And just like that…It’s over. Cedar 12K Race Recap & VIRA Series Finale!

Wow. Six weeks. Six races in a row. It’s done and wrapped up as of yesterday.

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Photo by Lois D’Ell with Ceevacs. The awards line-up at Cedar 12k.

Crazy.

This season has been extremely challenging- I struggled with breathing very early on, experiencing exercise induced asthma, and then got a mystery foot injury that made running very difficult at the Cobble Hill 10k. And then, a series of colds that culminated a pretty nasty chest cold last week/this weekend to top off the season! Not my most shining season, 2017, at all. This sickness affected a whole bunch of races- the Sooke 10k, my half marathon, the Port Alberni 10k, the Cedar 12k (I was feeling fine for the MEC trail 10k but it wasn’t a fast one for me).

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Photo credit to Neil Gaudet.

However, at the outset my goal was clear- finish. FINISH. ALL of my races. And did I achieve that goal? You bet I did!!

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Basically sums up how I feel about finishing 6 races in 6 weeks. Photo credit to Neil Gaudet.

I even placed the same as last year (5th) for the VIRA Series year-end awards. Whoop!

The Cedar race for me this year was significantly slower (58:3?) compared with 56:14 last year. Ouch!!! But, my primary goal was to try and finish it without coughing out my lungs/collapsing, so did I achieve my goal? Yes I did! We tried to pace very responsibly, and even with a pretty quiet pace, I found it quite hard. My legs were aching and exhausted, but luckily my breath kept going and I did it. I even found enough energy to surge forward in a few moments, something I thought would NOT be happening. And, I was pleased to pull out a strong finish, assisted by my husband. A great end to a very tough season.

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Muddy shoes after the MEC 10k.

The food was great, I won a doorprize>!! And the volunteers were fantastic. Cedar 12k is a really well run race, so I would highly recommend it.

Though it’s easy to look back to last year and feel bummed out. It is VERY humbling and kind of anger-inducing to think of what a freaking trainwreck this run season has been for me, particularly after I was looking forward to it all summer/fall, but you know…I am uninjured, relatively healthy after being sick for so long, and that’s all I can take right now.

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Big wrap up for the season at Riot Brewery in Chemainus.

Turns out living with extreme pressure and stress just destroy your capabilities to recover, run well, manage your health and wellness and sleep–and I learned exactly how important that was this year. Live and learn!

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Enjoying a beer at Gladstone Brewery in Comox after the half marathon.

I must thank my great husband for supporting my runs, coming with me, and best of all- taking me to try new breweries after many of our races! We went to the Sooke Oceanside Brewery, the Riot Brewing Company, and Twin Cities Brewery- all brand-new! How lucky were we??

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Ian at Riot Brewery post-race Cedar 12k.

We also visited Category 12, which he really enjoys. I like beer- I don’t love it, but I do love the social aspect with it (much like wine…).

Here’s to a good season that challenged me in ways I never though possible. I am looking forward to a break, and I thank the VIRA organization for putting on another great, competitive season that I always recommend to other people! YAY.

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Nothing was the same: Jump lesson recap!

As I wind down the week, my complaining is greatly lessened. The incredible stress & pressure is being lifted, thank god, and my horrible chest cold is slowly getting better.

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Back on top?!!

I even had a jump lesson last night (where I coughed my lungs out all ride) that went REALLY well! I was so happy with Oaty pony. We worked on a gymnastic (two x-rail bounces to a two-stride oxer) and then worked on a skinny on a diagonal, to a flower box skinny on a circle, to a bending line to the ‘road closed’ jump, to an oxer, back to the flower box on the circle, to the bridge jump-bending to the skinny.

Not super complicated but quite challenging for us, particularly straightness through the bending lines (irony eh? Straight to bending??) where I had to focus hard on counter-bend even though it literally felt ‘counter-intuitive’ hahah.

We even had the jumps bumped up a hole from (tiny- to measurable) for us! Whoop! Oats was rocking it and I was along for the ride. I was particularly proud of the gymnastic (didn’t freak out) and not freaking out when the jumps went up a hole. YAY small victories!

