Lake to Lake Half Marathon: Shawnigan to Glenora

Ah yes, forgot that I ran this one of a few busy weekends ago (Sept 11?). It’s quite a small community fun run, and it is unique in that it offers two distances: the full marathon, and the half. It is not chip-timed – and as I learned when I ran it- not quite a full distance either, hah. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lake to Lake!! An eerie glow…

There was a small crowd as we started slightly after the full marathon folks, and it’s a point-to-point, so you do have to be aware of getting back to your car. They do offer a shuttle, but luckily for me Ian wasn’t running so he could pick me up afterwards! Yes!

The weather was fantastic. It’s been an incredible fall, no rain, just sun and warm weather days. I love it! I was a tad chilly in the morning, but that burned off pretty quick. Speaking of burned off, there was also smoke- due to forest fires from WA. Luckily for us, the smoke in the air didn’t get too bad until later in the afternoon and I was finished fairly early, so not bad.

I started up near the front, as it was quite a small race. I hung out for awhile with another guy, cognizant of not wanting to blow up my pace (this was supposed to be a practice run for training, NOT a real race). Did I actually do that? Well…sort of. I got pretty into the idea of racing quick ๐Ÿ˜‰ and mistakenly thought I was KILLING IT!! A new world record for me!! (newsflash: This did not happen. You merely rise to the level of your training, not above it.).

So, I jogged along, beat the one guy and had a few fasties ahead of me. I hustled and caught up with them…and then started feeling tired. The aid stations were a bit odd, not very evenly spaced and we had one right off the bat where we didn’t need them, and then 1 at about 12k? And then one at the finish, lol. Guess they were more important for the marathoners hahaha. The gravel was ok to run on, but I think the fatigue of training caught up with me and I started feeling pretty chewed up.

Cute participation medal eh?

I lost the fasties and kind plugged along solo for awhile. Wish I had some pictures actually!! And then it was the finish- at about 20.60, we were definitely a touch short. Oh well! I came in with no fanfare and my time was around 1:30:?? which is fine for a training run for sure, but again- course was short. I believe I was second female but not quite sure as there’s no awards or anything unless you win!

Waited around for Ian to come, he didn’t so I decided to just go and tackle the rest of my long run rather than waiting for the smoke to get worse, and for my legs to start stiffening up too much. That part was a SLOG lol. I did see a lot of other marathon runners so I cheered them on, hah clutching my participation medal because I didn’t know where to put it haha.

I finished that in about 1.5 hours, jogged back to the staging area and ran into Ian again. We wrapped up the day by going to Stillhead distillery for a spirits tasting (so good!!!) and then we went to watch the finishers of the Finlayson Arm Ultra (50k/100k day) and then went riding. A good day all around! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I would recommend the Lake to Lake Marathon for a fun training opportunity that is supported and quite reasonably priced, it’s a beautiful course and very fun. Not a serious race, in my opinion but that makes it more fun!

The heart of a dark star: Jump lesson update

Ok, you know how I was saying how amazing my dressage lesson was, and how we were killing it? Picture that, but like..the total opposite in my jump lessons. ARGH. My release was all over the place, wicked right drift, you name it, we were doing it.

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Miss this- the sun, having this outdoor, jumps, everything. This year is turning out to be the worst yet!ย 

Oats tripped over the grid we were working on and almost face-planted through it. He couldn’t trot or canter a single pole without hitting it, HARD.

It didn’t feel that harmonious and I wanted to fix it, but you know what? It also didn’t feel scary or intimidating, just kind of frustrating. I want to be back where I was, you know? Confidently cantering 2’6-2’9” courses, instead of…face-planting through a tiny grid. HAH.

Oh well, I guess by lesson 3 back, I have not yet gotten it all figured out, that’s for darned sure. SO humbling and painful, ha.

Lessons we learn…not always the ones we intend on.

Also another gripe about the weather: It sucks. It always sucks here. We don’t get summer, apparently…Just wind, rain, sun, wind, rain and more wind. I’m freezing!!

Oh and I had the farrier out (love his new farrier) and Oats was TERRIBLE for her. Sheesh. What a jerkface. AND he tried to run over one of the girls at the barn in a bid to escape his paddock. He can be the biggest brat ever!

Please Stay

It is definitely not sunny here! We have had an EPIC amount of rain, = permanently flooded indoor arena (arghh)…. And a very limited space for riders, unfortunately. I feel like this is the winter that won’t end?

