The Juan de Fuca Trail- China Beach to Bear Beach

So every Sunday my husband and I do ‘Sunday Funday’ and pick a location to do a mega run/hike/trail run at. We have gone up island to Duncan to run Maple Mountain, Mt. Tzouhalem, to Courtenay/Comox to run to Cumberland, and locally, the Galloping Goose in Sooke to the Malahat run. We have been all over!

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You cross a lot of small creeks/waterfalls.

Last weekend I ran solo, a few loops of Elk Lake, which is a pleasant solo run because you can run to your car to get water (there are no water fountains open anymore because of COVID19 and I guess no hand sanitizer in the washrooms/outhouses anymore either, to my extreme displeasure).

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It got hot, but it was ok.

This weekend we went somewhere a little different- the trek out to the Juan de Fuca trail! We are very familiar with the 1 beach- China beach, but we wanted to trail run from China beach to Bear Beach. It’s not that far- about 7km- but can be quite wet, muddy and rugged. And boy, it was!

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We ran the 2km to China beach and it was PACKED with people. Every available square spot to park in was taken. People were crawling everywhere. I really didn’t like that- it’s just too busy now, the new Thetis Lake or East Sooke Park or something?

So it was a lot of stop and go.

We got to the beach and it had a ton of people on it too. A nice day (rare for us, we don’t really get nice weather anymore in the summer) and I guess literally everyone wanted in.

So we went down the beach and picked up the Bear beach trail and continued that way. It had far fewer people, but for a quite narrow and technical trail, it was very busy with camp hikers coming back. One guy even gave us licorice, haha. Of course I accepted it! ūüėČ

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We splashed, climbed and scrambled our way to Bear beach, which was completely deserted. So that was worth it! It was a gorgeous day. I picked a bunch of Salmon berries, we enjoyed our Lara bars (protein ones, I don’t like the blueberry-lemon, ick I think it tastes like lemon Pledge, but the Apple Cobbler are good), and took some photos, and then ran back. On our way back we saw a mink!!! Just a zip of brown and he was gone, into the rocks to the ocean. Wish I could have seen him up close and for longer.

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The cliffside was really cool! 

It was WET! My legs got covered in mud, hahah. Big splashes everywhere!! I gave in and gave up and just went for it hahahahhaha.

By the end of the run, even my toenails had mud embedded in them, hahaha. A good adventure and a lovely day, to make up for how miserable and craptacular I was feeling on Saturday.

I don’t believe people ever change. But I’ve changed.

So I am slowly getting over the grips the death cold had on me (wow, it was grim this week) and I had my riding lesson back again too! I had to cancel last Thurs Рactually my trainer cancelled because too many people were sick, and I was really starting to go down that road myself, and I was bound and determined to have a LESSON yesterday!

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Remember when we jumped a little house?

I practiced up by riding on Wednesday- it was ok, as Wednesday was the first day I was physically able to stay at work without going home early, though I still felt pretty miserable and tired.

Thursday I was more or less back in action- still feeling physically weak and coughing up a ton of grossness, as well as blowing my nose oh, every two seconds. BUT I could do it! On my way to the barn I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open, I felt so tired and exhausted, but I wanted to ride! The fatigue with this sickness has been truly eye opening. Wow. I have never felt so exhausted in my life.

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Loved this jump photo! Back from when we did our first derby! 

Anyways, I made it and the weather has mercifully turned back to mild so at least I wasn’t freezing my ass off or dealing with lung- freezing and the resultant coughing.

I am happy to say that despite my feebleness and ineffectual riding (ok that’s how it felt, Nicole said I was actually riding pretty well), Oats was on FIRE! He was so good! I love my pony, he is a little superstar. Nothing too big height wise, but we worked on long approaches to a single fence, and then 1 small sort of ‘blind’ bending line, which we aced every time- it was our best line I think! Oats even took a very enthusiastic jump to a small oxer and almost sent me over his head! I could barely hang on…I was NOT expecting to get jumped out of the tack! hahahahah

Can hardly fault the boy for jumping too well! What a star ūüôā

I was really, really happy with how the lesson went, even though I was weak and basically clinging on to him. Mr. Oats is a saint pony.