I also went to the Dr’s today to figure out what is going on- I am getting a blood test to make sure my vitamins/iron/etc are where they should be but he said everyone is getting sick right now…UGH. So, I’m in good company at least?? SIGH.

And my trainer’s horse is doing great, she had a long and very challenging recovery from colic but is full of beans right now and definitely on the mend! Thank god.

OH and I have been a clothes-horse right now…Got entirely new wardrobes for running & riding consisting of new snazzy breeches, a new barn coat, two new tech t-shirts, a new tech 3/4 zip up and a long-sleeved tech t-shirt. I can’t help myself! I needed retail therapy in the worst way 😉

It doesn’t get better. You get better.

Yeah, my race recap was a little self-pitying. Three weeks down, and the countdown is ON!

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To break up the gloominess, here is baby Oats! Photo courtesy of his former owner Jennifer.

To recap for riding, Mr. Oats has been super awesome and I have been…hanging on? Ha. I didn’t have a dressage lesson last week, and kind of couldn’t deal with life either, so my jump lesson was …less jumps, more angst. But, I’m ok with that. I knew going in that my head cold was making me feel absolutely miserable and so was work and just..just just couldn’t handle the pressure.

I made the decision to tone it down in my riding (ie- not jumping) and lessen the anxiety I have on myself. It worked, I really enjoyed my lesson with some jumps, just not ALL the jumps, and enjoyed my rides on the weekend too.

The only thing that was a thorn in my side was how scatter-brained, clueless, tired and sick I was feeling. Ha, only. I rode Oats, had a good ride (honestly, I can’t remember one ride from the next right now, my life is a blur), and groomed him, put tack away, cleaned up, made grain bags, packed up my purse and left…

…Went through the gate, looked back, and saw Oats. Still in the crossties, looking at me.

SHit!

Forgot the horse!

Wish I could say that was an isolated incident, but I also forgot that I had Buster Bunny out to play and brushed my teeth and went to bed, with him hopping up and down the stairs. Whoops! My husband came up for bed and saw rogue rabbit, scooped him up and took him back to his cage. Hahaha.

And then I locked my keys in my car on Monday at the barn.

Except I had also forgot to lock my car, so …SAVED~

And my weekend was spent riding, and sleeping/laying around on the couch cursing the head cold I have. I still sort of have it too, my ears are going nuts with pressure and I have been blowing my nose unsuccessfully to try and relieve the pressure. Still have tons of nose running too. SIGH.

VIRA Race Recap: Comox Half Marathon!

So yeah, this blog right now is just for race recaps apparently. I have a good reason for it- I have been under an insane amount of pressure at work, and starting to crack. I haven’t had any time/inclination to blog because the only things I’d write are about how unhappy I am, and how miserable things are.

So…Please consider that warning for the next, oh, three weeks. Things are not great in my world in one particular area, and it’s killing my motivation, desire and will to live. OH well. This is also time sensitive so hopefully in three weeks I can be happier.

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Me and a Bastion Run Club guy. Incidentally, the photo is also by Bastion Run Club! 🙂

Without further ado…the big race!!!

It was a GLORIOUS day to race. Sunny skies, not too cold, not windy, not raining?!! A lovely day all around. I was so happy to just be out, doing my thing. The volunteers at this race are fantastic- so cheery and fun, and encouraging. I just love them 🙂

I had a pretty significant head cold the entire week leading up the race. I was exhausted, coughing, sinus pain & pressure, ear pressure/pain that kept me from work on Friday even? And just feeling super shitty and blah. Spent most of the weekend either laying on the couch or sleeping. So sick+overwhelmed at work= success?!!

Something like that at least! I swear I wasn’t the only one blowing my nose at the start on the race.

I didn’t really have high hopes for the race. I wanted to complete it, chiefly because you have to race the half marathon to be eligible for series awards at the end of the season. Other than that, I was kind of just hoping to not collapse or something.

Off we went, and I started very conservatively. Very. Like, 4:49 conservatively, ha. And it felt hard…I kind of felt like dying for oh, the first 9km. It doesn’t help that the course is an out-and-back, and the out part is a lot of uphills. Still, I stayed present and kept an eye on people. I wasn’t ready to make any moves yet, but I could see some people who were foolishly tearing out before the 5km marker–I knew they wouldn’t last. It’s a looooong race, guys.

