First time: Running the Oak Bay Half Marathon

Now, this is a combo of typical ‘big race’ and ‘community race’ I think. I’m not generally a fan of big races, it seems like more of an opportunity to spend more, and get wayyy less. This race is no exception, but it is very well organized, with a whole army of excellent volunteers, so I am very thankful for them and the organization! It is a very nice, leafy course and one of the most scenic ones in Victoria I think.

And then in two minutes I wanted my sweater back…

BUT…

It is a fairly large race, there are no race awards for age-groups, and it is more ‘everybody gets a medal’ day ie- you get a race medal for completion. I am not a fan of participation medals, basically at all, unless you’re at marathon distance. (Ok I know there is some innate snobbery here, but I just don’t need medals myself unless I won them, is my thinking. Not meaning to rob someone of their joy here.).

So, last weekend’s race was much more lucrative for me, hahah. Oh and also that the run scene here is EXTREMELY competitive. Like…Olympian-fast. So you can take the overall placings out of your dreams, hahah because it ain’t gonna happen. That is the only reason I am able to place in races elsewhere, basically!

Also I had to get up early for this one, which is a hard sell for me, argh. 8am just isn’t…friendly to me and it was absolutely freezing that early in the morning. Lucky for me Ian joined me so he could park the car and take a video 🙂

Whee!

We started off and it’s a mass start- 10k and half marathon all together, with relay participants. It’s a bit of organized chaos, as we run with the 10k’ers until they turn around. Now, I do think I owe my last half marathon personal best to having some unofficial pacers to follow until they dropped my ass at like 8k, so I was feeling a bit lost and apprehensive about being with 10k’ers. Like…who do I follow?
Well, it was fine. Maybe I came out a bit quick, but you run for so long you give that up pretty damn fast, haha. We were with the 10k’ers until just past 6km, and they turned around, and we kept climbing.

No lie, this was much hillier than I expected. I guess I thought Oak Bay was kind of flat? Also the wind was pretty nuts, gusting up to 60k/hr and we did so many twists and turns…straight into the headwind every time. It was never really at our backs, at all. My hat kept blowing off my head, so I took it off and held it. Boo!

I was apprehensive for up until oh, 11km and then I high-fived a spectator, felt good and kept GOING!

The only thing I was really struggling with was getting a solid, pounding rhythm …could get it great on the flats, and then we’d hit another hill and I’d lose my awesome pace. Then get it…and immediately hit another hill.

My legs felt awesome though, no troubles at all there. So good in fact I just wanted some flat sections to really test how fast I could go this late in the game! But the last 5km was just hills and a wicked headwind 😦

Wrapped up by charging past some of the walkers finishing the early start, not super inspiring because you’re alone out there again, racing past walkers. Finished with a not too shabby 1:31:39. Slower than my last one, but truly it’s a different race, so I am pleased with consistency. That was enough to net me 5th overall and 2nd AG (but no AG awards, sigh) and that’s it!

So would I do it again? No I don’t think I will. It is nice and scenic, when the weather cooperates it’s a fun race but I just am not that into more ‘fun runs’ really. I would recommend it for people looking for something new and interesting, but challenging. Don’t expect a personal best here.

“You are the kind of guy who always hopes for a miracle at the last minute.”

I did it!! I still have shoulder pain, and it was pretty bad last night AND freaking shin splints (that is bothering me the most right now. Funny timing, that.) BUT I was able to have and enjoy a jumping lesson last night.

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Christi came and took these amazing photos. So good! 

That’s right- one week out after my accident Oats and I are a team together, flying over (small) fences and kicking butt!! He was such a saint, too. We had a few weeks off with his sudden lameness, cancelled the show, and he was off last week when I had my accident. July was kind of a perfect storm for us, I am realizing.

I am hopeful that August will be better, and you know what? It already is. My scrapes are healing, I think my shin splints should clear up soon-ish (still, ouch.) and Oats is BACK baby!!!

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Photos courtesy of Christi.

I did feel anxious about the lesson. It’s been a few weeks, Oats hasn’t jumped in…Three weeks? Me either? I’m recovering from an accident? I have a hard time being kind to myself. It seems like pushing myself too hard, due to some deep lurking insecurity is my default mode. Not now. Not this time. I’m not interested in wallowing. For me, pushing too hard was a way of wallowing!

Being mentally stronger means I am ok with taking time off (god this is almost impossible for me). So I am scaling things back for a few weeks. I have also enjoyed the emotional and other type of support from my husband, my horse friends and colleagues. they get it…It’s hard. Plus my friends bought me the fancy new pink boots featured in photos today- I have been waiting WEEKS to debut his pink outfit! 😉 I LOVE Oats in pink.

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Liverpool? What liverpool? Oats is the most casual pony on the planet.

I am still just riding a high. I’m jumping my best pony again. Things are gooooood. He was great last night, just basically, ”Snooze…I got this mom. You sit tight and I’m fine.” Love that he’s so low-key. Phew! What a golden boy. I wanted to jump higher, but I was afraid too. I was feeling a bit anxious and worried about jarring my injured shoulder. So, I was careful with myself, and didn’t let my ego dictate. There will always be more days to jump high, you know?

