of felt like a mistake, as it was BLASTING wind and absolutely freezing. My legs felt like blocks of concrete. My foot started hurting again (oh joy) and I was kind of feeling grouchy about how slowly I am running right now.

I do not have high hopes or expectations for my upcoming race- the weather is supposed to be incredibly shitty AGAIN (every race this season has had just terrible weather) freezing, raining/snowing. Lovely.

And in case you can’t remember, here is a recap of what the weather was like at each race:

  • Prairie Inn Harriers 8k: Freezing cold, with a blizzard starting once the race ended
  • MEC Rust Buster 10k: Freezing, about 0 deg the entire race.
  • Cobble Hill 10k: Cold, pouring rain the entire race.
  • Sooke 10k: My prediction? Everything at once! Freezing cold, rain mixed with snow, wind? We shall see 🙂

And to top it off, I burned my hand last night, and jacked up my wrist somehow (still not sure how?). Add that to my ever-present chronic and horrible allergies, and my bum foot, and I feel like a falling-apart robot right now! At least I am sleeping pretty well?? Love that.

Jump lesson tonight, and I hope it’s not completely freezing. Though, it will be.

Flow in Sports: A book, a lifestyle, a challenge

I borrowed this book from my friend Sarah and have been working my way through it this week. It’s very interesting and I found myself reading sections of it out loud to my husband–for a non-fiction ‘how-to’ that is pretty unusual!

The crux of sport is the quality of experience, of richness, that it offers.

But how do we recognize ‘flow’ and how do we capture it? I know I have experienced that effortless, ‘flow’ movement running, even racing. Time slows down, my breathing is perfect, my legs feel strong, I feel suddenly effortless and smooth. I am floating! I can DO this!

Sadly, this is also rare and fleeting, and also extremely hard to replicate. Also, I have NOT been able to replicate it in riding. Why? How can I?

The book suggests a few different paths to take to achieve that flow. Here are some of their suggestions on the path to flow:

  1. Challenge-skills balance
  2. Action-awareness merging
  3. Clear goals
  4. Unambiguous feedback
  5. Concentration on the task at hand
  6. Sense of control
  7. Loss of self-consciousness
  8. Transformation of time
  9. Autotelic experience

What would it take to make you happy? You might guess a big TV, a beer, some chips and dip, and a great show on Netflix, but you’re wrong. That would make you relaxed and content, but it would not satisfy you, it would not make you happy for other than a fleeting second.

You have to struggle, overcome and try a challenge to be satisfied with life. We are apparently nothing without an obstacle to overcome= welcome to sports, particularly running and riding!

We have to create challenge, and overcome it. This happens one of two ways- physical and mental. For me, the mental challenge is the biggest! Having confidence in your skills is also incredibly important, you need this ‘I got this’ when going in.

Sometimes that means lowering your goals/challenge from outcomes to process. That means instead of seeking a placing or AG group win, you nail every fence and get smooth changes, or hit the paces you want instead of trying to beat a person.

Here is a good exercise to develop self-awareness: Pick a quiet spot, close your eyes, and focus only on your breathing. Time yourself to see how long you can do this before other thoughts intrude. A minute? Two minutes? It’s tough!

Also a great exercise- keep a notebook on you for 1 whole day, all activities. Write down every time you have a negative thought about yourself. Are there a lot? How are you managing them and refocusing them?

Set smaller, specific, daily goals rather than big, scary ones. You will be happier knowing you’ve ‘won’ instead of constantly trying to get to one that may never happen.

Prepare for competition- have a plan A and a backup plan B. I admit I am really bad at this, and I need to be better. What do you do when the wheels fall off and things go bad? That is when Plan B needs to step in to save the day.

Take advantage of feedback–it can be a game changer if things start sour. Also I am sooo guilty of this: You have a great start and think you’re winning and then things IMMEDIATELY go south. Ie- fall off at the last fence. Not that I’m guilty of that or anything…

You can prevent this by staying in the moment

And, I have an good example of when I was feeling bitter and sour about how badly a race was going and how slow I was, it was hot, the course was extremely hilly and I was just having a shitty time knowing there was no way I was going to get the time I wanted/hoped for. Until I ran up the big hill, I held this bad attitude. And then, a volunteer shouted to me “Hey you’re halfway done!” and I smiled and thought yeah you’re right!