MEC Victoria Race 3: Halloween half marathon!

That’s right, fresh off a whole three weeks returning to running from a summer++ off, I ran a 10k and then ran a half marathon the weekend after! What am I, totally crazy?

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why am I always alone at the finish? 

Well, yes but that’s half of it. I had already signed up for the MEC half (I normally sign up for all of their race packages, so cheap and well-run, but I won’t anymore because they basically halved the races they offer and cut 2 of my favourite ones, and kept the one I hate and won’t run…soooo nope).

But anyways, I usually like this one because it’s fall, Halloween time and the air is crispy with anticipation! (or frost. Mostly frost). Plus since I traditionally have my summer-to-fall injury, I haven’t been able to run the half marathon in a year or so, and I wanted to this year!

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My kind husband came to support me and take pictures, but they were all blurry. Boo! 

I didn’t have great expectations. Hell, I just wanted to run it, see if I could finish, and then try and deal with the aftermath (injuries don’t mess around). I have also been dealing with nagging health issues, so I’m not really at the top of my game this fall.

Anyways, it went quite well! The first loop felt¬†terrible. I was tired, we had Oktoberfest the night before, and just…EH. My stomach was unhappy, my legs felt like they belonged on someone else’s body…It was rough.

Lucky for me, I’m a strong second-loop runner though! I kind of shook off the annoyed and tired thoughts and felt- hey, it’s a gorgeous day! You’re DOING IT! Look at this! A few months ago, this was only in the realm of ‘maybe’..and I’m here!!! I felt great then, happy to be able to physically run again- and a half, with only a few weeks back into running under my belt? WOW!!

So I picked up the tatters of my morale and just ran. Pure, free, able. Running!

It also helped that I stopped getting passed by literally everybody, ha. Slow running is still kind of new to me ūüėČ And I felt strong going to the finish. Sure my left hip locked up, and my right foot had a sore spot on it…I was going to do it!

And I did! My time is humbling and slow, but I am happy with my efforts. 1:46 and change. Pretty sweeeeeeeet! As always, the volunteers were great, and the aid stations were well-manned and well stocked. I picked up two Clif gels but didn’t end up eating them, as the Nuun electrolytes were good enough.

WW III on a few things: Lateral work, allergy season

UGH.

I feel like right now I am just a big ball of suffering. I am having a lot of trouble breathing, my ears are irritated (my ears people?!) and I am coughing constantly, constant post-nasal drip, running nose and sinus headache from hell.

Sometimes, I hate you!

Sometimes, I hate you!

I’m not sure exactly why my seasonal (year-round seasonal…) allergies are going completely psycho but I am having a SUPER hard time dealing right now. Suffer suffer suffer…I take two Reactine pills and they turn me into a balloon-headed zombie, and the steroids I also take DO NOTHING. Woe is me.

I rode yesterday (hence the WW III reference) and then came home and slept for 2 hours. WTF…

Oh and the riding. Well! Saturday Oats was super good, a bit pokey but generally had his game face on. We schooled some small x-rails to show off for my coworker’s husband and kids who came to say hi to Oats. It was cute, he was well behaved and a fun pony. A good time was had by all.

Sunday…

Oats vs dressage

Oats vs dressage

I was going to gallop in the field for a bit, but the wind started getting really nuts, my allergies were starting to get out of control and I was just.not.feeling.it.

The horses were kind of dingbats anyways, so I headed to the indoor to do some homework: read, lateral work, not the fun gallop Oats would have preferred. And he warmed up nicely, canter is still kind of a lousy work in progress, trot was good and his walk-lateral work off my left leg was lovely!

