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.

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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!

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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.

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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!