I felt the pressure to get the time I wanted lift off me, and from then on, focused on enjoying the ‘experience’ of the race. It was hot, beautiful, I had lots of Gatorade to drink and hell, the hills were hard but they also meant that I could forget my time-pressure goals. I was loving it!!

Remember: the past is the road to nowhere, the future is a road under construction, and getting back on the right road is what matters!

We can only control the controllables- in running that is your pace, emotions, feelings and hydration/nutrition. In riding, there are a lot more…variables to put it nicely.

To sum this up, I also have another example of when I was SO ready to let the train run off the track, but was able (through a strength I didn’t know I had) re-focus, re-direct and just ‘be okay’ with what was happening.

I had Oats in the warmup at a big show and he was lit up. Bucking in-hand and just excited. I’d slept badly, there was huge drama in the morning with my trainer’s sick horse, so she was having a hard time of it and was distracted and upset, I tacked up Oats by throwing his tack on while he spun in circles wildly…It was just horrible. I was stressed beyond belief and when he was getting nutty, I was just hoping I could stay on.

Nobody knew what the course was, the class descriptions were all over the map, and I was just like, arghhhh.

I got on Oats, and immediately went to work. He spooked a few times, was jiggy and silly, but I know my horse and I know he will work down. So, we did. And I just kept in the moment- ok, trot. Fine, some walk. More circles! Canter. Canter this fence. Canter another fence. And exercise by exercise, he calmed down and I was ready to go show!

Sadly this focus didn’t last – apparently it was too hard for me to maintain it and I fell off in my second round after a fabulous first round- but I was very proud I was able to shake off the external issues (there were MANY) and just do it, by staying focused and present on my horse, in the moment.

And the last tip? Focus on the FUN! Yes, that’s why we do it mostly! There is no better feeling than a big fist-pump when you finish a great course, feeling like freaking Ian Millar! Or giving your all in the last sprint. It is AMAZING!!!!!!

Earthquake!

So we had an earthquake the other day just before midnight. I’d been having a miserable time trying to get to sleep, and suddenly the bed was shaking and all the dishes were rattling in the cupboards. I was freaked out!

Luckily it passed without any harm or damage, but I was really wigged out for the rest of the night, adding to my already sleepless time. I kept running disaster scenarios in my head…Thinking the upstairs neighbour’s bed was going to come crashing down on us, to full on post-apocalypse world where nothing is ever going to be the same again.

Thinking back, I was expecting the ‘other shoe to fall’ and waiting for another, bigger and worse, one. I was like, this is exactly how people in natural diaster movies feel! Out of control and panicked!

Also thinking back- I should stop drinking anything with caffeine in the evening. Yeeeesh, it makes my sleeplessness, paranoia, and anxiety 10000% worse.

And yesterday I also finished my course of Montelukast (Brand name Singulair), and I don’t think I will bother renewing my prescription. It doesn’t seem to really ‘do’ anything that OTC allergy meds can’t do, and it is very expensive and on top of that, I have to stack OTC allergy meds on top of taking Montelukast every day to function anyways. So…..what is the point?

I’m just going back to taking OTC Reactine every day instead.

My litmus test for allergy meds: do they minimize my allergies enough, or do I have to stack OTC allergy meds on top of them to function every day, like how I would normally?

If yes- they don’t work. So, I’m off it for now and going to see how things go. If I feel worse, I will go back to the doctor’s and pick up another prescription.

So far, Avamys (nasal spray) didn’t really work at all, I’d buy it, use it for a bit and still have to take Reactine, and then they spray would run out in weeks. Each one costs like $50 WITH insurance?!

Then I moved to Nasonex, and that was even worse…I had to take a nasal spray loading dose for 2 weeks before it was even effective, it never felt effective at all, and I’d run out before a month was over. And yes each one cost $65/month (like 2 weeks, at 2 doses/day every day…) WITH insurance. WTF?