The right was HORRIBLE.

A battle. Like, a real struggle. I was pretty determined to not let him bully me, or scare me off, or get me frustrated, so I kept at it. He pulled every¬†game¬†out of his nasty bag of tricks- running backwards, throwing his head up and down, gnashing at the bit, yanking the reins out of my hands, running into the wall, hopping up and down, threatening to rear…

I grimly kept. At. IT.

I was talking to him the whole time, and I called him every name in the book, but was gently, consistently, persistently keeping at it.

I did not give up. I did not get mad and let him unfocus me.

It was going to take as long as it took, and boy, it really did. I was so done, but I also realized that in this little tempest in a teapot, if I let him get away with being a shit about this, next time I’d have double the effort to being a shit.

So, he banged his head against the wall, threw his head dramatically around, ran backwards into a jump standard, and was generally committed to being a giant dickhead.

All, rather than give in to my right leg pressure.

Yes, Oats is a freaking drama queen.

The ride that could have been short ended up being VERY long indeed. I was tired, pissed off and like…Really? This again?

When he (extremely grudgingly) gave me a few NICE steps over from my right leg, I went straight and let him stretch down long and low. He immediately snatched the reins and dramatically went to stretch but I let him go.

The whole ride took soooooooooooo long, but in the end, I was the one who won that day.

I hope Oats remembers it! I have no desire to repeat that little drama-rama.

And then as I said before, hopped up on too much allergy meds (which may actually have explained why I was able to zen my way though that miserable episode) I came home and slept for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon…

Race recap- MEC Race #4- ‘The Best Getter’ 15k

Yep, better late than never?!

I signed up for this one in a flurry of signing up for races- this one and some random trail race happening next weekend.

A photo where it actually looks like I'm running. No recent pics, so you get this old one.

A photo where it actually looks like I’m running. No recent pics, so you get this old one.

Then I ran the Gutbuster, and then my knee got wonky again, and I started dreading my initial burst of enthusiasm…Why was I signing up for this race? What was my motivation? 15K is still a distance to be respected so what did I think I was messing around with?

ARGH.

So, the knee thing. I went back to the knee doctor and he said relapses are normal, and the biggest part of having the knee problem I have is that it is a complete mystery and people often have no problems, until they have a problem. The hard part is the near-constant worry and paranoia about my knee going sideways and me being unable to complete a run. It can take 5 years to resolve, or may never completely resolve.

Greeatt….

But, to keep doing what I am doing- knee strength exercises, gait retraining, and do the race. See how it goes. The week before the race my knee was killing me. It felt horrible, shifty, sore, swollen under the kneecap, just really shitty. So, I took time off from doing everything, save riding Oats, to protect my knee and prepare for the race.

Turns out that time off really does a body good.

The day of the race the weather was super crummy. We showed up right on time (aka almost 9 minutes before the start eeek) and started the race. Right off the bat Ian set a fairly assertive pace, and to my surprise I was able to hold it – well for like 1km. Then we settled into a quieter pace and then ran that for close to the whole race! I was feeling actually awesome!

The trail portion of the run had me very concerned- the up/down stuff combined with uneven footing + 15k distance= knee disaster. BUT I got lucky! We held the pace well, and coming out of the two trail loops I still felt quite strong.

That good feeling started slipping when we did an out-and-back to Tillicum. Psychologically it was very difficult to think…”but why aren’t we going home yet” when it seemed like we were so close to the road to the finish.

But we stuck with it (which was great!) but then people started passing us (WTF?). Ah, racing…

I didn’t experience knee pain until the bridge, and then it immediately started feeling unstable. I was lucky to hold out that long, honestly, but I was very concerned with being able to finish with just 3km left! What a heartbreaker that would be!