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From last winter- man, it was so much drier!

I did have a good jump lesson yesterday though! Not complicated, but still managed to reveal some big holes in my jumping, in particular managing my ride- less emotions, and also the right-to-left diagonal jump where I can’t seem to figure out how to go straight, then get the correct right bend. My life struggle, basically. Well it gives me something to work on in my dressage lesson tonight>?

Also we had a small oxer and we aced it every time? Go figure! Used to be my biggest boogeyman jump…Ha. We also revisited the circle jump of last week (before the arena got even more flooded…) and Oats was so good this time too!

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Also from last year- Oats is so good!ย 

The only one I kept flubbing was the one lone vertical on the wall- I got weak to it, and commensurate, Oats got sucked into the base and flopped over. I did this oh…Three times? And finally womaned up and actively RODE to it, and surprise surprise, weย  nailed it. Ok, so now I realize how I actually have to ride, rather than just ‘sit’ to a fence that I feel is kind of a ‘gimmie’ fence (aka pretty easy, hah). Oats did start getting tired, which is hard for me to fathom, because I didn’t feel tired?? He was huffing and puffing. He is getting to be an older pony, my little dude.

Man I love my pony. Oats is my boy, my love, my little buddy.

Otherwise, a grey and rainy day today (though it was ok for walking to work), and a riding lesson tonight, and hopefully two days of sunshine?? Fingers crossed!

Put the days away

Had a dressage lesson last Friday and I was feeling sooooooooo tired, low energy, blah, you know the draggy fatigue I’ve been complaining about for oh, 3+ weeks now? It was kind of a hard sell, particularly on a Friday night (hello hang out on my couch time!) PLUS I was dog-sitting my friend’s dog, so he came over just before my lesson.

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Mr. Oats learns some fancy moves! I wish I was sitting up more…

But anyways, despite the myriad excuses of why I didn’t want to, I did. And it was great!! Not perfect, ha are they ever? But just genuinely good. I learned some really interesting exercises and have since practiced them on my own with Oats.

I have been wanting to improve his counter-canter and work towards flying lead changes- clean and proper ones, not grab-and-leap ones. So on that note we worked on canter-walk transitions, which have historically been a challenge for us. Walk-canter? Sure! Canter- walk? Nope!

We developed the canter-walk by coming in on a circle, using a touch of shoulder-fore and then spiraling in to the walk. Like, circle, coming in using shoulder-fore and 1-2-3 WALK.

It was cool! On the left he was super! On the right= struggle bus. Ahhh well.

We used the basis of that exercise to then go large and focus on walk- pick up counter canter- go straight along the long side in counter canter and then walk, pick up true canter for the short side, back to walk, counter canter and rinse, repeat.

It was really neat! We were getting it!! ๐Ÿ™‚

So pleased with how Oats is really learning his stuff through these exercises. And we’re not like, drilling him to death on it- a few run-throughs, he gets the idea, more importantly ‘I’ get the idea, and we’re good!

I even practiced it a bit yesterday and was quite happy with how our amateur fumbling went. Whee!

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Don’t you know what regret looks like?

It looks like the road not taken- but actually, things have been going fairly swimmingly on my end!

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Photo courtesy of Bonita Stables- this is at Fairlawn at the awards lunch last weekend. Beauty day eh?

Monday I had an equine counseling session, and it was kind of challenging in an emotional way, you know? But, something was coming up, and I knew I needed it.

Tuesday I had a casual hack with a friend and it was exactly what I needed. Oats and I were chill, things were just flowing- although I was noticing more in the outdoor arena that he seemed quite ouchy and footsore- particularly when we moved up to canter. I didn’t ride for that long due to that. Fortunately, he was getting front shoes on Wednesday, just in time for my jumping lesson on Thursday!

Thursday we warmed up and his canter felt…strange. Like he was coming up more, and pounding on the sand with his hooves? He felt unsure about his new kicks, and his canter reflected this- he lost impulsion throughout the corners and broke pretty much EVERY time in the top-left hand corner. He was also quite looky and had some spooks in the ‘scary corner’ where we had a gymnastic grid set up. Goof!!