And now I tried Montelukast. Eh….Can’t really tell. Will monitor carefully and see if I need to go back on it. Interestingly the side effects for it include suicidal ideation, depressive thoughts, anxiety and sleeplessness.

 

Back to the stacks (I mean, grind…)

After the thrill of Mane Event, I’m stuck with the humdrum of ordinary life, meaning the routine of work-riding-dog walking-errands-workouts…

I was lucky enough to grab a quick run this weekeend (at 8am, ouchhh, I was hoping to see if the girls wanted to run with me but honestly, it felt cruel to pry them up and out early on the wknd, so I went alone!). But, one run doesn’t really equal a half-marathon, does it? Note: not a rhetorical question, one I am going to have to answer very shortly this week…So maybe it’s not really back to the grind quite yet!

Rode Oats last night and still thought he’d have a bit more energy, having three whole days off to himself! I longed him very quickly to see where he was- and nope, not giving me a lot of ‘buzz’ at all? Sigh…I think back to last fall and I remember struggling with the same problem of Oats=/= go button. Though, it did get resolved with a good clip, and some horse shows that perked him right up.

So, I’m going to clip and then see how he’s feeling. In the meantime, maybe bring out the spurs and prepare myself for a rodeo (god, I hope not. He’s been SO GOOD lately, like an angel, but a really slow one).

He was good as gold last night, a little pushy and a little rude to handle on the ground, and slow off my leg, but still, good as gold. We warmed up, and then cruised over a small x-rail and the green box that I set up with pylons on top of it again. He was quite keen to the green box!

Since he was such a good pony, he got rewarded with some of the fancy new treats I got at Mane Event–and so far he loves them! He tried the Apple Crunchies.

Today, I am proud to say I am wearing my newest aquisition from Mane Event- my brown, snazzy Spooks show coat! I couldn’t resist…

Definitely not me...But hey, isn't the jacket cool? Picture me in it!

Definitely not me…But hey, isn’t the jacket cool? Picture me in it!

30

That’s right- today is my 30th birthday~

Let the good times roll!

Let the good times roll!

I still feel like I’m 21, so it feels weird to be almost a decade older. They are right- the years do go by MUCH faster once you’re past 20 years old.

What have I learned, now that I’m 30? Some good things and some bad.

  • Hangovers are practically nuclear now. Sorry body and brain!
  • No relationship is a guarantee. Not your boyfriend, your horse, your friends or even your parents marriage.
  • Education is overrated, but still something you have to check off the box for. Do it.
  • Jobs are not a guarantee of happiness or success, and jobs are also VERY hard to get. Good ones even more so.
  • Nobody has the right to treat you poorly. Don’t stand for it, and don’t stand by for it.
  • Kindness gives back more than anything. Weirdly, the more you spend, the better off you will be for it, if it’s for the right reasons.
  • Save well. Don’t be an idiot.
  • Cars don’t last forever.
  • Travel is always worth the money. You don’t get time back, you can always make money back.
  • Always have pets. The money, sadness, heartbreak, angst and worry are worth it.

So, what am I doing now that I’m 30? Ha, nothing. Work today and my dressage lesson tonight.

11017164_10100421157110796_8960775440403631486_o

This past weekend though, I spent with some good friends camping on the beach in Port Renfrew. We had a blast, it was smoking hot, and it reminded me of all the good times I’ve had over the years with them. Made me feel a bit nostalgic, actually!

A no-pants kind of weekend

A no-pants kind of weekend

And then I rode Oats on Sunday and it was HOT HOT HOT! We rode in the indoor- and I had to chase a deer out who was cooling his heels in the hog fuel, and then cooled out outdoors to escape the choking dust. Small victory: Got Oats to go through the gate to the outdoor while I was on his back! He can be weird about gates and is quite gate-sour, so it took a bit of trying, but I held my ‘zen’ and we got through fine.

The ocean is still cold!

The ocean is still cold!

Monday I rode him out in the field (small field, not gallop field) and worked on finding my distance from a very relaxed canter/two point position. Bad habits still abound: Sitting the last stride, hinging off my knee instead of pushing my foot forward, and elbows out. Still, it was really fun and he was very cooperative!