I grabbed electrolyte drink at 7km (bizarrely it was clear) and focused on making it up the hills between 7-9km. It was kind of horrible.

I started making my move after 11km. Then, we were flying downhill and I was feeling ok- not great, but that I could actually do this. Run a competent, solid race. I was making it happen! Fortunately or unfortunately for me, every time I tried to pick up the pace I couldn’t breathe, so it forced me to maintain a very manageable pace instead of flying and dying like I kind of wanted to…

At 18km, I felt like staggering. I couldn’t believe there was so much left. My legs were done! I felt sorry for myself until I passed the runner ahead of me. WHa?

Why is she letting this happen? Letting me pass her at 18? Suddenly I could run again, I was doing ok and making it!!! WOW! I never have that feeling this late in the game.

I cruised up to the finish line with a blistering (ha) 5:00km pace – ok, it felt fast anyways.

And I didn’t even feel that bad! WOAH!

We had the best food after too- chili, with buns and cheese 🙂 YUM!!! Oh and my husband finished with a crazy fast time- he got 1:34, while I got 1:44. I was very pleased with my time too, as this is now my personal best for the half marathon. I have a feeling that I can do better now.

If I fall, let me go

I’ve probably alluded to this in the past, but I do not have a super fantastic family relationship. I have had my fair share of emotional trauma courtesy of my family, and I love them despite this. It makes it hard to enjoy the holidays, and hard to spend time with them a lot, because of the bad shit that has gone down in the past.

I now must do a kindness, and it’s going to look like a lot of pain and hurt. But trust me, making someone very clear about who you are, and what you are doing is very kind:

Luxury goods are only consumed when we’ve got enough. You shouldn’t go shopping for a Birkin bag with your last dollar.

It’s easy to believe that kindness is like that. We need more reserves, perhaps, before we can expend some of what we’ve got in this generous way.

You’ve had a hard day, it’s raining out, the world is changing, your boss is mean to you, the checking account is overdrawn, you’re on deadline…

But… Does every need have to be filled, every emotion in place before we’re capable of being kind?

Do we have to have enough money, enough confidence about the future and enough of everything else we crave before we can find the space to offer someone else a hand?

It turns out that the opposite is true. That kindness is a foundation for the rest. That investing time and resources in extending ourselves shifts the rest of our needs in precisely the right direction, not only putting us closer to satisfying those other needs, but enjoying the journey as well.

Kindness rewards the giver as well.

Lately, I have been struggling again, chiefly because I feel disrespected as a woman, as an independent thinker, and that my entire ‘personhood’ is diminished and made powerless by them (my parents).

I hate it. I’m having a rough week dealing with this, and it 100% distracted me yesterday at work so I made some pretty big screwups. It also affected my riding lesson, as I was literally shaking with rage. Thankfully, because I have been working on managing my emotions in the saddle, all it meant was that I needed to do some mindless jump-jump-jump and nothing too technical. My coach understood what I needed, and I didn’t come out to my lesson with angst in my hands and a chip on my shoulder to take out on Oats. I’ve stopped that now.

It boils down to this- when someone says they do not want children, believe them.

Why push, force, coerce or judge? Why try and manipulate? Why go behind my back? What is the end goal here? Someone who has kids and hates them, is resentful of them, doesn’t want them. Why would that be a desired result? It’s not fair for anyone, least of all the child.

It’s not up for debate. It’s not up to YOU to choose for them. You can say what you want, ONCE, and leave it alone. And you can feel however you wish, I’m not here to stop anyone’s feelings.

I’m being pressured and threatened. I’m going to put a stop to it on Saturday, on a day I have deemed my personal rubicon. I wish I didn’t have to, confrontation is the least of what I like, but now it’s become perfectly clear- I must do this now, and fast, and get ahead of this issue. I have discussed this with my equine counselor, and we have worked on a simple strategy to manage this issue in a calm, firm manner. No apologies, no anger, no defensiveness.

They can’t pretend not to hear me, or ignore me outright, when I am in their face telling them it’s either this, or they lose a daughter too.