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We had a grid (canter-in bounce grid, two bounces to two-two-strides. Ha, try saying that twice!!). We MAJORLY fumbled the grid more than a few times, like whoa. I don’t know how to ride kind of fumbles. Ahhhh…. Anyways. We schooled a faux-ditch with barrels and it went pretty well. Ditches and weird-looking jumps are no big for Oats.

Course time! Lots of jumps and some interesting features- a ‘rock’ skinny *(ooh) and the gymnastic, the faux-ditch, barrels, some natural planks, and a few oxers. I was like kind of wanting to freak out, but also felt like…Ok. We got this.

And we cantered it, and it went pretty well. Not fabulous- my eye was majorly off and I couldn’t find a distance to save my life, hahah. Oh well.

Then a few jumps went up, and we did it again! First jump, good, second, ok too and then the grid…Yikes. I somehow thought it would be a good idea to collect Oats for the grid while we were IN the grid. Newsflash- bad idea!! He crashed through the x-rail, and then stopped for a poop, ha.

We regrouped and I approached it with a better idea of wtf I was doing. Whoops, sorry pony!

Rest of the course was ok, I was still plagued with a pretty lousy ‘eye’ for any and all jumps, but Oats was cool with it so on we went! I am, however, having trouble making decisions in a line- for example, collecting his canter for the grid BEFORE the grid (???), riding a quieter 6 instead of kind of just riding 5+? and trying to collect or take back the last two strides before the jump in the line. I need to be making these decisions much sooner in my ride.

Argh, get with the program, me!

Ah, well. At least my position was better this week, with me ‘going with it’ for my terrible eye and lack of decisions.

 

Think about me: Jump lesson recap!

Oats and I were back in the game on Thursday, after a staggering THREE WEEKS away from jump lessons. I felt nervous actually. Well, I wanted to work on Prix Caprilli (because I was feeling anxious about our show in two weeks) but I had printed copies of Training Test 2 and 3 instead of the Prix Caprilli, so we just jumped instead and tabled the Prix Caprilli testing until next week.

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Oats from a few years ago (three). These jumps are too little!ย 

Phew!

And how did it go? Very well! We warmed up over a canter-in gymnastic, two x-rail bounces to a small vertical then-oxer. And here is the best part- my trainer commented if I had been practicing my two-point recently? And I kind of mumbled sort of…Sort of because Oats had the two weeks off, so not really, but I did have a good equine counseling session this Monday working solely on minute fixes to my upper body in two-point.

And she said she could see the difference?! Wow! So this IS working. I felt very encouraged by that (quite honestly I usually feel like I get worse, not better, in riding). She was saying my upper body looked much more controlled, taller.

So I was very pleased with that, and I did feel better in the two-point this week, instead of dropping back down in the saddle. We then worked over a small course that had some technical elements (two-strides combinations, across the diagonal and along the long side). We also did a bending line skinny- across to the diagonal. Go us!

I did bow out after 1 go-around on the course. I was feeling GREAT about how the lesson went, but I didn’t want to do it again and lose that good feeling. To be honest, after three weeks away from jump lessons I just wanted to feel good and THEN build to working up more. I was very pleased with Oats. The jumps wereย tiny but it was more about the smoothness, sitting up through the turns (always my challenge) and a ‘stiller’ body in the air. Things I think we did achieve ๐Ÿ™‚

Onwards and upwards!

The messenger began to believe that the message was him.

Quote I found (I believe it is a lyric from a song?) but I liked it!

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Jump lesson recap this week- MUCH better than last week. Oats was more consistently forward, though I came into the ride with a plan. Get him off my leg, the walk in the warm-up is NOT lollygagging around, and I ride with purpose, every step. Jump lessons are too precious to half-ass the beginning!

So I marched him around, got some pissy leg kick-outs, dealt with them and moved on.

Was the lesson perfect? HAHAH no. But, it was much improved and it helped me ride with ‘my horse moving underneath me’ rather than me pushing, pulling with my body moving too much. I am particularly guilty of this when I am not sure I have enough horse to ride!

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The exercises were very simple this week: Jump a line of skinnies 4-strides apart (an easy four, which of course we biffed and got a choppy FIVE sometimes…ah Oats), and a small course with some oxers. The focus was more on flow, and we got it!

I was much improved with my upper body, staying in two-point most of the ride, back with my shoulders through the corners (still had some blips but hey…better) and Oats was riding quite nicely.

It justย went so much better. I was happy with Oats, and left on a real good note. Yay!