I grimaced and I leaned on my right leg to compensate, and gritted out the last few kms. They were’t very good. I was trying to protect my knee just to finish, there was another small hill (???? why so close to the end!) and the finish line felt far away…

Then we were on the home stretch! We got passed here by a few people again- gah!

BUT we made our goal- under 1:15 with a time of 1:14:33!!! YEAH!!! That meant I was the 7th woman finisher out of 47, and we were 30-ish out of about 99 runners. Not a huge field but a very keen one.

I’m glad I did it. I may not have been at the time, but at points, I really felt like I knew what I was doing. Maybe there is something to this racing thing after all….

Except out of all the photos, no photos of us. BUMMER!!

Life is something you do when you can’t get to sleep

One out of 30 isn’t so bad.

Being braver

Being braver

Had a jump lesson last night, and it did try my need for perfection quite strongly. I hate bad distances, crashing jumps, rails down, and chips (gah the chips!) and we had exactly 1 super bad jump- I misjudged and let my legs slip back a bit on the downhill, and Oats slid into the jump and took it out.

I kind of jarred my shoulder, but overall stuck it. We lowered it to an x-rail, worked through it again to the bending line oxer (it was kind of ugly), then rode it again to the oxer- much better!

I want this to look small to me.

I want this to look small to me.

I ended on that note, and it kind of took all of my courage to not completely wimp out when things went sour. I have a real tendency towards perfection, and when the rails start coming off the tracks, I backpedal and can’t seem to get going again.

My coach brought it home with this- so it was 1 bad jump-all the others looked pretty good! So what was I complaining about exactly? One out of 30 or so odd jumps isn’t the end of the world, and quite frankly, my need for ‘perfect rounds’ or flawless jumps is unrealistic and damaging – I’m saying this, she didn’t.

So we screw up and make mistakes- that is how we learn and how we change. Oats certainly didn’t hold it against me- he was a bit hesitant the next fence, but on the firm second try he was totally game. What an honest pony!

Sometimes he can be a saint and sometimes a devil- I need to trust him to make the right decisions.

And that brings me to today- not sure what kind of ride I might plan for tonight, but I’m going to take it a bit easier after our jump lesson last night. I don’t think it was particularly strenuous, but it was kind of a tough mental game for me- they always are.

I also worked quite hard on going into my jump lesson with a ‘neutral’ attitude – not grouching and not complaining about the jump heights- and did it work? Ha, sort of? I do still feel like i’m ”faking it” a bit but I am honestly trying to make changes in my mindset and my body. I also tried to make a real effort to breathe more (this happened in my warmup, not so much in my actual jump course, ooooops).

Though I did NOT say anything about the jump heights- even when they got bumped up to the ‘vaunted heights’ of 2’3”! OOohhh ahahhaha.

Go us!

An addiction to power?

Had another equine counseling session last night (and moved my jump lesson to Saturday, as Oats was feeling tired during my friend’s lesson on him on Wed. – probably due to the¬†strenuous¬†dressage lesson we had on Tues).

And, it came out that maybe I ride because I like being powerful, having power, and being able to exercise that power.

And I say- yes that is definitely something that resonates strongly with me.

It is addictive to feel like you can control a 1,000 lb animal- and I get really wrapped up in trying to ‘muscle’ Oats sometimes, which by the way, I NEVER win, hello he weighs like 900 lbs~

I reiterated that I feel like maybe I’m not making progress, but apparently my jumping lessons are saying otherwise. Can progress feel faked or false? Maybe. I still go into my lessons amped up and anxious, but I am noticing that I can bring it down much faster, and the jumps themselves…Well, they are all a learning process. Some ugly, some ‘meh’ and some great, and some good. It all comes out in the wash. Just because they aren’t 100% perfect or flawless rounds doesn’t mean the entire session was a bust!

So, watching my friend ride gave me some of that perspective- her ride was good, but that doesn’t mean it was perfect. Sure they kind of took down some fences in the gymnastic, but you know what it showed me? That other people¬†can have that type of ride on Oats, it’s not all my fault, and they survive and go on to have great jumps too! It’s not a disaster like I always think.