 

Big things

Oats and I went to a clinic this weekend–we went alone, and I can’t even say how big this is for us- it went FINE.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

More older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright. This was from our disaster clinic- happy to say things got much better!

We’ve had a very rocky road when it comes to clinics- stemming from a 2-day intro to eventing clinic that we attended a few years ago (that’s right, it took me literally YEARS to get over it) that blasted our confidence into powder, and caused a several-months setback that even turned into years later with regards to training with other instructors.

My goal for the clinic this weekend was simple: Walk Oats to the neighbouring barn. Warm him up. Ride in the clinic with as little drama as possible. Walk him home safely.

The instructor- Norah Ross- was one I had heard good things about, and I reviewed with her and the host of the clinic that I wanted this to be technical, and not to be challenged with regards to boundary-pushing. I’m not at the stage yet where that won’t cause a meltdown for me (we are WAY better at horse shows, ha).

Older Oats pix from Avalon

Older Oats pix from Avalon: photo courtesy of Jodie Wright.

And I was assured that this was not the plan for the clinic, and she was right!

We did a LOT of flatwork, haha. Drop outside stirrup, no-stirrups, bending, circling, change directions, a lot. I was sweaty! Oats was a very good sport. A couple things Norah had me pegged for: Bad elbows, ie- chicken wing. Hands too far apart and too low. She really got on me about them, hahahah.

Also she dropped my stirrups 1 hole, and wow it felt weird! But good?

We moved on to jumping, and the wheels fell of briefly. We warmed up great over some x-rails, and then approaching a vertical on the diagonal, he threw one buck and I got immediately derailed…I ‘saw’ a bad distance, and tossed my upper body at him. He stopped. UGH!

Norah had me pegged straight away. She said my anxiety is causing that, and that my ride on the flat was great, so why is it falling apart jumping? Why so different? It’s like I am ‘abandoning’ my horse when things change so drastically from a calm, competent ride on the flat to somewhat panic-stricken over fences. The jumping ahead is something I had conquered, until it came creeping back when I was feeling a bit anxious…SIGH.

She asked us to change a few things- sit to the fences, no two-point. Counting- 1-2-1-2…all the way. And stay in the MOMENT! Breathe! Stay. This worked out really well, and I was very pleased with Oats’ effort when I made these changes. Clearly…I have some deep-seated issues, ughh.

Oats jumped around lovely. It was all very ‘baby steps’ and easy, but as we clearly demonstrated, we needed the baby steps…

We learned a lot, worked hard and walked home successfully without any drama. A good clinic and a big step forward for us. I even had some hot chocolate, and was able to visit with some old barn friends at the host stable too! Yeah!!

A continuation of last week?

Last week was the grouchiest week ever. But, as it turns out, I did get my vet appointment on Friday and the results weren’t all bad. The vet says Oats is moving great and he would not drug him at all, so we moved on to check the saddle.

Oats shoulders were quite sore- enough that the vet suggested the saddle be re-fit as Oats now has a bit of a swayback and his shape has changed enough for the saddle to slide onto his shoulders more now and that might be why Oats is now stopping at jumps. It’s always kind of a guessing game with horses, unfortunately.

He did adjust Oats’s withers and tell me not to ride in my saddle until the saddle gets re-fit. Sooo…I have a call in to the saddle fitter, with no scheduled visit yet. ARGH.

In the meantime, I longed Oats on Saturday, gave him Sunday off, and rode bareback yesterday–which was actually pretty fun but a real tough workout for me, to not slide off him! I am borrowing my trainer’s saddle to try tonight, so fingers crossed I can at least get my lessons in this week.

And me? I hurt my back on the weekend (might have something to do with running 22km, *cough* *cough*) and it felt horrible on Monday. Bad enough I did something about it…went to a physiotherapy appointment. I HATED it. It was soooo long and excruciating. My eyes were tearing up I was in so much effing pain. Also I was starving and my stomach was grumbling in protest. I got home after that at 5:30! It was time to go to the barn!

Yeeeeeesh.

If it’s not my car, it’s my rabbit, it’s my horse, it’s my back, oh and work. Cut me some slack, life!!!!!!