Ever on your mind: Jump lesson~

And it was…humbling. And hard. For the past few weeks, we have been working on ‘two point’ alll the way to the fence, rather than two-point up to the fence and then me sitting 2-3 strides in.

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Blurry screengrabs are all I got. But hey, at least I have that!

Well, I am trying the two point all the way and mentally I am struggling. It’s like I freeze and can’t commit to a distance or pace or anything when I am in two point? WTF? My eyes aren’t connected to my distance, so why can’t I do something? It’s like I don’t trust the two-point yet.

Hm…

My neural pathways are telling me ‘watch out, danger!’ and my body is like nah we’re fine I got this. How do I retrain myself to be ok with this?

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Pick up your feet!

Repetitions I guess!

We were also jumping a titch higher than I usually do (cuz yes I am a weenie) and it was fine, I’m just trying to figure out my body/brain connection right now…Leading to some VERY humbling moments, ha.

Figure it out brain!

Plus I have taken the week off from pretty much all activity (ie- cardio/running/running to work) and disappointingly feel no less TIRED. Blahhhh. Also maybe getting a sore throat? Ah.

I still think everyone needs an Oats though, he is a good pony. ๐Ÿ™‚

MEC Race 1 of 2018: The Tape Breaker~

Boy we got LUCKY this year. The morning couldn’t have been nicer! Sun shining, warm, just an overall fabulous day for a run.

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Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria photographers.

Compared with last weekend (which was absolutely horrible) I was feeling downright happy to be getting up early for yet another race. I wasn’t going to race this one, as I am attempting to be strategic (ha right, I know) in my race efforts.

This means last week I:

Ran my legs into the ground, and boy do I MEAN it. Running to work, treadmill work, hills on Saturday and then my MEC ‘race’ on Sunday (10k at medium effort, still relaxed to talk).

And during the race I had a great time actually! My quads felt pretty trashed- thanks hills- but my cardiovascular was going fine. Psychologically I thought it was going to be hard to not want to ‘race’ race it…But my legs were tired so I didn’t mind too much.

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Feeling good! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria photographers.

We wrapped up with a 49:?? which is a fine effort to practice at. And as I said, the weather was so awesome that I was smiling, the volunteers made me laugh so hard and it was a nice day. My friends ran fantastic races too, both meeting their goals of achieving a personal best in the 5k and 10k. Whoop!!! We even met at the barn after and rode together briefly. Who has friends that you can run with and then meet later at the barn? It’s the best ๐Ÿ™‚

The only thing that I found annoying was the silly lineup to get nutrition after (bananas, granola bars, etc.) people were in a lineup that wrapped around the entire gym. WTF? Just go in, grab, and gtfo. Which is what I did, ha.

Also Muscle Mlk wasn’t there and I was sad. I missed them!

But a great day and a fun race. What a perfect time to run.

Your Best American Girl

So, yeah. What happened was…

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  • I got deployed to assist with wildfire emergency communications in Prince George again. So, two weeks out of my summer were up there.
  • When I got home, I was immediately on vacation, that started horribly and tragically. It wasn’t good.
  • Got back from vacation, and still had some time off, so I mourned Buster, rode Oats, rode in a lesson, prepared for a dressage show on Saturday, and rode in a polo ‘slow chukka’
  • And now I am back at work, with a dressage lesson tonight, a successful dressage show in the books, and a polo night tomorrow, with jumping on Thursday.

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The show went super well, it was just a scored ‘ride a test’ where you ride the test, the judge comes out to run you through some exercises based on what she saw during the test, and then you had an opportunity to try the test again, maybe improve on what you worked on.

I did Training 2 & 3, and this time I finally had the correct Training 3 test (unlike last time, where I was kind of a disorganized mess…) and things went SO well. Oats was a tad spooky in the beginning but it was easily worked through and he gave me some really quality and consistent work.

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And our tests were scored fairly, the judge was so nice and very complimentary. She said we should be doing First Level, so I am going to talk to my dressage trainer tonight to see what she says. I was immensely flattered! Just to think, Oats and I getting these kind comments!

I’ve really been basking in kind judge comments. Our first dressage show of the season, the judge even wanted to know what kind of pony Oats was! ๐Ÿ™‚

For a girl that prefers jumping, I am starting to wonder if I should be taking dressage a little more seriously or what these days? I am seeing some real progress with Oats in it.