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I got this mom. It’s easy. 

When you start at the beginning, you have to go slow. You have to learn how to do it all over again (something like the quote from ‘Bright Lights Big City’….) And you can’t rush that process.

Coming on strong

This week, work continues to be….the bane of my existence, but we’ll chalk that up to it being that way for approximately another month (GAH).

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This girl can make it happen!

Jump lesson last night and I was actually feeling ok going into it. It has gotten cold again here (hate it) and I was freezing in my lesson. Like, wanted to keep cantering/trotting in my warmup because I was so cold. My trainer said ok that’s enough warming up for Oats and I was like, are you sure? I need to warm up!

We started work over a grid, and it was set short. Like, Oats short. And I really got into it! Usually grids are my nemesis and I kind of flail badly at them. However, I was feeling quite confident about the shorter distances even though we flailed through them as poles, I said they would probably work out well as jumps, and I was right! The shorter distance gave me a lot more confidence.

Then, we worked on setting up a small course with the gymnastic as a start.

The course had very few jumps (4?) but we jumped them several times in many iterations. S-curves, a bending line, diagonal fence, one on the centre line, all sorts of fun combinations! Oats was a superstar, and the most amazing thing happened. I screwed up a fence or two, cursed briefly, and then let it go and was able to immediately move on. I was even able to slow my brain down enough to think about what my next move was (something I am NEVER able to accomplish). Who is this girl?

I was sitting tall around -most- corners. I was focused on the approach, and using an opening rein for the S-curve. When I bungled the bending line (with a big chip..), we went and rode it again on Nicole’s prompting, and it went perfectly. WOW! For me, to be able to let that anxiety (performance mostly) go and just ride it again fixing my mistakes? That is a big step. Huge for me.

Even my trainer is noticing that I am slowing down enough to be able to fix things, adjust my position, carefully consider my track and be better about sitting up (elbows are kind of a work in progress though, and I wasn’t always great about sitting up all the time).

Still, I am proud of being able to think- yes I can do this. This is how it will go.

It’s taken a long time and I fall off track a lot, and these jumps were very small and totally do-able, but I didn’t have anxiety doing it. When my trainer suggested jumping the course again, I didn’t start backpedaling, I just did it! 🙂

 

A long weekend worthy of BC day

A good weekend- didn’t feel overly busy but was packed full of fun!

At the birthday party

At the birthday party

First I rode on Friday in the outdoor, trying to stay mindful of what I’ve been learning about Oats and my relationship when we’re working through his sticky situations (spooky at the far side of the ring) and we warmed up well and the BLAM! He spooked – hard – at the same spot again! ARGH! It wasn’t quite as dirty as the other spook so I stayed on, and he didn’t get to look left again until we started cantering and jumping.

Sorry Oats, if you do that, you lose your ‘looking left’ privileges, because all you seem to do is search for monsters…

Our jumping was over tiny little things (I was on my own, this is for safety) but quite fun! I did quite a few loopy turns, cut-ins and such. He was very good for this.

Saturday Ian and I headed up-island for his grandmother’s 90th birthday. I know, crazy eh? She is doing very well and is quite spry. Aside from a few hilarious encounters with his more, umm…unique relatives..I was bored silly! It was kind of a long event for me, who isn’t really familiar with any of the 100+ relatives that descended in Nanaimo.

Sunday– I had promised a friend I would go watch her eventing at Avalon. Got there in time to catch her cross-country round and she rocked it! It was a great weekend for the girls from the barn, their horses performed perfectly and they did super well, all placing in their respective divisions. A good day to watch!

Go for it Oats!

Go for it Oats!

Then back to Ian’s parents for another birthday- his aunt’s 60th birthday. Definitely toned-down, more my style…

And then, the fun never stops does it? We were off to Koksilah river! That’s right another swim day. The weather was AMAZING (unlike today, cold, windy, grey) and the water was great. The dogs came, and his brother, sister and dad also came. Loved it!

We then packed up our stuff and drove straight to the barn, where I took Oats for a gallop in the field. He had pretty much no ‘go’ so our gallop was a bit…slow but he tried and was a good boy alone in the field. Ian was able to take some photos, which was so nice!

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Monday, ended up having plans in the evening so my day consisted of a run to the beach, and then I returned to the beach to do some hard-core sunbathing (hey you only get a few chances in life to enjoy yourself in the sun…) and then Ian and I took Gidget blackberry picking. Got a ton of blackberries! Oats got the day off so he would have a bit “more” to give me during my dressage lesson…Back to work for both of us, unfortunately.

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Tuesday– and he did! I warmed Oats up indoors because I’ve been very unhappy with the negative vibes we’ve been getting together warming up in the outdoor, so I figured- just don’t go there! So I didn’t. And he warmed up great!

Calm

Calm

Hm….

He did fuss and fight a little bit, but overall his attitude towards dressage seems to be improving? It has been a long and hard road, for sure. We worked on getting them responsive and connected over their back through transitions and boy, did we struggle with the trot- canter transition…He hollowed and threw his head up. Well, I guess Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?