They did have some ugly fences, and they also had really good ones. The last course was lovely! I was very pleased to see him work in a ‘grown up’ mind frame, and his attitude towards other riders and actually working is sooooooo much better now.

So, I hope to go into my next jump lesson with more of an open mind, and not let my brain/anxiety get ahead of me and start anticipating bad things happening- and also not tell my coach immediately that I only want to jump small jumps, hah.

We’ll see!

Are you gonna whine, or win?

Had a solo dressage lesson yesterday due to my lesson mate having to take some time off- I don’t normally welcome privates for dressage because of a few factors…

a. they cost more- $35 for a semi-private and $50 for a private

b. I have to work my freaking ass off in them, and nobody else is around to deflect the laserbeam of intensity off me!

So…Not always thrilled to do privates but yesterday I faced it head on. As I mention in my header (stolen from watching Wet Hot American Summer last night, ha), it’s one way or the other. Excuses or results.

Not so relaxed

Not so relaxed

And I, after bravely conquering a mountain this weekend, am ready for results! A win! Except maybe my attitude was the biggest win, and the lesson itself maybe wasn’t quite the win I was looking for. We rode in the outdoor, and the lesson objective became painfully clear: Break the concrete pattern that Oats and I have so lovingly developed over the years.

Easy, right?

Well remember that bit about concrete?

I worked him large for a bit, getting his attention and his ‘forward’ through the spooky side of the arena. It was actually fairly successful, and I was feeling like hey I can do this. We then worked on a circle at the far end of the arena on getting a few simple (note I keep saying simple, not easy) items:

  1. Forward
  2. Bend
  3. Direction
  4. Supple

And proceeded to not get any of those for literally¬†minutes at a time. Yeah it sounds dramatic but sheesh I was working my ass off and Oats was going- NOPE! I’d get forward and then some bend, and then he’d root rudely or throw his head up. Or he’d offer to canter, and he would try literally anything to get me to pull him back and get him to stop.

What was particularly telling was when Karen was saying in a few I could walk…I didn’t even ask for it yet, and Oats reverted from his actually pretty nice work to being a total jackass immediately. Head tossing, hopping, throwing his shoulder out, rooting…ARGH.

So, yeah the walk part didn’t get to happen for another, oh, 20 minutes of sweaty torture? I was like seriously horse? I was done 20 minutes ago? Give ME a break! But this part, was the important part- the ‘not giving up’ part. Oats was frustrated that he thought we could go into our ‘normal’ pattern, where I would walk, and we would take a break. So he took it upon himself to try to ‘force’ me into walking before I even asked.

And to that I say- Good day sir, I don’t think so!

We went back to canter, then trot, then more canter, then trot…It was exhausting. I was sweating from my ears, literally. Oats had rivulets of sweat running down his forehead, flanks, back. He was literally trying to endure me out, and see if I gave in first! Well, two can play at this game, and I wasn’t worried, just kind of annoyed…So we kept going and going, until we got some nice, honest and good work from Oats.

Then I immediately came down to walk, and we left it on that note. I was still in awe of his lasting power- who knew that when he was really trying to force the issue, he could go- and GO very strongly- for that long? Not me?!!

Long held patterns are sure hard to break. I am chipping a tiny corner off with yesterday’s lesson.

Taking a breather

So, after our challenging- but then good- dressage lesson on Tuesday, I decided I didn’t want to overface myself and take Oats for round #2 battle in the outdoor and I would have a ‘fun day’ in the field with him on Wednesday.

A spunkier Oats on the weekend. Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

A spunkier Oats on the weekend. Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

I find myself often wanting to ride in the field- I guess because I feel freer, less constrained and less ‘trapped’ into pushing Oats for a workout in the ring? More freedom, I guess, and a lot less fighting, as it turns out! And I have to learn to re-train my temper- as my trainer said, work first on me, then on Oats, and then bring both of us to the challenging situation. Don’t jump right into the challenge, because it will kind of blow up in our faces…

So, with that knowledge, I deliberately set out for a fun ride, not a fight.

And it WAS FUN!

We rode in the smaller field that has a hill, and some cavalettis. I dragged out a cavaletti- they are light because the wood is completely dry-rotted through, but a mega pain the butt to wrangle, ha. Oats was patient here.

Put your butt into it! Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

Put your butt into it! Photo courtesy of Hannah R.

I set the cavaletti up in the middle setting, friendly and low, and we warmed up and then trotted and cantered it both directions a bunch of times. I got bored by it after awhile (things were going very smoothly!) and decided to take Oats up to do some hillwork.

Newsflash- the hillwork was so hard for Oats. He was tired! It was hard work! I noticed a real weakness in his right hind while cantering up the hill and trying to maintain the canter. He swapped a few times and broke into trot the rest.

I left the canter alone and we trotted up and walked down the steepest part of the hill, focusing mostly on getting his right hind to step up the hill. It was definitely hard but good work for the pony. You should have seen him after, in the cross-ties…He was exhausted! Poor guy.

So tired.

So tired.

Race recap: My first 5k at Bazan Bay.

Yes, funny enough I’d never raced a 5k- ever! Went straight to 10ks (honestly, because my work was paying for it one year and so I decided to give it a try and was kind of hooked), but never the 5ks.

Beautiful day to run

Beautiful day to run

This year though, has been a year of trying new distances. So far I’ve done a fun 8k, a good 10k, and a brutal 8k. Now to conquer the 5k. Sort of…As I was complaining about vigorously earlier last week, I have a head cold that seems bound and determined to ruin my life, I’m still coughing up grossness, sinus pain, weird pressure in my ears that makes me feel like I’m living in an echo chamber, incredible fatigue, joint pain…You get the idea.

So, ideal for a faster race, right?

Not so much. Nevertheless, I was aiming for a good time- 22 minutes I figured was doable.

I was still coughing and the pressure in my ears was driving me NUTS but oh well! Off to the start we went, and some girls shoved in front of me (rudely) but hey we’re all friends here…I just didn’t love the ‘bro-talk’ that they had going on. Posturing and stuff- leave it to your own brain, thanks. I don’t need you going ‘I’m gonna PB this one!’ or ‘I’m gonna crush it!’ or, looking pissed off, ‘Can you get OVER this?’ Which I kind of figured they were less than impressed at having to shove past ‘slow folk’ to get where they were in the lineup…Hello, I passed them like 1km in, jeesh…

The only time I'm taller than Ian

The only time I’m taller than Ian

Anyways, the start was SLOW. UGH. I rebounded off about 3 people accidentally because they just¬†weren’t picking up the pace at all. Got my stride, and¬†coincidentally¬†had this song playing in my brain the whole time, just to keep me motivated: Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride.

Feeling good up to 3k, and then at the turnaround I started losing my good feelings, and started feeling like I was going to cough up a lung, or maybe have a heart attack, or maybe just collapse instead.

I passed a few people, but just never felt like I could get into the slower rhythm speed that I had in my longer races, it just felt a bit too frantic, too fast. So, I’m learning that the 5k is a tougher race for me, because I can’t seem to push it for that long. I get tired, coughing, and lose my mojo.

I didn’t really finish that strong (more like a crawl) with a time of 22:26 (chip) 22:17 (net). So I didn’t quite achieve my goal, which is a bit of a bummer. Oh well! Better luck (and health!) next time.

Bazan Bay gets thumbs-up for a great bathroom situation and a decent snack table, but they didn’t have chili or hotdogs (that I LOVE!). ¬†And a shout-out to my husband, who raced in the top-10 again, and my friend, who definitely kicked my butt too.